Suriname: Truth Knowledge And History Of This South American Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Suriname

Introduction First explored by the Spaniards in the 16th century and then settled by the English in the mid-17th century, Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. With the abolition of slavery in 1863, workers were brought in from India and Java. Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic. It continued to exert control through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1990, the military overthrew the civilian leadership, but a democratically elected government – a four-party New Front coalition – returned to power in 1991 and has ruled since; the coalition expanded to eight parties in 2005.
History European exploration of the area began in the 16th century by Dutch, French, Spanish and English explorers. In the 17th century, plantation colonies were established by the Dutch and English along the many rivers in the fertile Guyana plains. The earliest documented colony in Guiana was by an Englishman named Marshall called Marshall’s Creek, along the Suriname River. At the Treaty of Breda, in 1667, the Dutch decided to keep the nascent plantation colony of Suriname conquered from the English, while leaving the small trading post of New Amsterdam in North America, now New York City, in the hands of the English.

The Dutch planters relied heavily on African slaves to cultivate the coffee, cocoa, sugar cane and cotton plantations along the rivers. Treatment of the slaves by their owners was notoriously bad, and many slaves escaped the plantations. With the help of the native South Americans living in the adjoining rain forests, these runaway slaves established a new and unique culture that was highly successful in its own right. Known collectively in English as the Maroons, and in Dutch as “Bosnegers,” (literally meaning “Bush negroes”), they actually established several independent tribes, among them the Saramaka, the Paramaka, the Ndyuka or Aukan, the Kwinti, the Aluku or Boni and the Matawai.

The Maroons would often raid the plantations to recruit new members, acquire women, weapons, food and supplies. These attacks were often deadly for the planters and their families, and after several unsuccessful campaigns against the Maroons, the European authorities signed several peace treaties with them in the 19th century, granting the Maroons sovereign status and trade rights.

Slavery was abolished by the Netherlands in Suriname in 1863, but the slaves in Suriname were not fully released until 1873, after a mandatory 10 year transition period during which time they were required to work on the plantations for minimal pay and without state sanctioned torture. As soon as they became truly free, the slaves largely abandoned the plantations where they had suffered for several generations, in favor of the city, Paramaribo. As a plantation colony, Suriname was still heavily dependent on manual labor, and to make up for the shortfall, the Dutch brought in contract laborers from the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia) and India (through an arrangement with the British). In addition, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, small numbers of mostly men were brought in from China and the Middle East. Although Suriname’s population remains relatively small, because of this history it is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse in the world.

In 1954, the Dutch placed Suriname under a system of limited self-government, with the Netherlands retaining control of defense and foreign affairs. In 1973, the local government, led by the NPK (a largely Creole, meaning ethnically African or mixed African-European, party) started negotiations with the Dutch government leading towards full independence, which was granted on 25 November 1975. The severance package was very substantial, and a large part of Suriname’s economy for the first decade following independence was fueled by foreign aid provided by the Dutch government.

The first President of the country was Johan Ferrier, the former governor, with Henck Arron (leader of the Suriname National Party) as Prime Minister. Nearly one third of the population of Suriname at that time emigrated to the Netherlands in the years leading up to independence, as many people feared that the new country would fare worse under independence than it did as an overseas colony of the Netherlands. Suriname’s diaspora therefore includes more than a quarter of one million people of Suriname origin living in the Netherlands today, including several recent members of the Dutch national football (soccer) team.

On February 25, 1980, a military coup sidelined the democratic government, and with it began a period of economic and social hardship for the country. On 8 December 1982, the military, then under the leadership of Desi Bouterse, rounded up several prominent citizens who were accused of plotting against the government. They were allegedly tortured and certainly killed during the night, and the Netherlands quickly suspended all foreign aid to Suriname after this event. (As of August 2008, Desi Bouterse is currently standing trial in Suriname for his role in these killings.)

Elections were held in 1987 and a new constitution was adopted, which among other things allowed the dictator to remain in charge of the army. Dissatisfied with the government, Bouterse summarily dismissed them in 1990, by telephone. This event became popularly known as “the telephone coup”. Bouterse’s power began to wane after the 1991 elections however, and a brutal civil war between the Suriname army and the Maroons, loyal to the rebel leader Ronnie Brunswijk, further weakened his position during the 1990s.

Suriname’s democracy gained some strength after the turbulent 1990s, and its economy became more diversified and less dependent on Dutch financial assistance. Bauxite (Aluminum ore) mining continues to be a strong revenue source, but the discovery and exploitation of oil and gold has added substantially to Suriname’s economic independence. Agriculture, especially of rice and bananas, remains a strong component of the economy, and ecotourism is providing new economic opportunities. More than 80% of Suriname’s land-mass consists of unspoiled rain forest, and with the establishment of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve in 1998, Suriname signaled its commitment to conservation of this precious resource. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve became a World Heritage Site in 2000.

Geography Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana
Geographic coordinates: 4 00 N, 56 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 163,270 sq km
land: 161,470 sq km
water: 1,800 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Georgia
Land boundaries: total: 1,703 km
border countries: Brazil 593 km, French Guiana 510 km, Guyana 600 km
Coastline: 386 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds
Terrain: mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps
Elevation extremes: lowest point: unnamed location in the coastal plain -2 m
highest point: Juliana Top 1,230 m
Natural resources: timber, hydropower, fish, kaolin, shrimp, bauxite, gold, and small amounts of nickel, copper, platinum, iron ore
Land use: arable land: 0.36%
permanent crops: 0.06%
other: 99.58% (2005)
Irrigated land: 510 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 122 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.67 cu km/yr (4%/3%/93%)
per capita: 1,489 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: deforestation as timber is cut for export; pollution of inland waterways by small-scale mining activities
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: smallest independent country on South American continent; mostly tropical rain forest; great diversity of flora and fauna that, for the most part, is increasingly threatened by new development; relatively small population, mostly along the coast

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)

 

Following the Money in Trumpland Leads Ugly Places

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘NEW YORKER’ MAGAZINE)

 

 / THE NATIONAL CIRCUS

Following the Money in Trumpland Leads Ugly Places

By 

Michael Avenatti is doing what Woodward and Bernstein did: exposing the money trail. Photo: MSNBC

Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. Today, the meaning of Michael Avenatti’s disclosures, Trump’s decision to kill the Iran deal, and Rudy Giuliani’s media tour.

With Michael Avenatti’s revelation that the shell company Michael Cohen used for the Stormy Daniels payoff also received money tied to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg (as well as payments from other companies with government business), it looks like the two main threads of Donald Trump’s legal troubles may be part of the same story. Has Avenatti found the “collusion” that Trump has spent so much energy denying?

Avenatti, whose revelations have since been verified by the Times and others, is doing exactly what Woodward and Bernstein did in Watergate — following the money. By doing so he has unveiled an example of collusion so flagrant that it made Trump and Rudy Giuliani suddenly go mute: a Putin crony’s cash turns out to be an essential component of the racketeering scheme used to silence Stormy Daniels and thus clear Trump’s path to the White House in the final stretch of the 2016 election. Like the Nixon campaign slush fund that Woodward and Bernstein uncovered, this money trail also implicates corporate players hoping to curry favor with a corrupt president. Back then it was the telecommunications giant ITT, then fending off antitrust suits from the government, that got caught red-handed; this time it’s AT&T. Both the Nixon and Trump slush funds were initially set up to illegally manipulate an American presidential election, hush money included. But the Watergate burglars’ dirty tricks, criminal as they were, were homegrown. Even Nixon would have drawn the line at colluding with Russians — or, in those days, the Soviets — to sabotage the Democrats.

5 of the Most Blatantly Unethical Moves by the Trump Administration

I know some accuse Avenatti of being a media whore, but he’s the one media whore I can’t get enough of. He knows what he’s doing, he has the goods, and he is playing high-stakes poker, shrewdly, with what appears to be a winning hand. It is also entertaining to imagine how crazy he is driving Trump. In personality and presence he’s exactly the kind of take-no-prisoners television defender that Trump would want appearing with Sean Hannity in his defense. That was the point of the Mooch. That is the point of Rudy. Apparently that was even once the point of Michael Cohen. If Avenatti, as others have noted, is Billy Flynn from the musical Chicagothen Trump is left with Larry, Curly, and Moe.

Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. from the Iran deal has drawn condemnation from European alliesBarack Obama, and scores of other experts. Will Trump face any political penalty for his choice?

Honestly, I doubt Trump will still be in office when the full fallout of this blunder is felt. The blunder, one should add, is not only to pull out of a deal that was working but also to have no “better deal” (or policy at all) to take its place. But the interesting political piece about both this decision and the onrushing summit with Kim Jong-un is that Trump has persuaded himself that big bold foreign policy moves, however harmful to America and its allies, will rescue him from the rampaging scandal at home. This, again, has a Watergate echo: As the revelations of White House horrors piled up during the midterm election season of 1974, Nixon decided to travel to Moscow, ostensibly a diplomatic mission in the cause of détente. This stunt didn’t stave off the wolves closing in on him in Washington, and the current regurgitation of this tactic won’t save Trump either.

At least Nixon had foreign-policy expertise. He wouldn’t have given away the store to the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. By contrast, there’s every reason to fear that Trump’s ignorant foray into Korea will make Neville Chamberlain’s performance at Munich look Churchillian. Kim is not an idiot; he will keep playing the American president for all he can, knowing that Trump needs a “win” abroad to counterbalance all his losses at home. And Trump’s desperation to make a “deal” with North Korea for his own personal political salvation gets visibly greater with every Michael Avenatti television appearance. Witness the president’s decision to turn up at Andrews Air Force Base at 2 a.m. tomorrow to personally greet the three American detainees that North Korea released today. That Trump thinks this photo op will be effective counterprogramming to Stormy Daniels suggests he’s now lost one talent he unassailably did possess, an intuitive knack for show business.

Even in non-corrupt modern presidencies, there’s little evidence that foreign-policy achievements sway voters. (Foreign-policy debacles — wars that devolve into quagmires, for instance — do move voters, but not in a good way.) In Trump’s case, his America First base could not care less if he wins one of those suspect foreign Nobel Prizes as meaningless as the one awarded Obama. The majority of Americans who are not in Trump’s base won’t care either. Meanwhile, nuclear proliferation and possibly war hang in the balance.

After subjecting the country to a week of the Rudy Giuliani media tour, Donald Trump is now considering sidelining the lawyer. Has Giuliani done more damage to his own reputation or to Trump’s defense?

Both Trump’s legal strategy (if there is one) and Rudy’s reputation were in tatters well before this frequently hilarious and wholly unhinged media tour. It’s an indicator of how much the Trump defense is in disarray that the White House thought it was a good idea to send Giuliani to last weekend’s Sunday shows even after nearly a full week of screwups. And the debacle just keeps rolling along: Just hours before Avenatti posted his bombshell yesterday, Rudy was firmly declaring that Michael Cohen “possesses no incriminating information about the president.”

There’s clearly not just a screw loose in Giuliani but a missing link in his story with Trump. Rudy was a fierce Trump defender during the campaign and lobbied vociferously for a Cabinet position during the transition. Twice he was considered for both secretary of State and secretary of Homeland Security, and twice he was rejected. What does that say about him when you consider that those who did make the cut to top Trump administration jobs included Michael Flynn, Ben Carson, Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, and Ryan Zinke? What does Giuliani have for — or on — Trump that brought him into the fold now? Inquiring minds would like to know.

In any case, Trumpism has bequeathed America not merely a post-fact but post-rule-of-law culture. Rudy, like his boss, claims nonexistent extralegal privileges for presidents, dismisses FBI agents as “stormtroopers,” and endorses “rumor” as a legal strategy. I’d say his record for mad-dog lunacy is perfect were it not for the moment when he told Hannity that Jared Kushner is “disposable” — a judgment that no doubt reflects the view of Kushner’s father-in-law and is surely correct. That is our national Godfather replay at its best.

Syria: Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Very Important Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Syria

Introduction Following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, France administered Syria until its independence in 1946. The country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the Socialist Ba’th Party and the minority Alawite sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops – stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role – were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah.
History Eblan civilization

Around the excavated city of Ebla in northern Syria, discovered in 1975, a great Semitic empire spread from the Red Sea north to Turkey and east to Mesopotamia from 2500 to 2400 BC Ebla appears to have been founded around 3000 BC, and gradually built its empire through trade with the cities of Sumer and Akkad, as well as with peoples to the northwest. Gifts from Pharaohs, found during excavations, confirm Ebla’s contact with Egypt. Scholars believe the language of Ebla to be among the oldest known written Semitic languages, designated as Paleo-Canaanite. However, more recent classifications of the Eblaite language has shown that it was an East Semitic language, closely related to the Akkadian language. The Eblan civilization was likely conquered by Sargon of Akkad around 2260 BC; the city was restored, as the nation of the Amorites, a few centuries later, and flourished through the early second millennium BC until conquered by the Hittites.

Antiquity and early Christian era

During the second millennium BC, Syria was occupied successively by Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Arameans as part of the general disruptions and exchanges associated with the Sea Peoples. The Phoenicians settled along the coast of Palestine, as well as in the west (Lebanon), which was already known for its towering cedars. Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Hittites variously occupied the strategic ground of Syria during this period; the land between their various empires being marsh. Eventually, the Persians took Syria as part of their hegemony of Southwest Asia; this dominion was transferred to the Ancient Macedonians after Alexander the Great’s conquests and the Seleucid Empire. The capital of this Empire (founded in 312BC) was situated at Antioch, modern day Antakya just inside the Turkish border. But the Seleucid Empire was essentially just one long slow period of decline, and Pompey the Great captured Antioch in 64BC, turning Syria into a Roman province. Thus control of this region passed to the Romans and then the Byzantines.

In the Roman Empire period, the city of Antioch was the third largest city in the empire after Rome and Alexandria. With estimated population of 500,000 at its peak, Antioch was one of the major centres of trade and industry in the ancient world. The population of Syria during the heyday of the empire was probably not exceeded again until the 19th century. Syria’s large and prosperous population made Syria one of the most important of the Roman provinces, particularly during the 2nd and 3rd centuries (A.D.). The Roman Emperor Alexander Severus, who was emperor from 222 to 235, was Syrian. His cousin Elagabalus, who was emperor from 218 to 222, was also Syrian and his family held hereditary rights to the high priesthood of the sun god El-Gabal at Emesa (modern Homs) in Syria. Another Roman emperor who was a Syrian was Marcus Julius Philippus, emperor from 244 to 249.

Syria is significant in the history of Christianity; Saul of Tarsus was converted on the Road to Damascus, thereafter being known as the Apostle Paul, and established the first organized Christian Church at Antioch in ancient Syria, from which he left on many of his missionary journeys.(Acts 9:1-43 )

Islamic era

By AD 640, Syria was conquered by the Rashidun army led by Khaled ibn al-Walid, resulting in the area becoming part of the Islamic empire. In the mid-7th century, the Umayyad dynasty, then rulers of the empire, placed the capital of the empire in Damascus. Syria was divided into four districts: Damascus, Hims, Palestine and Jordan. The Islamic empire stretched from Spain and Morocco to India and parts of Central Asia, thus Syria prospered economically, being the capital of the empire. Early Ummayad rulers such as Abd al-Malik and al-Walid constructed several splendid palaces and mosques throughout Syria, particularly in Damascus, Aleppo and Hims. There was great toleration of Christians in this era and several held governmental posts. The country’s power dramatically declined during later Ummayad rule; mainly due to the totalitarianism and corruption spread among the empire’s leaderships, conflict between its general staff, and the successive revolutions by the oppressed and miserable groups. As one Ummayad chieftain responded to a question about the reasons of the decline of their empire: “Rather visiting what needed to be visited, we were more interested in the pleasure and enjoyment of life; we oppressed our people until they gave up and sought relief from us, […] we trusted our ministers who favoured their own interests and kept secrets from us, and we unhurriedly rewarded our soldiers that we lost their obedience to our enemies.” Ummayad dynasty was then overthrown by the Abbasid dynasty in 750, who moved the capital of empire to Baghdad. Arabic — made official under Ummayad rule — became the dominant language, replacing Greek and Aramaic in the Abbasid era. In 887, the Egypt-based Tulunids annexed Syria from the Abbasids, and were later replaced by the Hamdanids originating in Aleppo founded by Sayf al-Daula.

Sections of the coastline of Syria were briefly held by Frankish overlords during the Crusades of the 12th century, and were known as the Crusader state of the Principality of Antioch. The area was also threatened by Shiite extremists known as Assassins (Hashshashin). In 1260, the Mongols arrived, led by Hulegu with an army 100,000 strong, destroying cities and irrigation works. Aleppo fell in January 1260, and Damascus in March, but then Hulegu needed to break off his attack to return to China to deal with a succession dispute. The command of the remaining Mongol troops was placed under Kitbugha, a Christian Mongol. A few months later, the Mamluks arrived with an army from Egypt, and defeated the Mongols in the Battle of Ayn Jalut, in Galilee. The Mamluk leader, Baybars, made his capitals in Cairo and Damascus, linked by a mail service that traveled by both horses and carrier pigeons. When Baybars died, his successor was overthrown, and power was taken by a Turk named Qalawun. In the meantime, an emir named Sunqur al-Ashqar had tried to declare himself ruler of Damascus, but he was defeated by Qalawun on 21 June 1280, and fled to northern Syria. Al-Ashqar, who had married a Mongol woman, appealed for help from the Mongols, and in 1281, they arrived with an army of 50,000 Mongols, and 30,000 Armenian, Georgian, and Turkish auxiliaries, along with Al-Ashqar’s rebel force. The Mongols of the Ilkhanate took the city, but Qalawun arrived with a Mamluk force, persuaded Al-Ashqar to switch sides and join him, and they fought against the Mongols on 29 October 1281, in the Second Battle of Homs, a close battle which resulted in the death of the majority of the combatants, but was finally won by the Mamluks.

In 1400, Timur Lenk, or Tamerlane, invaded Syria, sacked Aleppo and captured Damascus after defeating the Mamluk army. The city’s inhabitants were massacred, except for the artisans, who were deported to Samarkand. It was during the conquests of Timur that the indigenous Christian population of Syria began to suffer under greater persecutions.

By the end of the 15th century, the discovery of a sea route from Europe to the Far East ended the need for an overland trade route through Syria. Shattered by the Mongols, Syria was easily absorbed into the Ottoman Empire from the 16th through 20th centuries, and found itself largely apart from, and ignored by, world affairs. see also Ottoman Syria

Ottoman era

Fighting on the side of Germany during World War I, plans by the Entente powers to dissolve this great Ottoman territory could now begin. Two allied diplomats (Frenchman François Georges-Picot and Briton Mark Sykes) secretly agreed, long before the end of the war, how to split the Ottoman Empire into several zones of influence. The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 set the fate of modern Southwest Asia for the coming century; providing France with the northern zone (Syria, with later the upcoming Lebanon), and the United Kingdom with the southern one (Jordan, Iraq and later, after renegotiations in 1917, Palestine – ‘to secure daily transportation of troops from Haifa to Baghdad’ – agreement n° 7). The two territories were only separated with a straight border line from Jordan to Iran. But early discoveries of oil in the region of Mosul just before to end of the war led to yet another negotiation with France in 1918 to cede this region to ‘Zone B’, or the British zone of influence. The borders between the ‘Zone A’ and ‘Zone B’ have not changed from 1918 to this date. Since 1920, the two sides have been recognized internationally under mandate of the League of Nations by the two dominant countries; France and the United Kingdom.

French Mandate

The National Bloc signing the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence in Paris in 1936. From left to right: Saadallah al-Jabiri, Jamil Mardam Bey, Hashim al-Atassi (signing), and French Prime Minister Léon Blum.

In 1920, an independent Arab Kingdom of Syria was established under Faisal I of the Hashemite family, who later became the King of Iraq. However, his rule over Syria ended after only a few months, following the clash between his Syrian Arab forces and regular French forces at the Battle of Maysalun. French troops occupied Syria later that year after the San Remo conference proposed that the League of Nations put Syria under a French mandate. Syria and France negotiated a treaty of independence in September 1936, and Hashim al-Atassi, who was Prime Minister under King Faisal’s brief reign, was the first president to be elected under a new constitution, effectively the first incarnation of the modern republic of Syria. However, the treaty never came into force because the French Legislature refused to ratify it. With the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Syria came under the control of the Vichy Government until the British and Free French occupied the country in July 1941. A famous singer of the time, Asmahan, assisted the British and free French forces by using her fame to convince the Syrians to allow the forces in without a fight (see Wikipedia reference to Asmahan). Syria proclaimed its independence again in 1941 but it wasn’t until 1 January 1944 that it was recognised as an independent republic. Continuing pressure from Syrian nationalist groups and British pressure forced the French to evacuate their troops in April 1946, leaving the country in the hands of a republican government that had been formed during the mandate.

Instability and foreign relations: independence to 1967

Although rapid economic development followed the declaration of independence, Syrian politics from independence through the late 1960s were marked by upheaval. Between 1946 and 1956, Syria had 20 different cabinets and drafted four separate constitutions. In 1948, Syria was involved in the Arab-Israeli War, aligning with the other local Arab nations who were attempting to prevent the establishment of Israel. The Syrian army was pressed out of most of the Israel area, but fortified their strongholds on the Golan Heights and managed to keep their old borders and some additional territory (this was converted into “supposed” demilitarized zones under UN supervision, but then gradually lost to Israel in the inter-war years; the status of these territories have proved a stumbling-block for Syrian-Israeli negotiations).

The humiliating defeat suffered by the army was one of several trigger factors for Col. Husni al-Za’im’s seizure of power in 1949, in what has been described as the first military coup d’état of the Arab world. This was soon followed by a new coup, by Col. Sami al-Hinnawi, who was then himself quickly deposed by Col. Adib Shishakli, all within the same year. After exercising influence behind the scenes for some time, dominating the ravaged parliamentary scene, Shishakli launched a second coup in 1951, entrenching his rule and eventually abolishing multipartyism altogether. Only when president Shishakli was himself overthrown in a 1954 coup, was the parliamentary system restored, but it was fundamentally undermined by continued political maneuvering supported by competing factions in the military. By this time, civilian politics had been largely gutted of meaning, and power was increasingly concentrated in the military and security establishment, which had now proven itself to be the only force capable of seizing and – perhaps – keeping power. Parliamentary institutions remained weak and ineffectual, dominated by competing parties representing the landowning elites and various Sunni urban notables, while economy and politics were mismanaged, and little done to better the role of Syria’s peasant majority. This, as well as the influence of Nasserism and other anti-colonial ideologies, created fertile ground for various Arab nationalist, Syrian nationalist and socialist movements, who represented disaffected elements of society, notably including the religious minorities, and demanded radical reform.

During the Suez Crisis of 1956, after the invasion of the Sinai Peninsula by Israeli troops, and the intervention of British and French troops, martial law was declared in Syria. The November 1956 attacks on Iraqi pipelines were in retaliation for Iraq’s acceptance into the Baghdad Pact. In early 1957 Iraq advised Egypt and Syria against a conceivable takeover of Jordan.

In November 1956 Syria signed a pact with the Soviet Union, providing a foothold for Communist influence within the government in exchange for planes, tanks, and other military equipment being sent to Syria. With this increase in the strength of Syrian military technology worried Turkey, as it seemed feasible that Syria might attempt to retake Iskenderun, a matter of dispute between Syria and Turkey. On the other hand, Syria and the U.S.S.R. accused Turkey of massing its troops at the Syrian border. During this standoff, Communists gained more control over the Syrian government and military. Only heated debates in the United Nations (of which Syria was an original member) lessened the threat of war.

Syria’s political instability during the years after the 1954 coup, the parallelism of Syrian and Egyptian policies, and the appeal of Egyptian President Gamal Abdal Nasser’s leadership in the wake of the Suez crisis created support in Syria for union with Egypt. On 1 February 1958, Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli and Nasser announced the merging of the two countries, creating the United Arab Republic, and all Syrian political parties, as well as the Communists therein, ceased overt activities.

The union was not a success, however. Following a military coup on 28 September 1961, Syria seceded, reestablishing itself as the Syrian Arab Republic. Instability characterized the next 18 months, with various coups culminating on 8 March 1963, in the installation by leftist Syrian Army officers of the National Council of the Revolutionary Command (NCRC), a group of military and civilian officials who assumed control of all executive and legislative authority. The takeover was engineered by members of the Arab Socialist Resurrection Party (Baath Party), which had been active in Syria and other Arab countries since the late 1940s. The new cabinet was dominated by Baath members.

The Baath takeover in Syria followed a Baath coup in Iraq the previous month. The new Syrian Government explored the possibility of federation with Egypt and with Baath-controlled Iraq. An agreement was concluded in Cairo on 17 April 1963, for a referendum on unity to be held in September 1963. However, serious disagreements among the parties soon developed, and the tripartite federation failed to materialize. Thereafter, the Baath government in Syria and Iraq began to work for bilateral unity. These plans foundered in November 1963, when the Baath government in Iraq was overthrown. In May 1964, President Amin Hafiz of the NCRC promulgated a provisional constitution providing for a National Council of the Revolution (NCR), an appointed legislature composed of representatives of mass organizations—labour, peasant, and professional unions—a presidential council, in which executive power was vested, and a cabinet. On 23 February 1966, a group of army officers carried out a successful, intra-party coup, imprisoned President Hafiz, dissolved the cabinet and the NCR, abrogated the provisional constitution, and designated a regionalist, civilian Baath government on 1 March. The coup leaders described it as a “rectification” of Baath Party principles.

Six Day War and Aftermath

The new government generally aligned itself with the hawkish Nasser in intra-Arab conflicts over how hard of a line to take against Israel. When Nasser closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Eilat-bound ships, the Baath government supported the Egyptian leader, amassed troops in the strategic Golan Heights to defend itself against Israeli shellings into Syria. According to the UN office in Jerusalem from 1955 until 1967 65 of the 69 border flare-ups between Syria and Israel were caused and started by Israel. The New York Times reported in 1997 that “Moshe Dayan, the celebrated commander who, a Defense Minister in 1967, gave the order to conquer the Golan…[said] many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for their farmland.” After Israel launched a preemptive strike on Egypt to begin the June 1967 war, Syria joined the battle against Israel as well. In the final days of the war, after having captured the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt, as well as the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem from Jordan, Israel turned its attention to Syria, capturing the entire Golan Heights in under 48 hours.

Conflict developed between an extremist military wing and a more moderate civilian wing of the Baath Party. The 1970 retreat of Syrian forces sent to aid the PLO during the “Black September” hostilities with Jordan reflected this political disagreement within the ruling Baath leadership. By 13 November 1970, Minister of Defense Hafez al-Assad was solidly established as the strongman of the government, when he effected a bloodless military coup (“The Corrective Movement”).

Baath Party rule under Hafez al-Assad, 1970–2000

Upon assuming power, Hafez al-Assad moved quickly to create an organizational infrastructure for his government and to consolidate control. The Provisional Regional Command of Assad’s Arab Baath Socialist Party nominated a 173-member legislature, the People’s Council, in which the Baath Party took 87 seats. The remaining seats were divided among “popular organizations” and other minor parties. In March 1971, the party held its regional congress and elected a new 21-member Regional Command headed by Assad. In the same month, a national referendum was held to confirm Assad as President for a 7-year term. In March 1972, to broaden the base of his government, Assad formed the National Progressive Front, a coalition of parties led by the Baath Party, and elections were held to establish local councils in each of Syria’s 14 governorates. In March 1973, a new Syrian constitution went into effect followed shortly thereafter by parliamentary elections for the People’s Council, the first such elections since 1962.

On 6 October 1973, Syria and Egypt began the Yom Kippur War by staging a surprise attack against Israel (Arabs call it the “Ramadan War” or “October War” because Syria and Egypt attacked during Ramadan in the month of October). But despite the element of surprise, the Israeli army had recovered, pushed the Syrian army out of the Golan and invaded into Syrian territory beyond the 1967 border. As a result, Israel continued to occupy the Golan Heights as part of the Israeli-occupied territories.

In early 1976, the Lebanese civil war was going poorly for the Maronite Christians. Syria sent 40,000 troops into the country to prevent them from being overrun, but soon became embroiled in the Lebanese Civil War, beginning the 30 year Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Many crimes in Lebanon were associated to the Syrians forces and intelligences: Kamal Jumblat, Bachir Gemayel, Moufti Hassan Khaled, Rene Mouawad,… Over the following 15 years of civil war, Syria fought both for control over Lebanon, and as an attempt to undermine Israel in southern Lebanon, through extensive use of Lebanese allies as proxy fighters. Many see the Syrian Army’s presence in Lebanon as an occupation, especially following the end of the civil war in 1990, after the Syrian-sponsored Taif Agreement. Syria then remained in Lebanon until 2005, exerting a heavy-handed influence over Lebanese politics, that was deeply resented by many.

About one million Syrian workers came into Lebanon after the war ended to find jobs in the reconstruction of the country.[28] Syrian workers were preferred over Palestinian and Lebanese workers because they could be paid lower wages, but some have argued that the Syrian government’s encouragement of citizens entering its small and militarily dominated neighbor in search of work, was in fact an attempt at Syrian colonization of Lebanon. Now, the economies of Syria and Lebanon are completely interdependent. In 1994, under pressure from Damascus, the Lebanese government controversially granted citizenship to over 200,000 Syrian residents in the country., (For more on these issues, see Demographics of Lebanon)

The authoritarian government was not without its critics, though open dissent was repressed. A serious challenge arose in the late 1970s, however, from fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, who reject the basic values of the secular Baath program and object to rule by the Alawis, whom they consider heretical. From 1976 until its suppression in 1982, the arch-conservative Muslim Brotherhood led an armed insurgency against the government. In response to an attempted uprising by the brotherhood in February 1982, the government crushed the fundamentalist opposition centered in the city of Hama, leveling parts of the city with artillery fire and causing between 10.000 and 25.000 of dead and wounded, mostly civilians (see Hama massacre). Since then, public manifestations of anti-government activity have been very limited.

Syria’s 1990 participation in the U.S.-led multinational coalition aligned against Saddam Hussein marked a dramatic watershed in Syria’s relations both with other Arab states and with the Western world. Syria participated in the multilateral Southwest Asia Peace Conference in Madrid in October 1991, and during the 1990s engaged in direct, face-to-face negotiations with Israel. These negotiations failed, and there have been no further direct Syrian-Israeli talks since President Hafiz al-Assad’s meeting with then President Bill Clinton in Geneva in March 2000.

21st century

Hafiz al-Assad died on 10 June 2000, after 30 years in power. Immediately following al-Assad’s death, the Parliament amended the constitution, reducing the mandatory minimum age of the President from 40 to 34. This allowed his son, Bashar al-Assad, to become legally eligible for nomination by the ruling Baath party. On 10 July 2000, Bashar al-Assad was elected President by referendum in which he ran unopposed, garnering 97.29% of the vote, according to Syrian Government statistics. He was inaugurated into office on 17 July 2000 for a 7-year term. He is married to Asma al-Assad, an activist herself and advocate of reforms.

Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text God protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006.

Under Bashar al-Assad hundreds of political prisoners were released and a steps were taken towards easing media restrictions. However, Bashar al-Assad has made it clear that his priority is economic rather than political reform.

On 5 October 2003, Israel bombed a site near Damascus, charging it was a terrorist training facility for members of Islamic Jihad. The raid was in retaliation for the bombing of a restaurant in the Israeli town of Haifa that killed 19. Islamic Jihad said the camp was not in use; Syria said the attack was on a civilian area.

The German Chancellor said that the attack “cannot be accepted” and the French Foreign Ministry said “The Israeli operation… constituted an unacceptable violation of international law and sovereignty rules.” The Spanish UN Ambassador Inocencio Arias called it an attack of “extreme gravity” and “a clear violation of international law.” However, the United States moved closer to imposing sanctions on Syria, following the adoption of the Syria Accountability Act by the House of Representatives International Relations committee. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, all included in what the EU and the U.S view as terrorist groups, all take refuge and enjoy strong relationships with the Syrian government.

Syrian Kurds protest in Brussels, Geneva, in Germany at the US and UK embassies and in Turkey, against violence in north-east Syria starting Friday, 12 March, and reportedly extending over the weekend resulting in several deaths, according to reports. The Kurds allege the Syrian government encouraged and armed the attackers. Signs of rioting were seen in the towns of Qameshli and Hassakeh.

On 6 September 2007, Israeli jet fighters carried out an air strike in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate, known as Operation Orchard, on a target claimed to be a nuclear reactor under construction by North Korean technicians. Reportedly a number of the technicians were killed.

2008 Israeli Peace Talks

In April, 2008, President Assad told a Qatari newspaper that Syria and Israel had been discussing a peace treaty for a year, with Turkey as a go-between. This was confirmed in May, 2008, by a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. As well as a peace treaty, the future of the Golan Heights is being discussed. President Assad was quoted in the The Guardian as telling the Qatari paper:
…there would be no direct negotiations with Israel until a new US president takes office. The US was the only party qualified to sponsor any direct talks, [President Assad] told the paper, but added that the Bush administration “does not have the vision or will for the peace process. It does not have anything.”

(Just as George W. Bush was clueless about how  to do anything in the Middle-East except how to line the pockets of his family and friends so is the situation with this buffoon that sits in the White House today.  Since the Syrian Civil War started in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrian citizens have been slaughtered and there have been many people pulling on the triggers. Even though President al-Assad has never been a Saint by any means he was better than the alternatives that U.S. Secretary of State (at the time) Hillary Clinton was trying to use to over through President Assad with.  This war was an event that the U.S. Government should have stayed as far away from as it possibly could but I guess the revenue’s going to U.S. Arms makers and to the U.S. Military infrastructure was just to great to resist.)
(Before this Civil War ever started, back when the so called ‘Arab Spring’ was going around the map toward Syria I knew that if there was a war in Syria that President al-Assad would be the one standing when it was all over. I know that I am not the brightest bulb in the package so I know that there had to be many other annalists here in the U.S. and around the rest of the world that knew this too. For the same reasons that have proven to be reality, Russia being their ally along with Iran and Hezbollah all joining forces to make sure that the current status-quo stayed in effect. When the door was opened for a major Sunni army to invade Syria (ISIS) even the U.S. got into the direct ‘military game’. What I mean by game is simple, who was allowed to bomb who, and whom could we not bomb. Russia has been playing the same game, they are on Syria’s side but they were trying to not bomb the American soldiers even though we were wanting to bring down the Syrian government and we were trying to not bomb the Russian soldiers even though they are on the side of the Syrian government.)
(When this war is finished President al-Assad will still be the President yet the hate and mistrust among the people of Syria toward the government and the government toward the Syrian people will last for several decades. When the war is over the Nation of Syria will need trillions of dollars of loans from the international community in order to rebuild and it will take at least two or three decades to get the Syrian infrastructure back to the point it was at in March of 2011. Another reality is the old cities like Allepo which had buildings many hundreds of years old, can never be rebuilt to their former glory, ever. Now that this war is winding down I believe that President al-Assad must insist that Iran remove all of their assets out of Syria. There are two main reason that I say this. One is the example of this past month where Israel has gone after Iranian positions within Syria, Syria can have peace with Israel if they want it but they must expel Iran. The second reason is that if President al-Assad does not remove Iran’s military and Hezbollah’s military from Syrian soil it won’t be long until Tehran is dictating the policies inside of Syria, not President al-Assad.)(Commentary in red is by oldpoet56)

Rex Tillerson Blasts Trump About Him Being An Habitual Liar

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Rex Tillerson may be gone, but he hasn’t forgotten.

Speaking to soon-to-be graduates of the Virginia Military Institute on Wednesday, Tillerson dropped this truth bomb:
“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”
Woof.
Double woof.
You may remember that Tillerson was removed as Secretary of State by President Donald Trumpafter a remarkably tempestuous year in office — a period of time during which relations between the two men grew badly strained.
Things were never really the same after reports surfaced last fall that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron” in a Pentagon meeting in the summer of 2017. Tillerson didn’t deny using that word, although he sought to shame the press for even covering it. Which means, of course, that he said it.
Then there was the time when Tillerson directly refused to provide Trump cover following the President’s “both sides” comments about the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“The President speaks for himself,” Tillerson remarked at the time.
You may also remember that President Trump said more than 3,000 things that were either misleading or totally false during his first year in office — a rate of more than six mistruths a day, according to the Washington Post. Or that Trump administration senior counselor Kellyanne Conway famously/infamously coined the phrase “alternative facts” to explain away Trump’s false claims about the size of his inauguration crowd.
Now. Tillerson and his people will helpfully note that he never mentioned Trump’s name in the speech, and that the address was meant as a broad call to fight for truth rather than a narrowly cast shot at the President of the United States.
Don’t believe them.
Tillerson is no dummy. He knew what he was doing. The use of the phrase “alternative realities” is no accident. Neither are these lines from the Tillerson speech:
“A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what truth is and is not, what a fact is and is not and begin by holding ourselves accountable to truthfulness and demand our pursuit of America’s future be fact-based — not based on wishful thinking, not hoped-for outcomes made in shallow promises, but with a clear-eyed view of the facts as they are, and guided by the truth that will set us free to seek solutions to our most daunting challenges.”
It is impossible to read that paragraph and not have the image of Donald Trump conjured up in your mind. Im-possible.
That’s just want Tillerson wanted — and yet more proof that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Taiwan: The Truth Knowledge And History Of This Great Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Taiwan

Introduction In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia’s economic “Tigers.” The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China – specifically the question of eventual unification – as well as domestic political and economic reform.
History Prehistory and early settlements

Evidence of human settlement in Taiwan dates back thirty thousand years, although the first inhabitants of Taiwan may have been genetically distinct from any groups currently on the island. About four thousand years ago, ancestors of current Taiwanese aborigines settled in Taiwan. These aborigines are genetically related to Malay and Polynesians, and linguists classify their languages as Austronesian. Polynesians are suspected to have ancestry traceable back to Taiwan.

Han Chinese began settling in Penghu in the 1200s, but Taiwan’s hostile tribes and its lack of the trade resources valued in that era rendered it unattractive to all but “occasional adventurers or fishermen engaging in barter” until the sixteenth century.

Records from ancient China indicate that Han Chinese might have known of the existence of the main island of Taiwan since the Three Kingdoms period (third century, 230 A.D.), having assigned offshore islands in the vicinity names like Greater Liuqiu and Lesser Liuqiu (etymologically, but perhaps not semantically, identical to Ryūkyū in Japanese), though none of these names has been definitively matched to the main island of Taiwan. It has been claimed but not verified that the Ming Dynasty admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He) visited Taiwan between 1403 and 1424.

European settlement

In 1544, a Portuguese ship sighted the main island of Taiwan and dubbed it “Ilha Formosa”, which means “Beautiful Island.” The Portuguese made no attempt to colonize Taiwan.

In 1624, the Dutch established a commercial base on Taiwan and began to import workers from Fujian and Penghu as laborers, many of whom settled. The Dutch made Taiwan a colony with its colonial capital at Tayoan City (present day Anping, Tainan). Both Tayoan and the island name Taiwan derive from a word in Sirayan, one of the Formosan languages.

The Dutch military presence was concentrated at a stronghold called Castle Zeelandia. The Dutch colonists also started to hunt the native Formosan Sika deer (Cervus nippon taioanus) that inhabited Taiwan, contributing to the eventual extinction of the subspecies on the island.

Koxinga and Imperial Chinese rule

Naval and troop forces of Southern Fujian defeated the Dutch in 1662, subsequently expelling the Dutch government and military from the island. They were led by Koxinga. Following the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Koxinga retreated to Taiwan as a self-styled Ming loyalist and established the Kingdom of Tungning (1662–83). Koxinga established his capital at Tainan and he and his heirs, Zheng Jing, who ruled from 1662–82, and Zheng Keshuang, who served less than a year, continued to launch raids on the south-east coast of mainland China well into the Qing Dynasty, attempting to recover the mainland.

In 1683, following the defeat of Koxinga’s grandson by an armada led by Admiral Shi Lang of Southern Fujian, the Qing Dynasty formally annexed Taiwan, placing it under the jurisdiction of Fujian province. The Qing Dynasty government tried to reduce piracy and vagrancy in the area, issuing a series of edicts to manage immigration and respect aboriginal land rights. Immigrants mostly from Southern Fujian continued to enter Taiwan. The border between taxpaying lands and “savage” lands shifted eastward, with some aborigines ‘Sinicizing’ while others retreated into the mountains. During this time, there were a number of conflicts between Chinese from different regions of Southern Fujian, and between Southern Fujian Chinese and aborigines.

Northern Taiwan and the Penghu Islands were the scene of an important subsidiary campaign in the Sino-French War (August 1884 to April 1885). The French occupied Keelung from 1 October 1884 to 22 June 1885 and the Penghu Islands from 31 March to 22 July 1885. A French attempt to capture Tamsui was defeated at the Battle of Tamsui (8 October 1884). Several battles were fought around Keelung between October 1884 and March 1885 between Liu Ming-ch’uan’s Army of Northern Taiwan and Colonel Jacques Duchesne’s Formosa Expeditionary Corps. The Keelung Campaign, despite some notable French tactical victories, ended in a stalemate. The Pescadores Campaign was a French victory, but had no long-term consequences. The French evacuated both Keelung and the Penghu archipelago at the end of the war.

In 1887, the Qing government upgraded Taiwan’s status from prefecture of Fujian to full province, the twentieth in the country, with its capital at Taipei. This was accompanied by a modernization drive that included building Taiwan’s first railroad and starting a postal service.

Japanese rule

Imperial Japan had sought to control Taiwan since 1592, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi began extending Japanese influence overseas. In 1609, the Tokugawa Shogunate sent Arima Harunobu on an exploratory mission. In 1616, Murayama Toan led an unsuccessful invasion of the island.

In 1871, an Okinawan vessel shipwrecked on the southern tip of Taiwan and the crew of fifty-four were beheaded by the Paiwan aborigines. When Japan sought compensation from Qing China, the court rejected the demand on the grounds that the “wild”/”unsubjugated” aboriginals (traditional Chinese: 台灣生番; simplified Chinese: 台湾生番; pinyin: Táiwān shēngfān) were outside its jurisdiction. This open renunciation of sovereignty led to a Japanese invasion of Taiwan. In 1874, an expeditionary force of three thousand troops was sent to the island. There were about thirty Taiwanese and 543 Japanese casualties (twelve in battle and 531 by endemic diseases).

Qing China was defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), and ceded Taiwan and Penghu to Japan in perpetuity in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Inhabitants wishing to remain Chinese subjects were given a two-year grace period to sell their property and remove to mainland China. Very few Taiwanese saw this as feasible.

On May 25, 1895, a group of pro-Qing high officials proclaimed the Republic of Formosa to resist impending Japanese rule. Japanese forces entered the capital at Tainan and quelled this resistance on October 21, 1895.

The Japanese were instrumental in the industrialization of the island; they extended the railroads and other transportation networks, built an extensive sanitation system and revised the public school system. During this period, both rice and sugarcane production greatly increased. At one point, Taiwan was the seventh greatest sugar producer in the world[citation needed]. Still, the ethnic Chinese and Taiwanese aborigines were classified as second- and third-class citizens. Large-scale violence continued in the first decade of rule. Japan launched over 160 battles to destroy Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes during its 51-year rule of the island …’ Around 1935, the Japanese began an island-wide assimilation project to bind the island more firmly to the Japanese Empire. The plan worked very well, to the point that tens of thousands of Taiwanese joined the Japanese army ranks, and fought loyally for them. For example, former ROC President Lee Teng-hui’s elder brother served in the Japanese navy and died while on duty in February 1945 in the Philippines.

Taiwan played a significant part in the system of Japanese prisoner of war camps that extended across South-East Asia between 1942 and 1945.’ Allied POW’s, as well as ‘women and children as young as seven or eight years old,’ were brutally enslaved at various locations like at the copper mine northwest of Keelung, sadistically supervised by Taiwanese and Japanese. ‘… it was found that, while the Japanese were invariably proud to give their name and rank, Taiwanese soldiers and ‘hanchos’ invariably concealed their names … some Taiwanese citizens … were willing participants in war crimes of various degrees of infamy … young males were to an extent highly nipponized; in fact a proportion in the 1930s are reported to have been actively hoping for a Japanese victory in China … One of the most tragic events of the whole Pacific war took place in Kaohsiung. This was the bombing of the prison ship Enoura Maru in Kaohsiung harbour on January 9, 1945.’

The Imperial Japanese Navy operated heavily out of Taiwan. The “South Strike Group” was based out of the Taihoku Imperial University in Taiwan. Many of the Japanese forces participating in the Aerial Battle of Taiwan-Okinawa were based in Taiwan. Important Japanese military bases and industrial centers throughout Taiwan, like Kaohsiung, were targets of heavy American bombing.

By 1945, just before Japan lost World War II, desperate plans were put in place to incorporate popular representation of Taiwan into the Japanese Diet to make Taiwan an integral part of Japan proper.

Japan’s rule of Taiwan ended when it lost World War II and signed the Instrument of Surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945. But the Japanese occupation had long lasting effects on Taiwan and Taiwanese culture. Taiwanese tend to have a more positive view of Japan than other Asians[citation needed]. Significant parts of Taiwanese infrastructure were started under the Japanese rule. The current Presidential Building was also built during that time. In 1938 there were 309,000 Japanese settlers in Taiwan. After World War II, most of the Japanese repatriated to Japan.

Kuomintang martial law period

On October 25, 1945, ROC troops representing the Allied Command accepted the formal surrender of Japanese military forces in Taihoku. The ROC Government, led by Chiang Kai-shek, announced that date as “Taiwan Retrocession Day”. They were greeted as liberators by some Taiwanese, however, most other Taiwanese who fought against China and the allies for the Japanese war machine greeted them reluctantly, this new generation of Chinese arrivals. The ROC under Chen Yi was very unstable and corrupt; it seized the people’s property and set up government monopolies of many industries. Many problems like this, compounded with hyperinflation, unrest due to the Chinese Civil War, and distrust due to political, cultural and linguistic differences between the Taiwanese and the Mainland Chinese, quickly led to the loss of popular support for the new government. This culminated in a series of severe clashes between the ROC government and Taiwanese, in turn leading to the bloody 228 incident and the reign of White Terror.

In 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, the Kuomintang (KMT), led by Chiang Kai-shek, retreated from Mainland China and moved the ROC government from Nanjing (then romanised as “Nanking”) to Taipei, Taiwan’s largest city, while continuing to claim sovereignty over all of China, which the ROC defines to include mainland China, Taiwan, Outer Mongolia as well as other areas. In mainland China, the victorious Communists established the PRC, claiming to be the sole representative of China including Taiwan and portraying the ROC government on Taiwan as an illegitimate entity.

Some 2 million refugees from Mainland China, consisting mainly of soldiers, KMT party members and most importantly the intellectual and business elites fled mainland China and arrived in Taiwan around that time. In addition, as part of its escape from Communists in mainland China, the ROC government relocated to Taiwan with many national treasures including gold reserves and foreign currency reserves. This was often used by the PRC government to explain its economic difficulties and Taiwan’s comparative prosperity. From this period through the 1980s, Taiwan was governed by a party-state dictatorship, with the KMT as the ruling party. Military rule continued and little to no distinction was made between the government and the party, with public property, government property, and party property being interchangeable. Government workers and party members were indistinguishable, with government workers, such as teachers, required to become KMT members, and party workers paid salaries and promised retirement benefits along the lines of government employees. In addition all other parties were outlawed, and political opponents were persecuted, incarcerated, and executed.

Taiwan remained under martial law and one-party rule, under the name of the “Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion”, from 1948 to 1987, when the ROC Presidents Chiang Ching-kuo and Lee Teng-hui gradually liberalized and democratized the system. With the advent of democratization, the issue of the political status of Taiwan has resurfaced as a controversial issue (previously, discussion of anything other than unification under the ROC was taboo).

As the Chinese Civil War continued without truce, the ROC built up military fortification works throughout Taiwan. Within this effort, former KMT soldiers built the now famous Central Cross-Island Highway through the Taroko Gorge in the 1950s. The two sides would remain in a heightened military state well into the 1960’s on the islands on the border with unknown number of night raids and clashes with details that are rarely made public. During the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in September 1958, Taiwan’s landscape added Nike-Hercules missile batteries with the formation of the 1st Missile Battalion Chinese Army and would not be deactivated until 1997. Newer generations of missile batteries have since replaced the Nike Hercules systems throughout the island.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the ROC began to develop into a prosperous, industrialized developed country with a strong and dynamic economy, becoming one of the Four Asian Tigers while maintaining the authoritarian, single-party government. Because of the Cold War, most Western nations and the United Nations regarded the ROC as the sole legitimate government of China (while being merely the de-facto government on Taiwan) until the 1970s, when most nations began switching recognition to the PRC.

Modern democratic era

Chiang Kai-shek’s eventual successor, his son Chiang Ching-kuo, began to liberalize Taiwan’s political system. In 1984, the younger Chiang selected Lee Teng-hui, a Taiwan-born technocrat, to be his vice president. In 1986, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was formed and inaugurated as the first opposition party in Taiwan to counter the KMT. A year later Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law.

After the 1988 death of Chiang Ching-Kuo, his successor as President Lee Teng-hui continued to hand more government authority over to the Taiwan-born and democratize the government. Under Lee, Taiwan underwent a process of localization in which local culture and history was promoted over a pan-China viewpoint. Lee’s reforms included printing banknotes from the Central Bank rather than the Provincial Bank of Taiwan, and disbanding the Taiwan Provincial Government. Under Lee, the original members of the Legislative Yuan and National Assembly, elected in 1947 to represent mainland Chinese constituencies and having taken the seats without re-election for more than four decades, were forced to resign in 1991. Restrictions on the use of Taiwanese in the broadcast media and in schools were lifted as well. During later years of Lee’s administration, he was involved in corruption controversies relating to government release of land and weapons purchase, although no legal proceedings were commenced, as the investigations were interrupted.

In the 1990s, the ROC continued its democratic reforms, as President Lee Teng-hui was elected by the first popular vote held in Taiwan during the 1996 Presidential election. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP, was elected as the first non-KMT President and was re-elected to serve his second and last term since 2004. Polarized politics has emerged in Taiwan with the formation of the Pan-Blue Coalition of parties led by the KMT, favoring eventual Chinese reunification, and the Pan-Green Coalition of parties led by the DPP, favoring an eventual and official declaration of Taiwan independence.

On September 30, 2007, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party approved a resolution asserting separate identity from China and called for the enactment of a new constitution for a “normal country”. It also called for general use of “Taiwan” as the island’s name, without abolishing its formal name, the Republic of China. The Chen administration also pushed for referendums on national defense and UN entry in the 2004 and 2008 elections, which failed due to voter turnout below the required legal threshold of 50% of all registered voters. The Chen administration was also dogged by public concern over reduced economic growth, legislative gridlock due to a pan-blue controlled Legislative Yuan, and alleged corruption controversies involving the First Family.

The KMT increased its majority in the Legislative Yuan in the January 2008 legislative elections, while its nominee Ma Ying-jeou went on to win the presidency in March of the same year, campaigning on a platform of increased economic growth, and better ties with Mainland China under a policy of “mutual nondenial”. Ma took office on May 20, 2008.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, islands bordering the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of the Philippines, off the southeastern coast of China
Geographic coordinates: 23 30 N, 121 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 35,980 sq km
land: 32,260 sq km
water: 3,720 sq km
note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy islands
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,566.3 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year
Terrain: eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Yu Shan 3,952 m
Natural resources: small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos
Land use: arable land: 24%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 75% (2001)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: 67 cu km (2000)
Natural hazards: earthquakes and typhoons
Environment – current issues: air pollution; water pollution from industrial emissions, raw sewage; contamination of drinking water supplies; trade in endangered species; low-level radioactive waste disposal
Environment – international agreements: party to: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan’s international status
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan’s international status
Geography – note: strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait
Politics The ROC is governed under the Constitution of the Republic of China which was drafted in 1947 before the fall of the Chinese mainland to communism and outlined a government for all of China. Significant amendments were made to the Constitution in 1991, and there have been a number of judicial interpretations made to take into account the fact that the Constitution covers a much smaller area than originally envisioned. Previously, the Kuomintang government in Taiwan governed as a one party state, and disallowed the formation of rival parties and many opponents.

Until 1991, the government in Taipei claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of China, which it defined as including Taiwan, mainland China, and outer Mongolia. In keeping with that claim, when the Kuomintang (KMT) fled to Taipei in 1949, they re-established the full array of central political bodies, which had existed in mainland China in the de jure capital of Nanking. While much of this structure remains in place, the President Lee Teng-hui in 1991 unofficially abandoned the government’s claim of sovereignty over mainland China, stating that they do not “dispute the fact that the Communists control mainland China.” However, the National Assembly has not officially changed the national borders, as doing so may be seen as a prelude to formal Taiwan independence (the People’s Republic of China has threatened to start a war if the government of Taiwan formalizes independence). It should be noted that neither the National Assembly nor the Supreme Court has actually defined what “existing national boundaries,” as stated in the constitution, actually is. The latter refused to do so claiming that it is a “major political issue”.

People Population: 22,920,946 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.3% (male 2,057,458/female 1,900,449)
15-64 years: 72.3% (male 8,362,038/female 8,204,834)
65 years and over: 10.5% (male 1,167,476/female 1,228,691) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 36 years
male: 35.5 years
female: 36.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.238% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 8.99 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.65 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.11 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.76 years
male: 74.89 years
female: 80.89 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.13 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Taiwan (singular and plural)
note: example – he or she is from Taiwan; they are from Taiwan
adjective: Taiwan
Ethnic groups: Taiwanese (including Hakka) 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, indigenous 2%
Religions: mixture of Buddhist and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%
Languages: Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.1%
male: NA
female: NA (2003)
Education expenditures: NA
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local long form: none
local short form: T’ai-wan
former: Formosa
Government type: multiparty democracy
Capital: name: Taipei
geographic coordinates: 25 03 N, 121 30 E
time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: includes main island of Taiwan plus smaller islands nearby and off coast of China’s Fujian Province; Taiwan is divided into 18 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 5 municipalities (shih, singular and plural), and 2 special municipalities (chuan-shih, singular and plural)
note: Taiwan uses a variety of romanization systems; while a modified Wade-Giles system still dominates, the city of Taipei has adopted a Pinyin romanization for street and place names within its boundaries; other local authorities use different romanization systems; names for administrative divisions that follow are taken from the Taiwan Yearbook 2007 published by the Government Information Office in Taipei.
counties: Changhua, Chiayi [county], Hsinchu, Hualien, Kaohsiung [county], Kinmen, Lienchiang, Miaoli, Nantou, Penghu, Pingtung, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei [county], Taitung, Taoyuan, Yilan, and Yunlin
municipalities: Chiayi [city], Hsinchu, Keelung, Taichung, Tainan
special municipalities: Kaohsiung [city], Taipei [city]
National holiday: Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)
Constitution: 25 December 1947; amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005
note: constitution adopted on 25 December 1946; went into effect on 25 December 1947
Legal system: based on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President MA Ying-jeou (since 20 May 2008); Vice President Vincent SIEW (since 20 May 2008)
head of government: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) LIO Chao-shiuan (since 20 May 2008); Vice Premier (Vice President of Executive Yuan) Paul CHIU (CHANG-hsiung) (since 20 May 2008)
cabinet: Executive Yuan – (ministers appointed by president on recommendation of premier)
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 22 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2012); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier
election results: MA Ying-jeou elected president on 22 March 2008; percent of vote – MA Ying-jeou 58.45%, Frank HSIEH 41.55%; MA Ying-jeou takes office on 20 May 2008
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Yuan (113 seats – 73 district members elected by popular vote, 34 at-large members elected on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, 6 elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; to serve four-year terms); parties must receive 5% of vote to qualify for at-large seats
elections: Legislative Yuan – last held 12 January 2008 (next to be held in January 2012)
election results: Legislative Yuan – percent of vote by party – KMT 53.5%, DPP 38.2%, NPSU 2.4%, PFP 0.3%, others 1.6%, independents 4%; seats by party – KMT 81, DPP 27, NPSU 3, PFP 1, independent 1
Judicial branch: Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [TSAI Ing-wen]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [WU Po-hsiung]; Non-Partisan Solidarity Union or NPSU [CHANG Po-ya]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Organization for Taiwan Nation Building; World United Formosans for Independence
other: environmental groups; independence movement; various business groups
note: debate on Taiwan independence has become acceptable within the mainstream of domestic politics on Taiwan; political liberalization and the increased representation of opposition parties in Taiwan’s legislature have opened public debate on the island’s national identity; a broad popular consensus has developed that the island currently enjoys sovereign independence and – whatever the ultimate outcome regarding reunification or independence – that Taiwan’s people must have the deciding voice; public opinion polls consistently show a substantial majority of Taiwan people supports maintaining Taiwan’s status quo for the foreseeable future; advocates of Taiwan independence oppose the stand that the island will eventually unify with mainland China; goals of the Taiwan independence movement include establishing a sovereign nation on Taiwan and entering the UN
International organization participation: ADB, APEC, BCIE, ICC, IOC, ITUC, WCL, WFTU, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with the people of the US are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), which has its headquarters in Taipei and in the US in Washington, DC; there are also branch offices called Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in 12 other US cities
Diplomatic representation from the US: none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with the people on Taiwan are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality – the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) – which has offices in the US and Taiwan; US office at 1700 N. Moore St., Suite 1700, Arlington, VA 22209-1996, telephone: [1] (703) 525-8474, FAX: [1] (703) 841-1385); Taiwan offices at #7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (2) 2162-2000, FAX: [886] (2) 2162-2251; #2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (7) 238-7744, FAX: [886] (7) 238-5237; and the American Trade Center, Room 3208 International Trade Building, Taipei World Trade Center, 333 Keelung Road Section 1, Taipei, Taiwan 10548, telephone: [886] (2) 2720-1550, FAX: [886] (2) 2757-7162
Flag description: red field with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays
Culture The cultures of Taiwan are a hybrid blend of Confucianist Han Chinese cultures, Japanese, European, American, global, local and indigenous influences which are both interlocked and divided between perceptions of tradition and modernity (Harrell/Huang 1994:1-5).

After the retreat to Taiwan, the Nationalists promoted an official interpretation of traditional Chinese culture over the local Taiwanese cultures. The government launched a program promoting Chinese calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, folk art, and Chinese opera.

Since the Taiwan localization movement of the 1990s, Taiwan’s cultural identity has been allowed greater expression. Identity politics, along with the over one hundred years of political separation from mainland China has led to distinct traditions in many areas, including cuisine, opera, and music.

The status of Taiwanese culture is debated. It is disputed whether Taiwanese culture is part of Chinese culture or a distinct culture. Speaking Taiwanese as a symbol of the localization movement has become an emblem of Taiwanese identity.

One of Taiwan’s greatest attractions is the National Palace Museum, which houses more than 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting and porcelain. The KMT moved this collection from the Forbidden City in Beijing in 1949 when it fled to Taiwan. The collection, estimated to be one-tenth of China’s cultural treasures, is so extensive that only 1% is on display at any time.

Popular sports in Taiwan include basketball and baseball. Cheerleading performances and billiards are quite fashionable. Badminton is also common.

Karaoke, drawn from contemporary Japanese culture, is extremely popular in Taiwan, where it is known as KTV.

Taiwan has a high density of 24-hour convenience stores, which in addition to the usual services, provide services on behalf of financial institutions or government agencies such as collection of parking fees, utility bills, traffic violation fines, and credit card payments.

Taiwanese culture has also influenced other cultures. Bubble tea and milk tea are available in Australia, Europe and North America. Taiwanese films have won various international awards at film festivals around the world. Ang Lee, a native of Taiwan, has directed critically acclaimed films such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, and Lust, Caution

Economy Economy – overview: Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by the authorities. In keeping with this trend, some large, state-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The island runs a large trade surplus, and its foreign reserves are among the world’s largest. Despite restrictions on cross-strait links, China has overtaken the US to become Taiwan’s largest export market and its second-largest source of imports after Japan. China is also the island’s number one destination for foreign direct investment. Strong trade performance in 2007 pushed Taiwan’s GDP growth rate above 5%, and unemployment is below 4%.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $698.6 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $383.3 billion (2007 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5.7% (2007 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $30,100 (2007 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 27.5%
services: 71.1% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 10.71 million (2007 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 5.3%
industry: 36.8%
services: 57.9% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate: 3.9% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 0.95% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 6.7%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2002 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 21.2% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $76.2 billion
expenditures: $75.65 billion (2007 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 27.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.8% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: NA
Commercial bank prime lending rate: NA
Stock of money: NA
Stock of quasi money: NA
Stock of domestic credit: NA
Agriculture – products: rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish
Industries: electronics, petroleum refining, armaments, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing, vehicles, consumer products, pharmaceuticals
Industrial production growth rate: 9.2% (2007 est.)
Electricity – production: 216.6 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 208.7 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 6%
nuclear: 22.6%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 10,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 950,500 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 289,200 bbl/day (2006)
Oil – imports: 1.208 million bbl/day (2006)
Oil – proved reserves: 2.38 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 400 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 11.3 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 10.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 6.229 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $32.88 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $246.5 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports – commodities: electronic and electrical products, metals, textiles, plastics, chemicals, auto parts (2002)
Exports – partners: China 32.6%, US 12.9%, Hong Kong 8.6%, Japan 6.4%, Singapore 5% (2007)
Imports: $215.1 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports – commodities: electronic and electrical products, machinery, petroleum, precision instruments, organic chemicals, metals (2002)
Imports – partners: Japan 22.7%, US 13.3%, China 11.2%, South Korea 6.6%, Saudi Arabia 4.8%, Singapore 4.6% (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $275 billion (31 December 2007)
Debt – external: $97.85 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $92.83 billion (2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $108.9 billion (2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $654 billion (28 December 2007)
Currency (code): New Taiwan dollar (TWD)
Currency code: TWD
Exchange rates: New Taiwan dollars (TWD) per US dollar – 32.84 (2007), 32.534 (2006), 31.71 (2005), 34.418 (2004), 34.575 (2003)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 14.313 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 24.302 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: provides telecommunications service for every business and private need
domestic: thoroughly modern; completely digitalized
international: country code – 886; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and the US; satellite earth stations – 2
Radio broadcast stations: AM 140, FM 229, shortwave 49
Radios: 16 million (1994)
Television broadcast stations: 76 (46 digital and 30 analog) (2007)
Televisions: 8.8 million (1998)
Internet country code: .tw
Internet hosts: 5.225 million (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 8 (2000)
Internet users: 14.76 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 41 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 38
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 3 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Heliports: 4 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 25 km; gas 661 km (2007)
Railways: total: 1,588 km
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,093 km 1.067-m gauge
note: 150 km .762-m gauge (belonging primarily to Taiwan Sugar Corporation and Taiwan Forestry Bureau; some to other entities) (2007)
Roadways: total: 40,262 km
paved: 38,171 km (includes 976 km of expressways)
unpaved: 2,091 km (2007)
Merchant marine: total: 102
by type: bulk carrier 32, cargo 19, chemical tanker 1, container 24, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 14, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 3 (Canada 2, France 1)
registered in other countries: 536 (Bolivia 1, Cambodia 1, Honduras 2, Hong Kong 11, Indonesia 2, Italy 13, Kiribati 5, Liberia 91, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 320, Philippines 1, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 72, Thailand 1, UK 11, unknown 3) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Chilung (Keelung), Kaohsiung, Taichung
Military Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command, Armed Forces Police Command
Military service age and obligation: 19-35 years of age for male compulsory military service; service obligation 14 months (reducing to 1 year in 2009) year; women may enlist; women in Air Force service are restricted to noncombat roles; reserve obligation to age 30 (Army); the Ministry of Defense has announced plans to implement an incremental voluntary enlistment system beginning 2010, with 10% fewer conscripts each year thereafter, although nonvolunteers will still be required to perform alternative service or go through 3-4 months of military training (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 6,283,134
females age 16-49: 6,098,599 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 5,112,737
females age 16-49: 5,036,346 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 164,883
female: 152,085 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 2.2% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding “code of conduct” desired by several of the disputants; Paracel Islands are occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; in 2003, China and Taiwan became more vocal in rejecting both Japan’s claims to the uninhabited islands of the Senkaku-shoto (Diaoyu Tai) and Japan’s unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea where all parties engage in hydrocarbon prospecting
Illicit drugs: regional transit point for heroin, methamphetamine, and precursor chemicals; transshipment point for drugs to Japan; major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin; rising problems with use of ketamine and club drugs

You Are A King: But Only Of Rubble And Sand

You Are A King: But Only Of Rubble And Sand

 

What are wars actually fought for? Is it the land, is it for the minerals beneath the land? Are wars fought for so-called glory by the soldiers or maybe because of the ego’s of a country’s leaders? As I am writing this I am simply thinking aloud to you my readers, contemplating these words as I type them. Really, what do you think, what do you believe? To you, what is worth fighting for, worth killing for? I have killed before and I am sure that I would have no problem killing again if I felt that it was necessary even though I am very much in my own mind, a pacifist. There are few things that I would ever consider harming another person for as I deplore all violence yet every person has to decide what their personal ‘line in the sand’ is. I know that some folks will say that there is nothing that could get them to pull the trigger on another person, but are they being honest with themselves? If people broke into your home and they were going to butcher you and your family if you didn’t stop them and the only way to stop them was to kill them, whose lives are more important to you?

 

The first paragraph was put more as a personal decision but now I would like to discuss with you the concept of a war breaking out in your home country, in your state, your county, your town. If you are being attacked by a nations military, by their soldiers and weapons, what would you do? Would you try giving up and begging for mercy hoping that they won’t kill you and your family or that they won’t put you all in a labor camp as they burn down everything you ever worked for? Most all wars throughout history have been fought because of the leaders of nations who felt they had the right to invade another country, to try to kill their leaders and to take the treasures that country possessed. Treasures can be many things, it can be using the other country’s population for slave labor, it can be for gold, diamonds, or oil or even the other country’s abundance of timber. Yet there is the reality that all wars do not generate from outside a nations own borders, some wars are simply home-grown as in the case of most ‘Civil Wars’.

 

Here in the U.S. we had our own Civil War back in 1860-1865 that seemed to generate from the concept of slavery of Black folks. I know some Historians say that slavery had nothing to do with the starting of that war but via the different History classes I took in College I still believe that the slavery issue was the foundation of this conflict. As far as I have ever found out this war was all on us, the American White people of the day. What I mean by this is that I do not believe that another nation like England, Canada, Mexico or France were interfering inside our borders trying to cause a war. There is a good bit of evidence that the leaders of the Confederacy had thought that they could convince England to come to their aid with their Navy being that the South had no Navy but the Union did. The reason for this line of thought was that the Confederate States sold a lot of cotton to England but when the war started England simply turned to India to supply them with all the cotton they needed. Our Nations Civil War would have been to create two Nations instead of the one that existed then and now.

 

Not all Civil Wars are for the purpose of splitting one Nation in half. Some Civil Wars are an attempt to simply over through the existing government and to replace it with another form of governance like say from a Monarchy to a Democracy. Some Civil Wars are fought because of Religion as in a government that is run as a Catholic society when the majority of the people are Protestants who don’t want to be ruled by a Pope. In the Middle East there have been many Civil Wars during the past 1,400 years and basically all of them had to do with Islam. I know that there were the Crusades 8-900 years ago where the Pope ordered Catholic Armies to retake the ‘Holy Lands’ from the ‘Pagan’ Muslims just as the Muslim Armies had taken over the ‘Holy Lands’ and the whole Middle East from the Christians and the Jews back in the 6-700’s A.D.. Yet the reality is that during this past 1,400 years almost all of the Civil Wars and wars in general have been fought as a war between the majority Sunni Muslims against the minority Shiite Muslims. Their hatred in general, of each other is only surpassed by their hatred of Christians and Jews.

 

Now I would like to speak with you about what is going on in the Nation of Syria for a few moments. The Ruling family of Syria is the al-Assad’s. Hafez al-Assad took control of Syria in 1970 and he held power until his death in 2000. At this time the current ‘President’ his son Bashar al-Assad took power. So the al-Assad family has had control of Syria for the past 48 years now. Bashar did seem to try to portray himself as a ‘moderate’ to the western world up until many of his own people rose up in protest of his leadership in March of 2011. This Civil War though has had many players with much cause and effect. There are many people who believe that this war was pushed along by Hillary Clinton when she was the U.S. Secretary of State at that time. There has been a lot of outside influence showing its ugly face since the early days of this war. Among the ‘outside’ players has been Iran, Russia, Iraq, Turkey, Hezbollah, the U.S. and Israel as well as the Kurd’s. One of the other huge issues has been a group calling themselves the Islamic State, or ISIS who was trying to set up a Sunni Caliphate in eastern Syria and western Iraq. The al-Assad family belongs to a Shiite sect of Islam so the al-Assad government was able to pull in the big Shiite players of the Islamic world mainly Iran and their proxy Hezbollah out of Lebanon to help them fight and to destroy ISIS. Russia has had a Naval base in Syria for several decades and has been an ally of Syria for a long time so in 2014 President Putin of Russia started supplying Air Power to help out the Assad government.

 

My question for the everyday people of Syria who decided to try to over through President al-Assad back in 2011 is, do you believe that your efforts were worth it? Back before March of 2011, back before the shooting started weren’t you far better off that you are now? Wasn’t your Nation a better place to live then than it is now? By no means am I saying that President Assad is a good moral person but didn’t you have a better style of living then than you do today? Back before the war began the Syrian government allowed Christians, Shiites and Sunnis to all practice their faith without fear of being killed just because of your faith system. Didn’t you then have food in your markets, electricity in your homes and trash pickup on your streets? For me, looking in from the outside it looks like it was a terrible mistake going to war against the al-Assad government. Now this last part is pointed toward President al-Assad. Sir, you are still the Ruler of Syria and it is my belief that you will be for many more years, but, your Nation is in shambles, you are a President of Rubble and Sand and not much else. When this war is over as it almost is now, your Nation, your people have suffered greatly, you have no economy and it is going to take trillions of dollars and decades to rebuild back to the point you were at in March of 2011. Yes you are still the President of your Nation, but my question to you is like unto the one I asked your people earlier in this article, was it worth it?  My questions meaning is, if you could see the damage to your country as it sits today would you say that you staying in power was worth all of this death and destruction. If you could go back in time and simply have resigned as President in March of 2011 if that was what it would have taken to not have had this war, would you have stepped down?

Uzbekistan: Current Day, And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Uzbekistan

Introduction Russia conquered Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance to the Red Army after World War I was eventually suppressed and a socialist republic set up in 1924. During the Soviet era, intensive production of “white gold” (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry. Independent since 1991, the country seeks to gradually lessen its dependence on agriculture while developing its mineral and petroleum reserves. Current concerns include terrorism by Islamic militants, economic stagnation, and the curtailment of human rights and democratization.
History The territory of Uzbekistan was already populated in the second millennium BC. Early human tools and monuments have been found in the Ferghana, Tashkent, Bukhara, Khorezm (Khwarezm, Chorasmia) and Samarkand regions.

Alexander the Great conquered Sogdiana and Bactria in 327 BC, marrying Roxana, daughter of a local Bactrian chieftain. The conquest was supposedly of little help to Alexander as popular resistance was fierce, causing Alexander’s army to be bogged down in the region. For many centuries the region of Uzbekistan was ruled by Iranian Empires, including the Parthian and Sassanid Empires.

In the fourteenth century AD, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, overpowered the Mongols and built an empire. In his military campaigns, Tamerlane reached as far as the Middle East. He defeated Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, who was captured, and died in captivity. Tamerlane sought to build a capital for his empire in Samarkand. Today Tamerlane is considered to be one of the greatest heroes in Uzbekistan. He plays a significant role in its national identity and history. Following the fall of the Timurid Empire, Uzbek nomads conquered the region.

In the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire began to expand and spread into Central Asia. The “Great Game” period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, a second, less intensive phase followed. At the start of the nineteenth century, there were some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) separating British India and the outlying regions of Tsarist Russia. Much of the land in between was unmapped.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Central Asia was firmly in the hands of Russia, and despite some early resistance to Bolsheviks, Uzbekistan and the rest of Central Asia became a part of the Soviet Union. On 27 October 1924 the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. On August 31, 1991, Uzbekistan declared independence, marking September 1 as a national holiday.

The country is now the world’s second-largest exporter of cotton, and it is developing its mineral and petroleum reserves.

Geography Location: Central Asia, north of Afghanistan
Geographic coordinates: 41 00 N, 64 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 447,400 sq km
land: 425,400 sq km
water: 22,000 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than California
Land boundaries: total: 6,221 km
border countries: Afghanistan 137 km, Kazakhstan 2,203 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,099 km, Tajikistan 1,161 km, Turkmenistan 1,621 km
Coastline: 0 km (doubly landlocked); note – Uzbekistan includes the southern portion of the Aral Sea with a 420 km shoreline
Maritime claims: none (doubly landlocked)
Climate: mostly midlatitude desert, long, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid grassland in east
Terrain: mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along course of Amu Darya, Syr Darya (Sirdaryo), and Zarafshon; Fergana Valley in east surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; shrinking Aral Sea in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sariqarnish Kuli -12 m
highest point: Adelunga Toghi 4,301 m
Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, coal, gold, uranium, silver, copper, lead and zinc, tungsten, molybdenum
Land use: arable land: 10.51%
permanent crops: 0.76%
other: 88.73% (2005)
Irrigated land: 42,810 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 72.2 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 58.34 cu km/yr (5%/2%/93%)
per capita: 2,194 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: shrinkage of the Aral Sea is resulting in growing concentrations of chemical pesticides and natural salts; these substances are then blown from the increasingly exposed lake bed and contribute to desertification; water pollution from industrial wastes and the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides is the cause of many human health disorders; increasing soil salination; soil contamination from buried nuclear processing and agricultural chemicals, including DDT
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: along with Liechtenstein, one of the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world
Politics Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for democracy. The executive holds a great deal of power, and the legislature and judiciary have little power to shape laws. Under terms of a December 27, 1995 referendum, Islam Karimov’s first term was extended. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to extend the Constitutional Presidential term from 5 years to 7 years. The referendum passed, and Karimov’s term was extended by act of the parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament, consisting of a lower house (the Oliy Majlis) and an upper house (Senate). Members of the lower house are to be “full time” legislators. Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on December 26, but no truly independent opposition candidates or parties were able to take part. The OSCE limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Several political parties have been formed with government approval. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties were allowed to organize, recruit members and hold conventions and press conferences, but they have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures. Terrorist bombings were carried out March 28, 2004 – April 1, 2004 in Tashkent and Bukhara.
People Population: 27,345,026 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29% (male 4,047,918/female 3,870,346)
15-64 years: 66% (male 8,971,017/female 9,079,170)
65 years and over: 5% (male 588,498/female 788,077) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 24.3 years
male: 23.8 years
female: 24.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.965% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 17.99 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -3.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 24.23 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 28.61 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.69 years
male: 68.69 years
female: 74.87 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.01 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 11,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 500 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Uzbekistani
adjective: Uzbekistani
Ethnic groups: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5% (1996 est.)
Religions: Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%
Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.3%
male: 99.6%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years
male: 12 years
female: 11 years (2007)
Education expenditures: 9.4% of GDP (1991)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Uzbekistan
conventional short form: Uzbekistan
local long form: Ozbekiston Respublikasi
local short form: Ozbekiston
former: Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type: republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Capital: name: Tashkent (Toshkent)
geographic coordinates: 41 20 N, 69 18 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 12 provinces (viloyatlar, singular – viloyat), 1 autonomous republic* (respublika), and 1 city** (shahar); Andijon Viloyati, Buxoro Viloyati, Farg’ona Viloyati, Jizzax Viloyati, Namangan Viloyati, Navoiy Viloyati, Qashqadaryo Viloyati (Qarshi), Qoraqalpog’iston Respublikasi [Karakalpakstan]* (Nukus), Samarqand Viloyati, Sirdaryo Viloyati (Guliston), Surxondaryo Viloyati (Termiz), Toshkent Shahri**, Toshkent Viloyati, Xorazm Viloyati (Urganch)
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence: 1 September 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 1 September (1991)
Constitution: adopted 8 December 1992
Legal system: based on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Islom KARIMOV (since 24 March 1990, when he was elected president by the then Supreme Soviet)
head of government: Prime Minister Shavkat MIRZIYOYEV (since 11 December 2003); First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam AZIMOV (since 2 January 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president with approval of the Supreme Assembly
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term; previously was a five-year term, extended by constitutional amendment in 2002); election last held 23 December 2007 (next to be held in 2014); prime minister, ministers, and deputy ministers appointed by the president
election results: Islom KARIMOV reelected president; percent of vote – Islom KARIMOV 88.1%, Asliddin RUSTAMOV 3.2%, Dilorom T0SHMUHAMEDOVA 2.9%, Akmal SAIDOV 2.6%
Legislative branch: bicameral Supreme Assembly or Oliy Majlis consists of an upper house or Senate (100 seats; 84 members are elected by regional governing councils and 16 appointed by the president; to serve five-year terms) and a lower house or Legislative Chamber (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 26 December 2004 and 9 January 2005 (next to be held December 2009)
election results: Senate – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NA; Legislative Chamber – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – LDPU 41, NDP 32, Fidokorlar 17, MTP 11, Adolat 9, unaffiliated 10
note: all parties in the Supreme Assembly support President KARIMOV
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Supreme Assembly)
Political parties and leaders: Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party [Dilorom TOSHMUHAMEDOVA]; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milliy Tiklanish) or MTP [Hurshid DOSMUHAMMEDOV]; Fidokorlar National Democratic Party (Self-Sacrificers) [Ahtam TURSUNOV]; Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan or LDPU [Adham SHADMANOV; People’s Democratic Party or NDP (formerly Communist Party) [Asliddin RUSTAMOV]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Agrarian and Entrepreneurs’ Party [Marat ZAHIDOV]; Birlik (Unity) Movement [Abdurahim POLAT, chairman]; Committee for the Protection of Human Rights [Marat ZAHIDOV]; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party [Muhammad SOLIH, chairman] (was banned 9 December 1992); Ezgulik Human Rights Society [Vasila INOYATOVA]; Free Farmers’ Party or Ozod Dehqonlar [Nigora HIDOYATOVA]; Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan [Talib YAKUBOV, chairman]; Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan [Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman]; Mazlum; Sunshine Coalition [Sanjar UMAROV, chairman]
International organization participation: ADB, CIS, CSTO, EAEC, EAPC, EBRD, ECO, FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, SCO, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Abdulaziz KAMILOV
chancery: 1746 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 887-5300
FAX: [1] (202) 293-6804
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Richard B. NORLAND
embassy: 3 Moyqo’rq’on, 5th Block, Yunusobod District, Tashkent 100093
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [998] (71) 120-5450
FAX: [998] (71) 120-6335
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and green separated by red fimbriations with a white crescent moon and 12 white stars in the upper hoist-side quadrant
Culture Uzbekistan has a wide mix of ethnic groups and cultures, with the Uzbek being the majority group. In 1995 about 71% of Uzbekistan’s population was Uzbek. The chief minority groups were Russians (8%), Tajiks (5%), Kazaks (4%), Tatars (2.5%) and Karakalpaks (2%). It is said, however, that the number of non-Uzbek people living in Uzbekistan is decreasing as Russians and other minority groups slowly leave and Uzbeks return from other parts of the former Soviet Union.

When Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991, there was concern that Muslim fundamentalism would spread across the region. The expectation was that a country long denied freedom of religious practice would undergo a very rapid increase in the expression of its dominant faith. As of 1994, well over half of Uzbekistan’s population was said to be Muslim, though in an official survey few of that number had any real knowledge of the religion or knew how to practice it. However, Islamic observance is increasing in the region.

Uzbekistan has a high literacy rate, with about 99.3% of adults above the age of 15 being able to read and write. However with only 88% of the under-15 population currently enrolled in education, this figure may drop in the future. Uzbekistan has encountered severe budgeting shortfalls in its education program. The education law of 1992 began the process of theoretical reform, but the physical base has deteriorated and curriculum revision has been slow.

Uzbekistan’s universities churn out almost 600,000 graduates annually.

Economy Economy – overview: Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country of which 11% consists of intensely cultivated, irrigated river valleys. More than 60% of its population lives in densely populated rural communities. Uzbekistan is now the world’s second-largest cotton exporter and fifth largest producer; it relies heavily on cotton production as the major source of export earnings and has come under increasing international criticism for the use of child labor in its annual cotton harvest. Other major export earners include gold, natural gas, and oil. Following independence in September 1991, the government sought to prop up its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production and prices. While aware of the need to improve the investment climate, the government still sponsors measures that often increase, not decrease, its control over business decisions. A sharp increase in the inequality of income distribution has hurt the lower ranks of society since independence. In 2003, the government accepted Article VIII obligations under the IMF, providing for full currency convertibility. However, strict currency controls and tightening of borders have lessened the effects of convertibility and have also led to some shortages that have further stifled economic activity. The Central Bank often delays or restricts convertibility, especially for consumer goods. Potential investment by Russia and China in Uzbekistan’s gas and oil industry, as well as increased cooperation with South Korea in the realm of civil aviation, may boost growth prospects. In November 2005, Russian President Vladimir PUTIN and Uzbekistan President KARIMOV signed an “alliance,” which included provisions for economic and business cooperation. Russian businesses have shown increased interest in Uzbekistan, especially in mining, telecom, and oil and gas. In 2006, Uzbekistan took steps to rejoin the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Community (EurASEC), which it subsequently left in 2008, both organizations dominated by Russia. Uzbek authorities have accused US and other foreign companies operating in Uzbekistan of violating Uzbek tax laws and have frozen their assets.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $72.76 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $26.62 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 8.3% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $2,700 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 28.2%
industry: 33.9%
services: 37.9% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 15.28 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 44%
industry: 20%
services: 36% (1995)
Unemployment rate: 0.9% officially by the Ministry of Labor, plus another 20% underemployed (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 33% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 29.6% (2003)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 36.8 (2003)
Budget: revenues: $8.005 billion
expenditures: $8.127 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 13.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 13.5% officially, but 38% based on analysis of consumer prices (2008 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $36.89 million (2005)
Agriculture – products: cotton, vegetables, fruits, grain; livestock
Industries: textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, gold, petroleum, natural gas, chemicals
Electricity – production: 48.79 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 42.23 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 11.52 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – imports: 11.44 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 88.2%
hydro: 11.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 99,260 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 157,100 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 11,940 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 31,440 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 594 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 65.19 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 51.18 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 14.01 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 1.841 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $5.726 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $9.96 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: cotton, gold, energy products, mineral fertilizers, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, textiles, food products, machinery, automobiles
Exports – partners: Russia 22.4%, Poland 10.4%, Turkey 9.4%, Kazakhstan 6.1%, Hungary 6%, China 5.6%, Ukraine 4.8%, Bangladesh 4.3% (2007)
Imports: $6.5 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, ferrous and non-ferrous metals
Imports – partners: Russia 30.1%, China 13.3%, South Korea 13%, Germany 6.3%, Kazakhstan 6.2%, Ukraine 4% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $172.3 million from the US (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $10.15 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $4.052 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $NA
Currency (code): soum (UZS)
Currency code: UZS
Exchange rates: Uzbekistani soum (UZS) per US dollar – 1,317 (2008 est.), 1,263.8 (2007), 1,219.8 (2006), 1,020 (2005), 971.265 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 1.821 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 10.4 million (2008)
Telephone system: general assessment: antiquated and inadequate; in serious need of modernization
domestic: the main line telecommunications system is dilapidated and telephone density is low; the state-owned telecommunications company, Uzbektelecom, is using loans from the Japanese government and the China Development Bank to improve mainline services; completion of conversion to digital exchanges planned for 2010; mobile services are growing rapidly, with the subscriber base reaching 10.4 million in 2008
international: country code – 998; linked by fiber-optic cable or microwave radio relay with CIS member states and to other countries by leased connection via the Moscow international gateway switch; after the completion of the Uzbek link to the Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic cable, Uzbekistan plans to establish a fiber-optic connection to Afghanistan (2008)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 12, shortwave 3 (2008)
Radios: 10.8 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 28 (includes 1 cable rebroadcaster in Tashkent and approximately 20 stations in regional capitals) (2006)
Televisions: 6.4 million (1997)
Internet country code: .uz
Internet hosts: 38,183 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 42 (2000)
Internet users: 2.1 million (2008)
Transportation Airports: 54 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 33
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 13
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 4 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 21
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
under 914 m: 19 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 9,725 km; oil 868 km (2007)
Railways: total: 3,950 km
broad gauge: 3,950 km 1.520-m gauge (620 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways: total: 86,496 km
paved: 75,511 km
unpaved: 10,985 km (2000)
Waterways: 1,100 km (2008)
Ports and terminals: Termiz (Amu Darya)
Military Military branches: Army, Air and Air Defense Forces, National Guard
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 1-year conscript service obligation; moving toward a professional military, but conscription will continue; the military cannot accommodate everyone who wishes to enlist, and competition for entrance into the military is similar to the competition for admission to universities (2007)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 7,480,484
females age 16-49: 7,542,017 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 5,684,540
females age 16-49: 6,432,976 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 324,094
female: 323,923 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 2% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: prolonged drought and cotton monoculture in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan creates water-sharing difficulties for Amu Darya river states; field demarcation of the boundaries with Kazakhstan commenced in 2004; border delimitation of 130 km of border with Kyrgyzstan is hampered by serious disputes around enclaves and other areas
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 39,202 (Tajikistan); 1,060 (Afghanistan)
IDPs: 3,400 (forced population transfers by government from villages near Tajikistan border) (2007)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Uzbekistan is a source country for women and girls trafficked to Kazakhstan, Russia, Middle East, and Asia for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation; men are trafficked to Kazakhstan and Russia for purposes of forced labor in the construction, cotton, and tobacco industries; men and women are also trafficked internally for the purposes of domestic servitude, forced labor in the agricultural and construction industries, and for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Uzbekistan is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in 2007; the government did not amend its criminal code to increase penalties for convicted traffickers; in March 2008, Uzbekistan adopted ILO Conventions on minimum age of employment and on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and is working with the ILO on implementation; the government also demonstrated its increasing commitment to combat trafficking in March 2008 by adopting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law; Uzbekistan has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)
Illicit drugs: transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and, to a lesser extent, Western European markets; limited illicit cultivation of cannabis and small amounts of opium poppy for domestic consumption; poppy cultivation almost wiped out by government crop eradication program; transit point for heroin precursor chemicals bound for Afghanistan

Vanuatu: Information About The Island Nation From The ‘CIA Fact Book’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘CIA FACT BOOK’)

 

Vanuatu

Introduction Multiple waves of colonizers, each speaking a distinct language, migrated to the New Hebrides in the millennia preceding European exploration in the 18th century. This settlement pattern accounts for the complex linguistic diversity found on the archipelago to this day. The British and French, who settled the New Hebrides in the 19th century, agreed in 1906 to an Anglo-French Condominium, which administered the islands until independence in 1980, when the new name of Vanuatu was adopted.
History The prehistory of Vanuatu is obscure; archaeological evidence supports the commonly held theory that peoples speaking Austronesian languages first came to the islands some 4,000 years ago. Pottery fragments have been found dating back to 1300–1100 B.C.

The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espiritu Santo, when in 1606 the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós working for the Spanish crown, spied what he thought was a southern continent. Europeans did not return until 1768, when Louis Antoine de Bougainville rediscovered the islands. In 1774, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides, a name that lasted until independence.

In 1825, trader Peter Dillon’s discovery of sandalwood on the island of Erromango began a rush that ended in 1830 after a clash between immigrant Polynesian workers and indigenous Melanesians. During the 1860s, planters in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoa Islands, in need of laborers, encouraged a long-term indentured labor trade called “blackbirding.” At the height of the labor trade, more than one-half the adult male population of several of the Islands worked abroad. Fragmentary evidence indicates that the current population of Vanuatu is greatly reduced compared to pre-contact times.

It was at this time that missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, arrived on the islands. Settlers also came, looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations. When international cotton prices collapsed, they switched to coffee, cocoa, bananas, and, most successfully, coconuts. Initially, British subjects from Australia made up the majority, but the establishment of the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides in 1882 soon tipped the balance in favor of French subjects. By the turn of the century, the French outnumbered the British two to one.

The jumbling of French and British interests in the islands brought petitions for one or another of the two powers to annex the territory. In 1906, however, France and the United Kingdom agreed to administer the islands jointly. Called the British-French Condominium, it was a unique form of government, with separate governmental systems that came together only in a joint court. Melanesians were barred from acquiring the citizenship of either power.

Challenges to this form of government began in the early 1940s. The arrival of Americans during World War II, with their informal demeanor and relative wealth, was instrumental in the rise of nationalism in the islands. The belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum was the basis for an indigenous cargo cult (a movement attempting to obtain industrial goods through magic) promising Melanesian deliverance. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with a member in Parliament.

The first political party was established in the early 1970s and originally was called the New Hebrides National Party. One of the founders was Father Walter Lini, who later became Prime Minister. Renamed the Vanua’aku Pati in 1974, the party pushed for independence; in 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu was created.

During the 1990s Vanuatu experienced political instability which eventually resulted in a more decentralised government. The Vanuatu Mobile Force, a paramilitary group, attempted a coup in 1996 because of a pay dispute. There were allegations of corruption in the government of Maxime Carlot Korman. New elections have been called for, several times since 1997, most recently in 2004.

Geography Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia
Geographic coordinates: 16 00 S, 167 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 12,200 sq km
land: 12,200 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes more than 80 islands, about 65 of which are inhabited
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Connecticut
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 2,528 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical; moderated by southeast trade winds from May to October; moderate rainfall from November to April; may be affected by cyclones from December to April
Terrain: mostly mountainous islands of volcanic origin; narrow coastal plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Tabwemasana 1,877 m
Natural resources: manganese, hardwood forests, fish
Land use: arable land: 1.64%
permanent crops: 6.97%
other: 91.39% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: tropical cyclones or typhoons (January to April); volcanic eruption on Aoba (Ambae) island began 27 November 2005, volcanism also causes minor earthquakes; tsunamis
Environment – current issues: most of the population does not have access to a reliable supply of potable water; deforestation
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: a Y-shaped chain of four main islands and 80 smaller islands; several of the islands have active volcanoes
Politics Vanuatu has a parliamentary democracy political system which is currently headed by a President who has, primarily, ceremonial powers and who is elected for 5-year terms by a two-thirds majority in an electoral college. This electoral college consists of members of Parliament and the presidents of Regional Councils. The President may be removed by the electoral college for gross misconduct or incapacity. The Prime Minister, who is the head of government, is elected by a majority vote of a three-fourths quorum of the Parliament. The prime minister, in turn, appoints the Council of Ministers, whose number may not exceed a quarter of the number of parliamentary representatives. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers constitute the executive government.

The Parliament of Vanuatu is unicameral and has 54 members who are elected by popular vote every four years, unless earlier dissolved by a majority vote of a three-quarters quorum or by a directive from the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The national Council of Chiefs, called the Malvatu Mauri and elected by district councils of chiefs, advises the government on all matters concerning ni-Vanuatu culture and language.

Besides a national authorities and figures, Vanuatu also has high-placed people at village level. Chiefs were and are still the leading figures on village level. It has been reported that even politicians need to oblige them. One becomes such figure by holding a number of lavish feasts (each feast allowing them a higher ceremonial grade) or alternatively through inheritance (the latter only in Polynesian-influenced villages). In northern Vanuatu, grades trough feasts are taken trough the nimangki-system.

Government and society in Vanuatu tend to divide along linguistic French and English lines. Forming coalition governments, however, has proved problematic at times due to differences between English and French speakers.

The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and up to three other judges. Two or more members of this court may constitute a Court of Appeal. Magistrate courts handle most routine legal matters. The legal system is based on British common law and French civil law. The constitution also provides for the establishment of village or island courts presided over by chiefs to deal with questions of customary law.

People Population: 218,519 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.7% (male 34,263/female 32,833)
15-64 years: 65.3% (male 72,670/female 69,970)
65 years and over: 4% (male 4,516/female 4,267) (2009 est.)
Median age: total: 24.2 years
male: 24.2 years
female: 24.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.398% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 21.95 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.61 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2009 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.06 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 49.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 51.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 46.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 63.98 years
male: 62.37 years
female: 65.66 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.5 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Ni-Vanuatu (singular and plural)
adjective: Ni-Vanuatu
Ethnic groups: Ni-Vanuatu 98.5%, other 1.5% (1999 Census)
Religions: Presbyterian 31.4%, Anglican 13.4%, Roman Catholic 13.1%, Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, other Christian 13.8%, indigenous beliefs 5.6% (including Jon Frum cargo cult), other 9.6%, none 1%, unspecified 1.3% (1999 Census)
Languages: local languages (more than 100) 72.6%, pidgin (known as Bislama or Bichelama) 23.1%, English 1.9%, French 1.4%, other 0.3%, unspecified 0.7% (1999 Census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74%
male: NA
female: NA (1999 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2004)
Education expenditures: 9.5% of GDP (2003)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Vanuatu
conventional short form: Vanuatu
local long form: Ripablik blong Vanuatu
local short form: Vanuatu
former: New Hebrides
Government type: parliamentary republic
Capital: name: Port-Vila (on Efate)
geographic coordinates: 17 44 S, 168 19 E
time difference: UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 6 provinces; Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea, Torba
Independence: 30 July 1980 (from France and UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 30 July (1980)
Constitution: 30 July 1980
Legal system: unified system being created from former dual French and British systems; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Kalkot Matas KELEKELE (since 16 August 2004)
head of government: Prime Minister Edward NATAPEI (since 22 September 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Ham LINI (since 22 September 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, responsible to Parliament
elections: president elected for a five-year term by an electoral college consisting of Parliament and the presidents of the regional councils; election for president last held 16 August 2004 (next to be held in 2009); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition is usually elected prime minister by Parliament from among its members; election for prime minister last held 22 September 2008 (next to be held following general elections in 2012)
election results: Kalkot Matas KELEKELE elected president, with 49 votes out of 56, after several ballots on 16 August 2004
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (52 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 2 September 2008 (next to be held 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – VP 11, NUP 8, UMP 7, VRP 7, PPP 4, GC 2, MPP 1, NA 1, NAG 1, PAP 1, Shepherds Alliance 1, VFFP 1, VLP 1, VNP 1, VPRFP 1, and independent 4; note – political party associations are fluid
note: the National Council of Chiefs advises on matters of culture and language
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (chief justice is appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, three other justices are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission)
Political parties and leaders: Greens Confederation or GC [Moana CARCASSES]; Jon Frum Movement or JF [Song KEASPAI]; Melanesian Progressive Party or MPP [Barak SOPE]; Nagriamel movement or NAG [Havo MOLI]; Namangi Aute or NA [Paul TELUKLUK]; National United Party or NUP [Ham LINI]; People’s Action Party or PAP [Peter VUTA]; People’s Progressive Party or PPP [Sato KILMAN]; Shepherds Alliance Party [leader NA]; Union of Moderate Parties or UMP [Serge VOHOR]; Vanuatu Family First Party or VFFP [Eta RORI]; Vanuatu Labor Party or VLP [Joshua KALSAKAU]; Vanuatu National Party or VNP [Issac HAMARILIU]; Vanua’aku Pati (Our Land Party) or VP [Edward NATAPEI]; Vanuatu Republican Party or VRP [Maxime Carlot KORMAN]; Vanuatu Republican Farmers Party or VPRFP [Jean RAVOU]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, ADB, C, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIF, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: Vanuatu does not have an embassy in the US; it does, however, have a Permanent Mission to the UN
Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Vanuatu; the ambassador to Papua New Guinea is accredited to Vanuatu
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a black isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) all separated by a black-edged yellow stripe in the shape of a horizontal Y (the two points of the Y face the hoist side and enclose the triangle); centered in the triangle is a boar’s tusk encircling two crossed namele leaves, all in yellow
Culture Vanuatu culture retains a strong diversity through local regional variations and through foreign influence. Vanuatu may be divided into three major cultural regions. In the north, wealth is established by how much one can give away. Pigs, particularly those with rounded tusks, are considered a symbol of wealth throughout Vanuatu. In the centre, more traditional Melanesian cultural systems dominate. In the south, a system involving grants of title with associated privileges has developed.

Young men undergo various coming-of-age ceremonies and rituals to initiate them into manhood, usually including circumcision.

Most villages have a nakamal or village clubhouse which serves as a meeting point for men and to as a place to drink kava.

Villages also have male and female-only sections. These sections are situated all over the villages, in nakamals, special spaces for females when they are in their menstruation period.

The traditional music of Vanuatu is still thriving in the rural areas of Vanuatu. Musical instruments consist mostly of idiophones: drums of various shape and size, slit gongs, as well as rattles, among others. Another musical genre that has become widely popular during the 20th century in all areas of Vanuatu, is known as string band music. It combines guitars, ukulele, and popular songs. More recently the music of Vanuatu, as an industry, grew rapidly in the 1990s and several bands have forged a distinctive ni-Vanuatu identity. Popular genres of modern commercial music, which are currently being played in town include zouk music and reggaeton. Reggaeton, a variation of hip-hop rapped in Spanish, played alongside its own distinctive beat, is especially played in the local nightclubs of Vanuatu with, mostly, an audience of Westerners and tourists.

There are few prominent ni-Vanuatu authors, but women’s rights activist Grace Mera Molisa, who died in 2002, achieved international notability as a very descriptive poet.

Cricket is very popular in Vanuatu. There are 8000 registered cricketers. Sport varies depending on the gender of those involved. Volleyball is considered a ‘girls’ sport’ and males play soccer.

The cuisine of Vanuatu (aelan kakae) incorporates fish, root vegetables such as taro and yams, fruits, and vegetables. Most island families grow food in their gardens, and food shortages are rare. Papayas, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, and sweet potatoes are abundant through much of the year. Coconut milk and cream are used to flavor many dishes. Most food is cooked using hot stones or through boiling and steaming; very little food is fried.

Economy Economy – overview: This South Pacific island economy is based primarily on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for over 70% of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with more than 167,000 visitors in 2007, are other mainstays of the economy. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. Economic development is hindered by dependence on relatively few commodity exports, vulnerability to natural disasters, and long distances from main markets and between constituent islands. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to tighten regulation of its offshore financial center. In mid-2002 the government stepped up efforts to boost tourism through improved air connections, resort development, and cruise ship facilities. Agriculture, especially livestock farming, is a second target for growth. Australia and New Zealand are the main suppliers of tourists and foreign aid.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.01 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $560 million (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 6.5% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $4,700 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 26%
industry: 12%
services: 62% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 76,410 (1999)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 65%
industry: 5%
services: 30% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 1.7% (1999)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budget: revenues: $78.7 million
expenditures: $72.23 million (2005)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.9% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 6% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 8.16% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $107.1 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $421.8 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $229.5 million (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Agriculture – products: copra, coconuts, cocoa, coffee, taro, yams, fruits, vegetables; beef; fish
Industries: food and fish freezing, wood processing, meat canning
Industrial production growth rate: 1% (1997 est.)
Electricity – production: 46 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 39.99 million kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 660 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 671 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas – production: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$60 million (2007 est.)
Exports: $40 million f.o.b. (2006)
Exports – commodities: copra, beef, cocoa, timber, kava, coffee
Exports – partners: Thailand 58.3%, India 18.5%, Japan 11.3% (2007)
Imports: $156 million c.i.f. (2006)
Imports – commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, fuels
Imports – partners: Australia 20.7%, Singapore 11.8%, NZ 11.2%, Norway 8.5%, US 8.3%, Fiji 8.1%, China 7.2%, New Caledonia 4.5% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $39.48 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $40.54 million (2003)
Debt – external: $81.2 million (2004)
Currency (code): vatu (VUV)
Currency code: VUV
Exchange rates: vatu (VUV) per US dollar – NA (2007), 111.93 (2006), NA (2005), 111.79 (2004), 122.19 (2003)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 8,800 (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 26,000 (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code – 678; satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)
Radios: 67,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (2004)
Televisions: 2,300 (1999)
Internet country code: .vu
Internet hosts: 990 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 17,000 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 31 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 28
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 22 (2007)
Roadways: total: 1,070 km
paved: 256 km
unpaved: 814 km (1999)
Merchant marine: total: 54
by type: bulk carrier 32, cargo 8, container 1, liquefied gas 2, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 4, vehicle carrier 5
foreign-owned: 54 (Australia 2, Belgium 4, Canada 5, Estonia 1, Greece 1, Japan 29, Monaco 1, Poland 7, Russia 2, Switzerland 1, US 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Forari, Port-Vila, Santo (Espiritu Santo)
Military Military branches: no regular military forces; Vanuatu Police Force (VPF), Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF; includes Police Maritime Wing (PMW)) (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 58,900 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 41,533
females age 16-49: 42,837 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 2,368
female: 2,272 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures: NA
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by Vanuatu and France

The Nations Of Wallis and Futuna

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘CIA FACT BOOK’)

 

Wallis and Futuna

Introduction The Futuna island group was discovered by the Dutch in 1616 and Wallis by the British in 1767, but it was the French who declared a protectorate over the islands in 1842. In 1959, the inhabitants of the islands voted to become a French overseas territory.
History Although the Dutch and the British were the European discoverers of the islands in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the French who were the first Europeans to settle in the territory, with the arrival of French missionaries in 1837, who converted the population to Roman Catholicism. Wallis is named after the British explorer, Samuel Wallis.

On 5 April 1842, they asked for the protection of France after the rebellion of a part of the local population. On 5 April 1887, the queen of Uvea (on the island of Wallis) signed a treaty officially establishing a French protectorate. The kings of Sigave and Alo on the islands of Futuna and Alofi also signed a treaty establishing a French protectorate on 16 February 1888. The islands were put under the authority of the French colony of New Caledonia.

In 1917, the three traditional chiefdoms were annexed to France and turned into the Colony of Wallis and Futuna, still under the authority of the Colony of New Caledonia.

In 1959, the inhabitants of the islands voted to become a French overseas territory, effective in 1961, thus ending their subordination to New Caledonia.

In 2005, the 50th king, Tomasi Kulimoetoke II, faced being deposed after giving sanctuary to his grandson who was convicted of manslaughter. The king claimed his grandson should be judged by tribal law rather than by the French penal system. There were riots in the streets involving the king’s supporters, which were victorious over attempts to replace the king. Two years later, Tomasi Kulimoetoke died on 7 May 2007. The state was in a six-month period of mourning. During this period, mentioning a successor was forbidden. On 25 July 2008, Kapiliele Faupala was installed as king despite protests from some of the royal clans.

Geography Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 13 18 S, 176 12 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 274 sq km
land: 274 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Ile Uvea (Wallis Island), Ile Futuna (Futuna Island), Ile Alofi, and 20 islets
Area – comparative: 1.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 129 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot, rainy season (November to April); cool, dry season (May to October); rains 2,500-3,000 mm per year (80% humidity); average temperature 26.6 degrees C
Terrain: volcanic origin; low hills
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Singavi 765 m
Natural resources: NEGL
Land use: arable land: 7.14%
permanent crops: 35.71%
other: 57.15% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: deforestation (only small portions of the original forests remain) largely as a result of the continued use of wood as the main fuel source; as a consequence of cutting down the forests, the mountainous terrain of Futuna is particularly prone to erosion; there are no permanent settlements on Alofi because of the lack of natural fresh water resources
Geography – note: both island groups have fringing reefs
Politics Politics of Wallis and Futuna takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic French overseas collectivity, whereby the President of the Territorial Assembly is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government.

The territory of Wallis and Futuna is divided into three traditional chiefdoms (royaumes coutumiers): `Uvea, on the island of Wallis, Sigave, on the western part of the island of Futuna, and Tu`a (Alo), on the island of Alofi and on the eastern part of the island of Futuna. Uvea is further subdivided into three districts: Hanake, Hihifo, and Mua. The capital of the territory is Matâ’Utu on the island of Wallis, the most populated island. As a territory of France, it is governed under the French constitution of September 28, 1958, uses both the French legal system and customary local laws (“coutume”) , and suffrage is universal for those over 18 years of age. The French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; the high administrator is appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of the Interior; the presidents of the Territorial Government and the Territorial Assembly are elected by the members of the assembly.

People Population: 15,289 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.7% (male 2,141/female 1,935)
15-64 years: 66.3% (male 5,069/female 5,065)
65 years and over: 7.1% (male 488/female 591) (2009 est.)
Median age: total: 27.2 years
male: 26.1 years
female: 28.5 years
Population growth rate: 0.347% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: NA (2008 est.)
Death rate: NA (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -6.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: there has been steady emigration from Wallis and Futuna to New Caledonia (2009 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.02 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.27 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.75 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.2 years
male: 75.22 years
female: 81.32 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.87 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Wallisian(s), Futunan(s), or Wallis and Futuna Islanders
adjective: Wallisian, Futunan, or Wallis and Futuna Islander
Ethnic groups: Polynesian
Religions: Roman Catholic 99%, other 1%
Languages: Wallisian 58.9% (indigenous Polynesian language), Futunian 30.1%, French 10.8%, other 0.2% (2003 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 50%
male: 50%
female: 50% (1969 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands
conventional short form: Wallis and Futuna
local long form: Territoire des Iles Wallis et Futuna
local short form: Wallis et Futuna
Dependency status: overseas territory of France
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Mata-Utu (on Ile Uvea)
geographic coordinates: 13 57 S, 171 56 W
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: none (overseas territory of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are three kingdoms at the second order named Alo, Sigave, Wallis
Independence: none (overseas territory of France)
National holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution: 4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system: the laws of France, where applicable, apply
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007); represented by High Administrator Philippe PAOLANTONI (since 28 July 2008)
head of government: President of the Territorial Assembly Pesamino TAPUTAI (since 11 April 2007)
cabinet: Council of the Territory consists of three kings and three members appointed by the high administrator on the advice of the Territorial Assembly
note: there are three traditional kings with limited powers
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; high administrator appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of the Interior; the presidents of the Territorial Government and the Territorial Assembly are elected by the members of the assembly
Legislative branch: unicameral Territorial Assembly or Assemblee Territoriale (20 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 1 April 2007 (next to be held April 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – UMP 13, other 7
note: Wallis and Futuna elects one senator to the French Senate and one deputy to the French National Assembly; French Senate – elections last held 21 September 2008 (next to be held by September 2014); results – percent of vote by party – NA; seats – UMP 1; French National Assembly – elections last held 17 June 2007 (next to be held by 2012); results – percent of vote by party – NA; seats – PS 1
Judicial branch: justice generally administered under French law by the high administrator, but the three traditional kings administer customary law and there is a magistrate in Mata-Utu; a court of appeal is located in Noumea, New Caledonia
Political parties and leaders: Lua Kae Tahi (Giscardians); Mouvement des Radicaux de Gauche or MRG; Rally for the Republic or RPR (UMP) [Clovis LOGOLOGOFOLAU]; Socialist Party or PS; Taumu’a Lelei [Soane Muni UHILA]; Union Populaire Locale or UPL [Falakiko GATA]; Union Pour la Democratie Francaise or UDF
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: PIF (observer), SPC, UPU, WFTU
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas territory of France)
Flag description: unofficial, local flag has a red field with four white isosceles triangles in the middle, representing the three native kings of the islands and the French administrator; the apexes of the triangles are oriented inward and at right angles to each other; the flag of France, outlined in white on two sides, is in the upper hoist quadrant; the flag of France is the only official flag
Culture The culture of those islands is Polynesian, as is the music. Additionally, the Kailao, often thought of as a Tongan war dance, was imported to Tonga from ‘Uvea.
Economy Economy – overview: The economy is limited to traditional subsistence agriculture, with about 80% of labor force earnings from agriculture (coconuts and vegetables), livestock (mostly pigs), and fishing. About 4% of the population is employed in government. Revenues come from French Government subsidies, licensing of fishing rights to Japan and South Korea, import taxes, and remittances from expatriate workers in New Caledonia.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $60 million (2004 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $NA
GDP – real growth rate: NA%
GDP – per capita (PPP): $3,800 (2004 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Labor force: 3,104 (2003)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 80%
industry: 4%
services: 16% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: 15.2% (2003)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budget: revenues: $29,730
expenditures: $31,330 (2004 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 5.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.8% (2005)
Agriculture – products: breadfruit, yams, taro, bananas; pigs, goats; fish
Industries: copra, handicrafts, fishing, lumber
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity – production: NA kWh
Electricity – consumption: NA kWh
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2002)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2002)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 0%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0%
Exports: $47,450 f.o.b. (2004)
Exports – commodities: copra, chemicals, construction materials
Imports: $61.17 million f.o.b. (2004)
Imports – commodities: chemicals, machinery, passenger ships, consumer goods
Economic aid – recipient: assistance from France, $NA
Debt – external: $3.67 million (2004)
Currency (code): Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)
Currency code: XPF
Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar – NA (2007), 95.03 (2006), 95.89 (2005), 96.04 (2004), 105.66 (2003)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 1,900 (2002)
Telephones – mobile cellular: NA
Telephone system: general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code – 681
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (2000)
Radios: NA
Television broadcast stations: 2 (2000)
Televisions: NA
Internet country code: .wf
Internet hosts: 1 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 900 (2002)
Transportation Airports: 2 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)
Merchant marine: total: 8
by type: chemical tanker 2, passenger 6
foreign-owned: 8 (France 6, French Polynesia 2) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Leava, Mata-Utu
Military Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 3,273
females age 16-49: 3,297 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 175
female: 164 (2009 est.)
Military – note: defense is the responsibility of France
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: none