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Indonesia: History, Culture & Economy

July 31, 2010 by  

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Indonesia (pronounced /ˌɪndoʊˈniːziə/ or /ˌɪndəˈniːʒə/), officially the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian:Republik Indonesia), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia comprises 17,508 islands. With a population of around 230 million people, it is the world’s fourth most populous country, and has the world’s largest population of Muslims. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. The nation’s capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and a member of the G-20 major economies.

The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the seventh century, when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries CE, and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders broughtIslam, and European powers fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independenceafter World War II. Indonesia’s history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change. The current nation of Indonesia is a unitary presidential republic consisting of thirty three provinces.

Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javaneseare the largest—and the politically dominant—ethnic group. Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism including rebellion against it. Indonesia’s national motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” (“Unity in Diversity”literally, “many, yet one”), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world’s second highest level of biodiversity. The country is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty remains widespread in contemporary Indonesia.

Indonesia has around 300 ethnic groups, each with cultural identities developed over centuries, and influenced by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, Malay, and European sources. Traditional Javanese and Balinese dances, for example, contain aspects of Hindu culture and mythology, as do wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performances. Textiles such as batik, ikat and songket are created across Indonesia in styles that vary by region. The most dominant influences on Indonesian architecture have traditionally been Indian; however, Chinese, Arab, and European architectural influences have been significant.

Crude oil and natural gas are Indonesia’s most valuable natural resources and were long its major source of export revenue, but production has declined and domestic use increased since the 1990s. Agriculture accounts for about 13% of the GDP and employs over 40% of the labor force. Indonesia is one of the world’s major rubber producers; other plantation crops include cocoa, coffee, palm oil, coconuts, sugarcane, tea, tobacco, cinchona, cloves, sisal, and spices. Despite plantation cultivation, Indonesia has a wide landholding base; the majority of the people are largely self-sufficient in food. Rice is the major crop; cassava, corn, yams, soybeans, peanuts, and fruit are also grown. Horses and cattle are raised on some of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Fish are abundant, both in the ocean and in inland ponds.

In natural-resource potential, Indonesia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It has great timberlands; vast rain forests of giant trees (among the world’s tallest) cover the mountain slopes, and teak, sandalwood, ironwood, camphor, and ebony are cut. Palm, rattan, and bamboo abound, and a great variety of forest products is produced. Indonesia is a major exporter of timber, accounting for nearly half of the world’s tropical hardwood trade, but the rapid deforestation of Indonesia’s hardwoods, mainly due to its expanding population and growing timber-related industries, has caused concern among international environmental groups and sparked ethnic conflict (particularly between immigrants and native Dyaks on Borneo). In addition, enormous out-of-control brush fires, started illegally during the dry season to clear land, have caused significant health, navigation, and economic hazards in some years.

Notes from Wikipedia and Answers.com

Canary Islands: History, Culture & Economy

July 31, 2010 by  

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The Canary Islands (pronounced /kəˈnɛəriː ˈaɪləndz/, colloquially also known as the Canaries; Spanish:Islas Canariaspronounced [ˈizlas kaˈna.ɾjas]; are a Spanish archipelago which, in turn, forms one of the Spanish Autonomous Communities and an Outermost Region of the European Union. The archipelago is located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the disputed border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The sea currents that depart from Canary’s coasts used to lead ships away to America. The islands from largest to smallest are: Tenerife,Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa, Alegranza andMontaña Clara.

The Canary Islands have great natural attractions, climate and beaches making the islands a majortourist destination, being visited each year by about 12 million people. Among the islands, Tenerife has the most number of tourists received annually, followed by Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. The archipelago’s principal tourist attraction is the Teide National Park (in Tenerife) where the highest mountain in Spain and third largest volcano in the world (Mount Teide) is located; it receives over 2.8 million visitors annually.

The Canary Islands currently has a population of 2,098,593 inhabitants, making it the eighth most populous of Spain’s autonomous communities, with a density of 281.8 inhabitants per km². The total area of the archipelago is 7447 km². It also enjoys sub-tropical climate with longer hot days in summer and cooler days in winter.

The status of capital city is shared by the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which in turn are the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas. Until 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the only capital.  The third largest city of the Canary Islands is San Cristóbal de La Laguna (City World Heritage Site) on the island of Tenerife.

Known in ancient times as the “Fortunate Islands,” they were written about by both Plutarch and Pliny the Elder. Believed to be the western limit of the world, they were visited in the Middle Ages by Arabs, Genoese, Majorcans, Portuguese, and French. They were taken by Castile in 1404, and their indigenous inhabitants, the Guanche and Canario, were gradually conquered during the 15th century. In 1479, the Treaty of Alcácovas between Portugal and Spain recognized Spanish sovereignty over the Canaries; the conquest of the Guanches, the indigenous Berber inhabitants of the islands, was completed in 1496. The islands became an important base for voyages to the Americas. The Canaries were frequently raided by pirates and privateers; Las Palmas beat off Francis Drake in 1595 but was ravaged by the Dutch in 1599. The Canary Islands became an autonomous region in 1982.

The music of the Canary Islands reflects its cultural heritage. The islands used to be inhabited by the Guanches which are related to Berbers; they mixed with Spaniards, who live on the islands now. A variant of Jota is popular, as is Latin music, which has left its mark in the form of the timple guitar. There has been a strong connection with Cuban music, Venezuelan, Puerto Rican, and other Caribbean countries both through commerce and migration.

The economy is based primarily on tourism, which makes up 32% of the GDP. Construction makes up nearly 20% of the GDP and tropical agriculture, primarily bananas and tobacco, are grown for export to Europe and the Americas. Ecologists are concerned that the resources, especially in the more arid islands, are being overexploited but there are still many agricultural resources like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, cochineal, sugarcane, grapes, vines, dates, oranges,lemons, figs, wheat, barley, maize, apricots, peaches and almonds.

The economy is € 25 billion (2001 GDP figures). The islands experienced continuous growth during a 20 year period, up until 2001, at a rate of approximately 5% annually. This growth was fueled mainly by huge amounts of Foreign Direct Investment, mostly to develop tourism real estate (hotels and apartments), and European Funds (near € 11 billion euro in the period from 2000 to 2007), since the Canary Islands are labelled Region Objective 1 (eligible for euro structural funds). Additionally, the EU allows the Canary Islands Government to offer special tax concessions for investors who incorporate under the Zona Especial Canaria (ZEC) regime and create more than 5 jobs.

Notes from Wikipedia and Answers.com

Equatorial Guinea: History, Culture & Economy

July 31, 2010 by  

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Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea is a country located in Central Africa. With an area of 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi) it is one of the smallest countries in continental Africa. It is also the most prosperous, however the wealth is concentrated in government and elite hands, with 70% of the population living under the United Nations Poverty Threshold of $2/day. It has a population of 1,014,999. It comprises two parts: a Continental Region (Río Muni), including several small offshore islands like Corisco, Elobey Grande and Elobey Chico; and an insular regioncontaining Annobón island and Bioko island (formerly Fernando Po) where the capital Malabo is situated.

Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the east is the mainland region. Equatorial Guinea is bordered by Cameroon on the north, Gabon on the south and east, and the Gulf of Guineaon the west, where the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is located between Bioko and Annobón. Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, its post-independence name is suggestive of its location near both the equator and the Gulf of Guinea. It is one of the few territories in mainland Africa where Spanish is an official language, besides the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

Equatorial Guinea is the third smallest country in continental Africa in terms of population. It is also the second smallest United Nations (UN) member from continental Africa. The discovery of sizeable petroleum reserves in recent years is altering the economic and political status of the country. Equatorial Guinea has been cited as an example of the natural resource curse[citation needed]; its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranks 31st in the world; however, most of the country’s considerable oil wealth actually lies in the hands of only a few people.

Out of 44 sub-Saharan countries, Equatorial Guinea ranks 9th in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI) and 115th overall, which is among the “medium” HDI countries.

Equatorial Guinea is in the process of becoming validated as an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Compliant country, working toward transparency in reporting of oil revenues and the prudent use of natural resource wealth. The country is one of 30 Candidate countries and obtained Candidate status February 22, 2008. They met all required obligations to do so, including committing to working with civil society and companies on EITI implementation, appointing a senior individual to lead on EITI implementation, and publishing a fully costed Work Plan with measurable targets, a timetable for implementation and an assessment of capacity constraints. Equatorial Guinea held its 7th meeting of the EITI National Commission on January 30, 2010, during which steps were taken for the advancement of the implementation process.

Equatorial Guinea’s culture on the mainland is heavily entrenched in ancient rituals and songs. This is especially true for the Fang while on the capital island of Bioko has largely been influenced by Spanish customs and traditions during the colonial period. During the colonial period education and health services were developed in the country.

Despite a veneer of Spanish culture and of Roman Catholic religion that is thicker in Bioko than on the mainland, Equatorial Guineans live largely according to ancient customs, which have undergone a revival since independence. Among the Fang of the mainland, witchcraft, traditional music (in which the Fang harp, the xylophone, the great drums, and the wooden trumpet are used), and storytelling survive. Spanish aid is much oriented to educational and health services. Among the Bubi farmers of Bioko, some ancient customs are still followed.

Subsistence farming is the predominant occupation in Equatorial Guinea, although only 5% of the land is arable. Prior to independence, the money economy was based on the production of cocoa (mostly on Bioko) and coffee and timber (in Río Muni). Following severe deterioration of the rural economy, the government has made efforts to increase production of these products to preindependence levels. Other agricultural products include rice, yams, cassava, bananas, and palm oil. Livestock are raised and there is a fishing industry. There is food processing, sawmilling, and the manufacture of basic consumer items.

The discovery and exploitation of large offshore oil and natural gas deposits increased economic growth beginning in the late 1990s, but the oil and gas revenue, largely lost to government corruption, has not significantly improved the standard of living in the generally improverished nation. The country also has unexploited deposits of titanium, iron ore, manganese, uranium, and gold. Both Río Muni and Bioko have substantial road networks; there are no railroads.

Notes from Wikipedia and Answers.com

Hungary: History, Culture & Economy

July 31, 2010 by  

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Hungary /ˈhʌŋɡəri/ (Hungarian: Magyarország [ˈmɒɟɒrorsaːɡ]), officially the Republic of Hungary (Magyar Köztársaság), is a landlocked country in the Carpathian Basin in Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Its capital is Budapest. Hungary is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the Visegrád Group, and is a Schengen state. The official language is Hungarian, the most widely spoken non-Indo-European language in Europe, being part of the Finno-Ugric family.

Following a Celtic (after c. 450 BC) and a Roman (9 AD – c. 430 AD) period, the foundation of Hungary was laid in the late 9th century by the Hungarian ruler Árpád, whose great-grandson Saint Stephen I was crowned with a crown sent from Rome by the pope in 1000. The Kingdom of Hungary lasted for 946 years, and at various points was regarded as one of the cultural centers of the Western world. After about 150 years of partial Ottoman occupation (1541–1699), Hungary was integrated into the Habsburg Monarchy, and later constituted half of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy (1867–1918). A great power until the end of World War I, Hungary lost over 70% of its territory, along with one third of its population of Hungarian ethnicity, under the Treaty of Trianon, the terms of which have been considered excessively harsh by many in Hungary. The kingdom was succeeded by a Communist era (1947–1989) during which Hungary gained widespread international attention regarding the Revolution of 1956 and the seminal move of opening its border with Austria in 1989, thus accelerating the collapse of the Eastern Bloc . The present form of government is a parliamentary republic (since 1989). Today, Hungary is a high-income economy according to World Bank, emerging and developing economy according to IMF and a regional leader regarding certain markers.

Hungary is one of the thirty most popular tourist destinations among the countries of the world, attracting 8.6 million tourists per year (2007). The country is home to the largest thermal water cave system and the second largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest natural grasslands in Europe (Hortobágy).

The culture of Hungary has a distinctive style of its own in Hungary, diverse and varied, starting from the capital city of Budapest on the Danube, to the Great Plain bordering Ukraine. Hungary was formerly (until 1918) one half of Austria-Hungary. Hungary has a rich folk tradition, for example: embroideries, decorated potterys, buildings and carvings. Hungarian music ranges from the rhapsodies of Franz Liszt to folk music and Hungarian gipsy music and Roma music. Hungary has a rich and colorful literature, with many poets and writers, although not many are well known abroad due to the limited prevalence of the Hungarian language being a Finno-Ugric language. Some noted authors include Sándor Márai and Imre Kertész, who have been gaining acclaim in recent decades. János Kodolányi was more known in the middle of the twentieth century in Italy and Finland. Imre Kertész won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002. Péter Esterházy is known and popular in Austria and Germany, and Magda Szabó has become well-known in Europe recently as well.

The economy of Hungary is a medium-sized, structurally, politically and institutionally open economy in Central Europeand is part of the European Union’s (EU) single market. Like most Eastern European economies, the economy of Hungary experienced market liberalisation in the early 1990s as part of the transition from socialist economy to market economy. Hungary is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 1995, a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1996, and a member of the European Union since 2004.

Notes from Wikipedia

British Isles: History, Culture & Economy

July 31, 2010 by  

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The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller islands. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom) and Ireland (also described as the Republic of Ireland). The British Isles also include three dependencies of the United Kingdom: the Isle of Man and, by tradition, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the Channel Islands, although the latter are not physically a part of the island group.

The British monarch was head of state of all of the countries of the British Isles from the Union of the Crowns in 1603 until the enactment of the Republic of Ireland Act in 1949, although the term “British Isles” was not used in 1603. Additionally, since the independence of Ireland, historians of the region often avoid the term British Isles due to the complexity of relations between the peoples of the archipelago.

At the end of the last ice age, what are now the British Isles were joined to the European mainland as an mass of land extending north west from the modern-day northern coastline of France, Belgium and the Netherlands. By the time of the Roman Empire, about two thousand years ago, Celts were inhabiting the islands. The Romans expanded their civilisation to control southern Great Britain but were impeded in advancing any further, building Hadrian’s Wall to mark the northern frontier of their empire in 122 AD. Viking invasions began in the 9th century, followed by more permanent settlements, particularly along the east coast of Ireland, the west coast of modern-day Scotland and the Isle of Man. Though the Vikings were eventually neutralised in Ireland, their influence remained in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick,Waterford and Wexford. England however was slowly conquered around the turn of the first millennium AD, eventually become feudal possession of the Kingdom of Denmark.

By the Late Middle Ages, Great Britain was separated into the Kingdoms of England and Scotland. Power in Ireland fluxed between Gaelic kingdoms, Hiberno-Norman lords and the English-dominated Lordship of Ireland. Scotland, meanwhile had remained an independent Kingdom. In 1603, that changed when the King of Scotland inherited the Crown of England, and consequently the Crown of Ireland also. The subsequent 17th century was one of political upheaval, religious division and war. The Kingdoms of England and Scotland were unified in 1707 creating the Kingdom of Great Britain. Following an attempted republican revolution in Ireland in 1798, the Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain were unified in 1801, creating the United Kingdom. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands remaining outside of the United Kingdom but with their ultimate good governance being the responsibility of the British Crown (effectively the British government).

The United Kingdom and Ireland have separate media, although British television, newspapers and magazines are widely available in Ireland, giving people in Ireland a high level of familiarity with cultural matters in Great Britain. A few cultural events are organised for the island group as a whole. For example, the Costa Book Awards are awarded to authors resident in the UK or Ireland. The Man Booker Prize is awarded to authors from the Commonwealth of Nations and Ireland. The Mercury Music Prize is handed out every year to the best album from a British or Irish musician or group.

Several names are currently used to describe the islands aside from British Isles, such as British-Irish Isles, Britain and IrelandUK and Ireland, and British Isles and Ireland. Owing to political and national associations with the word British, the Government of Ireland does not use the term British Isles and its embassy in London discourages its use. Some publishers’ style guides, such as the Economic History Society’s and the Guardian newspaper’s, suggest that use of the term British Isles should be avoided and, in early 2008, it was reported that National Geographic said it would use the wording British and Irish Isles instead. In 2006, Folens, an Irish publisher of school text books, decided to stop using the term in Ireland and in 2001 the rugby union team the British Isles (or British Lions) was renamed the British and Irish Lions.

Notes from Wikipedia

Antigua and Barbuda: History, Culture & Economy

July 31, 2010 by  

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Antigua and Barbuda (pronounced /ænˌtiːgwə ænd bɑːɹˈbjuːdə/; Spanish for “ancient” and “bearded”) is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands (including Great Bird, Green, Guinea, Long, Maiden and York Islands). Separated by a few sea miles, the group is in the middle of the Leeward Islands part of the Lesser Antilles, roughly at 17 degrees north of the Equator. Being a part of the former British Empire has strongly influenced the country’s governance, language, and culture.

Christopher Columbus visited Antigua in 1493 and named it after a church in Sevilla, Spain. It was colonized by English settlers in 1632, who imported African slaves to grow tobacco and sugarcane. Barbuda was colonized by the English in 1678. In 1834 the islands’ slaves were emancipated. Antigua (with Barbuda) was part of the British colony of the Leeward Islands from 1871 until that colony was defederated in 1956. The islands achieved full independence in 1981.

The culture is predominantly British: For example, cricket is the national sport and Antigua has produced several famous cricket players including Sir Vivian Richards, Anderson “Andy” Roberts, and Richard “Richie” Richardson. Other popular sports include football, boat racing and surfing (the Antigua Sailing Week attracts locals and visitors from all over the world).

American popular culture and fashion also have a heavy influence. Most of the country’s media is made up of major United States networks. Antiguans pay close attention to American fashion trends, and major designer items are available at boutiques in St. John’s and elsewhere, although many Antiguans prefer to make a special shopping trip to St. Martin, North America, or San Juan in Puerto Rico.

Family and religion play an important roles in the lives of Antiguans. Most attend religious services on Sunday, although there is a growing number of Seventh-day Adventists who observe the Sabbath on Saturday.

Antigua has a relatively high GDP per capita in comparison to most other Caribbean nations. The economy experienced solid growth from 2003 to 2007, reaching over 12% in 2006, driven by a construction boom in hotels and housing associated with the Cricket World Cup. Growth dropped off in 2008 with the end of the boom. Tourism continues to dominate the economy, accounting for nearly 60% of GDP and 40% of investment. The dual-island nation’s agricultural production is focused on the domestic market and constrained by a limited water supply and a labor shortage stemming from the lure of higher wages in tourism and construction.

Manufacturing comprises enclave-type assembly for export with major products being bedding, handicrafts, and electronic components. Prospects for economic growth in the medium term will continue to depend on tourist arrivals from the US, Canada, and Europe and potential damages from natural disasters. Since taking office in 2004, the SPENCER government has adopted an ambitious fiscal reform program, and has been successful in reducing its public debt-to-GDP ratio from 120% to about 90%.

Notes from Wikipedia and Answers.com

Bahamas: History, Culture & Economy

July 31, 2010 by  

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The Bahamas (pronounced /ðə bəˈhɑːməz/), officially the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is an English-speaking country consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets (rocks). It is located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and southeast of the United States of America (nearest to the state of Florida). Its total land area is 13,939 km² (5,382 sq. mi.; slightly larger than the US states Connecticut and Rhode Island combined), with an estimated population of 330,000. Its capital is Nassau. Geographically, the Bahamas lie in the same island chain as Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) and Turks and Caicos Islands, the designation of the Bahamas refers normally to the commonwealth and not the geographic chain.

Originally inhabited by Arawakan Taino people, The Bahamas were the site of Columbus’ first landfall in the New World in 1492. Although the Spanish never colonised The Bahamas, they shipped the native Lucayans (as the Bahamian Taino settlers referred to themselves) to slavery in Hispaniola. The islands were mostly deserted from 1513 to 1650, when British colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera.

The Bahamas became a Crown Colony in 1718 when the British clamped down on piracy. Following the American War of Independence, thousands of pro-British loyalists and enslaved Africans moved to The Bahamas and set up a plantation economy. The slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1807 and many Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy were settled in The Bahamas during the 19th century. Slavery itself was abolished in 1834 and the descendants of enslaved and liberated Africans form the bulk of The Bahamas’s population today.

The origin of the name “Bahamas” is unclear. It may derive from the Spanish baja mar (“shallow seas”) or the Lucayan word for Grand Bahama Island, ba-ha-ma (“large upper middle land”).

In the less developed outer islands, handicrafts include basketry made from palm fronds. This material, commonly called “straw”, is plaited into hats and bags that are popular tourist items. Another use is for so-called “Voodoo dolls,” even though such dolls are the result of the American imagination and not based on historic fact.

Although not practised by native Bahamians, a form of folk magic obeah derived from West African origins, is practiced in some Family Islands (out-islands) of the Bahamas due to Haitian migration. The practice of obeah is however illegal in the Bahamas and punishable by law. Junkanoo is a traditional African street parade of music, dance, and art held in Nassau (and a few other settlements) every Boxing Day, New Year’s Day. Junkanoo is also used to celebrate other holidays and events such as Emancipation Day.

The islands’ vivid subtropical atmosphere-brilliant sky and sea, lush vegetation, flocks of bright-feathered birds, and submarine gardens where multicolored fish swim among white, rose, yellow, and purple coral-as well as rich local color and folklore, has made the Bahamas one of the most popular resorts in the hemisphere. The islands’ many casinos are an additional attraction, and tourism is by far the country’s most important industry, providing 60% of the gross domestic product and employing about half of the workforce. Financial services are the nation’s other economic mainstay, although many international businesses left after new government regulations on the financial sector were imposed in late 2000.

Salt, rum, aragonite, and pharmaceuticals are produced, and these, along with animal products and chemicals, are the chief exports. The Bahamas also possess facilities for the transshipment of petroleum. The country’s main trading partners are the United States and Spain. Since the 1960s, the transport of illegal narcotic drugs has been a problem, as has the flow of illegal refugees from other islands.

Notes from Wikipedia and Answers.com

Cyprus: History, Culture & Economy

July 31, 2010 by  

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Cyprus (pronounced /ˈsaɪprəs/; Greek: Κύπρος, KýprosIPA: /ˈcipros/; Turkish: Kıbrıs), – officially the Republic of Cyprus (Greek: Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία, Kypriakī́ DīmokratíaIPA: /cipriaˈci ðimokraˈtia/; Turkish:Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti) – is a Eurasian island country in the Eastern Mediterranean, south of Turkey and west of Syria and Lebanon. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of its most popular tourist destinations. An advanced, high-income economy with a very high Human Development Index, the Republic of Cyprus was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement until it joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.

The earliest known human activity on the island dates back to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Choirokoitia (also known as Khirokitia), which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Tombs of the Kings. Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world, and is the site of the earliest known example of feline domestication. As a strategic location in the Middle East, Cyprus has been occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Hittites, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Rashiduns,Umayyads, Lusignans, Venetians and Ottomans. Settled by Mycenean Greeks in the 2nd millennium BC, the island also experienced periods of Greek rule under the Ptolemies and the Byzantines. In 333 B.C., Alexander the Great took over the island from the Persians. It was placed under British administration in 1878 until it was granted independence in 1960, becoming a member of the Commonwealth the following year.

In 1974, following 11 years of intercommunal violence and an attempted coup d’état by Greek Cypriot nationalists, Turkey invaded and occupied the northern portion of the island. The intercommunal violence and subsequent Turkish invasion led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of ongoing dispute.

The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the entire island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters except small portions, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, that are allocated by treaty to the United Kingdom as sovereign military bases. The Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts, the area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, comprising about 59% of the island’s area and the Turkish-occupied area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 37% of the island’s area and recognized only by Turkey.

The traditional folk music of Cyprus has several common elements with Greek, Turkish, and Arabic music including Greco-Turkish dances such as the soustasyrtoszeibekikostatsia, and kartsilamas as well as the Middle Eastern-inspired tsifteteli and arapie. There is also a form of musical poetry known as chattista which is often performed at traditional feasts and celebrations. The art history of Cyprus can be said to stretch back up to 10,000 years, following the discovery of a series of Chalcolithic period carved figures in the villages of Khoirokoitia and Lempa and the island is also the home to numerous examples of high quality religious icon painting from the Middle Ages.

Agricultural products include citrus, vegetables, cereal grains, potatoes, olives, and cotton; in addition, the Greek sector grows deciduous fruits and wine grapes, and the Turkish side, where agriculture is more important, grows tobacco and table grapes. Poultry, hogs, sheep, goats, and some cattle are raised. Fishing is an important industry in the Turkish sector, and the Greek side has a strong manufacturing economy that produces building materials, textiles, chemicals, and metal, wood, paper, stone, and clay products. There is also food and beverage processing, ship repair, and petroleum refining. Mineral resources include copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, and salt. Tourism is important for both areas; financial services are also important in the Greek sector. The Greek sector is considerably more prosperous than the Turkish side, which is heavily dependent on aid from Turkey.

Notes from Wikipedia and Answers.com

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