Japan: Truth, Knowledge, History Of The East Asian Power House Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Japan

Introduction In 1603, a Tokugawa shogunate (military dictatorship) ushered in a long period of isolation from foreign influence in order to secure its power. For more than two centuries this policy enabled Japan to enjoy stability and a flowering of its indigenous culture. Following the Treaty of Kanagawa with the US in 1854, Japan opened its ports and began to intensively modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin Island. In 1931-32 Japan occupied Manchuria, and in 1937 it launched a full-scale invasion of China. Japan attacked US forces in 1941 – triggering America’s entry into World War II – and soon occupied much of East and Southeast Asia. After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power and a staunch ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, elected politicians – with heavy input from bureaucrats and business executives – wield actual decision-making power. The economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth, but Japan still remains a major economic power, both in Asia and globally.
History The first signs of occupation on the Japanese Archipelago appeared with a Paleolithic culture around 30,000 BC, followed from around 14,000 BC by the Jōmon period, a Mesolithic to Neolithic semi-sedentary hunter-gatherer culture of pit dwelling and a rudimentary form of agriculture. Decorated clay vessels from this period, often with plaited patterns, are some of the oldest surviving examples of pottery in the world.

The Yayoi period, starting around the third century BC, introduced new practices, such as wet-rice farming, iron and bronze-making and a new style of pottery, brought by migrants from China or Korea. With the development of Yayoi culture, a predominantly agricultural society emerged in Japan.

The Japanese first appear in written history in China’s Book of Han. According to the Chinese Records of Three Kingdoms, the most powerful kingdom on the archipelago during the third century was called Yamataikoku.

Buddhism was first introduced to Japan from Baekje of the Korean Peninsula, but the subsequent development of Japanese Buddhism and Buddhist sculptures were primarily influenced by China.[15] Despite early resistance, Buddhism was promoted by the ruling class and eventually gained growing acceptance since the Asuka period.[16]

The Nara period of the eighth century marked the first emergence of a strong central Japanese state, centered around an imperial court in the city of Heijō-kyō, or modern-day Nara. In addition to the continuing adoption of Chinese administrative practices, the Nara period is characterized by the appearance of a nascent written literature with the completion of the massive chronicles Kojiki (712) and Nihon Shoki (720).[17] (Nara was not the first capital city in Japan, though. Before Nara, Fujiwara-kyō and Asuka served as capitals of the Yamato state.)

In 784, Emperor Kammu moved the capital from Nara to Nagaoka-kyō for a brief ten-year period, before relocating it to Heian-kyō (modern-day Kyoto) in 794, where it remained for more than a millennium.[18] This marked the beginning of the Heian period, during which time a distinctly indigenous Japanese culture emerged, noted for its art, poetry and literature. Lady Murasaki’s The Tale of Genji and the lyrics of modern Japan’s national anthem, Kimi ga Yo were written during this time.

Japan’s feudal era was characterized by the emergence of a ruling class of warriors, the samurai. In 1185, following the defeat of the rival Taira clan, Minamoto no Yoritomo was appointed Shogun and established a base of power in Kamakura. After Yoritomo’s death, the Hōjō clan came to rule as regents for the shoguns. Zen Buddhism was introduced from China in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and became popular among the samurai class. The Kamakura shogunate managed to repel Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281, aided by a storm that the Japanese interpreted as a kamikaze, or Divine Wind. The Kamakura shogunate was eventually overthrown by Emperor Go-Daigo, who was soon himself defeated by Ashikaga Takauji in 1336.[20] The succeeding Ashikaga shogunate failed to control the feudal warlords (daimyo), and a civil war erupted (the Ōnin War) in 1467 which opened a century-long Sengoku period.

During the sixteenth century, traders and Jesuit missionaries from Portugal reached Japan for the first time, initiating active commercial and cultural exchange between Japan and the West (Nanban trade).

Oda Nobunaga conquered numerous other daimyo by using European technology and firearms and had almost unified the nation when he was assassinated in 1582. Toyotomi Hideyoshi succeeded Nobunaga and united the nation in 1590. Hideyoshi invaded Korea twice, but following several defeats by Korean and Ming China forces and Hideyoshi’s death, Japanese troops were withdrawn in 1598.

After Hideyoshi’s death, Tokugawa Ieyasu utilized his position as regent for Hideyoshi’s son Toyotomi Hideyori to gain political and military support. When open war broke out, he defeated rival clans in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Ieyasu was appointed shōgun in 1603 and established the Tokugawa shogunate at Edo (modern Tokyo). The Tokugawa shogunate enacted a variety of measures such as Buke shohatto to control the autonomous daimyo. In 1639, the shogunate began the isolationist sakoku (“closed country”) policy that spanned the two and a half centuries of tenuous political unity known as the Edo period. The study of Western sciences, known as rangaku, continued during this period through contacts with the Dutch enclave at Dejima in Nagasaki. The Edo period also gave rise to kokugaku, or literally “national studies”, the study of Japan by the Japanese themselves.

On March 31, 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry and the “Black Ships” of the United States Navy forced the opening of Japan to the outside world with the Convention of Kanagawa. Subsequent similar treaties with the Western countries in the Bakumatsu period brought Japan into economic and political crises. The abundance of the prerogative and the resignation of the shogunate led to the Boshin War and the establishment of a centralized state unified under the name of the Emperor (Meiji Restoration). Adopting Western political, judicial and military institutions, the Cabinet organized the Privy Council, introduced the Meiji Constitution, and assembled the Imperial Diet. The Meiji Restoration transformed the Empire of Japan into an industrialized world power that embarked on a number of military conflicts to expand the nation’s sphere of influence. After victories in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), Japan gained control of Taiwan, Korea, and the southern half of Sakhalin.[24]

The early twentieth century saw a brief period of “Taisho democracy” overshadowed by the rise of expansionism and militarization. World War I enabled Japan, which joined the side of the victorious Allies, to expand its influence and territorial holdings. Japan continued its expansionist policy by occupying Manchuria in 1931. As a result of international condemnation for this occupation, Japan resigned from the League of Nations two years later. In 1936, Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Nazi Germany, joining the Axis powers in 1941.

In 1937, Japan invaded other parts of China, precipitating the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), after which the United States placed an oil embargo on Japan.[26] On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States naval base in Pearl Harbor and declared war on the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. This act brought the United States into World War II. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, along with the Soviet Union joining the war against it, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender on August 15 (Victory over Japan Day).[27] The war cost Japan millions of lives and left much of the country’s industry and infrastructure destroyed. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, was convened by the Allies (on May 3, 1946) to prosecute Japanese leaders for war crimes such as the Nanking Massacre.

In 1947, Japan adopted a new pacifist constitution emphasizing liberal democratic practices. The Allied occupation ended by the Treaty of San Francisco in 1952[29] and Japan was granted membership in the United Nations in 1956. Japan later achieved spectacular growth to become the second largest economy in the world, with an annual growth rate averaging 10% for four decades. This ended in the mid-1990’s when Japan suffered a major recession. Positive growth in the early twenty-first century has signaled a gradual recovery.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula
Geographic coordinates: 36 00 N, 138 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 377,835 sq km
land: 374,744 sq km
water: 3,091 sq km
note: includes Bonin Islands (Ogasawara-gunto), Daito-shoto, Minami-jima, Okino-tori-shima, Ryukyu Islands (Nansei-shoto), and Volcano Islands (Kazan-retto)
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than California
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 29,751 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the international straits – La Perouse or Soya, Tsugaru, Osumi, and Eastern and Western Channels of the Korea or Tsushima Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
Terrain: mostly rugged and mountainous
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Hachiro-gata -4 m
highest point: Mount Fuji 3,776 m
Natural resources: negligible mineral resources, fish
Land use: arable land: 11.64%
permanent crops: 0.9%
other: 87.46% (2005)
Irrigated land: 25,920 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 430 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 88.43 cu km/yr (20%/18%/62%)
per capita: 690 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: many dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors) every year; tsunamis; typhoons
Environment – current issues: air pollution from power plant emissions results in acid rain; acidification of lakes and reservoirs degrading water quality and threatening aquatic life; Japan is one of the largest consumers of fish and tropical timber, contributing to the depletion of these resources in Asia and elsewhere
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
Geography – note: strategic location in northeast Asia
Politics Japan is a constitutional monarchy where the power of the Emperor is very limited. As a ceremonial figurehead, he is defined by the constitution as “the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people”. Power is held chiefly by the Prime Minister of Japan and other elected members of the Diet, while sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people.[31] The Emperor effectively acts as the head of state on diplomatic occasions. Akihito is the current Emperor of Japan. Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, stands as next in line to the throne.

 

People Population: 127,433,494 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.8% (male 9,024,344/female 8,553,700)
15-64 years: 65.2% (male 41,841,760/female 41,253,968)
65 years and over: 21% (male 11,312,492/female 15,447,230) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 43.5 years
male: 41.7 years
female: 45.3 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.088% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 8.1 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 8.98 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.055 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.014 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.732 male(s)/female
total population: 0.953 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 2.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.59 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 82.02 years
male: 78.67 years
female: 85.56 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.23 children born/woman (2007 est.)Nationality: noun: Japanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Japanese
Ethnic groups: Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.7%
note: up to 230,000 Brazilians of Japanese origin migrated to Japan in the 1990s to work in industries; some have returned to Brazil (2004)
Religions: observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)
Languages: Japanese
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99%

Typhoon Mangkhut Hits Hong Kong/mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Typhoon Mangkhut lashes Hong Kong and mainland China; 40 reported dead in Philippines

Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kong residents huddled indoors Sunday and strong winds sent debris flying as Typhoon Mangkhut, the world’s strongest storm this year, carved a destructive and deadly path from the Philippines toward mainland China.

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) raised the storm signal to T10 — the highest level possible — Sunday morning local time, with the city almost entirely shut down.
Fierce winds have already torn off roofs, smashed windows and downed trees in Hong Kong, as authorities warned of the threat of storm surges and flooding from torrential rain.
Mangkhut was recorded packing sustained winds of 173 kilometers per hour (107 miles per hour) and gusts up to 223 kilometers per hour (138 miles per hour) as the storm’s eye passed south of the territory in the early afternoon, according to the HKO.
At 4 p.m. local time, the storm was 110 kilometers (68 miles) west-southwest of Hong Kong, and heading for the surrounding Pearl River Delta, home to 120 million people, the HKO reported later Sunday. Mangkhut was expected to make landfall sometime Sunday evening in southern mainland China.
Along the coast, the gambling enclave of Macau, which was hit hard by Super Typhoon Hato last August, closed all its casinos, and all fishing boats from China’s Guangdong province have been called into port.
A shop owner is rescued by members of the fire brigade from a flooded area of Macau on Sunday.

The storm is expected to be one for Hong Kong’s record books. It’s only the 15th time in the last 60 years that a storm has been classified as T10; the last was for Super Typhoon Hato last year.

On Saturday, it plowed into the Philippines, flattening homes in small towns and villages on the northern island of Luzon. The presidential spokesperson for Rodrigo Duterte told reporters Sunday that 40 people had died.

Harry Roque said most of the deaths were due to landslides and mainly occurred in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The official death toll complied by the Philippines disaster agency still stands at zero as it instituted a stringent criteria for associating deaths with storms following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

The region braces

Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Harbor was hit with a storm surge of more than 3.9 meters (12.8 feet) above chart datum Sunday. Hong Kong’s famous skyline, filled with massive buildings jutting up from the hill, was almost completely obscured as squalls roared through, however visibility has since improved.
More than 550 flights have been canceled at airports in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and more than 200 have been delayed, according to Flightaware.com. Most of Hong Kong’s public transport has been suspended.
Hong Kong authorities have been warning residents about the storm for days. On Saturday, grocery stores were packed with people stocking up on goods. Buildings across the city were either boarded up or had their windows taped in order to mitigate the damage of broken glass.
Other cities around the Pearl River Delta — which includes Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Macau — are on high alert.
Guangzhou, the capital and most populous city in Guangdong province, issued its highest typhoon emergency alert, according People’s Daily, a state-run media outlet. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated. Airports in Shenzhen, a technology hub across the border from Hong Kong, and on the resort island of Hainan have canceled all flights, according to Chinese state media.

Mangkhut slams into the Philippines

Mangkhut struck the northern Philippines as a super typhoon, causing flooding and landslides on the northern island of Luzon.
It made landfall in the Philippines Saturday at 1:40 a.m. local time, packing winds of up to 270 kph (165 mph), 120 kph (75 mph) stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina.
Known locally as Ompong, Mangkhut ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees, blocked roads with debris and dumped water on fields of crops.
More than 250,000 people were affected by the storm across the country, with around half of those seeking shelter in evacuation centers in the country’s north.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will head to the region Sunday to see the damage and recovery operations, presidential Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told CNN.
The most severe damage came in Luzon’s north, a sparsely populated region that’s considered the breadbasket of the Philippines, though areas as far away as Manila — more than 340 km (200 miles) from the eye of the storm — were hit with heavy rains that caused flooding in urban areas.
As of Saturday, the storm had caused 51 landslides in the Philippines’ north. Search crews are looking for people reported missing in the mountainous Cordillera region, Political Affairs Secretary Francis Tolentino said.
Though the storm system has moved on, extent of the damage has been difficult to assess Sunday as fierce winds were replaced by flood waters, blocking access and aid to affected areas. A vital transportation hub in the region, Tuguegarao airport in northern Luzon, was damaged in the storms, according to the Department of Transportation, forcing the cancellation of more than 100 local and international flights.
Mangkhut is expected to make another landfall late Sunday night, hitting the Chinese province of Guangdong near the cities of Yangjiang and Zhanjiang.
From there the system will continue to move westward and will rain itself out over northern Vietnam, which could lead to some flooding there early next week.

Kazakhstan: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Asian Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Kazakhstan

Introduction Native Kazakhs, a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the 13th century, were rarely united as a single nation. The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century, and Kazakhstan became a Soviet Republic in 1936. During the 1950s and 1960s agricultural “Virgin Lands” program, Soviet citizens were encouraged to help cultivate Kazakhstan’s northern pastures. This influx of immigrants (mostly Russians, but also some other deported nationalities) skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber natives. Independence in 1991 caused many of these newcomers to emigrate. Kazakhstan’s economy is larger than those of all the other Central Asian states combined, largely due to the country’s vast natural resources and a recent history of political stability. Current issues include: developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country’s vast energy resources and exporting them to world markets; achieving a sustainable economic growth; diversifying the economy outside the oil, gas, and mining sectors; enhancing Kazakhstan’s competitiveness; and strengthening relations with neighboring states and other foreign powers.
History Kazakh Khanate

Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Stone Age: the region’s climate and terrain are best suited for nomads practising pastoralism. Historians believe that humans first domesticated the horse in the region’s vast steppes. While ancient cities Taraz (Aulie-Ata) and Hazrat-e Turkestan had long served as important way-stations along the Silk Road connecting East and West, real political consolidation only began with the Mongol invasion of the early thirteenth century AD. Under the Mongol Empire, administrative districts were established, and these eventually came under the emergent Kazakh Khanate (Ak Horde).

Throughout this period traditional nomadic life and a livestock-based economy continued to dominate the steppe. In the fifteenth century, a distinct Kazakh identity began to emerge among the Turkic tribes, a process which was consolidated by the mid-16th century with the appearance of a distinctive Kazakh language, culture, and economy. Nevertheless, the region was the focus of ever-increasing disputes between the native Kazakh emirs and the neighboring Persian-speaking peoples to the south. By the early 17th century, the Kazakh Khanate was struggling with the impact of tribal rivalries, which has effectively divided the population into the Great, Middle and Little (or Small) Hordes (jüz). Political disunion, tribal rivalries, and the diminishing importance of overland trade routes between East and West weakened the Kazakh Khanate.

During the 17th century Kazakhs fought Oirats, a federation of western Mongol tribes, among which the Dzungars were particularly aggressive.[7] The beginning of the 18th century marked the zenith of the Kazakh Khanate. During this period the Little Horde participated in the 1723–1730 war against the Dzungars, following their “Great Disaster” invasion of Kazakh territories. Under leadership Abul Khair Khan the Kazakhs won major victories over the Dzungar at the Bulanty River (1726) and at the Battle of Anrakay in 1729.[8] Kazakhs were also a victims of constant raids carried out by the Volga Kalmyks.

Russian Empire

In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to expand, and spread into Central Asia. The “Great Game” period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 a second less intensive phase followed. The tsars effectively ruled over most of the territory belonging to what is now the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The Russian Empire introduced a system of administration and built military garrisons and barracks in its effort to establish a presence in Central Asia in the so-called “Great Game” between it and the United Kingdom. The first Russian outpost, Orsk, was built in 1735. Russia enforced the Russian language in all schools and governmental organizations. Russian efforts to impose its system aroused the extreme resentment by the Kazakh people, and by the 1860s, most Kazakhs resisted Russia’s annexation largely because of the disruption it wrought upon the traditional nomadic lifestyle and livestock-based economy, and the associated hunger which was rapidly wiping out some Kazakh tribes. The Kazakh national movement, which began in the late 1800s, sought to preserve the native language and identity by resisting the attempts of the Russian Empire to assimilate and stifle them.

From the 1890s onwards ever-larger numbers of Slavic settlers began colonising the territory of present-day Kazakhstan, in particular the province of Semirechye. The number of settlers rose still further once the Trans-Aral Railway from Orenburg to Tashkent was completed in 1906, and the movement was overseen and encouraged by a specially created Migration Department (Переселенческое Управление) in St. Petersburg.

The competition for land and water which ensued between the Kazakhs and the newcomers caused great resentment against colonial rule during the final years of Tsarist Russia, with the most serious uprising, the Central Asian Revolt, occurring in 1916. The Kazakhs attacked Russian and Cossack villages, killing indiscriminately. The Russians’ revenge was merciless. A military force drove 300,000 Kazakhs to flee into the mountains or to China. When approximately 80,000 of them returned the next year, many of them were slaughtered by Tsarist forces. During the 1921–22 famine, another million Kazakhs died from starvation.

Soviet Union

Although there was a brief period of autonomy (Alash Autonomy) during the tumultuous period following the collapse of the Russian Empire, many uprisings were brutally suppressed, and the Kazakhs eventually succumbed to Soviet rule. In 1920, the area of present-day Kazakhstan became an autonomous republic within Russia.

Soviet repression of the traditional elite, along with forced collectivization in late 1920s–1930s, brought mass hunger and led to unrest.[9] Between 1926 and 1939, the Kazakh population declined by 22%, due to starvation, violence and mass emigration. Today, the estimates suggest that the population of Kazakhstan would be closer to 20 million if there was no starvation or massacre of Kazakhs. During the 1930s, many renowned Kazakh writers, thinkers, poets, politicians and historians were slaughtered on Stalin’s orders, both as part of the repression and as a methodical pattern of suppressing Kazakh identity and culture. Soviet rule took hold, and a communist apparatus steadily worked to fully integrate Kazakhstan into the Soviet system. In 1936 Kazakhstan became a Soviet republic.

Kazakhstan experienced population inflows of millions exiled from other parts of the Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s; many of the deportation victims were deported to Siberia or Kazakhstan merely due to their ethnic heritage or beliefs, and were in many cases interned in some of the biggest Soviet labor camps. (See also: Population transfer in the Soviet Union, Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union.) The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) contributed five national divisions to the Soviet Union’s World War II effort. In 1947, two years after the end of the war, the Semipalatinsk Test Site, the USSR’s main nuclear weapon test site was founded near the city of Semey.

The period of World War II marked an increase in industrialization and increased mineral extraction in support of the war effort. At the time of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s death, however, Kazakhstan still had an overwhelmingly agricultural-based economy. In 1953, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev initiated the ambitious “Virgin Lands” program to turn the traditional pasture lands of Kazakhstan into a major grain-producing region for the Soviet Union. The Virgin Lands policy brought mixed results. However, along with later modernizations under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, it accelerated the development of the agricultural sector which remains the source of livelihood for a large percentage of Kazakhstan’s population. By 1959, Kazakhs made up 30% of the population. Ethnic Russians accounted for 43%.

Growing tensions within Soviet society led to a demand for political and economic reforms, which came to a head in the 1980s. A factor that has contributed to this immensely was Lavrentii Beria’s decision to test a nuclear bomb on the territory of Kazakh SSR in Semipalatinsk (also known as Semey) in 1949. This had a catastrophic ecological and biological effect which was felt generations later, and Kazakh anger toward the Soviet system has escalated. In December 1986, mass demonstrations by young ethnic Kazakhs, later called Jeltoksan riot, took place in Almaty to protest the replacement of the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Kazakh SSR Dinmukhamed Konayev with Gennady Kolbin from the Russian SFSR. Governmental troops suppressed the unrest, several people were killed and many demonstrators were jailed. In the waning days of Soviet rule, discontent continued to grow and find expression under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost.

Independence

Caught up in the groundswell of Soviet republics seeking greater autonomy, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty as a republic within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in October 1990. Following the August 1991 aborted coup attempt in Moscow and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared independence on December 16, 1991. It was the last of the Soviet republics to declare independence.

The years following independence have been marked by significant reforms to the Soviet-style economy and political monopoly on power. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and was eventually elected President in 1991, Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward developing a market economy. The country has enjoyed significant economic growth since 2000, partly due to its large oil, gas, and mineral reserves.

But, democracy has not improved much since 1991. “In June 2007, Kazakhstan’s parliament passed a law granting President Nursultan Nazarbayev lifetime powers and privileges, including access to future presidents, immunity from criminal prosecution, and influence over domestic and foreign policy. Critics say he has become a de facto “president for life.”[10][11] Over the course of his ten years in power, Nazarbayev has repeatedly censored the press through arbitrary use of “slander” laws,[12] blocked access to opposition web sites (9 November 1999), banned the Wahhabi religious sect (5 September 1998), drawn criticism from Amnesty International for excessive executions following specious trials (March 21, 1996) and harsh prison conditions (13 August 1996), and refused demands that the governors of Kazakhstan’s 14 provinces be elected, rather than appointed by the president (April 7, 2000).”

Geography Location: Central Asia, northwest of China; a small portion west of the Ural River in eastern-most Europe
Geographic coordinates: 48 00 N, 68 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 2,717,300 sq km
land: 2,669,800 sq km
water: 47,500 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than four times the size of Texas
Land boundaries: total: 12,012 km
border countries: China 1,533 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,051 km, Russia 6,846 km, Turkmenistan 379 km, Uzbekistan 2,203 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked); note – Kazakhstan borders the Aral Sea, now split into two bodies of water (1,070 km), and the Caspian Sea (1,894 km)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: continental, cold winters and hot summers, arid and semiarid
Terrain: extends from the Volga to the Altai Mountains and from the plains in western Siberia to oases and desert in Central Asia
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Vpadina Kaundy -132 m
highest point: Khan Tangiri Shyngy (Pik Khan-Tengri) 6,995 m
Natural resources: major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, manganese, chrome ore, nickel, cobalt, copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, bauxite, gold, uranium
Land use: arable land: 8.28%
permanent crops: 0.05%
other: 91.67% (2005)
Irrigated land: 35,560 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 109.6 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 35 cu km/yr (2%/17%/82%)
per capita: 2,360 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: earthquakes in the south, mudslides around Almaty
Environment – current issues: radioactive or toxic chemical sites associated with former defense industries and test ranges scattered throughout the country pose health risks for humans and animals; industrial pollution is severe in some cities; because the two main rivers which flowed into the Aral Sea have been diverted for irrigation, it is drying up and leaving behind a harmful layer of chemical pesticides and natural salts; these substances are then picked up by the wind and blown into noxious dust storms; pollution in the Caspian Sea; soil pollution from overuse of agricultural chemicals and salination from poor infrastructure and wasteful irrigation practices
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography – note: landlocked; Russia leases approximately 6,000 sq km of territory enclosing the Baykonur Cosmodrome; in January 2004, Kazakhstan and Russia extended the lease to 2050
People Population: 15,340,533 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.1% (male 1,734,622/female 1,659,723)
15-64 years: 69.6% (male 5,219,983/female 5,463,468)
65 years and over: 8.2% (male 443,483/female 819,254) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.3 years
male: 27.8 years
female: 31.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.374% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 16.44 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 9.39 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -3.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.54 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 26.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 31.03 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 67.55 years
male: 62.24 years
female: 73.16 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.88 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 16,500 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Kazakhstani(s)
adjective: Kazakhstani
Ethnic groups: Kazakh (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.7%, Uygur 1.4%, other 4.9% (1999 census)
Religions: Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%
Languages: Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official, used in everyday business, designated the “language of interethnic communication”) 95% (2001 est.)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.5%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.3%

Korea, North: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Communist Hell Hole

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Korea, North

Introduction An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored Communist domination. After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic “self-reliance” as a check against excessive Soviet or Communist Chinese influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang’s control. KIM’s son, the current ruler KIM Jong Il, was officially designated as his father’s successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder KIM’s death in 1994. After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, the DPRK since the mid-1990s has relied heavily on international aid to feed its population while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of approximately 1 million. North Korea’s history of regional military provocations, proliferation of military-related items, and long-range missile development – as well as its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and massive conventional armed forces – are of major concern to the international community. In December 2002, following revelations that the DPRK was pursuing a nuclear weapons program based on enriched uranium in violation of a 1994 agreement with the US to freeze and ultimately dismantle its existing plutonium-based program, North Korea expelled monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In January 2003, it declared its withdrawal from the international Non-Proliferation Treaty. In mid-2003 Pyongyang announced it had completed the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods (to extract weapons-grade plutonium) and was developing a “nuclear deterrent.” Beginning in August 2003, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the US have participated in the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the stalemate over the DPRK’s nuclear programs. North Korea pulled out of the talks in November 2005. It test-fired ballistic missiles in July 2006 and conducted a nuclear test in October 2006. North Korea returned to the Six-Party Talks in December 2006 and subsequently signed two agreements on denuclearization. The 13 February 2007 Initial Actions Agreement shut down the North’s nuclear facilities at Yongbyon in July 2007. In the 3 October 2007 Second Phase Actions Agreement, Pyongyang pledged to disable those facilities and provide a correct and complete declaration of its nuclear programs. Under the supervision of US nuclear experts, North Korean personnel completed a number of agreed-upon disablement actions at the three core facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex by the end of 2007. North Korea also began the discharge of spent fuel rods in December 2007, but it did not provide a declaration of its nuclear programs by the end of the year.
History Formation

In the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Korea, which ended with Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945, the Soviet Union accepted the surrender of Japanese forces and controlled the area north of the 38th parallel, with the United States controlling the area south of this parallel. Virtually all Koreans welcomed liberation from Japanese imperial rule, yet objected to the re-imposition of foreign rule upon their country. The Soviets and Americans disagreed on the implementation of Joint Trusteeship over Korea, with each establishing its socio-economic system upon its jurisdiction, leading, in 1948, to the establishment of ideologically opposed governments.[11] The United States and the Soviet Union then withdrew their forces from Korea. Growing tensions and border skirmishes between north and south led to a civil war, known as the Korean War.

On June 25, 1950, the (North) Korean People’s Army crossed the 38th parallel, with the war aim of peninsular reunification under their political system. The war continued until July 27, 1953, when the United Nations Command, the Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army signed the Korean War Armistice Agreement.[12] Since that time the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) has separated the North and South.

Economic evolution

In the aftermath of the Korean War and throughout the 1960s, the country’s state-controlled economy grew at a significant rate. It was considered the second most industrialized nation in Asia, after Japan.[citation needed] During the 1970s, the expansion of North Korea’s economy, with the accompanying rise in living standards, came to an end, and a few decades later went into reverse. The country struggled throughout the 1990s, largely due to the loss of strategic trade arrangements with the USSR,[13] and strained relations with China following China’s normalization with South Korea in 1992.[14] In addition, North Korea experienced record-breaking floods in 1995 and 1996, followed by several years of equally severe drought, beginning in 1997.[15] This situation, compounded by the existence of only 18 percent arable land[16] and an inability to import goods necessary to sustain industry,[17] led to an immense famine and left North Korea in economic shambles. Large numbers of North Koreans illegally entered the People’s Republic of China in search of food. Faced with a country in decay, Kim Jong-il adopted a “Military-First” policy to reinforce the regime.[18]

Although private property is still formally prohibited, the volume of private trade with China grows year by year. The collapse of the system of state allowances has also contributed to the growth of a multi-sector market economy.[19] Collapse of large state-owned enterprises released a huge amount of workers who engage in cross-border trade with China.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 127 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 120,540 sq km
land: 120,410 sq km
water: 130 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Mississippi
Land boundaries: total: 1,673 km
border countries: China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, Russia 19 km
Coastline: 2,495 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
note: military boundary line 50 nm in the Sea of Japan and the exclusive economic zone limit in the Yellow Sea where all foreign vessels and aircraft without permission are banned
Climate: temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Paektu-san 2,744 m
Natural resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 22.4%
permanent crops: 1.66%
other: 75.94% (2005)
Irrigated land: 14,600 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 77.1 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 9.02 cu km/yr (20%/25%/55%)
per capita: 401 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall
Environment – current issues: water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; waterborne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated
Politics North Korea is a self-described Juche (self-reliance) state.[20] Government is organized as a dictatorship, with a pronounced cult of personality organized around Kim Il-sung (the founder of North Korea and the country’s first and only president) and his son and heir, Kim Jong-il. Following Kim Il-sung’s death in 1994, he was not replaced but instead received the designation of “Eternal President”, and was entombed in the vast Kumsusan Memorial Palace in central Pyongyang.

Although the active position of president has been abolished in deference to the memory of Kim Il-sung,[21] the de facto head of state is Kim Jong-il, who is Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea. The legislature of North Korea is the Supreme People’s Assembly, currently led by President Kim Yong-nam. The other senior government figure is Premier Kim Yong-il.

North Korea is a single-party state. The governing party is the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, a coalition of the Workers’ Party of North Korea and two other smaller parties, the North Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party. These parties nominate all candidates for office and hold all seats in the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Human rights

Multiple international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, accuse North Korea of having one of the worst human rights records of any nation.[22] North Koreans have been referred to as “some of the world’s most brutalized people”, due to the severe restrictions placed on their political and economic freedoms.[23] North Korean defectors have testified to the existence of prison and detention camps with an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 inmates, and have reported torture, starvation, rape, murder, medical experimentation, forced labour, and forced abortions.

The system changed slightly at the end of 1990s, when population growth became very low. In many cases, where capital punishment was de facto, it replaced by less severe punishments. Bribery became prevalent throughout the country. For example, just listening to South Korean radio could result in capital punishment. However, many North Koreans wear clothes of South Korean origin, listen to Southern music, watch South Korean videotapes and even receive Southern broadcasts, although they are still prohibited; in most cases punishment is nothing more than a pecuniary fine, and many such problems are normally solved “unofficially”, through bribery.

People Population: 23,479,089 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.9% (male 2,733,352/female 2,654,186)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 7,931,484/female 8,083,626)
65 years and over: 8.8% (male 751,401/female 1,325,040) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 32.7 years
male: 31.2 years
female: 34.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.732% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.29 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.57 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 21.86 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.46 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.2 years
male: 69.45 years
female: 75.08 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups: racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
Religions: traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom
Languages: Korean
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99%

Africa: Padding Bank Accounts Of A Few, Freedom Will Be Lost For A Couple Billion?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Djibouti on the Rise as Hub for Foreign Military Bases in Africa

Monday, 10 September, 2018 – 10:15
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China November 23, 2017. (Reuters)
Djibouti – Sahwqi al-Rayyes
Last year, China launched its first overseas military base in Djibouti, positioning its base only 10 kilometers away from a sophisticated US base with a crew of over 6,000 marines. France, Italy and Japan also boast bases in the neighborhood.

Situated on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, Djibouti controls access to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean, home to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

In short, Djiboutian ports overlook waters that account for 25 percent of the world’s exports that flow into Asian and Mediterranean markets.

Since launching its military base, Beijing has not stopped displaying military ambitions on the African continent.

In late June, it hosted the first forum on security and defense cooperation between China and African countries. It lasted over three weeks and highlighted a growing Chinese presence in the continent.

The Chinese military role on the international arena has also been on the rise.

The forum, which will be held once every three years, aims to deepen China’s strategic partnership with Africa, meet mutual security and defense requirements and bolster the preparedness of its armed forces.

Beijing says Djibouti is ideally placed for China to resupply peacekeeping and humanitarian missions and combat piracy off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia.

Joining the scores of military bases, Saudi Arabia is about to complete its first-ever foreign military base in Djibouti.

A base off the shores of Djibouti will reduce war costs spent by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen. The base will able to detect and intercept Iranian supplies to the Houthi militias passing through the Somali coast.

A Djiboutian defense official welcomed Saudi Arabia’s military presence in his country, saying that “brotherly relations exist between the two countries, and the military cooperation agreement is overseen by a joint committee.”

Getting approval for opening military bases is not an easy task, however.

The official told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country had previously rejected a Russian request to establish a military base “so that is not used in the conflict in Syria.”

In addition to hosting many Western military bases, Djibouti has also become a focal point for counter-terrorism activities on the African continent and the training of special forces in neighboring countries.

Stay calm and meditate, mindfulness can boost pain tolerance

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Stay calm and meditate, mindfulness can boost pain tolerance

A new study says that the meditative practice of mindfulness can increase tolerance to pain.

FITNESS Updated: Sep 09, 2018 12:38 IST

Press Trust of India
Health,Wellness,Fitness
The study shows that people who are more mindful than others feel less pain. (Shutterstock)

Mindfulness — a meditative practice that focusses on paying attention to the present moment — can increase person’s tolerance to pain, a study has found. Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine in the US analysed data obtained from a study published in 2015 that compared mindfulness meditation to placebo analgesia.

They sought to determine if dispositional mindfulness, an individual’s innate or natural level of mindfulness, was associated with lower pain sensitivity, and to identify what brain mechanisms were involved. “Mindfulness is related to being aware of the present moment without too much emotional reaction or judgment,” said Fadel Zeidan, assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “We now know that some people are more mindful than others, and those people seemingly feel less pain,” said Zeidan, lead author of the study published in the journal Pain.

In the study, 76 healthy volunteers who had never meditated first completed the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory, a clinical measurement of mindfulness, to determine their baseline levels. While undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging, they were administered painful heat stimulation.

Whole brain analyses revealed that higher dispositional mindfulness during painful heat was associated with greater deactivation of a brain region called the posterior cingulate cortex, a central neural node of the default mode network. Further, in those that reported higher pain, there was greater activation of this critically important brain region.

“The results from our study showed that mindful individuals are seemingly less caught up in the experience of pain, which was associated with lower pain reports,” Zeidan said. “Now we have some new ammunition to target this brain region in the development of effective pain therapies,” he said.

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 12:38 IST

Korea, South: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Asian Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Korea, South

Introduction An independent Korean state or collection of states has existed almost continuously for several millennia. Between its initial unification in the 7th century – from three predecessor Korean states – until the 20th century, Korea existed as a single independent country. In 1905, following the Russo-Japanese War, Korea became a protectorate of imperial Japan, and in 1910 it was annexed as a colony. Korea regained its independence following Japan’s surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a Republic of Korea (ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 14 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Young-sam became South Korea’s first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South’s President KIM Dae-jung and the North’s leader KIM Jong Il. In October 2007, a second North-South summit took place between the South’s President ROH Moo-hyun and the North Korean leader.
History Archeological findings indicate that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by humans as early in the Lower Paleolithic period.

Korea began with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by Dangun.[11] Gojoseon expanded until it controlled much of the northern Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria. After numerous wars with the Chinese Han Dynasty, Gojoseon disintegrated, leading to the Proto-Three Kingdoms of Korea period.

In the early centuries of the Common Era, Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye, and the Samhan confederacy occupied the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various small states, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla grew to control the peninsula as the Three Kingdoms.

Introduction of Buddhism and other influences from China had profound effects on Korea, which later passed on, combined with Korean advances, to Japan.

The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the North-South States period, in which the much of the Korean peninsula was controlled by Unified Silla, while Balhae succeeded the northern parts of Goguryeo. In Unified Silla, poetry and art was encouraged, and Buddhist culture flourished. Relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful during this time. However, Unified Silla weakened under internal strife, and surrendered to Goryeo in 935. Balhae, Silla’s neighbor to the north, was formed as a successor state to Goguryeo. During its height, Balhae controlled most of Manchuria and parts of Russia. It fell to the Khitan in 926.

After the North-South Period, successor states fought for control during the Later Three Kingdoms period. The peninsula was soon united by Wang Geon of Goryeo. Like Silla, Goryeo was a highly cultural state and created the Jikji in 1377, using the world’s oldest movable metal printing press.[16][dead link]

The Mongol invasions in the 13th century greatly weakened Goryeo. However, Goryeo continued to rule Korea as a tributary ally to the Mongols. After the fall of the Mognolian Empire (Yuan Dynasty), Goryeo continued its rule. After severe political strife and continued invasions, Goryeo was replaced by the Joseon Dynasty in 1388 following a rebellion by General Yi Seong-gye.

General Yi declared the new name of Korea as Joseon in reference to Gojoseon, and moved the capital to Seoul. The first 200 years of the Joseon Dynasty was marked by relative peace and saw the creation of hangul by King Sejong the Great in the 14 century and the rise and influence of Confucianism.

In the latter of the 16th century, Joseon was invaded by a newly unified Japan. During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), centuries of peace had left the dynasty unprepared, and the lack of technology and poor leadership from the Joseon government and generals led to the destruction of much of the Korean peninsula. However, continued Korean dominance at sea led by Admiral Yi, the rise of local militias, and the intervention of Ming China put Japan under great pressure to retreat in 1598.

Today, Admiral Yi is celebrated as one of Korea’s foremost heroes and his turtle ships, used with great success against the Japanese, are considered the world’s first ironclad warships, although lack of hard evidence of iron plating sparks much debate.

During the last years of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea’s isolationist policy earned it the name the “Hermit Kingdom”, primarily for protection against Western imperialism. In 1910, Korea was annexed by Japan and despite widespread resistance, remained under occupation until the end of World War II in 1945. the two countris are divied by the d.n.v.

After division

In the aftermath of World War II, Soviet Union and United States troops controlled the northern and southern halves of the country respectively. The two Cold War rivals established governments sympathetic to their own ideologies, leading to Korea’s division into two political entities: North Korea and South Korea.

Despite the initial plan of a unified Korea in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, escalating Cold War antagonism eventually led to the establishment of two separate governments: the communist North and the capitalist South. In the North, a former anti-Japanese guerilla and communist activist, Kim Il-sung[17] and in the South, freshly shipped from America, Syngman Rhee were installed as presidents.[18]

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded the South leading to the Korean War. The Soviet boycott of the United Nations at the time, and therefore, no veto, allowed the UN to intervene when it became apparent that the superior communist forces would easily take over the entire country. The Soviet Union and China backed North Korea, with the participation of millions of Chinese troops. After huge advances on both sides, the war eventually reached a stalemate. The 1953 armistice, never signed by South Korea, split the peninsula along the demilitarized zone near the original demarcation line. No peace treaty was ever signed, and the two countries are still technically at war.[19]

In 1960, a student uprising led to the resignation of the autocratic and corrupt President Syngman Rhee. A period of profound civil unrest and general political instability followed, broken by General Park Chung-hee’s military coup (the “5.16 coup d’état”) against the weak and ineffectual government the next year. Park took over as president until his assassination in 1979, overseeing rapid export-led economic growth as well as severe political repression. Park is heavily criticized as a ruthless military dictator, although the Korean economy developed significantly during his tenure.

The years after Park’s assassination were marked by, again, considerable political turmoil as the previously repressed opposition leaders all campaigned to run for president in the sudden political void. In 1980, there was a coup d’état, by General Chun Doo-hwan against the transitional government of Choi Gyu Ha, the interim president and a former prime minister under Park. Chun assumed the presidency. His seizure of power triggered nationwide protest demanding democracy, in particular the city of Gwangju, in Jeollanam-do where Chun sent in special forces to violently suppress the city, in what is now known as the Gwangju Massacre. Until 1987, he and his government held Korea under despotic rule when Park Jong Chul — a student attending Seoul National University — was tortured to death.[20] The Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice revealed that Park was tortured, igniting huge demonstrations around the country. The demonstrations snowballed when another student from Yonsei University, Lee Han Yeol, was killed by a police-fired tear gas bomb while he was demonstrating against the military government. The period of resistance is called the Resistance of June when all joined the national movement. Eventually, Chun’s party, the Democratic Justice Party, and its leader, Roh Tae-woo announced the June 29th Declaration, which included the direct election of the president.[21]

In 1988, Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, a cause of both national and international celebration in contrast to great turmoil of the past. In 1996, South Korea became a member of the OECD, a testament to further economic growth. As with many of its Asian neighbors, South Korea suffered the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, but the country was able to re-emerge and continue its growth towards a major economic power after a swift recovery.[22]

In June 2000, as part of South Korean president Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy of engagement, a North-South summit took place in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea. That year, Former President Kim received the Nobel Peace Prize “for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular.”[23]

In 2004, South Korea joined the “trillion dollar club” of world economies.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
Geographic coordinates: 37 00 N, 127 30 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 98,480 sq km
land: 98,190 sq km
water: 290 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Indiana
Land boundaries: total: 238 km
border countries: North Korea 238 km
Coastline: 2,413 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the Korea Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate: temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Halla-san 1,950 m
Natural resources: coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land use: arable land: 16.58%
permanent crops: 2.01%
other: 81.41% (2005)
Irrigated land: 8,780 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 69.7 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 18.59 cu km/yr (36%/16%/48%)
per capita: 389 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
Environment – current issues: air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: strategic location on Korea Strait
Politics In its foreign relations, South Korea has main strategic interests in North Korea and the neighboring nations of China, Japan, and Russia, as well as its main ally, the United States.

United States

The United States of America was the primary driver in the establishment and initial sustainment of the South Korean government before and after the Korean War. The two nations have enjoyed both strong economic and diplomatic ties after the Korean War, although they have often been at odds with regard to their policies towards North Korea during former president Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo-Hyun’s terms. There was a spike of anti-American sentiment, although US-Korea relations have steadily improved since the election of current president Lee Myung Bak.[25] In April 2007, Korea concluded a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, but that agreement still awaits ratification by the legislatures of both countries.

China

Historically, Korea had relatively close relations with China. Before the formation of South Korea, Korean independence fighters also worked with Chinese soldiers during the period of Japanese occupation. However, after World War II, the Chinese embraced communism while South Korea became a representative democracy with the help of the United Nations and the United States. The People’s Republic of China assisted North Korea with manpower and supplies during the Korean War, and in its aftermath the diplomatic relationship between South Korea and China almost completely ceased. Relations thawed gradually however, and South Korea and China established formal diplomatic relations on August 24, 1992. The two countries sought to improve bilateral relations and lifted the forty-year old trade embargo, and[26] Korea-China relations have improved steadily since 1992.

Japan

Although there were no formal diplomatic ties between South Korea and Japan after the Korean War, South Korea and Japan signed the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea in 1965 to establish diplomatic ties. There is still heavy anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea due to a number of unsettled Japanese-Korean disputes, many of which stem from the period of Japanese occupation. During World War II, more than 100,000 Koreans were forced to serve in the Imperial Japanese Army.[28] Longstanding issues such as Japanese war crimes against Korean civilians, the visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japanese soldiers killed at war, including class A war criminals like Hideki Tojo, the re-writing of Japanese textbooks to overlook Japanese aggression during World War II, and the territorial disputes over Liancourt Rocks continue to trouble Korean-Japanese relations. In response to then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, President Roh Moo-hyun suspended all summit talks between South Korea and Japan.[29] Presently, South Korea and Japan’s political relations are unstable but thawing progressively, and the newly-elected President of Korea, Lee Myung-Bak, held a summit meeting with Yasuo Fukuda, the current Prime Minister of Japan.

North Korea

Both North and South Korea continue to officially claim sovereignty over the entire peninsula and any outlying islands. With longstanding animosity following the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, North Korea and South Korea signed an agreement to pursue peace.[30] On October 4, 2007, Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed an eight-point peace agreement on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks, economic cooperation, renewal of train services, highway and air travel, and a joint Olympic cheering squad.

Despite the Sunshine Policy and efforts at reconciliation, the progress was complicated by North Korean missile tests in 1993, 1998, and again in 2006. Recently, North Korea agreed to temporarily suspend its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program for economic and diplomatic support, although some Korean and American officials criticized the North for not being fully cooperative in its temporary suspension of a nuclear weapons program.

Other nations

South Korea maintains diplomatic relations with approximately 170 countries. The country has also been a member of the United Nations since 1991, when it became a member state at the same time as North Korea. On January 1, 2007, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon assumed the post of UN Secretary-General. It has also developed links with Association of Southeast Asian Nations as both a member of ASEAN Plus three, a body of observers, and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

There is an ongoing effort at negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, the second largest importer of Korean goods. South Korea is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Canada.

People Population: 49,232,844 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.7% (male 4,579,018/female 4,157,631)
15-64 years: 72.3% (male 18,150,771/female 17,464,610)
65 years and over: 9.9% (male 1,997,032/female 2,883,782) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 36.4 years
male: 35.3 years
female: 37.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.371% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 9.83 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.12 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.33 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.42 years
male: 74 years
female: 81.1 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.29 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 8,300 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups: homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Religions: Christian 26.3% (Protestant 19.7%, Roman Catholic 6.6%), Buddhist 23.2%, other or unknown 1.3%, none 49.3% (1995 census)
Languages: Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 99.2%
female: 96.6%

U.S. Recalls Top Diplomats From Latin America as Worries Rise Over China’s Influence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

U.S. Recalls Top Diplomats From Latin America as Worries Rise Over China’s Influence

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Jean Manes, ambassador to El Salvador, is one of three diplomats in Latin America who have been recalled to Washington.CreditCreditSalvador Melendez/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States has recalled three chiefs of mission from Latin American nations that cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of recognizing China.

The move comes as American officials have expressed growing unease over China’s rising influence in the region.

The diplomats, who represent the United States in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama, will meet with leaders in Washington “to discuss ways in which the United States can support strong, independent, democratic institutions throughout Central America and the Caribbean,” a spokeswoman for the State Department, Heather Nauert, said in a written statement on Friday.

For decades, Taiwan and China have competed for recognition. In 1979, the United States switched its support and officially established sovereign relations with China, and many other countries followed. But Washington has supported any decisions by nations to continue recognizing Taiwan, a self-governing island that China wants to bring under Communist Party rule.

In recent years, China has had success in courting Taiwan’s diplomatic partners. Only 17 nations recognize Taiwan; outside the Vatican and Swaziland, they are all islands in the Pacific and the Caribbean or countries in Latin America.

American officials have expressed growing concern over the shift. The United States sells arms to Taiwan and maintains a diplomatic presence there, called the American Institute in Taiwan, now housed in a new $250 million compound. American officials see Taiwan’s de facto independence as an important hedge against Chinese dominance in the Asia-Pacific region — what the United States now calls the Indo-Pacific as it tries to strengthen ties with South Asian nations to balance against China.

Last month, El Salvador severed ties with Taiwan, prompting the White House to accuse China of “apparent interference” in El Salvador’s domestic politics. American officials fear that the four nations in Central America that still recognize Taiwan — Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — could soon follow. Last May, Burkina Faso switched recognition to China, leaving Swaziland as the lone holdout in Africa.

In June 2017, Panama cut ties with Taiwan, which surprised the United States government. The American ambassador to Panama at the time, John Feeley, said he learned about the switch from the president, Juan Carlos Varela, only an hour or so before Mr. Varela announced it, and only because he had called Mr. Varela to discuss an unrelated matter.

Mr. Feeley, who left his post in March and is now a consultant for Univision, said in an interview on Saturday that the recall of top American diplomats was significant.

The diplomats returning to Washington are Robin Bernstein, ambassador to the Dominican Republic; Jean Manes, ambassador to El Salvador; and Roxanne Cabral, the chargé d’affaires in Panama. A State Department official said they would return to their posts by Sept. 14.

Wang Yi, center, China’s foreign minister, and Hugo Martinez, right, El Salvador’s foreign minister, at a conference in Santiago, Chile. Last month, El Salvador severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of recognizing China.CreditIvan Alvarado/Reuters

The move “is an appropriate and serious signal by the U.S. government to those three countries and to the Chinese government that it is now reviewing the implications of the diplomatic switch and is worried that U.S. interests could be jeopardized,” Mr. Feeley said.

“My sense is that they will be most focused on the issue of industrial and commercial espionage and the possibility of Beijing using its embassies to expand that activity in those countries and the Caribbean Basin,” he added.

China is now the world’s second-largest economy and is expected to overtake the United States as the largest one in 10 to 15 years.

It is difficult for any nation, especially a small one, to decide not to recognize the sovereignty of China.

China and Taiwan have long engaged in what some observers call “checkbook diplomacy” to woo countries by offering aid or other incentives. China’s financial packages have increased in recent years, especially as it has promoted infrastructure projects abroad and related loans and contracts as part of what it calls its Belt and Road Initiative.

Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China, said on Saturday that the recall was “heavy handed.” The United States should not be surprised as Latin American governments push back against American requests, he added, when President Trump has continued to alienate the people of Latin America.

“Trump has openly and systematically offended Latin American countries and their people,” Mr. Guajardo wrote in an email. “He labels us as rapists and criminals, has never traveled to the region as president, has deported and separated families, and threatened to cut all sort of aid. China comes with an offer of friendship and economic development (albeit one that I don’t think will pan out). Why the surprise?”

The United States has yet to fill some ambassador posts in the region, including those in Mexico and Panama, Mr. Guajardo noted, whereas China has assigned ambassadors in all Latin American nations with which it has diplomatic relations.

“Save a few countries in Latin America, the region as a whole has a historical preference for the U.S. as the main ally,” he said. “This changed when Trump assumed the presidency. It was his call, his choice, to turn away from the region.”

China has grown more strident over the issue of Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen, a strong critic of Beijing, became president of Taiwan in May 2016. Chinese officials have worked to erase any recognition by corporations of Taiwan’s sovereignty. For example, they successfully pressured international airlines this summer, including those in the United States, to list just “Taipei,” a city designation, in their booking systems rather than phrases that included “Taiwan,” as was the case for decades.

Last month, Ms. Tsai made state visits to Belize and Paraguay to try to strengthen ties with those nations.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Recalls 3 Envoys From Latin America Over Taiwan Reversals. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Kyrgyzstan: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Central Asian Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Kyrgyzstan

Introduction A Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions, most of Kyrgyzstan was formally annexed to Russia in 1876. The Kyrgyz staged a major revolt against the Tsarist Empire in 1916 in which almost one-sixth of the Kyrgyz population was killed. Kyrgyzstan became a Soviet republic in 1936 and achieved independence in 1991 when the USSR dissolved. Nationwide demonstrations in the spring of 2005 resulted in the ouster of President Askar AKAYEV, who had run the country since 1990. Subsequent presidential elections in July 2005 were won overwhelmingly by former prime minister Kurmanbek BAKIYEV. The political opposition organized demonstrations in Bishkek in April, May, and November 2006 resulting in the adoption of a new constitution that transferred some of the president’s powers to parliament and the government. In December 2006, the Kyrgyz parliament voted to adopt new amendments, restoring some of the presidential powers lost in the November 2006 constitutional change. By late-September 2007, both previous versions of the constitution were declared illegal, and the country reverted to the AKAYEV-era 2003 constitution, which was subsequently modified in a flawed referendum initiated by BAKIYEV. The president then dissolved parliament, called for early elections, and gained control of the new parliament through his newly-created political party, Ak Jol, in December 2007 elections. Current concerns include: privatization of state-owned enterprises, negative trends in democracy and political freedoms, reduction of corruption, improving interethnic relations, and combating terrorism.
History Early history

According to recent historical findings, Kyrgyz history dates back to 201 BC. The early Kyrgyz lived in the upper Yenisey River valley, central Siberia. The discovery of the Pazyryk and Tashtyk cultures show them as a blend of Turkic and Iranian nomadic tribes. Chinese and Muslim sources of the 7th–12th centuries AD describe the Kyrgyz as red-haired, in addition, blond-haired with a fair complexion and green or blue eyes.

The descent of the Kyrgyz from the indigenous Siberian population is confirmed on the other hand by recent genetic studies.[2] Remarkably, 63% of the modern Kyrgyz men share Haplogroup R1a1 (Y-DNA) with Tajiks (64%), Ukrainians (54%), Poles (56%) and even Icelanders (25%). Haplogroup R1a1 (Y-DNA) is believed to be a marker of the Proto-Indo-European language speakers.

The Kyrgyz state reached its greatest expansion after defeating the Uyghur Khanate in 840 A.D. Then Kyrgyz quickly moved as far as the Tian Shan range and maintained their dominance over this territory for about 200 years. In the 12th century, however, the Kyrgyz domination had shrunk to the Altay Range and the Sayan Mountains as a result of the rising Mongol expansion. With the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, the Kyrgyz migrated south.

Russian influence

In the early 19th century, the southern part of what is today Kyrgyzstan came under the control of the Khanate of Kokand. The territory, then known in Russian as “Kirgizia”, was formally incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1876. The Russian takeover instigated numerous revolts against tsarist authority, and many of the Kyrgyz opted to move to the Pamirs and Afghanistan. In addition, the suppression of the 1916 rebellion in Central Asia caused many Kyrgyz to migrate to China. Since many ethnic groups in the region were (and still are) split between neighbouring states, at a time when borders were more porous and less regulated, it was common to move back and forth over the mountains, depending on where life was perceived as better; this might mean better rains for pasture or better government after oppression.

Soviet era

Soviet power was initially established in the region in 1919 and the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast was created within the Russian SFSR (the term Kara-Kirghiz was used until the mid-1920s by the Russians to distinguish them from the Kazakhs, who were also referred to as Kirghiz). On December 5, 1936, the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic was established as a full republic of the Soviet Union.

During the 1920s, Kyrgyzstan developed considerably in cultural, educational, and social life. Literacy was greatly improved, and a standard literary language was introduced. Economic and social development also was notable. Many aspects of the Kyrgyz national culture were retained despite the suppression of nationalist activity under Stalin, and, therefore, tensions with the all-Union authorities were constant.

The early years of glasnost had little effect on the political climate in Kyrgyzstan. However, the Republic’s press was permitted to adopt a more liberal stance and to establish a new publication, Literaturny Kirghizstan, by the Union of Writers. Unofficial political groups were forbidden, but several groups that emerged in 1989 to deal with the acute housing crisis were permitted to function.

In June 1990, ethnic tensions between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz surfaced in the Osh Oblast, where Uzbeks form a majority of the population. Violent confrontations ensued, and a state of emergency and curfew were introduced. Order was not restored until August 1990.

The early 1990s brought considerable change to Kyrgyzstan. By then, the Kyrgyzstan Democratic Movement (KDM) had developed into a significant political force with support in Parliament. In an upset victory, Askar Akayev, the liberal President of the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences, was elected to the Presidency in October 1990. The following January, Akayev introduced new government structures and appointed a new government composed mainly of younger, reform-oriented politicians.

In December 1990, the Supreme Soviet voted to change the republic’s name to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. (In 1993, it became the Kyrgyz Republic.) In February 1991, the name of the capital, Frunze, was changed back to its prerevolutionary name of Bishkek. Despite these aesthetic moves toward independence, economic realities seemed to work against secession from the Soviet Union. In a referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union in March 1991, 88.7% of the voters approved the proposal to retain the Soviet Union as a “renewed federation.”

On August 19, 1991, when the State Emergency Committee assumed power in Moscow, there was an attempt to depose Akayev in Kyrgyzstan. After the coup collapsed the following week, Akayev and Vice President German Kuznetsov announced their resignations from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and the entire bureau and secretariat resigned. This was followed by the Supreme Soviet vote declaring independence from the Soviet Union on August 31, 1991.

Independence

In October 1991, Akayev ran unopposed and was elected president of the new independent Republic by direct ballot, receiving 95% of the votes cast. Together with the representatives of seven other Republics that same month, he signed the Treaty of the New Economic Community. Finally, on December 21, 1991, Kyrgyzstan joined with the other four Central Asian Republics to formally enter the new Commonwealth of Independent States. In 1992, Kyrgyzstan joined the UN and the CSCE.

The “Tulip Revolution,” after the parliamentary elections in March 2005, forced President Akayev’s resignation on April 4, 2005. Opposition leaders formed a coalition and a new government was formed under President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Prime Minister Feliks Kulov. The nation’s capital was also looted during the protests.

Political stability appears to be elusive, however, as various groups and factions allegedly linked to organized crime are jockeying for power. Three of the 75 members of Parliament elected in March 2005 were assassinated, and another member was assassinated on 10 May 2006 shortly after winning his murdered brother’s seat in a by-election. All four are reputed to have been directly involved in major illegal business ventures.

Current concerns in Kyrgyzstan include: privatization of state-owned enterprises, expansion of democracy and political freedoms, inter-ethnic relations, and terrorism.

Geography Location: Central Asia, west of China
Geographic coordinates: 41 00 N, 75 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 198,500 sq km
land: 191,300 sq km
water: 7,200 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than South Dakota
Land boundaries: total: 3,878 km
border countries: China 858 km, Kazakhstan 1,051 km, Tajikistan 870 km, Uzbekistan 1,099 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: dry continental to polar in high Tien Shan; subtropical in southwest (Fergana Valley); temperate in northern foothill zone
Terrain: peaks of Tien Shan and associated valleys and basins encompass entire nation
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Kara-Daryya (Karadar’ya) 132 m
highest point: Jengish Chokusu (Pik Pobedy) 7,439 m
Natural resources: abundant hydropower; significant deposits of gold and rare earth metals; locally exploitable coal, oil, and natural gas; other deposits of nepheline, mercury, bismuth, lead, and zinc
Land use: arable land: 6.55%
permanent crops: 0.28%
other: 93.17%
note: Kyrgyzstan has the world’s largest natural-growth walnut forest (2005)
Irrigated land: 10,720 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 46.5 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 10.08 cu km/yr (3%/3%/94%)
per capita: 1,916 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: water pollution; many people get their water directly from contaminated streams and wells; as a result, water-borne diseases are prevalent; increasing soil salinity from faulty irrigation practices
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tien Shan range; many tall peaks, glaciers, and high-altitude lakes
Politics The 1993 constitution defines the form of government as a democratic republic. The executive branch includes a president and prime minister. The parliament currently is unicameral. The judicial branch comprises a Supreme Court, a Constitutional Court, local courts, and a Chief Prosecutor.

In March 2002, in the southern district of Aksy, five people protesting the arbitrary arrest of an opposition politician were shot dead by police, sparking nationwide protests. President Akayev initiated a constitutional reform process which initially included the participation of a broad range of government, civil, and social representatives in an open dialogue, leading to a February 2003 referendum marred by voting irregularities. The amendments to the constitution approved by the referendum resulted in stronger control by the president and weakened the parliament and the Constitutional Court. Parliamentary elections for a new, 75-seat unicameral legislature were held on February 27 and March 13, 2005, but were widely viewed as corrupt. The subsequent protests led to a bloodless coup on March 24, after which Akayev fled the country and was replaced by acting president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. (see: Tulip Revolution).

Interim government leaders are developing a new governing structure for the country and working to resolve outstanding constitutional issues. On July 10, 2005, acting president Bakiyev won the presidential election in a landslide, with 88.9% of the vote, and was inaugurated on 14 August. However, initial public support for the new administration substantially declined in subsequent months as a result of its apparent inability to solve the corruption problems that have plagued the country since its independence from the Soviet Union, along with the murders of several members of parliament. Largescale protests against president Bakiyev took place in Bishkek in April and November of 2006, with opposition leaders accusing the president of failing to live up to his election promises to reform the country’s constitution and transfer many of his presidential powers to parliament.

People Population: 5,356,869 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29.9% (male 817,369/female 784,782)
15-64 years: 64% (male 1,681,440/female 1,748,222)
65 years and over: 6.1% (male 127,263/female 197,793) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 24.2 years
male: 23.3 years
female: 25 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.38% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 23.31 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.97 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.55 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 32.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 37.33 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.12 years
male: 65.12 years
female: 73.33 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.67 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 3,900 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Kyrgyzstani(s)
adjective: Kyrgyzstani
Ethnic groups: Kyrgyz 64.9%, Uzbek 13.8%, Russian 12.5%, Dungan 1.1%, Ukrainian 1%, Uygur 1%, other 5.7% (1999 census)
Religions: Muslim 75%, Russian Orthodox 20%, other 5%
Languages: Kyrgyz 64.7% (official), Uzbek 13.6%, Russian 12.5% (official), Dungun 1%, other 8.2% (1999 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.7%
male: 99.3%
female: 98.1%

Strong earthquake reportedly buries homes in Hokkaido, Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Strong earthquake reportedly buries homes in Hokkaido, Japan

Tokyo (CNN)Landslides resulting from a preliminary magnitude 6.7 earthquake early Thursday on Japan’s Hokkaido island buried a “large” number of homes at the foot of a ridge, officials said.

At least 28 people were injured in the region and 20 residents in the town of Atsuma may be unaccounted for, officials said. Twenty of those injured were in the city of Sapporo.
The earthquake was followed by multiple aftershocks, including one registered at 5.4, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing the Japan Meteorological Agency. The US Geological Survey said the earthquake registered at 6.6.
Nearly 3 million households lost power, according to the Hokkaido Electric Power Company. Officials said a main power station lost operations, affecting other sites. Independently owned power generators were assisting.
“The electric supply was stopped to Tomari nuclear plant, but it can operate without external electric supply for one week,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Residents said they awoke to a powerful earthquake that lasted 30 seconds to one minute.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said 4,000 defense forces joined rescue operations, and that number could increase to a maximum of 25,000.
A woman covers her face as she takes shelter on a road following a strong earthquake in Sapporo.

Some streets were cut off by downed trees, and additional images from the broadcaster showed crumbled buildings.
Additionally, Japan Meteorological Agency officials told NHK that risks of aftershocks are substantial for as long as the next week. They warned residents about increased risks of collapse among buildings near the epicenter.