Theme Week United Arab Emirates

February 19th, 2018 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks |

Ras al-Khaimah - Al Hamra Fort Hotel & Beach Resort © Pedantin9/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ras al-Khaimah – Al Hamra Fort Hotel & Beach Resort © Pedantin9/cc-by-sa-3.0

The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates, is a federal absolute monarchy in Western Asia at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Arabian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing maritime borders with Qatar to the west and Iran to the north. In 2013, the UAE’s population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates. The country is a federation of seven emirates, and was established on 2 December 1971. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. The largest cities are Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Al Ain, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah. Each emirate is governed by an absolute monarch; together, they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the monarchs (traditionally always the Emir of Abu Dhabi) is selected as the President of the United Arab Emirates. Islam is the official religion of the UAE and Arabic is the official language (although English, Urdu and Hindi languages are widely spoken, with English being the language of business and education particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai).   read more…

Theme Week Panama

January 22nd, 2018 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks |

Panama City © Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz/cc-by-sa-3.0

Panama City © Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz/cc-by-sa-3.0

Panama, officially called the Republic of Panama, is a country in Central America. It is bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia in South America to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half of the country’s 4 million people. Panama was inhabited by several indigenous tribes prior to settlement by the Spanish in the 16th century. Panama broke away from Spain in 1821 and joined a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador, and Venezuela named the Republic of Gran Colombia. When Gran Colombia dissolved in 1831, Panama and Nueva Granada remained joined, eventually becoming the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the Panama Canal to be built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. In 1977 an agreement was signed for the transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama by the end of the 20th century, which culminated on December 31, 1999.   read more…

Theme Week Palestine

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

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

Bethlehem – Church of the Nativity © – 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 © - Mohammad Alatar/cc-by-2.0

Kuwait City © – 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…

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