I’m going to talk about my lovely island Aruba :)
- It is a small island in the Caribbean close to Venezuela.
- It is part of the Dutch kingdom so we learn to speak dutch at school, but our native language is Papiamento, which has traces of Portuguese, Dutch and Spanish in it.
- Together with Bonaire and Curacao, we are known as the ABC islands, the only islands who speak Papiamento.
- Most Arubians speak 4 languages fluently. We are a multicultural island with diverse people.
- Transportation is mostly by car. The roads are always busy and are filled with shitty-ass drives.
- On the other hand we have really amazing beaches (known as top 10).
- We have something called a natural pool, which is also pretty cool.
- Arubians are known to be friendly, happy, lazy and easy going people.
- We have really yummy food!
- The country runs on tourism.
- There are stray dogs every where. or really angry dogs that chase you down the streets when you go take a walk.
- Family time is very important here.
- Alcohol too.
- There are cacti everywhere.
- It is always summer here.
- Around January/February we celebrate Carnaval, which is like a parade with lots of music, colors, dancing and drinking!
- We are actually in South America and not in Africa (though with it’s name and its very colourful primary African coloured flag will let you believe otherwise.) (Eds. Fun Fact: Our flag, named the “Golden Arrowhead,” was actually created by an American vexillologist, Whitney Smith)
- We speak English – in fact it is our first language and perhaps only language. Sure, we speak English with one of the most sing-song-y accent you’ve ever heard, but it’s fun to listen to, even if you have no idea what we’re saying, I reckon. We also speak a bit of combination Hindi-English, and Native Amerindian languages.
- We are the only English speaking country in South America, and we speak the Queen’s English, so ColoUr, and NeighboUrhood, will be some of the spellings you’ll find.
- Even though we speak English, most of our towns, cities and villages are French, Spanish or Dutch. This is because we were ruled by all of these countries once upon a time, only to be finally conquered by the English. This has influenced our architecture greatly.
- Hey, Dutch people! Thanks! Because of you, Guyana, with 80% rainforest interior and a land below sea-level still stays afloat, because of an amazing Dutch drainage system. Now, if the government would just update that system, I believe we wouldn’t flood so much.
- Just like the British left India with an extensive railroad, we, too, had a railroad system. In fact, called the Demerara-Berbice railroad (I told you about those Dutch names!) it was the first railroad system of the South American continent. But this was soon dismantled, by the American-government elected, President Burnham. He had major post-colonial issues, or mommy issues with England, as I like to call it, at the time. You can read more about that here: What is the most outrageous conspiracy theory that ultimately proved to be correct?
- Because of our pickled history, our main and natural export is actually our people, we have the highest brain drain of 95% of higher educated people leaving the country. It is the highest in the world. But we also export rice, sugar, bauxite, rum.
- Don’t drink the koolaid! Seriously, don’t drink it. Many Americans say that reference because it’s a part of our American culture, however, Jonestown actually happened in the remote jungles of Guyana. Since, it was so remote, Guyanese people were not aware of it either.
- We are actually more culturally Caribbean, i.e. West Indian than South American (due to the fact that we share similar colonization stories with countries like Trinidad and Jamaica – but we’re working on feeling more South American-y, by having roads connect to Venezuela, Suriname and Brazil (our neighbours) I think, this will eventually change our culture again!
- Our people are very diverse, because of colonization we have people with origins from Africa, India, China, Portuguese from Madeira Islands, Europeans, and Native South-American tribes, mostly Arawak and Caribs (the Caribbean was named after them!) Though, most of the population is divided between African Guyanese and Indian Guyanese. We only know the difference when there is an election, as people seem to vote along racial lines, which I’m pretty sure they know, is not cool.
- With so many ethnic groups, our cuisine is very interesting – Roti and curries (Indian), pepperpot (Amerindian), Metemgie, a soup with ground provisions and dumplings (African), bread-pudding, cheese rolls, pinetarts (European), Cookup Rice (peas and rice), Lowmein and chowmein (Chinese). Culturally, we are food sharing people, so if you’re ever over at one of our houses, we’ll probably have to fight the urge to feed you, and to insist that you take left-overs for your family as well.
- We are a secular country and we celebrate all holidays from our major religion – Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. The Color Run is inspired by us, we call the Hindu festival (Holi) – Phagwah based on the month it normally falls.
- We celebrate Easter not with the Easter Bunny but by flying kites. It’s the resurrection of Christ, and the kite depicts his soul flying towards heaven.
We fish a lot, eh? Our country is 70% rivers. Hassa Fish a local delicacy. (It’s curried here, with okra vegetables.)
- We have a lot of fruits and vegetables that you’ve never heard of, and locals will either wait til they are ripe to eat them/ cook with them, or my favourite, eat them when they are so green that they are pale yellow.
- Pictured here is a fruit called, Sapodilla it tastes like a persimmon but sweeter, a bit grainer as if someone sprinkled brown sugar over a persimmon.
- Have you ever had an apple that looks like a STAR?
- Foods tend to be spicy.
- Politics is a past-time sport. Everyone bashes the government. But to be honest, they are justified.
- Our favourite sport is probably cricket, we play for the West Indian team and we wear our pride on our sleeves – Shivnarine Chandrapaul, Carl Hooper, Lance Gibbs, Colin Croft, and golden cricket legends such as Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, Alvin Kallicharran are all Guyanese cricketers. (This point will make my dad very proud!)
- But we also excel at playing squash, and we are getting better at soccer as well.
- Guyana as a whole has neglected arts, and sports, parenting stresses more emphasis on being some variant of the following – doctor, lawyer, engineer, so every time I am made aware of a Guyanese sportsman and artist, I support!
- Rihanna and Leonna Lewis are of Guyanese heritage.
- You must know of our sugar – Demerara sugar was the standard that was created when sugar was a major commodity.
- The most famous and one of the most expensive stamps in the world, is the British Guiana 1c Magenta. In the Guiana, they ran our of stamps and then used magenta paper, which was available as postage.
- We are also known for our rum – El Dorado Rum. It’s an award winning rum. we like rum.
- Why is our rum and almost everything named El Dorado? Because, geographically, Guyana is estimated to be El Dorado. Our country is high in gold (and gold mine) and has one of the richest golds in the world, mostly because it was left in the earth for so long. There are many TVs that seem to be fascinated by this – Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush and Bamazon Boys.
- Do you like to rock climb? Because, I want a buddy to rock climb this baby! The Disney movie, Up featured the mountain, Mount Roraima, it is the highest peak of a chain of tepui plateau in South America. Made of Precambrian rocks, it literally looks like a tabletop in the sky. It’s the point where Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana meet and many waterfalls are associated with the mountain (Angel Falls on the Venezuelan side), and ours Kaieteur Falls, is the longest, single one drop water fall in the world.
- Every Guyanese is going to make me tell you about Kaieteur Falls. It’s supposedly the highest single drop waterfall in the world.
- Our rain forest is pretty much untouched, and is being protected by Norway (Go Norway!) and the (lack) of Government of Guyana to offset our carbon footprint. The amazon is also in Guyana. Guyana has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Guyana, with 1,168 vertebrate species, 1,600 bird species, boasts one of the richest mammalian fauna assemblages of any comparably sized area in the world. The Guiana Shield region is little known and extremely rich biologically. Unlike other areas of South America, over 70% of the natural habitat remains pristine. When I was a kid, I woke up by listening to the sounds of parrots, kiskadees and macaws at the crack of dawn. They can be pretty annoying.
- We have cowboys and ranches in the region closer to Brazil.
- We have Carnival, not as big as the Brazilians, or the Trinidadians, and we call it “Mashramani” or Mash for short. It’s always in February, and most of the music will tell you to get something and wave, and really that’s what you should do.
I’ll pick Somalia as the UK and the Netherlands have already been written about.
- There’s only a small group of fishermen that have started to terrorise the coast as pirates. The rest of us aren’t actually that keen on kidnapping people.
- Despite the lack of international recognition, Somalia is divided into 3 nations; Somaliland, Puntland and Somalia.
- Each of these nations speak a different dialect and Arabic is also a national language. Most Somalis also speak English and/or Italian and Swahili. The average Somali speaks 3 languages.
- Arranged marriages aren’t actually custom in Somalia and only a small group of people hold this tradition.
- We are an extremely funny nation and nothing is off limits when it comes to humour.
- Somalis all have nicknames based on how they look or what they’re known for; Liban Long Leg, Chubby Cibado, Dirir Drink a Lot ect. This isn’t considered offensive at all.
- Once upon a time we were a peaceful and developed country. We even had cinemas and clubs. True story.
- Mogadishu is home to Lido beach, one of the most beautiful pristine beaches in the world.
- We aren’t all experts in torture techniques nor do we all own guns.
- Yes, there have been Al-Qaeda terrorist quarters in Somalia that terrorised the natives. We are not all terrorists, in fact, many have been killed because they refused to join these terrorist groups (including my uncle). So I’d really fucking appreciate it if I didn’t get interviewed/searched every time I went through an airport because I was born in Mogadishu.
- The first thing to start with would be the geography of the place. Nepal has the highest altitude variation in the world. From the plain of Ganges to the peak of Mt. Everest, the altitude varies from almost sea level to 8848m above sea level.
- Eight of the fourteen eight-thousanders are located in Nepal. I am talking about mountains here. We have eight 8000m tall mountains and all of them are listed in the 10 highest peaks of the world. We occupy 80% of the slot. Beat that!
- Second richest in water resources after Brazil. And possess potential for production of 83000 MW of clean hydro electricity. Yet, we have electricity shortages and have to bear with an average of 8 hrs of power cut everyday.
- Kathmandu valley is the capital. It has the densest concentration of World Heritage Sites. Kathmandu valley alone has 7 World Heritage Cultural sites within a radius of 15 kilometers.
- One of the areas in Kathmandu valley is called “Freak street” (I think this name was given by Jim Morrison after he saw the huge inflow of hippies who came in droves by buses on this street). See: Old Freak Street.
- Yes, we have a song called “Kathmandu” written by Bob Seger. He wrote it in 1975, at a time when he wanted to disappear from the record business, media and touring. Kathmandu represented a far way land where no one would be able to find you. Also, Jim has some verses of road house blues in Nepali!
- It’s the country with the highest Hindu population. Almost 80% of the people here are Hindu. It was the only Hindu country in the world until 2010 when it went republican and became secular.
- We have the bravest people in the world, the Gurkhas. We have fought wars alongside Britishers and are most feared warriors. Don’t get this wrong though, Nepalese are really peace loving people.
- Our Sovereignty was never broken. Never ruled by any other country in the world. Britain tried to invade Nepal but could never succeed. Refer Anglo-Nepalese War.
- We have the popular and cheap ‘fast food’ called Momo. Delicious dumplings made from flour and water; and filled with different fillings like chicken, meat or vegetables either fried or steamed and served with a dipping sauce.
- The deepest gorge in the world named Kali Gandaki Gorge is in Nepal.
- One of the highest lakes in the world, Tilicho Lake. Situated at the height of 4919m.
- I can go on and on about the Natural beauty of Nepal. So giving it a stop, I will just mention it briefly. The trekking trails of Nepal are really beautiful. Everest Base camp Trek, Annapurna Trek, Mustang Trek routes are really awesome! Nepal is no less in its flora and fauna. Some of the rarest species are found here. And the mountains are the sources of some highly valued medicinal herbs.
- There was a massacre in the Royal House in 2001 when our king queen and majority of their family members died. Nepalese royal massacre.
- Nepal is birthplace of Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism. As a consequence, Nepal is home to beautiful Stupas and Gumbas, monuments with round roofs.
- Despite all this, we are really poor. Don’t be surprised if you see small huts in the hills. We have not exploited tourism or even hydro power to its potential. Roads are not much developed. And if you book some flight ticket to travel inside Nepal don’t panic if its a small 10-12 seater twin otter with shaky wings :P
- Lastly, everything I have said lies within an area of 147,181 square km. Yes, my country is really small.
I’ll just address some misconceptions about the UK.
We have a reputation for being monolingual. Not true, we have several languages in the UK, including:
English, Welsh, Scots, Scots Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Cornish, and BSL (British Sign Language).
Yn ni’n gallu siarad myw na un iaith, t’mod. ;) (Welsh for “We can speak more than one language, you know”). Unfortunately languages are not taught well in the UK, so our reputation is not entirely unfounded…
…also has a terrible reputation, but in fact we have loads of delicious food, and our strength is our openness to other cuisines. We love all world cuisines and adopt many aspects into our own cooking. Almost all British households regularly cook curries, stir-fries, and pastas (particularly Spaghetti Bolognese), as well as more traditional British cooking. Did you know the Balti was created in the UK? We don’t see British food as something static but very dynamic.
We got a bad reputation thanks to rationing during the war where Brits had to do their best with powdered egg and spam, but really…it’s time to move on guys. Our specialties include:
- Pies of all kinds, including Cornish pasties and Melton Mowbray pork pies
- Sausages – every town has its own type and they’re all awesome
- Cheeses – including Cheddar, Wensleydale, and Stilton
- Welsh Lamb
- Scotch Whisky
- Beer / Real Ale – almost infinite numbers of awesome beers (Badger Brewery is my favourite)
- Mead and yes, we have good wines too (some of our land is on a level with wine growing regions in France)
- Sunday Roasts
- Fish and Chips (yeah, every country thinks they do these best…I know!)
- Full English Breakfast
- Cream teas: tea with scones, Cornish cream and home-made jam:
And so on. We also invented almost all the classic biscuits. We are a little bit biscuit obsessed. Why? Why else? They go great with Tea!
(They’re also incredibly cheap over here)
Enough! We have a duck race to get to.
In short, we have them.
What to do this weekend…race a rubber duck?
Join in with a Pancake race that dates back to 1445?
Wang a welly?
Or just chase a cheese down a hill.
(I wonder if that house at the bottom has insurance against cheese-related damage?)
Safer to stick to a morris dance.
The most common misconception of all though is that all of the UK is London.
The UK is Not Just London
London is cool, but the UK has so much more, especially regarding scenery. People think of us as a crowded little island with a metropolitan feel. We have some amazing historic towns and cool cities, but our beautiful landscape is underrated by other countries who think we don’t have any.
You might know already how breathtaking Scotland is:
But did you know about Northern Ireland?
(Did you know that we have about 1,000 stone circles and 80 stone henges in Britain and Ireland?)
And what about the mountains, valleys, castles and music of Wales? The Welsh for Wales is Cymru:
And of course, from the moors, dales and lakes to the beaches, forests and flatlands, England:
Still think we’re all just London? :)
I could go on, but it’s time for tea…
6. New Zealand
- It’s way down there – In fact Wellington, the Capital City of New Zealand, is the southernmost capital city in the world.
- No snakes here bitach! – Edit: So after some research it seems that there once were snakes in New Zealand, millions of years ago when New Zealand was attached to the Mainland (Australia etc.), but they haven’t appeared since the Ice Age. Also sometimes(rarely) sea snakes appear.
- Kiwi – Not the fruit, our native flightless bird is also a term to call a New Zealander. Currently endangered as they are flightless and easily attacked by other animals and they also lay massive eggs!
- All Blacks – We’re insanely great at Rugby!
- The name New Zealand was from Dutch cartographers, who called the islands Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland.
- There are more sheep than there are people. Oh, and sometimes they protest. (Check out the video!)
- New Zealand has won more Olympic gold medals, per capita, than any other country.
- Lord of the Rings was filmed here – You probably already know.
- Bungy Jumping was invented here – By AJ Hackett.
- We drive on the left – Like Australia and England.
- We are located on the Ring of Fire – Which means that we have several volcanos and get about 1400 earthquakes each year. Mount Ruapehu is one of the most active volcanos in the world. Lake Taupo is actually a crater caused by the largest known eruption in the world 26,500 years ago. You also may have heard of the 2 earthquakes in Christchurch, one in 2010 and one in 2011 killing 185 people.
- We fucked up in the America’s Cup.
- Russia and Moscow. There are actually two Russias: Moscow and the rest of it. Moscow is, unfortunately, way more developed, civilized, tolerant and educated than the rest of Russia. St. Petersburg (which used to be our capital in 18th, 19th and the beginning of 20th century) is sometimes and partially an exception. So don’t believe all the stories of people who say they’ve been to Russia if they’ve only been in Moscow.
- Bears and vodka. Of course bears do not walk in the cities. Russian people do drink a lot of vodka, but there’s an explanation for this: vodka is the cheapest (by far) hard liquor in the country.
- Russia and the USSR. A lot of Russians strongly divide the Russian and the Soviet periods of our history and do not accept the latter as part of our heritage.
- Empire. Russia was the only borderless empire with all the colonies adjacent to each other.
- Visiting Russia. Most of Russian cities are incredibly beautiful, but only during May-September. There is really very little point in visiting any other time of the year.
- Visiting Russia 2. If you’re from anywhere except the CIS, you will need a visa to come to Russia (with rare exceptions). And Russians need visas to go to almost anywhere.
- Foreign languages. The majority of Russians do not speak any languages besides Russian.
- Food. What most people think of as Russian cuisine is not actually Russian, e.g. borsch is Ukranian and draniki is Bielorussian.
- Friendship. A friend is a very strong word in Russian. There are many words for different levels of friendship. I wouldn’t call somebody I know just a month a friend and there can only be one best friend. Those usually (not always) date back to school or at least to university. Time is not the most important factor, but close to an obligatory one.
- Traveling. Most Russians rarely travel and almost never move from the place they were born (this started to change recently).
- WW2. If for some weird reason you don’t think that Russia won the WW2, I strongly advise you not to bring it up when talking to a Russian. Especially if you both or this Russian is drunk. We are very sensitive about it.
- WW2 again. I don’t know why, but an absolute majority of Russians (even through official channels: TV, radio etc.) say ‘Fascists’ instead of ‘Nazis’. When you’re talking to a Russian and she said ‘fascist’, she probably meant ‘nazi’.
- Prices. Cars, clothes and anything luxurious are very expensive here. Strangely, in Moscow those things are cheaper than in any other city. Note, that’s it’s not cheap here and expensive anywhere else. It’s just even more expensive anywhere else.
- Oil. For a country that is one of the leaders in oil extraction gas prices are pretty darn high! The average price right now is around 34 roubles per litre ( 1.03$, 3.84$ per gallon).
- Criticising Russia. Russians tend to be very protective and sensitive when talking about it with foreigners. If you are a close friend or a Russian started such a conversation, then it’s OK. But otherwise, better not do it.
- Loving Russia. Have no doubt: almost any Russian loves the country. A lot of us live by the saying “I love my country, I have my state / government”.
- Elections. Yes, all elections are rigged one way or another. This situation has started to change (people protest, enlist as observers, work as volunteers for candidates from opposition etc).
- The Church. The Russian Church is experiencing something of a Renaissance right now (sanctioned by the government). Some technical universities even have theological departments now and those classes are obligatory (not that widespread yet)!
- Justice. The percentage of not guilty verdicts in Russia is 0.5%. Yes. 0.5%. Russian judiciary system is very closely intertwined with the government (doesn’t matter: federal, regional, local) and all the ‘high profile’ cases’ verdicts are known in advance.
- Doctors. A funny (and sad) fact: doctors’ salaries in Russia are very small (a surgeon in a small town in Russia may very well earn less than 8,000$ a year. And you said you wanted to be a doctor when you grew up?
- We speak Danish, not dutch.
- What Americans call ‘danishes’, we call it ‘wienerbrød’, which actually means ‘Viennese bread’.
- We don’t think of ourselves as the happiest people in the world, rather, we are the most content. There is a big difference to us. Happy is a temporary high, while content is an average mean. Very important distinction when you only see the sun a handful of times a year.
- It is very easy to get to know us slightly (very friendly), but incredible difficult to get to know us well (very private). Also, most of us have the same friends since childhood, so we don’t have much time for new friends.
- Privacy is considered a basic human right here. So that means, don’t talk to the person next to you on the bus, it’s considered rude.
- ‘Irony’ is the basis of the Danish psyche. We will often make an inappropriate joke when we are feeling uncomfortable, which is often.
- Women & men are very equal here, so that has led to some confusion in the standard mating ritual. Think of two rams butting heads, but with less romance and more sex.
- We are VERY relaxed about sex, but we used to be more relaxed about nudity. Used to be, every beach was awash in nude bodies, but that has slowly disappeared. We blame American media for their portrayals of unattainably perfect bodies so that now Danish women are self-conscious.
- We like to blame America for a lot of the things that ail us, but at the same time, we are very enthusiastic about embracing much of American culture.
- Marriage is a bit of an outdated concept here. Someone will talk about their girlfriend, and then you find out they mean the mother of their three children that they have lived with for 20 years.
- A huge majority of the country belongs to the Church of Denmark, but in reality we are all just a bunch of godless heathens. We don’t need to pray for salvation when we have such a great welfare system.
- Most of us are not racist, just ignorant, since Denmark is such a homogenized place. Outside of Copenhagen, it is Whiteytown, capitol of Whiteyville. If you grow up with brown skin in a small town (like I did), be prepared for a LOT of ridiculous but well-meaning questions.
- Speaking of ridiculous, the men and women of Copenhagen are ridiculously good-looking. Good genetics, a love of fitness, and healthy food really go a long way.
- We are not nearly as violent as all our exported television programs portray us as. There is actually very little murder & crime here.
- If you can put up with the expense & the weather & the difficulty getting to truly know people, it is a lovely place to call home.
- Ethiopia is the origin of coffee. Our coffee preparation ceremony takes at least 2 hours everyday.
- We have 13 months in a year.
- Currently the year is 2006 and new year starts on the month of September.
- We have more than 80 languages.
- We have our own alphabet consisting of 252 characters (compared to english 26 characters)
- Ethiopian food is loved by vegetarians all over the world.
- We are the only country in Africa that has never been colonized.
- Ethiopians are very religious. Only 1% of 90 million people have no religion.
- Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) was discovered in Ethiopia.
- Everyone has at least 80 close family members.
- You are not expected to call or make an appointment to visit a friend or a family, you just show up at their house and you’ll always be welcomed.
- No! we don’t have elephants and lions as pets.
I will talk about Jordan. So I am Jordanian and there is no camel in my background :P
- The name of my country is actually: الأردن , ‘al-Urdun’.
- We are a small peaceful country (89,342 km2) surrounded by bigger and troubled countries (Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Palestine) and Israel.
- Jordanians have different origins. Beside native Jordanians there are Palestinians, Syrians, Circassians, Armenians, Chechens and others.
- We have a beautiful and lovely Queen, Rania Al Abdullah.
- Our capital city is Amman. In the past, Amman sat on seven hills, much as Rome and Lisbon. Amman now covers at least nineteen hills.
- One of our national sites, Petra, is rated as one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
- Jerash is a city in the north full of ancient Roman historical sites.
- Jerash festival is an annual festival which is a three week long summer program of dance, music, and theatrical performances.
- Around the Dead Sea, we have the lowest dry point on earth, (1,371 ft) below sea level!
- In the Dead sea, You can float without any support because of natural buoyancy. Just relax and Enjoy :D
- Wadi Rum, one of the most amazing valleys in the world.
- The sky at night is just breathtaking; no words can describe it.
- Hammamat Ma’In (Ma’in Hot Springs): hot freshwater mineral springs and waterfalls that lie 866 ft below sea level. Excellent place to enjoy a naturally warm bath.
- Climbing the waterfalls in Wadi Mujib is a must if you love adventure! Wadi Mujib is the lowest nature reserve in the entire world!
- Don’t forget the scuba diving at Aqaba bay and explore the colorful coral reefs!
But what about religious sites?
- The Baptism Site of Jesus Christ (Al-Maghtas) in Jordan is located 10 kilometres southeast of Jericho. This place was surveyed, excavated, restored, and prepared to receive pilgrims and visitors who seek the blessings of a land graced by great prophets. Al-Maghtas was visited by Pope John Paul II in March 2000 and by Pope Benedict XVI in May 2009.
- Mount Nebo is the place where it is believed that Moses was buried. Mount Nebo became a place of pilgrimage for early Christians from Jerusalem and a small church was built there in the 4th century to commemorate the end of Moses’ life. The Serpentine Cross sculpture, atop Mount Nebo , was created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni. The sculpture is symbolic of the bronze (or brazen) serpent taken by Moses into the desert.
- Our folk dance is called Dabkeh :)
- Our traditional dish is Mansaf ( rice, yogurt and a lot of meat .. and I mean A LOT)
- Oh yeah, don’t be terrified if you see us eating it with our hands! :D
- Our typical breakfast looks like this: (@Hummus and @Falafel)
- For my vegetarian friends, it’s easy to survive without eating meat in Jordan ;)
- Beside Hummus and Falafel, here is a small list of dishes you can easily find in Jordanian resturants:
Note that Jordanian cuisine is part of Levantine cuisine so these dishes except Mansaf are all can be found easily in Levant countries.
Hope you enjoyed my answer ;)
- Bali is not a country. It’s an island which is, a part of Indonesia.
- We’re more than just Bali. We consisted of more than 17.508 islands based on wikipedia (okay maybe about 10 big islands and the rest are small islands and some uninhabited), and some of them are more beautiful than Bali.
- One of our island, Komodo Island was voted as new 7 wonders of nature. it has pink beach and, komodo dragon. They’re carnivores by the way.
- Yeah we look like Malaysian, and we’re so much different than Indian.
- We speak Bahasa Indonesia with lots of accents and sub-language, you know just like any other countries.
- We also the fourth largest country based on population.
- We’re a democratic country.
- Most of us knows how to joke around. Even our politicians like to make jokes (if you know what I mean).
Originally divided by hundreds of borders.
Borders both political and religious.
Until the German unification in 1871, there was no real Germany. It was a rather loose confederation of hundreds of small states. You had to pay toll dozens of times when you wanted to go by road from what today is one end of Germany to the other.
In 1618-1648, Germany was the battlefield of the Thirty Years’ War – a war of religions, as half the smaller or bigger German states was protestant, and the other half catholic. More than 30% of Germany’s population died in these 30 years. Remember that about Christianity when you today look at Syria. I sincerely hope the Muslim world can avoid such long-term, large-scale, atrocious sectarian conflict.
Proud part of Europe
The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries that abolished border controls. If you drive from Germany to e.g. France, you might notice some road sign telling you when you cross the border – other than that, you will see nothing.
Even the former border checkpoint facilities/buildings are gone mostly. Combined with the common currency of the Euro zone, this gives a feeling of freedom to us that is now normal for young people, but would be unimaginable a couple of generations ago.
That’s part of the reason why many Germans feel so strongly positively about Europe and the EU, despite the various problems.
You get to see a nice border sign, but that’s about it.
Germany didn’t invent Green politics – but here, the Green movement got mainstream popularity for the first time. A green politician, Joschka Fischer, was vice chancellor and minister for foreign affairs from 1998 to 2005.
Similar, the Pirate Party movement has its roots in Sweden, yet got larger success for the first time in Germany, conquering a dozen seats in Berlin’s state parliament.
Drink with 16, Drive with 18
I guess it’s not a rule that is unique to Germany, but it’s often surprising to people from the US. You can legally buy and drink beer with 16, but not get your (car) driving license before 18.
One of the effects is that nearly every German experienced the loss of motoric control caused by alcohol many times before learning how to drive a car. Thus, the majority knows of the dangers, contributing to the low death rate by car accidents in Germany.
There is danger in beer. But also so much joy.
Indeed, Germans are more obsessed about their cars than many other countries. If you classify cars by size/price, Germans have a much higher share of large cars (e.g. Mercedes C+, BMW 3+, Audi A4+) than other European countries.
Also, you will see Germans care much more about their cars not being scratched or bumped into than in, say, France or Italy – where people are generally relaxed about even small accidents.
German cars always sold well internationally – e.g. the pretty beetle.
Many people think of the Autobahn when they think of Germany. While it is true that on many of these highways, there is no speed limit, there is still a recommended maximum speed of 130 km/h. It’s not illegal to go (far) beyond it, yet in case of an accident, it might get you a partial responsibility to have gone faster.
And, there is a movement -rooted in fuel efficiency – to introduce a general speed limit. Hotly debated topic, and often parties clearly state whether they are for or against it in a general election.
The most popular street food in Germany is the Döner Kebab, of Turkish origin. Especially in Berlin, you find a booth at every corner. 2nd comes the Currywurst (a grilled sausage with ketchup and curry powder).
Nowadays, the Döner usually comes with red and white cabbage – even Turkish food can be Germanized a bit.
The – percievedly very Germany – Currywurst lets us think about a key ingredient: tomatoes. Which isn’t native to Germany and got popular only in the last 60 years.
As you can imagine, before the immigrants came to Germany with their recipes and ingredients, Germany was a pretty dull place food-wise.
Brings us to the cultural effects of immigration. A vast majority of Germans would agree that the culture (food-wise most prominently) that the immigrants from Italy, Turkey, Greece etc. brought, made Germany a far, far more liveable and likable country.
By far the most popular sport in Germany. Basketball, Handball and Ice Hockey come after football – but even combined, they might enjoy just 10% of football’s popularity.
The German football association has more than 6 million members – in a country of about 80 million.
German Football also profited heavily from immigration. Just look at Arsenal’s new star – Mesut Özil, or at Real Madrid player Sami Khedira. Or at our two strikers of Polish heritage – Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose.
Special about German football is that the clubs are not allowed to sell 50% or more to investors. This keeps them in the hands of the clubs, who are ultimately controlled by the supporters.
One of the effects of this are ticket prices: you can get a full season ticket at Bayern Munich for less than €150. At Arsenal, the cheapest season ticket does sell for more than €1,000. And even at a smaller Premier League club in England, tickets will be more expensive compared to the German Champions League winner.
My country has Latin origins even if it’s in the middle of the Slavic part of Europe. The creators of the Romanian nation are considered to be Decebal, the king of Dacia and Trajan, the Roman emperor (100-106 AD – wars between Dacians and Romans). The Romanian language is very similar to Italian.
2. Capital city
Romania’s capital city is Bucharest, not Budapest. I must say this because many rock stars use to open their concert in Bucharest with a well known “Good evening Budapest!”
3. The Revolution
Our recent history is divided in two: “before 1989” (communist era, of Ceausescu) and “after 1989”. On December 15, 1989, a revolution started in Timisoara (a city in western Romania). It quickly spread to the entire country. It was a bloody revolution, hundred of thousands of people went out in the streets, many people died, but finally the dictator was caught, sentenced to death and later executed with his wife on December 25, 1989.
4. Myth of Dracula
Most Romanians don’t consider Dracula representative for Romania. What you probably don’t know is that there was a Romanian leader back in 15th century, count Vlad Tepes (also called Vlad Dracul, after his father). He used to impale murderers, persons sentenced to death for various crimes and war prisoners; probably this is why he inspired Bram Stoker for his novel.
5. Famous people
If we’re talking about reputation, I can give you some examples of Romanians we consider to be famous: sculptor Constantin Brancusi, historian/philosopher Mircea Eliade, composer George Enescu or athletes such as Gheorghe Hagi (soccer player), Nadia Comaneci (gymnast who got the first score of 10 in Olympics history, in Montreal 1976), and Ilie Nastase (tennis player, winner of Roland Gaross in 1973 and US Open in 1972).
6. Territorial organization
Romania is divided in 41 counties, but there are three main historic regions: Transylvania(northwest), Moldova(northeast) and Tara Romaneasca (The Romanian Country) (south). Romania’s eastern neighbor, Republic of Moldova, was part of Romania until 1945 when Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill agreed in connection to Russian influence in Europe and decided to take it away from Romania and give it to USSR (Yalta Conference).
Because throughout the history Transylvania was under western foreign occupancy (Austro-Hungarian most of the time), there you will find some mixed cultural influences and similarities, especially with Hungary and Austria. This led to some kind of superiority complex of Transylvanians, and of course that people from other Romanian regions (especially “the southerners”) did not like this. Also, in Transylvania, the nationalism feeling is more pregnant than in other regions of Romania. The reason is the same: foreign occupancy in the past.
The traditional Romanian food is very tasty, even though not very healthy (pretty fat). Most traditional dishes are pork-based. But if you’re here in a vacation for just a few days, you can eat as much as you want, it’s safe. Nothing bad will happen. If you’re here for the Christmas – New Year celebrations, do not miss “cina porcului” (pork supper) – a meal based on fresh made pork dishes. Some of them could be strange but tasty as well. You must also try the Romanian traditional “mici” and “sarmale” (main courses) and “papanasi” for desert. If you find this interesting, you should stay for a few days in a small family-run B&B in the countryside. You’ll probably get some of the above-mentioned. And one more thing: every year, when orthodox holidays are coming (Christmas and Easter), the number of calls at 112 (Romanian / European version of 911) is huge. The reason: above-mentioned courses eaten in industrial quantities. And of course, alcohol.
Romania is a country of contrasts: if you travel to the countryside you will see people performing agriculture works using archaic methods: plowing with horses or oxen, carrying stuff with carts pulled by horses, manually hoeing or mowing, etc. But you’ll be very surprised when you’ll get to your B&B or hotel room and you’ll see that your internet connection is faster than in most of the places you’ve stayed before. Romania’s 3rd in top world internet speed connection, after Hong Kong and Japan. And after you’ll see the archaic farmers in a village, at 10 km away you’ll be able to find a big city with modern malls, pubs, restaurants and everything a modern civilized life involves. Also, on Romanian roads you’ll see 20-30 year old cars next to luxurious cars, but don’t be surprised; this is Romania.
10. More facts
When Romanians travel to western Europe (“civilized countries” – we like to use this cliché when talking about the western states), they like speeding on the highways. That’s maybe because we don’t have too many highways in Romania. There are less than 400kms of highway in Romania, and this is frustrating. Romanians must thank for this to the politicians that, by the way, are mostly hated. But I think this is nothing new. The rest of the roads are “national roads” or “county roads”, most of them having only one lane for each direction. So, driving your car in Romania for a few hundred kilometers could be tedious if you’re not used to it. If you have to drive on secondary roads or on any other kind of local roads you must expect the worst: unpaved roads, macadam, many holes, etc. We are on one of the last places in a world-ranking top concerning roads quality.
11. The countryside
As a regular basis, the countryside people are mostly naive, friendly and well intentioned. If somebody approaches you, talking to you, you don’t have to be too cautious. They’re just friendly and curious. If your car breaks somewhere in the middle of nowhere, don’t be surprised if somebody comes to help you, even if you didn’t ask to. And after that maybe you’ll get something to drink or eat, without asking anything in return for this. I can’t say the same if you’re in a big city, where the communist age left deeper marks on people’s mentality, especially on elders. Of course, exceptions can occur anytime.
The landscape has much to offer: We have the Black Sea, Carpathian Mountains (with Moldoveanu Peak, the highest – 2,544 m), and the Danube Delta, which is a Unesco protected site due to life diversity (biosphere reservation). It’s the best preserved delta in Europe; you can find here over 3,400 wildlife species. Also, here you can admire maybe the last herds of wild horses in Europe, also called the Romanian Mustang.
Romanians’ salaries are almost the lowest in Europe, and definitely the lowest in European Union (approximately the same as in Bulgaria – minimum net income less than EUR 200,-). That’s really frustrating and that’s why people choose to go abroad for work. Lots of drama happens because of the children being left with their grandparents, while their parents go to work abroad. I am talking about Romanians, and yes, I said to work, not to steal. I really must highlight this issue because sometimes in countries like Italy, the word Romanian equals Gipsy, which is a great injustice for us. Gypsies (Rroma or Rromani people) is just an ethnic minority in Romania, and unfortunately, yes, they are going abroad especially for stealing and begging. Exceptions could occur in this case as well.
I am aware that some essential issues regarding Romania are not mentioned above, please feel free to add if you consider necessary. Thank you!
- Yes, we do apologize if you bump into us.
- Yes, it’s cold. Not all year, but when it’s cold, it’s COLD.
- Yes, we love hockey. Pretty well more than anything else.
- Yes, we smoke more marijuana than just about anywhere else on earth.
- Yes, we have extraordinarily clean and safe cities.
- Yes, the country is both huge and empty. Most of us live within 150 km of the US border. Yes, you can, if you want, go for days without seeing another human.
- Yes, we occasionally have bears, moose, and such wandering around in major cities.
- Yes, the Canadian is the one who keeps saying “eh?”.
On the other hand…
- We make amazingly good wines.
- We are among the most urban and cosmopolitan populations in the world.
- Our major social issues have never been crime, homelessness, or poverty (although we take them all seriously). We just don’t have enough of any of them.
- Sure, we are sometimes mistaken for Americans. We honestly don’t mind, even though we pretend to be offended. The reality is that apart from their tendency to shoot each other, we kinda like Americans and America.
- We don’t really have a military. It was turned into a government job-creation program forty years ago, and never quite got back on track. Nobody has ever noticed we don’t have an army, because we haven’t needed one.
- We don’t have a history, either. We decided that national histories are pretty divisive, what with all the wars and the winners and losers and long-standing grudges, and since we keep inviting more and more immigrants into the country, it’s easier and friendlier not to bother remembering what we used to be. We are what we are, and tomorrow we’ll probably be something else.
- We claim responsibility for poutine and butter tarts.
You should know that…
- What you hear on the CBC has little to do with the way most Canadians think. It’s a limited, downtown-Toronto viewpoint which is as representative of the average Canadian as Manhattan is of the U.S., or the City is of England.
- You can’t get there today. It takes about 10, 8-hour days to drive from St John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C.
- We don’t all speak French. In fact, fewer than a quarter of us do.
- We have a huge national inferiority complex. We are so convinced that our country really sucks that we go nuts every time another U.N. poll says that ours is the best country in the world in which to live. We’ll love you if you tell us how great you think Canada is. We won’t really believe you, but we’ll love you.
- And we did make a mess of our relationship with our aboriginals. We’re really sorry about that. But do you know how hard it is to make it up to someone who insists on being allowed to hunt and fish for a living AND have all the benefits of the modern world? We don’t know how this one’s ever gonna get resolved. But we know it, OK? We don’t like being told that our human rights record is comparable to Zimbabwe or China. Because it’s not.
- Our national anthem has a pretty good tune, but please, don’t listen to the words. In either language. They’re just silly.
- And finally, we’re sorry about Justin Bieber. Please forgive us, eh?
Ok, so I’m going to tell you about Austria. It’s a small country – roughly 8.5 million inhabitants – in Middle Europe.
1. First things first: Not to confuse with Australia. Yes we have electricity, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners. No, we’re not living on mountains (okay, some do) and yodel to communicate. Progress didn’t stop at our borders.
3. Germany: We have a complicated relationship with Germans. We consider Bavarians as one of us, but none from the other states. That’s because their accent is similar to ours. We tend to think of Germans as fat, arrogant and wearing socks in sandals. Oftentimes, when we meet Germans, we somehow have to emphasize how GREAT Austria, Austrians, Austrian landscape, Austrian culture, Austrian language (we consider German with Austrian accent as a language of its own), Austrian buildings, Austrian flowers, Austrian pottery and everything is compared to (eww) Germany. In sports we’re always rooting against Germany. We don’t care who wins as long as it’s not the Germans. In case they lose a lot of schadenfreude arises.
It’s hard to say why exactly it’s this way. I think it’s mostly envy. Why Germany and not, for instance, Switzerland? Probably because we speak the same language and understand each other (Swiss – not so much, even though it’s German on paper), they’re closest culturally and 80 years ago we were buddies that went to war together. You always compare to your peers.
4. National sport, as in most of Europe’s countries: Football (as in soccer-football). We love football, but we’re not good at it. Seriously. Since 1964 Austria participated at one European Championship: The one we hosted together with Switzerland in 2008. Our last World Cup victory (as in we won one game)? 1990. Better than first round? 1982. Best result ever? 3rd in 1954, where only 16 teams played. Good times. We’re so bad at football that we’re still obsessed with one victory against Germany (our arch enemy in sports, see above): In Cordoba (Argentina) in 1978, won 3:2. And we lost against Faroe Islands once in 1990 (1:0), it was a disaster. The coach resigned the day after. We still get the chills playing against Faroe, fearing it might happen again.
My theory why we have a consistently mediocre team (although it gets better recently) is that we enjoy drinking too much, but discipline and work… You see, drinking is easier. That brings me to the next point.
5. Beer. We’re among the heaviest drinkers in Europe. Unter EU-Top 3: Österreicher trinken 108 Liter Bier pro Jahr (108 liters per person per year, that’s roughly a small beer _every day_ for _every Austrian_). My favourite is Ottakringer (from Vienna’s 16th district Ottakring). Don’t drink Gösser, unless it’s Naturradler. Avoid Zipfer and Stiegl at all times.
6. Vienna is capital, cultural center, political center and center of every other aspect in Austria. Everything else is province, even though they don’t like to hear that – don’t tell anyone! The city is famous for its coffee houses (e.g. Sacher, Schwarzenberg, Hawelka, Cafe Central…) where you eat cake, drink coffee and read.
There is also a study that rates Vienna as the city with highest quality of living – worldwide
And so on. Visit Vienna, it’s worth it.
7. The Vienna Philharmonic are probably the most popular orchestra of the world. Tickets for concerts in the opera house are almost always sold out and they play at least once _every day_. Every position in the orchestra is assigned twice so that they could play every day of the year in Vienna and go on tour at the same time. Every notable conductor has worked with the Vienna Philharmonic, e.g. Leonard Bernstein or Herbert von Karajan. They’re that popular. Also check out where they play the Neujahrskonzert (New Year concert), the Golden Hall in the Musikverein:
Tickets for this special concert are raffled a year before. By now you may apply for the New Year concert 2015.
8. I already mentioned that we celebrate the past, the good old times. That’s because we were once an empire together with Hungary, back in 1867. It lasted until our successor to the throne was shot in 1914 and we lost WW1 in 1918. Unfortunately it didn’t get better as we united with Germany only 20 years later in 1938, went to war and lost again (WW2).
Hitler in Vienna, 1938. He was Austrian too, as Germans like to point out.
There is some myth about Austria being the “victim” of Germany and that we were forced to annex. It’s not true, but still popular among parts of the population. That’s because we did not come to terms with the past, in contrast to Germany. Anyway, after two world wars we became the small, insignificant country we are now. We’re still not quite over it, that’s where our inferiority complex stems from.
9. As in probably every country in the world, there are beautiful landscapes and places.
10. Mozart. Nuff said.
11. Remember how I said that football is our national sport? Not entirely true. Because we suck at football, we invented skiing to punch other nations in the face.
In the 90s we were de facto unbeatable at alpine skiing. 9 Austrians in the top 10? Not uncommon. The other countries catched up, unfortunately, so we bred Gregor Schlierenzauer to seize ski jumping.
12. Notable Austrian companies. Yes, there are some. Red Bull (51 % belong to Dietrich Mateschitz), AKG (originally founded in Vienna 1947), Glock, Steyr, KTM Swarovski (jewelry, not cars). There are more, but I don’t know how known they are outside of Austria/Europe.
No. We do not ride horse in the city as public transportation. Actually, livestock are not allowed in cities. But then again, Mongolia is the only country where the number of horses exceeds country’s population.
No, we are not violent warriors anymore, like those guys who made the Chinese build the Great Wall. Actually, Mongolians can be one of the most friendly and peaceful people.
We do not “play with” bows and arrows on a daily basis except for in our traditional sport festival.
But, when things go wrong with corruption, environmental issues, and stuff, the possibility of using horse and bow to make sure “bad things” won’t happen again is not zero.
Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, is now considered one of the worst air-polluted cities during winter because about half the city residents live in the Ger district and they burn coal to keep their Ger (Yurt) warm when the outside temperature is -30 degree Celsius.
GDP growth of Mongolia in 2011 was the highest (17 percent) in the world and is expected to keep its rank in the following years due to the exploitation of its vast natural resources.
The population is only about 3 million. Yet the country’s land area is the 19th largest in the world, which allows Mongolia to possess one of the highest land area per person ratios.
Mongolians hate to be disconnected from the world. For this reason, the internet connection speed is one of the fastest. Moreover, almost everyone who lives in the countryside and leads a traditional nomadic life (, which is now about 10-15 percent of the whole population) possesses cellphone, satellite antenna, TV, and solar panel.
You will be amazed by your discovery of this wonderful place and culture in Central-Asia!