August 21, 2014

1195 MICRONESIA (Pohnpei) - Miller time at a Pohnpei river

About Pohnpei, The Garden Island of Micronesia, I wrote few words here. I should add that its tall mountain peak, Nahna Laud (772m), receives one of the world's highest rainfalls (over 8,000mm annually), creating a lush tropical jungle and 40 rivers that sweep over the rugged terrain in a series of swift running streams and create spectacular waterfalls. The Nanpil Watershed, situated on the northern side of the island, is unique in many aspects. This area of approximately 5 square km provides inflow to the Nanpil River that is the main source of the island's water supply. Unfortunatelly In recent years large areas of native forests are being cleared for housing and road development projects and unmanaged agricultural activities, activities which have negatively impacting the biodiversity health. Very close of Kolonia, the capital of Federated States of Micronesia until 1989, now the capital of Pohnpei State, is a large natural pool of Nanpil River, where the river temporarily slows down. Further along the same river are the spectacular Liduduhniap Twin Waterfalls.

August 19, 2014

1194 MALAWI - A witch doctor and his utensils

The area of Africa now known as Malawi had a very small population of hunter-gatherers before waves of Bantu-speaking peoples began emigrating from the north around the 10th century. Although most of the Bantu peoples continued south, some remained permanently and founded ethnic groups based on common ancestry. By 1500 AD, the tribes had established the Kingdom of Maravi, which had broken up by 1700 into areas controlled by many individual ethnic groups. The area was then British protectorate, from 1889 until 1964, when it gained the independence. Now Malawi's population is made up of many native ethnic groups, as the Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, and Ngonde, as well as populations of Asians and Europeans. Although most Malawians are Christians (68%) or Muslim (25%), many of the practices related to ancient religious beliefs have survived until today.

1193 UKRAINE (Odessa Oblast) - Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral in Odessa

The first and foremost church in the city of Odessa, the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral (Saviour's Transfiguration Cathedral), belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and was founded in 1794 by Gavril Bănulescu-Bodoni, a Romanian clergyman who served as Metropolitan of Moldavia (1792), Metropolitan of Kherson and Crimea (1793–1799), Metropolitan of Kiev and Halych (1799–1803), Exarch of Moldo-Wallachia (1806–1812), and Archbishop of Chişinău (1812–1821), being the first head of the church in Bessarabia after the Russian annexation. The building lagged several years behind schedule when the newly appointed governor of New RussiaArmand-Emmanuel de Vignerot du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu, employed the Italian architect Francesco Frappoli to complete the edifice.

August 18, 2014

1192 SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES - The national bird of the country

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles Island arc, in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, between Saint Lucia, Barbados and Grenada. The country has a French and British colonial history and is independent since 1979. Its national bird is Saint Vincent Parrot (Amazona guildingii), known also as Saint Vincent Amazon. It is the only type of parrot on the island, and also an endemic species. It is a large, approximately 40 cm long, multi-colored parrot, with a yellowish white, blue and green head, greenish-bronze upperparts plumage, and violet blue-green wings. There is no difference in plumage or size between the sexes, and the immatures are duller than the adult birds. This noisy parrot uses a variety of calls including yapping, honking, shrieking, bubbling and squawking. Hunting for food, trapping for the cage-bird trade and habitat loss were the principal causes of this species's decline. Deforestation has been the result of forestry activities, the expansion of banana cultivation, charcoal production, the loss of nesting-trees felled by trappers seeking young birds for trade, and natural events such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions. Due to all of these contributing factors, the St. Vincent Parrot is considered Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

1191 DENMARK (Zealand) - Stevns Klint (UNESCO WHS)

This geological site, located at 6km southeast of Store Heddinge on the Danish island of Zealand, comprises a 15 km-long fossil-rich coastal white chalk cliff, offering exceptional evidence of the impact of the Chicxulub meteorite that crashed into the planet at the end of the Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago. Researchers think that this caused the most remarkable mass extinction ever, responsible for the disappearance of over 50 per cent of all life on Earth. An exceptional fossil record is visible at the site, showing the complete succession of fauna and micro-fauna charting the recovery after the mass extinction. Subject to frequent erosion, the cliff rises to a height of up to 40m.

August 17, 2014

0010, 1190 FINLAND - The map and the flag of the country

Posted on 13.10.2011, and 17.08.2014
Bordered by Sweden, Norway, and Russia, Finland has a population of around 5.5 million, with the majority concentrated in its southern regions. Lying approximately between latitudes 60° and 70° N, Finland is one of the world's northernmost countries. Of world capitals, only Reykjavík lies more to the north than Helsinki, established as a trading town by King Gustav I of Sweden in 1550, become the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland (in the Russian Empire) in 1812, and the capital of independent Finland in 1917. Finland is a country of thousands of lakes and islands - about 188,000 lakes and 179,000 islands. Much of its geography is explained by the Ice Age. The glaciers were thicker and lasted longer in Fennoscandia compared with the rest of Europe. Their eroding effects have left the Finnish landscape mostly flat with few hills and fewer mountains (the highest peak in Finland is Ridnitsohkka - 1,316m).

Taiga covers most of Finland from northern regions of southern provinces to the north of Lapland. On the southwestern coast, forests are mixed, that are more typical in the Baltic region. In the extreme north of Finland, near the tree line and Arctic Ocean, Montane Birch forests are common. It contains many species of mammals, birds, and fish, but only a few reptiles and amphibians. The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is Finland's national animal. The endangered Saimaa Ringed Seal, one of only three lake seal species in the world, exists only in the Saimaa lake system. It has become the emblem of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.

1130, 1189 INDIA (Rajasthan) - Traditional clothing from Rajasthan

Posted on 07.07.2014, and 17.08.2014
Located on the western side of India, at the border with Pakistan, between Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab, and comprising most of the wide and inhospitable Thar Desert, Rajasthan ("Land of Kings" or "Land of Kingdoms") is India's largest state by area. It has a mainly Rajasthani population of approximately 68,621,012, made up mainly of Hindus, who account for 88.8% of the population. Although history of Rajasthan goes back as far as Indus Valley Civilization, the foundation of Rajasthani community took shape with the rise of Western Middle Kingdoms such as Western Kshatrapas (35-405 BC). They were successors to the Indo-Scythians who invaded the area of Ujjain and established the Saka era, marking the beginning of the long-lived Saka Western Satraps kingdom. With time their social structures got stronger reorganizations giving birth to several martial sub ethnic groups. Some claim that Romani people originated in parts of the Rajasthan and Gujarat. Indian origin was suggested on linguistic grounds as early as 200 years ago. The roma ultimately derives from a form ḍōmba ("man living by singing and music"), attested in Classical Sanskrit.

Rajasthanis form ethno-linguistic group that is distinct in its language, history, cultural and religious practices, social structure, literature, and art. However, there are many different castes and communities, with diversified traditions of their own. Major sub ethnic groups are Ahirs, Jats, Gurjars, Rajputs, Rajput Mali, Meenas, Bhils, Kalvi, Garasia, Kanjar, etc. The garments are loose and flowing clothes and are generally cut out to cover up most of the body, to prevent sunburns. The textiles are mainly soft cottons during the summer months, and wool for winter. The women wear either Sarees (a drape wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, baring the midriff) or Ghaghra Cholis (skirt) and Kanchli (top).

1188 BELGIUM (Flemish Brabant) - Leuven Town Hall

Located about 25km east of Brussels, Leuven is home to Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewing group and one of the five largest consumer-goods companies in the world; and to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the largest and oldest university of the Low Countries and the oldest Catholic university still in existence. Mentioned for the first time in 891, it became between the 11th and 14th centuries the most important centre of trade in the Duchy of Brabant, and in the 15th century witnessed a new golden era. One of the city's  landmarks, the Town Hall (in the postcard), was erected in this period.

0901, 1187 UZBEKISTAN (Samarqand) - Samarkand, Crossroad of Cultures (UNESCO WHS)

Posted on 14.12.2013, and 17.08.2014
Along with Bukhara, Samarkand, located in a large oasis in the valley of the Zerafshan River, is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, prospering from its location on the trade route between China and the Mediterranean (Silk Road). With a history of over two and a half millennia, it was the crossroads of world cultures, having its most significant development between 14th and 15th centuries, when it was capital of the powerful Temurid realm. Founded c. 700 BC by the Sogdians, it was successively conquered by Alexander the Great, Sassanians, Hephtalites, Göktürks, Sassanids, and Umayyad Caliphate. During this period, Samarkand was home to a number of religions, including Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Judaism and Nestorian Christianity, but after the Arab conquest of Sogdiana, Islam became the dominant religion.

The Abbasid control was replaced with that of the Iranian Samanids, overthrown by Turkish tribes around the year 1000. Genghis Khan conquered and pillaged completely the city in 1220, killing all who took refuge in the citadel and the mosque. After 150 years, another mongol, Timur, made Samarkand his capital, rebuilt it and populated it with great artisans and craftsmen. Timur gained a reputation as a patron of the arts and the city grew to become the centre of Transoxiana. In 1500 the Uzbek nomadic warriors took control of it, and in the 16th century the Shaybanids moved the capital to Bukhara, Samarkand entering into decline. The city came under Russian rule in 1868, and so remained until 1991, when Uzbekistan declared independence.

August 16, 2014

1186 ROMANIA (Maramureş) - The craftsman in wood Cuza Perţa

Maramureş, the region which covers the Maramureş Depression and the surrounding Carpathian mountains, along the upper Tisa River, now divided between Romania and Ukraine, with autonomous traditions since the Middle Ages, is one of the places where traditional log building wasn't interrupted and where a rich heritage in wood survives. Its well-preserved wooden villages and churches (eight of them were designated an UNESCO World Heritage site - Wooden churches of Maramureş), its traditional lifestyle, and the local colourful dresses still in use make Maramureş as near to a living museum as can be found in Europe. Therefore, in Maramureş wooden carving was and is on a place of honor among traditional crafts. Alexandru Perţa-Cuza is the long-lasting wood craftsman in Târgu Lăpuş (do this for six decades), known among Romanians in communities around the border for his triptychs.