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lauantai 28. helmikuuta 2015

Dominican Republic, Cool Facts #15

14. Cuba <=                                                                                                              => 16. El Salvador 

1. The brother of Columbus founded Santo Domingo

In 1496 Bartolomeo, the brother of Christopher Columbus founded the first Spanish city at the island, Santo Domingo. It became an important base of the New World. Columbus named the island La Española which was then called Hispaniola later. It is said that the tomb of Columbus is supposedly in Santo Domingo.

2. The West Side and East Side of Hispaniola island

There are like two different worlds inside one small island. Haiti is in the west side and the Dominican Republic in the east side of the island. Crossing the border is like going from Africa to Latin America, the culture is so different. Why ? The country was first under Spain's control, but France conquered the island in one point and expanded its influence in the island of Hispaniola. Dominican Republic became independent but Haiti attempted many times to conquer it. This created two poles to the island, one which was under French influence and the other with Spanish influence.

3. The Perejil Massacre

In 1937 Rafael Trujillo ordered the army to eliminate the black Haitians. The army soldiers distinguished the black Haitians from the local people by asking them to pronounce the word "perejil" which means parsley. The French and Creole speaking Haitians weren't able to pronounce the "r". Those who couldn't pronounce the word were massacred.

4. The Unique Flag of Dominican Republic

There are two reasons why it's very unique. First, it's very unique to have the Bible in the coat-of-arms of the flag. Second, it's very rare to have a cross like this in a flag outside of Scandinavia. The colors originate from Haiti's flag, which is Dominican Republic's previous conquerer.

5. Dictator Trujillo

During his presidency Rafael Trujillo renamed Santo Domingo as Ciudad Trujillo and the country's highest mountain top Pico Duarte was renamed as Pico Trujillo. Trujillo was a dictator and he performed massacres but he was supported by the local elite and USA. At the end he was assassinated in 1961.

Dominican Republic is famous for:

Beautiful beaches


1492 Christopher Columbus visited the island of Hispaniola
1496 Bartolomeo, the brother of Christopher Columbus, establishes the city of Santo Domingo
1697 France got 1/3 of the island, the western part which is the current Haiti
1795 France conquers the whole island
early 1800s The slaves win the rebellion and declare Haiti independent
1808 The Spanish with the aid of the british gain the power back
1821 Spanish Haiti becomes independent with their leader Jose Nunez de Caseres but becomes conquered by Haiti after 9 weeks
1844 Santo Domingo becomes Dominican Republic and declares independence again
1861-65 Under Spanish power because of Haiti's several conquest attempts
1865 Buenaventura Baez begins the era of unstable governments
1930 Corrupt dictator Rafael Trujillo as president, supported by the local elite and USA
1961 Trujillo gets assasinated
1965 USA invasion because of the Cuban revolution
1996 Leonel Fernandez replaces the autoritarian president Joaquin Balaguer. During Fernandez's terms the country has developed a lot

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen 

Cuba, Cool Facts #14

13. Puerto Rico <=                                                                                    => 15. Dominican Republic

1. The Story of Cuba's Flag

The Cuban flag was designed in New York in the mid-1800s. The Cuban revolutionary immigrants led by Narciso Lopez designed the flag. Lopez wanted Cuba to join USA. The model of the flag was taken from the symbols of USA and France, the most revolutionary countries of that time.

Symbolism in the flag:

Blue stripes: refer to Cuba's eastern and western coastal provinces and to highlands of the central parts.
White stripes: describes the purity of the ideals
Red triangle: represents freedom, fraternity and equality and the color represent the blood sacrifice on the behalf of independence
Star: the symbol of free and independent nation

2. Cuba's independence and Guantanamo

In 1902 Cuba became independent under the condition that USA gained control of the naval base, Guantanamo. The second condition was the right to intervene in Cuba's internal affairs. USA used that right when it occupied Cuba in 1906-1909 and 1917. The american investors bought a lot of land and real estates, expanding the plantations and opening summer resorts to the coast.

3. Most developed communist state

Cuba is the only communist state which has got a "very high" human development ranking from the UN. Nobody knows how developed it would have become if it didn't need to spend so much money on defense costs and fighting the embargo.
In Cuba inequality is low, education is free and available for everyone. Health services are exceptionally broad and high-quality. The life-expectancy at birth is a staggering 79 years for a developing country.

4. The Communist Revolution

The gap between rich and poor deepened in 1933 and sergeant Fulgencio Batista took the power after the general strike. Batista's dictatorship, growing unrest and unstability gave birth to the July 26 Movement which was led by Fidel Castro. The revolutionaries displaced Batista and Fidel Castro took the power. Cuba became an enemy to USA so Cuba had to turn to Soviet Union's side as a communist country. After the Bay of Pigs USA promised to not to intervene with Cuba's affairs but it also isolated Cuba into a strict embargo.

5. Siempre Fidelisima

Spain gave Cuba the nickname "La Siempre Fidelisima Isla" which means "always faithful island". This was after the Spanish Empire collapsed in the America's because Cuba remained part of Spain. The plantation owners wanted to continue under the Spanish throne because it gave protection against the slave rebellions and pirates. It also protected it from the british and americans who tried to abolish slavery which the plantation owners opposed.

Famous Cubans

Javier Sotomayor - World Record man in high jump
Fidel Castro - Revolutionary Leader


Prior to the arrival of the Spanish the land was inhabited by the Arawak people
1492 Christopher Columbus lands to Cuba and claims it for the Kingdom of Spain
1513 Slaves from West Africa are being shipped to Cuba
1800s Cuba produced more than 40% of the sugar in the world market
1868 First large-scale rebellion against Spain led by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, it led to a war of 10 years
1886 Slavery abolished
1890s Second rebellion attempt led by the poet Jose Martin
1895 Jose Martin dies in a battle and becomes a national hero
1898 USA in war against Spain, it invades Cuba
1902 Cuba gets independence
1933 Sergeant Fulgencio Batista's corrupted government rises to power
1959 The revolutionaries supersede Batista with Fidel Castro as their leader
1961 Bay of Pigs
1970s Cuban troops support in Africa the marxist regimes of Ethiopia and Angola
1990 Economical problems after the dissolution of the Soviet Union
2008 Fidel Castro gives up power to his brother Raul Castro

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

keskiviikko 18. helmikuuta 2015

Puerto Rico, Cool Facts #13

12. Chile <=                                                                                                                        => 14. Cuba 

1. Cuba and Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico copied its flag from Cuba but it reversed the colors. Cuba had in fact got inspiration from the American flag with the star and the stripes. It's ironical how different destinies these two countries had in the future. In 1898 in the Treaty of Paris Cuba and Puerto Rico were both attached to USA:s possession after the Spanish-American War. Just 4 years later Cuba got independence in 1902. After Fidel Castro's communist revolution in 1959 Cuba turned into one of USA:s worst enemies besides the Soviet Union. Puerto Rico instead is still part of the USA.

2.  The First and the Only President of Puerto Rico

In 1868 Lares, Puerto Rico declared independence for a short time after a rebellion. The first and only president of Puerto Rico was Francisco Ramirez Medina. He abolished slavery and freed people of carrying mandatory work permits. The Spanish army suppressed the rebellion very fast and executed the leaders. In the end of the decade Spain lost Puerto Rico to USA despite the attempts of giving more autonomy and freedom to Puerto Rico to keep them satisfied.

3. Rejection of Independence

Why isn't Puerto Rico independent ? The citizens of Puerto Rico are automatically citizens of the United States. Puerto Ricans can move freely to USA, they don't need to pay taxes for the federal government or go to the army. But citizens living in Puerto Rico can't vote in the presidential elections. Still the advantage of being part of USA is bigger than being independent. 2,5 million Puerto Ricans live in USA.

4. To be Independent, Autonomous or USA:s 51th State ?

The three big parties are PPD, PNP and PIP. Politics is determined by the attitude towards USA and not by the usual left-right division.

PPD supports the current autonomous situation
PNP wants Puerto Rico to become the 51th state of USA
PIP wants independence

There has been a referendum about Puerto Rico's situation four times. In 1967, 1993, 1998 the majority wanted to continue the autonomy. In 2012 the majority wanted Puerto Rico to gain a US state status. With independence Puerto Ricans would lose the valuable US citizenship.

5. Early days of Puerto Rico 

First the island was called San Juan Bautista according to the biblical figure John the Baptist. The harbor which was risen there got the name Puerto Rico. Then in 1521 the island was named Puerto Rico and the city around the harbor San Juan. It was named after the conquistador Juan Ponce de León who destroyed the native Carib-indians. From the 1500s until the 1800s Puerto Rico was a reason of dispute between England and Spain, because England tried to conquer Puerto Rico without any success. Puerto Rico's location was very good with its natural harbors. It's still an important passage way towards the Panama Canal.


1500s The Spanish migrants settle to Puerto Rico
1600s Spain maintains power despite the conquest attempts of France, England and Holland
1800 Other Latin American countries become independent
1868 Puerto Rico declares independence but the revolt is suppressed quickly by Spanish troops
1873 Slavery is abolished
1895 Puerto Rico gets its own flag which is a copy of the Cuban flag with reversed colors
1898 USA wins the war against Spain and takes Puerto Rico to its own possession
1952 Puerto Rico gets autonomy as a part of USA

Famous Puerto Ricans

Benicio del Toro - actor
Jennifer Lopez - artist
Jimmy Smits - actor (Bail Organa in Star Wars)
Marc Anthony - artist
Ricky Martin - artist

Maailman maat liput ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

tiistai 17. helmikuuta 2015

Chile, Cool Facts #12

11. Argentina <=                                                                                                      => 13. Puerto Rico 

1. La Araucana

La Araucana is the national epic of Chile. It tells the fight between the Mapuche indians and the Spanish conquistadors. After almost 100 years of fighting in the Arauco War, Spain had to leave the Mapuches an area of 100,000 square meters in 1641. The Mapuche soldiers used blue-white-red ribbons as their symbols and this color combination became the symbol of Chile.

2. The French King of Araucania

Between 1860-62 the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia ruled the southern parts of Chile and Argentina with the frenchman Orelie-Antoine de Tounens as their king. The mapuches probably thought they would get a better treatment if they had an European king. Orelie-Antoine was captured by the Chilean troops and sent to a madhouse in Chile because both Chilean and Argentinean authorities thought he was insane. Between 1869-71 Araucania was established again before Chile ended its autonomy. In 1878 Orelie-Antoine died penniless in France after struggle to get authority over his conquered kingdom.

3. Large Mineral Resources 

Huge copper and sodium nitrate deposits were found in the deserts of northern Chile. It became the world's biggest copper exporter and there lies 25% of the world's known copper deposits. North American companies started taking advantage of the country's natural resources. Sodium nitrate lost its significance when nitrogen was learned to produce artificially in the early 1900s.

Escondida Copper Mine

4. Socialist Salvador Allende

Salvador Allende was the president between 1970-73. He died in a rebellion in 1973. During his presidency he nationalized the banks and copper mines, started a land reform and launched education and health services in the slums. The right-wing opposition resisted the changes and paralyzed the economy. Things got even worse when USA declared an embargo against Chile, this was because USA didn't like socialists. The rebellion broke out and Pinochet took the power in a military coup with the help and approval of USA . Allende died during the rebellion.

5. Dictator Augusto Pinochet

Pinochet was the president from 1974 to 1990. He got support from the USA because they wanted to "eliminate marxism" from all over the world. Lands were returned to the rich landowners, state companies privatized and social services were demolished. The economy grew and it was called the "Miracle of Chile" but the wealth was distributed very unevenly. The military government of Pinochet also banned political parties and trade unions. Tens of thousands of opponents of the military junta were arrested, tortured and killed. In 1998 Pinochet was arrested in England for violations of human rights but due to health issues he had to be left to return to Chile. He died in 2006.


1400 The Inca Empire extends to northern Chile in the end of the century
1530 Spanish conquistadors defeat the incas
1541 Pedro de Valdivia declares the land to Spain, but indians kill Valdivia and his troops
1810 The first autonomous government is established in Santiago (Primerea Junta de Gobierno)
1814 The Junta was defeated and the rebellion was lead by Bernardo O'Higgins, supported by the argentinean Jose de San Martin's army
1817 The war ends
1818 Chile's declaration of independence, O'Higgins the first president. 
1860-62 The native Mapuche tribe establish the kingdom of Araucania
1896-71 Araucania is established again, but Chile ends their autonomy attacking the Mapuches
1879-83 War of the Pacific against Bolivia and Peru, conquered Antofagasta from Bolivia
1924-32 Military government
1970 Salvador Allende, left-wing president into power
1973 Augusto Pinochet overthrows Allende with them help of USA
1990 Pinochet's presidency ends 
2002 Ricardo Lagos Escobar first socialist president since Allende
2006 Michelled Bachelet socialist and first woman president

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

maanantai 9. helmikuuta 2015

Argentina, Cool Facts #11

10. Venezuela <=                                                                                                                 => 12. Chile

1. Argentina's name 

Argentina got its name from silver which was sought after in the areas of Buenos Aires when the first Europeans arrived there. Argentum is silver in latin and "argento" in italian and this is where the name Argentina derives from. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay were all part of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata and actually "plata" is silver in spanish.

2. Sol de Mayona

It all began in 1810 with the May Revolution when the Argentineans were demanding for independence. During the demonstration the cloudy sky cleared and the sun started shining between the clouds, which expressed the optimism of the moment. This Sol de mayona, the sun of may started shining on the flag of Argentina afterwards because of this incident.

3. Argentina's land area

When Argentina got independence it was half smaller than nowadays. The inner lands and the whole southern Patagonia were under the control of the native indian populations. Currently Argentina is the 8th biggest country in the world.

4. Guerra Sucia

From the early 70s until 1983 Argentina experiences a period of state terrorism which was called Guerra Sucia, the dirty war. During this period a lot of left-wing activists, communists and members of the opposition were victims of the violence practiced by the military junta. After Argentina the name Guerra Sucia was used in other countries with state terrorism practiced by the military governments. 

5. Falkland War 

In 1982 general Leopoldo Galtier decided to conquer back the Falkland Islands from the UK after having demanded it for a long time. He thought that he would get more support from the people by recovering the Falkland Islands to Argentina. He assumed that the UK wouldn't take any military measures which was wrong. Britain's reaction was unexpectedly strong and after a couple of months of fighting Argentina lost the war and the military junta fell. Argentina returned to democracy. 

Famous Argentineans

Lionel Messi - Football player
Ernesto "Che" Guevara - Marxist revolutionary
Juan Manuel Fangio - Formula 1 legend 
Luisana Lupilato - Artist, model and Michael Buble's spouse
Eva Peron - Politician 


1400s The Inca Empire reaches Argentina
1516 Juan Diaz de Solis arrives to Argentina
1580 First permanent settlements
1776 Argentina is part of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de La Plata with URU, BOL and PAR. 
1807 The British fail in the attempt of conquering Argentina
1810 May Revolution 
1816 Declaration of Independence for the Viceroyalty of the Rio de La Plata
1852 Buenos Aires declares independence, Civil War begins
1862 Civil War ends and Buenos Aired attached back to Argentina 
1865-70 Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in war against Paraguay 
1900s Argentina rises in the Top10 richest countries
1929 Worldwide recession and military regime collapse the development
1946 Juan Peron as the president
1955 Juan Peron displaced in a military coup
1974 Isabel Peron as the president, the third wife of Juan Peron
1976 Guerra Sucia begins when Isabel Peron is overthrown by a military coup led by general              Jorge Videla
1982 Falkland War against the UK 
2001 Argentina's economy collapses after a banking crisis
2003 Nestor Kirchner as the president
2007 Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as the president, Nestor's wife

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen 

lauantai 7. helmikuuta 2015

Venezuela, Cool Facts #10

9. Uruguay <=                                                                                                            => 11. Argentina

1. Columbus in Venezuela

Christopher Columbus arrived in Venezuela in the year 1498. He landed at the shores of the Orinoco Delta. The area was inhabited by the native Arawak and Carib people.

2. Little Venice 

In 1499 Alonso de Ojeda was in Venezuela and he named the area "Veneziola" because the stilt houses in Lake Maracaibo reminded of the city Venice. The country got its current spelling as a result of Spanish influence. The suffix -uela is a diminutive term, so the original meaning of the name was Little Venice. The other story tells that the name derived from an indigenous population who called themselves the "Veneciuela".

3. Discovery of Oil 

In the 1920s large oil deposits were found in Venezuela and it became fast world's biggest oil exporter. In the year 1976 Carlos Andres Perez took the oil production under state control.

4. Large dependance of oil 

Venezuela gets 95% of the country's export revenues from oil. Oil production also covers more than half of the state budget.

5. Hugo Chavez
Chavez became the president in 1999 and he was the president until he died in 2013. He had already attempted to rise in power in 1992 in an unsuccessful military coup. Chavez was a leftist who acted for the poor. He carried out a land reform, limited the independence of the central bank, nationalized banks and promised a state pension for everyone. USA wasn't in good terms with Chavez and he was accused of having an autoritarian regime. 


1498 Columbus arrives in Venezuela
1550s First Spanish migrants move to the area
1811 Venezuela declares Independence 
1819 Venezuela part of Gran Colombia
1830 Venezuela becomes independent from Gran Colombia
1920 Oil was found in Venezuela 
1954 Venezuela's current flag was brought in use
1976 Oil production under state control 
1999 Hugo Chavez becomes the president
2006 The 200-anniversary for Miranda's and Bolivar's tricolor
2013 Chavez dies

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

keskiviikko 4. helmikuuta 2015

Uruguay, Cool Facts #9

8. Paraguay <=                                                                                                            => 10. Venezuela

1. First Settlements 

In 1516 the Spanish conquistador Juan Diaz de Solis was the first European in Rio de la Plata (current Uruguay). The Charrua indians resisted the arrival of the Spanish and they killed Solis and his troops. Precious metals weren't found so the area was abandoned until the 1680s when Portuguese people from Brazil established the first permanent settlements. 

2. Argentina helped Uruguay in its Independence struggle

Argentina helped Uruguay to fight against Spain and Brazil for its independence. After 3 years of fighting Uruguay declared its independence in 1828. The flag was inspired by the flag of USA and colors and the symbol of freedom, the sun of May" was adopted from the Argentinean flag. 

3. 8-hour working day is from Uruguay 

The foundation for the current welfare state was created in 1903. The visionary president Jose Batlle y Ordonez was elected as the president and his presidency lasted until 1915. During his term Uruguay developed to a welfare state. 

Battle's regime's achievements: 

Free basic education 
Minimum wage 
Unemployment benefits 
Retirement pensions  
The death penalty was abolished
The church was separated from the state 
Gender equality was promoted
Uruguay nationalized energy utilities and its wool and cotton export profits were directed into public services 
The 8-hour working day laws were created in Uruguay as the first country in the world. 

4. South America's Switzerland

Because of its prosperous nation Uruguay is called the Switzerland of South America. There are no poor shantytowns and slums like in its neighbouring countries. The whole population descendants of Europeans, mainly with Spanish or Italian origins. 

5. The Era without presidents

In the years 1919-33 and 1951-66 Uruguay didn't have a president. They wanted to prevent the concentration of political power with this system which resembled Switzerland's political system. In Switzerland the executive power is in the hands of the seven-member Federal Council from which a president is elected for one year who actually doesn't have real power that much. 


1516 The Spanish Juan Diaz de Solis arrives to Uruguay
1680 The Portuguese build permanent settlements
1726 The Spanish people establish the city of Montevideo pushing the Portuguese away and                destroying the natives. 
1777 Uruguay attached to La Plata of Spain. 
1828 Uruguay's Independence
1903-15 Jose Batlle y Ordonez's presidency
1930 Military coup during the recession
1973 Military coup 
1984 Return to civil power after demonstrations and a general strike 

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

tiistai 3. helmikuuta 2015

Paraguay, Cool Facts #8

7. Bolivia <=                                                                                                                     => 9. Uruguay

 1. Inequality 

1% of the landowners own 70% of the land suitable to agriculture. 33% of the population lives in poverty. 

2. The Flag of Paraguay

It's the only flag in the world that has a different frontside and backside. The coat-of-arms of the state is on the frontside and the Treasury seal is in the backside. The branches of a palmtree and olivetree in the coat-of-arms represent respect and peace. The star in the coat-of-arms represents the star of May that shone in the sky when the Declaration of Independence was given in May 14th 1811. 

 3. Ethnically Uniform State

The population is ethnically and culturally very uniform. They are descendants of the indian and Spanish people. Nearly everyone speaks both Spanish and Guarani in the country. 

A very interesting dictator of Paraguay between the years 1814-1840. He spoke 5 languages and was one of the two people who had a doctorate degree in Paraguay. He admired the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau's book "The Social Contract" also Robespierre and Napoleon were his role models. He isolated Paraguay from the world trying to create a self-sustaining utopia. De Francia prohibited settlers from Europe marrying each others, only mulattos, mestizos and indians were suitable partners to them. This is how the population got mixed. 

Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia

5. Nazis

After the World War II over 200,000 nazis fled to Paraguay. Alfredo Stroessner was the president of Paraguay between 1954-1989 and he was criticized when he protected the nazis and offered a refuge to Josef Mengele, who was one of the most notorious nazis. The explanation for this might be that Stroessner's father was German and he was in good terms with West Germany and visited there often. Stroessner also gave asylum to other dictators like Juan Peron and Anastasio Somoza. 

Alfredo Stroessner


1500s The Guarani confront the Spanish conquistadors
1537 Paraguay is attached to the Viceroyalty of Peru
1811 Paraguay becomes independent 
1814-40 Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia's dictatorship
1865-70 War against Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay
1932-35 Chaco War against Bolivia
1954-89 Alfredo Stroessner's dictatorship

Maailman maat liput ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen