April 23, 2014

1064 SPAIN (Cantabria) - Suances

Suances extends around the union of the rivers Saja and Besaya, forming at its mouth the estuary of Suances, also known as San Martin de la Arena. The estuary forms a natural harbor between cliffs (Punta del Dichoso) in which many historians locate the Portus Blendium, a Roman port famous for its navy and great commercial, which became the most important route of entry of the Cantabrian coast. Their rocky creeks and their extensive sandbanks, as also the succession of smooth hills and valleys which forms the beautiful places crossed by the confluence of the two rivers, are some of the attractiveness of the municipality.

April 22, 2014

1063 MEXICO (Oaxaca) - Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán (UNESCO WHS)

This World Heritage property, located in the central valleys of Oaxaca, in the depression formed between the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Sierra Madre del Sur, is composed of two distinct cultural sites: the historic centre of Oaxaca de Juarez (a good example of Spanish colonial town planning) and the pre-Columbian archaeological site of Monte Albán, consisting of terraces, dams, canals, pyramids and artificial mounds carved out of the mountain, the symbols of a sacred topography. Inhabited over a period of 1,500 years by a succession of peoples (Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs), the site is known for its unique dimensions which exhibit the basic chronology and artistic style of the region and for the remains of magnificent temples, ball court, tombs and bas-reliefs with hieroglyphic inscriptions.

1012, 1062 UNITED STATES (Texas) - The map and the flag of State of Texas

Posted on 23.02.2014, 22.04.2014
Located in the Gulf of Mexico, at the border with Mexico, between New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, Texas is the second most populous (after California) and the second-largest of the 50 states (after Alaska) of the United States. In Pre-Columbian period, in the area were developed three major indigenous cultures, which reached their developmental peak before the first European contact: the Pueblo, the Mississippian culture, and the civilizations of Mesoamerica. In 1528, after the arrival of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, "half the natives died from a disease of the bowels". During the next 150 years Europeans have ignored the area, then occupied by French (1684-1689), Spanish (1690-1821), and Mexican (1821-1836). Becoming republic after the Declarationof Independence in 1836, it was admitted to the Union as the 28th state in 1845, and during the Civil War joined the ConfederateStates.

Although Texas is popularly associated with the Southwestern deserts, less than 10 percent of its land area is desert. Almost twice as large as Germany, Texas has four major physical regions: GulfCoastal Plains (covered by thick piney woods), Interior Lowlands, Great Plains (dominated by prairie and steppe), and Basin and Range Province. Most of the population centers are located in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Three of its borders are defined by rivers: Rio Grande (with Mexico), Red River (with Oklahoma and Arkansas), and Sabine River (with Louisiana). Its large size and its location at the intersection of multiple climate zones gives it highly variable weather. Some of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Texas.

Texas's large population, abundance of natural resources, thriving cities and leading centers of higher education have contributed to a large and diverse economy, even if since the discovery of the oil, the state's economy has reflected the state of the petroleum industry. In 2010, there were 346,000 millionaires in Texas, which has the second highest gross state product (GSP) in the U.S., comparable to the GDP of India or Canada. Its largest city is Houston, the fourth-largest in the U.S., but the state capital is Austin. The origin of the state name is from the word tejas, which means 'friends' in the Caddo language. It is nicknamed the Lone Star State, to signify it as a former independent republic and as a reminder of the state's struggle for independence from Mexico.

The flag of the state, adopted in 1839, is a rectangle that has a width to length ratio of two to three and contains one blue vertical stripe that has a width equal to one-third the length of the flag, two equal horizontal stripes, white and red, and one white, regular five-pointed star (the Lone Star) located in the center of the blue stripe, oriented so that one point faces upward. The blue symbolise loyalty, the white purity, and the red bravery. The Seal of the state was adopted in 1845, and consists of a star of five points, encircled by olive and live oak branches, and the words, "The State of Texas." The state bird is Mockingbird, the three - pecan, and the flower - bluebonnet.

April 21, 2014

1061 CHINA (Guizhou) - Long Skirt Miao women

Miao is an ethnic group who live primarily in southern China, in the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hainan, Guangdong, and Hubei, but also, in smaller numbers, in northern Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, and even in several Western countries, mainly in the United States, France, and Australia. Miao is actually the official Chinese term for four distinct groups of people who are only distantly related through language or culture (and doesn't reflect the self-designations of the component nations of people): the Hmu people of southeast Guizhou, the Kho (Qho) Xiong people of west Hunan, the A-Hmao people of Yunnan, and the Hmong people of Guizhou, Sichuan, Guangxi, and Yunnan. There are some nine million Miao in China, of whom the Hmong constitute probably one-third. The Miao are related in language and some other cultural features to the Yao; among these peoples the two groups with the closest degree of relatedness are the Hmong (Miao) and the Iu Mien (Yao).

April 19, 2014

1060 UNITED STATES (Pennsylvania) - The map of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Located in the Great Lakes region, between Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Lake Erie and Ontario, the Canadian province of Ontario, New York and New Jersey, Pennsylvania is one of the 13 original founding states of the United States. Its nickname, the Keystone State, derives from the fact that it forms a geographic bridge both between the Northeastern states and the Southern states, and between the Atlantic seaboard and the Midwest. It is bisected diagonally by ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. To the northwest is the Allegheny Plateau, underlain by sedimentary rocks of Mississippian and Pennsylvanian age, which bear natural gas and petroleum. In 1859, near Titusville, was drilled the first oil well in the U.S. into these sediments. Timber and dairy farming are also sources of livelihood for Pennsylvania. Along the shore of Lake Erie in the far northwest are orchards and vineyards. The state bird is Ruffed Grouse, the state flower is Mountain Laurel, and its motto is "Virtue, liberty, and independence".

April 14, 2014

1059 NEPAL - Faces of Nepal

Nepali society is multiethnic and multilingual, Nepalese people (or Nepali or Gurkha) being the descendants of three major migrations from India, Tibet, and North Burma and the Chinese province of Yunnan via Assam. Even though Indo-Nepalese migrants were latecomers to Nepal relative to the migrants from the north, they have come to dominate the country not only numerically, but also socially, politically, and economically. Nepal's 2001 census enumerated 102 castes and ethnic groups. There are three main ethnicities: Khas (Bahun, Chhetri, Damai, Kami etc.), Mongoloid (Tamang, Gurung, Magar, Sherpa, Thakali and Kirat) and mixed (Newar). Nepali, a derivative of Sanskrit, is the official language; Newari, a language of the Tibeto-Burman family, and numerous other languages are spoken. About 90% of the population is Hindu, and the remaining Buddhist.

0607, 1058 MOROCCO (Souss-Massa-Drâa) - Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou (UNESCO WHS)

Posted on 19.04.2013, 04.03.2014
Ksar is the Maghrebi Arabic term for "castle", but it has a more general meaning of "fortified village", or "fort". It form one of the main manifestations of Berber architecture, and consists of attached houses, often having collective granaries and other structures surrounded by a single, continuous wall, reinforced by corner towers. The building material of the entire structure is normally adobe, or cut stone and adobe. The most famous ksar in the Ounila Valley is Ait-Ben-Haddou, located in the foothills on the southern slopes of the High Atlas in the Province of Ouarzazate, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. The oldest constructions dates from 17th century, the community areas including a mosque, a public square, grain threshing areas outside the ramparts, a fortification and a loft at the top of the village, an caravanserai, two cemeteries (Muslim and Jewish) and the Sanctuary of the Saint Sidi Ali or Amer.

Unlike others, the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou has preserved its architectural authenticity with regard to configuration and materials, probably because most of the town's inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river, only eight families still living within the ksar. Large houses, called tighremt in Berber and dar or kasba in Arabic, bring together, around a central rectangular courtyard, four tall fortified wings, topped by angle towers. Ait-Ben-Haddou is known for its kasbahs, a type of medina, Islamic city, or fortress, a place where lived the ones of  wealthy classes and a defense when the city was under attack. Most of them are country houses, the ground floor was used for agricultural purposes and the upper floors served as living quarters in winter (upper portion) and summer (lower portion).

April 13, 2014

1057 UNITED STATES (Wyoming) - The map of State of Wyoming

Placed between Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho, Wyoming is one of the three states (along with Colorado and Utah) which have borders along straight latitudinal and longitudinal lines. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High Plains. Following, is the second least densely populated of the 50 United States, after Alaska. Its capital and its most populous city is Cheyenne founded in 1867 by General Grenville M. Dodge and named after the American Indian Cheyenne nation, one of the most famous and prominent Great Plains tribes.

April 9, 2014

1056 RUSSIA (Republic of Karelia) - The Valamo archipelago - The Saviour Transfiguration Cathedral (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

Valaam (also known by the Finnish name Valamo) is an archipelago in the northern portion of Lake Ladoga, best known for its more than 200 relicts of the past. In the 12th century, the islands were a part of the Novgorod Republic. In the 17th century they were captured by Sweden, but Russia reconquered them less than a century later. When the Grand Duchy of Finland was set up as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire, Valaam became part of Finland. In 1917, they became a part of newly independent Finland, but it was acquired by the USSR after the Winter War and Continuation War.

April 8, 2014

1055 VIETNAM - Only demons have white teeth?

The areca nut is the seed of the areca palm (Areca catechu), which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. It is commonly referred to as betel nut (even if it isn't a true nut, but rather a drupe), as it is often chewed wrapped in betel leaves, a custom which dates back thousands of years in much of the areas from South Asia eastward to the Pacific. Usually for chewing, a few slices of the nut are wrapped in a betel leaf along with lime (not to be confused with the citrus fruit named lime) and may include clove, cardamom, catechu (kattha) and/or other spices for extra flavouring. Betel leaf has a fresh, peppery taste, but it can also be bitter to varying degrees depending on the variety. This mixture is a mild stimulant, causing a warming sensation in the body and slightly heightened alertness, much like a cup of coffee. Even though it seems to have some positive effects on health, the custom is suspected to be carcinogenic.