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torstai 25. toukokuuta 2017

Andorra, Cool Facts #184

<= 183. Vatican City                                                                                             185. Afghanistan => 

1. Flag of Andorra

- The Flag of Andorras is unique as it refers to three different states
- Blue represents France
- Yellow represents Vatican City
- Red represents Spain

- Virtus Unita Fortior "United virtue is stronger" is written in the coat-of-arms
- Top left = arms of the Bishop of Urgell
- Top right = arms of the County of Foix
- Bottom left = arms of Catalonia
- Bottom right = arms of the Viscounts of Béarn 

Andorra's coat-of-arms

2. Parliamentary Co-Principality  

- Andorra is very unique, because its both a republic and a principality at the same time 
- The two Co-Princes of Andorra are the President of France and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell
- The President of France is the Prince of Andorra, an elected reigning monarch although the president isn't elected by popular vote of the Andorra people 
- Currently (May, 2017) Joan Enric Vives i Sicilia and Emmanuel Macron are the two Co-Princes of Andorra 
- In 1793 the French revolutionary government ended the protection agreement with Andorra, which made the Andorrans to fear drifting under the influence of Spain 
- In 1806 Napoleon restored the agreement of Lerida in 1278 and since then Andorra's independence has been backed by the Spanish Bishop of Urgell and the President or head of state of France 

Co-Princess of Andorra Sicilia (left) and Macron (right)

3. Catalan Official Language in Andorra 

- Andorra is the only country, where Catalan is the official language
- Spanish, French and Portuguese are recognized languages in Andorra
- English is less commonly spoken, but it's understood to varying degrees in major tourist spots
- Andorra television and radio stations use Catalan

Linguistic usage of Andorra in 2005 according to Obsevatori Social d'Andorra:

Catalan 38,8%
Spanish 35,4%
Portuguese 15%
French 5,4%
Other 5,5%

Catalan speaking areas in grey

4. Revolution of 1881 

- In 1880 the authorities of the Co-Princes banned casinos and betting houses throughout the country
- This started the Revolution of 1881 or Troubles of Andorra
- On December 8, 1880 the revolutionaries assaulted the house of the syndic and established the Provisional Revolutionary Council
 - The leaders of the Provisional Revolutionary Council granted the construction of casinos and spas to foreign companies
- In June 1881 the the loyalists of Canilo and Encamp reconquered the parishes of Ordino and Massana
- After a day of combat the Treaty of the Bridge of Escalis was signed the 10 of June
- The Council was replaced and new elections were made, but the economic situation worsened with a divided society
- The struggles between pro-French, pro-Bishops and nationalists continued

The Revolutionary Council

5. Adventurer Boris Skossyreff 

- In 1933 France occupied Andorra after social unrest, which occurred before elections
- On 12 July 1934, adventurer Boris Skossyreff declared himelf in Urgell as "Boris I, King of Andorra"
- Skossyreff simultaneously declared war on the Bishop of Urgell
- On 20 July 1934, Skossyreff was arrested by Spanish authorities and expelled to Portugal
- Some sources claim that Skossyreff died in a Vichy French prison camp and others claim that he survived and that he became a civilian technician for the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front in World War II
- Boris Skossyreff was a White Russian, who was born in Vilnius in 1896 in the Russian Empire 
- A novel has been written of Skossyreff in 1984 by Catalan author Antoni Morell i Mora, with the title Boris I, Rei d'Andorra

Boris Skossyreff


6640BC A group of humans moved to the Valley of Madriu as a permanent camp
400s After the fall of the Roman Empire Andorra was under Visigoth influence for the next 200 years
839 First document that mentions Andorra as a territory
988 Count of Urgell gave the Andorran valleys to the Diocese of Urgell in exchange for land in Cerdanya
1095 Lord of Caboet and Bishop of Urgell signed under oath a declaration of their co-sovereignty over Andorra
1212 The rulers of the Count of Foix became the inheritors of the County of Urgell through a marriage
1278 Andorra's sovereignty was decided to be shared between the counts of Foix and Urgell
1419 General Council of the Valleys, the second oldest parliament in Europe was established
1607 King Henry IV of France issued an edict, that established the ruler of France and the Bishop of Urgell as Co-Princes of Andorra
1793 During the French Revolution the Co-Principate and protection agreement was ended
1806 Napoleon re-established the Co-Principate and the same year Andorra got its own flag
1866 The aristocratic oligarchy that previously ruled the country was replaced by the reformist group and the same year Andorra got a new flag
1880s Troubles of Andorra 
1910s Andorra declared war on Imperial Germany, but didn't take part in the fighting 
1933 France occupied Andorra following social unrest which occurred before elections
1940s Andorra remained neutral in World War II
1958 Peace treaty with Germany was made, because Andorra was accidentally left outside of the Versailles Peace Treaty, which meant that Andorra remained in an official state of belligerency with Germany until this point 
1970 Women got the right to vote in Andorra
1993 Andorra became a UN and EU member and the country got a new constitution 

Vatican City, Cool Facts #183

<= 182. San Marino                                                                                                   184. Andorra => 

1. Circus of Nero (or Caligula) 

Agrippina's garden 
Under the Roman Empire in the early 1st century Agrippina the Elder drained the marshy area called "Vatican" and laid out her gardens.

Emperor Caligula 
In the year 40 Agrippina's son Emperor Caligula built a circus for charioteers in the gardens of Agrippina. Caligula also brought the obelisk of Vatican from Egypt to the center of the Circus of Nero. The obelisk was moved to its current location to the St. Peter's Square in 1586.

Emperor Nero 
Emperor Nero completed Caligula's circus and it was called then the Circus Gaii et Neronis, or simply Circus of Nero.

The Circus of Nero is located mostly in the present-day Vatican City. The circus was the location of first organized, state-sponsored martyrdoms of Christians in 65. The traditional location of Saint Peter's tomb is in this area. The Old St. Peter's Basilica was erected over the site, using some of the existing structure of the Circus of Nero. The circus was abandoned by the middle of the second century, but some ruins seem to have survived until 1450, when they were finally destroyed by the construction of the new St. Peter's Basilica.

Circus of Nero drawing (Pietro Santi Bartoli 1699)

2. Papal States 754-1870

- Papal States is a predecessor of Vatican City
- Established in 754 as a theocracy
- The Catholic Church got the right to own land starting from 321
- The land areas of the Catholic Church grew fast through donations and inheritance
- The Church preferred to be under Byzantine protection instead of the Lombards, who ruled northern Itlay
- The Byzantine Exarchate was defeated by the Lombards in 751, which threatened Rome
- The Church allied with Pepin the Short King of Franks, who sent troops to Italy in 754 and 756
- Pepin the Short's troops conquered back the lost areas and donated them to Pope Stephen III 
- In 781 Charlemagne named the areas ruled by the pope
- The Frankish Kingdom ensured the pope's safety until the dissolution of their kingdom in 843
- The Papal State expanded greatly during the renaissance
- In 1305-1378 the popes lived in Avignon, France, under the protection of the French King
- The Papal State ceased to exist in 1434, during Napoleonic Wars and 1848, but it was revived every time
- In 1860 the Papal State lost Umbria and Marche
- In 1870 the Papal State, which consisted of only Latium, ceased to exist
- Pope Pius IX didn't approve the offer of the King of Italy for the compensation of lost lands
- Pope Pius IX refused to leave the Vatican City and so did the following popes between 1870-1929
- The "Roman Question" was solved in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty
- Vatican City was recognized as an independent state by the Kingdom of Italy in the Lateran Treaty
- Prime Minister Benito Mussolini agreed also giving financial refund to the church

Papal States in 1700

3. Avignon Papacy  

- The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1377, when seven popes resided in Avignon
- At the time Avignon was part of the Kingdom of Arles (now France)
- The situation arose from the dispute between Pope Boniface VIII and Philip IV of France
- Pope Boniface VIII's successor Benedict XI died after only eight months in office
- Finally the deadlocked conclave elected French Clement V as Pope in 1305
- Clement V declined to move to Rome, so he remained in France and moved his court to Avignon in 1309
-  The Papacy then remained in Avignon for the next 67 years
- Seven French popes reigned at Avignon and they increasingly fell under the influence of the French Crown
- In 1376 Gregory XI, the most recent French pope abandoned Avignon and moved his court to Rome, where he arrived on January 17, 1377
- Avignon remained under Papal control until 1791, when it became part of France during the French Revolution

Papal Palace in Avignon, France

4. Roman Catholic Popes 

The pope is the Bishop of Rome and the era of the pope is called pontificate.
During the pontificate of a pope, the chosen pope can practice any kind of policies that he decided and he can't be fired.
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See.

Recent popes
In 1978 Polish Karol Wojtyla or John Paul II became the first non-Italian pope since Dutch pope Adrian VI 1522-1523.
In 2013 John Paul's successor Benedict XVI was the first pope to resign since 1415.
Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio succeeded him as pope Francis.

Popes by nationality 
Italy 217
France 16
Greece 15 (3 born in Greece)
Germany 8
Syria 6
Africa 3 (Roman Africa)
Iudaea 3 (Israel)
Portugal 2
Spain 2
England 1
Netherlands 1
Poland 1
Argentina 1

Longest-reigning popes
c. 34-37 years - Peter (c. 30-64/67)
31 years - Pius IX (1846-1878)
26 years - St. John Paul II (1978-2005)

Shortest-reigning popes
13 days - Urban VIII (15-27 September 1590), died before coronation
16 days - Boniface VI (April 896)
17 days - Celestine IV (25 October-10 November 1241)

79 years 290 days - Clement X (1670)
79 years 177 days - Alexander VIII (1689)
78 years 330 days - Paul IV (1555)

Oldest popes at death or resignation (post-1295) 
93 years 140 days - Leo XIII (1903)
87 years 305 days - Clement XII (1740)
86 years 9 days - Clement X (1676)

Pope in front of the crowd

5. Pontifical Swiss Guards 

- In 1970 Pope Paul VI disbanded the Pontical Military Corps, except for the Swiss Guard 
- The Pontical Swiss Guard was established in 1506 by Pope Julius II 
- The Pontical Swiss Guard is among the oldest military units in continuous operation 
- The size of the Pontical Swiss Guard is 100 men 
- They are responsible for the safety of the Pope and the Apostolic Palace 
- The guards must be unmarried Swiss Catholic men between 19-30 years of age, who have completed training with the Swiss Armed Forces 
- Since the assassination attempt on John Paul II in 1980, there has been a stronger emphasis on the combat training of the guards 

Swiss Guards in an oath ceremony


40 Emperor Caligula built in the garden's of Agrippina the Elder a circus for charioteers that was later completed by Nero
40 The obelisk of Vatican was brought from Egypt by Caligula
64 The circus of Caligula became a site of martyrdom of many Christians after the Great Fire of Rome
326 The Constantinian basilica was built over what was thought to be the tomb of Saint Peter
754 The Papal States were established with pope as the ruler
1796 French revolutionaries conquered Italy and Rome was declared republic
1815 Pope's power was restored in the Papal States after the Congress of Vienna
1861 The 30 million strong population voted to join the Kingdom of Italy in a referendum
1870 Capture of Rome, Papal States became part of the unified Italy
1871 The Quirinal Palace was confiscated by the king of Italy and became the royal palace
1929 The dispute of Vatican City was resolved and its independence was recognized by Italy in the Lateran Treaty 
1970 The Pontical Military Corps, except for the Swiss Guard, were disbanded by will of Paul VI 
1978 Karol Wojtyla was elected as the first non-Italian Pope since Dutch Pope Adrian VI 1522-1523
2005 German Benedict XVI became the Pope after the death of John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) 
2013 Benedict XVI was the first pope to resign since 1415 and the Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio succeeded him as Pope Francis 

keskiviikko 24. toukokuuta 2017

San Marino, Cool Facts #182

<= 181. Italy                                                                                                          183. Vatican City =>

1. World's Smallest and Oldest Republic 

- San Marino is the world's smallest and oldest republic
- Besides ancient Rome it's considered as the oldest republic in history 
- The republic of San Marino was founded on September 3rd 301
- Saint Marinus escaped the Diocletianic Persecution to the Monte Titano in 301 and there he built a church, thus founding what is now the city and state of San Marino 
- When Saint Marinus died he said: "Relinquo vos liberos ab utroque homine", which meant "I leave you free from both men" referring to the Pope and Emperor 
- Saint Marinus was a stonemason from the island of Rab, from modern-day Croatia 
- Saint Marinus fleed persecution for his Christian beliefs 
- Surprisingly the republic has a crown in the flag, however it doesn't refer to monarchy but instead to sovereignty 
- San Marino and Vatican City are only remnants of the several Italian city-states, which were created and destroyed after the fragmentation of Roman Empire and before the unification of Italy in 1861 

San Marino landscape

2. Napoleon and San Marino 

In 1797 Napoleon's army presented a threat to San Marino as the troops advanced in Italy. San Marino managed to save its liberty thanks to Regent Antonio Onofri, who gained the respect and friendship of Napoleon. Due to the intervention Napoleon promised to guarantee and protect the independence of San Marino. He even offered to extend San Marino's territory according to its needs, but the offer was declined by the Regents, who feared future retaliation from other states to take back their lost areas. 

Napoleon Bonaparte sending Commissioner Gaspard Monge to San Marino

3. San Marino's role in the Italian Unification  

San Marino had an important role during the Italian unification process, which started in 1815 and ended in 1871. San Marino offered refuge for many people, because of their support for unification. One of the leaders of the unification process was Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had taken momentary refuge in San Marino with only 250 men still following him in 1849. In recognition of San Marino's support, Garibaldi accepted the wish of San Marino not to be incorporated into the new Italian state. 
San Marino's special status was recognized and San Marino entered a customs union with Italy. 

Giuseppe Garibaldi

4. Communist Government of San Marino in 1945 

- In 1945 San Marino became the first country in the world with a democratically elected communist government
- It was a coalition between the Sanmarinese Communist Party and the Sanmarinese Socialist Party
- The communists ruled San Marino from 1945 until 1957
- In 1957 the communist government was overthrown in a coup supported by the Italian government
- The Sanmarinese Christian Democratic Party became the ruling party in San Marino after the coup in 1957

Palazzo Pubblico, the seat of government of San Marino

5. Geography of San Marino 

- Monte Titano dominates the scenery in San Marino
- Monte Titano has three peaks called Montale, Cesta and Guaita and they all have their medieval fortress
- Before 1463 San Marino consisted of only Monte Titano
- In 1463 San Marino together with the Papal States successfully defended the conquest attempts in the area by the Malatesta family from Rimini
- As a reward Pope Pius II granted San Marino the villages of Fiorentino, Montegiardino and Serravalle
- Since then the borders of San Marino haven't changed

Monte Titano's three peaks with fortresses


301 Saint Marinus escaped the Diocletianic Persecution to the Monte Titano, where he built a church and thus founded what is now the city and state of San Marino
1262 The constitution of San Marino was drawn
1463 San Marino got its current borders
1631 San Marino's independence was recognized by the Papacy
1797 Napoloen conquered Italy, but he was willing to recognize the Republic of San Marino thanks to the intervention of Regent Antonio Onofri
1923-1943 Sanmarinese Fascist Party ruled the country
1944 San Marino was bombed for a while by the Allied forces, because it was thought that San Marino was overrun by Germany and used to amass stores and ammunition 
1945 San Marino had the world's first democratically elected communist government, which ruled until 1957
1957 The communist government was overthrown in a coup supported by Italy, after which the Christian Democratic Party started ruling the country
1988 San Marino became a member of the Council of Europe
1992 San Marino became a UN member 

Italy, Cool Facts #181

<= 180. Romania                                                                                                   182. San Marino =>

1. City States of Italy 

How the Italian peninsula fragmented into several independent city states before it was unified again in 1871 ? 

Division of Rome 395
The Roman Empire split into the East and West Roman Empires in 395. The East Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire survived until 1453, but the West Roman Empire was dissolved in 476 under the pressure of barbarian invasions

Division of Rome

Ostrogothic Kingdom 493-553
The Ostrogothic Kingdom was established in 493 after the last West Roman Emperor was deposed in 476. The Ostrogoths ruled the whole Italian peninsula and also parts of modern-day France and Serbia at its greatest extent. In 553 the Ostrogothic Kingdom fell after the Byzantine attack. 

Ostrogothic Kingdom at its greatest extent

Kingdom of Lombards 568-774
In 568 the Lombards conquered most of Italy and their kingdom was at its greatest extent in 749-756. The Byzantines ruled the remaining areas in present-day area, which weren't ruled by the LombardsIn 774 the Franks conquered the kingdom. The Lombards started the end of political unity of the Italian peninsula. After the dissolution of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, Italy wasn't unified as one political entity before 1871.

Kingdom of the Lombards

After fragmentation of Italian peninsula
The Lombard Kingdom was absorbed into the Frankish Empire by Charlemagne. The Franks also helped to establish the Papal States in central Italy. Until 13th century the politics of the region were dominated by the relations between the Holy Roman Emperors and the Papacy. The power struggle between the Empire and the Holy See and the territorial fragmentation was a chaotic era, when Italian  towns saw the rise of the medieval commune. 

Italy part of the Frankish Kingdom

Rise of the city states
In 1176 the Lombard League defeated the German emperor at the Battle of Legnano, thus ensuring independence for most of the cities in northern and central Italy. Many of the Italian city states became very powerful like Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi. The renaissance started in Italy in the 1300s-1400s. Arts and science flourished while the attempts of trying to establish a unified state under the Pope or the Holy Roman Emperor failed. The city states were too independent and powerful. The Medici family ruled Florence, the Sforza family ruled Milan, the Farnese family ruled Parma and the Este family ruled Modena. The powerful families didn't want to compromise their power. 

Italy in the 1300s
Italian maritime republics

2. Italian Wars 1494-1559

- A series of conflicts in Italy between 1494-1559 
- The war started after Charles VIII of France invaded Italy after claiming the throne of Naples 
- France also claimed Milan and ruled it in 1499-1512, 1515-1522 and 1524-1525 
- The dynastic disputes rapidly spread to include most of the major states of Western Europe 
- The war ended in 1559, when Spain captured Milan and Naples 
- After 1559 Spanish Habsburgs ruled most of the Italian city-states 


Republic of Venice
Duchy of Milan 
Kingdom of Naples
Papal States 
Republic of Florence
Duchy of Ferrara 
Holy Roman Empire 
Ottoman Empire 
Old Swiss Confederacy 

Italy in 1494
Italy in 1559

3. Habsburg Rule in Italy 

Italy like many other European country has been ruled by the Habsburg dynasty.

Spanish Habsburgs 
In 1559 most of the Italian city-states lost their independence and came under Spanish Habsburg rule. In 1629-1631 plague killed about 14% of Italy's population.

Austrian Habsburgs 
In 1713 Austrian Habsburgs started ruling parts of Italy.

1713-1797 Duchy of Milan
1713-1735 Kingdom of Naples
1713-1720 Kingdom of Sardinia
1720-1735 Kingdom of Sicily
1735-1748 Duchy of Parma
1765-1801 and 1814-1859 Tuscany
1797-1805 Venetia
1814-1847 Duchy of Parma
1814-1859 Duchy of Modena
1814-1859 Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia

Habsburg territories in 1700

The process of unifying Italy began in 1815 with the Congress of Vienna and in 1871 it was completed when Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.

1815 Congress of Vienna
Italy was restored to its previous ruler Austria, which had lost control of Italian territories during the French Revolution to France.

1820-1848 Revolutions 
The 1820 revolution began in Sicily and Naples against the Two Sicilies.
The 1830 revolutions in Italy and in other European countries.
Revolutions of 1848 in the Italian peninsula and Sicily.

1848-1849 First Italian War of Independence
Kingdom of Sardinia against Austria, which ended in Austrian victory.

1859 Second Italian War of Independence
Sardinia annexed Lombardy from Austria. France gained Savoy and Nice from Sardinia.

1860-1861 Expedition of the Thousand
A corps of thousand volunteers led by Giuseppe Garibaldi landed in in Sicily to conquer the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, ruled by the Bourbons. The expedition was a success, the Kingdom of Two Sicilies collapse. Sicily, Southern Italy, Marche and Umbria were ceded to the Kingdom of Sardinia. The Papal States were reduced to Latium.

1861 Kingdom of Italy
The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861 by King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia, who became the King of Italy.

1866 Third Italian War of Independence
Kingdom of Italy fought against Kingdom of Austria. The war ended in Italian victory and Austria ceded Venetia to France, which in turn gave it to Italy. 

1870 Capture of Rome
Kingdom of Italy defeated the Papal States. Rome and Latium were then annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. Rome became the capital of Italy and the Italian unification was finally complete. 

Italy's three founding fathers
Italian Unification

5. Italian Colonial Empire 


After 1871 when Italy was united there was a belief that Italy deserved its own overseas empire. However Italy had arrived late to the colonial race and its international power was relatively weak to other European powers. Italy had to depend on the approval of Britain, France and Germany in its empire-building.

List of Italian territories

1882 Assab on the Red Sea became Italy's first overseas territory, later it became the Italian Eritrea
1889-1936 Italian Somaliland 
1890-1936 Italian Eritrea 
1901-1947 Italian concessions in Tianjin, China 
1911-1943 Italian Libya 
1912-1943 Italian Islands of the Aegean, these twelve Dodecanese islands were ceded to Greece 
1917-1920 Italian protectorate over Albania 
1936-1941 Italian East Africa, merger of Italian Somaliland, Italian Eritrea and newly conquered Ethiopia 
1939-1943 Albanian Kingdom was a protectorate and dependency of Italy 


Italy lost all of her overseas colonial possessions after World War II by the Treaty of Peace with Italy. Italy had been in the losing side of the war. 

Kingdom of Italy (green), colonies of Italy in 1939 (light green), territories occupied in WWII (grey)


753BC Rome, a settlement near the Tiber river was established
395 Rome split into two parts, East and West Roman Empires
476 West Roman Empire was dissolved under the pressure of the barbarian invasions
572 Lombards conquered Italy, was fragmented into several small states
1176 The Lombard League defeated the German emperor at the Battle of Legnano, thus ensuring independence for most of the cities in northern and central Italy
1348 Black death killed up to a third of the population
1454 Peace of Lodi 
1494-1559 Italian Wars 
1559 Most of the city-states lost their independence and came under Spanish Habsburg rule
1629-1631 Plague killed about 14% of Italy's population
1713 Austrian Habsburgs started ruling Italy
1814 Congress of Vienna restored Italy to its previous ruler Austria, which had lost control of Italian territories during the French Revolution
1848 An unsuccesful war was declared on Austria in the year when liberal revolutions swept through Europe
1859 The Kingdom of Sardinia attacked the Austrian Empire in the Second Italian War of Independence liberating Lombardy with the aid of France
1860-1861 Giuseppe Garibaldi led the drive for unification of Naples and Sicily
1861 North and South Italy were united as the Kingdom of Italy
1866 Third Italian War of Independence, Italy won Venetia from Austria
1870 Italy took over the Papal States 
1889 Italy conquered Somaliland
1890 Italy conquered Eritrea 
1915 Italy left the Axis powers and joined the Allies in World War II
1922 Italy remained a monarchy but the Fascists took over power with Benito Mussolini as the authoritarian leader
1935 Mussolini invaded Ethiopia and withdrew from the League of Nations
1939 Italy annexed Albania
1943 Allied invasion of Sicily led to the collapse of Fascist regime and the fall of Mussolini
1945 Mussolini attempted to escape, but was captured and executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans
1946 Italy abolished monarchy and became a republic after a referendum
1947 Julian March was lost to Yugoslavia, the Free Territory of Trieste was divided and all Italian colonial possessions were lost
1949 Italy became a Nato member
1957 Italy was a founding member in EEC which in 1993 became EU
1978 Assassination of Christian democrat Aldo Moro
1980 Bologna railway station massacre, where 85 people died
1994 Silvio Berlusconi became the Prime Minister
2008-2013 Recession in Italy for 42 months
2011 Berlusconi was forced to resign because of the economic crisis among other problems
2015 Italy took over half a million refugees during the European migrant crisis 


maanantai 22. toukokuuta 2017

Romania, Cool Facts #180

<= 179. Cyprus                                                                                                                   181. Italy =>

1. United Romania in 1600

In 1600 the principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania were ruled simultaneously by the Wallachian Prince Michael the Brave. This is considered as the precursor of modern Romanian state.

Principalities of united Romania: 

Wallachia: established in 1330
Moldavia: established in 1346
Transylvania: established in 1570

Moldavia, Transylvania and Wallachia in 1600
Michael the Brave

2. Romania's independence in 1878

Personal Union 
In 1821 there were uprisings in Wallachia against the Ottoman Empire, the same year as Greece started its war of independence.
In 1848 there were uprisings in Wallachia and Moldavia during the Revolutions of 1848, when revolutions took place all over Europe.
In 1859 Moldavia and Wallachia entered a personal union under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire.

Romania fought on Russia's side in the Russo-Turkish War in 1877-1878. After the war Romania's independence from the Ottoman Empire was recognized. The Russo-Turkish War also known as the Romanian War of Independence.

Balkan independence from Ottoman Empire 

1829 Greece
1878 Bulgaria
1878 Montenegro
1878 Serbia
1878 Romania
1912 Albania

Romanian War of Independence or Russo-Turkish War in 1877-1878

3. Monarchs of Romania 

House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
In 1866 Prince Carol I of Romania of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen replaced Alexandru Ioan Cuza after a coup. The Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen dynasty was from southwestern Germany. Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was a small sovereign state from 1547 until 1850, when it was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia.

Kingdom of Romania 1881-1947
In 1881 Romania became a kingdom. Romania had four kings, before the kingdom was abolished in 1947, when the country was declared a people's republic. The royal family had to exile from Romania.

Return from exile
The former king Michael I got an enthusiastic reception in the streets of Bucharest, when he returned to Romania after the Revolution of 1989. Currently the royal house is very popular, although Romania remains a republic.

4. Greater Romania 

Greater Romania as a term usually refers to the borders of the Kingdom of Romania in the interwar period between 1918 and 1940.

Pan-Romanian goal
In 1918 Romanian state reached its largest peacetime geographical extent ever with an area of 295,049 square kilometers. This happened after the incorporation of Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia.

Interwar Romania
- In 1937 Romania was Europe's second largest and the world's seventh largest oil producer
- Romania was also second largest food producer in Europe at the time
- Early 1930s were marked by social unrest, high employment and strikes
- Throughout the 1930s there were 25 separate governments

End of Greater Romania
After World War II Romania lost Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria and Bessarabia was annexed by Soviet Union. However Romania regained Northern Transylvania from Hungary.

Similar concepts in other countries: 
Greek Megali Idea
Greater Hungary
Greater Bulgaria
Greater Serbia
Greater Albania

Romanian territory changes on a map

- Other names are Palace of the Parliament, People's House, House of the Republic 
- Romanian name Palatului Parlamentului - Second-largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon 
- Height 84m, area 365,000 m2
- 4th biggest building in the world 
- Heaviest building in the world with a weight of around 4,098,500,000 kg 
- About 70% of the building is empty 
- The building is valued at 3,4 billion US dollars (2008) 
- The cost of heating and electric lighting exceeds 6 million US dollars per year, which is as much as a medium-sized city 

Inside the Palace of Parliament
Outside the Palace of the Parliament


168BC Dacian Kingdom was established
106 Half of the Dacian Kingdom became a Roman province of Dacia Felix
271 Roman troops pulled out of Dacia and the next centuries Dacia was conquered by Goths, Huns, Avars and Slavs
1200s Mongols arrived to the area and after they withdrew the region came under Hungarian sphere of influence
1330 Principality of Wallachia was established
1346 Principality of Moldavia was established
1541 By this year almost the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary, Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania were under Ottoman rule
1570 Principality of Transylvania was established
1600 The principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania were ruled simultaneously by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave
1821 Wallachian uprising against the Ottoman Empire
1848 Revolutions in Wallachia and Moldavia
1859 Moldavia and Wallachia entered a personal union under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire
1866 After a coup Alexandru Ioan Cuza was replaced by Prince Carol I of Romania of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
1877-1878 Romania fought on Russia's side in the Russo-Turkish War
1878 Romania's independence was recognized
1916 Romania joined World War II after two years of being neutral
1919 Bukovina was transferred to Romania from Austria
1920 Banat and Transylvania were transferred to Romania from Hungary and Bessarabia from Russia
1937 Romania ranked second in oil production in Europe and seventh in the world
1940s Romania joined Axis Powers in World War II
1944 Coup d'état by King Michael overthrew Ion Antonescu and his regime and Romania joined the Allied in the war
1947 King Michael I was forced to abdicate and leave the country as Romania's people's republic was proclaimed
1948 The state began to nationalize private companies and to collectivize agriculture
1965 Nicolae Ceausescu came to power and started to conduct foreign policy more independently from the Soviet Union
1968 Romania was the only Warsaw Pact member to refuse participating in the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia
1989 Romanian Revolution in December, the communist regime of Romania was overthrown and Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu were executed
1990 Ion Iliescu became Romania's first freely elected head of state
2004 Romania joined Nato
2007 Romania became a member of the European Union 

sunnuntai 21. toukokuuta 2017

Cyprus, Cool Facts #179

<= 178. Turkey                                                                                                            180. Romania => 

1. Cyprus' Name Origins 

Cyprus got its name from copper, or actually chalcopyrite, which is a source of copper. The Phoenician merchants got chalcopyrite from Cyprus 5000 years ago. Cyprus had so large copper ore deposits on the island that the island gave its name to the Classical Latin word for copper through the phrase aes Cyprium meaning "metal of Cyprus". Later the name was shortened to Cuprum. Currently the copper deposits are virtually exhausted.

2. Cyprus after Byzantine and before Ottoman rule 

Before the Third Crusade in 1191, Cyprus had been part of the Byzantine Empire since the division of the Roman Empire in 395. From 649 Muslims also launched raids to Cyprus from Levant for 300 years.

Richard I of England captures Cyprus 1191-1192
In 1191 Richard I of England captured the island from Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus. Richard I used Cyprus as a major supply base that was safe from the Saracens.

Knights Templar 
After a year in 1192 Richard I sold Cyprus to the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar in turn sold Cyprus to Guy of Lusignan after a bloody revolt in Cyprus.

Lusignan Dynasty 1192-1473
Guy of Lusignan was the King of Cyprus in 1192-1194. In 1194-1196 Guy's brother Aimery was the Lord of Cyprus before he was recognized as King of Cyprus in 1196 by Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. The last Lusignan King James II died in 1473 after which the Republic of Venice assumed control of the island.

Republic of Venice 
So the Republic of Venice assumed control of the island in 1473, but formally Cyprus was annexed in 1489, following the abdication of Catherine. Throughout Venetian rule, the Ottoman Empire frequently raided Cyprus. The Venetian rule finally ended in 1570, when the Ottoman Empire launched an assault with 60,000 troops and brought the island under Ottoman control.

Map of Nicosia in Cyprus, created by the Venetian cartographer Giacomo Franco

3. British rule in Cyprus 

End of Ottoman rule
The Ottoman Empire ceded Cyprus to Great Britain in 1878 after the Russo-Turkish war. In return the Ottoman Empire got the British support against Russia. Cyprus actually remained a de jure Ottoman territory until 1914. 

Offer to Greece
In 1915, Britain offered Cyprus to Constantine I of Greece on condition that Greece join World War I on the side of the British, but Constantine declined the offer. 

British colonial time
Cyprus became a British Crown Colony in 1925. After World War II there were strong demands by the Greek Cypriots to join Greece, which was opposed by Turkish Cypriots. 

In 1960 Cyprus became independent. Later the Greek and Turkish Cypriots drifted into civil war. 

First President of Cyprus, Makarios III

4. Division of Cyprus

ConflictsAfter the independence of Cyprus intercommunal violence between Turkish and Greek Cypriots erupted in 1963. In 1964 Turkey tried to invade Cyprus, but the US stopped it after sending a telegram to Turkey about the consequences of invasion. 

Enosis vs division 
Greek Cypriots favored enosis, which meant joining Greece. However the Turkish Cypriots had favored staying under British control before independence and after it they favored dividing the island. 

After the conflict in Cyprus in 1974 the island was split into two parts. Greek military junta had carried out a coup in Cyprus to unite the island with Greece and five days afterwards Turkish army invaded the island. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared in 1983, which is only recognized by Turkey.

Division of Cyprus

5. People and languages of Cyprus 

People (2001) 

77% Greek Cypriots 
18% Turkish Cypriots

Foreign residents (2011): 
Greece 29,300

UK 24,000
Romania 23,700
Bulgaria 18,500

Philippines 9,400
Russia 8,200
Sri Lanka 7,300
Vietnam 7,000
Syria 3,100
India 2,900


Greek and Turkish official languages 

Armenian and Cypriot Maronite Arabic recognized as minority languages
English widely spoken 

Russian widely spoken among the ethnic minorities



10,000BC Earliest confirmed cite of human activity in Aetokremnos
1400BC Mycenaean Greek started visiting Cyprus
700s BC Phoenician colonies were founded on the coast of Cyprus
708BC Assyria started its one century long rule
545BC Persian rule started
333BC Alexander the Great conquered Cyprus and after his death the island came under Ptolemaic Egypt rule
58BC The Roman Republic started ruling Cyprus
395 Cyprus became part of the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire, when Rome was divided
649 Muslim armies started their devastating raids in Cyprus, which lasted for the next 300 years
965 Byzantine rule was restored in Cyprus
1191 During the Third Crusade, Richard I of England captured the island
1192 Richard I of England sold Cyprus to the Knights Templar, who in turn sold it to Guy de Lusignan 
1473 Republic of Venice assumed control of the island
1489 Venice formally annexed the Kingdom of Cyprus
1570 Ottoman Empire started ruling Cyprus after a full-scale assault
1821 Several Greek Cypriots left for Greece to join the Greek forces in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire
1878 After the Russo-Turkish War Cyprus was administered by the British although it remained a de jure Ottoman territory until 1914
1914 The British Empire formally annexed Cyprus
1925 Cyprus became a British crown colony
1960 Cyprus gained independence after the Zürich and London Agreement between the UK, Greece and Turkey
1963 Intercommuncal violence erupted between Turkish and Greek Cypriots
1964 Turkey tried to invade Cyprus, but the US stopped it after sending a telegram to Turkey about the consequences of invasion
1974 Greek military junta carried out a coup in Cyprus to unite the island with Greece and five days afterwards Turkish army invaded the island. After the conflict Cyprus was split into two parts
1983 The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared, which is only recognized by Turkey
2004 Cyprus joined the European Union
2015 North and South Cyprus relaunched reunification talks