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lauantai 18. huhtikuuta 2015

Mozambique, Cool Facts #26

25. Sao Tome & Principe <=                                                                                       => 27. Cape Verde

1. Weapon in the flag

Mozambique is the only state which has a modern gun in its flag. The gun is the AK-47 Kalashnikov.  It was adopted from the leading political party FRELIMO. In 2005 the FRELIMO-led parliament rejected 169 proposals of the new flag including the current flag without the rifle. 

Green: riches of the land
White: peace
Black: the African content
Yellow: the country's minerals
Red: the struggle for independence
Star: Marxism and internationalism
Hoe: the country's agriculture
Book: importance of education
Rifle: defense and vigilance

2. Where did Mozambique get its name ?

The Arab trader Mussa Ben Mbiki visited an island which was named after him Mozambique. In 1498 the Portuguese Vasco da Gama sailed to the coast and met the Arab sheik Mussa Ben Mbiki who lived on the island named after him. This island-town was actually the capital of the Portuguese colony until 1898 and the name of the whole country derived from the island of Mozambique.

Vasco da Gama

3. Beginning of Independence

Mozambique became independent from Portugal in 1975, it was the result of revolution in Portugal. Portugal had returned to democracy after a leftist military coup in Lisbon in 1974.

In the beginning of the independence, the leader of the FRELIMO party ordered all the Portuguese to leave the country in 24 hours with only 20 kilograms of luggage. Most of the people returned to Portugal penniless because of this. When the Portuguese left they also destroyed a lot of the infrastructure that they owned including factories and equiment. This was a very bad thing for the future of the country.

Portuguese Revolution 1974

4. Communism

Mozambique became a one-party Marxist state in 1977 under president Samora Michel. Their government got support from Cuba and the Soviet Union. The anti-communist rebels from RENAMO started fighting against the FRELIMO led government. This caused the Civil War which lasted until 1992.

During this time the economy collapsed, the infrastructure was bad, there war famines and failed central planning. It didn't help when Rhodesia and South Africa sabotaged Mozambique after this all. The cause of the sabotage was that Mozambique supported the anti-apartheid movements of Rhodesia and South-Africa.

Samora Machel

5. Economy 

About 30% of Mozambique's exports comprise aluminium products. This is the most important thing to know about the country's exports.

In the colonial times there were produced sugar cane, copra, cashew nuts and tea. Since the year 2001 the economy has grown in a fast pace in Mozambique. Actually BBC reported that since 2009 some people returned back to Mozambique from Portugal because the economy in Portugal was getting so bad.

Mozambique is famous for

Cashew nuts
Unspoilt sandy beaches

Mozambique Mountain


0-1000 Bantu tribes inhabit the area
800s Arab traders set trading posts to sell ivory, gold and slaves
1498 Portuguese Vasco da Gama sails to the coast, Mozambique becomes checkpoint going towards India
1600s The Maravi kingdom spreads to northern Mozambique
1752 Mozambique becomes a Portuguese colony
1878 Portugal abolishes slavery
1885 Berlin Conference, the country is declared as Portuguese East Africa
1907 Maputo becomes the capital
1917 Rebellion, Portugal loses the power of its colony for 3 years
1951 Mozambique becomes a Portuguese province
1964 Freedom movement Frelimo starts the fight for freedom
1975 Independence
1977 Civil War begins
1980 Severe droughts and violence, 2 million people escape to Malawi
1984 Nkomati contract, South-Africa and Mozambique agree on not letting their area to be used against each other. The South African anti-apartheid party ANC has to leave Mozambique then
1990 Planned economy is abandoned, Mozambique shifts to multi-party system
1992 Civil War ends

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

keskiviikko 15. huhtikuuta 2015

São Tomé and Príncipe, Cool Facts #25

24. Angola <=                                                                                                           => 26. Mozambique 

1. The Story behind the Flag

The two black stars in the flag represent the two main islands which together form the state of São Tomé and Príncipe. The other island is São Tomé and the other one Príncipe. The colors have been inspired by the flag of Ghana with its panafrican colors.

Red: represents the fight for freedom
Green: represents the lush nature
Yellow: represents the cocoa plantations

2. Discovery of São Tomé and Príncipe

The Portuguese navigators João de Santarém and Pedro Escobar were the first Europeans in São Tomé and Príncipe which was at the time of the discovery uninhabited. The islands became bases for trade with the mainland. Slaves were imported to the sugar plantations at first, but later the plantations in the Caribbean became more important and São Tomé and Príncipe were used more for slave trade.

3. Batepá massacre 

This was an event occurred on February 3, 1953 which started the national sentiment in São Tomé and Príncipe. The reason was a shortage of labour and the native creoles feared that the Portuguese landowners would force them to work. Several hundred of African labourers were killed as a consequence. After this event the Portuguese farmers started importing paid labour from Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde. This day is a national holiday nowadays.

4. 174th Safest Investment Destination 

In 2011 Euromoney Country Risk ranked São Tomé and Príncipe as the 174th safest investment destination. If you like to have a high risk on your investments São Tomé and Príncipe could be your place to be.
Cocoa represents 95% of the countries agricultural exports. They have also small oil deposits. Overall the economy isn't on a very safe foundation since the undeveloped education system can't produce a highly educated work force. Education is compulsory for only four years.

5. Democracy

In 1990 São Tomé and Príncipe became one of the first democratic African country. They changed the constitution and made a democratic reform, opposition political parties were legalized. São Tomé and Príncipe had nonviolent and free elections in 1991 and in 1996. So the country has functioned as a multiparty system since 1990. There are problems with the freedom of speech and some other human rights though.

Miguel Trovoada, president elected in 1991

São Tomé and Príncipe is famous for: 

Cocoa (World's largest producer in 1908)
Being the smallest Portuguese speaking country (population and land-area)
Being the second smallest African country
Safety (very low violence rates)


1471 The Portuguese arrive at the uninhabited islands
1400s In the end of the century sugar cane plantations are created
1517 and 1595 Slave rebellions
1800s The sugar cane plantations are replaced with the coffee and cocoa plantations
1876 Portugal abolishes slavery
1951 São Tomé and Príncipe becomes a Portuguese province
1972 Freedom movement MLSTP starts an unarmed fight for freedom
1975 Independence from Portugal
1991 Opposition party PCD wins MLSTP
1995 Military coup, Angola helps to restore the civilian power
2003 Military coup

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

torstai 2. huhtikuuta 2015

The History of the Spanish-Speaking World

There are 20 sovereign states + Puerto Rico where Spanish is the official language. I have written interesting facts and stories about every Spanish speaking country in the world. Here are links to these previous writings.

Total: 21 

Europe (1) 

Africa (1)

Central America (10)

South America (9)

Here in this post I'm going through the most important periods of time considering the current Spanish speaking world.

The Middle Ages 1000-1492

1212 Fight of Tolosa, The Christian kingdoms take the Iberian Peninsula back from the muslim caliphates. Only the Emirate of Granada in southern Spain remains under moslem rule.
1230 Castile and Leon merge
1469 Aragonia and Castile merge, the modern Spain is born
1492 After 800 years the moslems are banished from the Iberian Peninsula after the conquer of Granada

The Colonization 1492-1778 

1492 Christopher Columbus starts the voyages to the Americas, Spain becomes the first superpower of the world.
1492 Columbus arrives at Cuba and the Dominican Republic
1493 Columbus arrives at Puerto Rico
1498 Columbus sails to the shores of Venezuela
1501 Rodrigo de Bastidas first European in Panama
1502 Columbus arrives at Honduras
1502 Columbus arrives at Costa Rica on his 4th voyage
1516 Juan Diaz de Solis sails to Uruguay
1516 Juan Diaz de Solis arrives at Argentina
1519 Cortes arrives at Mexico to the city of Tenochtitlan
1522 The Spanish arrive at Nicaragua after crossing the Panama Isthmus
1523 The Spanish arrive at Guatemala
1525 Pedro de Alvarado's troops establish the city of San Salvador in El Salvador
1525 The Spanish establish the first settlement in Colombia
1530s Francisco Pizarro conquers Bolivia which is part of the Inca Empire with Peru and Ecuador
1532 Francisco Pizarro conquers Cuzco in Peru
1533 Francisco Pizarro reclaims Ecuador to Spain
1537 The Spanish establish Asuncion in Paraguay
1541 Pedro de Valdivia reclaims Chile to Spain
1778 Spain gets Equatorial Guinea in an exchange of land from Portugal

The crucial moment that led Spain to become the world's first superpower was the unification of Aragonia and Castile when prince Ferdinand of Aragonia married princess Isabella of Castile. Isabella funded the voyage of Columbus who reclaimed large territories from Latin America to Spain. Another important thing is that after 800 years of moslem presence the Christians managed to banish the moslems completely out of the Iberian Peninsula on the same year when Columbus started his first voyage, 1492.

During the colonization most of the current countries were ruled together as big territories which were called Viceroyalties. Here are the different Viceroyalties and the current countries that were part of them.

Viceroyalty of New Spain 1520-1821

El Salvador
Costa Rica 
Puerto Rico
USA (Texas, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Nevada, part of Wyoming)
Asia (Guam and Philippines)
+ other areas in different parts of the world

Viceroyalty of Peru 1542-1824
After 1717 and 1776 the Viceroyalty of Peru was sliced into smaller parts.

Costa Rica
Falkland Islands
French Guiana

Viceroyalty of New Granada 1717-1819

Trinidad and Tobago

Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata 1776-1814


The First Wave of losing colonies 1811-1828 

1700 The Spanish Habsburg's family dies away. Spain loses Belgium, parts of Italy to the Austrian Habsburgs, Sicily to the Savoi family and the British conquer Gibraltar. The Bourbon family rises in power.
1807 Napoleon attacks Spain and makes his brother Josef Bonaparte the king of Spain
1811 Paraguay becomes independent
1811 Venezuela becomes independent
1814 Napoleon gets defeated and the Bourbons return their power
1816 Argentina becomes independent
1818 Chile becomes independent
1819 Colombia becomes independent
1820 The city of Guayaquil in Ecuador becomes independent
1821 Mexico becomes independent
1821 The Dominican Republic becomes independent
1821 Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador become independent unified as one state, the Federal Republic of Central America
1821 Peru declares independence but manages to defeat the Spanish in 1824 finally
1822 Ecuador becomes independent
1825 Bolivia becomes independent
1828 Uruguay becomes independent

First Spain lost areas in Europe because the Habsburg's bloodline didn't continue and the power shifted to the Bourbon family. Some other big families in Europe took advantage of the situation and conquered areas for themselves like Belgium, Sicily and Gibraltar.

Spain got weaker in 1807 when Napoleon attacked it. This gave an opportunity to the Spanish colonies to start the fight for freedom. Spain had weakened in the war against France and when Napoleon got defeated in 1814 it was already late, the freedom movements had become too strong in Latin America. So in 17 years Spain lost nearly all of its colonies.

When Latin America became independent it created three big empires at the same time which consisted many current countries. These were the Mexican Empire, the Federal Republic of Central America and Gran Colombia.

Mexican Empire 

1821 Mexico becomes independent and conquers Central America
1823 Mexico becomes a federation and Central America becomes independent
1846-1848 Mexico loses California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona

Federal Republic of Central America

1821 Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica become independent as the Federal Republic of Central America but Mexico occupies it
1823 Central America becomes independent
1838-1840 Civil War, the Federation collapses and all the countries in Central America become independent.
1903 Panama becomes independent with the aid of USA

Gran Colombia 

1819 Gran Colombia becomes independent. Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela are all part of Gran Colombia.
1830 Gran Colombia collapses when Venezuela and Ecuador become independent, but Panama remains a part of Colombia.

The Second Wave of losing colonies

1898 Spain loses Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and the Philippines to USA, the rising super power of the world.
1968 Spain lets Equatorial Guinea become independent

After the 1898 Spanish-American War Spain lost the War and had to abandon Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to USA, The reason of the war was that Spain tried to prevent Cuba from being independent. When the American warship USS Maine sank at the harbor of Havanna the Spanish were blamed and the war was declared soon after that.


1492-1541 Spain colonizes nearly the whole Latin America
1520-1824 The Viceroyalties rule Latin America
1811-1828 Most of the Latin American countries become independent
1819-1830 Gran Colombia (Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela)
1823-1840 Central American countries are unified as one state (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica)
1898 Spanish-American War, Spain loses Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and the Philippines
1968 In Africa Equatorial Guinea becomes independent from Spain