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torstai 25. kesäkuuta 2015

Algeria, Cool Facts #39

<= 38. South Sudan                                                                                                      40. Morocco =>

1. Biggest African and Arab country

Algeria is the largest Arab country and after the partition of Sudan it became also the largest African country. In the world rankings it's the 10th largest country, but about 90% of the land area is dead desert. Although the desert is a big source of oil. The profits for Algeria from oil cover 60% of the budget and 95% of the export revenues. Arabic and French are widely spoken in the country but 20% of the population speaks also Berber as their native language. 

North Africa map

2. Ottoman Algeria 1517-1830

In the beginning of the 1500s Spain had expelled the Moslem Moors from the Iberian Peninsula and  started conquering North Africa in return. This made the Algerians turn towards the aid of the Ottoman Empire. In 1516 the Ottoman admirals, brother Oruc and Hayreddin Barbarossa captured Algiers under the Ottoman rule. In 1556 Algiers was made the center place of Ottoman ruled North Africa. The sultanates kept their sovereignty under the Ottoman power. The Ottomans ruled the area until the 1800s when the Europeans started fighting against piracy in North Africa and when the French occupied Algeria.

Barbarossa brothers

3. Pirates of Algeria

Piracy flourished in the Mediterranean between the 16th to 19th century and it's estimated that the pirates captured from 1 million to 1,25 million Europeans as slaves. The expulsion of the Moors from Spain had started piracy and it happened under the protection of the Ottoman Empire. It was seen as a holy war against the Christians, since the Barbary pirates targeted only Christian and non-Islamic ships. The captured Christian slaves were sold then at slave markets in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire. USA initiated the First 1801-1805 and Second Barbary Wars 1815, when their vessels had become victims of piracy. After the wars Algeria had weakened and European fleets attacked Algiers in 1816 making the local leader, Dey, agree to end enslaving Christians. 

Algerian piracy: 

466 lost British merchant ships between 1609 to 1616
1627 two pirate ships from Algiers sailed to Iceland, raiding and capturing slaves
1629 pirate ships from Algeria raided the Faroe Islands
1801-1805 First Barbary War
1815 Second Barbary War
1816 Bombardment of Algiers

Barbary Wars

4. French colony for 132 years

In 1830 French troops invaded into Algeria. The next decades the French fought against Abd Al-Qadir's Algerian troops. From 1848 until independence, Algeria was administered as a part of France's Mediterranean region. French immigrants started moving to Algeria who were given land taken from tribal peoples.
The French government favored the Berbers mostly from Kabyles and thus created an indigenous elite. The dissatisfied Muslim population started demanding for more political autonomy and eventually independence in the 1950s. The tensions started the Algerian War in 1954 and ended in 1962 with Algerian independence.

Algeria becoming independent in 1962

5. Zinedine Zidane

The former football superstar Zinedine Zidane is French Algerian. His parents are Algerian Kabyle Berbers and his father is a harki. Because of his origins, Zinedine was discriminated as a child.

Here is the background about French Algerian immigrants:

After the independence many of the Pieds-Noirs returned back to France and many of the Harki, who were seen as traitors in Algeria, tried to migrate to France because in Algeria they confronted a lot of cruelty by the FLN or by lynch mobs. In France Charles Gaulle had actually ordered officials and army officers to prevent the Harki following the Pieds-Noirs to France. At first for some years France didn't recognize the Harki the right to stay in France as residents and citizens and they were kept in internment camps.

Harki = Algerian who fought with French troops against Algerian freedom fighters in the Algerian War 1954-1962
Pieds-Noirs = Europeans born in Algeria



2000 BC Berber tribes inhabit the land
146 BC The Romans destroyed the Carthaginians and Algeria became their province
400s Vandal occupation ends the Roman rule
600s Arabs spread Islam around Northern Africa
909 Shi'ite Fatimids defeat the Ibadiyya dynasty
944 Algiers is established
1000s Arab caliphates start ruling Algeria
1230s Almohad rule ends, Tlemcen separates itself as an independent Berber state led by the Zayyanid dynasty
1500s  Spain starts invading North Africa
1556 The Ottomans take the area under their rule
1775 Unsuccessful attempt to capture Algiers by Spain
1830 France invades into Algeria and ends the Ottoman rule
1848 France turns Algeria into its own province
1902 Present borders of Algeria established
1920 Liberation movements start emerging
1954 Bloody freedom fight begins
1962 The war ends with Algerian independence
1989 After riots other parties than FLN are allowed to operate
1990 Islamic party Front Islamique de Salut won the local elections
1991 The parliamentary elections were interrupted when it was obvious that FIS would win the overwhelmingly, the activity of the party was prohibited and since then no religious parties haven't been allowed to operate. Algeria got into civil war
2000 President Abdelaziz Bouteflika managed to calm down the situation cause by the islamic warriors
2011 Arab Spring causes anti-government demonstrations 

"Maailman liput maat ja historia"by Kimmo Kiljunen

maanantai 22. kesäkuuta 2015

South Sudan, Cool Facts #38

<= 37. Sudan                                                                                                                  => 39. Algeria

1. World's biggest people

The Dinka people are among the world's tallest people of the world among the Tutsi of Rwanda. The Dinka people are the biggest ethnic group in South Sudan and out of the population of 8 million there are about 5 million Dinka people. Some of the tallest people of the world have been Dinkas and many professional basketball players come from South Sudan.

Dinka NBA players

Manute Bol (2,31m): mother (2,08m), father (2,03m), sister (2,03m), great-grandfather (2,39m)
Luol Deng (2,06m)
Ater Majok (2,08m) 

Manute Bol 2,31m

2. Referendum result 98,83% 

In 2011 there was a referendum about the independence of South Sudan. 98,85% of the voters voted for the independence and thus South Sudan gained independence from Sudan. It broke one of the principles of the African Union which is that you don't change the borders left from the colonial times. There was dispute about the border and the North Sudanese troops occupied Abyei oil area between the borders of the two countries.

3. Sudanese oil 

In 1978 the american oil company Chevron found oil in Sudan, between South and North Sudan. Oil was the reason why the civil war broke out again in 1983 when the president Gaafar Nimeiry stopped South Sudan's autonomy because of the power to control the oil resources. The second war ended in 2005 with a peace treaty where it was stated that the oil revenue is split fifty-fifty for the two countries. Almost 80% of the oil deposits are in South Sudan but the oil pipelines, refineries and the export harbor are all in North Sudan in Port Sudan, so that's why the revenues are split fifty-fifty. South Sudan gets 98% of its revenue from producing oil, so the economy is highly dependent on oil. 

4. Sudd swamp area 

One of the world's largest swamp areas, Sudd, is in South Sudan. It's so vast that it isolated the South Sudan tribes from the influences of the north. During the wet season the swamp can cover over 130,000 square kilometers of area. Otherwise it's something around 30,000-50,000 square kilometers, but the size is highly variable. Because of Sudd it was quite hard to find the source of Nile and Sudd was the impenetrable barrier when people tried to navigate along the Nile. 

Size comparison (square km)

Greece: 131,990
Sudd (wet season): 130,000
Nicaragua: 130,373
Iceland: 103,000
Portugal: 92,090
Latvia: 64,559
Sudd (official): 59,000
Croatia: 56,594
Netherlands: 41,850
Belgium: 30,528

Sudd wetlands

5. Poor healthcare  

Sudan has one of the poorest healthcare systems of the world. After the civil war there are only three surgeons in South Sudan and one doctor for every half million people. The healthcare isn't the best in world like the statistics tell. The statistics are from the year 2004.

135/1000 under 5-year old children die
1/50 women die in childbirth
3 surgeons for over 8 million people
1 doctor/500,000 people
3 proper hospitals


1500s Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk tribes live along the Nile
1800s the Azande people have the strongest state on the region, they prevented the French, Belgian and Arab conquests
1821 The Egyptian khedives conquer Sennar sultanate of North Sudan
1842 The Egyptian troops reach Juba, the current capital and start slave trade and Christian mission
1878 South Sudan was set under the rule of the anglo-egyptian Sudan
1956 Sudan becomes independent, South Sudan doesn't get autonomy
1971 Joseph Lagun forms the liberation movement called South Sudan Liberation movement, SSLM
1972 The first civil war ends and South Sudan gets autonomy
1978 Chevron found oil between the borders of South and North Sudan
1983 Gaafar Nimeiry ends South Sudan's autonomy, the second civil war begins
2005 The second civil war ends in a peace treaty, South Sudan gets autonomy back
2011 South Sudan becomes independent after a referendum

Maailman liput maat ja historia

keskiviikko 17. kesäkuuta 2015

Sudan, Cool Facts #37

<= 36. Egypt                                                                                                           38. South Sudan => 

1. Sudan's size

Before the division of Sudan in 2011, it was the largest country in Africa and the Arab world. Now after the separation to Sudan and South Sudan, Sudan is the third largest country in Africa after Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and third largest country in the Arab world after Algeria and Saudi Arabia

2. Sharia law 

In Sudan the legal system is based on Islamic Sharia law. Here are some crazy facts about Sudan's law system.

  1. Stoning is a judicial punishment. Between 2009 and 2012 many women were sentenced to death by stoning
  2. Flogging is a legal punishment. Between 2009 and 2014 a lot of people were sentenced to 40-100 lashes. 
  3. Police officers are allowed to publicly whip women who are accused of public indecency
  4. Crucifixion and hanging are legal punishments
  5. Muslims who convert to Christianity can face the death penalty for apostasy
  6. Child marriages are allowed

3. Independence

In 1956 Sudan became independent from Egypt and United Kingdom. Sudan had unified with Egypt in 1820, when Mohammed Ali Pasha conquered it. Sudan was administered as a part of Egypt while Egypt was then a part of the Ottoman empire. Then in 1881 Egypt asked Britain's help when the Sudanese rebelled against Egypt but at the end Egypt became occupied by Britain. In 1899 the Anglo-Egyptian administration was established in which Britain and Egypt governed Sudan together, but actually Sudan was more like a colony to Britain. Britain had its own interests in North Africa so that's why it wanted Egypt and Sudan to stay as one state but when Arab nationalists rose in power in Egypt after the Egyptian Revolution in 1952, Britain let Sudan become independent in 1956.

4. Arab North and Black South

During the British administration in Sudan before the independence, Sudan had split into two territories already. The Muslim north where Arabs were the majority and the black south where black Christians where the majority. After independence the civil war started and lasted until 1972 when South Sudan got autonomy. That ended when oil was found in South Sudan in 1983, the loss of autonomy started the second civil war, which lasted until 2005. Finally in 2011 there was a referendum about independence and as a result South Sudan became independent. So the division of Sudan wasn't only ethnical and geographical but also political and financial. 

5. Land renting

Sudan has rented land to China, Saudi-Arabia, South Korea and Egypt which is suitable for agriculture. Land renting has become an important source of money for Sudan. Egypt produces yearly more than two million tons of wheat and Saudi-Arabia has rented more than million hectares of land for growing crops and livestock. 

So it's a rather strange situation that other countries produce food for their own needs on Sudan when the Sudanese population is starving in hunger while most of the people live in poverty and don't have enough food. 


500s Christianity spreads to the area. Coptic Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Alodia and Makuria flourish in the current Sudan
600s Islam starts spreading around Northern Africa
678 The Nubian Christian states sign a treaty with the caliphate of Umayyad called "Ablaut al-sharim", which ensures their sovereignty. Arabic and Islam spread to Sudan through the Arab traders.
1504 The sultanate of Sennar is established. Abyssinia managed to stop Sennar's expansion
1600s The sultanate of Darfur is established, which was independent until the end of the 1800s
1821 Mohammad Ali Pasha conquers the sultanate of Sennar and established Khartoum
1881 Rebellion against the Egyptians. Egypt asked help from the British but became occupied by them
1885 The British-Egyptian troops are defeated
1898 British soldiers suppress the revolt and Sudan is governed by the British then
1952 Arab nationalists rise in power in Egypt, until that the British had wanted to keep Sudan and Egypt as one state
1956 The British gave Sudan independence. Civil war had begun because the blacks from the south requested autonomy
1958 Military coup
1964 Civil power again
1969 A military coup by Jaafar Nimeiry
1972 Nimeiry ensures South Sudan's autonomy and thus ends the civil war
1983 Oil is found from South Sudan and South Sudan loses autonomy. The civil war begins again
1985 Nimeiry is superseded in an uprising in Khartoum
1989 General Omar al-Bashir leads a coup after a short period of civil power
1993 Sudan transforms into an authoritarian single-party state
1998 Sudan gets an islamic constitution
2003 Black farmers rebel against the ruling arabs in Darfur
2005 The government and Sudan People's Liberation Army sign a peace treaty. South Sudan gets autonomy back
2005 Chad declares war against Sudan
2011 After a referendum South Sudan becomes independent. The dispute over the border in the oil areas have continued in battles between SPLA and Sudan's army

"Maailman liput maat ja historia" by Kimmo Kiljunen

sunnuntai 14. kesäkuuta 2015

Egypt, Cool Facts #36

<= 35. Belgium                                                                                                                => 36. Sudan 

1. Polyglot Cleopatra

Cleopatra was the last active pharaoh of Egypt before it became a province of the Roman Empire. Cleopatra was part of the Ptolemaic dynasty which was of Macedonian Greek origin and they spoke Greek as their native language. Cleopatra was told the be the first member of his family who spoke Egyptian. Even though their family had ruled Egypt almost 300 years. Depending on the source, Cleopatra was told to speak fluently something between 6 to 9 languages.

The languages that Cleopatra spoke according to Plutarch: 



2. Egyptian language

The original language of Egypt was Coptic which was spoken until the 17th century before it became replaced by Arabic. It was spoken in Egypt since the 1st century AD. In the 6th century Islam came to Egypt and Arabic as the islamic language. Arabic replaced Coptic then completely as a language of daily life in the 17th century. Arabic had gained a strong position in the whole Northern Africa and Middle East with the spread of Islam.


3. Saladin's Eagle

Egypt got its current flag in 1984 when the black hawk of Qureish in the middle band of the flag was replaced by the Eagle of Saladin. Saladin was the first sultan of Egypt and Syria in 1174. He founded the Ayyubid dynasty. Saladin defeated the European crusaders of the Kingdom of Jerusalem which was a turning point with the Muslim powers in the region.

Saladin's eagle

4. Muhammad Ali Pasha

The man regarded as the founder of modern Egypt. Ironically he wasn't Egyptian. Muhammad Ali Pasha was a commander in the Ottoman army. His parents were Albanian and Albanian was his native language. During his reign Muhammad Ali Pasha instituted dramatic reforms in the military, economic and cultural spheres and established the Khedive dynasty that lasted until the Egyptian revolution in 1952. Muhammad Ali built the ground for the independent Egypt although Egypt didn't get independence from the Ottoman Empire during his lifetime. 

Muhammad Ali Pasha's actions

Nationalized all the land of Egypt
Modernized the industries of Egypt
Built a central bureaucracy
Sent promising citizens to study in Europe
Captured Hejaz back from the al-Saud family
Founded Khartoum as an outpost for the military
Had a secret dream of becoming the sultan of the whole Ottoman Empire

Muhammad Ali Pasha

5. Suez Canal 

In 1869 the Suez Canal was finished, it connected the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and had a length of 193 kilometers. It was a huge step for trade, when ships didn't need to sail around Africa to get to Asia, when they could just cross the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean to Red Sea and to Indian Ocean. The canal was built by a French company and designed by an Austrian engineer named Alois Negrelli.

Suez Canal timeline

1859 La Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez begins the constructions
1869 The canal is finished and opened for use
1875 The British government buys Egypt's shares because Egypt is in financial troubles
1888 The canal is opened for ships of all countries, The British send their military to supervise the canal as Britain declares the Suez Canal as their protectorate
1956 President Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal which leads to the Suez crisis, France and Britain attack to the canal to secure the international traffic, Egypt responds by sinking 40 ships. Later UN:n troops calm down the situation and the ownership shifts officially to Egypt.
1957 The canal is opened again
1962 Egypt pays compensation for all shareholders because of the nationalization
1967 Six day war closes the canal
1975 After 8 years Egypt opens the canal again

Suez Canal

This is Egypt


6000 BC agriculture begins in the Nile delta area
3150 BC Menes unites Lower and Upper Egypt, first pyramids were built
2600-2100 BC The Old Kingdom flourishes, The Giza pyramids were built in this era
1900-1700 BC The Middle Kingdom flourishes with Luxor as their center
1500-1000 BC The New Kingdom, the most famous pharaohs are from this era and Egypt was a international power at the time
525 BC Egypt was conquered by the Persian Empire until 404 BC
343 BC Egypt once more came under Persian rule
332 BC Alexander the Great conquers Egypt
30 BC Cleopatra commits suicide when caesar Augustus makes Egypt a Roman province
400 After the division of Rome, Egypt remains a part of Byzantium
640 The Arabs spread their language, culture and islam
969 Shiite Fatimids establish the capital of their caliphate in Cairo
1171 Kurdish warlord and sunna moslem Saladin displaces the Fatimid caliphate and proclaims himself a sultan
1250 The Mamluks, a military caste takes control after the fall of the Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty
1517 Egypt becomes a part of the Ottoman Empire, the Mamluks still had power under their rule
1804 Albanian officer Muhammad Ali Pasha, from the Ottoman army, overtook the power and executed 470 Mamluk chiefs
1818 Muhammad Ali Pasha's troops conquer back Hejaz, the area where the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina are
1821 Muhammad Ali Pasha established the Khedive dynasty which lasted until 1952
1869 The Suez canal is finished, which was designed by French engineers
1914 Turkey allies with Germany and so Egypt is declared as a protectorate of United Kingdom
1922 Egypt declares independence from United Kingdom
1952 Egyptian revolution, this ends the era of the Khedive dynasty
1953 Egypt becomes a republic
1954 Gamal Abdel Nasser overtakes the power
1956 Suez crisis after Nasser had nationalized the Suez canal
1958 Egypt, North Yemen and Syria form the United Arab Repuliblic which lasted until 1961
1962 Egypt interfered the civil war of Yemen
1967 Egypt lost Sinai and Gaza for Israel after six days of war, the Suez canal had to be closed for 8 years
1968 The damm of Assuan was built with the help of the Soviet Union
1973 Jom kippur war against Israel
1979 Anwar Sadat backed by the US signed the peace agreement of Camp David, as a result Egypt got Sinai back but was seen as a traitor among the other Arab countries
1981 Islamic extremists murder Sadat, Hosni Mubarak rises in power
1984 Egypt changes its name to Arab Republic of Egypt and places Saladin's golden eagle on the flag
1989 Egypt is accepted back to the Arab League
2011 The Arab Spring spread to Egypt and Mubarak resigned

In summary 

Prehistoric Egypt until 3100 BC
Ancient Egypt 3100 - 332 BC
Classical Antiquity 332 BC - 629
Arab Egypt 641-969
Fatimid Egypt 969-1171
Ayyubid Egypt 1171-1250
Mamluk Egypt 1250-1517
Ottoman Egypt 1517-1867
Khedivate of Egypt 1867-1914
Sultanate of Egypt 1914-1922
Kingdom of Egypt 1922-1953
Republic 1953-

Sources - Egypt history - List of pharaohs
"Maailman liput maat ja historia" by Kimmo Kiljunen

keskiviikko 10. kesäkuuta 2015

The History of the German-speaking World

German is the second most spoken language in Europe after Russian. About 100 million people speak German while over 144 million people speak Russian. The core areas of the German-speaking world are Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Underneath are the posts of all the 6 countries of the world, which have German as their official language.

Ancient Times - 962

0 Roman Empire rules in the area of Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein
400 Germanic tribes move to Central Europe
600 Christianity spreads to the area
800 The Franks start ruling Central Europe

The whole Europe was almost under the Roman rule until it fell apart. After that the scattered areas became united by the Frankish kingdoms. Charlemagne's Frankish kingdom covered the whole central Europe, but in the decades after his death his grandsons started fighting against each other and divided the kingdom into three parts.

Europe in 395

Holy Roman Empire 962 - 1806

962 Otto I becomes the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire
963 Luxembourg becomes an independent principality
1291 Swiss cantons establish a Confederation together
1648 The Holy Roman Empire recognizes Switzerland's independence
1719 The counties of Vaduz and Schellenberg become a principality
1789 Belgium revolts against Austria
1790 The United States of Belgium is established for a moment before Austria suppresses it

More than 500 years after the fall of Rome, the Holy Roman Empire was established and it ruled Central Europe almost a thousand years, over 900 years to be precise. The Holy Roman Empire was a successor of the Frankish kingdom and for the Roman Empire from the ancient times. This was actually a union of the German states and the Italian papal states. In the first centuries the pope of Rome crowned the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Holy Roman Empire around 1600

German states unite or become independent 1806-1871

1806 Holy Roman Empire collapses in the Napoleon wars
1815 Belgium and Luxembourg are part of the Dutch Kingdom
1815 German Confederation established consisting of 39 German states
1815 Switzerland becomes permanently independent
1815 Luxembourg becomes a Grand Duchy
1830 Belgium declares independence from the Netherlands
1866 North German Confederation established
1866 Austria is forced by Prussia to resign the North German Confederation
1866 Liechtenstein doesn't want to join the North German Confederation
1867 The Austro-Hungarian Empire is established
1871 German Empire established, Wilhel I of Prussia becomes the emperor

The Holy Roman Empire collapsed in the Napoleon wars and after that some of the German states became independent like Switzerland while the others united. Later Austria and Liechtenstein resigned from the Union and the rest of the states became the modern-day Germany.

German Confederation 1815

German Empire 1871-1918 

1884 German Empire starts getting colonies in Africa and the Pacific Ocean
1885 Belgium becomes a colonial power as king Leopold acquired Congo for himself
1890 Luxembourg gets independence back
1914 First World War begins when Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia
1918 Germany and Austria-Hungary are in the losing party of the war

German Empire 1914

The rise and fall of Nazi Germany 1918-1945

1921 Liechtenstein becomes a constitutional monarchy
1933 Hitler becomes the Chancellor of Nazi Germany
1938 Austria and parts of Czechoslovakian areas annexed to Germany
1939 Attack to Poland starts the World War II
1944 Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands establish the Benelux customs union
1945 Germany loses the war

Post World War II era 1945-2015

1945-55 Occupying forces in Austria, the country is forbidden to join Germany or let the Habsburgs back in power
1949 Germany splits into West and East Germany
1959 Switzerland founds Efta
1960 Belgian Congo becomes independent
1961 The Berlin Wall is constructed
1962 Ruanda-Urundi becomes independent from Belgium
1973 The UN recognizes the separate Germanies
1989 The Berlin Wall is broken apart
1990 The German unification
1993 Belgium becomes a federation


torstai 4. kesäkuuta 2015

Belgium, Cool Facts #35

34. Germany <=                                                                                                              => 36. Egypt

1. Belgium vs Netherlands

Belgium and Netherlands were a long time a part of the Habsburg family empire. First a part of the Spanish Habsburg empire and then Austrian Habsburg empire. The area was divided in the Protestant Dutch and Catholic Belgian part. Later when Belgium became independent from the Netherlands, language became the issue of the disputes, which divided the country in the French-speaking Wallonia and Dutch-speaking Flander. The third area, Bryssel is bilingual.

2. Independence and square flag

The revolutionaries used the Brabant square flag in 1830 when Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands. Belgium had been attached as a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands led by the Orange family in 1815. Before that the whole region was controlled by Austria's Habsburgs before the French Revolution in 1789. The idea of a separate state from Netherlands had born in 1790 when the United States of Belgium was established after a revolt in Brabant. The independence was short-lived and it didn't last even a year before Austria suppressed it. Later Austria lost the area to France in 1795.
To summarize this all, a revolt against Austria started in Brabant in 1790, influenced by the French revolution and later as a part of the Netherlands, Belgium used the Brabant flag in a coup in 1830, when they declared Belgium independent.

Belgian Revolution, army camp at Rijen, Netherlands, 1831

3. Belgian colonial empire

In Berlin Congress 1885, European statesmen divided Africa together with each other to avoid war.

Congo Free State (1885-1908)
              later Belgian Congo (1908-1960)
Ruanda-Urundi (1916-1962)
Santo Tomás, Guatemala (1843-1854)
Tianjin Concession, China (1902-1931)
Isola Comacina, Italy (1919)

Leopold II made Belgium a colonial empire when he got the Congo Free State after the Berlin Congress and made it his personal property. His colony was 76 times larger than Belgium itself.

4. Amikejo, Esperanto state 

In the Congress of Vienna in 1815, there was a dispute about a zinc mine in the village of Kelmis between Prussia and the Netherlands. The solution was to establish the state of Neutral Moresnet, administered together by the two states. Later when Belgium became independent it gained the role of the Dutch. The flag of Neutral Moresnet waved in the wind between 1816 and 1920. The interesting story here is that there were plans to make Moresnet the first country to use Esperanto as their official language in 1908. The planned name for the state was Amikejo, which means friendship.

Neutral Moresnet in the middle

5. Cité Europeénne

Belgium is in the boundary of the Germanic and Latin Europe, that's why many international organizations have their headquarters in Brussels. Cité Europeénne is the district where many of the headquarters and offices are in Brussels. 

Headquarters in Brussels: 

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
WCO (World Customs Organization)
Benelux General Secretariat

This is Belgium 


400s After the fall of the Roman Empire the area of current Belgium is part of the Frankish kingdom
800s Charlemagne's kingdom is scattered into smaller areas
1300s Flander is the center of the Central European finance life
1300s Flander and the whole current Belgium is under the French Burgundy rule
1477 Burgundy's Maria and Austria's Maximilian Habsburg get married so Belgium part of the Netherlands becomes a Habsburg territory
1556 Charles V gives up power, so his son Filip II king of Spain starts ruling the Netherlands
1579 Union of Utrecht, the 7 Dutch provinces unite, this is seen as the foundation of the future Netherlands
1713 After the war of the Spanish succession, the Netherland's are controlled by Austria's Habsburgs
1789 A coup after discontent against Austria
1790 The United States of Belgium is established, it sets the foundation for the future state of Belgium
1815 After Napoleon wars the United Kingdom of Netherlands unites Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands as a kingdom
1830 Belgian Revolution, Belgium declares its independence from the Netherlands
1831 Leopold I becomes the first king of Belgium
1885 Berlin Conference, king Leopold II gets Congo Free State as his private pocession
1898 Dutch is accepted as a second official language after French
1924 After the World War the League of Nations mandates Ruanda-Urundi to Belgium, a former German African colony
1940 Germany invades Belgium
1945 Belgium was liberated by the Allied Forces
1960 Belgian Congo becomes independent
1962 Ruanda-Urundi becomes independent
1993 Belgium becomes a federation

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen