Nigeria: The People, Facts And The History Of This West African Nation

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

 

Nigeria

Introduction British influence and control over what would become Nigeria grew through the 19th century. A series of constitutions after World War II granted Nigeria greater autonomy; independence came in 1960. Following nearly 16 years of military rule, a new constitution was adopted in 1999, and a peaceful transition to civilian government was completed. The government continues to face the daunting task of reforming a petroleum-based economy, whose revenues have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement, and institutionalizing democracy. In addition, Nigeria continues to experience longstanding ethnic and religious tensions. Although both the 2003 and 2007 presidential elections were marred by significant irregularities and violence, Nigeria is currently experiencing its longest period of civilian rule since independence. The general elections of April 2007 marked the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the country’s history.
History Early History

The Nok people in central Nigeria produced terracotta sculptures that have been discovered by archaeologists.[6] A Nok sculpture resident at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, portrays a sitting dignitary wearing a “Shepherds Crook” on the right arm, and a “hinged flail” on the left. These are symbols of authority associated with Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, and the god Osiris, and suggests that an ancient Egyptian style of social structure, and perhaps religion, existed in the area of modern Nigeria during the late Pharonic period.[7] In the northern part of the country, Kano and Katsina has recorded history which dates back to around AD 999. Hausa kingdoms and the Kanem-Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West Africa.

The Yoruba people date their presence in the area of modern republics of Nigeria, Benin and Togo to about 8500 BC. The kingdoms of Ifẹ and Oyo in the western block of Nigeria became prominent about 700-900 and 1400 respectively. However, the Yoruba mythology believes that Ile-Ife is the source of the human race and that it predates any other civilization. Ifẹ produced the terra cotta and bronze heads, the Ọyọ extended as far as modern Togo. Another prominent kingdom in south western Nigeria was the Kingdom of Benin whose power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. Their dominance reached as far as the well known city of Eko which was named Lagos by the Portuguese traders and other early European settlers. In the 18th century, the Oyo and the Aro confederacy were responsible for most of the slaves exported from Nigeria.[8]

Post Independence

On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom. The new republic incorporated a number of people with aspirations of their own sovereign nations. Newly independent Nigeria’s government was a coalition of conservative parties: the Nigerian People’s Congress (NPC), a party dominated by Northerners and those of the Islamic faith, and the Igbo and Christian dominated National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, who became Nigeria’s maiden Governor-General in 1960. Forming the opposition was the comparatively liberal Action Group (AG), which was largely dominated by Yorubas and led by Obafemi Awolowo.[9]

An imbalance was created in the polity by the result of the 1961 plebiscite. Southern Cameroon opted to join the Republic of Cameroon while northern Cameroon chose to remain in Nigeria. The northern part of the country was now far larger than the southern part. The nation parted with its British legacy in 1963 by declaring itself a Federal Republic, with Azikiwe as the first president. When elections came about in 1965, the AG was outmanoeuvred for control of Nigeria’s Western Region by the Nigerian National Democratic Party, an amalgamation of conservative Yoruba elements backed heavily by the Federal Government amid dubious electoral circumstances. This left the Igbo NCNC to coalesce with the remnants of the AG in a weak progressive alliance.[9]

Map of Nigeria

Military Era

This disequilibrium and perceived corruption of the electoral and political process led in 1966 to several back-to-back military coups. The first was in January and led by a collection of young leftists under Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna & Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, it was partially successful – the coupists overthrew the embattled government but could not install their choice, jailed opposition leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo,[10] General Johnson Aguiyi-ironsi, then head of the army was invited by the rump of the Balewa regime to take over the affairs of the country as head of state. This coup was counter-acted by another successful plot, supported primarily by Northern military officers and Northerners who favoured the NPC, it was engineered by Northern officers, which allowed Lt Colonel Yakubu Gowon to become head of state. This sequence of events led to an increase in ethnic tension and violence. The Northern coup, which was mostly motivated by ethnic and religious reasons was a bloodbath of both military officers and civilians, especially those of Igbo extraction.

The violence against Igbos increased their desire for autonomy and protection from the military’s wrath. By May 1967, the Eastern Region had declared itself an independent state called the Republic of Biafra under the leadership Lt Colonel Emeka Ojukwu in line with the wishes of the people. The Nigerian side attacked Biafra on July 6, 1967 at Garkem signalling the beginning of the 30 month war that ended on January 1970.[11] Following the war, Nigeria became to an extent even more mired in ethnic strife, as the defeated southeast and indeed southern Nigeria was now conquered territory for the federal military regime, which changed heads of state twice as army officers staged a bloodless coup against Gowon and enthroned Murtala Mohammed; Olusegun Obansanjo succeeded the former after an assassination.

During the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria joined OPEC and billions of dollars generated by production in the oil-rich Niger Delta flowed into the coffers of the Nigerian state. However, increasing corruption and graft at all levels of government squandered most of these earnings. The northern military clique benefited immensely from the oil boom to the detriment of the Nigerian people and economy. As oil revenues fuelled the rise of federal subventions to states and precariously to individuals, the Federal Government soon became the centre of political struggle and the centre became the threshold of power in the country. As oil production and revenue rose, the Nigerian government created a dangerous situation as it became increasingly dependent on oil revenues and the international commodity markets for budgetary and economic concerns eschewing economic stability. That spelled doom to federalism in Nigeria.[12]

Beginning in 1979, Nigerians participated in a brief return to democracy when Obasanjo transferred power to the civilian regime of Shehu Shagari. The Shagari government was viewed as corrupt and incompetent by virtually all sectors of Nigerian society, so when the regime was overthrown by the military coup of Mohammadu Buhari shortly after the regime’s fraudulent re-election in 1984, it was generally viewed as a positive development by most of the population.[13] Buhari promised major reforms but his government fared little better than its predecessor, and his regime was overthrown by yet another military coup in 1985.[14] The new head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, promptly declared himself President and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces and the ruling Supreme Military Council and also set 1990 as the official deadline for a return to democratic governance. Babangida’s tenure was marked by a flurry of political activity: he instituted the International Monetary Fund’s Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) to aid in the repayment of the country’s crushing international debt, which most federal revenue was dedicated to servicing. He also inflamed religious tensions in the nation and particularly the south by enrolling Nigeria in the Organization of the Islamic Conference,[15]

After Babangida survived an abortive coup, he pushed back the promised return to democracy to 1992. When free and fair elections were finally held on the 12th of June, 1993, Babangida declared that the results showing a presidential victory for Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola null and void, sparking mass civilian violence in protest which effectively shut down the country for weeks and forced Babangida to keep his shaky promise to relinquish office to a civilian run government.[16] Babangida’s regime is adjudged to be at the apogee of corruption in the history of the nation as it was during his time that corruption became officially diluted in Nigeria.[17]

Umaru Yar’Adua of the People’s Democratic Party is the current president of Nigeria

Babangida’s caretaker regime headed by Ernest Shonekan survived only until late 1993 when General Sani Abacha took power in another military coup. Abacha proved to be perhaps Nigeria’s most brutal ruler and employed violence on a wide scale to suppress the continuing pandemic of civilian unrest. Money had been found in various western European countries banks traced to him. He avoided coup plots by bribing army generals. Several hundred millions dollars in accounts traced to him were unearthed in 1999.[18] The regime would come to an end in 1998 when the dictator was found dead amid dubious circumstances. Abacha’s death yielded an opportunity for return to civilian rule.

Recent History

Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 when it elected Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba and former military head of state, as the new President ending almost thirty three-years of military rule (between from 1966 until 1999) excluding the short-lived second republic (between 1979-1983) by military dictators who seized power in coups d’état and counter-coups during the Nigerian military juntas of 1966-1979 and 1983-1998.

Although the elections which brought Obasanjo to power in 1999 and again in 2003 were condemned as unfree and unfair, Nigeria has shown marked improvements in attempts to tackle government corruption and to hasten development. While Obasanjo showed willingness to fight corruption, he was accused by others of the same.[who?]

Umaru Yar’Adua, of the People’s Democratic Party, came into power in the general election of 2007 – an election that was witnessed and condemned by the international community as being massively flawed.[19]

Ethnic violence over the oil producing Niger Delta region (see Conflict in the Niger Delta), interreligious relations and inadequate infrastructure are current issues in the country.

There have been bogus claims of a Nigerian astronaut program that have made the news.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon
Geographic coordinates: 10 00 N, 8 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 923,768 sq km
land: 910,768 sq km
water: 13,000 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of California
Land boundaries: total: 4,047 km
border countries: Benin 773 km, Cameroon 1,690 km, Chad 87 km, Niger 1,497 km
Coastline: 853 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: varies; equatorial in south, tropical in center, arid in north
Terrain: southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in southeast, plains in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Chappal Waddi 2,419 m
Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, arable land
Land use: arable land: 33.02%
permanent crops: 3.14%
other: 63.84% (2005)
Irrigated land: 2,820 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 286.2 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 8.01 cu km/yr (21%/10%/69%)
per capita: 61 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: periodic droughts; flooding
Environment – current issues: soil degradation; rapid deforestation; urban air and water pollution; desertification; oil pollution – water, air, and soil; has suffered serious damage from oil spills; loss of arable land; rapid urbanization
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the Niger enters the country in the northwest and flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea
Politics Nigeria is a Federal Republic modelled after the United States, with executive power exercised by the president and with overtones of the Westminster System model in the composition and management of the upper and lower houses of the bicameral legislature.

The current president of Nigeria is Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who was elected in 2007. The president presides as both Chief of State and Head of Government and is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two four-year terms. The president’s power is checked by a Senate and a House of Representatives, which are combined in a bicameral body called the National Assembly. The Senate is a 109-seat body with three members from each state and one from the capital region of Abuja; members are elected by popular vote to four-year terms. The House contains 360 seats and the number of seats per state is determined by population.

Ethnocentricism, tribalism, sectarianism (especially religious), and prebendalism have played a visible role in Nigerian politics both prior and subsequent to independence in 1960. Kin-selective altruism has made its way into Nigerian politics and has spurned various attempts by tribalists to concentrate Federal power to a particular region of their interests.[22] Nationalism has also led to active secessionist movements such as MASSOB, Nationalist movements such as Oodua Peoples Congress, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and a civil war. Nigeria’s three largest ethnic groups have maintained historical preeminence in Nigerian politics; competition amongst these three groups, the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo, has fuelled corruption and graft.[23]

Due to the above issues, Nigeria’s current political parties are declaredly pan-national and irreligious in character (though this does not preclude the continuing preeminence of the dominant ethnicities).[24] The major political parties at present include the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria which maintains 223 seats in the House and 76 in the Senate (61.9% and 69.7% respectively) and is led by the current President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; the opposition All Nigeria People’s Party under the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari has 96 House seats and 27 in the Senate (26.6% and 24.7%). There are also about twenty other minor opposition parties registered. The outgoing president, Olusegun Obasanjo, acknowledged fraud and other electoral “lapses” but said the result reflected opinion polls. In a national television address he added that if Nigerians did not like the victory of his handpicked successor they would have an opportunity to vote again in four years.[2]

Like in many other African societies, prebendalism and extremely excessive corruption continue to constitute major challenges to Nigeria, as vote rigging and other means of coercion are practised by all major parties in order to remain competitive. In 1983, it was adjudged by the policy institute at Kuru that only the 1959 and 1979 elections witnessed minimal rigging

People Population: 138,283,240
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: 42.2% (male 29,378,127/female 28,953,864)
15-64 years: 54.7% (male 38,466,129/female 37,172,355)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 2,046,309/female 2,266,456) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 18.7 years
male: 18.8 years
female: 18.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.382% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 39.98 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 16.41 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.25 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 93.93 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 100.87 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 86.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 47.81 years
male: 47.15 years
female: 48.5 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.41 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 5.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 3.6 million (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 310,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria and yellow fever
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: one of the most highly endemic areas for Lassa fever
water contact disease: leptospirosis and shistosomiasis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Nigerian(s)
adjective: Nigerian
Ethnic groups: Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups; the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%
Religions: Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, indigenous beliefs 10%
Languages: English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 68%
male: 75.7%
female: 60.6% (2003 est.)

Israel: Is History Being Destroyed At The Western Wall?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Is evidence of Temple’s destruction being destroyed by a bid for Jewish unity?

Archaeologist Prof. Dan Bahat files a High Court petition to stop Western Wall construction. What is the archaeology that is currently covered, and what is in the provisional plan?

  • A Spanish-speaking teen tour rests on the Robinson's Arch prayer platform, April 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
    A Spanish-speaking teen tour rests on the Robinson’s Arch prayer platform, April 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
  • The egalitarian prayer platform at the Western Wall's Robinson's Arch archaeological area. (Eilat Mazar)
    The egalitarian prayer platform at the Western Wall’s Robinson’s Arch archaeological area. (Eilat Mazar)
  • The view from the Western Wall section of the Robinson's Arch prayer platform to the larger, impermanent area that was established in 2013. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
    The view from the Western Wall section of the Robinson’s Arch prayer platform to the larger, impermanent area that was established in 2013. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
  • View of fallen Second Temple building blocks from the Robinson's Arch pluralistic prayer platform next to the Western Wall. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
    View of fallen Second Temple building blocks from the Robinson’s Arch pluralistic prayer platform next to the Western Wall. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)
  • A 19th century image of Robinson's Arch. (public domain)
    A 19th century image of Robinson’s Arch. (public domain)

June 7, 1967. It is the third day of the Six Day War and after 19 years of exile by the Jordanians, the Old City of Jerusalem has been captured by Israeli forces. Dan Bahat, a soldier stationed in the country’s now reunified capital, asks for two hours of leave from his commanding officer. A secular Jew, Bahat makes his way to the Temple Mount.

“I came to the Western Wall the moment I heard it was liberated,” he told The Times of Israel. He recalled that he reached the wall exactly when former prime minister David Ben-Gurion arrived for the first time.

Called the “Wailing Wall” since the 13th century, it is here at this remnant of the two Jewish Temples’ retaining wall that Jews have historically mourned their destruction: the First Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE by the Babylonians, and the Second Temple, first modestly built some 70 years later, was fully renovated and massively enlarged by Herod circa 20 BCE, then destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

Following the 1967 war, the houses surrounding that portion of the Western Wall were razed, making way for what is now the stone-paved plaza used for prayer and state ceremonies. On the south side of the plaza, the Mughrabi Bridge, the only entrance available for non-Muslims to ascend to today’s Aqsa compound, separates the prayer pavilion from the section of the Western Wall that was set aside for archaeological research and a national park.

A soldier in the Paratroopers Brigade’s reserve reconnaissance company cleans his rifle as his injured comrade reads the newspaper near the Western Wall on June 7, 1967. (Micha Bar-Am/Defense Ministry’s IDF Archive)

Standing in the park, what immediately captures the imagination is the massive stone rubble, lying exactly where it landed when Roman soldiers pried the huge ashlar stones from the Temple Mount high above. Here, more than in any other place in the park, one can resoundingly conceptualize the horror of the fall of the Second Temple and the destruction wrought there.

However, since a High Court case in 2000, the archaeological park is also officially used as a space for egalitarian prayer. And now, after decades of contentious struggle and negotiations between all major Jewish denominations in Israel and abroad, under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office, a large permanent prayer platform is in the final planning stages for construction.

“The Western Wall is sacrosanct,” said Bahat, now retired from a career as a prominent archaeologist. “But out of a national monument, it has become a synagogue.”

It is the unrivaled historical value of this site and the antiquities in it that led former Six Day War soldier Bahat to petition the High Court of Justice in March for a stay of construction in the Western Wall’s Robinson’s Arch area. A hearing is set for December.

From 1963-1990, Bahat was employed by the predecessor to the IAA, eventually becoming the district archeologist of Jerusalem. From the mid-1980s on, he served as the long-time lead archaeologist on the Western Wall Tunnel excavations.

Preparations for the creation of a plaza next to the Western Wall, June 17, 1967. (From the collection of Dan Hadani, National Library of Israel).

Represented by the prestigious Yigal Arnon law firm, Bahat’s March petition is against the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and its head, the Prime Minister’s Office, Culture Minister Miri Regev, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who all have played a role in the planned platform.

The platform’s implementation is a remnant from the much-negotiated, now-frozen 2016 government decision that earmarks the site as a permanent location for egalitarian prayer, would have granted the non-Orthodox movements and feminist prayer group Women of the Wall a seat at the table in its planning, and somewhat equal public status with a new joint entrance to the renovated prayer pavilions.

Archaeologist Prof. Dan Bahat (courtesy)

“Unfortunately,” said Bahat, the Robinson’s Arch site “has become easy prey for those who decided to make a non-Orthodox prayer plaza.”

Bahat told The Times of Israel that because he is no longer employed by the IAA and doesn’t need the agency for an excavation license, he is able to speak out against what he sees as a destructive, desecration of the hard-won Western Wall archaeology — and the IAA’s role in it. According to a deal reached with the PMO over the planned expansion of the permanent platform, the IAA is deeply involved in the construction project. In February, it began preliminary checks in the area intended as a new, much widened entrance to the planned platform.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, said Bahat, is the body “in charge of guarding all the archaeological sites.”

“This is not protection, it is a desecration of the site,” said Bahat. “The IAA should be on my side not to touch the place. But they are the ones who are undertaking the work of destruction,” he said.

The Davidson Archaeological Park, said Bahat, is “the pearl in the crown” of ancient Jerusalem archaeology. “There is nowhere else where you can so clearly see the results of the 70 CE Roman conquest. What you see today is really how everything ended.”

Jewish tradition states the Second Temple was destroyed because of “sinat chinam” — baseless hatred and infighting among the Jewish people. Today, as the Israeli government pushes forward with a construction plan designed to bridge gaps with Diaspora Jewry, archaeologists fear that the evidence that preserves a previous time of destructive Jewish factionalism is set to be erased from history.

Ahead of Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning over the destruction of the two Temples, The Times of Israel spoke with archaeologists about what exactly is currently being “destroyed” at the Robinson’s Arch prayer area, and, after getting a glimpse of still unfinalized plans for the new expanded permanent platform, what other evidence of Judaism’s historical past may be “desecrated” — or even potentially better preserved.

What archaeology is there exactly in this crown jewel?

In 1968, head of the Hebrew University Prof. Benjamin Mazar began his large-scale excavation alongside hundreds of workers and volunteers. According to Mazar, remains from as early as the Iron Age and as late as the Arab period have been uncovered at the site.

These were heady times for Israeli archaeology. Yigael Yadin called Mazar’s excavations there “the greatest archaeological enterprise Jerusalem has witnessed.” Numerous questions of Jewish identity and heritage that had been left unsolved began to receive answers.

Herbert W. Armstrong and Prof. Benjamin Mazar present the Jerusalem excavations to the Japanese Ambassador. (courtesy)

One riddle, left over from the campaign of American Bible scholar Edward Robinson was the meaning behind an arch he discovered in 1838 while charting Holy Land sites for his landmark book, “Biblical Researches in Palestine.” Then, the arch jutted out of the wall about a meter above street level and was most used as a bench. Robinson saw it as a clear identifier of the spot of the ancient Jewish Temples.

Robinson writes in “Biblical Researches in Palestine,” “The existence of these remains of the ancient bridge, seems to remove all doubt as to the identity of this part of the enclosure of the mosk with that of the ancient temple. How they can have remained for so many ages unseen or unnoticed by any writer or traveller, is a problem, which I would not undertake fully to solve. One cause has probably been the general oblivion, or want of knowledge, that any such bridge ever existed.”

For years, Robinson and other scholars felt the arch, which springs out from the Western Wall, was used to support a bridge. As he writes in a 1980 Biblical Archaeology Review article, Mazar, however, determined it was indeed part of a support system — but for a monumental stairway.

Reconstruction of ancient Jerusalem’s Keshet Robinson, as found in the Tower of David Museum. (CC-BY-SA Водник at ru.wikipedia)

The staircase led to one of the main entrances to the Temple Mount, originating from the well-preserved Herodian road that visitors can still walk on today, and was supported by the 17-meter-high Robinson’s Arch. At the southern end of the Temple Mount built on a man-made plateau was a massive, impressive structure called the Royal Stoa.

Jewish pilgrims of all sorts — possibly even Jesus — would have walked these steps supported by Robinson’s Arch to ascend to the Temple.

Among the other early discoveries there, Mazar found a Hebrew inscription in the Western Wall just under Robinson’s Arch reading, “You shall see and your heart shall rejoice. Their bones shall flourish like grass,” which appears to be a paraphrase of Isaiah 66:14: “When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass.”

Mazar, writes granddaughter Dr. Eilat Mazar, today a leading Israeli archaeologist, believed the inscription to have been written by the few Jews who, in Emperor Julian’s day in 363 CE, were briefly allowed back into the city to rebuild the Temple. Others, she writes, tie the inscription to mass burials about a meter and a half below it, which took place in 900 CE.

A 19th century image of Robinson’s Arch. (public domain)

Standing in the Davidson Archaeological Park near the Western Wall today, visitors are struck by the Herodian road, the shops that sold sacrifices to pilgrims on their way to the Temple Mount, and a 1st century CE cornerstone fallen from the wall above inscribed with, “the trumpeting place.” The stone arguably indicates where priests may have sounded the entrance of the Sabbath and holidays during the days of the Second Temple.

What is currently covered up?

Archaeologist Prof. Ronny Reich uncovered the section of the park that is adjacent to the current egalitarian prayer platform in excavations there from 1994 -1996. Reich told The Times of Israel that while the road and other finds are significant, the in-situ rubble of the destroyed massive wall is of unparalleled importance.

“This is the only place where you can touch, experience, become excited by the very impressive stone collapse from the destruction of the Second Temple,” said Reich. He said it has incomparable educational, emotional and historical value that is unmatched by any other in the country.

A family celebrates a bar mitzva at the small egalitarian prayer platform at the Robinson’s Arch, July 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)

When Reich excavated this area of the site, the entire roadway next to the wall was covered by these massive ashlar stones. A portion of these stones, the heaviest of which weighed some 14 tons, were lifted out by a crane, so archaeologists could study the debris from beneath. But a decision was made to merely dig around the section that remains today, and leave a visceral reminder of the wide-spread razing of ancient Jerusalem.

Today, the small 12-meter-wide egalitarian prayer platform in the north corner of the Robinson’s Arch area that is adjacent to the Western Wall covers over a portion of these ancient stones, which are now inaccessible to the public. Visitors on this platform can also see, in a corner adjacent to the wall and the Mughrabi Bridge, a pier that was excavated by Mazar and shows many other deeper courses of the Western Wall. Now it is used as a de facto garbage can.

The second, much larger “temporary” platform erected in 2014 by then-Jerusalem Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett covers much more territory, and therefore more antiquity.

According to Reich, who excavated this area, much of what is covered comes from the Byzantine (Christian Roman) and early Muslim periods, although there is also still some evidence of Second Temple shops similar, but less preserved than what is on display directly under Robinson’s Arch.

A 1st century inscription found in Robinson’s Arch reads, ‘The trumpeting place.’ (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)

In his 1980 aricle, Mazar writes that between the series of arches that supported the staircase were shops of the Lower Market. “We found the remains of these shops as well as some of their contents: stone vessels, weights, pottery and coins,” noting one of Emperor Agrippa I, who ruled from 41–44 CE. “We may assume that the shops served those coming to the Temple, pilgrims in particular.

Is the evidence of destruction being destroyed?

Both Reich and Bahat said that none of the antiquities covered by the prayer platforms have been caused irreparable damage — so far.

At the same time, Bahat called the Ezrat Yisrael platform built by Bennet “ugly,” and that “the dirt underneath is unbelievable.” The construction of the platform is “inserting an artificial element into an archaeological site.”

“It’s as if, suddenly in the middle of Beit Shean, they’ll build a big platform to celebrate [the Moroccan Jewish holiday of] mimuna,” he said, or, at Tel Megiddo “to put up a platform to celebrate Allenby’s victory. Can you imagine such a thing?”

Attorney Amnon Lorch (courtesy)

According to Bahat’s attorney, Amnon Lorch, the former Chairman of the East Jerusalem Development Company, 250,000 visit the archaeological park annually. “Instead of seeing the awesome site that was there until a few years ago, today they see the porch with the umbrellas that looks like an entrance to a swimming pool in the Bahamas. It is a complete desecration of the site.”

For Lorch, the matter is both professional and personal. He worked there as a volunteer in the massive excavations. All the site’s unique archaeological glory will be covered, he said, “because maybe someone will pray there? The fact of the matter is that a few thousand yearly pay there, whereas hundreds of thousands pay tickets into the park. There must be a balance of public interests.”

Lorch’s case targets the IAA, which he claimed was formed as an independent authority to defend the antiquities of the People of Israel. “That’s their job, their mission, their legal obligation,” he said. Instead, “they have bent their head before the politicians at the whim of the prime minister who, after the government froze the decision to build the porch there, gave an order to build it.”

In his case, Lorch references past IAA heads’ statements fending off previously planned construction. Likewise, he claims that the current platforms do not have the required Jerusalem municipality building permits, nor the approval of the recently headline-making ministerial committee on Holy Places, which has yet to sign off on the project.

But more than anything, in speaking with The Times of Israel, Lorch sounded personally betrayed by the government, which is overlooking its heritage and the preservation of it.

“If the Polish would have done a thing like this to Auschwitz, the [Israeli] government and the Jewish people would have gone crazy,” he said. “But here we’re taking the destruction of the Second Temple,” he stopped the sentence there, apparently astounded.

The IAA as ‘protectors’ of Israel’s ancient past

The IAA of yesteryear also used such strong language in fending off the archaeological site from encroaching construction. Today, it takes a much more pragmatic approach.

Attorney Firas Badhe, legal advisor for IAA, spoke with The Times of Israel this week about the Bahat case and evaluated its chances of success as slim. It is not the first time Bahat has petitioned on similar grounds, he said.

A Spanish-speaking teen tour rests on the Robinson’s Arch prayer platform, April 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)

There is no finalized construction plan, said Badhe, and there won’t be one until the IAA is satisfied it can preserve and protect the antiquities there. The IAA is further making sure that the archaeology is as accessible as possible to the public — both what is uncovered now, and what may be revealed in the future.

“If something is found in the [building] process, then the planning must accommodate the new finds,” said Badhe.

A glimpse at an architectural simulation of the provisional plans indicate that the new platform will be much higher than the current one, allowing for much more access to the massive stone rubble from the Temple Mount. Likewise, the platform will basically maintain its size on the portion closest to the Western Wall, and gradually fan out over the now temporary prayer section. There, the plans indicate that it will be slightly more narrow, potentially allowing for visual access to the pilgrimage shops’ remains.

The temporary, larger prayer platform at the Robinson’s Arch, July 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)

Badhe confirmed that the current provisional plan shows more accessibility, but repeatedly emphasized that there will be no final approval until all professional checks, including consultations with archaeologists and engineers are completed.

“We promise more accessibility and promise that the antiquities will not be harmed… We are standing guard,” he said.

Badhe said that many archaeologists are divided over the platform’s construction due to a misunderstanding of the planned work.

“It is a very sensitive place, we are very carefully working towards a solution that will promise preservation and accessibility — and not according to how the petitioners conceive of what will be harmed,” he said.

This construction is where the new, much wider entrance is planned for the renovations and permanent prayer platform at the Robinson’s Arch, July 2018. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/ToI)

Archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, who has vocally stated her opposition to the construction, when learning that the construction will be much higher than the current platform, cautiously said that it appears the planners are taking the archaeologists’ concerns into account. “The important thing is to expose [the rubble]. Even if they take one more meter and raise the whole section — it is very significant,” she said.

Reich was even more enthusiastic. “If it will be higher, we will get an underground space where visitors can see it [the rubble] exactly as it was. See and touch, without having to crouch down,” he said.

As for the covered pilgrimage shops and some ritual baths which may be inaccessible in the new plan, he said, “It’s all a question of proportion. If there are already shops on one side, will whether there’s another shop or two on the other side change the picture?” he asked.

What’s needed in addressing the the evidence of Second Temple Roman destruction of the capital of the Jewish people, according to Reich, is an agreement that allows parties to overcome their ongoing, factionalizing conflicts and live together in peace.

Wryly using a Latin phrase, Reich said, “Really, it’s a matter of modus vivendi.”

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Niue: Truth History And Knowledge Of This Tiny Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Niue

Introduction Niue’s remoteness, as well as cultural and linguistic differences between its Polynesian inhabitants and those of the rest of the Cook Islands, have caused it to be separately administered. The population of the island continues to drop (from a peak of 5,200 in 1966 to an estimated 1,492 in 2007), with substantial emigration to New Zealand, 2,400 km to the southwest.
History Niue was first settled by Polynesian sailors from Samoa in around 900 AD.[1] Further settlers (or invaders) arrived from Tonga in the 16th century.[2]

Until the beginning of the eighteenth century, there appears to have been no national government or national leader in Niue. Before that time, chiefs and heads of family exercised authority over segments of the population. Around 1700, the concept and practice of kingship appears to have been introduced through contact with Samoa or Tonga. From then on, a succession of patu-iki (kings) ruled the island, the first of whom was Puni-mata. Tui-toga, who reigned from 1875 to 1887, was the first Christian king of Niue.[3]

The first European to sight Niue was Captain James Cook in 1774. Cook made three attempts to land on the island but was refused permission to do so by the Polynesian inhabitants. He named the island “Savage Island” because, legend has it, the natives that “greeted” him were painted in what appeared to Cook and his crew to be blood. However, the substance on their teeth was that of the red banana and not blood.[citation needed]

For the next couple of centuries the island remained known as Savage Island, until its original name Niu ē (coconut behold) regained use. Yet its official name is still Niuē fekai (wild Niuē).[citation needed]

The next notable European visitors were from the London Missionary Society and arrived in 1846 on the “Messenger of Peace”. After many years of trying to land a European missionary on Niue, a Niuean named Nukai Peniamina was taken away and trained as a Pastor at the Malua Theological College in Samoa. Peniamina returned as a missionary with the help of Toimata Fakafitifonua. He was finally allowed to land in Uluvehi Mutalau after a number of attempts in other villages had failed. The Chiefs of Mutalau village allowed Peniamina to land and assigned over 60 warriors to protect him day and night at the fort in Fupiu. Christianity was first taught to the Mutalau people before it was spread to all the villages on Niue; originally, other major villages opposed the introduction of Christianity and had sought to kill Peniamina. The people from the village of Hakupu, although the last village to receive Christianity, came and asked for a “word of god”; hence their village was renamed “Ha Kupu Atua” meaning “any word of god”, or “Hakupu” for short.

In 1887, King Fata-a-iki, who reigned from 1887 to 1896, offered to cede sovereignty over his country to the British Empire, fearing the consequences of annexation by a less benevolent colonial power. The offer was not accepted until 1900.

Niue was a British protectorate for a time, but the UK’s involvement ended in 1901 when New Zealand annexed the island. Independence in the form of self-government was granted by the New Zealand parliament with the 1974 constitution. Robert Rex, CMG OBE (who was ethnically part European, part native) was appointed the country’s first Premier, a position he continued to hold through re-election until his death 18 years later. Rex became the first Niuean to receive knighthood in 1984.

In January 2004, Niue was hit by Cyclone Heta, which killed two people and caused extensive damage to the entire island, as well as wiping out most of the south of the capital, Alofi.

Geography Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Tonga
Geographic coordinates: 19 02 S, 169 52 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 260 sq km
land: 260 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: 1.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 64 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; modified by southeast trade winds
Terrain: steep limestone cliffs along coast, central plateau
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location near Mutalau settlement 68 m
Natural resources: fish, arable land
Land use: arable land: 11.54%
permanent crops: 15.38%
other: 73.08% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: typhoons
Environment – current issues: increasing attention to conservationist practices to counter loss of soil fertility from traditional slash and burn agriculture
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: one of world’s largest coral islands
Politics The Niue Constitution Act vests executive authority in Her Majesty the Queen in Right of New Zealand and the Governor-General of New Zealand. The Niue Constitution specifies that in everyday practice, sovereignty is exercised by the Niue Cabinet of Ministers of the Premier of Niue and three other ministers. The premier and ministers are members of the Niue Legislative Assembly, the nation’s parliament.

The assembly consists of twenty democratically elected members, fourteen of whom are elected by the electors of each village constituency. The remaining six are elected by all registered voters in all constituencies. Electors must be New Zealand citizens, resident for at least three months, and candidates must have been electors, and resident for twelve months. It is a requirement under law that anyone who was born in Niue must register on the electoral roll, however it is up to the elector whether to vote or not to vote on polling day. The candidates that have equal votes following the recount of votes, the winning candidate will be drawn out from the hat, this a legitimate and legal procedure. The Speaker is elected by the assembly and is the first official to be elected in the first sitting of the Legislative Assembly following an election. The new Speaker calls for nominations for the Premier; the candidate with the most votes from the twenty members is elected. The Premier then selects three other members to form the Cabinet of Ministers, the executive arm of government. The other two organs of government, following the Westminster model, are the Legislative Assembly and the Judiciary. Terms before new elections last three years, with the next election due on 7 June 2008 as part of the Niuean general election, 2008.

All Members of Parliament, past or present, are entitled to State Funerals. State Funerals may also be given as well to any distinguished individual offered the honour by the Premier and his Cabinet.

People Population: 1,444 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA
Population growth rate: -0.032% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: NA
Death rate: NA (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
Sex ratio: NA
Infant mortality rate: total: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: NA (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Niuean(s)
adjective: Niuean
Ethnic groups: Niuen 78.2%, Pacific islander 10.2%, European 4.5%, mixed 3.9%, Asian 0.2%, unspecified 3% (2001 census)
Religions: Ekalesia Niue (Niuean Church – a Protestant church closely related to the London Missionary Society) 61.1%, Latter-Day Saints 8.8%, Roman Catholic 7.2%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 2.4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, other 8.4%, unspecified 8.7%, none 1.9% (2001 census)
Languages: Niuean, a Polynesian language closely related to Tongan and Samoan; English
Literacy: definition: NA
total population: 95%
male: NA
female: NA

Norfolk Island: The History Knowledge And Known Truth About

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

 

Norfolk Island

Introduction Two British attempts at establishing the island as a penal colony (1788-1814 and 1825-55) were ultimately abandoned. In 1856, the island was resettled by Pitcairn Islanders, descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian companions.
History Early history

Norfolk Island was first settled by East Polynesian seafarers either from the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand or from the North Island of New Zealand. They arrived in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, and survived for several generations before disappearing. Their main village site has been excavated at Emily Bay, and they also left behind stone tools, the Polynesian Rat, and banana trees as evidence of their sojourn. The final fate of these early settlers remains a mystery.

The first European known to have sighted the island was Captain James Cook, in 1774, on his second voyage to the South Pacific on HMS Resolution. He named it after the Duchess of Norfolk, wife of Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk (1685-1777). The Duchess was dead at the time of the island’s sighting by Cook, but Cook had set out from England in 1772 and could not have known of her May 1773 death.

Cook went ashore on Tuesday 11 October 1774, and is said to have been impressed with the tall straight trees and flax-like plants. He took samples back to the United Kingdom and reported on their potential uses for the Royal Navy.

Andrew Kippis as the biographer of this voyage puts it as follows:

As the Resolution pursued her course from New Caledonia, land was discovered, which, on a nearer approach, was found to be an island, of good height, and five leagues in circuit. Captain Cook named it Norfolk Isle, in honour of the noble family of Howard (Fn.: It is situated in the latitude of 29° 2′ 30″ south, and in the longitude of 168° 16′ east). It was uninhabited; and the first persons that ever set foot on it were unquestionably our English navigators. Various trees and plants were observed that are common at New Zealand; and in particular, the flax plant, which is rather more luxuriant here than in any other part of that country. The chief produce of the island is a kind of spruce pine, exceedingly straight and tall, which grows in great abundance. Such is the size of many of the trees that, breast high, they are as thick as two men can fathom. Among the vegetables of the place, the palm-cabbage afforded both a wholesome and palatable refreshment; and, indeed, proved the most agreeable repast that our people had for a considerable time enjoyed…

At the time, the United Kingdom was heavily dependent on flax (for sails) and hemp (for ropes) from the shores of the Baltic Sea ports. Any threat to their supply endangered the United Kingdom’s sea power. The UK also relied on timbers from New England for mainmasts, and these were not supplied after the American War of Independence. The alternative source of Norfolk Island for these supplies is argued by some historians, notably Geoffrey Blainey in The Tyranny of Distance, as being a major reason for the founding of the convict settlement of New South Wales by the First Fleet in 1788.

James Cook said that, “except for New Zealand, in no other island in the South Sea was wood and mast-timber so ready to hand”.

John Call, member of Parliament and the Royal Society, and former chief engineer of the East India Company, stated the advantages of Norfolk Island in a proposal for colonization he put to the Home Office in August 1784: “This Island has an Advantage not common to New Caledonia, New Holland and New Zealand by not being inhabited, so that no Injury can be done by possessing it to the rest of Mankind…there seems to be nothing wanting but Inhabitants and Cultivation to make it a delicious Residence. The Climate, Soil, and Sea provide everything that can be expected from them. The Timber, Shrubs, Vegetables and Fish already found there need no Embellishment to pronounce them excellent samples; but the most invaluable of all is the Flax-plant, which grows more luxuriant than in New Zealand.”[4]

George Forster, who had been on Cook’s second voyage to the Pacific and had been with him when he landed on Norfolk Island, was at the time professor of natural history at the University of Vilna (or Vilnius) in Polish Lithuania: Forster discussed the proposed Botany Bay colony in an article written in November 1786, “Neuholland, und die brittische Colonie in Botany Bay”. Though unaware of the British intention to settle Norfolk Island, which was not announced until 5 December 1786, Forster referred to “the nearness of New Zealand; the excellent flax plant (Phormium) that grows so abundantly there; its incomparable shipbuilding timber”, as among the advantages of the new colony.

The proposal written by James Matra under the supervision of Sir Joseph Banks for establishing a settlement in New South Wales, stated that Botany Bay was: “no further than a fortnight from New Zealand, which is covered with timber even to the water’s edge. The trees are so big and tall that a single tree is enough to make a mast of a first rate man of war. New Zealand produces in addition flax, which is an object equally of utility and curiosity. Any quantity of it might be raised in the colony, as this plant grows naturally in New Zealand. It can be made to serve the various purposes of cotton, hemp and linen, and is easier manufactured than any of them. In naval affairs, it could not fail of being of the utmost consequence; a cable of ten inches (250 mm) being supposed to be of equal strength and durability to one of European hemp of eighteen inches.

In 1786 the British Government included Norfolk Island as an auxiliary settlement, as proposed by John Call, in its plan for colonization of New South Wales. The flax and ship timber of New Zealand were attractive, but these prospective advantages were balanced by the obvious impossibility of forming a settlement there in the face of undoubted opposition from the native Maori. [7] There was no native population to oppose a settlement on Norfolk Island, which also possessed those desirable natural resources, but the island was too small of itself to sustain a colony. Hence the ultimate decision for a dual colonization along the lines proposed by Call.

The decision to settle Norfolk Island was taken under the impetus of the shock Britain had just received from the Empress Catherine of Russia. Practically all the hemp and flax required by the Royal Navy for cordage and sailcloth was imported from the Russian dominions through the ports of St. Petersburg (Kronstadt) and Riga. Comptroller of the Navy Sir Charles Middleton explained to Prime Minister Pitt in a letter of 5 September 1786: “It is for Hemp only we are dependent on Russia. Masts can be procured from Nova Scotia, and Iron in plenty from the Ores of this Country; but as it is impracticable to carry on a Naval War without Hemp, it is materially necessary to promote the growth of it in this Country and Ireland”. [8] In the summer of 1786 the Empress Catherine, in the context of tense negotiations on a renewed treaty of commerce, had emphasized her control over this vital commodity by asking the merchants who supplied it to restrict sales to English buyers: “the Empress has contrary to Custom speculated on this Commodity”, complained the author of a subsequent memorandum to the Home Secretary. “It is unnecessary”, said the memorandum, “to remark the Consequences which might result from a prohibition of supply from that Quarter altogether”. [9] This implicit threat to the viability of the Royal Navy became apparent in mid-September (a month after the decision had been taken to settle Botany Bay) and caused the Pitt Administration to begin an urgent search for new sources of supply, including from Norfolk Island, which was then added to the plan to colonize New South Wales.

The need for an alternative source of supply of naval stores to Russia is indicated by the information from the British Ambassador in Copenhagen, Hugh Elliott, who wrote to Foreign Secretary, Lord Carmarthen on 12 August 1788: “There is no Topick so common in the Mouths of the Russian Ministers, as to insist on the Facility with which the Empress, when Mistress of the Baltic, either by Conquest, Influence, or Alliance with the other two Northern Powers, could keep England in a State of Dependence for its Baltic Commerce and Naval Stores”.[10]

On 6 December 1786, an order-in-council was issued designating “the Eastern Coast of New South Wales, or some one or other of the Islands adjacent” as the destination for transported convicts, as required by the Transportation Act of 1784 (24 Geo.III, c.56) that authorized the sending of convicted felons to any place appointed by the King in Council. Norfolk Island was thereby brought officially within the bounds of the projected colony.

An article in The Universal Daily Register (the forerunner of The Times) of 23 December 1786 revealed the plan for a dual colonization of Norfolk Island and Botany Bay: “The ships for Botany Bay are not to leave all the convicts there; some of them are to be taken to Norfolk Island, which is about eight hundred miles East of Botany Bay, and about four hundred miles short of New Zealand”.

The advantage of Britain’s new colony providing an alternative source to Russia for naval supplies of flax and hemp was referred to in an article in Lloyd’s Evening Post of 5 October 1787 which urged: “It is undoubtedly the interest of Great-Britain to remain neutral in the present contest between the Russians and the Turks” and observed, “Should England cease to render her services to the Empress of Russia, in a war against the Turks, there can be little of nothing to fear from her ill-will. England will speedily be enabled to draw from her colony of New South Wales, the staple of Russia, hemp and flax.”

First penal settlement

Before the First Fleet sailed to found a convict settlement in New South Wales, Governor Arthur Phillip’s final instructions, received less than three weeks before sailing, included the requirement to colonize Norfolk Island to prevent it falling into the hands of France[citation needed], whose naval leaders were also showing interest in the Pacific.

Phillip’s instructions given him in April 1787 included an injunction to send a party to secure Norfolk Island “as soon as Circumstances may admit of it…. to prevent its being occupied by the Subjects of any other European Power”. This could only have been a reference to the expedition then in the Pacific commanded by Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse. The Daily Universal Register of 11 November 1786 had stated: “the Botany Bay scheme is laid aside, as there is a strong presumption that a squadron from Brest are now, or soon will be, in possession of the very spot we meant to occupy in New Holland”. This may have been a reference to a report from the British Ambassador in Paris, who had believed that when Lapérouse’s expedition set out from Brest in August 1785 it had as one of its objectives the establishment of a settlement in New Zealand to forestall the British.

Lapérouse did attempt to visit Norfolk Island, but only to investigate, not to take possession. He had instructions to investigate any colonies the English may have established and learned of the intention to settle Botany Bay and Norfolk Island from despatches sent to him from Paris through St. Petersburg and by land across Siberia to Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, where he received them on 26 September 1787, just four days before his departure from that port.[12] His ships, the Boussole and Astrolabe, anchored off the northern side of the island on 13 January 1788, but at the time high seas were running that made it too dangerous for the two ships’ boats that were put out to attempt a landing: “It was obvious that I would have had to wait maybe for a very long time for a moment suitable for a landing and a visit to this island was not worth this sacrifice”, he recorded in his journal.[13] Having noted that the island was still uninhabited, he was presumably the less inclined to risk a landing when there was no English settlement there to report on.

When the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in January 1788, Phillip ordered Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to lead a party of fifteen convicts and seven free men to take control of the island and prepare for its commercial development. They arrived on 6 March 1788.

A “Letter from an Officer of Marines at New South Wales, 16 November 1788”, published in the London newspaper, The World, 15 May 1789, reported the glowing description of the island and its prospects by Philip Gidley King, but also drew attention to the fatal defect of the lack of a safe port: “The said Island lies near Port Jackson, and is nearly as large as the Isle of Wight. Lieutenant King, who was sent with a detachment of marines and some convicts, to settle there, gives the most flattering portrayal of it. The island is fully wooded. Its timber is in the opinion of everyone the most beautiful and finest in the world…they are most suitable for masts, yards, spars and such. The New Zealand flax-plant grows there in abundance. European grains and seeds also thrive wonderfully well on Norfolk Island. It only lacks a good port and suitable landing places, without which the island is of no use, but with them it would be of the greatest importance for Great Britain. How far these deficiencies can be improved by art and the hand of man, time must decide.”

It was soon found[citation needed] that the flax was difficult to prepare for manufacturing and no one had the necessary skills. An attempt was made to bring two Māori men to teach the skills of dressing and weaving flax, but this failed when it was discovered that weaving was considered women’s work and the two men had little knowledge of it. The pine timber was found to be not resilient enough for masts and this industry was also abandoned.

More convicts were sent, and the island was seen as a farm, supplying Sydney with grain and vegetables during its early years of near-starvation. However, crops often failed[citation needed] due to the salty wind, rats, and caterpillars. The lack of a natural safe harbour hindered communication and the transport of supplies and produce.

Manning Clark observed that “at first the convicts behaved well, but as more arrived from Sydney Cove, they renewed their wicked practices”. These included an attempted overthrow of King in January 1789 by convicts described by Margaret Hazzard as “incorrigible rogues who took his ‘goodwill’ for weakness”. While some convicts responded well to the opportunities offered to become respectable, most remained “idle and miserable wretches” according to Clark, despite the climate and their isolation from previous haunts of crime.

The impending starvation at Sydney led to a great transplantation of convicts and marines to Norfolk Island in March 1790 on HMS Sirius. This attempt to relieve the pressure on Sydney turned to disaster when Sirius was wrecked and, although there was no loss of life, some stores were destroyed, and the ship’s crew was marooned for ten months. This news was met in Sydney with “unspeakable consternation”.[14] Norfolk Island was now further cut off from Sydney which, with the arrival of the Second Fleet with its cargo of sick and abused convicts, had more pressing problems with which to contend.

In spite of this the settlement grew slowly as more convicts were sent from Sydney. Many convicts chose to remain as settlers on the expiry of their sentence, and the population grew to over 1000 by 1792.

Lieutenant governors of the first settlement:
6 March 1788–24 March 1790: Lieutenant Philip Gidley King (1758–1808)
24 March 1790–Nov 1791: Major Robert Ross (c.1740–1794)
4 November 1791–Oct 1796: Lieutenant Philip Gidley King
October 1796–Nov 1799: Captain John Townson (1760–1835)
November 1799–Jul 1800: Captain Thomas Rowley (c.1748–1806)
26 June 1800–9 September 1804: Major Joseph Foveaux (1765–1846)
9 September 1804–January 1810: Lieutenant John Piper (1773–1851)
January 1810–15 February 1813: Lieutenant Thomas Crane (caretaker)
15 February 1813–15 February 1814: Superintendent William Hutchinson

Norfolk Island was governed by a succession of short-term commandants for the next eleven years, starting with King’s replacement, Robert Ross 1789-1790. When Joseph Foveaux arrived as Lieutenant Governor in 1800, he found the settlement quite run down, little maintenance having been carried out in the previous four years, and he set about building it up, particularly through public works and attempts to improve education.[15]

As early as 1794 King suggested its closure as a penal settlement as it was too remote and difficult for shipping, and too costly to maintain. By 1803, the Secretary of State, Lord Hobart, called for the removal of part of the Norfolk Island military establishment, settlers and convicts to Van Diemen’s Land, due to its great expense and the difficulties of communication between Norfolk Island and Sydney. This was achieved more slowly than anticipated, due to reluctance of settlers to uproot themselves from the land they had struggled to tame, and compensation claims for loss of stock. It was also delayed by King’s insistence on its value for providing refreshment to the whalers. The first group of 159 left in February 1805 and comprised mainly convicts and their families and military personnel, only four settlers departing. Between November 1807 and September 1808, five groups of 554 people departed. Only about 200 remained, forming a small settlement until the remnants were removed in 1813. A small party remained to slaughter stock and destroy all buildings so that there would be no inducement for anyone, especially from another European power, to visit that place.

From 15 February 1814 to 6 June 1825 the island lay abandoned.

Second penal settlement

Commandants of the second settlement:
6 June 1825–March 1826: Captain Richard Turton
March 1826–August 1827: Captain Vance Young Donaldson (1791–?)
August 1827–November 1828: Captain Thomas Edward Wright
November 1828–February 1829: Captain Robert Hunt
February 1829–29 June 1829: Captain Joseph Wakefield
29 June 1829–1834: Lieutenant-Colonel James Thomas Morisset (1782–1852)
1834: Captain Foster Fyans (1790–1870) (Acting)
1834–April 1839: Major Joseph Anderson (1790–1877)
April – July 1839: Major Thomas Bunbury (b. c1791)
July 1839 – March 1840: Major Thomas Ryan (b.c1790) (Acting)
17 March 1840–1844: Captain Alexander Maconochie (1787–1860)
8 February 1844–5 August 1846: Major Joseph Childs
6 August 1846–18 January 1853: John Giles Price (1808–1857)
January 1853–September 1853: Captain Rupert Deering
September 1853–5 May 1855: Captain H. Day
5 May 1855–8 June 1856: T.S. Stewart (Caretaker)

In 1824 the British government instructed the Governor of New South Wales Thomas Brisbane to occupy Norfolk Island as a place to send “the worst description of convicts”. Its remoteness, seen previously as a disadvantage, was now viewed as an asset for the detention of the “twice-convicted” men, who had committed further crimes since arriving in New South Wales. Brisbane assured his masters that “the felon who is sent there is forever excluded from all hope of return” He saw Norfolk Island as “the nec plus ultra of Convict degradation”.

His successor, Governor Ralph Darling, was even more severe than Brisbane, wishing that “every man should be worked in irons that the example may deter others from the commission of crime” and “to hold out [Norfolk Island] as a place of the extremest punishment short of death”. Governor George Arthur, in Van Diemen’s Land, likewise believed that “when prisoners are sent to Norfolk Island, they should on no account be permitted to return. Transportation thither should be considered as the ultimate limit and a punishment short only of death”. Reformation of the convicts was not seen as an objective of the Norfolk Island penal settlement.

The evidence that has passed down through the years points to the creation of a “Hell in Paradise”. A widespread and popular notion of the harshness of penal settlements, including Norfolk Island, has come from the novel For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke, which appears to be based on the writings and recollections of witnesses and from the fictional writings of Price Warung.

Following a convict mutiny in 1834, Father William Ullathorne, Vicar general of Sydney, visited Norfolk Island to comfort the mutineers due for execution. He found it “the most heartrending scene that I ever witnessed”. Having the duty of informing the prisoners as to who was reprieved and who was to die, he was shocked to record as “a literal fact that each man who heard his reprieve wept bitterly, and that each man who heard of his condemnation to death went down on his knees with dry eyes, and thanked God.”

The 1846 report of magistrate Robert Pringle Stuart exposed the scarcity and poor quality of food, inadequacy of housing, horrors of torture and incessant flogging, insubordination of convicts, and corruption of overseers.

Bishop Robert Willson visited Norfolk Island from Van Diemen’s Land on three occasions. Following his first visit in 1846 he reported to the House of Lords who, for the first time, came to realise the enormity of atrocities perpetrated under the British flag and attempted to remedy the evils. Willson returned in 1849 and found that many of the reforms had been implemented. However, rumours of resumed atrocities brought him back in 1852, and this visit resulted in a damning report, listing atrocities and blaming the system, which invested one man at this remote place with absolute power over so many people.

Only a handful of convicts left any written record and their descriptions (as quoted by Hazzard and Hughes) of living and working conditions, food and housing, and, in particular, the punishments given for seemingly trivial offences, are unremittingly horrifying, describing a settlement devoid of all human decency, under the iron rule of the tyrannical autocratic commandants.

The actions of some of the commandants, such as Morisset and particularly Price appear to be excessively harsh. All but one were military officers, brought up in a system where discipline was inhumanely severe throughout the period of transportation. In addition, the commandants relied on a large number of military guards, civil overseers, ex-convict constables, and convict informers to provide them with intelligence and carry out their orders.

Of the Commandants, only Alexander Maconochie appeared to reach the conclusion that brutality would breed defiance, as demonstrated by the mutinies of 1826, 1834 and 1846, and he attempted to apply his theories of penal reform, providing incentives as well as punishment. His methods were criticised as being too lenient and he was replaced, a move that returned the settlement to its harsh rule.

The second penal settlement began to be wound down by the British Government after 1847 and the last convicts were removed to Tasmania in May 1855. It was abandoned because transportation to Van Diemen’s Land had ceased in 1853 and was replaced by penal servitude in the United Kingdom.

Settlement by Pitcairn Islanders

On 8 June 1856, the next settlement began on Norfolk Island. These were the descendants of Tahitians and the Bounty mutineers, resettled from the Pitcairn Islands, which had become too small for their growing population. The British government had permitted the transfer of the Pitcairners to Norfolk, which was thus established as a colony separate from New South Wales but under the administration of that colony’s governor. They left Pitcairn Islands on the May 3, 1856 and arrived with 194 persons on June 8.

The Pitcairners occupied many of the buildings remaining from the penal settlements, and gradually established their traditional farming and whaling industries on the island. Although some families decided to return to Pitcairn in 1858 and 1863, the island’s population continued to slowly grow as the island accepted settlers, often arriving with whaling fleets.

In 1867, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission of the Church of England were established on the island, and in 1882 the church of St. Barnabas was erected to the memory of the Mission’s head Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, with windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones and executed by William Morris. In 1920 the Mission was relocated from the island to the Solomon Islands to be closer to its target population.

Twentieth century

This stamp was issued in 1981 to commemorate the first landing of an aircraft at the island, Sir Francis Chichester’s Gypsy Moth “Mme Elijah”, at Cascade Bay on March 28, 1931.

After the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, Norfolk Island was placed under the authority of the new Commonwealth government to be administered as an external territory.

During World War II, the island became a key airbase and refuelling depot between Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand and the Solomon Islands. Since Norfolk Island fell within New Zealand’s area of responsibility it was garrisoned by a New Zealand Army unit known as N Force at a large Army camp which had the capacity to house a 1,500 strong force. N Force relieved a company of the Second Australian Imperial Force. The island proved too remote to come under attack during the war and N Force left the island in February 1944.

In 1979, Norfolk was granted limited self-government by Australia, under which the island elects a government that runs most of the island’s affairs. As such, residents of Norfolk Island are not represented in the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, making them the only group of residents of an Australian state or territory not represented there.

In 2006, a formal review process took place, in which the Australian Government considered revising this model of government. The review was completed on December 20, 2006, when it was decided that there would be no changes in the governance of Norfolk Island.

Geography Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia
Geographic coordinates: 29 02 S, 167 57 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 34.6 sq km
land: 34.6 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: about 0.2 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 32 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: subtropical; mild, little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: volcanic formation with mostly rolling plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Bates 319 m
Natural resources: fish
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: typhoons (especially May to July)
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: most of the 32 km coastline consists of almost inaccessible cliffs, but the land slopes down to the sea in one small southern area on Sydney Bay, where the capital of Kingston is situated
Politics Norfolk Island is the only non-mainland Australian territory to have achieved self-governance. The Norfolk Island Act, passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1979, is the Act under which the island is governed. The Australian Government maintains authority on the island through an Administrator (currently Owen Walsh as Acting Administrator), who is appointed by the Governor-General of Australia. A Legislative Assembly is elected by popular vote for a term of not more than three years, although legislation passed by the Australian Parliament can extend its laws to the territory at will, including the power to override any laws made by the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.

The Assembly consists of nine seats, with electors casting nine equal votes, of which no more than two can be given to any individual candidate. It is a method of voting called a “weighted first past the post system”. Four of the members of the Assembly form the Executive Council, which devises policy and acts as an advisory body to the Administrator. The current Chief Minister of Norfolk Island is Andre Nobbs. All seats are held by independent candidates. Norfolk Island has yet to embrace party politics. In 2007 a branch of the Australian Labor Party was formed on Norfolk Island, with the aim of reforming the system of government.

The island’s official capital is Kingston; it is, however, more a centre of government than a sizeable settlement.

The most important local holiday is Bounty Day, celebrated on 8 June, in memory of the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856.

Local ordinances and acts apply on the island, where most laws are based on the Australian legal system. Australian common law applies when not covered by either Australian or Norfolk Island law. Suffrage is universal at age eighteen.

As a territory of Australia, Norfolk Island does not have diplomatic representation abroad, or within the territory, and is also not a participant in any international organisations, other than sporting organisations.

The flag is three vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and green with a large green Norfolk Island pine tree centered in the slightly wider white band.

People Population: 2,128 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.2%
15-64 years: 63.9%
65 years and over: 15.9% (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.006% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: NA
Death rate: NA (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
Sex ratio: NA
Infant mortality rate: total: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: NA (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Norfolk Islander(s)
adjective: Norfolk Islander(s)
Ethnic groups: descendants of the Bounty mutineers, Australian, New Zealander, Polynesian
Religions: Anglican 34.9%, Roman Catholic 11.7%, Uniting Church in Australia 11.2%, Seventh-Day Adventist 2.8%, Australian Christian 2.4%, Jehovah’s Witness 0.9%, other 2.7%, unspecified 15.2%, none 18.1% (2001 census)
Languages: English (official), Norfolk – a mixture of 18th century English and ancient Tahitian
Literacy: NA

Northern Mariana Islands: The History Of This Island Nation And It’s People

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

 

Northern Mariana Islands

Introduction Under US administration as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific, the people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the 1970s not to seek independence but instead to forge closer links with the US. Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the US was approved in 1975, and came into force on 24 March 1976. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978.
History European Explorers

The first European exploration of the area was that led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, who landed on nearby Guam and claimed the islands for Spain. After being met offshore and accepting the refreshments offered to them by the native Chamorros, the latter then helped themselves to a small boat belonging to Magellan’s fleet. This led to a cultural clash because in the old Chamorro culture there was little if any private property and to take something that one needed, such as a boat for fishing, was not considered thievery.

Due to that cultural misunderstanding, around half a dozen locals were killed and a village of 40 homes burned before the boat was retrieved. The archipelago thus acquired the ignominious name Islas de los Ladrones (“Islands of the Thieves”).

Three days after he had arrived, Magellan fled the archipelago under attack–a portentous beginning to its relationship with the Spanish. The islands were then considered by Spain to be annexed, and therefore under their governance, from the Philippines, as part of the Spanish East Indies. The Spanish built a Royal Palace in Guam for the Governor of the Islands. Its remains could still be seen in 2006.

Guam was an important stop-over from Mexico for galleons carrying gold and other cargo between the Philippines and Spain. There are several lost sunken Spanish galleons off Guam.

In 1668 the islands were renamed by Padre Diego Luis de Sanvitores as Las Marianas after Mariana of Austria, widow of Spain’s Philip IV.

Most of the islands’ native population (90%-95%)[5] died out or intermarried with non-Chamorro settlers under Spanish rule, but new settlers, primarily from the Philippines and the Caroline Islands, were brought in to repopulate the islands. Despite this, the Chamorro population did gradually resurge, and Chamorro, Filipino and Carolinian language and ethnic differences remain basically distinct in the Marianas.

To facilitate cultural and religious assimilation, Spanish colonists forced the Chamorros to be concentrated on Guam for a period of time. By the time Chamorros were allowed to return to the present-day Northern Marianas, Carolinians (from present-day eastern Yap State and western Chuuk State) had settled in the Marianas. Hence Carolinians and Chamorros are both considered as indigenous to the Northern Marianas and both languages are official in the commonwealth (but not on Guam).

German and Japanese possession

After the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain ceded Guam to the United States and sold the rest of the Marianas (along with the Caroline and Marshall Islands) to Germany.

Japan declared war on Germany during World War I and invaded the Northern Marianas. In 1919, the League of Nations, pre-cursor of the United Nations, awarded the islands to Japan by mandate. During Japan’s occupation, sugar cane became the main industry of the islands, and labor was imported from Japan and associated colonies (especially Okinawa and Korea).

Hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese forces from the Marianas launched an invasion of Guam on December 8, 1941. Chamorros from the Northern Marianas, then under Japanese rule for more than two decades, were brought to Guam to assist the Japanese administration. This combined with the harsh treatment of Guamanian Chamorros during the brief 31-month occupation created a rift between the two populations that would become the main reason Guamanians rejected reunification referendum approved by the Northern Marianas in the 1960s.

American acquisition

Near the end of World War II, the United States military invaded the Mariana Islands on June 15, 1944, beginning with the Battle of Saipan, which ended on July 9 with the Japanese commander committing seppuku (a traditional Japanese form of ritual suicide). U.S. forces then recaptured Guam beginning July 21 and invaded Tinian (see Battle of Tinian) on July 24, which provided the take off point for the Enola Gay, the plane dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima a year later. Rota was left untouched (and isolated) until the Japanese surrender in August 1945, due to its military insignificance.

The war did not end for everyone with the signing of the armistice. The last group of Japanese soldiers surrendered on Saipan on December 1, 1945. On Guam, Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi hid out in the village of Talofofo until 1972.

Between the end of the invasion and the Japanese surrender, the Saipan and Tinian populations were kept in concentration camps. Japanese nationals were eventually repatriated, and the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinians returned to the land.

The Commonwealth

After Japan’s defeat, the islands were administered by the United States as part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; thus, defense and foreign affairs are the responsibility of the United States. The people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the 1970s not to seek independence, but instead to forge closer links with the United States. Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the U.S. was approved in 1975. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978. The islands are not represented in the U.S. Congress.

Geography Location: Oceania, islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 15 12 N, 145 45 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 477 sq km
land: 477 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian
Area – comparative: 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,482 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical marine; moderated by northeast trade winds, little seasonal temperature variation; dry season December to June, rainy season July to October
Terrain: southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs; northern islands are volcanic
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Agrihan 965 m
Natural resources: arable land, fish
Land use: arable land: 13.04%
permanent crops: 4.35%
other: 82.61% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)
Environment – current issues: contamination of groundwater on Saipan may contribute to disease; clean-up of landfill; protection of endangered species conflicts with development
Geography – note: strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean
Politics The Northern Mariana Islands have a presidential representative democratic system, in which the Governor is head of government, with a multi-party system. The Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth in political union with the United States. Federal funds to the Commonwealth are administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Repeating the separation of powers in other U.S. territories and state governments, executive power is exercised by the Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature. Senate President Joseph Mendiola is a founding member of the Outlying Areas Senate Presidents Caucus. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative branches.

However, politics in the Northern Mariana Islands is often “more a function of family relationships and personal loyalties” where the size of one’s extended family is more important than a candidate’s personal qualifications. Some critics, including the author of Saipan Sucks, charge that this is nepotism carried out within the trappings of democracy. [2] Archive copy at the Internet Archive

The Northern Mariana Islands have also come into the news recently due to their connection to the scandals involving Jack Abramoff and allegedly former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay [3]. As a direct result of lobbying by Abramoff and associates, the Northern Mariana Islands received special federal subsidies. [4] As well, Congressman Bob Ney allegedly received free trips to the Northern Mariana Islands from Abramoff, in violation of federal law. [5]

The Northern Marianas Islands are also the site of another controversy, one involving Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), Jack Abramoff, and Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) and the alleged links to the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association and the Northern Mariana Islands role in stopping legislation aimed at cracking down on sweatshops and sex shops on the islands in 2001.

The Northern Marianas Islands allegedly have the most abusive labor practices of anywhere in the United States. According to the progressive think tank American Progress Action Fund, “Human ‘brokers’ bring thousands there to work as sex slaves and in cramped sweatshop garment factories where clothes (complete with ‘Made in U.S.A.’ tag) have been produced for all the major brands.”

People Population: 86,616 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.4% (male 8,342/female 7,594)
15-64 years: 79.9% (male 27,996/female 41,245)
65 years and over: 1.7% (male 740/female 699) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.9 years
male: 32 years
female: 28.9 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.377% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 19.04 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 2.31 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 7.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.68 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.06 male(s)/female
total population: 0.75 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.5 years
male: 73.89 years
female: 79.26 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.18 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: NA (US citizens)
adjective: NA
Ethnic groups: Asian 56.3%, Pacific islander 36.3%, Caucasian 1.8%, other 0.8%, mixed 4.8% (2000 census)
Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
Languages: Philippine languages 24.4%, Chinese 23.4%, Chamorro 22.4%, English 10.8%, other Pacific island languages 9.5%, other 9.6% (2000 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 96% (1980 est.)

Norway: The History And Knowledge Of This Great Country And It’s People

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

 

Norway

Introduction Two centuries of Viking raids into Europe tapered off following the adoption of Christianity by King Olav TRYGGVASON in 994. Conversion of the Norwegian kingdom occurred over the next several decades. In 1397, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark that lasted more than four centuries. In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitution. Sweden then invaded Norway but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish king. Rising nationalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence. Although Norway remained neutral in World War I, it suffered heavy losses to its shipping. Norway proclaimed its neutrality at the outset of World War II, but was nonetheless occupied for five years by Nazi Germany (1940-45). In 1949, neutrality was abandoned and Norway became a member of NATO. Discovery of oil and gas in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway’s economic fortunes. The current focus is on containing spending on the extensive welfare system and planning for the time when petroleum reserves are depleted. In referenda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU.
History Archaeological findings indicate that Norway was inhabited at least since early 10th millennium BC. Most historians agree that the core of the populations colonizing Scandinavia came from the present-day Germany. In the first centuries AD, Norway consisted of a number of petty kingdoms. According to tradition, Harald Fairhair unified them into one, in 872 AD after the Battle of Hafrsfjord, thus becaming the first king of a united Norway.

The Viking age, 8-11th centuries AD, was characterized by expansion and immigration. Many Norwegians left the country to live in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and parts of Britain and Ireland. The modern-day Irish cities of Limerick, Dublin, and Waterford were founded by Norwegian settlers. Norse traditions were slowly replaced by Christianity in the 9th and 10th centuries, and this is largely attributed to the missionary kings Olav Tryggvasson and St. Olav. Haakon the Good was Norway’s first Christian king, in the mid tenth century, though his attempt to introduce the religion was rejected.

In 1349, the Black Death killed between 40% and 50% of the population, resulting in a period of decline, both socially and economically. Ostensibly, royal politics at the time resulted in several personal unions between the Nordic countries, eventually bringing the thrones of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden under the control of Queen Margrethe I of Denmark when the country entered into the Kalmar Union. Although Sweden broke out of the union in 1523, Norway remained till 1814, a total of 434 years. The National romanticism of the 19th century, the centralization of the kingdom’s royal, intellectual, and administrative powers in Copenhagen, Denmark, the dissolution of the archbishopric in Trondheim with the introduction of Protestantism in 1537, as well as the distribution of the church’s incomes to the court in Copenhagen meant that Norway lost the steady stream of pilgrims to the relics of St. Olav at the Nidaros shrine, and with them, much of the contact with cultural and economic life in the rest of Europe. The steady decline was high lightened by the loss of the provinces Båhuslen, Jemtland, and Herjedalen to Sweden, as a result of the wars.

After Denmark–Norway was attacked by Great Britain, it entered into an alliance with Napoleon, with the war leading to dire conditions and mass starvation in 1812. As the kingdom found itself on the losing side in 1814 it was forced to cede Norway to the kingdom of Sweden, while the old Norwegian provinces of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands remained with the Danish crown. Norway took this opportunity to declare independence, adopted a constitution based on American and French models, and elected the Danish crown prince Christian Fredrik as king on May 17, 1814. This caused the Norwegian-Swedish War to break out between Sweden and Norway but as Sweden’s military was not strong enough to defeat the Norwegian forces outright, Norway agreed to enter a personal union with Sweden. Under this arrangement, Norway kept its liberal constitution and independent institutions, except for the foreign service.

This period also saw the rise of the Norwegian romantic nationalism cultural movement, as Norwegians sought to define and express a distinct national character. The movement covered all branches of culture, including literature (Henrik Wergeland, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Jørgen Moe, Henrik Ibsen), painting (Hans Gude, Adolph Tidemand), music (Edvard Grieg), and even language policy, where attempts to define a native written language for Norway led to today’s two official written forms for Norwegian: Bokmål and Nynorsk.

Christian Michelsen, a Norwegian shipping magnate and statesman, Prime Minister of Norway from 1905 to 1907 played a central role in the peaceful separation of Norway from Sweden on June 7, 1905. After a national referendum confirmed the people’s preference for a monarchy over a republic, the Norwegian government offered the throne of Norway to the Danish Prince Carl and Parliament unanimously elected him king. He took the name of Haakon VII, after the medieval kings of independent Norway. In 1898, all men were granted universal suffrage, followed by all women in 1913.

During both World wars Norway claimed neutrality but during World War II it was invaded by German forces on April 9, 1940 while the allies also had plans in mind for an invasion of the country. In April 1940, the British fleet mined Norwegian territorial waters. Norway was unprepared for the German surprise attack, but military resistance continued for two months. During the Norwegian Campaign, the Kriegsmarine lost many ships including the cruiser Blücher. The battles of Vinjesvingen and Hegra eventually became the last strongholds of Norwegian resistance in southern Norway in May, while the armed forces in the north launched an offensive against the German forces in the Battles of Narvik, until they were forced to surrender on June 10. On the day of the invasion, the collaborative leader of the small National-Socialist party Nasjonal Samling — Vidkun Quisling — tried to seize power, but was forced by the German occupiers to step aside. Real power was wielded by the leader of the German occupation authority, Reichskommissar Josef Terboven. Quisling, as minister president, later formed a collaborationist government under German control.[16] At the time of the invasion, Norway had the fourth largest merchant marine in the world led by the shipping company Nortraship, which under the Allies took part in every war operation from the evacuation of Dunkirk to the Normandy landings.

Following the war, the Social Democrats came to power and ruled the country for much of the cold war. Norway joined NATO in 1949, and became a close ally of the United States. Two plebiscites to join the European Union failed by narrow margins in 1972 and 1994. Large reserves of petroleum and natural gas were discovered in the 1960s, which led to a continuing boom in the economy.

Geography Location: Northern Europe, bordering the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Sweden
Geographic coordinates: 62 00 N, 10 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 323,802 sq km
land: 307,442 sq km
water: 16,360 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than New Mexico
Land boundaries: total: 2,542 km
border countries: Finland 727 km, Sweden 1,619 km, Russia 196 km
Coastline: 25,148 km (includes mainland 2,650 km, as well as long fjords, numerous small islands, and minor indentations 22,498 km; length of island coastlines 58,133 km)
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 10 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate: temperate along coast, modified by North Atlantic Current; colder interior with increased precipitation and colder summers; rainy year-round on west coast
Terrain: glaciated; mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys; small, scattered plains; coastline deeply indented by fjords; arctic tundra in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Norwegian Sea 0 m
highest point: Galdhopiggen 2,469 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, titanium, pyrites, nickel, fish, timber, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 2.7%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 97.3% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,270 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 381.4 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.4 cu km/yr (23%/67%/10%)
per capita: 519 cu m/yr (1996)
Natural hazards: rockslides, avalanches
Environment – current issues: water pollution; acid rain damaging forests and adversely affecting lakes, threatening fish stocks; air pollution from vehicle emissions
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: about two-thirds mountains; some 50,000 islands off its much indented coastline; strategic location adjacent to sea lanes and air routes in North Atlantic; one of most rugged and longest coastlines in the world
Politics Norway is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. The Royal House is a branch of the princely family of Glücksburg, originally from Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. As it stands, the functions of the King, Harald V, are mainly ceremonial, but he has influence as the symbol of national unity. Although the constitution of 1814 grants important executive powers to the King, these are always exercised by the Council of State in the name of the King (King’s Council or cabinet). The reserve powers vested in the Monarch by the constitution have in the 20th century in reality been symbolic, but has on a few occasions been important such as in World War II, when the Monarch said he would step down if the government should accept the German demand. The Council of State consists of a Prime Minister and other ministers, formally appointed by the King. Parliamentarism has evolved since 1884 and entails that the cabinet must not have the parliament against it, and that the appointment by the King is a formality when there is a clear majority in Parliament for a party or a coalition of parties. But after elections resulting in no clear majority to any party or coalition, the leader of the party most likely to be able to form a government is appointed Prime Minister by the King. Norway has often been ruled by minority governments. The King has government meetings every Friday at the Royal Palace (Council of State), but the government decisions are decided in advance in government conferences, headed by the Prime Minister, every Tuesday and Thursday. The King opens the Parliament every October, he receives ambassadors to the Norwegian court, and he is the symbolically Supreme Commander of the Norwegian Defence Force and the Head of the Church of Norway.

The Norwegian parliament, Stortinget, currently has 169 members (increased from 165, effective from the elections of 12 September, 2005). The members are elected from the nineteen counties for four-year terms according to a system of proportional representation. In addition, 19 seats, the socalled “levelling seats” are allocated on a nationwide basis to make the representation in parliament correspond better with the popular vote. There is a 4% election threshold to gain levelling seats. When voting on legislation, the Storting – until the 2009 election – divides itself into two chambers, the Odelsting and the Lagting. Laws are in most cases proposed by the government through a Member of the Council of State, or in some cases by a member of the Odelsting in case of repeated disagreement in the joint Storting. Nowadays, however, the Lagting rarely disagrees, effectively rubber-stamping the Odelsting’s decisions. A constitutional amendment of February 20, 2007 will repeal the division after the 2009 general election.

Impeachment cases are very rare (the last being in 1927, when Prime Minister Abraham Berge was acquitted) and may be brought against Members of the Council of State, of the Supreme Court (Høyesterett), or of the Storting for criminal offenses which they may have committed in their official capacity.

Prior to an amendment to the Norwegian Constitution on February 20, 2007 indictments were raised by the Odelsting and judged by the Lagting and the Supreme Court justices as part of the High Court of the Realm. In the new system impeachment cases will be heard by the five highest ranking Supreme Court justices and six lay members in one of the Supreme Court courtrooms (previously cases were heard in the Lagting chamber). Storting representatives may not perform as lay judges. Indictments will be raised by the Storting in a plenary session.

The Storting otherwise functions as a unicameral parliament and after the 2009 general election the division into Odelsting and Lagting for passing legislation will be abolished. Legislation will then have to go through two – three in case of dissent – readings before being passed and sent to the King for assent.

The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court (eighteen permanent judges and a chief justice), courts of appeal, city and district courts, and conciliation councils. Judges attached to regular courts are appointed by the King in council.

In order to form a government, more than half the membership of the Council of State is required to belong to the Church of Norway. Currently, this means at least ten out of nineteen members.

In December each year, Norway gives a Christmas tree to the United Kingdom, in thanks for the UK’s assistance during World War II. A ceremony takes place to erect the tree in Trafalgar Square.

In its 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Norway at a shared 1st place (with Iceland) out of 169 countries.

Corporal punishment of children has been illegal in Norway since 1983.

People Population: 4,644,457 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.8% (male 446,146/female 426,166)
15-64 years: 66.2% (male 1,559,750/female 1,516,217)
65 years and over: 15% (male 297,175/female 399,003) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39 years
male: 38.2 years
female: 39.9 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.35% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 11.12 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 9.33 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.71 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: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 3.61 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.96 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.24 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.81 years
male: 77.16 years
female: 82.6 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.78 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 2,100 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 100 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Norwegian(s)
adjective: Norwegian
Ethnic groups: Norwegian, Sami 20,000
Religions: Church of Norway 85.7%, Pentecostal 1%, Roman Catholic 1%, other Christian 2.4%, Muslim 1.8%, other 8.1% (2004)
Languages: Bokmal Norwegian (official), Nynorsk Norwegian (official), small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities; note – Sami is official in six municipalities
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100%

Baby Snake That Lived Among Dinosaurs Found Preserved in Amber

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GIZMODO)

 

Baby Snake That Lived Among Dinosaurs Found Preserved in Amber

The baby snake encased in amber.
Image: Yi Liu

Scientists working in Myanmar have uncovered a nearly 100-million-year-old baby snake encased in amber. Dating back to the Late Cretaceous, it’s the oldest known baby snake in the fossil record, and the first snake known to have lived in a forested environment.

Over 2,900 species of snake exist in the world, and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. These legless reptiles first emerged during the Cretaceous period, and they wasted little time, slithering to virtually every part of the planet by around 100 million years ago. The discovery of a baby snake fossilized in amber shows that early snakes had spread beyond swamps and sea shores, finding their way into forested environments. What’s more, these ancient snakes bore a startling resemblance to those living today—a classic case of evolution not having to fix something that ain’t broke. These findings were published today in Science Advances.

Artist’s conception of Xiaophis myanmarensis.
Image: Yi Liu

This remarkable fossil, along with a second fossilized snake specimen, were discovered at the Angbamo site in Myanmar’s Kachin Province. The second fossilized snake, also preserved in amber, only consisted of bits of scales and skin, but these remnants were clearly snake-like in appearance. Together, the fossils are offering fresh insights into the evolution of snakes and their global reach by the time of the Late Cretaceous.

Using uranium-lead dating, a research team led by Lida Xing from the China University of Geosciences and Michael Caldwell from the University of Alberta dated the fossils to about 99 million years old. A technique called synchrotron x-ray micro–computed tomographyallowed the researchers to get a close look at the tiny specimens inside the amber without having to break them apart.

The second fossil, dubbed DIP-V-15104, contains the discarded skin of a larger individual, featuring both dark and light patterns. This wasn’t enough for the researchers to identify the species.

Detailed x-ray view of the baby snake.
Image: Ming BAI, Chinese Academy of Sciences CAS

The baby snake, which was just a hatchling when it died, measured 47.55 mm (1.8 inches) in length, but it’s missing its head (for reasons unknown). The researchers were able to document nearly 100 vertebrae, along with bits of rib and other anatomy. It’s similar to other Cretaceous snakes, yet unique enough to warrant the designation of a new species, Xiaophis myanmarensis, where “Xiao” is the Chinese word for “dawn,” “ophis” meaning “snake” in Greek, and “myanmarensis” for Myanmar. Snakes have been found preserved in amber before, but this is the first time paleontologists have discovered a baby snake fossilized in this way.

Xiaophis myanmarensis is comparable in size and shape to some baby snakes observed today, like the Asian pipe snake. This fossil provides the earliest direct evidence showing that the growth patterns of snakes have remained unchanged for the past 100 million years. These two snakes are also the first Mesozoic snakes known to have lived in a forest environment, “indicating greater ecological diversity among early snakes than previously thought,” write the researchers in the study. Both fossils were found next to remnants of insects and fragments of plant materials associated with forest floors.

It’s not clear how this hatchling got stuck in a drop of tree sap, or how it lost its head, but its misfortune has turned into our scientific gain.

Everyone Has Many Alternate History’s: Just Think About The Realities

Open Your Mind To What Could Have Been

 

I believe that every one of us could have had many different lives than the one we now have, this is what I mean by alternate history’s. I also believe that we could all also have many different alternate futures lying before us, it is all a matter of choice. Do I believe as some do that as we speak and breathe that there are ‘alternate universes’ playing alongside the Realm we are living in right now, no. But I could obviously be wrong, it is not like I am God and know everything.

This article today is designed for the purpose of simply getting people to think, to contemplate their own personal past and even their future. For the purpose of opening up people’s minds I will start the process rolling using myself as an example. I will start at the age of 18 (44 years ago). I got my girl friend pregnant and we got married, the marriage lasted less than 2 years, we had 2 kids, one year and nine days apart. What if I had not gotten her pregnant and I had gone into the military at 17 or 18 instead of at age 20, how would my life have been different? Would I have gotten ‘fixed’ and have had no ‘blood’ kids of my own? Would I have met someone else while in the military and gotten married to them? Would I have gotten killed while in the military if I had tried to make it a life long career? Would I have never been hit by lightning if I had decided to not go into the military at all? If I had not gone into the military would I have stayed in the same States that I did, personally I doubt that one. Is it possible that if I had stayed a civilian that I could have walked into a store or a bar that was being robbed and the gunmen would have shot and killed me when I was just 18 or 20? Would I have gone to the ‘Sun Set School Of Preaching’ in Lubbock Texas and have been a lifelong Minister? What if I had done this and would have married a woman whose family was from Spain or Mexico or California, would I have moved to a Church near her family? Only God knows these answers, but I believe that the questions are all valid, for each of us.

How would your life be different if you would have made different choices? The choices could be as simple as times we chose to go right instead of going left. There was a time down in Florida that I was checking trailers late at night and my flashlight had gone dead and I was at a drop yard way out in the country. As I started to check the first trailer as I was walking toward the back I happened to hear a very loud rattle. As I started to put my right foot down I heard the rattle get louder and louder, so I withdrew that step, then another step and another and the rattle stopped. What if I was wearing ear buds and was not paying any attention, would I have still been here today? As I said earlier I do not believe that there is another parallel universe, singular or plural running in ‘threads’ alongside this one but that concept is not what I am speaking of today. I am just asking you to think about the ‘what if’s’ of life. What if you had married a different person than the one you did, how would your life have changed? What if you never got married at all, or if you have never married, what if you had? How would your life be different? There are all of these past tense ‘what if’s’ and there are future one’s also, choices, life always comes down to choices, as well as other people’s choices in matters that concern us as well in ways that we can’t even contemplate.

 

 

Oman: A Gulf State, A Nation Of Peace And Prosperity For Their People

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

 

Oman

Introduction The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman’s dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said al-Said overthrew the restrictive rule of his father; he has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK. Oman’s moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.
History From the 6th century B.C. to arrival of Islam in the 7th century A.D., Oman was controlled and/or influenced by three Iranian dynasties of Achaemenid, Parthians, and Sassanids [2]. Achaemenid (6th-4th century B.C.) controlled and/or influenced over the Oman peninsula. This was most likely exerted from a coastal center such as Sohar [2]. By about 250 B.C., Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under their control and extended their influence as far as Oman. Because they needed to control the Persian Gulf trade route, the Parthians established garrisons in Oman. In the third century A.D., the Sasanids succeeded the Parthians and held area until the rise of Islam four centuries later [3].

On the advent of Islam, the faith reached Oman within Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime. The conversion of Omanis is usually ascribed to Amr ibn al-As, who visited the region between 627-32.[4] By the middle of the eighth century AD, Omanis were practicing a unique sect of the faith, Ibadhism, which remains a majority sect only in Oman. Ibadhism has been characterized as “moderate conservatism,” with tenets that are a mixture of both austerity and peace.

The Portuguese occupied Muscat for a 140-year period (1508–1648), arriving a decade after Vasco da Gama discovered the seaway to India. In need of an outpost to protect their sea lanes, the Europeans built up and fortified the city, where remnants of their colonial architectural style still remain.

Revolting tribes drove out the Portuguese, but were pushed out themselves about a century later (1741) by the leader of a Yemeni tribe leading a massive army from varying other tribes, who began the current line of ruling sultans. A brief Persian invasion a few years later was the final time Oman would be ruled by a foreign power. Oman has been self governing ever since.

The British slowly brought about a collapse of Muscat and Oman’s “empire” by the end of the nineteenth century without use of force. Through gradual encroachment on its overseas holdings economically and politically, they caused Oman to retreat to its homeland. In time Britain held such sway in Muscat and Oman itself that it became in effect, and later in fact, a British protectorate.

Having control of the country’s military, the British helped subdue rebel tribesmen in the 1950s, driving most into Yemen. But the sultan ran a repressive regime, with laws forbidding numerous activities, including the building and even repair of his subjects’ own homes without permission. In 1970, almost certainly with British backing, he was overthrown by his son, the present ruler, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, and the country declared independence the following year as the Sultanate of Oman.

Qaboos is generally regarded as a benevolent absolute ruler, who has improved the country economically and socially. Oman has maintained peaceful ties on the Arabian Peninsula ever since ending another tribal rebellion in the southwest in 1982 by forging a treaty with Yemen. Oman’s oil revenue has been consistently invested in the national infrastructure, particularly roads, schools, hospitals, and utilities. More than ever, the country is poised to take advantage of its strategic trade location on the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to further its economic growth and role in the world.

Except for those who travel to remote Middle East locales, the country has seldom been in the public eye other than for the use of its military bases by U.S. forces in recent years. American and British bombing raids were launched in 1991 from Oman against Iraq in the Gulf War. A decade later, U.S. forces stationed there were involved in raids against Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE
Geographic coordinates: 21 00 N, 57 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 212,460 sq km
land: 212,460 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Kansas
Land boundaries: total: 1,374 km
border countries: Saudi Arabia 676 km, UAE 410 km, Yemen 288 km
Coastline: 2,092 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: dry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south
Terrain: central desert plain, rugged mountains in north and south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Arabian Sea 0 m
highest point: Jabal Shams 2,980 m
Natural resources: petroleum, copper, asbestos, some marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, natural gas
Land use: arable land: 0.12%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 99.74% (2005)
Irrigated land: 720 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 1 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.36 cu km/yr (7%/2%/90%)
per capita: 529 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: summer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: rising soil salinity; beach pollution from oil spills; limited natural fresh water resources
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: strategic location on Musandam Peninsula adjacent to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
Politics Chief of state and government is the hereditary sultān, Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said who appoints a cabinet called the “Diwans” to assist him. In the early 1990s, the sultan instituted an elected advisory council, the Majlis ash-Shura, though few Omanis were eligible to vote. Universal suffrage for those over 21 was instituted on 4 October 2003. Over 190,000 people (74% of those registered) voted to elect the 84[5] seats. Two women were elected to seats. The country today has three women ministers. H.E. Dr. Rawiyah bint Saud al Busaidiyah – Minister of Higher Education, H.E. Dr. Sharifa bint Khalfan al Yahya’eyah – Minister of Social Development and H.E. Dr. Rajiha bint Abdulamir bin Ali – Minister of Tourism.

The sultan functions as an absolute ruler.

People Population: 3,311,640
note: includes 577,293 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.7% (male 721,796/female 692,699)
15-64 years: 54.5% (male 1,053,040/female 752,962)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 51,290/female 39,853) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 18.9 years
male: 21.3 years
female: 16.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.19% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 35.26 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 3.68 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.4 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.29 male(s)/female
total population: 1.23 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 17.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 73.91 years
male: 71.64 years
female: 76.29 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.62 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 1,300 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Omani(s)
adjective: Omani
Ethnic groups: Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African
Religions: Ibadhi Muslim 75%, other (includes Sunni Muslim, Shi’a Muslim, Hindu) 25%
Languages: Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
Literacy: definition: NA
total population: 81.4%
male: 86.8%
female: 73.5% (2003 est.)

Pakistan: This Is The History And The Truth Of Their Nation And Their People

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

 

Pakistan

Introduction The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world and dating back at least 5,000 years, spread over much of what is presently Pakistan. During the second millennium B.C., remnants of this culture fused with the migrating Indo-Aryan peoples. The area underwent successive invasions in subsequent centuries from the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Arabs (who brought Islam), Afghans, and Turks. The Mughal Empire flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries; the British came to dominate the region in the 18th century. The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with West and East sections) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved, and India and Pakistan fought two wars – in 1947-48 and 1965 – over the disputed Kashmir territory. A third war between these countries in 1971 – in which India capitalized on Islamabad’s marginalization of Bengalis in Pakistani politics – resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998. The dispute over the state of Kashmir is ongoing, but discussions and confidence-building measures have led to decreased tensions since 2002. Mounting public dissatisfaction with President MUSHARRAF, coupled with the assassination of the prominent and popular political leader, Benazir BHUTTO, in late 2007, and MUSHARRAF?s resignation in August 2008, led to the September presidential election of Asif ZARDARI, BHUTTO?s widower. Pakistani government and military leaders are struggling to control Islamist militants, many of whom are located in the tribal areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan.
History From the earliest period of pre-history and recorded history of the region, modern Pakistan formed the heart-land of a larger territory, extending beyond its present eastern and western borders and receiving momentous and mighty impacts from both the directions.

The Indus region, which covers much of Pakistan, was the site of several ancient cultures including the Neolithic era Mehrgarh and the Bronze era Indus Valley Civilization (2500 BC – 1500 BC) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

Waves of conquerors and migrants from the west — including Harappan, Indo-Aryan, Persian, Greek, Saka, Parthian, Kushan, Hephthalite, Afghan, Arab, Turkics, and Mughal — settled in the region through out the centuries, influencing the locals and being absorbed among them. Great ancient empires of the east — such as Nandas, Mauryas, and Guptas — ruled these territories at different times. However, in the medieval period, while the eastern provinces of Punjab and Sindh became aligned with Indo-Islamic civilisation, the western areas became culturally allied with the Iranic civilisation of Afghanistan and Iran. The region served as crossroads of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road, and as a maritime entreport, for the coastal trade between Mesopotamia and beyond up to Rome in the west and Malabar and beyond up to China in the east.

The Indus Valley Civilization collapsed in the middle of the second millennium BC and was followed by the Vedic Civilization, which also extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plains. Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BC, Greek empire founded by Alexander the Great in 326 BC and the Mauryan empire there after. The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BC, and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila (Takshashila) became a major center of learning in ancient times — the remains of the city, located to the west of Islamabad, are one of the country’s major archaeological sites. The Rai Dynasty (c.489–632) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories.

In 712 AD, the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab. The Pakistan government’s official chronology states that “its foundation was laid” as a result of this conquest. This Arab and Islamic victory would set the stage for several successive Muslim empires in South Asia, including the Ghaznavid Empire, the Ghorid Kingdom, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. During this period, Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional Buddhist and Hindu population to Islam. The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early eighteenth century provided opportunities for the Afghans, Balochis and Sikhs to exercise control over large areas until the British East India Company gained ascendancy over South Asia.

The War of Independence 1857, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, was the region’s last major armed struggle against the foreign British Raj and it laid the foundations for the generally unarmed freedom struggle, led by the Hindu dominated Indian National Congress, in the twentieth century. The All India Muslim League rose to popularity in the late 1930s amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. On 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal’s presidential address called for an autonomous “state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims, within the body politic of India.” Muhammad Ali Jinnah espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940 (popularly known as the Pakistan Resolution), which ultimately led to the formation of an independent Pakistan. The Indian independence movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi, demanded freedom from British rule. In early 1947, Britain, coming under strong pressure from other Western nations to end its violent suppression of the freedom movement, decided to end its rule of India.

In June 1947, the nationalist leaders of British India — including Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad on behalf of the Congress, Jinnah representing the Muslim League, B. R. Ambedkar representing the Untouchable community, and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs — agreed to the proposed terms of transfer of power and independence. The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947 (27 Ramadan 1366 in the Islamic Calendar), carved out of the two Muslim-majority wings in the eastern and northwestern regions of British India and comprising the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh. The controversial division of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal set the stage for communal riots across India and Pakistan — millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India. Disputes arose over several princely states including Muslim-majority Kashmir and Jammu, whose ruler had acceded to India following an invasion by Pashtun warriors, leading to the First Kashmir War in 1948.

From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations. It became a Republic in 1956, but the civilian rule was stalled by a coup d’état by General Ayub Khan, who was president during 1958–69, a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. His successor, Yahya Khan (1969–71) had to deal with a devastating cyclone — which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan — and also face a civil war in 1971.

Economic greivances and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political tension and military repression that escalated into a civil war, which invited covert and later overt Indian intervention that escalated into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and ultimately to the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh. Estimates of the number of people killed during this episode vary greatly, from ~30,000 to over 2 million, depending on the source.

Civilian rule resumed in Pakistan from 1972 to 1977, under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed and later sentenced to death, (in what his followers claimed was a judicial murder), in 1979 by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the country’s third military president. Pakistan’s secular policies were replaced by Zia’s introduction of the Islamic Shariah legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of President Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Over the next decade, she alternated power with Nawaz Sharif, as the country’s political and economic situation worsened. Pakistan got invoved in the 1991 Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a US led coalition, specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia. Military tensions in the Kargil conflict with India were followed by a Pakistani military coup d’état in 1999 in which General Pervez Musharraf assumed executive powers. In 2001, Musharraf became President after the controversial resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to newly elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 Prime-Ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz and was followed, for a temporary period in office, by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. On 15 November 2007 the National Assembly completed its tenure and so, pending elections, a caretaker government was appointed with the former Chairman of the Senate, Muhammad Mian Soomro as caretaker Prime Minister. However, the December 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto during election campaign led to postponement of elections and also underscored the then prevailing instability of Pakistan’s political system. After the parliamentary elections held in march, Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as Prime Minister .

Geography Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the east and Iran and Afghanistan on the west and China in the north
Geographic coordinates: 30 00 N, 70 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 803,940 sq km
land: 778,720 sq km
water: 25,220 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of California
Land boundaries: total: 6,774 km
border countries: Afghanistan 2,430 km, China 523 km, India 2,912 km, Iran 909 km
Coastline: 1,046 km
Maritime claims: 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: mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north
Terrain: flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest; Balochistan plateau in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: K2 (Mt. Godwin-Austen) 8,611 m
Natural resources: land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, poor quality coal, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone
Land use: arable land: 24.44%
permanent crops: 0.84%
other: 74.72% (2005)
Irrigated land: 182,300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 233.8 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 169.39 cu km/yr (2%/2%/96%)
per capita: 1,072 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe especially in north and west; flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)
Environment – current issues: water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural fresh water resources; most of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: controls Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass, traditional invasion routes between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent
Politics The government of Pakistan was based on the Government of India Act (1935) for the first nine years after independence. The first Constitution of Pakistan was adopted in 1956, but was suspended in 1958 by General Ayub Khan. The Constitution of 1973 – suspended in 1977, by Zia-ul-Haq, but re-instated in 1991 – is the country’s most important document, laying the foundations of government. Pakistan is a semi-presidential federal democratic republic with Islam as the state religion. The bicameral legislature comprises a 100-member Senate and a 342-member National Assembly. The President is the Head of State and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and is elected by an electoral college. The prime minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly. Each province has a similar system of government with a directly elected Provincial Assembly in which the leader of the largest party or alliance becomes Chief Minister. Provincial Governors are appointed by the President.

The Pakistani military has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan’s history, with military presidents ruling from 1958–71, 1977–88 and from 1999 onwards. The leftist Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, emerged as a major political player during the 1970s. Under the military rule of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan began a marked shift from the British-era secular politics and policies, to the adoption of Shariat and other laws based on Islam. During the 1980s, the anti-feudal, pro-Muhajir Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was started by unorthodox and educated urban dwellers of Sindh and particularly Karachi. The 1990s were characterized by coalition politics dominated by the Pakistan Peoples Party and a rejuvenated Muslim League.

In the October 2002 general elections, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) (PML-Q) won a plurality of National Assembly seats with the second-largest group being the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), a sub-party of the PPP. Zafarullah Khan Jamali of PML-Q emerged as Prime Minister but resigned on 26 June 2004 and was replaced by PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as interim Prime Minister. On 28 August 2004 the National Assembly voted 191 to 151 to elect the Finance Minister and former Citibank Vice President Shaukat Aziz as Prime Minister. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of Islamic religious parties, won elections in North-West Frontier Province, and increased their representation in the National Assembly – until their defeat in the 2008 elections.

Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the latter of which Pakistan has used as a forum for Enlightened Moderation, a plan to promote a renaissance and enlightenment in the Muslim world. Pakistan is also a member of the major regional organisations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). In the past, Pakistan has had mixed relations with the United States; in the early 1950s, Pakistan was the United States’ “most allied ally in Asia” and a member of both the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO). Also, during the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s Pakistan was a crucial US ally. But relations soured in the 1990s, when sanctions were applied by the US over suspicions of Pakistan’s nuclear activities. However, the 11 September 2001 attacks and the subsequent War on Terrorism have seen an improvement in US–Pakistan ties, especially after Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul. This was evidenced by a drastic increase in American military aid, which saw Pakistan take in $4 billion more in three years after the 9/11 attacks than in the three years before.

On 18 February 2008, Pakistan held its general elections after being postponed from 8 January 2008. The Pakistan Peoples Party won the majority of the votes and formed an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League (N). They nominated and elected Yousaf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister of Pakistan

On 18 August 2008, when the ballooning impeachment scandal threatened his power, President Musharraf resigned as President of Pakistan, claiming it was a “difficult decision”.

In the presidential election that followed, Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan People’s Party won by a landslide majority and became President of Pakistan.

People Population: 172,800,048 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 37.8% (male 33,617,953/female 31,741,258)
15-64 years: 58% (male 51,292,535/female 48,921,023)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 3,408,749/female 3,818,533) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 20.5 years
male: 20.3 years
female: 20.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.999% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 28.35 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.85 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.51 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 66.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 67.04 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 66.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 64.13 years
male: 63.07 years
female: 65.25 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.73 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 74,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 4,900 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Pakistani(s)
adjective: Pakistani
Ethnic groups: Punjabi 44.68%, Pashtun (Pathan) 15.42%, Sindhi 14.1%, Sariaki 8.38%, Muhagirs 7.57%, Balochi 3.57%, other 6.28%
Religions: Muslim 95% (Sunni 75%, Shi’a 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%
Languages: Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official; lingua franca of Pakistani elite and most government ministries), Burushaski and other 8%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 49.9%
male: 63%
female: 36% (2005 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 7 years
male: 7 years
female: 6 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 2.6% of GDP (2006)
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