Theme Week Palestine

December 25th, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, Union for the Mediterranean |

Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity © flickr.com - Neil Ward/cc-by-2.0

Bethlehem – Church of the Nativity © flickr.com – Neil Ward/cc-by-2.0

Palestine is a de jure sovereign state in the Middle East claiming the West Bank (bordering Israel and Jordan) and Gaza Strip (bordering Israel and Egypt) with East Jerusalem as the designated capital although its administrative center is located in Ramallah (Arab–Israeli conflict). Most of the areas claimed by the State of Palestine have been occupied by Israel since 1967 in the consequence of the Six-Day War. The population is at 4.7 million. The State of Palestine is recognized by 136 UN members and since 2012 has a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations – which amounts to a de facto, or implicit, recognition of statehood.   read more…

Theme Week Libya

November 20th, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks |

Ancient Roman Leptis Magna Theatre east of Khums © David Gunn

Ancient Roman Leptis Magna Theatre east of Khums © David Gunn

Libya is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. The country is made of three historical regions, Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. With an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres (700,000 sq mi), Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa, and is the 16th largest country in the world. Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world. The largest city and capital, Tripoli, is located in western Libya and contains over one million of Libya’s six million people. The other large city is Benghazi, which is located in eastern Libya.   read more…

Theme Week Kuwait

October 23rd, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks |

Kuwait City © flickr.com - Mohammad Alatar/cc-by-2.0

Kuwait City © flickr.com – Mohammad Alatar/cc-by-2.0

Kuwait is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.2 million people; 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 2.9 million are expatriates. Expatriates account for 70% of the population. The capital is Kuwait City Oil reserves were discovered in 1938. From 1946 to 1982, the country underwent large-scale modernization. In the 1980s, Kuwait experienced a period of geopolitical instability and an economic crisis following the stock market crash. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded by Iraq. The Iraqi occupation came to an end in 1991 after military intervention by coalition forces. At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure. Kuwait is a constitutional state with a semi-democratic political system. It has a high income economy backed by the world’s sixth largest oil reserves. According to the World Bank, the country has the fourth highest per capita income in the world. The Constitution was promulgated in 1962. The Kuwait National Cultural District is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.   read more…

Theme Week Algeria

September 25th, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean |

Constantine © Szaten/cc-by-2.5

Constantine © Szaten/cc-by-2.5

Algeria is a state in North Africa on the Mediterranean coast. Its capital and most populous city is Algiers, located in the country’s far north. With an area of 2,381,741 km² (919,595 sq mi), Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, and the largest in Africa. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory, Mauritania, and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. The country is a semi-presidential republic consisting of 48 provinces and 1,541 communes (counties). Algeria is a regional and middle power. The North African country supplies large amounts of natural gas to Europe, and energy exports are the backbone of the economy. According to OPEC Algeria has the 16th largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest in Africa, while it has the 9th largest reserves of natural gas. Sonatrach, the national oil company, is the largest company in Africa. Algeria has one of the largest militaries in Africa and the largest defence budget on the continent. Algeria is a member of the African Union, the Arab League, OPEC, the United Nations and is the founding member of the Maghreb Union.   read more…

Theme Week Tunisia

August 21st, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, Union for the Mediterranean |

Beach in Hammamet © Faresbenrayana/cc-by-sa-4.0

Beach in Hammamet © Faresbenrayana/cc-by-sa-4.0

Tunisia is a country in North Africa, covering 165,000 square kilometres (64,000 square miles). Its northernmost point, Cape Angela, is the northernmost point on the African continent, only 140 km south of Sicily. It is bordered by Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Tunisia’s population is at 11.3 million. Tunisia’s name is derived from its capital city, Tunis, which is located on Tunisia’s northeast coast. Geographically, Tunisia contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains and the northern reaches of the Sahara desert. Much of the rest of the country’s land is fertile soil. Its 1,300 kilometres (810 miles) of coastline includes the African conjunction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Basin and, by means of the Sicilian Strait and Sardinian Channel, features the African mainland’s second and third nearest points to Europe after Gibraltar.   read more…

Theme Week Morocco

July 24th, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, Union for the Mediterranean |

Former Portuguese fortress of Mazagan in El Jadida © M. Rais/cc-by-sa-3.0

Former Portuguese fortress of Mazagan in El Jadida © M. Rais/cc-by-sa-3.0

Morocco, officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco (Arabic: al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyah, literally The Western Kingdom), is located in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Geographically, Morocco is characterized by a rugged mountainous interior, large tracts of desert, and a lengthy coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. It has the fifth largest economy of Africa. Morocco has a population of over 33.8 million and an area of 446,550 km² (172,410 sq mi). Its capital is Rabat, and the largest city is Casablanca. A historically prominent regional power, Morocco has a history of independence not shared by its neighbours. Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers, especially over the military, foreign policy and religious affairs. Executive power is exercised by the government, while legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives and the Assembly of Councillors.   read more…

Theme Week South Africa

June 19th, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks |

East London - City Hall on Oxford Street © Bfluff/cc-by-sa-3.0

East London – City Hall on Oxford Street © Bfluff/cc-by-sa-3.0

South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded on the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, on the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and on the east and northeast by Mozambique and Swaziland, and surrounding the kingdom of Lesotho. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area, and with close to 56 million people, is the world’s 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa’s largest communities of European (white), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (coloured) ancestry. South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution‘s recognition of 11 official languages, which is among the highest number of any country in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most white and coloured South Africans; English reflects the legacy of British colonialism, and is commonly used in public and commercial life, though it is fourth-ranked as a spoken first language. The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d’état, and regular elections have been held for almost a century. However, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994. During the 20th century, the black majority sought to recover its rights from the dominant white minority, with this struggle playing a large role in the country’s recent history and politics. The National Party imposed apartheid in 1948, institutionalising previous racial segregation. After a long and sometimes violent struggle by the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid activists both inside and outside the country, discriminatory laws began to be repealed or abolished from 1990 onwards. South Africa is often referred to as the Rainbow Nation to describe the country’s multicultural diversity, especially in the wake of apartheid.   read more…

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