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tiistai 27. syyskuuta 2016

Kiribati, Cool Facts #146

<= 145. Fiji                                                                                                    147. Marshall Islands => 

Kiribati is one of the four countries in the world, which have a flag that is entirely based on their coat-of-arms. The other countries are Kosovo, Austria and Switzerland. 

Symbolism in the flag of Kiribati: 

Blue and white waves: represent the Pacific Ocean and the three island groups of Gilbert, Phoenix and Line Islands The Sun: refers to Kiribati's position astride the Equator 
Frigatebird: symbolizes command of the sea, freedom and Kiribati cultural dance patterns
17 Rays of the sun: 16 Gilbert Islands and Banaba (former Ocean Island) 

History of the flag
The coat-of-arms dates back to the year 1937 when Kiribati and Tuvalu were one single colony under the name the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. The colony got the coat-of-arms as the state ensign of the colony on the British Blue Ensign. When Kiribati became independent they decided to use the coat-of-arms as the model for their flag. 

Kiribati coat-of-arms
Flag of Gilbert and Ellice Islands 

2. Kiribati in British Colonial Period 

Pre-European Time 
Between 3000BC and 1300AD Micronesians inhabited the islands first and the islands were invaded by people from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. In the 1400s the population from Samoa mixed with the local population creating the unique Micronesian culture.

European settlements
In the 1830s Europeans established the first permanent settlements in the Gilbert Islands, when whaling and missions posts were established. The Chinese and Samoan residents started arriving at that time as well.

British Protectorate
In 1892 Gilbert Islands together with Ellice Islands became a British protectorate. In 1900 Banaba (Ocean Island) was added to the protectorate.

British Colony
The protectorate became the crown colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1916. The Line Islands and Fanning Island were added to the colony in 1919. The British started mining phosphate on Banaba island in the 1920s. In 1937 the Phoenix Islands were added to the colony.

World War II
The Japanese occupied some of the islands of Kiribati between 1941-1943. In 1943 one of the bloodiest battles in US Marine Corps history was fought between the American and Japanese troops.

Post War time
The British resettled the whole population of Banaba to Rabin Island in Fiji and allowed the people return after the phosphate was mined completely in Banaba. Kiritimati was used by the British as a nuclear weapon test site in 1957. In 1964 the nuclear weapon tests ended completely.

The Ellice Islands were separated from the colony in 1975 and three years later in 1978 it became the independent Tuvalu. One year later in 1979 Gilbert Islands became the independent Kiribati.

Gilbert and Ellice Islands map
Stamps of Gilbert and Ellice Islands

3. Climate Refugees of Kiribati

Climate change
Kiribati will be probably the first country in the world, which will be covered by water due to the raising sea level caused by climate change.

Acts to avoid the catastrophe
In 2008 Kiribati officials asked Australia and New Zealand to accept Kiribati citizens as permanent refugees. The government of Kiribati purchased the 2200 hectare Natoavatu Estate on Fiji in 2012. The government was also reported to have plans to evacuate the entire population of Kiribati to Fiji.

Geography of Kiribati:

Gilbert Islands - the chain of sixteen atolls and coral islands form the main part of Kiribati, where more than 90% of the population lives

Phoenix Islands - group of eight atolls and two submerged coral reefs, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area is one of the world's largest protected areas

Line Islands - one of the longest island chains of the world with a distance of 2350 kilometers, eight of the bigger islands form part of Kiribati the remaining three belong to USA

Kiritimati Island (Christmas Island)

4. Gilbertese Language of Kiribati 

The main language of Kiribati is the Oceanic language called "Gilbertese". Gilbertese is one of the few Oceanic languages, which has retained its position in the country despite the use of English. English isn't used much outside of the island capital of Tarawa and when it's used it's usually mixed with Gilbertese. 

Biggest Oceanic languages:

Eastern Fijian - 659,210 
Samoan - 510,000 cited 2005
Gilbertese - 120,000 cited 1988-2010
Tongan - 96,000 cited 1998 
Tahitian - 68,000 cited 2008 
Kuanua (Tolai) - 61,000 cited 1991
Maori - 60,000 cited 2009
Western Fijian - 57,000 cited 1977

Map showing where Oceanic languages are spoken
5. Economy of Kiribati 

Kiribati belongs to the Least Developed Countries of the world. 

Natural resources: 

Phosphate - commercially viable deposits on Banaba were exhausted at the time of independence
Copra and fish - represent the bulk of exports and production

Other sources of money: 

Selling fishing licenses to USA, South Korea and Russia
Worker remittances from abroad
Tourism has become more important

Kiribati benefits from international development assistance programs (2009 information): 

Multilateral donors
European Union - 9 million US dollars 
United Nations Development Programme - 3,7 million US dollars
WHO - 100,000 US dollars 

Bilateral donors
Australia - 11 million US dollars

Taiwan - 10,6 million US dollars
New Zealand - 6,6 million US dollars 
Japan - 2 million US dollars
Other donors - 16,2 million US dollars

Map of the Least Developed Countries (LDC)


3000BC-1300AD Micronesians inhabited the islands first and the islands were invaded by people from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji
1400s The population from Samoa mixed with the local population creating the unique Micronesian culture
1700s The Kiribati islands were mapped
1830s Permanent European settlement started in the Gilbert Islands as whaling and mission posts were established, Chinese and Samoan residents started arriving as well
1892 Gilbert Islands together with Ellice Islands became a British protectorate
1900 Ocean Island was added to the protectorate
1916 The protectorate became the crown colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands
1919 The Line Islands and Fanning Island were added to the colony
1920s The British started mining phosphate on Banaba island
1937 Phoenix Islands were added to the colony
1941-1943 The Japanese occupied some of the islands of Kiribati
1943 One of the bloodiest battles in US Marine Corps history between the American and Japenese troops
1945 The British resettled the whole population of Banaba to Rabin Island in Fiji and allowed the people return after the phosphate was mined completely
1957 Kiritimati was used by the British as a nuclear weapon test site
1964 The nuclear weapon tests ended
1975 The Ellice Islands were separated from the colony and in 1978 it became the independent Tuvalu
1979 Gilbert Islands became the independent Kiribati
1999 Kiribati gained UN membership
2002 Kiribati passed a law that enabled the government to shut down newspapers
2003 Anote Tong won the elections and he was re-elected in 2007 and 2011 
2008 Kiribati officials asked Australia and New Zealand to accept Kiribati citizens as permanent refugees
2012 Kiribati purchased the 2200 hectare Natoavatu Estate on Fiji and the government was reported to have plans to evacuate the entire population of Kiribati to Fiji

"Maailman maat - liput ja historia" by Kimmo Kiljunen

Fiji, Cool Facts #145

<= 144. Malta                                                                                                                146. Kiribati => 

1. James Cook and Fiji's name 

The main island of Fiji is called Viti Levu and the name Fiji derives from that. The neighboring Tongans pronounced the island's name incorrectly "Fisi" so the Anglicised spelling was based on the Tongan pronunciation becoming Fiji. In 1774 the English captain James Cook visited Fiji and he promulgated the name Fiji to the outside world.

James Cook

2. Abel Tasman in Fiji 

Fiji before Europeans
Fiji is estimated to have been inhabited between the years 3500BC and 1000BC. Much is not known about the early inhabitants of Fiji. Canoes found in Tonga and some loanwords from Fijian languages in Tongan suggest that Fijians already traded with its neighbors before the arrival of the Europeans.

First European in Fiji 
The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European in Fiji, when he sailed there in 1643. The islands weren't tempting for establishing settlements because of the shallows and the cannibalistic tribes on the islands.

Abel Tasman legacy
Many areas in Australia and New Zealand are named after Tasman:

Tasmania island
Tasman Sea
Tasman Peninsula
Tasman Bridge
Tasman Highway

New Zealand
Tasman Glacier
Tasman Lake
Mount Tasman
Tasman River
Abel Tasman National Park

Explorers and discoverers of Fiji stamp

3. British Colonial Era in Fiji

European settlement 
The European settlement on Fijian islands started in the 1800s as missionaries, merchants and farm owners moved there. They were tempted by the production of sandalwood and sea cucumber. Sugar cane cultivation was started on the plantations. 

Chief CakobauIn 1865 chief Cakobau, who had adopted Christianism managed to unite some of Fiji's warring tribes under his leadership, establishing a united Fijian kingdom. Cakobau was held responsible for an arson attack against the Nukulau Island home of John Brown Williams, who was an American Consul. 

Cakobau was unable to pay the 44,000 US dollar compensation and feared that the American would invade and annex his lands, so this is why Cakobau decided to cede the islands to Great Britain. Cakobau also hoped that the British rule would bring civilization and Christianity to Fiji. 

British colony
From the year 1874, when Cakobau ceded his lands to Great Britain, Fiji remained a British colony until 1970.

Seru Epenisa Cakobau

4. Demographics of Fiji

Permanent population of Fiji was 837,000 in 2007. Life expectancy 72,1 years. 

Ethnic groups 
Native Fijians form 54.3% of the population. They are Melanesians but some people have also Polynesian ancestry. 

Indo-Fijians form 38.1% of the population. They are the descendants of the contract laborers brought to the islands by the British colonial powers in the 1800s. 

A small but significant group of descendants of indentured laborers from the Solomon Islands. 
About 1.2% are Rotuman, whose culture is closer to Tongan or Samoan culture. 
A small but economically significant group of Europeans, Chinese and other countries. 

Conflicts between the Fijians and Indo-Fijians
The politics of Fiji have been dominated by the internal struggle between the native Fijians and Indo-Fijians. In 1987 there was a military coup when an Indo-Fijian majority government was being formed. The constitution of 1990 guaranteed native Fijians a leading role in the politics but after international pressure it was modified in 1997 to be more equal. 

In 1999 Mahendra Chaudhry became the first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister of Fiji but he was overthrown from power in a military coup in 2000. The Indo-Fijian population has declined significantly over the last decades due to migration for various reasons. 

Fijian children

5. Geography of Fiji

Total land area 18,274 square kilometers, so it's a bit bigger than Kuwait (17,818sq km) and a bit smaller than Slovenia (20,273sq km). 

The Fijian archipelago consists more than 332 islands and 522 islets. From the 330 islands 106 are permanently inhabited. 

Main islands 
Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are the biggest islands. They were formed as a result of a volcanic eruption. The islands are mountainous with peaks up to 1324 meters and they are also covered with thick tropical forests. Their volcanic soil is very fertile. 

Rotuma island
The Rotuma island is 500km north from the other Fijian islands. In 1987 some rebels declared Rotuma as the independent Republic of Rotuma, but the rebellion was defeated and Rotuma remained part of Great Britain. The main issue was that Rotuma was ceded in 1881 to United Kingdom and not Fiji, which became independent from Great Britain in 1970.

Fiji map
Fiji islands

About 3000BC Fiji was inhabited by Melanesian settlers from Southeast Asia
1643 The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European in Fiji
1800s European missionaries, merchants and farm owners started settling Fiji
1865 Chief Cakobau managed to unite the islands under a centralized kingdom
1874 Fiji became a British colony
1875-1876 A measles epidemic killed over 40,000 Fijians
1970 Fiji became independent from Great Britain, the political power remained in the hands of the Melanesian population although the Indian population had grown to equal size
1987 A republic was declared, following a series of coups 
1992 Sitiveni Rabuka became Prime Minister
1997 Fiji introduced a new constitution, which wasn't so discriminating against the Indo-Fijians and after this Fiji was re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations
1999 Mahendra Chaudhry became Fiji's first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister
2000 Chaudhry was overthrown in a coup and Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power in the country
2001 Democracy was restored in the general elections, which were won by Laisenia Qarase although Bainimarama remained as an influential person in Fijian politics
2006 Bainimarama led a military coup overthrowing Qarase
2009 Fijian constitutional crisis  after the Fiji Court of Appeal ruled that the 2006 coup was illegal

sunnuntai 25. syyskuuta 2016

Malta, Cool Facts #144

<= 143. Belize                                                                                                                      145. Fiji => 

1. Malta's Ancient Megalithic Temples 

The megalithic temples on Gozo island in Malta are among the oldest free-standing structures in the world. The temples were built between 4000BC and 2500BC or more precisely around 3500BC. 

The temple rituals included animal sacrifice and the tentative information suggests that the sacrifices were made to the goddess of fertility. The culture that built the temples disappeared from Malta around 2500BC. 

The people who created the temples were probably the Sicani people from Sicily. They were the first settlers of the islands around 5200BC and they grew cereals, raised livestock and worshiped a fertility figure like many other ancient Mediterranean cultures. 

Hagar Qim

Ggantija back wall
2. Ancient Empires in Malta 

The Phoenicians were a sea-faring culture trading a lot in the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians used the island as a stop on their trade routes from the Mediterranean to Cornwall in Great Britain. The Phoenicians started inhabiting the island alongside the local population. In 332BC Phoenicia fell and Malta fell under the control of Carthage.

Map of Phoenicia and its trade routes
During the Carthaginian period the people on Malta mainly cultivated olives and carob and produced textiles. Carthage and Rome fought the Punic Wars against each other and in the First Punic War Rome conquered Malta for a short time during the war. Carthage lost Malta permanently to Rome after the Second Punic War in 218BC.

Carthaginian Empire in 264BC
Roman Empire
In the Roman Empire Malta became a Foederata Civitas, which meant that it didn't pay tribute or follow the Roman law. Malta fell within the jurisdiction of the province of Sicily. The Punic influence remained in Malta and the Romanization of the islands were slow. When Rome was divided in 395, Malta following Sicily fell under the control of the West Roman Empire.

Roman Empire in 117

3. Paul the Apostle in Malta 

In the year 58 Paul the Apostle and Luke the Evangelist were shipwrecked in Malta.

58 Paul the Apostle and Luke the Evangelist were shipwrecked at Malta and for three months Paul the Apostle preached about Christian faith, which has since thrived on Malta.

Paul the Apostle

4. Establishment of Valletta in 1566

Knights of Malta 
In 1530, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor gave the islands to the Knights Hospitaller, who became known as the Knights of Malta. These knights had been driven out of Rhodes by the Ottoman Empire in 1522. The Knights of Malta paid an annual tribute of one single Maltese Falcon for the perpetual lease of the islands.

Great Siege of Malta in 1565
In 1565 the Knights of Malta withstood the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottomans. The knights were victorious and repelled the attack with the help of Spanish and Maltese forces. The Knights decided to increase Malta's fortifications after the siege, especially the inner-harbor area, where the new city of Valletta was built. The city was named after the Frenchman Jean Parisot de Valette, who was the Grand Master of the Order at the time.

The Siege of Malta in 1565 
The Siege of Malta

5. George Cross in the Flag 

What ? 
The George Cross is presented in the upper left corner of the Maltan flag. The award is unique because it's usually awarded for individuals and only twice the award has been given collectively, the other being the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1999. The George Cross is awarded only for acts of the greatest heroism or the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger. 

How did Malta get the George Cross ? 
King George VI awarded the George Cross to Malta in 1942 during the Second World War. Malta was bombarded by Italian and German air forces because Malta was on a strategic location in the Mediterranean close to the areas controlled by the Axis powers. The bravery of the Maltese people during the Siege of Malta was the crucial reason for the award. Britain's credibility would have suffered if Malta had surrendered so that's why King George VI gave the award to Malta.

George Cross symbol
The silver award depicts Saint George slaying a dragon while riding his horse. The text on the award says: "For Gallantry". The speciality of the Maltan flag is that it bears the insignia of a foreign power.

George Cross (National War Museum, Malta)
Bomb damage in Valletta during the Second World War

5200BC Stone Age hunters or farmers from Sicily were thought to be the first settlers of the Maltese islands
2500BC The Maltese islands were depopulated for several decades before the arrival of a new influx of Bronze Age immigrants, who were thought to have arrived from Sicily as well
1000BC Phoenicians and in the following centuries the Greek and Carthaginians established settlements and trade posts on the islands
332BC After the fall of Phoenicia Malta came under the rule of Carthage, a former Phoenician colony
264BC First Punic War, Rome managed to conquer Malta for a short while during the war
218BC Second Punic War, Rome conquered the Maltese islands from Carthage
58 Paul the Apostle and Luke the Evangelist were shipwrecked in Malta and for three months Paul the Apostle preached about Christian faith, which has since thrived on Malta
395 Malta following Sicily fell under the control of the Western Roman Empire after the division of the Roman Empire
454-464 The islands were ruled by the Vandals
464-533 The islands were ruled by the Ostrogoths
533 Belisarius reunited the Maltese islands under the Byzantine rule 
870 Muslim invaders looted and pillaged the islands, destroying important buildings and leaving it practically uninhabited
1048-1049 The Maltese islands were recolonized by the Muslims from Sicily
1091 The Normans captured Malta from the Muslims with King Roger I of Sicily as their leader, Malta became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Sicily
1194-1266 Malta formed part of the Holy Roman Empire as it was part of the Sicilian Kingdom ruled by the Hohenstaufen dynasty
1224 A mass expulsion of Arabs and at the same time the entire Christian male population of Celano was deported to Malta the same year
1249 Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor ordered that all remaining Muslims must be expelled from Malta or converted into Christianity
1282-1409 House of Barcelona, an Aragonese dynasty ruled Malta
1409 Malta passed on to the Crown of Aragon
1530 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor gave the Maltese islands to the Knights Hospitaller, which later became known as the military religious order Knights of Malta
1565 The knights withstood the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottomans 
1675 About 11,000 people out of 60,000 died of plague in Malta
1798 Napoleon ended the Knights' reign in Malta capturing the island on his way to Egypt
1800 The Maltese leaders had asked for British protection and this year the French troops surrendered
1814 Malta became officially part of the British Empire part of the Treaty of Paris
1915-1918 First World War, Malta became known as the Nurse of the Mediterranean due to the large number of wounded soldiers who were accommodated on the island
1940s Second World War, Malta was bombarded by German and Italian forces because it was a British colony situated close to areas controlled by the Axis powers
1947 Malta got autonomy
1964 Malta became independent from Great Britain
1974 Malta was declared a republic replacing Queen Elizabeth II with the president as the head of state
1979 Great Britain had to abandon its naval base in Malta
1980 Malta adopted a policy of neutrality
2004 Malta joined the European Union 

torstai 22. syyskuuta 2016

Belize, Cool Facts #143

<= 142. Grenada                                                                                                              144. Malta =>

1. British Baymen

In 1638 a British sailboat was shipwrecked on the coast of Belize and the sailors of the boat became the country's first European settlers as they established a British settlement. The area hadn't been settled by Europeans before because of the strong Mayan resistance in Yucatan. The Baymen, who were buccaneers and pirates, established slavery in Belize.

In 1798 after the Battle of St. George's Caye against the Spanish the Baymen gained full control of the settlement. The Spanish controlled the neighboring colonies and they had chased out the Baymen four times between 1717 and 1780. The treaties of 1783 and 1786 had given the Baymen more security before gaining full control of the territory, where they lived and cut logwood.

In 1836 after the emancipation of Central America from Spanish rule, the British finally dared to claim the right to administer the area of Belize as Spain wasn't ruling in Latin America anymore. In 1862 Belize became a British crown colony as British Honduras.

Book about the Baymen

2. Belizean-Guatemalan Territorial Dispute  

In 1862 Belize became a British crown colony as British Honduras. Both Mexico and Guatemala claimed the area of British Honduras for themselves for historical reasons.

Mexico abandoned its claim to the area in 1893.

Guatemala agreed to recognized British Honduras in 1862 under the terms of the Wyke-Aycinena Treaty. In 1940 Guatemala started claiming Belize again as they thought that the British didn't keep all of its promises that it had made in the treaty.

The negotiations postponed the Belizean independence, which was achieved in 1981 as the territorial dispute remained unsolved. In 1991 Guatemala recognized the independence of Belize and a bit later in 1994 British soldiers were withdrawn from Belize.

In 1999 Guatemala renewed its claim on Belize as it claimed 53% of the country. The dispute is still on-going.

Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute

3. Demographics of Belize 

Belize's diverse society, composed of many ethnic groups and languages reflect its rich history.

Ethnic groups in Belize: 

Mixed Spanish and Maya descent, who speak Spanish as their main language. The mestizos originally came to Belize in 1847 escaping the Caste War in Yucatan.

The Maya are thought to have been in Yucatan region and Belize since 2000BC. Much of the original Maya population was wiped out by the Europeans and the diseases transmitted by them. Three Maya groups inhabit the country now: Yucatec, Mopan and Q'eqchi'

Descendants of the Baymen slave owners and slaves brought to Belize for the logging industry. They speak the Belizean Creole, which is derived mainly from English and it has been influence by the Miskito language and West African and Bantu languages.

The Garinagu are descendants of black people from West/Central Africa, who were never recorded as slaves. According to one study their ancestry is on average 76% Sub-Saharan African, 20% Arawak/Island Carib and 4% European.

The Mennonites are a German-speaking minority in Belize. The majority of them are so-called Russian Mennonites of German descent, who settled in the Russian Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of the Mennonites came from Mexico after 1958 and some came from Canada and USA in the late 1960s. The Mennonites speak Plautdietsh, which is a German dialect.

The remaining 5% of the population consists mainly of a mix of Chinese, Indians and whites from USA and Canada.

Belizean people

4. Hurricanes in Belize 

Hurricanes have played a devastating role in the Belizean history causing damages worth of hundreds of millions.

1931 Unnamed hurricane
Destroyed 2/3 of the buildings in Belize City and killed more than 1000 people.

1955 Hurricane Janet 
Damaged Corozal.

1961 Hurricane Hattie 
Struck the central coastal area of the country with winds over 300km/h. Belize City was struck by a hurricane for the second time in thirty years, so the capital was relocated 80km to the inland to the planned city of Belmopan.

1978 Hurricane Greta
Caused more than 25 million US dollar damages along the southern coast.

2001 Hurricane Iris 
The hurricane made a landfall at Monkey River Town, where it demolished most of the homes of the village and the banana crop.

2007 Hurricane Dean 
Made landfall as a Category 5 storm causing extensive damage in northern Belize.

2010 Hurricane Richard 
Caused damages worth over 17 million US dollars primarily from damage to crops and housing.

Hurricane in Belize

5. Nature in Belize 

- The Belize Barrier Reef the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef
- The Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site 
- The highest point in Belize is at 1124m
- The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary one of the best jaguar preservation sites in the world
- Over 60% of Belize's land area is covered by forest
- About 20% of the land area is covered by cultivated land and human settlements
- Belize is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that stretches from southern Mexico to Panama
- 37% of Belize's land territory falls under some sort of official protection
- In 2010 Belize became the first country in the world to completely ban bottom trawling

Belize Barrier Reef
Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary


2500BC - 250AD Basic institutions of Maya civilization emerged
600-1000 Late Classic Era of Maya civilization
1506 Spanish conquistadors declared the land a Spanish colony but didn't settle it due to lack of resources like gold and the strong defense of the Mayans in Yucatan
1638 A British sailboat was shipwrecked on the coast of Belize and the sailors of the boat became Belize's first European settlers as they established a British settlement
1798 The Battle of St. George's Caye, the Spanish unsuccessfully tried to conquer the Baymen-controlled territory for Spain from a small force of Baymen and their slaves
1833 Slavery was abolished in the British Empire
1836 After the emancipation of Central America from Spanish rule, the British claimed the right to administer the area of Belize
1862 Belize became a British crown colony as British Honduras. Both Mexico and Guatemala demanded the area of British Honduras for themselves
1893 Mexico abandoned its claim to the area
1930s The Great Depression, Great Britain's demand for timber plummeted and caused nearly the collapse of the colony
1931 A devastating hurricane hit the country
1954 First election under universal suffrage
1964 Great Britain granted British Honduras self-government
1970 The capital city was removed from Belize City to Belmopan because the coastal areas were struck by hurricanes
1973 British Honduras was officially renamed Belize
1981 Belize became independent but Guatemala refused to recognize its independence
1991 Guatemala recognized Belize's independence
1994 British soldiers were withdrawn from Belize
2005 Unrest caused by discontent with the PUP government
2008 Dean Barrow became prime minister after his UDP won the general elections
2012 Barrow and UDP were re-elected 

Grenada, Cool Facts #142

<= 141. Trinidad and Tobago                                                                                        143. Belize =>

1. Island of Spice

Grenada's nickname is Island of Spice. The country is leading exporter of several different spices. Nutmeg is the most important spice in Grenada and it's even depicted in the flag of the country. Nutmeg was introduced to Grenada in 1843.

Grenada's important role as a spice exporter has to do with its colonial past. The British started the cultivation of spice crops and established also cotton and cocoa plantations after they conquered Grenada from the French in 1763.

Spice exports: 

Nutmeg - 2nd biggest exporter after Indonesia, providing 20% of the world supply.
Orange peels
Wild coffee


2. Colonization of Grenada

Christopher Columbus
In 1498 Columbus sighted Grenada on his third voyage to the New World. Grenada was then inhabited by Caribs, who had driven the more peaceful Arawaks from the island. The Spanish didn't establish a settlement on Grenada.

French colony
The French founded a permanent settlement on Grenada in 1649 and with a few months the indigenous Caribs started a conflict, which ended in 1654 when the French subjugated Grenada completely. Caribs who survived, either left to neighboring islands or moved to more remote areas. The last Carib communities disappeared in the 1700s.

British colony
In the 1700s the British and French fought furiously against each other over the control of the Caribbean islands. In 1762 Great Britain captured Grenada from the French during the Seven Years' War.

In the following year in 1763 Grenada was formally ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris. The French recaptured Grenada during the American Revolutionary War in 1779 but by the Treaty of Versailles Grenada was restored to Great Britain in 1783. In 1877 Grenada became a British crown colony.

Grenada colonial stamp
Grenada map

3. Grenadan Coup and US invasion 

Grenada became independent in 1974, the first Prime Minister Eric Gairy was regarded as authoritarian and that he didn't grasp the social problems enough. 

Coup of 1979
The leftist New Jewel Movement launched a coup removing Gairy and suspending the constitution. The charismatic Maurice Bishop led the People's Revolutionary Government and declared himself prime minister. Bishop initiated the land reform and his radical government didn't please USA and the neighboring countries in the Caribbean. 

Maurice Bishop (in the middle)
Coup of 1983
Bishop was deemed insufficiently revolutionary by some hardline marxist and communist party members. Bernard Coard led the coup and placed Bishop under house arrest, which led to street demonstrations and to the release of Bishop. When Bishop tried to resume power he and seven other people were captured and executed by soldiers. The Coard regime put the island under martial law after these events. 

Bernard Coard
US invasion in 1983 (Operation Urgent Fury)
USA had some concerns with the radical government of Grenada so it carried out an invasion from Barbados together with the Regional Security System forces. The invasion was highly criticized by Britain, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. The United Nations Security Council condemned the invasion as a flagrant violation of international law. 

Invasion plan 
US battle helicopter

The pre-revolutionary Grenadian constitution came into operation again after the invasion. Many people were sentenced to death and prison for being responsible of the deaths of Maurice Bishop and others.
The American forces left Grenada in December of 1983 and in 1984 the first democratic elections were held since 1976. Grenada National Party won the elections and Herbert Blaize became Prime Minister.

4. Hurricanes in Grenada 

Grenada is on the southern edge of the hurricane belt or hurricane alley, an area between the 10° and 20° N, which is the optimal area for hurricanes to be formed.

Grenada has suffered only three hurricanes in fifty years.

Hurricane Janet - September 23, 1955
With winds of 185km/h causing a lot of damage

Hurricane Ivan - September 7, 2004 
Thirty-nine deaths and a lot of damage

Hurricane Emily - July 14, 2005
Damage in Carriacou and in the north of Grenada

Warm waters of hurricane alley
5. Demographics of Grenada 

- Majority of Grenadine citizens (82%) are descendants of African slaves brought by the English and French
- Grenadians of Indian descent currently the second largest ethnic group. Their ancestors were mainly brought from North Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh between 1857-1885.
- Small community of French and English descendants
- 13% of the population of mixed descent 
 sitä asuttaneilta arawakeilta hieman aiemmin. 

- English official language
- Grenadian Creole considered the lingua franca of the island
- French Patois spoken by 10-20% of the population
- Hindi/Bhojpuri terms used by the Indian descendants

Kirani James

1498 Christopher Columbus sighted Grenada on his third voyage to the New World
1649 The French founded a permanent settlement and within few months a five year conflict started with the indigenous Caribs
1654 Grenada was completely subjugated by the French
1762 The British captured Grenada from the French during the Seven Years' War
1763 Grenada was formally ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris
1779 The French recaptured Grenada during the American Revolutionary War
1783 With the Treaty of Versailles Grenada was restored to Great Britain
1834 Slavery was abolished, Indian contract workers replaced the slaves on the plantations
1843 Nutmeg tree was introduced to Grenada
1877 Grenada became a crown colony
1950 Eric Gairy founded the Grenada United Labour Party
1951 General strike demanding for better working conditions
1958-1962 Grenada was part of the West Indies Federation 
1967 Grenada gained full autonomy as an Associated State
1974 Grenada became independent under the leadership of Eric Gairy
1979 Leftist New Jewel Movement carried out a coup and Maurice Bishop declared himself Prime Minister
1983 Bernard Coard backed by the army overthrew Maurice Bishop, who was executed during the coup. Coard was even more socialist than Bishop that's why USA carried out a military invasion and overthrew Coard with their allies 
1984 First democratic elections since 1976 were won by Grenada National Party under Herbert Blaize as prime minister
1995 Keith Mitchell started his 13 year term as prime minister
2004 Hurricane Ivan hit Grenada, which had been hurricane-free for 49 years
2005 Hurricane Emily damaged the northern part of the island
2008 Kevin Mitchell's 13 year term as prime minister ends as Tillman Thomas assumes the prime minister's office
2013 Kevin Mitchell became prime minister again 

sunnuntai 18. syyskuuta 2016

Trinidad and Tobago, Cool Facts #141

<= 140. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines                                                               142. Grenada =>

1. Trinidad and Tobago Name Origins

Christopher Columbus renamed the island "La isla de la Trinidad", fulfilling a vow he made before setting out on his third exploration voyage. The original name of the island in Arawakan languages was either "Iere" (Land of the Hummingbird) or "Kairi (Island).

The cigar-like shape of the island may have given its Spanish name (cabaco, tavaco, tobacco). The original Amerindian name in Arawakan was Aloubaéra (black conch) and Urupaina (big snail).

Mayaro Beach at Trinidad
Trinidad and Tobago map

2. Most colonizers in the Caribbean 

The islands of Trinidad and Tobago were united in 1889. Before that they were separate colonies. Between 1958-1962 Trinidad and Tobago was part of the West Indies Federation. In 1962 the country became independent from Great Britain.

Spanish colony after the arrival of Columbus in 1498 until 1797, when Great Britain started ruling the island until the independence.

The island of Tobago has changed hands among different colonizers more than any other island in the Caribbean. Tobago was colonized by the Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlanders.


3. Birthplace of Limbo 

Trinidad and Tobago is known for its Carnival and as the birthplace of limbo. Limbo is a dance contest that originated on the island of Trinidad. The dance was popularized by Julia Edwards aka First Lady of Limbo. Julia Edwards and her company appeared in several films making limbo famous, in particular the movie Fire Down Below (1957).

Traditionally the limbo dance began at the lowest possible bar, which was gradually raised. This signified the emergence from death into life. When limbo was adopted to the world of entertainment the traditional order was reversed.

Other music-related things originating on Trinidad and Tobago: 

Steelpan - also called steel drums or pans
Calypso - music style
Soca - music style
Parang - music style
Chutney - music style

limbo dancers

4. Indo-Trinidadians

Indo-Trinidadians are the largest ethnic group in the country with 37,6% of the population. Afro-Trinidadian and Tobagonians constitute the second biggest ethnic group with 36,3% of the population.

The ethnic composition of the country reflects the country's history of conquest and immigration. The Indo-Trinidadians are the descendants from indentured workers from India, who replaced the freed African slaves who refused to continue working on the sugar plantations.

Slavery was abolished in the British Empire completely in the 1830s. In the 1840s indentured workers from India and also China were brought to Trinidad and Tobago and other British colonies.

Some of the residents of Indian descent continue to maintain traditions from their ancestral homelands.

Newly arrived indentured Indians in Trinidad and Tobago

5. Wealthiest Caribbean Country 

Trinidad and Tobago is the third richest country in the Americas after USA and Canada by GDP (PPP) per capita. So it's the richest in the Caribbean and in the top 40 (2010 information) of the 70 High Income countries in the world.

In 2011 the OECD removed Trinidad and Tobago from its list of Developing Countries. The economy of the country is strongly influenced by the petroleum industry. Tourism and manufacturing are also important to the local economy.

Petroleum was discovered in 1857 in Trinidad and Tobago but it was between 1972-1983 when rising oil prices increased the living standards in Trinidad and Tobago greatly.

- Trinidad and Tobago is a regional financial centre
- Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports but only 5% of employment
- Trinidad and Tobago is one of the top 10 exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG)

Trinidad and Tobago oil
Trinidad and Tobago export map


1498 Christopher Columbus encountered the island of Trinidad on July 31th, the same year he saw Tobago but didn't land there
1530s The Spanish started conquering Trinidad from the native Orinoco and Warao people, the following decades were generally spent in warfare with the natives
1687 The Catholic Catalan Capuchin friars were given responsibility for the conversions of the indigenous people at Trinidad and the Guianas
1699 Arena massacra, the converted Amerindians revolted killing the priests after which several hundred Amerindians were killed
1783 The Spanish king granted the Cedula de Poblacion, which was an edict to open Trinidad to immigration and that increased the population of the island in the following decades
1797 The British invaded Trinidad and conquered it from the Spanish, who capitulated without fighting
1802 The British rule was formalized under the Treaty of Amiens
1833 Slavery was abolished but the former slaves served an apprenticeship period before full emancipation of slavery in 1838
1845 Contract workers from India, China and Portugal were brought to the plantations of Trinidad
1857 Petroleum was discovered
1889 Tobago and Trinidad were combined into the colony of Trinidad and Tobago
1920-1930s Widespread depression after the collapse of the sugarcane industry
1958 Part of the West Indies Federation before it was dissolved in 1962
1962 Trinidad and Tobago became independent from Great Britain
1972-1983 The oil-rich country profited greatly from the rising price of oil increasing the living standards greatly
1973 Trinidad and Tobago was one of the founding members of CARICOM
1976 Trinidad and Tobago became a republic 
2003 The country entered a second oil boom
2010 UNC won and Kamla Persad-Bissessar became the country's first female Prime Minister