Concerning N. Korea: Are S. Korean People As Clueless As The Trump Administration?

Concerning N. Korea: Are S. Korean People As Clueless As The Trump Administration?

 

President Trump always try’s to play himself off as a macho man when it comes to talking about war issues even though he hid behind his daddy skirts 6 or 7 times in being a coward to stay out of Vietnam. It is no secret that Mr Trump adores ‘strong men’ like Mr Putin, Xi Jinping and Duarte and that he wishes that the U.S. Constitution didn’t exist and that we here in the U.S. should adopt a policy like China has where Xi Jinping is now ‘President For Life.’ You very well know that if Hillary was the President he would not be in favor of such a policy. The issue, just like every thing else in this world (in his eyes) is all about him. What he has proven himself to be over and over again is an habitual liar, ignorant of all reality, a total egomaniac, and a complete fool. I also believe that once the midterm election is over and the Democrats demolish the Republicans in the Congress and the Democrats retake the Senate, probable 51-49 or maybe 52-48, the Republicans will turn on Mr. Trump and he will be impeached. It is not like the Republican establishment likes this crooked fool, but he is the only horse they have in the race so they have chosen to forfeit all semblance of integrity and to stay with him, until after November.

 

 

North Korea’s Vice Minister of the Foreign Ministry, Ms. Cloe who specializes in North Korea-American relations said the following about Vice President Pence’s ‘Libya’ comments. She said “Mr. Pence is a ‘Political Dummy’ for comparing Libya to North Korea. As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out of the mouth of the U.S. Vice President.” Mr. Adam Mount, the Director of the ‘Defense Posture Project’ at the Federation of American Scientist said he believes that the comments made by Mr. Pence and Mr. Bolton were the “most explicit regime change threat yet” from the Trump Administration.

 

Why I asked the question in the title about if the people of South Korea are as clueless as people like Mr. Trump are is because of the following pieces of reality I would like to share with you now. First, I would like t compare the situation on the Korean Peninsula with the situation in Israel/Gaza/West Bank. The majority of the people of Israel know very well if there was no secured border with the Palestinians this latest “March of Return” that Hamas has instituted would have wiped out all the Jewish people and there would no longer be a Nation of Israel. Reality is that most of Israels neighbors, PA, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, they do not want peace with Israel, they want there to be no such thing as a Nation of Israel. Now, if there is indeed to be only one Korea, that Korea will be under the direct control of Kim Jong Un, the man will accept nothing less as this is his ultimate goal in life. Now concerning the Nuclear Site that North Korea supposedly blew up yesterday. The CIA as well as some of China’s news outlets said over a month ago that this site, the interior of this mountain had caved in, so they had no ‘active’ nuclear site. The only way they could have rebuilt this site with all of the sanctions going on was if China financed them and helped to physically rebuild it, reality is that Xi Jinping told Kim Jong Un no when Kim visited China last month. This event played well into China’s wishes. No nukes on their door step, blow up the nonexistent Nuke site, play nice with South Korea and the U.S. and see what kind of concessions can be obtained from the U.S. and their allies. Trump has spoken lately of removing the 45,000 Marines that we have stationed at the border between the two Korea’s and this past week he also called off some of the military exercise events we have each with the South Korean military in an attempt to please Mr. Kim. If Mr. Kim cannot simply march his army into South Korea at this time he is trying to get a lot of loans or credit so that he can get the South Korean government to open trade with the South. This in a sense is like the China model of keep the government in place but get revenues and technologies from the West to make your Communist government stronger with the influx of revenues. China is and has been using this model to take over all of Asia as they do ‘play the long game.’

 

I’ll make this last paragraph about the ‘Libya stupidity’. Here are the reasons why the tragedy that is Libya of today will not ever happen in North Korea. 1) There is no Islamic insurgency of any kind in North Korea. Libya is and was inundated with believers of Islam, unless a strong Dictator can come into this country and wipe out all of these fundamentalist of Islam, Libya is going to stay a cesspool for many decades to come. 2) The people, the citizens of Libya had/has no strong Super Power backing them on one of their borders like North Korea does with China. President Xi Jinping of China has made it perfectly clear that China will not tolerate a Regime Change in North Korea. He has made it plain that they will not allow a democracy or a ‘friend’ of the United States to occupy the space that is the North Korea of today. Trump has at times made comments about maybe doing a first strike against North Korea to get rid of all of their nukes. These comments were made despite the comments of Xi Jinping that if North Korea is attacked first, China will join in that war to support North Korea, thus creating a nuclear war, world war 3 with China and probably with Russia joining in with their ally, China. China will not tolerate a ‘Libya situation’ on their border so only people who are ignorant of these realities  or someone who is simply a stupid fool (Bolton, Pence, Trump) would make such “ignorant and stupid remarks.” The American people must face up to the fact that all of the rest of the world already knows, we have a Lunatic sitting in Our Oval Office!

Sierra Leone: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Sierra Leone

Introduction Democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war from 1991 to 2002 that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one-third of the population). The military, which took over full responsibility for security following the departure of UN peacekeepers at the end of 2005, is increasingly developing as a guarantor of the country’s stability. The armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 presidential election, but still look to the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) – a civilian UN mission – to support efforts to consolidate peace. The new government’s priorities include furthering development, creating jobs, and stamping out endemic corruption.
History Early History

Archaeological finds show that Sierra Leone has been inhabited continuously for at least 2,500 years, populated by successive movements from other parts of Africa. The use of iron was introduced to Sierra Leone by the 9th century, and by AD 1000 agriculture was being practiced by coastal tribes. Sierra Leone’s dense tropical rainforest largely protected it from the influence of any precolonial African empires and from further Islamic colonization, which were unable to penetrate through it until the 18th century.

European contacts with Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. In 1462, Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra mapped the hills surrounding what is now Freetown Harbour, naming shaped formation Serra de Leão (Portuguese for Lion Mountains). Its Italian rendering is Sierra Leone, which became the country’s name. Soon after Portuguese traders arrived at the harbour and by 1495 a fort that acted as a trading post had been built. The Portuguese were joined by the Dutch and French; all of them using Sierra Leone as a trading point for slaves. In 1562 the English joined the trade in slaves when Sir John Hawkins bought 300 slaves.

Slavery

In 1787, a plan was implemented to settle some of London’s Black Poor in Sierra Leone in what was called the “Province of Freedom”. A number of Black Poor and White women arrived off the coast of Sierra Leone on May 15, 1787, accompanied by some English tradesmen. This was organized by the St. George’s Bay Company, composed of British philanthropists who preferred it as a solution to continuing to financially support them in London. Many of the Black poor were African-Americans, who had been promised their freedom for joining the British Army during the American Revolution, but also included other African and Asian inhabitants of London.

Disease and hostility from the indigenous people nearly eliminated the first group of colonists. Through intervention by Thomas Peters, the Sierra Leone Company was established to relocate another group of former slaves, this time nearly 1,200 Black Nova Scotia’s, most of whom had escaped slavery in the United States. Given the most barren land in Nova Scotia, many had died from the harsh winters there. They established a settlement at Freetown in 1792 led by Peters. It was joined by other groups of freed slaves and became the first Afro-American haven for ex-slaves.

Though the English abolitionist Granville Sharp originally planned Sierra Leone as a utopian community, the directors of the Sierra Leone Company refused to allow the settlers to take freehold of the land. Knowing how Highland Clearances benefited Scottish landlords but not tenants, the settlers revolted in 1799. The revolt was only put down by the arrival of over 500 Jamaican Maroons, who also arrived via Nova Scotia.

Thousands of slaves were returned to or liberated in Freetown. Most chose to remain in Sierra Leone. These returned Africans were from many areas of Africa, but principally the west coast. They joined the previous settlers and together became known as Creole or Krio people. Cut off from their homes and traditions, they assimilated some aspects of British styles of inhabitants and built a flourishing trade of flowers and beads on the West African coast. The lingua franca of the colony was Krio, a creole language rooted in 18th century African American English, which quickly spread across the region as a common language of trade and Christian mission. British and American abolitionist movements envisioned Freetown as embodying the possibilities of a post-slave trade Africa.

Colonial era

In the early 20th century, Freetown served as the residence of the British governor who also ruled the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and the Gambia settlements. Sierra Leone also served as the educational centre of British West Africa. Fourah Bay College, established in 1827, rapidly became a magnet for English-speaking Africans on the West Coast. For more than a century, it was the only European-style university in western Sub-Saharan Africa.

During Sierra Leone’s colonial history, indigenous people mounted several unsuccessful revolts against British rule and Krio domination. The most notable was the Hut Tax war of 1898. Its first leader was Bai Bureh, a Temne chief who refused to recognize the British-imposed tax on “huts” (dwellings). The tax was generally regarded by the native chiefs as an attack on their sovereignty. After the British issued a warrant to arrest Bai Bureh alleging that he had refused to pay taxes, he brought fighters from several Temne villages under his command, and from Limba, Loko, Soso, Kissi, and Mandinka villages. Bureh’s fighters had the advantage over the vastly more powerful British for several months of the war. Hundreds of British troops and hundreds of Bureh’s fighters were killed. Bai Bureh was finally captured on November 11, 1898 and sent into exile in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), while 96 of his comrades were hanged by the British.

The defeat of the natives in the Hut Tax war ended large scale organised resistance to colonialism; however resistance continued throughout the colonial period in the form of intermittent rioting and chaotic labour disturbances. Riots in 1955 and 1956 involved “many tens of thousands” of natives in the protectorate.

One notable event in 1935 was the granting of a monopoly on mineral mining to the Sierra Leone Selection Trust run by De Beers, which was scheduled to last 99 years.

An independent nation

The 1924 Sierra Leone constitution was replaced in November 1951 by a new one which united the formerly separate Colonial and Protectorate legislatures and — most importantly — provided a framework for decolonization. In 1953, an African cabinet was installed (although the expatriate ministers it replaced remained in the legislature as advisers); and Dr. (later Sir) Milton Margai, an ethnic Mende and the leading politician from the Protectorate, was named Chief minister. His title was changed to Prime Minister in 1956. After the completion of constitutional talks in London in 1960, independence came on 27 April 1961, the anniversary of the start of the Hut Tax War of 1898. Sierra Leone opted for a parliamentary system within the Commonwealth of Nations.

Milton Margai’s political party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), won by large margins in the nation’s first general election under universal adult suffrage in May 1962. Upon his death in 1964, his brother, Sir Albert Margai succeeded him as prime minister. Sir Albert was highly criticized during his three-year rule as prime minister. He was accused of corruption and of favouritism toward his own Mende ethnic group. He also tried to establish a one-party state but met fierce resistance from the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) and ultimately abandoned the idea. During Albert Margai’s administration, The Mende increased their influence both in the civil service and the army. Most of the top military and government positions were held by Mendes, and Mende country (the South-Eastern part of Sierra Leone) received preferential treatment.

In closely contested general elections in March 1967, Sierra Leone Governor General Henry Josiah Lightfoot Boston declared the new prime minister to be Siaka Stevens, candidate of the All People’s Congress (APC) and Mayor of Freetown. Hours after taking office, Stevens was ousted in a bloodless coup led by Brigadier David Lansana, the Commander of the Armed Forces, on grounds that the determination of office should await the election of the tribal representatives to the house. Stevens was placed under house arrest and martial law was declared. But a group of senior military officers overrode this action by seizing control of the government on March 23, 1968, arresting Lansana and suspending the constitution. The group constituted itself as the National Reformation Council (NRC) with Brigadier Andrew Juxon-Smith as its chairman. In April 1968, the NRC was overthrown by a group of military officers who called themselves the Anti-Corruption Revolutionary Movement (ACRM), led by Brigadier John Amadu Bangura. The ACRM imprisoned senior NRC members, restored the constitution and reinstated Stevens as Prime Minister. Under the APC regimes headed by Stevens, The Limba, Stevens own ethnic group, retained strong influence in the government and civil service. During the 1970s, the other major ethnic group, the Temne joined the Mende in opposition to the APC government. But after Stevens appointed an ethnic Temne, Sorie Ibrahim Koroma as vice-president in 1978, the Temne appeared to have emerged as the second most influential group in the government, after the Limba.

The return to civilian rule led to by-elections beginning in fall 1968 and the appointment of an all-APC cabinet. Calm was not completely restored. In November 1968, Stevens declared a state of emergency after provincial disturbances. In March 1971 the government survived an unsuccessful military coup and in July 1974 it uncovered an alleged military coup plot. The leaders of both plots were tried and executed. The opposition SLPP boycotted the 1973 general election, alleging widespread intimidation and procedural obstruction. In 1977, student demonstrations against the government disrupted Sierra Leone politics.

On April 19, 1971, parliament declared Sierra Leone a Republic. Siaka Stevens, then prime minister, became the nation’s first president. Guinean troops requested by Stevens to support his government were in the country from 1971 to 1973. An alleged plot to overthrow president Stevens failed in 1974, its leaders were executed, and in March 1976 he was elected without opposition for a second five-year term as president. In the national parliamentary election of May 1977, the APC won 74 seats and the main opposition, the SLPP won 15. The SLPP, who condemned the election, alleged widespread vote-rigging and voter intimidation. In 1978, parliament approved a new constitution making the country a one-party state. The 1978 referendum made the APC the only legal political party in Sierra Leone.

Siaka Stevens retired in November, 1985 after being President for 14 years, but continued to be chairman of the APC. The APC named a new presidential candidate to succeed Stevens. He was Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh, the commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, and Stevens’ own choice to succeed him. like Stevens, Momoh was also a member of the minority Limba ethnic group. Joseph Saidu Momoh was elected President in a one-party referendum on November 28, 1985. An inauguration was held in January 1986, and a one party parliamentary elections beween APC members were held in May, 1986.

After an alleged attempt to overthrow President Momoh in March 1987, more than 60 senior government officials were arrested, including Vice-President Francis Minah, who was removed from office, convicted for plotting the coup, and executed by hanging in 1989 along with 5 others.

Multi-party constitution and RUF rebellion

In October 1990, president Momoh set up a constitutional review commission to review the 1978 one-party constitution. Based on the commission recommendations a constitution re-establishing a multi-party system was approved by Parliament; becomming effective on October 1, 1991. But there was great suspicion that Momoh was not serious, and APC rule was increasingly marked by abuses of power.

Civil war broke out, mainly due to government corruption and mismanagement of diamond resources. Besides the internal ripeness, the brutal civil war going on in neighbouring Liberia played an undeniable role for the outbreak of fighting in Sierra Leone. Charles Taylor – then leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia -reportedly helped form the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under the command of former Sierra Leonean army corporal Foday Sankoh. In return, Taylor received diamonds from Sierra Leone. The RUF, led by Sankoh and backed by Taylor, launched its first attack in villages in Kailahun District in eastern Sierra Leone from Liberia on March 23, 1991. The government of Sierra Leone, overwhelmed by a crumbling economy and corruption, was unable to put up significant resistance. Within a month of entering Sierra Leone from Liberia, the RUF controlled much of the Eastern Province. Forced recruitment of child soldiers was also an early feature of the rebel strategy.

On April 29, 1992, a group of six young soldiers in the Sierra Leonean army, apparently frustrated by the government’s failure to deal with rebels, launched a military coup which sent president Momoh into exile in Guinea. They were second lieutenant Solomon A.J. Musa, Colonel Tom Nyuma, Brigadier-General, Julius Maada Bio, Colonel Yahya Kanu, Captain Samuel Komba Kambo, Lieutenant Colonel Komba Mondeh and were led by a 25 year old captain Valentine Strasser. The soldiers established the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) with Yahya Kanu as its chairman. But Kanu was assassinated by fellow NPRC members, who accused him of trying to negotiate with the toppled APC administration. On May 4, 1992, 25 year old Valentine Strasser took over as chairman of the NPRC and Head of State of Sierra Leone. S.A.J Musa, one of the leaders of the coup and a close friend of Strasser took over as Vice-Chairman of the NPRC. Many Sierra Leoneans nationwide rushed into the streets to celebrate the NPRC’s takeover from the 23 year dictatorial APC regime, which they perceived as corrupt. The NPRC junta immediately suspended the 1991 Constitution, declared a state of emergency, limited freedom of speech, and freedom of the press and enacted a rule-by-decree policy. The army and police officers were granted unlimited powers of administrative detention without charge or trial, and challenges against such detentions in court were precluded.

The NPRC proved to be nearly as ineffectual as the Momoh-led APC government in repelling the RUF. More and more of the country fell to RUF fighters, and by 1995 they held much of the diamond-rich Eastern Province and were at the edge of Freetown. In response, the NPRC hired several hundred mercenaries from the private firm Executive Outcomes. Within a month they had driven RUF fighters back to enclaves along Sierra Leone’s borders. During this time corruption had erupted within senior NPRC members. On July 5, Strasser dismissed his childhood friend Musa as deputy charman of the NPRC and appointed Julius Maada Bio to succeed him. Some senior NPRC members, including Bio, Nyuma and Mondeh, were unhappy with Strasser’s handling of the peace process. In January 1996, after nearly four years in power, Strasser was ousted in a coup by fellow NPRC members led by his deputy Maada Bio. Bio reinstated the Constitution and called for general elections. In the second round of presidential elections in early 1996, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) defeated John Karefa-Smart of the United National People’s Party (UNPP) and a member of the minority Sherbro ethnic group. Bio fulfilled promises of a return to civilian rule, and handed power to Kabbah, who was from the Mende-dominated Kailahun District in the south-east of Sierra Leone and a member of the minority Mandingo ethnic group. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s SLPP party also won majority of the seats in Parliament.

In 1996, Major General Johnny Paul Koroma was allegedly involved in an attempt to overthrow the government of president Kabbah. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned at Freetown’s Pademba Road Prison. But some top rank Army officers were unhappy with this decision, and on May 25, 1997, a group of soldiers who called themselves the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) overthrew Kabbah. The AFRC released Koroma from prison and installed him as their chairman and Head of State of the country. Koroma suspended the constitution, banned demonstrations, shut down all private radio stations in the country and invited the RUF to join his government. After 10 months in office, the junta was ousted by the Nigeria-led ECOMOG forces, and the democratically elected government of president Kabbah was reinstated in March 1998. Hundreds of civilians who had been accused of helping the AFRC government were illegally detained. Courts-martial were held for soldiers accused of assisting the AFRC government. 24 of these were found guilty and were executed without appeal in October 1998. On January 6, 1999, AFRC made another unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government, causing many deaths and much destruction of property in and around Freetown.

In October, the United Nations agreed to send peacekeepers to help restore order and disarm the rebels. The first of the 6,000-member force began arriving in December, and the UN Security Council voted in February 2000 to increase the force to 11,000, and later to 13,000. But in May, when nearly all Nigerian forces had left and UN forces were trying to disarm the RUF in eastern Sierra Leone, Sankoh’s forces clashed with the UN troops, and some 500 peacekeepers were taken hostage as the peace accord effectively collapsed. The hostage crisis resulted in more fighting between the RUF and the government.

Between 1991 and 2001, about 50,000 people were killed in Sierra Leone’s civil war. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes, and many became refugees in Guinea and Liberia. In 2001, UN forces moved into rebel-held areas and began to disarm rebel soldiers. By January 2002, the war was declared over. In May, Kabbah was reelected president. By 2004, the disarmament process was complete. Also in 2004, a UN-backed war crimes court began holding trials of senior leaders from both sides of the war. In December 2005, UN peacekeeping forces pulled out of Sierra Leone.

In August 2007, Sierra Leone held presidential and parliamentary elections. However, no presidential candidate won a majority of votes. A runoff election was held in September, and Ernest Bai Koroma was elected president.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia
Geographic coordinates: 8 30 N, 11 30 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 71,740 sq km
land: 71,620 sq km
water: 120 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than South Carolina
Land boundaries: total: 958 km
border countries: Guinea 652 km, Liberia 306 km
Coastline: 402 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; summer rainy season (May to December); winter dry season (December to April)
Terrain: coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau, mountains in east
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Loma Mansa (Bintimani) 1,948 m
Natural resources: diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold, chromite
Land use: arable land: 7.95%
permanent crops: 1.05%
other: 91% (2005)
Irrigated land: 300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 160 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.38 cu km/yr (5%/3%/92%)
per capita: 69 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: dry, sand-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to February); sandstorms, dust storms
Environment – current issues: rapid population growth pressuring the environment; overharvesting of timber, expansion of cattle grazing, and slash-and-burn agriculture have resulted in deforestation and soil exhaustion; civil war depleted natural resources; overfishing
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography – note: rainfall along the coast can reach 495 cm (195 inches) a year, making it one of the wettest places along coastal, western Africa
Politics Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. The current system of government in Sierra Leone, established under the 1991 Constitution, is modeled on the following structure of government: the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary .

Within the confines of the 1991 Constitution, supreme legislative powers are vested in Parliament, which is the law making body of the nation. Supreme executive authority rests in the president and members of his cabinet and judicial power with the judiciary of which the Chief Justice is head.

The president is the head of state, the head of government and the commander-in-chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces and the Sierra Leone Police. The president appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers, which must be approved by the Parliament. The president is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two five-year terms.

To be elected president, a candidate must gain at least 55% of the vote. If no candidate gets 55%, there is to be a second-round runoff between the top two candidates. Presidential candidates must be Sierra Leonean citizens by birth; must be at least 40 years old; must be able to speak, read and write the English language; must be a member of a political party and must not have any past felony criminal conviction. The current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma, who was sworn in on September 17, 2007, shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off election over the incumbent Vice president, Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

Next to the president is the Vice president, who is the second-highest ranking government official in the executive branch of the Sierra Leone Government. As designated by the Sierra Leone Constitution, the vice president is to become the new president of Sierra Leone upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president by parliament and to assume the Presidency temporarily while the president is abroad, or otherwise temporarily unable to fulfill his or her duties. The vice president is elected jointly with the president as his or her running mate. Sierra Leone’s current vice president is Samuel Sam-Sumana, sworn in on September 17, 2007.

The Parliament of Sierra Leone is unicameral, with 124 seats. Each of the country’s fourteen districts is represented in parliament. 112 members are elected concurrently with the presidential elections; the other 12 seats are filled by paramount chiefs from each of the country’s 12 administrative districts.

The current parliament in the August 2007 Parliamentary elections is made up of three political parties with the following representations; the All People’s Congress (APC) 59 seats, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) 43 seats, and the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) 10 seats. The most recent parliamentary elections were held on August 11, 2007. The All People’s Congress (APC), won 59 of 112 parliamentary seats; the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) won 43; and the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) won 10. To be qualified as Member of Parliament, the person must be a citizen of Sierra Leone, must be at least 21 years old, must be able to speak, read and write the English language with a degree of proficiency to enable him to actively take part in proceedings in Parliament; and must not have any criminal conviction .

Since independence in 1961, Sierra Leone’s politics has been dominated by two major political parties, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), and the ruling All People’s Congress (APC), although other minor political parties have also existed but with no significant supports.

The judicial power of Sierra Leone is vested in the judiciary, headed by the Chief Justice and comprising the Sierra Leone Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country and its ruling therefore cannot be appealed; High Court of Justice; the Court of Appeal; the magistrate courts; and traditional courts in rural villages. The president appoints and parliament approves Justices for the three courts. The Judiciary have jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters throughout the country. The current Sierra Leone’s Chief Justice is Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh, who was appointed by President Ernest Bai Koroma and took office on January 25, 2008 upon his confirmation by parliament. She is the first woman in the history of Sierra Leone to hold such position

People Population: 6,294,774 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.6% (male 1,377,981/female 1,429,993)
15-64 years: 52.2% (male 1,573,990/female 1,708,840)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 94,359/female 109,611) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 17.5 years
male: 17.2 years
female: 17.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.282% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 45.08 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 22.26 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: refugees currently in surrounding countries are slowly returning (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 156.48 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 173.59 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 138.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 40.93 years
male: 38.64 years
female: 43.28 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.95 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 7% (2001 est.)

Swaziland: The Disaster That Is Because Of The Greed And Arrogance Of The King

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Swaziland

Introduction Autonomy for the Swazis of southern Africa was guaranteed by the British in the late 19th century; independence was granted in 1968. Student and labor unrest during the 1990s pressured King MSWATI III, the world’s last absolute monarch, to grudgingly allow political reform and greater democracy, although he has backslid on these promises in recent years. A constitution came into effect in 2006, but political parties remain banned. The African United Democratic Party tried unsuccessfully to register as an official political party in mid 2006. Talks over the constitution broke down between the government and progressive groups in 2007. Swaziland recently surpassed Botswana as the country with the world’s highest known HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.
History Artifacts indicating human activity dating back to the early Stone Age 200,000 years ago have been found in the kingdom of Swaziland. Prehistoric rock art paintings date from ca. 25,000 B.C. and continue up to the 19th century.

The earliest inhabitants of the area were Khoisan hunter-gatherers. They were largely replaced by the Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations. Evidence of agriculture and iron use dates from about the 4th century, and people speaking languages ancestral to current Sotho and Nguni languages began settling no later than the 11th century.

The ruling Dlamini lineage had chiefships in the region in the 18th century. An enlarged Swazi (occasionally also written as Suozi[citation needed]) kingdom was established by King Sobhuza I in the early 19th century. Soon thereafter the first whites started to settle in the area. In the 1890s the South African Republic in the Transvaal claimed sovereignty over Swaziland but never fully established power. After the Second Boer War of 1899–1902, Swaziland became a British protectorate. The country was granted independence within the Commonwealth of Nations on 6 September 1968. Since then, Swaziland has seen a struggle between pro-democracy activists and the monarchy.

Swaziland has been under a State of Emergency since 1973.

Geography Location: Southern Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa
Geographic coordinates: 26 30 S, 31 30 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 17,363 sq km
land: 17,203 sq km
water: 160 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: total: 535 km
border countries: Mozambique 105 km, South Africa 430 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: varies from tropical to near temperate
Terrain: mostly mountains and hills; some moderately sloping plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Great Usutu River 21 m
highest point: Emlembe 1,862 m
Natural resources: asbestos, coal, clay, cassiterite, hydropower, forests, small gold and diamond deposits, quarry stone, and talc
Land use: arable land: 10.25%
permanent crops: 0.81%
other: 88.94% (2005)
Irrigated land: 500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 4.5 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.04 cu km/yr (2%/1%/97%)
per capita: 1,010 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: drought
Environment – current issues: limited supplies of potable water; wildlife populations being depleted because of excessive hunting; overgrazing; soil degradation; soil erosion
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: landlocked; almost completely surrounded by South Africa
Politics The head of state is the king or Ngwenyama (lit. Lion), currently King Mswati III, who ascended to the throne in 1986 after the death of his father King Sobhuza II in 1982 and a period of regency. By tradition, the king reigns along with his mother or a ritual substitute, the Ndlovukati (lit. She-Elephant). The former was viewed as the administrative head of state and the latter as a spiritual and national head of state, with real power counter-balancing that of the king, but during the long reign of Sobhuza II the role of the Ndlovukati became more symbolic. As the monarch, the king not only appoints the prime minister — the head of government — but also appoints a small number of representatives for both chambers of the Libandla (parliament). The Senate consists of 30 members, while the House of Assembly has 82 seats, 55 of which are occupied by elected representatives, (elections are held every five years in November).

In 1968, Swaziland adopted a Westminster-style constitution, but in 1973 King Sobhuza suspended it under a royal decree backed by the royalist majority of parliament: in effect a coup by the government against its own constitution. The State of Emergency has since been lifted, or so the government claims even though political activities, especially by pro-democracy movements, are suppressed. In 2001 King Mswati III appointed a committee to draft a new constitution. Drafts were released for comment in May 2003 and November 2004. These were strongly criticized by civil society organizations in Swaziland and human rights organizations elsewhere. In 2005, the constitution was put into effect, though there is still much debate in the country about the constitutional reforms. From the early seventies, there was active resistance to the royal hegemony.

Despite calls for international solidarity against the oppressive royal regime, Swaziland’s human rights record remains largely ignored by the international community. The South African trade union COSATU has been the most vocal supporters of the rights of the Swazi people to govern themselves by democratic means, in line with the Freedom Charter adopted by democratic parties on the country.

In 2007 a film entitled Without the King about the political climate of Swaziland was released.

People Population: 1,128,814
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.9% (male 226,947/female 222,922)
15-64 years: 56.5% (male 306,560/female 331,406)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 15,594/female 25,385) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 18.7 years
male: 18 years
female: 19.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.41% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 26.6 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 30.7 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.61 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 69.59 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 72.87 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 66.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 31.99 years
male: 31.69 years
female: 32.3 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.34 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 38.8% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 220,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 17,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Swazi(s)
adjective: Swazi
Ethnic groups: African 97%, European 3%
Religions: Zionist 40% (a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship), Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 10%, other (includes Anglican, Bahai, Methodist, Mormon, Jewish) 30%
Languages: English (official, government business conducted in English), siSwati (official)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 81.6%
male: 82.6%
female: 80.8% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 10 years
male: 10 years
female: 10 years (2005)
Education expenditures: 7% of GDP (2005)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Swaziland
conventional short form: Swaziland
local long form: Umbuso weSwatini
local short form: eSwatini
Government type: monarchy
Capital: name: Mbabane
geographic coordinates: 26 18 S, 31 06 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Lobamba (royal and legislative capital)
Administrative divisions: 4 districts; Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini, Shiselweni
Independence: 6 September 1968 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 6 September (1968)
Constitution: signed by the King in July 2005 went into effect on 8 February 2006
Legal system: based on South African Roman-Dutch law in statutory courts and Swazi traditional law and custom in traditional courts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Suffrage: 18 years of age
Executive branch: chief of state: King MSWATI III (since 25 April 1986)
head of government: Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso DLAMINI (since 16 October 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet recommended by the prime minister and confirmed by the monarch
elections: the monarch is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch from among the elected members of the House of Assembly
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Libandla consists of the Senate (30 seats; 10 members appointed by the House of Assembly and 20 appointed by the monarch; to serve five-year terms) and the House of Assembly (65 seats; 10 members appointed by the monarch and 55 elected by popular vote; to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Assembly – last held 19 September 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: House of Assembly – balloting is done on a nonparty basis; candidates for election are nominated by the local council of each constituency and for each constituency the three candidates with the most votes in the first round of voting are narrowed to a single winner by a second round
Judicial branch: High Court; Supreme Court; judges for both courts are appointed by the monarch
Political parties and leaders: the status of political parties, previously banned, is unclear under the new (2006) Constitution and currently being debated – the following are considered political associations; African United Democratic Party or AUDP [Stanley MAUNDZISA, president]; Imbokodvo National Movement or INM; Ngwane National Liberatory Congress or NNLC [Obed DLAMINI, president]; People’s United Democratic Movement or PUDEMO [Mario MASUKU, president]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions; Swaziland and Solidarity Network or SSN
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, AU, C, COMESA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PCA, SACU, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Ephraim Mandla HLOPHE
chancery: 1712 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 234-5002
FAX: [1] (202) 234-8254
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Maurice S. PARKER
embassy: Central Bank Building, Mahlokahla Street, Mbabane
mailing address: P. O. Box 199, Mbabane
telephone: [268] 404-6441 through 404-6445
FAX: [268] 404-5959
Flag description: three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in yellow; centered in the red band is a large black and white shield covering two spears and a staff decorated with feather tassels, all placed horizontally
Culture The African nation of Swaziland, located in between South Africa and Mozambique, is an ancient land dominated by the Swazi people and ethnic Swazi music. They are known for a variety of folk music, as well as modern rock, pop and hip hop.

The two biggest ceremonies in Swaziland are Incwala, which takes place in December, and Umhlanga, which takes place in August. Umhlanga features a dance unique to Swazi women, who cut reeds as part of the five-day ceremony. There is also music for harvesting, marriages and other events. Traditional instruments include the kudu horn, calabash, rattles and reed flute.

Beginning in the 1990s, Swaziland became host to a burgeoning hip hop scene, led by bands like Vamoose. Neighboring South Africa has provided some of the impetus, since various kinds of hip hop are very popular there.

Economy Economy – overview: In this small, landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture occupies approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector has diversified since the mid-1980s. Sugar and wood pulp remain important foreign exchange earners. In 2007, the sugar industry increased efficiency and diversification efforts, in response to a 17% decline in EU sugar prices. Mining has declined in importance in recent years with only coal and quarry stone mines remaining active. Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa from which it receives more than nine-tenths of its imports and to which it sends 60% of its exports. Swaziland’s currency is pegged to the South African rand, subsuming Swaziland’s monetary policy to South Africa. Customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union, which may equal as much as 70% of government revenue this year, and worker remittances from South Africa substantially supplement domestically earned income. Swaziland is not poor enough to merit an IMF program; however, the country is struggling to reduce the size of the civil service and control costs at public enterprises. The government is trying to improve the atmosphere for foreign investment. With an estimated 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland’s need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and attract foreign direct investment is acute. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and sometimes floods persist as problems for the future. More than one-fourth of the population needed emergency food aid in 2006-07 because of drought, and nearly two-fifths of the adult population has been infected by HIV/AIDS.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $5.364 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $2.936 billion (2007 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 2.3% (2007 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $4,700 (2007 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 11.8%
industry: 45.7%
services: 42.5% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 300,000 (2006)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate: 40% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line: 69% (2006)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 40.7% (2001)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 50.4 (2001)
Investment (gross fixed): 18.6% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.13 billion
expenditures: $1.143 billion (2007 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 April – 31 March
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.1% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 11% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 13.17% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $244.8 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $529.4 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $204.1 million (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: sugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, sorghum, peanuts; cattle, goats, sheep
Industries: coal, wood pulp, sugar, soft drink concentrates, textiles and apparel
Industrial production growth rate: 1.1% (2007 est.)
Electricity – production: 460 million kWh (2007)
Electricity – consumption: 1.2 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007)
Electricity – imports: 872 million kWh; note – electricity supplied by South Africa (2007)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 58%
hydro: 42%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil – consumption: 3,500 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil – exports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil – imports: 3,530 bbl/day (2004)
Oil – proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas – production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$24 million (2007 est.)
Exports: $1.926 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports – commodities: soft drink concentrates, sugar, wood pulp, cotton yarn, refrigerators, citrus and canned fruit
Exports – partners: South Africa 59.7%, EU 8.8%, US 8.8%, Mozambique 6.2% (2006)
Imports: $1.914 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports – commodities: motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals
Imports – partners: South Africa 95.6%, EU 0.9%, Japan 0.9% (2006)
Economic aid – recipient: $46.03 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $762.7 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt – external: $524 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $NA
Market value of publicly traded shares: $196.8 million (2005)
Currency (code): lilangeni (SZL)
Currency code: SZL
Exchange rates: lilangenis (SZL) per US dollar – 7.4 (2007), 6.85 (2006), 6.3593 (2005), 6.4597 (2004), 7.5648 (2003)

 

Switzerland: The Truth Knowledge And the History Of Their Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Switzerland

Introduction The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. In succeeding years, other localities joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. A constitution of 1848, subsequently modified in 1874, replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government. Switzerland’s sovereignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country was not involved in either of the two World Wars. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland’s role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland’s ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.
History Early history

The earliest known tribes of the area were members of the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures. The La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age from around 450 BC, possibly under some influence from the Greek and Etruscan civilizations. One of the most important tribal groups in the Swiss region was the Helvetii. In 15 BC, Tiberius I, who was destined to be the second Roman emperor, and his brother, Drusus, conquered the Alps, integrating them into the Roman Empire. The area occupied by the Helvetii – the namesakes of the later Confoederatio Helvetica – first became part of Rome’s Gallia Belgica province and then of its Germania Superior province, while the eastern portion of modern Switzerland was integrated into the Roman province of Raetia.

In the Early Middle Ages, from the fourth century AD, the western extent of modern-day Switzerland was part of the territory of the Kings of the Burgundians. The Alemanni settled the Swiss plateau in the fifth century AD and the valleys of the Alps in the eighth century AD, forming Alemannia. Modern-day Switzerland was therefore then divided between the kingdoms of Alemannia and Burgundy. The entire region became part of the expanding Frankish Empire in the sixth century, following Clovis I’s victory over the Alemanni at Tolbiac in 504 AD, and later Frankish domination of the Burgundians.

By 561 AD, the Merovingian king Guntram, Clovis I’s grandson, had inherited the Frankish kingdom of Burgundy, which stretched east nearly as far as the Rhine. East of this, the Alemanni were ruled under a nominal dukedom within Frankia, as the Franks filled the vacuum caused by the declining western reach of Roman Byzantium. By this time Frankia was beginning to form the tripartite character that would characterise the rest of its history. The territories were subdivided into Neustria in the west (referred to simply as Frankia at the time; the name Neustria did not appear in writing until some 80 years later), Austrasia in the northeast and Burgundy.

Throughout the rest of the sixth and early seventh centuries AD the Swiss regions continued under Frankish hegemony, with the Franks largely occupied with infighting about issues of succession amongst the Frankish sub-kingdoms (whose kings were close blood relatives). In 632 AD, following the death of Chlothar II, the entire Frankish realm was briefly united under Dagobert, who is described as the last Merovingian king able to exercise real power. Under Dagobert, the Austrasians agitated for self-governance as a means of countering the influence of the Neustrians, who dominated the royal court. Dagobert was forced by the strong Austrasian aristocracy to appoint his infant son, Sigebert III, as sub-king of Austrasia in 633 AD. The weakness of the realm became clear, and this led to consideration of the risks and benefits of rebellion by those subject to the Franks. After Sigebert III suffered a military defeat at the hands of Radulf, King of Thuringia, in 640 AD, the Alemanni also revolted against Frankish rule. The ensuing period of Alemanni independence lasted more or less continuously until the middle of the eighth century AD.

Mayors of the Palace had been appointed by the Frankish kings as court officials since the early seventh century AD to act as mediators between the king and the people. However, following Dagobert’s death in 639 AD, with infants on the throne in both Neustria (Clovis II—a babe in arms in 639 AD) and Austrasia (Sigebert III—about four years old in 639 AD), these court appointees assumed greater power, eventually to such an extent that they ended the rule of the Merovingian monarchs and took over the Frankish throne themselves. The first step was taken by the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, Grimoald I, who persuaded the childless Sigebert III to adopt his own son, Childebert, as heir to the throne.

Meanwhile in the Neustrian palace, the Mayors of the Palace, Erchinoald and his successor Ebroin, were likewise increasing their hold on power behind Clovis II and his successor Chlothar III. Ebroin reunited the Frankish kingdom by defeating and removing Childebert (and Grimoald) from Austrasia in 661 AD.

Chlothar III’s younger brother, Childeric II, was then installed as king of the Austrasians, and together they ruled the empire. When Chlothar III died in 673 AD, Childeric II became king of the entire realm, ruling from Austrasia, until he was assassinated two years later by members of the Neustrian elite. After his death, Theuderic III, son of Clovis II, ascended to the throne, ruling from Neustria. He and his Mayor of the Palace, Berthar, declared war on Austrasia, which was ruled by Dagobert II, son of Sigebert III, and Pepin of Herstal (Pepin II), the Arnulfing Mayor of Austrasia. Theuderic and Berthar were defeated by Pepin at the Battle of Tertry in 687 AD, after which Pepin was appointed the sole mayor of all Frankia, nominating himself as duke and prince of all the Franks. Pepin was the product of the marriage of two very powerful houses—that of the Pippinids and that of the Arnulfings. His success at Tertry was to mark the end of Merovingian power.

Pepin again tasted military success in his campaign to bring the Frisians, of Europe’s north coast, back under Frankish control. Between 709 AD and 712 AD he fought a similar campaign against the Alemanni, including those within the borders of present-day Switzerland, and succeeded in reimposing Frankish rule, for the first time since the Alemannic revolt of 640 AD. However Frankish control of this and other outlying areas was again lost when a Frankish civil war of succession followed Pepin’s death in 714 AD.

The war was a continuation of the ageless Neustrian–Austrasian rivalry. Pepin’s illegitimate son, Charles Martel (who was the son of Pepin’s mistress Alpaida), had been proclaimed mayor of Austrasia by the Austrasian nobility in defiance of Pepin’s widow, Plectrude, who preferred that her 8-year-old grandson, Theudoald, be appointed. Neustria invaded Austrasia under Chilperic II, who had been appointed by the Neustrians without the agreement of the rest of the Frankish peoples. The turning point of the war came at the Battle of Ambleve, when Charles Martel, using brilliant and unconventional tactics, defeated combined Neustrian and Frisian forces under Chilperic II and Mayor Ragenfrid. Charles struck when the Neustrians were marching home after triumphing at Cologne over Plectrude and the child Theudoald.

By 717 AD, Charles had confirmed his supremacy, with victory over the Neustrians at the Battle of Vincy, thereby marking the beginning of Carolingian rule over the Frankish empire.

After 718 AD, Charles, who was a brilliant commander, embarked upon a series of wars to strengthen Frankish dominion over Western Europe. This included bringing the Alemanni back under Frankish hegemony, and even, in the 720s AD, forcing some Alemannic elements to participate in his wars against their eastern neighbours, the Bavarians.

Alemannia, however, remained restless, with Duke Lantfrid in the late 720s AD expressing independence by issuing revisions of the laws of the Alemans. Charles invaded again in 730 AD and subjugated the Alemanni by force.

Charles is perhaps best known for stopping the Arab advance into Western Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD, in a military stand that arguably halted Islamic expansionism into the European homeland.

When Charles died in 741 AD, the dominion over Frankia was divided between his two sons from his first marriage, namely Pepin the Short and Carloman. Carloman was given Austrasia, Alemannia and Thuringia, while Pepin took control of Neustria, Provence and Burgundy (including present-day western Switzerland).

By 743 AD, Carloman was vowing to impose a greater degree of control over Alemannia. This resulted ultimately in the arrest, trial and execution of several thousand Alemannic noblemen at the blood court at Cannstatt in 746 AD.

Carloman retired to a monastery in 747 AD, leaving Pepin to assume the Frankish crown (after a vote of nobles) in 751 AD. Pepin further strengthened his position by forming an alliance, in 754 AD, with Pope Stephen II, who then came all the way to Paris to anoint him king in a ceremony at St Denis’s Basilica. In return Pepin subdued the Lombards and donated the Exarchate of Ravenna as well as captured territory around Rome to the church. This was a turning point in the history of the Roman Catholic Church and Western Europe, as it foreshadowed later events under Charlemagne that led to formation of the Holy Roman Empire. It is claimed that Pope Stephen II tabled the forged Donation of Constantine during his negotiations with Pepin. The Donation is a falsified imperial order purported to have been issued by Constantine to give to Pope Sylvester I and all his successors dominion over not only the Western Roman Empire but also all of Judea, Greece, Asia, Thrace and Rome.

Upon Pepin’s death in 768 AD, the Frankish empire was passed to his sons Charles and Carloman I. Carloman withdrew to a monastery and died shortly afterwards, leaving Charles, later known as the legendary Charlemagne, the sole ruler of the Franks. Charles expanded Frankish sovereignty to include the Saxons, Bavarians, and the Lombards in northern Italy, and he expanded the empire into today’s Austria and parts of Croatia. He offered the papacy the promise of enduring Frankish protection, and he patronized monastic centers of learning.

Charles therefore emerged as the leader of Western Christendom.

By 1200 AD, the Swiss plateau comprised the dominions of the houses of Savoy, Zähringer, Habsburg and Kyburg. When the Kyburg dynasty fell in 1264 AD, the Habsburgs under King Rudolph I (emperor in 1273) extended its territory to the eastern Swiss plateau.

Old Swiss Confederacy

The Old Swiss Confederacy was an alliance among the valley communities of the central Alps. The Confederacy facilitated management of common interests (free trade) and ensured peace on the important mountain trade routes. The Federal Charter of 1291 agreed between the rural communes of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden is considered the confederacy’s founding document; even though similar alliances are likely to have existed decades earlier.

By 1353 the three original cantons had joined with the cantons of Glarus and Zug and the Lucerne, Zürich and Berne city states to form the “Old Confederacy” of eight states that existed until the end of the fifteenth century. The expansion led to increased power and wealth for the federation. By 1460, the confederates controlled most of the territory south and west of the Rhine to the Alps and the Jura mountains. particularly after victories against the Habsburgs (Battle of Sempach, Battle of Näfels), over Charles the Bold of Burgundy during the 1470s, and the success of the Swiss mercenaries. The Swiss victory in the Swabian War against the Swabian League of Emperor Maximilian I in 1499 amounted to de facto independence within the Holy Roman Empire.

The Old Swiss Confederacy had acquired a reputation of invincibility during these earlier wars, but expansion of the federation suffered a setback in 1515 with the Swiss defeat in the Battle of Marignano. This ended the so-called “heroic” epoch of Swiss history. The success of Zwingli’s Reformation in some cantons led to inter-cantonal wars in 1529 and 1531 (Kappeler Kriege). It wasn’t until more than one hundred years after these internal wars that, in 1648, under the Treaty of Westphalia, European countries recognised Switzerland’s independence from the Holy Roman Empire and its neutrality (ancien régime).

During the Early Modern period of Swiss history, the growing authoritarianism of the patriciate families combined with a financial crisis in the wake of the Thirty Years’ War led to the Swiss peasant war of 1653. In the background to this struggle, the conflict between Catholic and Protestant cantons persisted, erupting in further violence at the battles of Villmergen in 1656 and 1712.

Napoleonic era

In 1798 the armies of the French Revolution conquered Switzerland and imposed a new unified constitution. This centralised the government of the country and effectively abolished the cantons. The new regime, known as the Helvetic Republic, was highly unpopular. It had been imposed by a foreign invading army and destroyed centuries of tradition, making Switzerland nothing more than a French satellite state. The fierce French suppression of the Nidwalden Revolt in September of 1798 is an example of the suppressing presence of the French army and the local population’s resistance to the occupation.

When war broke out between France and its rivals, Russian and Austrian forces invaded Switzerland. In 1803 Napoleon organised a meeting of the leading Swiss politicians from both sides in Paris. The result was the Act of Mediation which largely restored Swiss autonomy and introduced a Confederation of 19 cantons. Henceforth much of Swiss politics would concern balancing the cantons’ tradition of self-rule with the need for a central government.

In 1815 the Congress of Vienna fully re-established Swiss independence and the European powers agreed to permanently recognise Swiss neutrality. The treaty marked the last time that Switzerland fought in an international conflict. The treaty also allowed Switzerland to increase its territory, with the admission of the cantons of Valais, Neuchâtel and Geneva – this was also the last time Switzerland’s territory expanded.

Federal state

The restoration of the power to the patriciate was only temporary. After a period of unrest with repeated violent clashes such as the Züriputsch of 1839, civil war broke out between some of the Catholic and most of the other cantons in 1847 (the Sonderbundskrieg). The war lasted for less than a month, causing fewer than 100 casualties; most of which were through friendly fire. However minor the Sonderbundskrieg seems to be when compared with other European riots and wars in the 19th century, it nevertheless had a major impact on both the psychology and the society of the Swiss and of Switzerland. The war made all Swiss understand the need for unity and strength towards its European neighbours. Swiss people from all strata of society, whether Catholic, Protestant, or from the liberal or conservative current, realised that the cantons would profit more if their economic and religious interest were merged. Credit to those who favored the power of the cantons (the Sonderbund Kantone), the national assembly was divided among an upper house (the Swiss Council of States) and a lower house (the National Council of Switzerland). Thus, the interests of the Federationalists were accounted for. Switzerland adopted a federal constitution and the use of referenda (mandatory for any amendment of this constitution) in 1848. This constitution provided for a central authority while leaving the cantons the right to self-government on local issues. In 1850 the Swiss franc became the Swiss single currency. The constitution was amended extensively in 1874 in order to take into account the rise in population and the Industrial Revolution. It introduced the facultative referendum for laws at the federal level. It also established federal responsibility for defence, trade, and legal matters.

In 1891, the constitution was revised with unusually strong elements of direct democracy, which remain unique even today. Since then, continued political, economic, and social improvement has characterised Swiss history.

Modern history

Switzerland was not invaded during either of the World Wars. During World War I, Switzerland was home to Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (Lenin) and he remained there until 1917. Swiss neutrality was seriously questioned by the Grimm-Hoffmann Affair in 1917, but it was short-lived. In 1920, Switzerland joined the League of Nations, and in 1963 the Council of Europe.

During World War II, detailed invasion plans were drawn up by the Germans, but Switzerland was never attacked. Switzerland was able to remain independent through a combination of military deterrence, economic concessions to Germany, and good fortune as larger events during the war delayed an invasion. Attempts by Switzerland’s small Nazi party to cause annexation by Germany failed miserably. The Swiss press vigorously criticised the Third Reich, often infuriating its leadership. Under General Henri Guisan, a massive mobilisation of militia forces was ordered. The Swiss military strategy was changed from one of static defence at the borders to protect the economic heartland, to a strategy of organised long-term attrition and withdrawal to strong, well-stockpiled positions high in the Alps known as the Réduit. Switzerland was an important base for espionage by both sides in the conflict and often mediated communications between the Axis and Allied powers.

Switzerland’s trade was blockaded by both the Allies and by the Axis. Economic cooperation and extension of credit to the Third Reich varied according to the perceived likelihood of invasion, and the availability of other trading partners. Concessions reached a peak after a crucial rail link through Vichy France was severed in 1942, leaving Switzerland completely surrounded by the Axis. Over the course of the war, Switzerland interned over 300,000 refugees, 104,000 of which were foreign troops, interned according to the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers outlined in the Hague Conventions. 60,000 of the refugees were civilians escaping persecution by the Nazis. Of these, 26,000 to 27,000 were Jews. However, strict immigration and asylum policies as well as the financial relationships with Nazi Germany raised controversy. During the war, the Swiss Air Force engaged aircraft of both sides, shooting down 11 intruding Luftwaffe planes in May and June 1940, then forcing down other intruders after a change of policy following threats from Germany; over 100 Allied bombers and their crews were interned during the war. During 1944-45, Allied bombers mistakenly bombed the Swiss towns of Schaffhausen (killing 40 people), Stein am Rhein, Vals, Rafz (18 killed), and notoriously on 4 March 1945 both Basel and Zürich were bombed.

Women were granted the right to vote in the first Swiss cantons in 1959, at the federal level in 1971, and after resistance, in the last canton Appenzell Innerrhoden in 1990. After suffrage at the federal level women quickly rose in political significance, with the first woman on the seven member high council being Elisabeth Kopp from 1984–1989. The first female president was Ruth Dreifuss, elected in 1998 to become president during 1999. (The Swiss president is elected every year from those among the seven member high council). The second female president is Micheline Calmy-Rey who held the 2007 Swiss high office. She is originally from the French-speaking western area of canton Valais (Wallis in German). She is presently joined on the seven member cabinet/high council by two other women, Doris Leuthard, from the canton of Aargau and Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, from the canton of Graubünden.

In 1979 areas from inside the previous borders in the canton of Bern attained independence from the Bernese, forming the new canton of Jura. On 18 April 1999 the Swiss population and the cantons voted in favour of a completely revised federal constitution.

In 2002 Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations, leaving the Vatican as the last widely recognized state without full UN membership. Switzerland is a founding member of the EFTA, but is not a member of the European Economic Area. An application for membership in the European Union was sent in May 1992, but not advanced since the EEA was rejected in December 1992 when Switzerland was the only country to launch a referendum on the EEA. There have since been several referenda on the EU issue, with a mixed reaction to these from the population, the membership application has been frozen. Nonetheless, Swiss law is gradually being adjusted to conform with that of the EU and the government has signed a number of bilateral agreements with the European Union. Switzerland, together with Liechtenstein, has been completely surrounded by the EU since Austria’s membership in 1995. On 5 June 2005, Swiss voters agreed by a 55% majority to join the Schengen treaty, a result that was regarded by EU commentators as a sign of support by Switzerland, a country that is traditionally perceived as independent, neutral, or isolationist.

Geography Location: Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy
Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 8 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 41,290 sq km
land: 39,770 sq km
water: 1,520 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey
Land boundaries: total: 1,852 km
border countries: Austria 164 km, France 573 km, Italy 740 km, Liechtenstein 41 km, Germany 334 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
Terrain: mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Lake Maggiore 195 m
highest point: Dufourspitze 4,634 m
Natural resources: hydropower potential, timber, salt
Land use: arable land: 9.91%
permanent crops: 0.58%
other: 89.51% (2005)
Irrigated land: 250 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 53.3 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.52 cu km/yr (24%/74%/2%)
per capita: 348 cu m/yr (2002)
Natural hazards: avalanches, landslides, flash floods
Environment – current issues: air pollution from vehicle emissions and open-air burning; acid rain; water pollution from increased use of agricultural fertilizers; loss of biodiversity
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: landlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France, northern Italy, and southwestern Austria, has the highest elevations in the Alps

Thailand: The Truth Knowledge And History Of This Great Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Thailand

Introduction A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US ally following the conflict. Thailand is currently facing separatist violence in its southern ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces.
History The region known as Thailand has been inhabited by humans since the paleolithic period, about 10,000 years ago. Prior to the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century, various states thrived there, such as the various Tai, Mon, Khmer and Malay kingdoms, as seen through the numerous archaeological sites and artifacts that are scattered throughout the Siamese landscape. Prior to the 12th century however, the first Thai or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist kingdom of Sukhothai, which was founded in 1238.

Following the decline and fall of the Khmer empire in the 13th – 14th century, the Buddhist Tai Kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna and Lan Chang were on the ascension. However, a century later, Sukhothai’s power was overshadowed by the new kingdom of Ayutthaya, established in the mid-14th century.

After the fall of the Ayutthaya in 1767 to the Burmese, King Taksin the Great moved the capital of Thailand to Thonburi for a brief period. The current Rattanakosin era of Thai history began in 1782, following the establishment of Bangkok as capital of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I the Great.

Thailand retains a tradition of trade with its neighboring states, and the cultures of the Indian ocean and the South China sea. European trade and influence arrived to Thailand in the 16th century, beginning with the Portuguese. Despite European pressure, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonised. Two main reasons for this were that Thailand had a long succession of very able rulers in the 1800s and that it was able to exploit the rivalry and tension between the French and the British. As a result, the country remained as a buffer state between parts of Southeast Asia that were colonized by the two colonial powers. Despite this, Western influence led to many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions, most notably being the loss of large territory on the east side of the Mekong to the French and the step by step absorption by Britain of the Shan (Thai Yai) States (now in Burma) and the Malay Peninsula. The loss initially included Penang and Tumasik and eventually culminated in the loss of three predominantly ethnic-Malay southern provinces, which later became Malaysia’s three northern states, under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909.

In 1932, a bloodless revolution resulted in a new constitutional monarchy. During World War II, Thailand became an ally of Japan while at the same time maintaining an active anti-Japanese resistance movement known as the Seri Thai. After the war, Thailand emerged as an ally of the United States. As with many of the developing nations during the Cold War, Thailand then went through decades of political transgression characterised by coups d’état as one military regime replaced another, but eventually progressed towards a stable prosperity and democracy in the 1980s.

In 1997, Thailand was hit with the Asian financial crisis and the Thai baht for a short time peaked at 56 baht to the US dollar compared to about 25 baht to the dollar before 1997. Since then, the baht has regained most of its strength and as of 26 December 2008, is valued at 34.71 baht to the US dollar.

The official calendar in Thailand is based on Eastern version of the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian (western) calendar. For example, the year AD 2008 is called 2551 BE in Thailand.

Geography Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 100 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 514,000 sq km
land: 511,770 sq km
water: 2,230 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming
Land boundaries: total: 4,863 km
border countries: Burma 1,800 km, Cambodia 803 km, Laos 1,754 km, Malaysia 506 km
Coastline: 3,219 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: tropical; rainy, warm, cloudy southwest monsoon (mid-May to September); dry, cool northeast monsoon (November to mid-March); southern isthmus always hot and humid
Terrain: central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Gulf of Thailand 0 m
highest point: Doi Inthanon 2,576 m
Natural resources: tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable land
Land use: arable land: 27.54%
permanent crops: 6.93%
other: 65.53% (2005)
Irrigated land: 49,860 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 409.9 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 82.75 cu km/yr (2%/2%/95%)
per capita: 1,288 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: land subsidence in Bangkok area resulting from the depletion of the water table; droughts
Environment – current issues: air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from organic and factory wastes; deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: controls only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore
Politics The politics of Thailand currently take place in a framework of a constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government and a hereditary monarch is head of state. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative branches.

Thailand has been ruled by kings since the thirteenth century. In 1932, the country officially became a constitutional monarchy, though in practice, the government was dominated by the military and the elite bureaucracy. The country’s current constitution was promulgated in 2007.

The King of Thailand has little direct power under the constitution but is a symbol of national identity and unity. King Bhumibol — who has been on the throne since 1946 — commands enormous popular respect and moral authority, which he has used on occasion to resolve political crises that have threatened national stability.

On 23 December 2007, a general election was held following a recent military coup by the Council for National Security on 19 September 2006. The People’s Power Party, led by Somchai Wongsawat, won the majority of seats in the parliament. A civilian coalition government was formed on 28 January 2008 with five other minor parties leaving the Democrats, led by Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, as the only opposition party.

People Population: 65,493,296
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 21.2% (male 7,104,776/female 6,781,453)
15-64 years: 70.3% (male 22,763,274/female 23,304,793)
65 years and over: 8.5% (male 2,516,721/female 3,022,281) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 32.8 years
male: 32 years
female: 33.7 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.64% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 13.57 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.17 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 18.23 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.83 years
male: 70.51 years
female: 75.27 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.64 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 1.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 570,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 58,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria
animal contact disease: rabies
water contact disease: leptospirosis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Thai (singular and plural)
adjective: Thai
Ethnic groups: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%
Religions: Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, other 0.1% (2000 census)
Languages: Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.6%
male: 94.9%
female: 90.5% (2000 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 4.2% of GDP (2005)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Thailand
conventional short form: Thailand
local long form: Ratcha Anachak Thai
local short form: Prathet Thai
former: Siam
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: name: Bangkok
geographic coordinates: 13 45 N, 100 31 E
time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 76 provinces (changwat, singular and plural); Amnat Charoen, Ang Thong, Buriram, Chachoengsao, Chai Nat, Chaiyaphum, Chanthaburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Chumphon, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Krung Thep Mahanakhon (Bangkok), Lampang, Lamphun, Loei, Lop Buri, Mae Hong Son, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Narathiwat, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Pattani, Phangnga, Phatthalung, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phetchaburi, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Phrae, Phuket, Prachin Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ranong, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Roi Et, Sa Kaeo, Sakon Nakhon, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Sara Buri, Satun, Sing Buri, Sisaket, Songkhla, Sukhothai, Suphan Buri, Surat Thani, Surin, Tak, Trang, Trat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Uthai Thani, Uttaradit, Yala, Yasothon
Independence: 1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)
National holiday: Birthday of King PHUMIPHON (BHUMIBOL), 5 December (1927)
Constitution: constitution signed by King PHUMIPHON (BHUMIBOL) on 24 August 2007
Legal system: based on civil law system, with influences of common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: King PHUMIPHON Adunyadet or (BHUMIBOL Adulyadej) (since 9 June 1946)
head of government: Prime Minister ABHISIT Wetchachiwa, also spelled ABHISIT Vejjajiva (since 17 December 2008); Deputy Prime Minister OLARN Cahipravat (since 24 September 2008); Deputy Prime Minister SANAN Kachornprasat, also spelled SANAN Kachornparsart (since 7 February 2008); Deputy Prime Minister SOMPONG Amornwiwat (since 24 September 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
note: there is also a Privy Council
elections: monarch is hereditary; according to 2007 constitution, prime minister is designated from among members of House of Representatives; following national elections for House of Representatives, leader of party that could organize a majority coalition usually was appointed prime minister by king; prime minister is limited to two 4-year terms
Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly or Rathasapha consisted of the Senate or Wuthisapha (150 seats; 76 members elected by popular vote representing 76 provinces, 74 appointed by judges and independent government bodies; all serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Sapha Phuthaen Ratsadon (480 seats; 400 members elected from 157 multi-seat constituencies and 80 elected on proportional party-list basis of 10 per eight zones or groupings of provinces; all serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate – last held on 2 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2014); House of Representatives – last election held on 23 December 2007 (next to be held in December 2011)
election results: Senate – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NA; House of Representatives – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PPP 233, DP 164, TNP 34, Motherland 24, Middle Way 11, Unity 9, Royalist People’s 5
note: 74 senators were appointed on 19 February 2008 by a seven-member committee headed by the chief of the Constitutional Court; 76 senators were elected on 2 March 2008; elections to the Senate are non-partisan; registered political party members are disqualified from being senators
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Sandika (judges appointed by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders: Democrat Party or DP (Prachathipat Party) [ABHISIT Wetchachiwa, also spelled ABHISIT Vejjajiva]; Matchima Thippatai (Middle Way Party) [ANONGWAN Therpsuthin] – disbanded; Motherland Party (Peua Pandin Party); People’s Power Party (Palang Prachachon Party) or PPP [SOMCHAI Wongsawat, acting] – disbanded; Royalist People’s Party (Pracharaj) [SANOH Thienthong]; Ruam Jai Thai Party (Thai Unity Party) [CHETTA Thanacharo, also spelled CHETTHA Thanajaro]; Thai Nation Party or TNP (Chat Thai Party) [BARNHARN SILPA-ARCHA] – disbanded
Political pressure groups and leaders: People’s Alliance for Democracy; Campaign for Democracy [Pibob THONGCHAI]
International organization participation: ADB, APEC, APT, ARF, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, BIS, CP, EAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, PIF (partner), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMIS, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires DAMRONG Kraikruan
chancery: 1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 944-3600
FAX: [1] (202) 944-3611
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Eric G. JOHN
embassy: 120-122 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330
mailing address: APO AP 96546
telephone: [66] (2) 205-4000
FAX: [66] (2) 254-2990, 205-4131
consulate(s) general: Chiang Mai
Flag description: five horizontal bands of red (top), white, blue (double width), white, and red
Culture The culture of Thailand incorporates a great deal of influence from India, China, Cambodia, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Thailand’s main theology Theravada Buddhism is central to modern Thai identity and belief. In practice, Thai Buddhism has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs originating from Hinduism, animism as well as ancestor worship. In areas in the southernmost parts of Thailand, Islam is prevalent. Several different ethnic groups, many of which are marginalized, populate Thailand. Some of these groups overlap into Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia and have maintained a distinctly traditional way of life despite strong Thai cultural influence. Overseas Chinese also form a significant part of Thai society, particularly in and around Bangkok. Their successful integration into Thai society has allowed for this group to hold positions of economic and political power, the most noteworthy of these being the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who held power from 2001 until 19 September 2006 when he was ousted by a military coup d’état.

Like most Asian cultures, respect towards ancestors is an essential part of Thai spiritual practice. Thais have a strong sense of hospitality and generosity, but also a strong sense of social hierarchy. Seniority is an important concept in Thai culture. Elders have by tradition ruled in family decisions or ceremonies.

The traditional Thai greeting, the wai, is generally offered first by the youngest of the two people meeting, with their hands pressed together, fingertips pointing upwards as the head is bowed to touch their face to the hands, usually coinciding with the spoken word “Sawat-dii khrap” for male speakers, and “Sawat-dii ka” for females. The elder then is to respond afterwards in the same way. Social status and position, such as in government, will also have an influence on who performs the wai first. For example, although one may be considerably older than a provincial governor, when meeting it is usually the visitor who pays respect first. When children leave to go to school, they are taught to wai to their parents to represent their respect for them. They do the same when they come back. The wai is a sign of respect and reverence for another, similar to the namaste greeting of India.

Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is the national sport in Thailand and its native martial art call “Muay.” In the past “Muay” was taught to Royal soldiers for combat on battlefield if unarmed. After they retired from the army, these soldiers often became Buddhist monks and stayed at the temples. Most of the Thai people’s lives are closely tied to Buddhism and temples; they often send their sons to be educated with the monks. ”Muay” is also one of the subjects taught in the temples.

Muay Thai achieved popularity all over the world in the 1990s. Although similar martial arts styles exist in other southeast Asian countries, few enjoy the recognition that Muay Thai has received with its full-contact rules allowing strikes including elbows, throws and knees. Association football, however, has possibly overtaken Muay Thai’s position as most widely viewed and liked sport in contemporary Thai society and it is not uncommon to see Thais cheering their favourite English Premier League teams on television and walking around in replica kits. Another widely enjoyed pastime, and once a competitive sport, is kite flying.

Taboos in Thailand include touching someone’s head or pointing with the feet, as the head is considered the most sacred and the foot the dirtiest part of the body. Stepping over someone, or over food, is considered insulting. However, Thai culture as in many other Asian cultures, is succumbing to the influence of globalization with some of the traditional taboos slowly fading away with time.

Thai cuisine blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Some common ingredients used in Thai cuisine include garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, and fish sauce. The staple food in Thailand is rice, particularly jasmine variety rice (also known as Hom Mali rice) which is included in almost every meal. Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice, and Thais domestically consume over 100 kg of milled rice per person per year. Over 5000 varieties of rice from Thailand are preserved in the rice gene bank of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines. The King of Thailand is the official patron of IRRI.

Thai society has been influenced in recent years by its widely-available multi-language press and media. There are numerous English, Thai and Chinese newspapers in circulation; most Thai popular magazines use English headlines as a chic glamor factor. Most large businesses in Bangkok operate in English as well as other languages. Thailand is the largest newspaper market in South East Asia with an estimated circulation of at least 13 million copies daily in 2003. Even upcountry, out of Bangkok, media flourishes. For example, according to Thailand’s Public Relations Department Media Directory 2003-2004, the nineteen provinces of northeast Thailand themselves hosted 116 newspapers in addition to radio, TV and cable.

Economy Economy – overview: With a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand appears to have fully recovered from the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. The country was one of East Asia’s best performers from 2002-04. Boosted by strong export growth, the Thai economy grew 4.5% in 2007. Bangkok has pursued preferential trade agreements with a variety of partners in an effort to boost exports and to maintain high growth. By 2007, the tourism sector had largely recovered from the major 2004 tsunami. Following the military coup in September 2006, investment and consumer confidence stagnated due to the uncertain political climate that lasted through the December 2007 elections. Foreign investor sentiment was further tempered by a 30% reserve requirement on capital inflows instituted in December 2006, and discussion of amending Thailand’s rules governing foreign-owned businesses. Economic growth in 2007 was due almost entirely to robust export performance – despite the pressure of an appreciating currency. Exports have performed at record levels, rising nearly 17% in 2006 and 12% in 2007. Export-oriented manufacturing – in particular automobile production – and farm output are driving these gains.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $521.5 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $245.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 4.8% (2007 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $8,000 (2007 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 11.4%
industry: 43.8%
services: 44.8% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 36.9 million (2007 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 49%
industry: 14%
services: 37% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 1.4% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 10% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 33.4% (2002)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 42 (2002)
Investment (gross fixed): 26.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $44.14 billion
expenditures: $49.83 billion (2007 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 October – 30 September
Public debt: 37.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.2% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 3.75% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 7.05% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $28.62 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $216.6 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $241.8 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: rice, cassava (tapioca), rubber, corn, sugarcane, coconuts, soybeans
Industries: tourism, textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing such as jewelry and electric appliances, computers and parts, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics, automobiles and automotive parts; world’s second-largest tungsten producer and third-largest tin producer
Industrial production growth rate: 5.4% (2007 est.)
Electricity – production: 130.7 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 123.9 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 731 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 4.488 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 91.3%
hydro: 6.4%
nuclear: 0%
other: 2.4% (2001)
Oil – production: 348,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 928,600 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 207,400 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 832,900 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 460 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 25.4 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 35.3 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 9.8 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 331.2 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $14.92 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $151.1 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports – commodities: textiles and footwear, fishery products, rice, rubber, jewelry, automobiles, computers and electrical appliances
Exports – partners: US 12.6%, Japan 11.9%, China 9.7%, Singapore 6.3%, Hong Kong 5.7%, Malaysia 5.1% (2007)
Imports: $125.2 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports – commodities: capital goods, intermediate goods and raw materials, consumer goods, fuels
Imports – partners: Japan 20.3%, China 11.6%, US 6.8%, Malaysia 6.2%, UAE 4.9%, Singapore 4.5%, Taiwan 4.1% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $171.1 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $87.46 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt – external: $59.52 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $80.83 billion (2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $7.013 billion (2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $139.6 billion (2006)
Currency (code): baht (THB)
Currency code: THB
Exchange rates: baht per US dollar – 33.599 (2007), 37.882 (2006), 40.22 (2005), 40.222 (2004), 41.485 (2003)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 7.024 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 51.377 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: high quality system, especially in urban areas like Bangkok
domestic: fixed line system provided by both a government owned and commercial provider; wireless service expanding rapidly and outpacing fixed lines
international: country code – 66; connected to major submarine cable systems providing links throughout Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe, and US; satellite earth stations – 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 238, FM 351, shortwave 6 (2007)
Radios: 13.96 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 111 (2006)
Televisions: 15.19 million (1997)
Internet country code: .th
Internet hosts: 1.116 million (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 15 (2000)
Internet users: 13.416 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 106 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 65
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 6 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 41
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 28 (2007)
Heliports: 3 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 4,381 km; refined products 320 km (2007)
Railways: total: 4,071 km
narrow gauge: 4,071 km 1.000-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 180,053 km (includes 450 km of expressways) (2006)
Waterways: 4,000 km
note: 3,701 km navigable by boats with drafts up to 0.9 m (2005)
Merchant marine: total: 398
by type: bulk carrier 53, cargo 135, chemical tanker 15, container 22, liquefied gas 28, passenger/cargo 10, petroleum tanker 100, refrigerated cargo 32, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 1
foreign-owned: 16 (China 1, Japan 4, Malaysia 3, Singapore 2, Taiwan 1, UK 5)
registered in other countries: 40 (Bahamas 5, Mongolia 1, Panama 10, Singapore 23, Tuvalu 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Prachuap Port, Si Racha
Military Military branches: Royal Thai Army (RTA), Royal Thai Navy (RTN, includes Royal Thai Marine Corps), Royal Thai Air Force (Knogtap Agard Thai, RTAF) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 21 years of age for compulsory military service; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; males are registered at 18 years of age; 2-year conscript service obligation (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 17,553,410
females age 16-49: 17,751,268 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 12,968,674
females age 16-49: 14,058,779 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 531,315
female: 511,288 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 1.8% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: separatist violence in Thailand’s predominantly Muslim southern provinces prompt border closures and controls with Malaysia to stem terrorist activities; Southeast Asian states have enhanced border surveillance to check the spread of avian flu; talks continue on completion of demarcation with Laos but disputes remain over several islands in the Mekong River; despite continuing border committee talks, Thailand must deal with Karen and other ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities, and as of 2006, over 116,000 Karen, Hmong, and other refugees and asylum seekers from Burma; Cambodia and Thailand dispute sections of historic boundary with missing boundary markers; Cambodia claims Thai encroachments into Cambodian territory and obstructing access to Preah Vihear temple ruins awarded to Cambodia by ICJ decision in 1962; Thailand is studying the feasibility of jointly constructing the Hatgyi Dam on the Salween river near the border with Burma; in 2004, international environmentalist pressure prompted China to halt construction of 13 dams on the Salween River that flows through China, Burma, and Thailand
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 132,241 (Burma) (2007)
Illicit drugs: a minor producer of opium, heroin, and marijuana; transit point for illicit heroin en route to the international drug market from Burma and Laos; eradication efforts have reduced the area of cannabis cultivation and shifted some production to neighboring countries; opium poppy cultivation has been reduced by eradication efforts; also a drug money-laundering center; minor role in methamphetamine production for regional consumption; major consumer of methamphetamine since the 1990s despite a series of government crackdowns

Shanghai action plan to promote local culture

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Shanghai action plan to promote local culture

Shanghai Select

Shanghai has put in place a three-year action plan to develop the city into an international cultural metropolis by shaping the city’s rich culture and promoting it worldwide.

The city will encourage more original Shanghai creations, and pave the way for more cultural products to be displayed and promoted nationwide and worldwide.

With its rich culture, Shanghai will dig deep into its past like the traditional culture that is rooted in the region, “red culture” as the birthplace of the Communist Party of China, and as a pioneering city for reform and opening-up that started in the late 1970s.

It will offer more support to artistic talent, companies promoting arts and culture, and developing innovative ideas in the city.

The city also hopes to become a platform to stage art premieres and cultural exchanges.

For example, along with the development of Free Trade Zone, Shanghai will open its market completely for performances, video games, entertainment venues and printing.

It will set up cooperation mechanisms and develop alliances with countries along the Belt and Road for art and film festivals, art galleries, museums, music creation and performances, and intangible cultural heritage protection.

In addition, reforms will be carried out in some time-honored cultural platforms, Hu Jinjun, an official with the city government.

For example, the Shanghai Spring Music Festival will get more support in promoting ethnic music in China, discover Chinese musical talent worldwide, and spearhead the growth of art performances overseas.

Shanghai Select