Theme Week Afghanistan – Kabul

30 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Kabul in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains © flickr.com - Joe Burger/cc-by-sa-2.0

Kabul in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains © flickr.com – Joe Burger/cc-by-sa-2.0

Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. It is also a municipality, forming part of the greater Kabul Province, and divided into 22 districts. According to estimates in 2020, the population of Kabul is 4.222 million, which includes all the major ethnic groups of Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s only city with a population of over 1 million, Kabul serves as its political, cultural and economical center. Rapid urbanization had made Kabul the world’s 75th largest city. Kabul is known for its gardens, bazaars, and palaces. It was also formerly a mecca for young western hippies. Despite frequent terrorist attacks in the city, mainly by Taliban insurgents, the city continues to develop and was the fifth fastest-growing city in the world as of 2012.   read more…

Theme Week Afghanistan – Jalalabad

29 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Spīn Ghar Range © Christopher Killalea/cc-by-sa-3.0

Spīn Ghar Range © Christopher Killalea/cc-by-sa-3.0

Jalālābād, or Dzalalabad, is a city in eastern Afghanistan. It is the capital of Nangarhar Province. Jalalabad is located at the junction of the Kabul River and the Kunar River. It is linked by an approximately 150-kilometre (95 mi) highway with Kabul to the west, and a 130-kilometre (80 mi) highway with the Pakistani city of Peshawar to the east. Jalalabad has a population of 240,000, making it one of the five largest cities of Afghanistan. Jalalabad is a leading center of social and trade activity because of its proximity with the Torkham border crossing, 65 km (40 mi) away. Major industries include papermaking, as well as agricultural products including oranges, lemon, rice, and sugarcane due to its warm climate. It has six districts and a total land area of 12,796 hectares (31,620 acres). The total number of dwellings in this city is 39,586.   read more…

Presidential Palace of Suriname

29 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage

© flickr.com - David Stanley/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – David Stanley/cc-by-2.0

The Presidential Palace of Suriname (Dutch: Gouvernementsgebouw) is the presidential palace of Suriname in the capital of Paramaribo. It is located across from The Independence Square (Onafhankelijkheidsplein), which also houses the National Assembly of Suriname, the Congress building, the Court of Justice, and the Ministry of Finance. It is one of the most prolific and best maintained examples of Dutch colonial architecture in Suriname and is part of the UNESCO world Heritage site of the Paramaribo inner-city. The Garden of Palms is located behind it.   read more…

Theme Week Afghanistan – Herat

28 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Gawhar Shad Mausoleum © Alimosavisam/cc-by-sa-4.0

Gawhar Shad Mausoleum © Alimosavisam/cc-by-sa-4.0

Herāt is the third-largest city of Afghanistan. It has a population of about 507,000, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. It is linked with Kandahar, Kabul, and Mazar-i-Sharif via Highway 1 or the ring road. It is further linked to the city of Mashhad in neighboring Iran through the border town of Islam Qala, and to Mary in Turkmenistan to the north through the border town of Torghundi.   read more…

London Borough of Camden

28 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, London

Camden High Street © J.Ligero & I.Barrios/cc-by-sa-4.0

Camden High Street © J.Ligero & I.Barrios/cc-by-sa-4.0

The London Borough of Camden is a borough in Inner London, and historically a part of Middlesex. Camden Town Hall, on Euston Road, lies 1.4 miles north of Charing Cross. Most of the borough is seen as part of north London, but the borough’s southern (more central) areas of Bloomsbury and Holborn are sometimes described as part of the West End of London. The local authority is Camden London Borough Council. The borough was named after Camden Town, which had gained its name from Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden in 1795. The transcribed diaries of William Copeland Astbury, recently made available, describe Camden and the surrounding areas in great detail from 1829–1848. Sir Jan inspired many of his art works in this area. There are 172 English Heritage blue plaques in the borough of Camden representing the many diverse personalities that have lived there.   read more…

Theme Week Afghanistan – Mazar-i-Sharif

27 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Blue Mosque © flickr.com - ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office/cc-by-2.0.

Blue Mosque © flickr.com – ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office/cc-by-2.0.

Mazār-i-Sharīf, also called Mazār-e Sharīf, or just Mazar, is the fourth-largest city of Afghanistan, with a 2015 UN–Habitat population estimate 430,000. It is the capital of Balkh province and is linked by highways with Kunduz in the east, Kabul in the southeast, Herat in the west and Termez in Uzbekistan in the north. It is about 55 km (34 mi) from the Uzbek border. The city also serves as one of the many tourist attractions because of its famous shrines as well as the Islamic and Hellenistic archeological sites. The ancient city of Balkh is also nearby.   read more…

Portrait: Musician and composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

27 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death have been much mythologized.   read more…

Theme Week Afghanistan – Kandahar

26 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

© Afgbeast/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Afgbeast/cc-by-sa-4.0

Kandahar is a city located in Afghanistan, with a population of about 614,118. Kandahar is located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of 1,010 m (3,310 ft). It is the capital of Kandahar Province, and also the center of the larger cultural region called Loy Kandahar. In 1709, Mirwais Hotak made the region an independent kingdom and turned Kandahar into the capital of the Hotak dynasty. In 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Durrani dynasty, made Kandahar the capital of the Afghan Empire. Kandahar is one of the most culturally significant cities of the Pashtuns and has been their traditional seat of power for more than 300 years. It is a major trading center for sheep, wool, cotton, silk, felt, food grains, fresh and dried fruit, and tobacco. The region produces fine fruits, especially pomegranates and grapes, and the city has plants for canning, drying, and packing fruit, and is a major source of marijuana and hashish en route to Tajikistan.   read more…

Soomaa National Park in Estonia

26 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Environment, General

The Fifth Season © Aime Pae/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Fifth Season © Aime Pae/cc-by-sa-3.0

Soomaa National Park is a national park in south-western Estonia. Soomaa (“land of bogs“) protects 390 km², the park was created in 1993. Soomaa is Important Bird Area since 1989 and a Ramsar site of protected wetlands since 1997 and a Natura 2000 area since 2004. The national park, situated in Vahe-Eesti (aka Meso-Estonia), was created in 1993 to protect large raised bogs, flood plain grasslands, paludified forests, and meandering rivers. The territory of the national park is mostly covered with large mires, separated from each other by the rivers of the Pärnu River basin — the Navesti, Halliste, Raudna and Lemmjõgi rivers. Of the raised bogs, the most noteworthy is the Kuresoo raised bog, whose steep southern slope, falling into Lemmejõgi, rises by 8 metres over a distance of 100 m.   read more…

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