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perjantai 24. heinäkuuta 2015

Palestine, Cool Facts #53

<= 52. United Arab Emirates                                                                                     54. Lebanon =>

1. Ancient Peleset 

The name Palestine comes from the ancient times.

The ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs mention the area of Peleset.
Assyrian inscriptions used the term Palashtu or Pilistu.
Ancient Greeks used the term Palaistine.
Ancient Romans called the area Syria Palestine.
The Biblical name was Peleshet.
During the Byzantine time it was Palaestina Prima.
Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates called it the province of Jund Filastin

The Levant c. 830 BC

2. Jericho

Jericho is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Jericho is situated in Palestine near the Jordan River in the West Bank. Jericho has evidence of human settlements dating back to 10,000 BC. So it's possible that Jericho is the oldest continuously occupied city in the world.

Mount of Temptation in Jericho

3. Recognition of Palestine

Between 1920-1948 Palestine was the mandate area of the United Kingdom. The country was inhabited predominantly by Arabs, who had been the biggest population group since the 600s almost continuously, excluding the time of the Christian crusaders in the 1100-1200s.

Jews started to immigrate to Palestine during the British Mandate and when the UK withdrew from Palestine in 1948, the Jews declared their Jewish state, Israel, independent. This started the war between the Jews and Arabs which has caused problems until this day.

Currently the state of Palestine is recognized by 124 UN member states while 160 UN member states recognize the independence of Israel.

4. Munich Olympics 1972 Terror Attack

Palestine Liberation Organization was founded in 1962 to liberate Palestine. In 1972 a faction of PLO did something really desperate, some of their members took eleven Israeli athletes as hostages and killed them. This drew attention to Palestine but not in a positive way. 

Israel soon bombed Palestinian military bases killing many innocent people aside. That made hundreds of Palestinians join the militant groups in response. Since the Olympics Israel has executed many targeted assassinations against Palestinians, which have caused terror attacks against the Israeli in response. 

5. Two Intifadas 

There has been two intifadas in Palestine against the Israeli. Intifada means shake or shaking in Arabic, the precise English term for intifada is uprising, resistance or rebellion.

First Intifada 1987-1993

Started in 1987 and lasted until 1993, with the signing of the Oslo Accords. The uprising began when an Israeli military truck collided with a civilian car, killing four Palestinians. The Palestinians reacted with protests, boycotts, general strikes, by destroying Israeli infrastructure within Palestinian territories and other things.

Israel then deployed over 80,000 soldiers as a reaction to the actions of the Palestinians.
Israeli security forces killed an estimated 1,162-1,204 Palestinians during the first intifada. High proportion of the killed people were children, youths and civilians.

First Intifada

Second Intifada 2000-2005

Started in 2000 and ended in 2005. Israel's president Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, which was seen very provocative by the Palestinians. The Palestinian demonstrators threw stones at police and therefore they were dispersed by the Israeli army using tear gas and rubber bullets.

During the intifada about 3000 Palestinians died and 1000 Israelis and 64 foreigners. Israel used tanks, gunfire and air attacks while Palestine committed suicide bombings and gunfire. Finally the leaders of the countries agreed to stop the violence and reaffirmed their commitment to create peace in the area.


1000 BC The Hebrews established the Kingdom of Israel
63 BC The Romans conquer the area
70 After defeating the Jewish rebellions the Romans start calling the country Palestine
638 First Arab Caliphate conquers Palestine from Byzantium, Arabs moved to the area and Islam became the ruling religion
1100-1200s European crusaders conquer the Holy Land
1187 Moslem chief Saladin expels the Christians conquering Jerusalem from the crusaders, Palestine was controlled by the Egyptian Mamluks the next centuries
1500s The Ottoman Empire conquers Palestine
1920 After the World War I Palestine becomes a British mandate area from which Transjordan is separated
1930s Conflicts between Arabs and Jews that had moved there escalated
1948 UK withdraws from the area and the Jews declare their state of Israel independent
1956 During the Suez crisis Israel conquers Gaza
1964 Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO is founded with Jasser Arafat as the leader
1967 In the Six day war Israel occupies Gaza and the West Bank again
1970 PLO had to withdraw from Jordan because of the civil war
1972 PLO draws attention with a terror attack in the München Olympics
1974 UN recognizes Palestine's right for autonomy
1987 First Intifada, uprising against the Israelis
1988 PLO declares Gaza and the West Bank as the independent Palestine
2000 Second Intifada
2004 Palestine's president Jasser Arafat dies, Mahmud Abbas becomes his successor
2005 Israel withdraws from Gaza
2007 Gaza was isolated from the world

Maailman liput maat ja historia by Kimmo Kiljunen

torstai 23. heinäkuuta 2015

United Arab Emirates, Cool Facts #52

<= 51. Eritrea                                                                                                            53. Palestine => 

1. The Seven Emirates 

United Arab Emirates consists of seven emirates:

1. Ras al-Khaimah
2. Sharjah
3. Dubai
4. Abu Dhabi
5. Ajman
6. Umm al-Qaiwain
7. Fujairah
Qatar (1968-1971)
Bahrain (1968-1971)

In 1820 the British forced the emirates to a peace treaty after fighting against piracy in the area.
In 1853 after the new agreement the emirates were called Trucial States and their defense and foreign policy was under United Kingdom's control
In 1902 Fujairah Emirate joined the peace treaty
1968 Qatar and Bahrain joined the Trucial Sheikhdoms
1971 The current United Arab Emirates was established, Qatar and Bahrain separated from this union

The Seven Emirates of the UAE

2. Governance of the Seven Emirates 

Each of the seven emirates are governed by an absolute monarch. Together these seven monarchs form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the monarchs is then selected as the President of the United Arab Emirates. The prime minister is the Emir of the richest emirate, Dubai. 

Each of the emirates have a broad autonomy. Their hereditary rulers are the absolute monarchs and the activity of political parties is prohibited. 

The current president is Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who is the Emir of Abu Dhabi. 

UAE six royal houses ruling the seven emirates: 

Abu Dhabi - Al Nahyan royal family 
Dubai - Al Maktoum royal family
Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah - Al Qasimi royal family
Ajman - Al Nuaimi royal family 
Umm Al Quwain - Al Mualla royal family 
Fujairah - Al Sharqi royal family 

Seven Emirs of the UAE

3. Oil and Economy

Oil was found in Abu Dhabi in 1958 and a bit later in Dubai. The findings revolutionized the life in United Arab Emirates. The quickly enriched country started to attract guest workers to the country. Asians came to the oil fields and to construction and service jobs. The European and American experts came to work in higher positions in the oil industry.

This remote corner in the Arabian Peninsula was wasteland for centuries. The people living in the area got their living from fishing, pearl fishing and trade. In the 1600-1700s it was known as the notorious Pirate Coast.

Facts about economy

7th largest oil reserves in the world
17th largest natural gas reserves in the world
8th biggest oil producer in the world (2014)
3rd biggest arms importer in the world
No income taxes
Free education and health care
Top10 country measured by GDP/capita

4. Most Immigrants in the World 

- 83,7% of the population are immigrants, which is the highest percentage of the population in the world
- Only 1,5 million people of the 9,3 million population are native Emirati citizens
- Foreigners can't own land nor companies in the UAE

Immigrant workers in construction work in Dubai

5. Country of Extremes 

- World's tallest building, Burj Khalifa is in Dubai and it's 828 meters high
- The world's only 7 star hotel, Burj Al Arab is in Dubai, it's 321 meters high and all the rooms are at least 169 square meters golden suites
- Dubai's airport is the world's busiest by international passenger traffic 
- There are 2,19 men for each women in the UAE, that's more than anywhere else in the world

Burj Khalifa, 828m
7-Star Hotel, Burj Al Arab, 321m
Burj Al Arab Royal Suite


1800 UK intervenes the plundering piracy problem and destroys the pirate base of Ras al-Khaimah
1820 The Sheikhdoms are forced into a peace treaty
1853 Trucial States was the new name and the defense and foreign policy was under Great Britain's control
1892 The Sheikdoms become UK protectorates
1902 Fujairah sheikdom joins the peace treaty
1952 The Sheikdoms create a counsil for cooperation
1958 Oil was found in Abu Dhabi and later in Dubai
1968 The cooperation council becomes a union between the Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Persia, which Qatar and Bahrain join also
1971 Qatar and Bahrain separate from the union and thus the United Arab Emirates was born
2004 The president of the union, Abu Dhabi's Emir al-Nahya died and his son Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahya became the new leader


keskiviikko 22. heinäkuuta 2015

Eritrea, Cool Facts #51

<= 50. Jordan                                                                                         52. United Arab Emirates => 

1. Population 

- The majority of the population are descendents of Arabs, Africans and Europeans
- Biggest population groups are the Tigrinya 55% and Tigre 30%
- Official languages Tigrinya, Arabic and English
- Coptic Christians in the inland highlands and Moslems in the coast
- Over 200,000 Eritrean refugees still in Sudan

Eritrean kid

2. Sinus Erythros 

In 1890 the Italians formed the colony of Eritrea. The name derived from the ancient Greek name for Red Sea which was "Sinus Erythros", so Eritrea got its name from the Greek word "red".

Eritrea was an optimal place for trade and military purposes. The Abyssinian emperors had fought over the control of the coast since the 1500s against the Sultanates of Adal and Aussa. It was later attached to the Ottoman Empire.

The state of Eritrea was born when the Suez canal was opened in 1869. The Europeans wanted to monitor the Red Sea coast and Italy turned the Massawa harbor into a trade and military base. Italy tried to conquer Ethiopia from Eritrea but failed to do that.

3. Symbolism in Flag and Independence

When Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia in 1993 after a referendum, they adopted the symbol of the winning movement of the freedom fight. The olive branch replaced the star of socialism in the flag. The 30 sprigs in the olive branch represent the 30 years of the freedom fight. 

Red = the blood sacrifice
Green = the fertility of the land
Blue = sea 
Yellow = mineral deposits 

The freedom fight caused the death of 250,000 people. 

4. Eritrean-Ethiopian War

The war between Eritrea and Ethiopia started in 1998 when Eritrea invaded the border of Ethiopia trying to reclaim back a territory which they said to belong to Eritrea. The strange thing in the war was that the leaders of the two countries were former allies and the prime minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi was the cousin of the Eritrean president Isaias Afewerki. 

Two one of the poorest countries in the world spent hundreds of millions fighting against each other while their leaders were relatives and former allies. The war ended in 2000 and 70,000 people had died during the war. A buffer zone of 25km was established which is monitored by the UN peacekeepers. After the war Ethiopia moved all of its freight to the harbour of Djibouti. 

Algiers Agreement 2000, cousins Afewerki (Eritrea) and Zenawi (Ethiopia) signing the peace treaty

5. Taxing Eritreans abroad

- The poor country taxes their citizens living abroad 

- If an Eritrean wants to keep contact with their homeland, send letters, visit the country or owns something in Eritrea, they are obliged to pay 2% of their income as taxes through the embassies 
- The country uses still 1/3 of the GDP into military costs and 120,000 soldiers are on standby at the border 


600s Arabs conquer Eritrea spreading Islam and Arabic language
1500s Abessinian emperors fought against the Sultanates of Adal and Aussa over the control of the coast. As a result the coast is attached as a part of the Ottoman Empire and Eritrea was governed from Egypt
1869 The current Eritrea was born when the Suez canal was opened, Italy turned Massawa harbour into a trade and military base
1890 Italy establishes the colony of Eritrea and tries to conquer Ethiopia from Eritrea
1935 Benito Mussolini managed to conquer Ethiopia finally, but only until 1941
1941 The British occupy Eritrea and Ethiopia and after the war Eritrea becomes a British protectorate
1952 With the decision of UN, Eritrea was tied together with Ethiopia giving it still vast autonomy
1962 Haile Selassie of Ethiopia dissolves the autonomy and Eritrea becomes Ethiopia's 14th province, this decision started war
1974 Selassie was overthrown in Ethiopia in a military coup, the Eritreans continue the fight for freedom
1989 Eritrean EPLF conquers Massawa despite the military aid given to Ethiopia by Soviet Union and Cuba
1991 Power shifts in Ethiopia and they agree to arrange a referendum about the independence of Eritrea
1993 After the referendum Ethiopia becomes independent and EPLF's leader Issaias Afewerki becomes the first president of Eritrea
1996 Disputes with Yemen about the Hanish-islands and the maritime border
1998 Clashes in the border escalate into a war where 70,000 people were killed
2000 Peace treaty ends the war and a buffer zone of 25km is established where UN peace keepers monitor the situation

Maailman liput maat ja historia by Kimmo Kiljunen 

tiistai 21. heinäkuuta 2015

Jordan, Cool Facts #50

<= 49. Libya                                                                                                                    51. Eritrea =>

1. King Abdullah II and Queen Rania  

King Hussein the ruler since the year 1952, died in 1999 and thus his son, Abdullah II, was crowned as the new king. The new king has begun to move in disguise among the common people like the Bagdad Caliphs in the Thousand and One Nights tales.

Queen Rania is Abdullah's wife and she is known to advocate for the human rights, education and other cool stuff. She has been voted as one of the most beautiful monarchs in the world and she is very active in different social medias Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

Queen Rania's social medias: 

Youtube: QueenRania - nearly 40,000 subscriptions
Facebook: Queen Rania - 4,2 million likes
Twitter: QueenRania - 3,97 million followers

Queen Rania and King Abdullah II 

2. Palestine and Jordan 

In 1920 the League of Nations established the mandate area of Palestine and Jordan was part of it. The United Kingdom governed this mandate area. In 1923 the area east from the Jordan River was separated from Palestine as Transjordan, which got autonomy in 1928. Finally in 1946 Jordan became independent. The flags of Palestine and Jordan are still very similar because of their common past. The star in the flag of Jordan is the only thing that separates these two flags.

The seven points in the star represent the seven first verses in the first suura in the Quran and the seven hills on which the capital, Amman was founded.

3. Pan-Arab Colors 

The Pan-Arab colors were inspired by the verses of an Iraqi poet, Safi al-Din al-Hilli, who served the Egyptian court in the 1300s.

"We Arabs are the people, whom honor prohibits to damage anyone, who doesn't hurt us. White are our acts, black our battles, green our fields, and red our swords" - Safi al-Din al-Hilli

These verses inspired the nationalists who gathered in Istanbul, as they were planning to establish a united Arab state when the Ottoman Empire was falling. This color combination of white, black, green and red was used first in a revolt against the Ottoman Empire in 1916.

This flag of the Arab Revolt inspired many flags of the Arab countries, but the flags of Palestine and Jordan resemble most the first Pan-Arab flag.

4. Autocratic Monarchy

Jordan is an autocratic monarchy and party activities were prohibited until the year 1991. The king appoints the prime minister, approves the laws and can dissolve the parliament. The party institution is very undeveloped and even the Muslim Brotherhood hasn't succeeded as it has in Jordan's neighboring countries.

5. Lowest point on dry land 

The lowest point on dry land in the world is the shore of the Dead Sea, which is 418 meters below sea level. This area is shared by Israel, West Bank and Jordan. 

The Dead Sea has salt 33% in the water so it's unable to support life and it's threatened to evaporate. Jordan needs water really badly because 80% of the land is fruitless desert which doesn't even have oil like the other Arab countries. 

Shores of Dead Sea


600s Arabs spread Islam and Arabic language
700s Jordan belongs to the Umayyad Empire led from Damascus
1000-1200 Crusaders fight over the Holy land and Jordan
1260 Egypt Mamluks take Jordan under their control
1500s The Ottoman Empire conquers Jordan to their empire
1920 Jordan becomes part of the mandate area of Palestine governed by the UK
1923 Jordan is separated from Palestine as Transjordan
1928 Transjordan gets autonomy
1946 Jordan becomes independent
1948 Arabs reject the Palestine division plan made by UN and start war against Israel, half a million Palestinians move to Jordan
1951 King Abdullah is murdered
1952 King Abdullah's 15-year old grandson Hussein ibn Talal becomes the king and rules until 1999
1958 Federation with Iraq as the leaders of the countries are cousins, both Hashemites
1967 New wave of Palestinian refugees as Israel occupies the West Bank and East Jerusalem
1970 Civil War
1994 Jordan as the second country after Egypt, signs a peace treaty with Israel
1999 King Hussein dies and his son Abdullah II rises on the throne


tiistai 14. heinäkuuta 2015

Libya, Cool Facts #49

<= 48. Israel                                                                                                                  50. Jordan =>

1. Libya before independence

1200 BC Tripolis is founded by the Phoenicians
630 BC Cyrenaica is founded by the Greeks
600s Arabs conquer Libya
1510 Spanish conquer Tripoli and then hand out it to the Maltan Knights
1551 Ottoman Empire conquers Libya
1911 Italy conquer Tripolitania and Cyrenaica from the Ottomans. First time in the history, Italy uses aerial weapons bombing from planes when they attacked Tripoli
1922 Benito Mussolini creates the colony of Libya attaching Tripolitania together with Cyrenaica. The Italians start emigrating to Libya and building cities and infrastructure
1943 Italy loses Libya after heavy desert battles. Libya is divided into French and British occupation areas. France wants to attach Fezzan to the Francofonic Africa and the British support the aspirations of Cyrenaica's Senussi royalty family to establish their own emirate
1949 Cyrenaica becomes independent
1951 Cyrenaica and unites with Tripolitania and Fezzan because UN wanted to keep the country unified. The emir of the al-Senussi family of Cyrenaica becomes the king of Libya.

Living conditions in the independent Libya weren't good, it was one of the poorest countries. The majority of the people were illiterate and there weren't Libyan doctors or engineers in the country. Italians had all the jobs that required education.

Benito Mussolini (left) in Italian Libya

2. Kingdom of Libya 1951-1969

In 1959 extraordinarily big oil deposits were found in Libya. The oil revenues didn't benefit the majority of the population. Only the big foreign oil companies and small elite in Libya profited from the oil. 
That led to discontent by the people which erupted in 1969 when there was a coup arranged by young officers. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi led the coup and he overthrew the king and rose into power. Gaddafi, the son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder, started a revolution in Libya, the whole country was changed during Gaddafi's rule. 

The new political system was called the "Third Universal Theory", which was a mixture of Islam, socialism and tribe traditions. 

First and only king of Libya, Idris I (middle)

3. Era of Muammar Gaddafi 1969-2011

- Gaddafi nationalized the oil production, the revenues made Libya's living condition one of the best in Africa in a few decades

- Gaddafi created free healthcare and education, including girls

- Everyone was ensured to have an apartment

- Life expectancy rates rose to western levels

- The American and British military bases were closed

- Started the constructions of world's biggest water supply system of 3862 kilometers in 1984. It brings water from Sahara to the coast and thanks to it tens of thousands of hectares have been turned green

- The government had no public debt at all during Gaddafi

- Libya granted development credits and gift assistance to poorer countries

- Financed the constructions of the Trans-Saharan highway from Niger to Libya

- Gaddafi supported freedom movements like South Africa's ANC, Northern Ireland's IRA, Western Sahara's Polisario and Palestine's PLO

- Gaddafi had a female bodyguard group called the Amazonian Guard

Muammar Gaddafi was a fashion icon

4. Arab Spring and execution of Gaddafi 

The Arab Spring spread in 2011 from Tunisia to Egypt and other Arab countries. In Libya the relative of the king Idris Ahmed al-Senussi started demanding for autonomy to Cyrenaica. The protests grew into mass demonstrations where the old flag of the Libyan Kingdom was used. 

Gaddafi's government suppressed the demonstrations and the western countries started supporting the opposition. The Libyan air space was closed with the mandate of UN and the aerial attacks of NATO troops destroyed the air defense of Libya. In November 20th, 2011 Gaddafi was executed in Sirte. 

Arab Spring in Libya

5. Symbolism in the Flag 

After the execution of Gaddafi, Libya returned the flag used during the kingdom.

The three colors represent the three Emirates of which Libya is constituted: Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan.

Fezzan = red, represent the blood sacrificed in the freedom fight
Cyrenaica = black, represents the dark times of the colonial period
Tripolitania = green, represents agriculture and the prosperous future


1200 BC Libya is under Carthaginian rule, three cities were established by the Phoenicians
630 BC The Greek found Cyrenaica which together with Tripolitania flourished as Roman provinces for 400 years
600s Arabs spread Islam and Arabic language, the inner lands are left to the Berbers
1510 The Spaniards conquer Tripoli but they hand it over to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
1551 The Ottomans conquer Libya because of the Christian threat in the coast
1911 Italy conquers Tripolitania and Kyrenaika from the Ottomans
1918-1923 The rebels establish the short-lived Tripolitanian Republic
1922 Benito Mussolini attaches Tripolitania together with Cyrenaica which formed Libya, Italian colony
1943 Libya is divided into British and French occupation zones and after the war under UN surveillance
1949 Cyrenaika becomes independent until the year 1951
1951 Libya was wanted to keep united with the decision of UN and it became united again when Emir of Cyrenaica Muhammad Idris al-Mahdi al-Senussi was crowned as the king Idris I
1959 Exceptionally big oil deposits were found in Libya
1969 The kingdom is banished when colonel Muammar Gaddafi rises in power after a coup
1973 Libya interferes the civil war of Chad and occupies Aouzou strip which had belonged to Fezza before
1984 The constructions of world's biggest water supply system were started
1986 The Americans strike to Tripoli and Benghazi attempting to murder Gaddafi
1988 The Libyans were suspected to have revenged by exploding the American Pan Am - plane over Scotland in Lockerbie
1999 Libyan agents were handed over to the Netherlands for a trial, economic sanctions declared by the UN were dismantled
2003 Libya's international relationships normalize when Gaddafi announces to abandon developing weapons of mass destruction after the Iraq war
2011 Arab Spring leads to unrests in Libya when Cyrenaica starts demanding for autonomy, protests grew into mass demonstrations and the western countries supported the opposition. In the end Gaddafi was executed in Sirt after he had ruled the country for 42 years
2012 First elections in Libya 

Maailman liput maat ja historia by Kimmo Kiljunen

maanantai 13. heinäkuuta 2015

Israel, Cool Facts #48

<= 47. Somalia                                                                                                                    49. Libya =>

1. Israel's name and flag

Flag: In 1891 a Zionist group gathered in Boston and they created a flag derived from the talith prayer mantle and placed the star of David in it. They adopted this flag as their symbol.

Name: The name Israel comes from the Bible. Jacob got the name Israel in the Book Genesis. The Jewish tribes are descendants of Jacob's twelve sons.

Book of Genesis 32:28

Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome."

Jew wearing talith prayer mantle

2. Proposals for a Jewish Homeland

In the  beginning of the 1800s Israel was a remote village in the Ottoman Empire, which had mostly Arabs and a small Jewish minority of 50,000 people. The Jewish organized themselves as the Zionist movement and started pursuing the creation of a Jewish state. Here are some of the proposals before they chose Palestine, their ancient home as their new homeland.

Argentina: Andinia plan 19th century
USA: in 1820 it was suggested to create Ararat City in Niagara River
British Uganda: proposal made in 1903 by British Colonial Secretary
Soviet Union: in the 1920s and 1930s
Madagascar: Nazi Germany proposed this opportunity
British Guiana: a proposal in 1940
Australia: Critchley Parker proposed a Jewish settlement in southwest Tasmania

There were many proposals from many parties, from the Jews themselves, from anti-Jews and so on. In total tens of proposals were considered before establishing Israel in Palestine.

3. Creation of Israel 

1100 BC Kingdom of Israel is established
70 Romans destroy Jerusalem and the Western Wall is the only remnant of the temple built by the Kingdom of Israel
132 Emperor Hadrianus renames the country Palestine and after a rebellion prohibits the Jews to live in Judea under a threat of death penalty
638 Arabs spread Islam to Palestine
1100s Christian crusaders take the country from the Moslems
1187 Saladin conquers Jerusalem from the Christians
1291 Kingdom of Jerusalem collapses definitively
1500s The Ottoman Empire keeps Palestine under control the following 400 years
1920 Palestine becomes a territory governed by the UK, soon 3/4 of the country is separated as Transjordan 
1947 UN proposes to divide the area in two states, Jewish and Arab
1948 The British withdraw and Israel becomes independent, the Arab countries start a war against Israel

During the World War I the British promised a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The British also supported the Arab rebellions against the Ottoman Empire promising the Arabs independence. 
So practically Great Britain promised the land of the Ottoman Empire to the Arabs and to the Jews.

After WW I Britain took over the power in Palestine and only 10% of the population were Jews. In the end of WW II there were already 33%, 600,000 Jews.

Then the British withdrew from the area in 1948 and since then the area of Palestine/Israel has had conflicts constantly. USA has helped Israel a lot since the creation of the modern-day Israel. Since the year 1972 USA has vetoed 42 times for Israel in the UN. 

Map of Israel and Palestine

4. Jerusalem, Holy City of the Jews, Moslems and Christians

Jerusalem is the Holy City for three religions, the Jews, Moslems and Christians. Here are the reasons why they are holy.

Jerusalem is the place where Jesus walked, preached and ate his last supper before he was captured and crucified, resurrected and ascended to heaven.

Jerusalem is considered to be the place where prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven after his Night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem. The Al-Aqsa Mosque was built on that location and also the Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem is the third holiest city for Islam therefore.

Jerusalem is holy for the Jews because the Kingdom of Israel was established there. King Solomon built the temple which was later destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again. These remains are estimated to lie exactly under the moslem site.

All these three holy sites of three different religions are located very close to each others inside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Al-Aqsa Mosque 

5. Israeli army

Only country where military service is compulsory for women
Only country in the Middle East with a nuclear weapon (Israel has refused to co-operate with the IAEA about their nuclear weapon program)
USA supports yearly Israel with 3 billion dollars, of which 2 billion is for military use
Israel uses 25% of its budget to defense and over 10% of its GDP

Oath: the Israeli soldiers swear an oath in Mount Masada, which was the location of the temple of king Herodes. It was the last fortification which the Romans conquered in the year 72 from the Jews. There the soldiers swear" Never again !" in front of one of the world's biggest flag which weighs 5,2 tons and is 660m x 100m of size.

Mount Masada 


4000 year ago Semitic people inhabit the area
1100-900 BC The Kingdom of Israel is established and flourished in the area
950 BC Solomon builds his temple in Jerusalem
721 BC The Assyrians conquer Jerusalem
586 BC The Babylonians conquer Jerusalem and destroy Solomon's temple
520 BC The Jews return from Babylonia and rebuild their temple
330 BC Alexander the Great conquers Israel
63 The Romans conquer the land
70 The Romans destroy Jerusalem and the Western Wall is the only remnant of the temple
132 The Jews were prohibited to live in Judea, emperor Hadrianus names the land Palestine
628 The Arabs conquer Palestine spreading Islam
1100-1200s The European crusaders retake the holy land from the Moslems by the orders given by the Pope
1187 Saladin conquers Jerusalem from the Christians after the Battle of Hattin
1291 Kingdom of Jerusalem becomes ruled by the Mamluk Egypt
1500s The Ottoman Empire conquers Palestine and Middle East
1891 Zionist group in Boston takes a flag with David's star as their symbol
1897 First Zionist Congress is held in Basel
1920 Palestine becomes a mandate area of the League of Nations, which is governed by Great Britain
1947 UN proposes to split the area in an Arab nation and a Jew Nation
1948 Israel becomes independent which starts the war as Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq invade Israel but get defeated
1956 Israel conquers Sinai and Gaza from Egypt during the Suez crisis but returned them after international pressure
1967 Israel conquers areas from Jordan, Syria and Egypt
1973 Jom Kippur war between Israel and the Arab countries
1979 Egypt gets Sinai back as they recognize Israel as the first Arab state
1982 Israel attacks Lebanon
1986 Israel withdraws from Lebanon
1987 Palestinean uprising, intifada, a couple of thousand Palestinian protests are killed
1993 Israel and PLO into peace about establishing autonomy in Jericho and Gaza
2002 Israel started building the 640 kilometers long wall to isolate Palestinian areas from Israel
2006 Operation Summer Rains by Israel to free its own soldiers in Gaza
2008-2009 Gaza War 


sunnuntai 12. heinäkuuta 2015

Somalia, Cool Facts #47

<= 46. Chad                                                                                                                     48. Israel => 

1. Birth of Somalia, 1960

In 1960 Somalia was born as an independent state when the British Somaliland and the Italian Somaliland unified. There was a referendum in the French Somaliland (Djibouti) about joining Somalia, but in the end it stayed part of France. Aden Abdullah Osman Daar was elected the first president of Somalia.

The European powers had become interested about Somalia after the Suez Canal was opened. In 1888 the British established the British Somaliland and in 1889 the Italians established the Italian Somaliland, which they had conquered from the Sultan of Oman.

Italian Somaliland (Green) before WW II

2. Last central government of Somalia 

In 1969 Somalia's president Abdirashid Ali Shermarke was shot dead by one of his own bodyguards during a visit in Las Anod. Six days later his assassination was followed by a military coup which led Mohamed Siad Barre to become the president. 

Siad Barre nationalized the educational institutions, banks, logistics and energy companies. Clans were banned because they were a hindrance for the unity of the state. Somalia became a single party state, which had close ties to the Soviet Union.

In 1991 Siad Barre fled from Mogadishu when the clan conflicts erupted and the fight over the power started the civil war. Since then Somalia hasn't had a stable central government.

Siad Barre (right) meets Romania's Ceauseascu in 1976

3. White pearl of the Indian Ocean 

Before the civil war began in 1991, Mogadishu was known as the White pearl of the Indian Ocean. Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa after Madagascar, which is over 3000 kilometers long. The beaches are one of the most beautiful in Africa and they would definitely be a tourist attraction if Somalia was a stable country attracting tourists bringing also wealth to the country.

Let's join the camels in the Somali beaches !

4. Regions in Somalia

Some regions in Somalia try to gain independence and some are just autonomic regions inside Somalia. Different clans rule in these regions. Somaliland has practically separated itself from Somalia and is the most stable region even though their independence isn't recognized internationally.

Somaliland: In 1991 declared independence which hasn't been recognized
Puntland: Established by the Darod clan. It was declared autonomous in 1998
South West State: established in 2002, dissoluted in 2005 but re-established in 2014
Galmudug: Established in 2006
Jubaland: autonomy proclaimed in 2011 and recognized in 2013

5. People in Somalia

Official languages: Somalia and Arabic
Ethnicities: 85% Somalis and 15% Bantus and other non-Somalis
Biggest clans: Hawiye 25%, Isaaq 22%, Darod 20%, Rahanweyn 17%, Dir 7%
Fertility rate: 6,08 children born per woman (Singapore 0,80)
Population between 0-14 years old: 44% of the population (Japan 12%)
Population over 65 years: Only 2,3%  (Japan 26%) 


900 Arabs conquered the coasts of Horn of Africa
1400-1700 Ajuuraan Sultanate
1800 European powers become interested of Somali areas after opening the Suez canal. France conquers the current Djibouti making it the French Somaliland
1888 The British take control over the northern coast of Horn of Africa and established the British Somaliland
1889 The Italians conquered the eastern coast of Horn of Africa from sultans of Oman, they called the area Italian Somaliland
1890s Ethiopia's Emperor Menelik II prevented the Italian colonization
1941 Italy loses all its areas in Horn of Africa to the British
1950 Italy gets back its Somaliland
1954 Ogaden is returned back to Ethiopia
1960 Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland unify as the independent Federal Republic of Somalia, Adan Abdulla Osman becomes the first president of Somalia
1969 Military coup and general Mohamed Siad Barre takes over the power
1974 Western Somali Liberation Front established aiming to free Ogaden
1977 Somalia takes advantage over Ethiopia's chaotic internal situation and conquers Ogaden, The Soviet Union switches sides and supports Ethiopia. With the Cuban troops the Somali were beaten
1980 North Somalia's biggest clan Isaaq, demands autonomy
1988 Peace agreement about Ogaden
1988 Discontent against Siad Barre rises
1991 Siad Barre flees from Mogadishu when the civil war begins
1991 Somaliland (former British Somaliland) declares independence 
1992 UN sends peacekeepers and American soldiers try to bring peace
1995 UN and American troops withdraw from the country
1996 General Aidid was murdered but his son continued fighting against Ali Mahdi. Somalia lost their central government and the Somali fleed from their country
1998 Darod clan established Puntland
2002 Rahanweyn clan declares the independence of South West State 
2004 Peace talks in Kenia with 21 different armed groups led to a temporary government with Abdullahi Yusuf as president
2006 Jubaland declares independence
2006 Islamists rise in power, army of Ethiopia and USA help Abdullahi Yusuf back to power in Mogadishu
2009 Ethiopia withdrew their troops and president Yusuf resigned, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed became the new president
2011 Kenian army invaded in southern Somalia fighting against the al-Shabaab islamists

Maailman liput maat ja historia by Kimmo Kiljunen

lauantai 11. heinäkuuta 2015

Chad, Cool Facts #46

<= 45. Tunisia                                                                                                                47. Somalia =>

1. Lake Chad

Chad got its name from Lake Chad, the biggest lake in the country. Chad means "lake" in a local language. The Europeans found the lake in 1823, and it was considered one of the largest lakes in the world then. The lake is a remnant of a former inland sea, Mega-Chad which was at its largest about 5000 BC when it was estimated to cover over 1 million square kilometers of area. Lake Chad is very shallow, only 10 meters deep at maximum which makes it very sensitive to climate changes. The lake was reported to have shrunk 95% from about 1963 to 1998.

Lake Chad

2. Division of Chad

Chad is divided geographically, ethnically and religiously into two. The north is dominated by deserts where the Arab and Tubu nomad populations live. The south is inhabited by black farmers who are Christians or Animists. This division has led to a continuous civil war in Chad.

3. French Colony 1900-1960

In 1900 France made Chad its colony when they invaded the country.

In 1910 Chad became a part of French Equatorial Africa with Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon and Congo. Cotton plantations and Christian missionary posts were established in the south. The Sara people lost their lands and they were forced into work in the European plantations. Sara elite was also educated and recruited in the colonial government.

In 1960 Chad became independent when the French colonial system fell. The Sara people got a dominant position in the government and their leader Francois Tombalbaye became the country's first president. He started the Africanization policy by resisting Moslems and supporting Christians.

French Equatorial Africa

4. African Pinochet 

Hissene Habré was called the African Pinochet, referring to Chile's dictator Augusto Pinochet
Habré was the president of Chad between 1982-1990

Belongs to gorane-tribe
In the year 1982 Habré became the president

He created a secret police known as the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS)
The DDS tortured and executed Habré's opponents

DDS used torture methods like: forced swallowing of water, spraying gas into the eyes, ears and nose, forcing the mouths of detainees around the exhaust pipes of running cars

Habré's government engaged in ethnic cleansing against the Sara, Hadjerai and Zaghawa people
Habré fled to Senegal after being overthrown in 1990

Chadian commission of inquiry claims that 40,000 people were killed and over 200,000 were tortured during Habré's rule

Habré on the left

5. One of World's Unluckiest Countries

Chad is one of world's unluckiest countries
7th poorest country in the world according to UN
Expected life expectancy only 51 years in 2013 (WHO), one of the lowest in the world
Over 80% of the population live below the poverty line 
Since the year 2000 three foreign companies have pumped oil from Chad along a pipeline to Cameroon and from there to the world, but the Chadians haven't benefitted from the oil revenues at all
Continuous fighting and civil war prevents the development of the country

Chad oil pipeline


1000 African kingdoms emerge along the caravan routes from black Africa to the Mediterranean, the wealthiest were Kanem and the smaller Baguirmi and Ouaddai Kingdoms
1500-1600s Slave hunting begins and the caravan routes lose their importance as sea routes are opened
1900 France invades the area and makes Chad its colony
1910 Chad is joined together with Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon and Congo as the French Equatorial Africa
1960 Chad becomes independent
1966 Moslem-led liberation movement FROLINAT is founded in the north supported by Libya as the government was supported by France
1975 President Tombalbaye is murdered in a military coup
1977 Libya conquers Aouzou strip in northern Chad, which was detached from Libya in the 30s with an agreement between France and Italy
1979 FROLINAT conquers the capital N'Djamena, president Felix Malloum is overthrown and FROLINAT's leader Goukouni Oueddei becomes the new president
1982 After a military coup, Hissene Habre declares himself the president
1985-1987 Chad and Libya fight about a land strip, later in 1994 Libya gives up the area
1990 Habre was overthrown by rebels invading from Sudan, Idriss Deby became the new president
1996 Deby arranged the country's first multiparty elections, which he won
2005 Chad announced them to be in war with Sudan

Maailman liput maat ja historia by Kimmo Kiljunenène_Habré