The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela

1 December 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, House of the Month, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

Bete Giyorgis © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bete Giyorgis © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela are monolithic churches located in the Western Ethiopian Highlands near the town of Lalibela, named after the late-12th and early-13th century King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe Dynasty, who commissioned the massive building project of 11 rock-hewn churches to recreate the holy city of Jerusalem in his own kingdom. The site remains in use by the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church to this day, and it remains an important place of pilgrimage for Ethiopian Orthodox worshipers. It took 24 years to build all the eleven rock hewn churches. The site of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela was first included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978.   read more…

Theme Week Tunisia

21 August 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  20 minutes

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 South Africa

19 June 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks Reading Time:  14 minutes

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…

The African Union

1 February 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  9 minutes

African Union conference center and office complex (AUCC) in Addis Ababa © Danmichaelo/cc-by-sa-3.0

African Union conference center and office complex (AUCC) in Addis Ababa © Danmichaelo/cc-by-sa-3.0

The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of 54 countries in Africa. The only African state that is not a member is Morocco, due to the status of the Western Sahara, although Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic have had their memberships suspended due to the recent coup d’état and ongoing civil war respectively. The AU was established on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa and launched on 9 July 2002 in South Africa, with the aim of replacing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU’s secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The objectives of the AU are:   read more…

Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean

1 August 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

Zanzibar Beach © Rcastino

Zanzibar Beach © Rcastino

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar), and Pemba. The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City. Its historic centre, known as Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site and is claimed to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. Zanzibar’s main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. In particular, the islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. For this reason, the islands, together with Tanzania’s Mafia Island, are sometimes called the Spice Islands (a term also associated with the Maluku Islands in Indonesia). Zanzibar is the home of the endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey, the Zanzibar Servaline Genet, and the (possibly extinct) Zanzibar Leopard.   read more…

Diani Beach on the Indian Ocean

14 July 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  4 minutes

Outrigger canoe © flickr.com - Giorgio Montersino/cc-by-sa-2.0

Outrigger canoe © flickr.com – Giorgio Montersino/cc-by-sa-2.0

Diani Beach is a major beach resort on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya (in eastern Africa). It is located 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Mombasa, in the nearby Kwale County.   read more…

The Atlantropa Project

20 February 2013 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Berlin Reading Time:  8 minutes

Atlantropa project © Devilm25/cc-by-3.0

Atlantropa project © Devilm25/cc-by-3.0

Atlantropa, also referred to as Panropa, was a gigantic engineering and colonization project devised by the German architect Herman Sörgel in the 1920s and promulgated by him until his death in 1952. Its central feature was a hydroelectric dam to be built across the Strait of Gibraltar, which would have provided enormous amounts of hydroelectricity and would have led to the lowering of the surface of the Mediterranean Sea by up to 200 metres (660 ft), opening up large new lands for settlement, for example in a now almost totally drained Adriatic Sea.   read more…

Return to TopReturn to Top