Slovakia: Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Slovakia

Introduction The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the close of World War I allowed the Slovaks to join the closely related Czechs to form Czechoslovakia. Following the chaos of World War II, Czechoslovakia became a Communist nation within Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe. Soviet influence collapsed in 1989 and Czechoslovakia once more became free. The Slovaks and the Czechs agreed to separate peacefully on 1 January 1993. Slovakia joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.
History Slovakia became independent on January 1, 1993.

Before the 5th century

From around 500 BC, the territory of modern-day Slovakia was settled by Celts, who built powerful oppida on the sites of modern-day Bratislava and Havránok. Biatecs, silver coins with the names of Celtic Kings, represent the first known use of writing in Slovakia. From 2 AD, the expanding Roman Empire established and maintained a series of outposts around and just north of the Danube, the largest of which were known as Carnuntum and Brigetio. Near the northernmost line of the Roman hinterlands, Limes Romanus there existed the winter camp of Laugaricio (modern-day Trenčín) where the Auxiliary of Legion II fought and prevailed in a decisive battle over the Germanic Quadi tribe in 179 AD during the Marcomannic Wars. The Kingdom of Vannius, a barbarian kingdom founded by the Germanic Suebian tribes of Quadi and Marcomanni, as well as several small Germanic and Celtic tribes, including the Osi and Cotini, existed in Western and Central Slovakia from 8–6 BC to 179 AD.

Slavic states

The Slavic tribes settled in the territory of Slovakia in the 6th century. Western Slovakia was the centre of Samo’s Empire in the 7th century. A Slavic state, known as the Principality of Nitra, arose in the 8th century and its ruler Pribina had the first known Christian church in Slovakia consecrated by 828. Together with neighboring Moravia, the principality formed the core of the Great Moravian Empire from 833. The high point of this Slavonic empire came with the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius in 863, during the reign of Prince Rastislav, and the territorial expansion under King Svatopluk I.

Kingdom of Hungary

After the disintegration of the Great Moravian Empire in the early 10th century, the Hungarians gradually annexed the territory of the present-day Slovakia. In the late 10th century, south-western territories of the present-day Slovakia became part of the arising Hungarian principality, which transformed to the Kingdom of Hungary after 1000. The territory became integral part of the Hungarian State as it was the case until 1918. The ethnic composition became more diverse with the arrival of the Carpathian Germans in the 13th century, Vlachs in the 14th century and Jews.

A huge population loss resulted from the invasion of the Mongols in 1241 and the subsequent famine. However, in medieval times the area of the present-day Slovakia was characterized rather by burgeoning towns, construction of numerous stone castles, and the development of art. In 1465, the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus founded the first university in Pozsony/Pressburg/Bratislava, but it was closed in 1490 after his death.

After the Ottoman Empire started its expansion into Hungary and the occupation of Buda in the early 16th century, the centre of the Kingdom of Hungary (under the name of Royal Hungary) shifted towards Pozsony/Pressburg (now Bratislava), which became the capital city of the Royal Hungary in 1536. But the Ottoman wars and frequent insurrections against the Habsburg Monarchy also inflicted a great deal of destruction, especially in rural areas. As the Turks withdrew from Hungary in the late 17th century, the importance of the territory of today’s Slovakia within the kingdom decreased, although Bratislava retained its position as the capital city of Hungary until 1848, when the capital moved to Buda.

During the revolution in 1848-49 the Slovaks supported the Austrian Emperor with the ambition to secede from the Hungarian part of the Austrian monarchy, but they failed to achieve this aim. Thereafter the relations between the nationalities deteriorated (see Magyarization), resulting in the secession of Slovakia from Hungary after World War I.

Czechoslovakia and World War II

In 1918, Slovakia and the regions of Bohemia and Moravia formed a common state, Czechoslovakia, with the borders confirmed by the Treaty of Saint Germain and Treaty of Trianon. In 1919, during the chaos following the breakup of Austria-Hungary, Slovakia was attacked by the provisional Hungarian Soviet Republic and one-third of Slovakia temporarily became the Slovak Soviet Republic.

During the inter-war period, democratic and prosperous Czechoslovakia was under continuous pressure from the revisionist governments of Germany and Hungary, until it was finally broken up in 1939, as a result of the Munich Agreement concluded a year before. Southern Slovakia was lost to Hungary due to the First Vienna Award.

Under pressure from Nazi Germany, the First Slovak Republic, led by the clerical fascist leader Jozef Tiso, declared its independence from Czechoslovakia in 1939. However, the government was strongly influenced by Germany and gradually became a puppet regime. Most Jews were deported from the country and taken to German concentration camps during the Holocaust. An anti-Nazi resistance movement launched a fierce armed insurrection, known as the Slovak National Uprising, in 1944. A bloody German occupation and a guerilla war followed.

Communist era

After World War II, Czechoslovakia was reconstituted and Jozef Tiso was hanged in 1947 for collaboration with the Nazis. More than 76,000 Hungarians and 32,000 Germans were forced to leave Slovakia, in a series of population transfers initiated by the Allies at the Potsdam Conference. This expulsion is still a source of tension between Slovakia and Hungary.[citation needed]

Czechoslovakia came under the influence of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact after a coup in 1948. The country was occupied by the Warsaw Pact forces in 1968, ending a period of liberalization under the leadership of Alexander Dubček. In 1969, Czechoslovakia became a federation of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic.

Establishment of the Slovak Republic

The end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989, during the peaceful Velvet Revolution, was followed once again by the country’s dissolution, this time into two successor states. In July 1992 Slovakia, led by Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, declared itself a sovereign state, meaning that its laws took precedence over those of the federal government. Throughout the Autumn of 1992, Mečiar and Czech Prime Minister Václav Klaus negotiated the details for disbanding the federation. In November the federal parliament voted to dissolve the country officially on December 31, 1992. Slovakia and the Czech Republic went their separate ways after January 1, 1993, an event sometimes called the Velvet Divorce. Slovakia has remained a close partner with the Czech Republic, both countries cooperate with Hungary and Poland in the Visegrád Group. Slovakia became a member of NATO on March 29, 2004 and of the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Geography Location: Central Europe, south of Poland
Geographic coordinates: 48 40 N, 19 30 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 48,845 sq km
land: 48,800 sq km
water: 45 sq km
Area – comparative: about twice the size of New Hampshire
Land boundaries: total: 1,474 km
border countries: Austria 91 km, Czech Republic 197 km, Hungary 676 km, Poland 420 km, Ukraine 90 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: temperate; cool summers; cold, cloudy, humid winters
Terrain: rugged mountains in the central and northern part and lowlands in the south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Bodrok River 94 m
highest point: Gerlachovsky Stit 2,655 m
Natural resources: brown coal and lignite; small amounts of iron ore, copper and manganese ore; salt; arable land
Land use: arable land: 29.23%
permanent crops: 2.67%
other: 68.1% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,830 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 50.1 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.04
per capita: 193 cu m/yr (2003)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: air pollution from metallurgical plants presents human health risks; acid rain damaging forests
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; most of the country is rugged and mountainous; the Tatra Mountains in the north are interspersed with many scenic lakes and valleys
Politics Slovakia is a parliamentary democratic republic with a multi-party system. The last parliamentary elections were held on June 17, 2006 and two rounds of presidential elections took place on April 3, 2004 and April 17, 2004.

The Slovak head of state is the president (Ivan Gašparovič, 2004 – 2009), elected by direct popular vote for a five-year term. Most executive power lies with the head of government, the prime minister (Robert Fico, 2006 – 2010), who is usually the leader of the winning party, but he/she needs to form a majority coalition in the parliament. The prime minister is appointed by the president. The remainder of the cabinet is appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister.

Slovakia’s highest legislative body is the 150-seat unicameral National Council of the Slovak Republic (Národná rada Slovenskej republiky). Delegates are elected for a four-year term on the basis of proportional representation. Slovakia’s highest judicial body is the Constitutional Court of Slovakia (Ústavný súd), which rules on constitutional issues. The 13 members of this court are appointed by the president from a slate of candidates nominated by parliament.

Slovakia has been a member state of the European Union and NATO since 2004. As a member of the United Nations (since 1993), Slovakia was, on October 10, 2005, elected to a two-year term on the UN Security Council from 2006 to 2007. Slovakia is also a member of WTO, OECD, OSCE, and other international organizations.

Controversially, the Beneš Decrees, by which, after World War II, the German and Hungarian populations of Czechoslovakia were decreed collectively guilty of World War II, stripped of their citizenship, and many deported, have still not been repealed.

People Population: 5,455,407 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.1% (male 448,083/female 427,643)
15-64 years: 71.7% (male 1,947,112/female 1,961,788)
65 years and over: 12.3% (male 250,787/female 419,994) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 36.5 years
male: 34.8 years
female: 38.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.143% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.64 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 9.5 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.6 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.98 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.15 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.75 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.17 years
male: 71.23 years
female: 79.32 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.34 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Slovenia: Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Slovenia

Introduction The Slovene lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the latter’s dissolution at the end of World War I. In 1918, the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new multinational state, which was named Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War II, Slovenia became a republic of the renewed Yugoslavia, which though Communist, distanced itself from Moscow’s rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power by the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 after a short 10-day war. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy have assisted in Slovenia’s transformation to a modern state. Slovenia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.
History Slavic ancestors of the present-day Slovenes settled in the area in the 6th century. The Slavic principality Carantania was formed in the 7th century. In 745, Carantania was incorporated into the Carolingian Empire, while Carantanians and other Slavs living in present Slovenia converted to Christianity. Carantania retained its internal independence until 828 when the local princes were deposed following the anti-Frankish rebellion of Ljudevit Posavski and replaced by a German (mostly Bavarian) ascendancy. Under Emperor Arnulf of Carinthia, Carantania, now ruled by a mixed Bavarian-Slav nobility, shortly emerged as a regional power, but was destroyed by the Hungarian invasions in the late 9th century. Carantania was established again as an autonomous administrative unit in 976, when Emperor Otto I., “the Great”, after deposing the Duke of Bavaria, Henry II.”the Quarreller”, split the lands held by him and made Carinthia the sixth duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, but old Carantania never developed into a unified realm. In the century of the second millenium protecting marches were established at the south-eastern borders of the Empire, which in the course of time developed into duchies in their right:[when?] Styria, Carniola and Friuli, into which the Slovene Lands remained divided up to 1918. The Carantanian identity remained alive[citation needed] into the 12th century[citation needed]when it was slowly replaced by regional identities. The first mentions of a common Slovene ethnic identity, transcending regional boundaries, date from the 16th century.

During the 14th century, most of Slovene Lands passed under the Habsburg rule. In the 15th century, the Habsburg domination was challenged by the Counts of Celje, but by the end of the century the great majority of Slovene-inhabited territories were incorporated into the Habsburg Monarchy. Most Slovenes lived in the region known as Inner Austria, forming the majority of the population of the Duchy of Carniola and the County of Gorizia and Gradisca, as well as of Lower Styria and southern Carinthia. Slovenes also inhabited most of the territory of the Imperial Free City of Trieste, although representing the minority of its population. Slovene majorities also existed in the Prekmurje region of the Kingdom of Hungary, and in Venetian Slovenia and north-western Istria, which were part of the Republic of Venice.

In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation spread throughout the Slovene Lands. During this period, the first books in Slovene language were written by the Protestant preacher Primož Trubar and his followers, establishing the base for the development of the Slovene standard language. Although almost all Protestants were expelled from the Slovene Lands (with the exception of Prekmurje) by the beginning of the 17th century, they left a strong legacy in the tradition of the Slovene culture, which was partially incorporated in the Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 17th century. The Slovene cultural tradition was further reinforced in the Enlightenment period in the 18th century by the endeavours of the Zois Circle.

After a short French interim between 1805 and 1813, all Slovene Lands were included in the Austrian Empire. Slowly, a distinct Slovene national consciousness developed, and the quest for a political unification of all Slovenes became widespread. In 1848, a mass political and popular movement for the United Slovenia (Zedinjena Slovenija) emerged as part of the Spring of Nations movement within the Austrian Empire.

United Slovenia in 1848

Between 1848 and 1918, numerous institutions (including theatres and publishing houses, as well as political, financial and cultural organisations) were founded in the so-called Slovene National Awakening. Despite their political and institutional fragmentation and lack of a proper political representation, the Slovenes were able to establish a functioning and integrated national infrastructure. During this period, the town of Ljubljana, the capital of Carniola, emerged as the undisputed centre of all Slovene Lands, while the Slovenes developed an internationally comparable literature and culture. Nevertheless, the Slovene national question remained unsolved, so the political élite started looking towards other Slavic nations in Austria-Hungary and the Balkans in order to engage in a common political action against German and Hungarian hegemony. The idea of a common political entity of all South Slavs, known as Yugoslavia, emerged.

During World War I, after the Italian attack on Austria-Hungary in 1915, the Italian front opened, and some of the most important battles (the Battles of the Isonzo) were fought along the river Soča and on the Kras Plateau in the Slovenian Littoral.

With the collapse of the Austria-Hungary in 1918, the Slovenes initially joined the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which just a few months later merged into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, in 1929 renamed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The western part of the Slovene Lands (the Slovenian Littoral and western districts of Inner Carniola) was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy and became known under the name of Julian March. In 1920, in the Carinthian Plebiscite, the majority of Carinthian Slovenes voted to remain in Austria. Although the Slovenes in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia were submitted to an intolerant centralist policy trying to eradicate a distinct Slovene national consciousness, they were still better off than Slovenes in Italy, Austria and Hungary, who became victims of policies of forced assimilation and violent persecution. As a reaction to the fascist violence of the Italian State in the Julian March, the organisation TIGR, was founded in 1927.

In April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers. Slovenia was divided between Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Horthy’s Hungary and several villages given to the Independent State of Croatia. Soon, a liberation movement under the Communist leadership emerged. Due to political assassinations carried out by the Communist guerrillas as well as the pre-existing radical anti-Communism of the conservative circles of the Slovenian society, a civil war between Slovenes broke out in the Italian-occupied south-eastern Slovenia (known as Province of Ljubljana) between the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People and the Axis-sponsored anti-communist militia, the Slovene Home Guard, formed to protect villages from attacks by partisans. The Slovene partisan guerrilla managed to liberate large portions of the Slovene Lands, making a contribution to the defeat of Nazism.

Following the re-establishment of Yugoslavia at the end of World War II, Slovenia became part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, declared on 29 November 1945. A Communist dictatorship was established, but due to the Tito-Stalin split economic and personal freedom were better than in the Eastern Bloc. In 1947, Italy ceded most of the Julian March to Yugoslavia and Slovenia thus regained the Slovenian Littoral, including access to the sea. From the 1950s, the Socialist Republic of Slovenia enjoyed a relatively wide autonomy under the rule of the local Communist elite. In 1990, Slovenia abandoned its communist infrastructure, the first free and democratic elections were held and the DEMOS coalition defeated the former Communist parties. The state reconstituted itself as Republic of Slovenia. In December 1990, the overwhelming majority of Slovenian citizens voted for independence, which was declared on 25 June 1991. A Ten-Day War followed in which the Slovenians rejected Yugoslav military interference. After 1990, a stable democratic system evolved, with economic liberalisation and gradual growth of prosperity. Slovenia joined NATO on 29 March 2004 and the European Union on 1 May 2004. Slovenia was the first post-Communist country to hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, for the first six months of 2008.

Geography Location: Central Europe, eastern Alps bordering the Adriatic Sea, between Austria and Croatia
Geographic coordinates: 46 07 N, 14 49 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 20,273 sq km
land: 20,151 sq km
water: 122 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: total: 1,086 km
border countries: Austria 330 km, Croatia 455 km, Hungary 102 km, Italy 199 km
Coastline: 46.6 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: Mediterranean climate on the coast, continental climate with mild to hot summers and cold winters in the plateaus and valleys to the east
Terrain: a short coastal strip on the Adriatic, an alpine mountain region adjacent to Italy and Austria, mixed mountains and valleys with numerous rivers to the east
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point: Triglav 2,864 m
Natural resources: lignite coal, lead, zinc, building stone, hydropower, forests
Land use: arable land: 8.53%
permanent crops: 1.43%
other: 90.04% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 32.1 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.9
per capita: 457 cu m/yr (2002)
Natural hazards: flooding and earthquakes
Environment – current issues: Sava River polluted with domestic and industrial waste; pollution of coastal waters with heavy metals and toxic chemicals; forest damage near Koper from air pollution (originating at metallurgical and chemical plants) and resulting acid rain
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: despite its small size, this eastern Alpine country controls some of Europe’s major transit routes
Politics The Slovenian head of state is the president, who is elected by popular vote every five years. The executive branch is headed by the prime minister and the council of ministers or cabinet, who are elected by the National Assembly.

The bicameral Parliament of Slovenia is characterized by an asymmetric duality, as the Constitution does not accord equal powers to both chambers. It consists of the National Assembly (Državni zbor), and the National Council (Državni svet). The National Assembly has ninety members, 88 of which are elected by all the citizens in a system of proportional representation, while two are elected by the indigenous Hungarian and Italian minorities. Elections take place every four years. It is the supreme representative and legislative institution, exercising legislative and electoral powers as well as control over the Executive and the Judiciary. The National Council has forty members, appointed to represent social, economic, professional and local interest groups. Among its best-known powers is the authority of the “postponing veto” – it can demand that the Parliament re-discusses a certain piece of legislation.

People Population: 2,007,711 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.6% (male 140,686/female 132,778)
15-64 years: 70.1% (male 709,689/female 697,862)
65 years and over: 16.3% (male 127,313/female 199,383) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 41.4 years
male: 39.8 years
female: 42.9 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.088% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 8.99 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.51 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.64 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.87 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.73 years
male: 73.04 years
female: 80.66 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.27 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Israeli questioned, FBI traveled to Tel Aviv, in Trump election probe — report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israeli questioned, FBI traveled to Tel Aviv, in Trump election probe — report

New York Times says ‘Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,’ emissary for Saudi, and Emirati princes met with Trump Jr. and others 3 months before election

Then-Republican nominee Donald Trump (R) standing with his son  Donald Trump Jr. after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)

Then-Republican nominee Donald Trump (R) standing with his son Donald Trump Jr. after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)

Three months before the November 2016 elections, senior members of the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump, including his son Donald Trump Jr., met with a small group of people from the Mideast who offered to help the controversial businessman win the race against Hillary Clinton. The group included “an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,” an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes, and Erik Prince, a Republican donor and the former head of the private security firm Blackwater whose sister Betsy Devos is now secretary of education, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The August 3, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to the report, “was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.”

According to the report, the Israeli specialist, Joel Zamel, “extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign,” and his firm “had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.”

The company, PSY-Group, according to the NY Times report, “employed several Israeli former intelligence officers” and “specialized in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media.” Zamel is also founding director and CEO of geopolitical analysis and business consultancy group Wikistrataccording to Bloomberg.

This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, president and editor of Middle East Insight. (C-SPAN via AP)

The plan, according to the report which cited three people involved and a fourth briefed on the effort,” involved using thousands of fake social media accounts to promote Mr. Trump’s candidacy on platforms like Facebook.”

Meanwhile, the Gulf emissary was George Nader, a longtime close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi, who conveyed to Trump Jr. “that the crown princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president.”

Nader allegedly said that the two crown princes “saw the elder Mr. Trump as a strong leader who would fill the power vacuum that they believed Mr. Obama had left in the Middle East, and Mr. Nader went on to say that he and his friends would be glad to support Mr. Trump as much as they could, according to the person with knowledge of the conversation.”

Trump Jr. “responded approvingly,” the New York Times said, citing “a person with knowledge of the meeting,” and following the initial offers for help, Nader “was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser.”

Nader was also reportedly “promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran, the regional nemesis of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.”

After Trump won the election, Nader paid Zamel “a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million.” and while the NY Times said there were conflicting accounts for the payment, “a company linked to Mr. Zamel provided Mr. Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Mr. Trump’s victory.”

In this June 21, 2017, photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The August 3 meeting is a focus of the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who was tasked last year with examining possible cooperation and coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the lead-up to the election.

The revelation of the meeting is the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign.

Nader also reportedly visited Moscow twice during the campaign and Zamel’s businesses have ties to Russia, which are “of interest” to the special counsel’s investigation, according to the report.

Zamel was already questioned by investigators for the special counsel, the report said, “and at least two FBI agents working on the inquiry have traveled to Israel to interview employees of the company who worked on the proposal.”

The Israeli police worked with US investigators to seize the computers of one of Mr. Zamel’s companies, which is currently in liquidation, according to the report.

Nader too has been cooperating with the inquiry, the report said, “and investigators have questioned numerous witnesses in Washington, New York, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere about what foreign help may have been pledged or accepted, and about whether any such assistance was coordinated with Russia, according to witnesses and others with knowledge of the interviews.”

Blackwater founder Erik Prince arrives for a closed meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A lawyer for Trump Jr., Alan Futerfas, told the NY Times in a statement that “prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader, and another individual who may be Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it.”

A lawyer for Zamel, Marc L. Mukasey, told the NY Times, that “neither Joel Zamel, nor any of his related entities, had any involvement whatsoever in the US election campaign.”

“The DOJ [Department of Justice] clarified from Day 1 that Joel and his companies have never been a target of the investigation. My client provided full cooperation to the government to assist with their investigation,” he said.

“There was a brief meeting, nothing concrete was offered or pitched to anyone and nothing came of it,” he added.

The New York Times reported that though it is still unclear if any direct assistance was forthcoming from Saudi Arabia, or the UAE, “two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners.”

The August 3, 2016 meeting came two months after Trump Jr., Kushner, and others met with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Clinton.

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee released about 2,500 pages of interview transcripts and other documents tied to the New York meeting on June 9, 2016.

In a closed-door interview last year with the committee, Trump Jr., said he did not give much thought to the idea that the meeting was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race.

AP contributed to this report

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Svalbard: Truth And History Of The 9 Nordic Islands

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Svalbard

Introduction First discovered by the Norwegians in the 12th century, the islands served as an international whaling base during the 17th and 18th centuries. Norway’s sovereignty was recognized in 1920; five years later it officially took over the territory.
History Vikings may have discovered Svalbard as early as the 12th century. Traditional Norse accounts exist of a land known as Svalbarð – literally “cold shores” (but this land might also have been Jan Mayen, or a part of eastern Greenland). The Dutchman Willem Barents made the first indisputable discovery of Svalbard in 1596. The islands served as an international whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the Greenland whale was extirpated from this region. From 1611 to the 1800s whaling took place off the western coast of Spitsbergen, by Belgian, British, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish ships. They also provided the headquarters for many Arctic exploration expeditions.

At the beginning of the 20th century, American, British, Swedish, Russian and Norwegian companies started coal mining. Norway’s sovereignty was recognized by the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 with an addition that there would be limited military use of Svalbard and that the other nations retained the rights to their settlements; five years later Norway officially took over the territory. Some historians claim that Norway was given sovereignty as compensation for its Merchant Fleet losses during World War I, when the Norwegian Merchant fleet played an important role supplying the UK. Only Norwegian and Russian settlements survived World War II.

From the late 1940s to the early 1980s the geology of the Svalbard archipelago was investigated by teams from Cambridge University and other universities (e.g., Oxford University), led by Cambridge geologist W. Brian Harland. Many of the geographical features of the isles are named after the participants in these expeditions, or were given names by them linked to places in Cambridge (see Norwegian Polar Institute).

The name of the largest island in the archipelago, Spitsbergen (Dutch for “Jagged mountains”) was formerly used to refer to the entire archipelago, while the main island was called West Spitsbergen.

Geography Location: Northern Europe, islands between the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, Greenland Sea, and Norwegian Sea, north of Norway
Geographic coordinates: 78 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references: Arctic Region
Area: total: 61,020 sq km
land: 61,020 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Spitsbergen and Bjornoya (Bear Island)
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than West Virginia
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 3,587 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 4 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm unilaterally claimed by Norway but not recognized by Russia
Climate: arctic, tempered by warm North Atlantic Current; cool summers, cold winters; North Atlantic Current flows along west and north coasts of Spitsbergen, keeping water open and navigable most of the year
Terrain: wild, rugged mountains; much of high land ice covered; west coast clear of ice about one-half of the year; fjords along west and north coasts
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Arctic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Newtontoppen 1,717 m
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, phosphate, wildlife, fish
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (no trees; the only bushes are crowberry and cloudberry) (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: ice floes often block the entrance to Bellsund (a transit point for coal export) on the west coast and occasionally make parts of the northeastern coast inaccessible to maritime traffic
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: northernmost part of the Kingdom of Norway; consists of nine main islands; glaciers and snowfields cover 60% of the total area; Spitsbergen Island is the site of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a seed repository established by the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Norwegian Government

Following the Money in Trumpland Leads Ugly Places

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

 

 / THE NATIONAL CIRCUS

Following the Money in Trumpland Leads Ugly Places

By 

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

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

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

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

5 of the Most Blatantly Unethical Moves by the Trump Administration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Syria

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

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

Antiquity and early Christian era

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

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

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

Islamic era

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

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

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

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

Ottoman era

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

French Mandate

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

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

Instability and foreign relations: independence to 1967

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Day War and Aftermath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21st century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2008 Israeli Peace Talks

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

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

Tajikistan: The Truth Knowledge And History Of This Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Tajikistan

Introduction The Tajik people came under Russian rule in the 1860s and 1870s, but Russia’s hold on Central Asia weakened following the Revolution of 1917. Bolshevik control of the area was fiercely contested and not fully reestablished until 1925. Much of present-day Sughd province was transferred from the Uzbekistan SSR to newly formed Tajikistan SSR in 1929. Ethnic Uzbeks form a substantial minority in Sughd province. Tajikistan became independent in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union, and it is now in the process of strengthening its democracy and transitioning to a free market economy after its 1992-97 civil war. There have been no major security incidents in recent years, although the country remains the poorest in the former Soviet sphere. Attention by the international community in the wake of the war in Afghanistan has brought increased economic development and security assistance, which could create jobs and increase stability in the long term. Tajikistan is in the early stages of seeking World Trade Organization membership and has joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace.
History Early history

Modern Tajiks regard the Samanid Empire as the first Tajik state. This monument in Dushanbe honors Ismail Samani, ancestor of the Samanids and a source of Tajik nationalism.

The territory of what is now Tajikistan has been inhabited continuously since 4000 BCE.[citation needed] It has been under the rule of various empires throughout history, for the longest period being part of the Persian Empire.

Most of modern Tajikistan had formed parts of ancient Kamboja and Parama Kamboja kingdoms, which find references in the ancient Indian epics like the Mahabharata. Linguistic evidence, combined with ancient literary and inscriptional evidence has led many eminent Indologists to conclude that ancient Kambojas (an Avestan speaking Iranian tribe) originally belonged to the Ghalcha-speaking area of Central Asia. Achariya Yasaka’s Nirukta (7th century BCE) attests that verb Śavati in the sense “to go” was used by only the Kambojas. It has been shown that the modern Ghalcha dialects, Valkhi, Shigali, Sriqoli, Jebaka (also called Sanglichi or Ishkashim), Munjani, Yidga and Yaghnobi, mainly spoken in Pamirs and countries on the headwaters of the Oxus, still use terms derived from ancient Kamboja Śavati in the sense “to go”. The Yaghnobi language, spoken by the Yaghnobis in the Sughd Province around the headwaters of Zeravshan valley, also still contains a relic “Śu” from ancient Kamboja Śavati in the sense “to go”. Further, Sir G Grierson says that the speech of Badakshan was a Ghalcha till about three centuries ago when it was supplanted by a form of Persian. Thus, the ancient Kamboja, probably included the Badakshan, Pamirs and northern territories including the Yaghnobi region in the doab of the Oxus and Jaxartes. On the east it was bounded roughly by Yarkand and/or Kashgar, on the west by Bahlika (Uttaramadra), on the northwest by Sogdiana, on the north by Uttarakuru, on the southeast by Darada, and on the south by Gandhara. Numerous Indologists locate original Kamboja in Pamirs and Badakshan and the Parama Kamboja further north, in the Trans-Pamirian territories comprising Zeravshan valley, north up parts of Sogdhiana/Fargana — in the Sakadvipa or Scythia of the classical writers. Thus, in the pre-Buddhist times (7th–6th century BCE), the parts of modern Tajikistan including territories as far as Zeravshan valley in Sogdiana formed parts of ancient Kamboja and the Parama Kamboja kingdoms when it was ruled by Iranian Kambojas till it became part of Achaemenid Empire.

From the last quarter of fourth century BCE until the first quarter of the second century BCE, it was part of the Bactrian Empire, from whom it was passed on to Scythian Tukharas and hence became part of Tukharistan. Contact with the Chinese Han Dynasty was made in the second century BCE, when envoys were sent to the area of Bactria to explore regions west of China.

Arabs brought Islam in the 7th century CE. The Samanid Empire Iranians supplanted the Arabs and built the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, which became the cultural centers of Tajiks (both of which are now in Uzbekistan). The Mongols would later take partial control of Central Asia, and later the land that today comprises Tajikistan became a part of the emirate of Bukhara. A small community of Jews, displaced from the Middle East after the Babylonian captivity, migrated to the region and settled there after 600 BCE, though the majority of the recent Jewish population did not migrate to Tajikistan until the 20th century.

Russian presence

In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to spread into Central Asia during the Great Game. Between 1864 and 1885 it gradually took control of the entire territory of Russian Turkestan from today’s border with Kazakhstan in the north to the Caspian Sea in the west and the border with Afghanistan in the south. Tajikistan was eventually carved out of this territory, which historically had a large Tajik population.

After the overthrow of Imperial Russia in 1917, guerrillas throughout Central Asia, known as basmachi waged a war against Bolshevik armies in a futile attempt to maintain independence. The Bolsheviks prevailed after a four-year war, in which mosques and villages were burned down and the population heavily suppressed. Soviet authorities started a campaign of secularization, practicing Muslims, Jews, and Christians were persecuted,[citation needed] and mosques, churches, and synagogues were closed.

Soviet Tajikistan

In 1924, the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created as a part of Uzbekistan, but in 1929 the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR) was made a separate constituent republic. The predominantly ethnic Tajik cities of Samarkand and Bukhara remained in the Uzbek SSR. In terms of living conditions, education and industry Tajikistan was behind the other Soviet Republics. In the 1980s, it had the lowest household saving rate in the USSR, the lowest percentage of households in the two top per capita income groups, and the lowest rate of university graduates per 1000 people. By the late 1980s Tajik nationalists were calling for increased rights. Real disturbances did not occur within the republic until 1990. The following year, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Tajikistan declared its independence.

Post-Independence

The nation almost immediately fell into a civil war that involved various factions fighting one another; these factions were often distinguished by clan loyalties. The non-Muslim population, particularly Russians and Jews, fled the country during this time because of persecution, increased poverty and better economic opportunities in the West or in other former Soviet republics. Emomali Rahmonov came to power in 1992, and continues to rule to this day. However, he has been accused of ethnic cleansing against other ethnicities and groups during the Civil war in Tajikistan.[citation needed] In 1997, a ceasefire was reached between Rahmonov and opposition parties (United Tajik Opposition). Peaceful elections were held in 1999, but they were reported by the opposition as unfair, and Rahmonov was re-elected by almost unanimous vote. Russian troops were stationed in southern Tajikistan, in order to guard the border with Afghanistan, until summer 2005. Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, American, Indian and French troops have also been stationed in the country.

In 2008, the harshest winter in a quarter century caused financial losses of $850 million. Russia pledged $1 billion in aid. Saudi Arabia sent about 10 planes carrying 80 tons of relief and emergency supplies in February and another 11 tons in March.

Geography Location: Central Asia, west of China
Geographic coordinates: 39 00 N, 71 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 143,100 sq km
land: 142,700 sq km
water: 400 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Wisconsin
Land boundaries: total: 3,651 km
border countries: Afghanistan 1,206 km, China 414 km, Kyrgyzstan 870 km, Uzbekistan 1,161 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: midlatitude continental, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid to polar in Pamir Mountains
Terrain: Pamir and Alay Mountains dominate landscape; western Fergana Valley in north, Kofarnihon and Vakhsh Valleys in southwest
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Syr Darya (Sirdaryo) 300 m
highest point: Qullai Ismoili Somoni 7,495 m
Natural resources: hydropower, some petroleum, uranium, mercury, brown coal, lead, zinc, antimony, tungsten, silver, gold
Land use: arable land: 6.52%
permanent crops: 0.89%
other: 92.59% (2005)
Irrigated land: 7,220 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 99.7 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 11.96 cu km/yr (4%/5%/92%)
per capita: 1,837 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: earthquakes and floods
Environment – current issues: inadequate sanitation facilities; increasing levels of soil salinity; industrial pollution; excessive pesticides
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; mountainous region dominated by the Trans-Alay Range in the north and the Pamirs in the southeast; highest point, Qullai Ismoili Somoni (formerly Communism Peak), was the tallest mountain in the former USSR
Politics Almost immediately after independence, Tajikistan was plunged into a civil war that saw various factions, allegedly backed by Russia and Iran, fighting one another. All but 25,000 of the more than 400,000 ethnic Russians, who were mostly employed in industry, fled to Russia. By 1997, the war had cooled down, and a central government began to take form, with peaceful elections in 1999.

“Longtime observers of Tajikistan often characterize the country as profoundly averse to risk and skeptical of promises of reform, a political passivity they trace to the country’s ruinous civil war,” Ilan Greenberg wrote in a news article in The New York Times just before the country’s November 2006 presidential election.

Tajikistan is officially a republic, and holds elections for the President and Parliament. The latest parliamentary elections occurred in 2005 (two rounds in February and March), and as all previous elections, international observers believe them to have been corrupt, arousing many accusations from opposition parties that President Emomali Rahmon manipulates the election process.

The latest presidential election held on November 6, 2006 was boycotted by “mainline” opposition parties, including the 23,000-member Islamist Islamic Renaissance Party. Four remaining opponents “all but endorsed the incumbent”, Rahmon. After November 2006 presidential elections, it is widely speculated that Rahmon has secured his seat for at least another two terms, which will allow him rule till 2020.

Tajikistan to this date is one of the few countries in Central Asia to have included an active opposition in its government. In the Parliament, opposition groups have often clashed with the ruling party, but this has not led to great instability.

Recently Tajikistan gave Iran its support in the membership bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, after a meeting with Tajik President and Iranian foreign minister.

People Population: 7,211,884 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 34.6% (male 1,270,289/female 1,226,954)
15-64 years: 61.7% (male 2,203,720/female 2,244,660)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 113,156/female 153,105) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 21.6 years
male: 21.2 years
female: 22.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.893% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 27.18 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.94 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 42.31 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 47.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 37.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 64.97 years
male: 61.95 years
female: 68.15 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.04 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 100 (2001 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria (2008)
Nationality: noun: Tajikistani(s)
adjective: Tajikistani
Ethnic groups: Tajik 79.9%, Uzbek 15.3%, Russian 1.1%, Kyrgyz 1.1%, other 2.6% (2000 census)
Religions: Sunni Muslim 85%, Shia Muslim 5%, other 10% (2003 est.)
Languages: Tajik (official), Russian widely used in government and business
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.5%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.2% (2000 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years
male: 12 years
female: 10 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 3.4% of GDP (2006)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Tajikistan
conventional short form: Tajikistan
local long form: Jumhurii Tojikiston
local short form: Tojikiston
former: Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Dushanbe
geographic coordinates: 38 35 N, 68 48 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 2 provinces (viloyatho, singular – viloyat) and 1 autonomous province* (viloyati mukhtor); Viloyati Khatlon (Qurghonteppa), Viloyati Mukhtori Kuhistoni Badakhshon* [Gorno-Badakhshan] (Khorugh), Viloyati Sughd (Khujand)
note: the administrative center name follows in parentheses
Independence: 9 September 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day (or National Day), 9 September (1991)
Constitution: 6 November 1994
Legal system: based on civil law system; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Emomali RAHMON (since 6 November 1994; head of state and Supreme Assembly chairman since 19 November 1992)
head of government: Prime Minister Oqil OQILOV (since 20 January 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the Supreme Assembly
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 6 November 2006 (next to be held in November 2013); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Emomali RAHMON reelected president; percent of vote – Emomali RAHMON 79.3%, Olimzon BOBOYEV 6.2%, other 14.5%
Legislative branch: bicameral Supreme Assembly or Majlisi Oli consists of the National Assembly (upper chamber) or Majlisi Milliy (34 seats; 25 members selected by local deputies, 8 appointed by the president; 1 seat reserved for the former president; to serve five-year terms) and the Assembly of Representatives (lower chamber) or Majlisi Namoyandagon (63 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: National Assembly – last held 25 March 2005 (next to be held in February 2010); Assembly of Representatives 27 February and 13 March 2005 (next to be held in February 2010)
election results: National Assembly – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PDPT 29, CPT 2, independents 3; Assembly of Representatives – percent of vote by party – PDPT 74.9%, CPT 13.6%, Islamic Revival Party 8.9%, other 2.5%; seats by party – PDPT 51, CPT 5, Islamic Revival Party 2, independents 5
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)
Political parties and leaders: Agrarian Party of Tajikistan or APT [Amir KARAKULOV]; Democratic Party or DPT [Mahmadruzi ISKANDAROV (imprisoned October 2005); Rahmatullo VALIYEV, deputy]; Islamic Revival Party [Muhiddin KABIRI]; Party of Economic Reform or PER [Olimzon BOBOYEV]; People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan or PDPT [Emomali RAHMON]; Social Democratic Party or SDPT [Rahmatullo ZOYIROV]; Socialist Party or SPT [Mirhuseyn NARZIYEV]; Tajik Communist Party or CPT [Shodi SHABDOLOV]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Agrarian Party [Hikmatullo NASREDDINOV] (unregistered political party); Democratic Party or DPT [Masud SOBIROV] (splintered from Iskanderov’s DPT); Progressive Party [Sulton QUVVATOV]; Socialist Party or SPT [Abdualim GHAFFOROV] (splintered from Narziyev’s SPT); Unity Party [Hikmatullo SAIDOV]
other: splinter parties recognized by the government but not by the base of the party; unregistered political parties
International organization participation: ADB, CIS, CSTO, EAEC, EAPC, EBRD, ECO, FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, SCO, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Abdujabbor SHIRINOV
chancery: 1005 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 223-6090
FAX: [1] (202) 223-6091
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Tracey Ann JACOBSON
embassy: 109-A Ismoili Somoni Avenue, Dushanbe 734019
mailing address: 7090 Dushanbe Place, Dulles, VA 20189
telephone: [992] (37) 229-20-00
FAX: [992] (37) 229-20-50
Flag description: three horizontal stripes of red (top), a wider stripe of white, and green; a gold crown surmounted by seven gold, five-pointed stars is located in the center of the white stripe
Culture Historically, Tajiks and Persians come from very similar stock, speaking variants of the same language and are related as part of the larger group of Iranian peoples. The Tajik language is the mother tongue of around two-thirds of the citizens of Tajikistan. Ancient towns such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat, Balkh and Khiva are no longer part of the country. The main urban centers in today’s Tajikistan include Dushanbe (the capital), Khujand, Kulob, Panjakent and Istaravshan.

The Pamiri people of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the southeast, bordering Afghanistan and China, though considered part of the Tajik ethnicity, nevertheless are distinct linguistically and culturally from most Tajiks. In contrast to the mostly Sunni Muslim residents of the rest of Tajikistan, the Pamiris overwhelmingly follow the Ismaili sect of Islam, and speak a number of Eastern Iranian languages, including Shughni, Rushani, Khufi and Wakhi. Isolated in the highest parts of the Pamir Mountains, they have preserved many ancient cultural traditions and folk arts that have been largely lost elsewhere in the country.

The Yaghnobi people live in mountainous areas of northern Tajikistan. The estimated number of Yaghnobis is now about 25,000. Forced migrations in the 20th century decimated their numbers. They speak the Yaghnobi language, which is the only direct modern descendant of the ancient Sogdian language.

Economy Economy – overview: Tajikistan has one of the lowest per capita GDPs among the 15 former Soviet republics. Only 7% of the land area is arable. Cotton is the most important crop, but this sector is burdened with debt and an obsolete infrastructure. Mineral resources include silver, gold, uranium, and tungsten. Industry consists only of a large aluminum plant, hydropower facilities, and small obsolete factories mostly in light industry and food processing. The civil war (1992-97) severely damaged the already weak economic infrastructure and caused a sharp decline in industrial and agricultural production. While Tajikistan has experienced steady economic growth since 1997, nearly two-thirds of the population continues to live in abject poverty. Economic growth reached 10.6% in 2004, but dropped to 8% in 2005, 7% in 2006, and 7.8% in 2007. Tajikistan’s economic situation remains fragile due to uneven implementation of structural reforms, corruption, weak governance, widespread unemployment, seasonal power shortages, and the external debt burden. Continued privatization of medium and large state-owned enterprises could increase productivity. A debt restructuring agreement was reached with Russia in December 2002 including a $250 million write-off of Tajikistan’s $300 million debt. Tajikistan ranks third in the world in terms of water resources per head, but suffers winter power shortages due to poor management of water levels in rivers and reservoirs. Completion of the Sangtuda I hydropower dam – built with Russian investment – and the Sangtuda II and Rogun dams will add substantially to electricity output. If finished according to Tajik plans, Rogun will be the world’s tallest dam. Tajikistan has also received substantial infrastructure development loans from the Chinese government to improve roads and an electricity transmission network. To help increase north-south trade, the US funded a $36 million bridge which opened in August 2007 and links Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $11.96 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $3.712 billion (2007 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 7.8% (2007 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $1,600 (2007 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 23.8%
industry: 30.4%
services: 45.8% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 2.1 million (2007)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 67.2%
industry: 7.5%
services: 25.3% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 2.4% official rate; actual unemployment is higher (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 60% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 25.6% (2007 est.)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 32.6 (2003)
Investment (gross fixed): 12.4% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $712.1 million
expenditures: $674.5 million (2007 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 13.1% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 15% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 22.87% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $91.59 million (31 December 2006)
Stock of quasi money: $161 million (31 December 2006)
Stock of domestic credit: $417.4 million (31 December 2006)
Agriculture – products: cotton, grain, fruits, grapes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, goats
Industries: aluminum, zinc, lead; chemicals and fertilizers, cement, vegetable oil, metal-cutting machine tools, refrigerators and freezers
Industrial production growth rate: 5% (2007 est.)
Electricity – production: 17.4 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity – consumption: 17.9 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity – exports: 4.259 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 4.36 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 1.9%
hydro: 98.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 281.1 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 31,590 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 247.7 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 7,600 bbl/day (2007)
Oil – proved reserves: 12 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 32 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 842 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 810 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 5.663 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$351 million (2007 est.)
Exports: $1.606 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports – commodities: aluminum, electricity, cotton, fruits, vegetable oil, textiles
Exports – partners: Netherlands 38.9%, Turkey 32.5%, Russia 6.6%, Uzbekistan 5.9%, Iran 5.1% (2007)
Imports: $2.762 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports – commodities: electricity, petroleum products, aluminum oxide, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs
Imports – partners: Russia 32.1%, Kazakhstan 13.1%, China 10.8%, Uzbekistan 8.4% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $241.4 million from US (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $242 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt – external: $1.56 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Currency (code): somoni (TJS)
Currency code: TJS
Exchange rates: Tajikistani somoni (TJS) per US dollar – 3.4418 (2007), 3.3 (2006), 3.1166 (2005), 2.9705 (2004), 3.0614 (2003)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 280,200 (2005)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 265,000 (2005)
Telephone system: general assessment: poorly developed and not well maintained; many towns are not linked to the national network
domestic: the domestic telecommunications network has historically been under funded and poorly maintained; main line availability has not changed significantly since 1998; cellular telephone use is growing but geographic coverage remains limited
international: country code – 992; linked by cable and microwave radio relay to other CIS republics and by leased connections to the Moscow international gateway switch; Dushanbe linked by Intelsat to international gateway switch in Ankara (Turkey); satellite earth stations – 3 (2 Intelsat and 1 Orbita) (2006)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 8, FM 10, shortwave 2 (2002)
Radios: 1.291 million (1991)
Television broadcast stations: 6 (2006)
Televisions: 820,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tj
Internet hosts: 1,158 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 4 (2002)
Internet users: 19,500 (2005)
Transportation Airports: 26 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 18
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 8
under 914 m: 8 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 549 km; oil 38 km (2007)
Railways: total: 482 km
broad gauge: 482 km 1.520-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 27,767 km (2000)
Waterways: 200 km (along Vakhsh River) (2006)
Military Military branches: Ground Forces, Air and Air Defense Forces, Mobile Force (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2007)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 1,897,356
females age 16-49: 1,911,594 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 1,391,287
females age 16-49: 1,561,826 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 84,137
female: 81,777 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 3.9% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: in 2006, China and Tajikistan pledged to commence demarcation of the revised boundary agreed to in the delimitation of 2002; talks continue with Uzbekistan to delimit border and remove minefields; disputes in Isfara Valley delay delimitation with Kyrgyzstan
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Tajikistan is a source country for women trafficked through Kyrgyzstan and Russia to the UAE, Turkey, and Russia for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation; men are trafficked to Russia and Kazakhstan for the purpose of forced labor, primarily in the construction and agricultural industries; boys and girls are trafficked internally for various purposes, including forced labor and forced begging
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Tajikistan is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, especially efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence traffickers; despite evidence of low- and mid-level officials’ complicity in trafficking, the government did not punish any public officials for trafficking complicity during 2007; lack of capacity and poor coordination between government institutions remained key obstacles to effective anti-trafficking efforts (2008)
Illicit drugs: major transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and, to a lesser extent, Western European markets; limited illicit cultivation of opium poppy for domestic consumption; Tajikistan seizes roughly 80% of all drugs captured in Central Asia and stands third worldwide in seizures of opiates (heroin and raw opium); significant consumer of opiates

Turkmenistan: The Truth Knowledge And History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Turkmenistan

Introduction Eastern Turkmenistan for centuries formed part of the Persian province of Khurasan; in medieval times Merv (today known as Mary) was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1924. It achieved independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves could prove a boon to this underdeveloped country if extraction and delivery projects were to be expanded. The Turkmenistan Government is actively seeking to develop alternative petroleum transportation routes to break Russia’s pipeline monopoly. President for Life Saparmurat NYYAZOW died in December 2006, and Turkmenistan held its first multi-candidate presidential electoral process in February 2007. Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW, a vice premier under NYYAZOW, emerged as the country’s new president.
History The territory of Turkmenistan has a long and checkered history, as armies from one empire after another decamped there on their way to more prosperous territories. The region’s written history begins with its conquest by the Achaemenid Empire of ancient Persia, as the region was divided between the satrapies of Margiana, Khwarezm and Parthia.

Alexander the Great conquered the territory in the fourth century BCE on his way to South Asia, around the time that the Silk Road was established as a major trading route between Asia and the Mediterranean Region. One hundred and fifty years later, Persia’s Parthian Kingdom established its capital in Nisa, now in the suburbs of the capital, Ashgabat. In the seventh century CE, Arabs conquered this region, bringing with them Islam and incorporating the Turkmen into Middle Eastern culture. The Turkmenistan region soon came to be known as the capital of Greater Khorasan, when the caliph Al-Ma’mun moved his capital to Merv.

In the middle of the eleventh century, the Turkoman-ruled Seljuk Empire concentrated its strength in the territory of modern Turkmenistan in an attempt to expand into Khorasan (modern Afghanistan). The empire broke down in the second half of the twelfth century, and the Turkmen lost their independence when Genghis Khan took control of the eastern Caspian Sea region on his march west. For the next seven centuries, the Turkmen people lived under various empires and fought constant inter-tribal wars. Little is documented of Turkmen history prior to Russian engagement. However, from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, Turkmen formed a distinct ethnolinguistic group. As the Turkmen migrated from the area around the Mangyshlak Peninsula in contemporary Kazakhstan toward the Iranian border region and the Amu Darya basin, tribal Turkmen society further developed cultural traditions that became the foundation of Turkmen national consciousness.

Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, control of Turkmenistan was fought over by Persian Shahs, Khivan Khans, the Emirs of Bukhara and the rulers of Afghanistan. During this period, Turkmen spiritual leader Magtymguly Pyragy reached prominence with his efforts to secure independence and autonomy for his people. At this time, the vast territory of Central Asia including the region of Turkmenistan was largely unmapped and virtually unknown to Europe and the Western world. Rivalry for control of the area between the British Empire and Tsarist Russia was characterized as The Great Game. Throughout their conquest of Central Asia, the Russians were met with the stiffest resistance by the Turkmen. By 1894, however, Russia had gained control of Turkmenistan and incorporated it into its empire. The rivalry officially concluded with the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Slowly, Russian and European cultures were introduced to the area. This was evident in the architecture of the newly-formed city of Ashgabat, which became the capital. The October Revolution of 1917 in Russia and subsequent political unrest led to the declaration of the area as the Turkmen SSR, one of the six republics of the Soviet Union in 1924, assuming the borders of modern Turkmenistan.

The new Turkmen SSR went through a process of further Europeanization. The tribal Turkmen people were encouraged to become secular and adopt European-style clothing. The Turkmen alphabet was changed from the traditional Arabic script to Latin and finally to Cyrillic. However, bringing the Turkmens to abandon their previous nomadic ways in favor of communism was not fully embraced until as late as 1948. Nationalist organizations in the region also existed during the 1920s and the 1930s.

When the Soviet Union began to collapse, Turkmenistan and the rest of the Central Asian states heavily favored maintaining a reformed version of the state, mainly because they needed the economic power and common markets of the Soviet Union to prosper. Turkmenistan declared independence on 27 October 1991, one of the last republics to secede.

In 1991, Turkmenistan became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, an international organization of former Soviet republics. However, Turkmenistan reduced its status in the organization to “associate member” in August 2005. The reason stated by the Turkmen president was the country’s policy of permanent neutrality. It is the only former Soviet state (aside from the Baltic states now in the European Union) without a full membership.

The former Soviet leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, remained in power as Turkmenistan’s leader after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Under his post-Soviet rule, Russian-Turkmeni relations greatly suffered.[citation needed] He styled himself as a promoter of traditional Muslim and Turkmen culture (calling himself “Turkmenbashi”, or “leader of the Turkmen people”), but he became notorious in the West for his dictatorial rule and extravagant cult of personality. The extent of his power greatly increased during the early 1990s, and in 1999 he became President for Life.

Niyazov died unexpectedly on 21 December 2006, leaving no heir apparent and an unclear line of succession. A former deputy prime minister rumored to be the illegitimate son of Niyazov, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, became acting president, although under the constitution the Chairman of the People’s Council, Ovezgeldy Atayev, should have succeeded to the post. However, Atayev was accused of crimes and removed from office.

In an election on 11 February 2007, Berdimuhamedow was elected president with 89% of the vote and 95% turnout, although the election was condemned by outside observers as unfair. He was sworn in on 14 February 2007.

Geography Location: Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 60 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 488,100 sq km
land: 488,100 sq km
water: NEGL
Area – comparative: slightly larger than California
Land boundaries: total: 3,736 km
border countries: Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kazakhstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km
Coastline: 0 km; note – Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: subtropical desert
Terrain: flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Vpadina Akchanaya -81 m; note – Sarygamysh Koli is a lake in northern Turkmenistan with a water level that fluctuates above and below the elevation of Vpadina Akchanaya (the lake has dropped as low as -110 m)
highest point: Gora Ayribaba 3,139 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt
Land use: arable land: 4.51%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 95.35% (2005)
Irrigated land: 18,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 60.9 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 24.65 cu km/yr (2%/1%/98%)
per capita: 5,104 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: contamination of soil and groundwater with agricultural chemicals, pesticides; salination, water logging of soil due to poor irrigation methods; Caspian Sea pollution; diversion of a large share of the flow of the Amu Darya into irrigation contributes to that river’s inability to replenish the Aral Sea; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; the western and central low-lying desolate portions of the country make up the great Garagum (Kara-Kum) desert, which occupies over 80% of the country; eastern part is plateau
Politics After 69 years as part of the Soviet Union (including 67 years as a union republic), Turkmenistan declared its independence on 27 October 1991.

President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov, a former bureaucrat of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, ruled Turkmenistan from 1985, when he became head of the Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR, until his death in 2006. He retained absolute control over the country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. On 28 December 1999, Niyazov was declared President for Life of Turkmenistan by the Mejlis (parliament), which itself had taken office a week earlier in elections that included only candidates hand-picked by President Niyazov. No opposition candidates were allowed.

The politics of Turkmenistan take place in the framework of a presidential republic, with the President both head of state and head of government. Under Niyazov, Turkmenistan had a single-party system; however, in September 2008, the People’s Council unanimously passed a resolution adopting a new Constitution. The latter resulted in the abolition of the Council and a significant increase in the size of Parliament in December 2008. The new Constitution also permits the formation of multiple political parties.

The current President of Turkmenistan is Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who took control following Niyazov’s death in December 2006.

The former Communist Party, now known as the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, has been the only one effectively permitted to operate. Political gatherings are illegal unless government sanctioned.

People Population: 5,179,571 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 34.2% (male 902,811/female 868,428)
15-64 years: 61.5% (male 1,577,187/female 1,607,353)
65 years and over: 4.3% (male 97,480/female 126,312) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 22.6 years
male: 22 years
female: 23.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.596% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 25.07 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.11 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 51.81 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 56.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 47.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 68.6 years
male: 65.53 years
female: 71.82 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.07 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 100 (2004 est.)
Nationality: noun: Turkmen(s)
adjective: Turkmenistani
Ethnic groups: Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6% (2003)
Religions: Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%
Languages: Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.3%
female: 98.3% (1999 est.)
Education expenditures: 3.9% of GDP (1991)
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Turkmenistan
local long form: none
local short form: Turkmenistan
former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type: republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Capital: name: Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)
geographic coordinates: 37 57 N, 58 23 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 5 provinces (welayatlar, singular – welayat) and 1 independent city*: Ahal Welayaty (Anew), Ashgabat*, Balkan Welayaty (Balkanabat), Dashoguz Welayaty, Lebap Welayaty (Turkmenabat), Mary Welayaty
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence: 27 October 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 27 October (1991)
Constitution: adopted 18 May 1992
Legal system: based on civil law system and Islamic law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held on 11 February 2007 (next to be held in February 2012)
election results: Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW elected president; percent of vote – Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW 89.2%, Amanyaz ATAJYKOW 3.2%, other candidates 7.6%
Legislative branch: unicameral parliament known as the National Assembly (Mejlis) (125 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 14 December 2008 (next to be held December 2013)
election results: 100% of elected officials are members of either the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or its pseudo-civil society parent organization, the Revival Movement, and are preapproved by the president
note: in autumn 2008, the constitution of Turkmenistan was revised to abolish the 2,507-member legislative body known as the People’s Council and to expand the number of deputies in the National Assembly from 65 to 125; the powers formerly held by the People’s Council were divided up between the President and the National Assembly
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or DPT [Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW]
note: formal opposition parties are outlawed; unofficial, small opposition movements exist abroad; the three most prominent opposition groups-in-exile are the National Democratic Movement of Turkmenistan (NDMT), the Republican Party of Turkmenistan, and the Watan (Fatherland) Party; the NDMT was led by former Foreign Minister Boris SHIKHMURADOV until his arrest and imprisonment in the wake of the 25 November 2002 attack on President NYYAZOW’s motorcade
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ADB, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECO, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, SCO (guest), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Meret Bairamovich ORAZOW
chancery: 2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 588-1500
FAX: [1] (202) 588-0697
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Richard M. MILES
embassy: No. 9 1984 Street (formerly Pushkin Street), Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 744000
mailing address: 7070 Ashgabat Place, Washington, DC 20521-7070
telephone: [993] (12) 35-00-45
FAX: [993] (12) 39-26-14
Flag description: green field with a vertical red stripe near the hoist side, containing five tribal guls (designs used in producing carpets) stacked above two crossed olive branches; a white crescent moon representing Islam with five white stars representing the regions or welayats of Turkmenistan appear in the upper corner of the field just to the fly side of the red stripe
Culture The Turkmen people have traditionally been nomads and horsemen, and even today after the fall of the USSR attempts to urbanize but the Turkmens have not been very successful. They never really formed a coherent nation or ethnic group until they were forged into one by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s. Rather they are divided into clans, and each clan has its own dialect and style of dress. Turkmens are famous for making gillams, mistakenly called Bukhara rugs in the West. These are elaborate and colorful rugs, and these too help indicate the distinction between the various Turkmen clans.

The Turkmens are Sunni Muslims but they, like most of the region’s nomads, adhere to Islam rather loosely and combine Islam with pre-Islamic animist spirituality. The Turkmens do indeed tend to be spiritual but are by no means militantly religious.

A Turkmen can be identified anywhere by the traditional “telpek” hats, which are large black sheepskin hats that resemble afros. The national dress: men wear high, shaggy sheepskin hats and red robes over white shirts. Women wear long sack-dresses over narrow trousers (the pants are trimmed with a band of embroidery at the ankle). Female headdresses usually consist of silver jewellery. Bracelets and brooches are set with semi-precious stones…

In language, Turkmens speak Turkmen, related most closely to Turkish and Azerbaijani. Virtually everyone, however, even in the remote desert regions, speaks Russian.

Two significant figures in Turkmen literature are the poets Feragi Makhtumkuli and Mametveli Kemine.

Economy Economy – overview: Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and sizeable gas and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton; formerly it was the world’s 10th-largest producer. Poor harvests in recent years have led to an almost 50% decline in cotton exports. With an authoritarian ex-Communist regime in power and a tribally based social structure, Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use gas and cotton sales to sustain its inefficient economy. Privatization goals remain limited. From 1998-2005, Turkmenistan suffered from the continued lack of adequate export routes for natural gas and from obligations on extensive short-term external debt. At the same time, however, total exports rose by an average of roughly 15% per year from 2003-08, largely because of higher international oil and gas prices. A new pipeline to China, set to come online in late 2009 or early 2010, will give Turkmenistan an additional export route for its gas. Overall prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty, a poor educational system, government misuse of oil and gas revenues, and Ashgabat’s reluctance to adopt market-oriented reforms. In the past, Turkmenistan’s economic statistics were state secrets. The new government has established a State Agency for Statistics, but GDP numbers and other figures are subject to wide margins of error. In particular, the rate of GDP growth is uncertain. Since his election, President BERDIMUHAMEDOW has sought to improve the health and education systems, unified the country’s dual currency exchange rate, ordered the redenomination of the manat, reduced state subsidies for gasoline, increased internet access both in schools and internet cafes, ordered an independent audit of Turkmenistan’s gas resources, and created a special tourism zone on the Caspian Sea. Although foreign investment is encouraged, numerous bureaucratic obstacles from the NYYZOW-era remain.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $30.19 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $28.82 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 7.5% (IMF estimate)
note: official government statistics are widely regarded as unreliable (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $5,800 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 10.7%
industry: 38.8%
services: 50.4% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 2.089 million (2004 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 48.2%
industry: 14%
services: 37.8% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate: 60% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line: 30% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 40.8 (1998)
Investment (gross fixed): 11.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.393 billion
expenditures: $1.42 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 18% (2008 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Agriculture – products: cotton, grain; livestock
Industries: natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing
Electricity – production: 12.83 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 9.584 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 1.34 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 99.9%
hydro: 0.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: NA
Oil – consumption: 107,400 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 40,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – imports: 5,283 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 600 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 68.88 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 19.48 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 49.4 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 2.832 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $2.897 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $9.887 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber
Exports – partners: Ukraine 51.3%, Iran 18.5%, Turkey 5% (2007)
Imports: $5.291 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
Imports – partners: UAE 14.3%, Russia 11.6%, Turkey 10.3%, China 9.1%, Ukraine 8.7%, Iran 7%, Germany 6.5%, US 5.6% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $28.25 million from the US (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $5.501 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $1.4 billion to $5 billion (2004 est.)
Currency (code): Turkmen manat (TMM)
Currency code: TMM
Exchange rates: Turkmen manat (TMM) per US dollar – 14,250 (as of 1 May 2008 est.)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 457,900 (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 810,000 (2008)
Telephone system: general assessment: telecommunications network remains underdeveloped and progress toward improvement is slow; strict government control and censorship inhibits liberalization and modernization
domestic: Turkmentelekom, in cooperation with foreign partners, has installed high speed fiber-optic lines and has upgraded most of the country’s telephone exchanges and switching centers with new digital technology; mobile telephone usage is expanding with Russia’s Mobile Telesystems (MTS) the primary service provider
international: country code – 993; linked by fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay to other CIS republics and to other countries by leased connections to the Moscow international gateway switch; an exchange in Ashgabat switches international traffic through Turkey via Intelsat; satellite earth stations – 1 Orbita and 1 Intelsat (2008)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 16, FM 8, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 1.225 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 4 (government-owned and programmed) (2004)
Televisions: 820,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tm
Internet hosts: 640 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1
Internet users: 70,000 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 28 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 22
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
under 914 m: 4 (2007)
Heliports: 1 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 6,441 km; oil 1,361 km (2007)
Railways: total: 2,440 km
broad gauge: 2,440 km 1.520-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 58,592 km
paved: 47,577 km
unpaved: 11,015 km (2002)
Waterways: 1,300 km (Amu Darya and Kara Kum canal are important inland waterways) (2008)
Merchant marine: total: 7
by type: cargo 4, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 1 (2008)
Ports and terminals: Turkmenbasy
Military Military branches: Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces (2007)
Military service age and obligation: 18-30 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2007)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 1,316,698
females age 16-49: 1,331,005 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 1,064,965
females age 16-49: 1,136,553 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 57,615
female: 55,426 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 3.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: cotton monoculture in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan creates water-sharing difficulties for Amu Darya river states; field demarcation of the boundaries with Kazakhstan commenced in 2005, but Caspian seabed delimitation remains stalled with Azerbaijan, Iran, and Kazakhstan due to Turkmenistan’s indecision over how to allocate the sea’s waters and seabed
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 11,173 (Tajikistan); less than 1,000 (Afghanistan) (2007)
Illicit drugs: transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and Western European markets; transit point for heroin precursor chemicals bound for Afghanistan

UKraine: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Ukraine

Introduction Ukraine was the center of the first eastern Slavic state, Kyivan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Weakened by internecine quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kyivan Rus was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and eventually into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural and religious legacy of Kyivan Rus laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism through subsequent centuries. A new Ukrainian state, the Cossack Hetmanate, was established during the mid-17th century after an uprising against the Poles. Despite continuous Muscovite pressure, the Hetmanate managed to remain autonomous for well over 100 years. During the latter part of the 18th century, most Ukrainian ethnographic territory was absorbed by the Russian Empire. Following the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, Ukraine was able to bring about a short-lived period of independence (1917-20), but was reconquered and forced to endure a brutal Soviet rule that engineered two artificial famines (1921-22 and 1932-33) in which over 8 million died. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for some 7 to 8 million more deaths. Although final independence for Ukraine was achieved in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, democracy remained elusive as the legacy of state control and endemic corruption stalled efforts at economic reform, privatization, and civil liberties. A peaceful mass protest “Orange Revolution” in the closing months of 2004 forced the authorities to overturn a rigged presidential election and to allow a new internationally monitored vote that swept into power a reformist slate under Viktor YUSHCHENKO. Subsequent internal squabbles in the YUSHCHENKO camp allowed his rival Viktor YANUKOVYCH to stage a comeback in parliamentary elections and become prime minister in August of 2006. An early legislative election, brought on by a political crisis in the spring of 2007, saw Yuliya TYMOSHENKO, as head of an “Orange” coalition, installed as a new prime minister in December 2007.
History Early history

Human settlement in the territory of Ukraine dates back to at least 4500 BC, when the Neolithic Cucuteni culture flourished in a wide area that covered parts of modern Ukraine including Trypillia and the entire Dnieper-Dniester region. During the Iron Age, the land was inhabited by Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians. Between 700 BC and 200 BC it was part of the Scythian Kingdom, or Scythia. Later, colonies of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and the Byzantine Empire, such as Tyras, Olbia, and Hermonassa, were founded, beginning in the 6th century BC, on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, and thrived well into the 6th century AD. In the 7th century AD, the territory of eastern Ukraine was the center of Old Great Bulgaria. At the end of the century, the majority of Bulgar tribes migrated in different directions and the land fell into the Khazars’ hands.

Golden Age of Kiev
Main article: Kievan Rus’

Map of the Kievan Rus’ in the 11th century. During the Golden Age of Kiev, the lands of Rus’ covered much of present day Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia.

In the 9th century, much of modern-day Ukraine was populated by the Rus’ people who formed the Kievan Rus’. Kievan Rus’ included nearly all territory of modern Ukraine, Belarus, with larger part of it situated on the territory of modern Russia. During the 10th and 11th centuries, it became the largest and most powerful state in Europe. In the following centuries, it laid the foundation for the national identity of Ukrainians and Russians. Kiev, the capital of modern Ukraine, became the most important city of the Rus’. According to the Primary Chronicle, the Rus’ elite initially consisted of Varangians from Scandinavia. The Varangians later became assimilated into the local Slavic population and became part of the Rus’ first dynasty, the Rurik Dynasty. Kievan Rus’ was composed of several principalities ruled by the interrelated Rurikid Princes. The seat of Kiev, the most prestigious and influential of all principalities, became the subject of many rivalries among Rurikids as the most valuable prize in their quest for power.

The Golden Age of Kievan Rus’ began with the reign of Vladimir the Great (980–1015), who turned Rus’ toward Byzantine Christianity. During the reign of his son, Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054), Kievan Rus’ reached the zenith of its cultural development and military power. This was followed by the state’s increasing fragmentation as the relative importance of regional powers rose again. After a final resurgence under the rule of Vladimir Monomakh (1113–1125) and his son Mstislav (1125–1132), Kievan Rus’ finally disintegrated into separate principalities following Mstislav’s death.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Pechenegs and the Kipchaks, caused a massive migration of Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north.[7] The 13th century Mongol invasion devastated Kievan Rus’. Kiev was totally destroyed in 1240. On the Ukrainian territory, the state of Kievan Rus’ was succeeded by the principalities of Galich (Halych) and Volodymyr-Volynskyi, which were merged into the state of Galicia-Volhynia.

Foreign domination

In the centuries following the Mongol invasion, much of Ukraine was controlled by Lithuania (from the 14th century on) and since the Union of Lublin (1569) by Poland, as seen at this outline of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as of 1619.

“Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire.” Painted by Ilya Repin from 1880 to 1891.

In the mid-14th century, Galicia-Volhynia was subjugated by Casimir the Great of Poland, while the heartland of Rus’, including Kiev, fell under the Gediminas of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after the Battle on the Irpen’ River. Following the 1386 Union of Krevo, a dynastic union between Poland and Lithuania, most of Ukraine’s territory was controlled by the increasingly Ruthenized local Lithuanian nobles as part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At this time, the term Ruthenia and Ruthenians as the Latinized versions of “Rus'”, became widely applied to the land and the people of Ukraine, respectively.

By 1569, the Union of Lublin formed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and a significant part of Ukrainian territory was moved from largely Ruthenized Lithuanian rule to the Polish administration, as it was transferred to the Polish Crown. Under the cultural and political pressure of Polonisation much of the Ruthenian upper class converted to Catholicism and became indistinguishable from the Polish nobility. Thus, the Ukrainian commoners, deprived of their native protectors among Ruthenian nobility, turned for protection to the Cossacks, who remained fiercely orthodox at all times and tended to turn to violence against those they perceived as enemies, particularly the Polish state and its representatives. Ukraine suffered a series of Tatar invasions, the goal of which was to loot, pillage and capture slaves into jasyr.

In the mid-17th century, a Cossack military quasi-state, the Zaporozhian Host, was established by the Dnieper Cossacks and the Ruthenian peasants fleeing Polish serfdom. Poland had little real control of this land (Wild Fields), yet they found the Cossacks to be a useful fighting force against the Turks and Tatars, and at times the two allied in military campaigns. However, the continued enserfment of peasantry by the Polish nobility emphasized by the Commonwealth’s fierce exploitation of the workforce, and most importantly, the suppression of the Orthodox Church pushed the allegiances of Cossacks away from Poland. Their aspiration was to have representation in Polish Sejm, recognition of Orthodox traditions and the gradual expansion of the Cossack Registry. These were all vehemently denied by the Polish nobility. The Cossacks eventually turned for protection to Orthodox Russia, a decision which would later lead towards the downfall of the Polish-Lithuanian state, and the preservation of the Orthodox Church and in Ukraine.

In 1648, Bohdan Khmelnytsky led the largest of the Cossack uprisings against the Commonwealth and the Polish king John II Casimir. Left-bank Ukraine was eventually integrated into Russia as the Cossack Hetmanate, following the 1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav and the ensuing Russo-Polish War. After the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century by Prussia, Habsburg Austria, and Russia, Western Ukrainian Galicia was taken over by Austria, while the rest of Ukraine was progressively incorporated into the Russian Empire. Despite the promises of Ukrainian autonomy given by the Treaty of Pereyaslav, the Ukrainian elite and the Cossacks never received the freedoms and the autonomy they were expecting from Imperial Russia. However, within the Empire, Ukrainians rose to the highest offices of Russian state, and the Russian Orthodox Church. At a later period, the tsarist regime carried the policy of Russification of Ukrainian lands, suppressing the use of the Ukrainian language in print, and in public.

The sparsely inhabited area of the Wild Fields, immediately south of Severia, was traditionally used by the Crimean Tatars and Nogai Tatars to launch annual raids into Russian territories along the Muravsky Trail and Izyum Trail. After a number of Russo-Crimean Wars, the Russian monarchs started to encourage the settlement of the Sloboda Ukraine by the Cossacks who acted as a sort of frontier guards against the raids of the Tatars. After the annexation of the Crimean Khanate by the Imperial Russia (1774-1792) following the Russo-Turkish wars, the region was settled by enserfed peasantry mostly from Ukraine and German settlers as New Russia. The Crimean War in the 1850s caused a major exodus of Tatars. The area that was Little Tartary is currently part of Ukraine.

World War I and revolution

Ukraine entered World War I on the side of both the Central Powers, under Austria, and the Triple Entente, under Russia. 3.5 million Ukrainians fought with the Imperial Russian Army, while 250,000 fought for the Austro-Hungarian Army. During the war, Austro-Hungarian authorities established the Ukrainian Legion to fight against the Russian Empire. This legion was the foundation of the Ukrainian Galician Army that fought against the Bolsheviks and Poles in the post World War I period (1919–23). Those suspected of the Russophile sentiments in Austria were treated harshly. Up to 5,000 supporters of the Russian Empire from Galicia were detained and placed in Austrian internment camps in Talerhof, Styria, and in a fortress at Terezín (now in the Czech Republic).

With the collapse of the Russian and Austrian empires following World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917, a Ukrainian national movement for self-determination reemerged. During 1917–20, several separate Ukrainian states briefly emerged: the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the Hetmanate, the Directorate and the pro-Bolshevik Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (or Soviet Ukraine) successively established territories in the former Russian Empire; while the West Ukrainian People’s Republic emerged briefly in the former Austro-Hungarian territory. In the midst of Civil War, an anarchist movement called the Black Army led by Nestor Makhno also developed in Southern Ukraine. However with Western Ukraine’s defeat in the Polish-Ukrainian War followed by the failure of the further Polish offensive that was repelled by the Bolsheviks. According to the Peace of Riga concluded between the Soviets and Poland, western Ukraine was officially incorporated into Poland who in turn recognised the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in March 1919, that later became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the Soviet Union in December, 1922.

Inter-war Soviet Ukraine

The revolution that brought the Soviet government to power devastated Ukraine. It left over 1.5 million people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. The Soviet Ukraine had to face the famine of 1921. Seeing the exhausted society, the Soviet government remained very flexible during the 1920s. Thus, the Ukrainian culture and language enjoyed a revival, as Ukrainisation became a local implementation of the Soviet-wide Korenisation (literally indigenisation) policy. The Bolsheviks were also committed to introducing universal health care, education and social-security benefits, as well as the right to work and housing. Women’s rights were greatly increased through new laws aimed to wipe away centuries-old inequalities. Most of these policies were sharply reversed by the early-1930s after Joseph Stalin gradually consolidated power to become the de facto communist party leader and a dictator of the Soviet Union.

Starting from the late 1920s, Ukraine was involved in the Soviet industrialisation and the republic’s industrial output quadrupled in the 1930s. However, the industrialisation had a heavy cost for the peasantry, demographically a backbone of the Ukrainian nation. To satisfy the state’s need for increased food supplies and to finance industrialisation, Stalin instituted a program of collectivisation of agriculture as the state combined the peasants’ lands and animals into collective farms and enforcing the policies by the regular troops and secret police. Those who resisted were arrested and deported and the increased production quotas were placed on the peasantry. The collectivisation had a devastating effect on agricultural productivity. As the members of the collective farms were not allowed to receive any grain until the unachievable quotas were met, starvation in the Soviet Union became widespread. In 1932–33, millions starved to death in a man-made famine known as Holodomor. Scholars are divided as to whether this famine fits the definition of genocide, but the Ukrainian parliament and more than a dozen other countries recognise it as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

The times of industrialisation and Holodomor also coincided with the Soviet assault on the national political and cultural elite often accused in “nationalist deviations”. Two waves of Stalinist political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union (1929–34 and 1936–38) resulted in the killing of some 681,692 people; this included four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural elite and three quarters of all the Red Army’s higher-ranking officers.

World War II

Following the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, German and Soviet troops divided the territory of Poland. Thus, Eastern Galicia and Volhynia with their Ukrainian population became reunited with the rest of Ukraine. The unification that Ukraine achieved for the first time in its history was a decisive event in the history of the nation.

After France surrendered to Germany, Romania ceded Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to Soviet demands. The Ukrainian SSR incorporated northern and southern districts of Bessarabia, the northern Bukovina, and the Soviet-occupied Hertsa region. But it ceded the western part of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to the newly created Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. All these territorial gains were internationally recognised by the Paris peace treaties of 1947.

German armies invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, thereby initiating four straight years of incessant total war. The Axis allies initially advanced against desperate but unsuccessful efforts of the Red Army. In the encirclement battle of Kiev, the city was acclaimed as a “Hero City”, for the fierce resistance by the Red Army and by the local population. More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers (or one quarter of the Western Front) were killed or taken captive there. Although the wide majority of Ukrainians fought alongside the Red Army and Soviet resistance, some elements of the Ukrainian nationalist underground created an anti-Soviet nationalist formation in Galicia, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (1942) that at times engaged the Nazi forces; while another nationalist movement fought alongside the Nazis. In total, the number of ethnic Ukrainians that fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army is estimated from 4.5 million to 7 million. The pro-Soviet partisan guerrilla resistance in Ukraine is estimated to number at 47,800 from the start of occupation to 500,000 at its peak in 1944; with about 50 percent of them being ethnic Ukrainians. Generally, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s figures are very undependable, ranging anywhere from 15,000 to as much as 100,000 fighters.

Initially, the Germans were even received as liberators by some western Ukrainians, who had only joined the Soviet Union in 1939. However, brutal German rule in the occupied territories eventually turned its supporters against the occupation. Nazi administrators of conquered Soviet territories made little attempt to exploit the population of Ukrainian territories’ dissatisfaction with Stalinist political and economic policies. Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, systematically carried out genocidal policies against Jews, deported others to work in Germany, and began a systematic depopulation of Ukraine to prepare it for German colonisation, which included a food blockade on Kiev.

The vast majority of the fighting in World War II took place on the Eastern Front, and Nazi Germany suffered 93 percent of all casualties there. The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated between five and eight million, including over half a million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen, sometimes with the help of local collaborators. Of the estimated 8.7 million Soviet troops who fell in battle against the Nazis, 1.4 million were ethnic Ukrainians. So to this day, Victory Day is celebrated as one of ten Ukrainian national holidays.

Post-World War II

The republic was heavily damaged by the war, and it required significant efforts to recover. More than 700 cities and towns and 28,000 villages were destroyed. The situation was worsened by a famine in 1946–47 caused by the drought and the infrastructure breakdown that took away tens of thousands of lives.

The nationalist anti-Soviet resistance lasted for years after the war, chiefly in Western Ukraine, but also in other regions. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, continued to fight the USSR into the 1950s. Using guerilla war tactics, the insurgents targeted for assassination and terror those who they perceived as representing, or cooperating at any level with, the Soviet state.

Following the death of Stalin in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became the new leader of the USSR. Being the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukrainian SSR in 1938-49, Khrushchev was intimately familiar with the republic and after taking power union-wide, he began to emphasize the friendship between the Ukrainian and Russian nations. In 1954, the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav was widely celebrated, and in particular, Crimea was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

Already by the 1950s, the republic fully surpassed pre-war levels of industry and production. It also became an important center of the Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite. Many members of the Soviet leadership came from Ukraine, most notably Leonid Brezhnev, who would later oust Khrushchev and become the Soviet leader from 1964 to 1982, as well as many prominent Soviet sportspeople, scientists and artists.

On April 26, 1986, a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history. At the time of the accident seven million people lived in the contaminated territories, including 2.2 million in Ukraine. After the accident, a new city, Slavutych, was built outside the exclusion zone to house and support the employees of the plant, which was decommissioned in 2000. Around 150,000 people were evacuated from the contaminated area, and 300,000–600,000 took part in the cleanup. By 2000, about 4,000 Ukrainian children had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer caused by radiation released by this incident. Other Chernobyl disaster effects include other forms of cancer and genetic abnormalities, affecting newborns and children in particular.

Independence

On July 16, 1990, the new parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. The declaration established the principles of the self-determination of the Ukrainian nation, its democracy, political and economic independence, and the priority of Ukrainian law on the Ukrainian territory over Soviet law. A month earlier, a similar declaration was adopted by the parliament of the Russian SFSR. This started a period of confrontation between the central Soviet, and new republican authorities. In August 1991, a conservative faction among the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union attempted a coup to remove Mikhail Gorbachev and to restore the Communist party’s power. After the attempt failed, on August 24, 1991 the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Act of Independence in which the parliament declared Ukraine as an independent democratic state. A referendum and the first presidential elections took place on December 1, 1991. That day, more than 90 percent of the Ukrainian people expressed their support for the Act of Independence, and they elected the chairman of the parliament, Leonid Kravchuk to serve as the first President of the country. At the meeting in Brest, Belarus on December 8, followed by Alma Ata meeting on December 21, the leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, formally dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Orange-clad demonstrators gather in the Independence Square in Kiev on November 22, 2004

Ukraine was initially viewed as a republic with favorable economic conditions in comparison to the other regions of the Soviet Union. However, the country experienced deeper economic slowdown than some of the other former Soviet Republics. During the recession, Ukraine lost 60 percent of its GDP from 1991 to 1999, and suffered five-digit inflation rates. Dissatisfied with the economic conditions, as well as crime and corruption, Ukrainians protested and organised strikes.

The Ukrainian economy stabilized by the end of the 1990s. A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996. Since 2000, the country has enjoyed steady economic growth averaging about seven percent annually. A new Constitution of Ukraine was adopted in 1996, which turned Ukraine into a semi-presidential republic and established a stable political system. Kuchma was, however, criticized by opponents for concentrating too much of power in his office, corruption, transferring public property into hands of loyal oligarchs, discouraging free speech, and electoral fraud. In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, then Prime Minister, was declared the winner of the presidential elections, which had been largely rigged, as the Supreme Court of Ukraine later ruled. The results caused a public outcry in support of the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, who challenged the results and led the peaceful Orange Revolution. The revolution brought Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko to power, while casting Viktor Yanukovych in opposition.

Geography Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland, Romania, and Moldova in the west and Russia in the east
Geographic coordinates: 49 00 N, 32 00 E
Map references: Asia, Europe
Area: total: 603,700 sq km
land: 603,700 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries: total: 4,566 km
border countries: Belarus 891 km, Hungary 103 km, Moldova 940 km, Poland 428 km, Romania (south) 176 km, Romania (southwest) 362 km, Russia 1,576 km, Slovakia 90 km
Coastline: 2,782 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate continental; Mediterranean only on the southern Crimean coast; precipitation disproportionately distributed, highest in west and north, lesser in east and southeast; winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland; summers are warm across the greater part of the country, hot in the south
Terrain: most of Ukraine consists of fertile plains (steppes) and plateaus, mountains being found only in the west (the Carpathians), and in the Crimean Peninsula in the extreme south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Hora Hoverla 2,061 m
Natural resources: iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber, arable land
Land use: arable land: 53.8%
permanent crops: 1.5%
other: 44.7% (2005)
Irrigated land: 22,080 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 139.5 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 37.53 cu km/yr (12%/35%/52%)
per capita: 807 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: inadequate supplies of potable water; air and water pollution; deforestation; radiation contamination in the northeast from 1986 accident at Chornobyl’ Nuclear Power Plant
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds
Geography – note: strategic position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia; second-largest country in Europe
Politics Ukraine is a republic under a mixed semi-parliamentary semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is the formal head of state.

Ukraine’s legislative branch includes the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. The parliament is primarily responsible for the formation of the executive branch and the Cabinet of Ministers, which is headed by the Prime Minister.

Laws, acts of the parliament and the cabinet, presidential decrees, and acts of the Crimean parliament may be abrogated by the Constitutional Court, should they be found to violate the Constitution of Ukraine. Other normative acts are subject to judicial review. The Supreme Court is the main body in the system of courts of general jurisdiction. Local self-government is officially guaranteed. Local councils and city mayors are popularly elected and exercise control over local budgets. The heads of regional and district administrations are appointed by the president.

Ukraine has a large number of political parties, many of which have tiny memberships and are unknown to the general public. Small parties often join in multi-party coalitions (electoral blocs) for the purpose of participating in parliamentary elections.

The European Union offered an Association Agreement with Ukraine in September, 2008. The country is a potential candidate for future enlargement of the European Union.

People Population: 45,994,288 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.9% (male 3,277,905/female 3,106,012)
15-64 years: 70% (male 15,443,818/female 16,767,931)
65 years and over: 16.1% (male 2,489,235/female 4,909,386) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39.4 years
male: 36.1 years
female: 42.5 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.651% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 9.55 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 15.93 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.51 male(s)/female
total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 9.23 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 11.48 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 68.06 years
male: 62.24 years
female: 74.24 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.25 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 1.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 360,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 20,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Ukrainian(s)
adjective: Ukrainian
Ethnic groups: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8% (2001 census)
Religions: Ukrainian Orthodox – Kyiv Patriarchate 50.4%, Ukrainian Orthodox – Moscow Patriarchate 26.1%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 8%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 7.2%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, Protestant 2.2%, Jewish 0.6%, other 3.2% (2006 est.)
Languages: Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24%, other 9% (includes small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.2% (2001 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 6.3% of GDP (2006)
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ukraine
local long form: none
local short form: Ukrayina
former: Ukrainian National Republic, Ukrainian State, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Kyiv (Kiev)
geographic coordinates: 50 26 N, 30 31 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 24 provinces (oblasti, singular – oblast’), 1 autonomous republic* (avtonomna respublika), and 2 municipalities (mista, singular – misto) with oblast status**; Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Chernivtsi, Crimea or Avtonomna Respublika Krym* (Simferopol’), Dnipropetrovs’k, Donets’k, Ivano-Frankivs’k, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmel’nyts’kyy, Kirovohrad, Kyiv**, Kyiv, Luhans’k, L’viv, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Poltava, Rivne, Sevastopol’**, Sumy, Ternopil’, Vinnytsya, Volyn’ (Luts’k), Zakarpattya (Uzhhorod), Zaporizhzhya, Zhytomyr
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence: 24 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 24 August (1991); note – 22 January 1918, the day Ukraine first declared its independence (from Soviet Russia) and the day the short-lived Western and Central Ukrainian republics united (1919), is now celebrated as Unity Day
Constitution: adopted 28 June 1996
Legal system: based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Viktor A. YUSHCHENKO (since 23 January 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Yuliya TYMOSHENKO (since 18 December 2007); First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr TURCHYNOV (since 18 December 2007); Deputy Prime Ministers Hryhoriy NEMYRYA and Ivan VASYUNYK (since 18 December 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers selected by the prime minister; the only exceptions are the foreign and defense ministers, who are chosen by the president
note: there is also a National Security and Defense Council or NSDC originally created in 1992 as the National Security Council; the NSDC staff is tasked with developing national security policy on domestic and international matters and advising the president; a Presidential Secretariat helps draft presidential edicts and provides policy support to the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); note – a special repeat runoff presidential election between Viktor YUSHCHENKO and Viktor YANUKOVYCH took place on 26 December 2004 after the earlier 21 November 2004 contest – won by YANUKOVYCH – was invalidated by the Ukrainian Supreme Court because of widespread and significant violations; under constitutional reforms that went into effect 1 January 2006, the majority in parliament takes the lead in naming the prime minister
election results: Viktor YUSHCHENKO elected president; percent of vote – Viktor YUSHCHENKO 52%, Viktor YANUKOVYCH 44.2%
Legislative branch: unicameral Supreme Council or Verkhovna Rada (450 seats; members allocated on a proportional basis to those parties that gain 3% or more of the national electoral vote; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 30 September 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party/bloc – Party of Regions 34.4%, Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc 30.7%, Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense 14.2%, CPU 5.4%, Lytvyn bloc 4%, other parties 11.3%; seats by party/bloc – Party of Regions 175, Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc 156, Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense 72, CPU 27, Lytvyn bloc 20
Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Constitutional Court
Political parties and leaders: Christian Democratic Union [Volodymyr STRETOVYCH]; Communist Party of Ukraine or CPU [Petro SYMONENKO]; European Party of Ukraine [Mykola KATERYNCHUK]; Fatherland Party (Batkivshchyna) [Yuliya TYMOSHENKO]; Forward Ukraine! [Viktor MUSIYAKA]; Labor Party of Ukraine [Mykola SYROTA]; People’s Union Our Ukraine [Viktor YUSHCHENKO]; Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs [Anatoliy KINAKH]; Party of the Defenders of the Fatherland [Yuriy Karmazin]; People’s Movement of Ukraine (Rukh) [Borys TARASYUK]; People’s Party [Volodymyr LYTVYN]; Peoples’ Self-Defense [Yuriy LUTSENKO]; PORA! (It’s Time!) party [Vladyslav KASKIV]; Progressive Socialist Party [Natalya VITRENKO]; Reforms and Order Party [Viktor PYNZENYK]; Party of Regions [Viktor YANUKOVYCH]; Sobor [Anatoliy MATVIYENKO]; Social Democratic Party [Yevhen KORNICHUK]; Social Democratic Party (United) or SDPU(o) [Yuriy ZAHORODNIY]; Socialist Party of Ukraine or SPU [Oleksandr MOROZ]; Ukrainian People’s Party [Yuriy KOSTENKO]; United Center [Ihor Krill]; Viche [Inna BOHOSLOVSKA]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Committee of Voters of Ukraine [Ihor POPOV]
International organization participation: Australia Group, BSEC, CBSS (observer), CE, CEI, CIS, EAEC (observer), EAPC, EBRD, FAO, GCTU, GUAM, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MONUC, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOMIG, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Oleh V. SHAMSHUR
chancery: 3350 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 333-0606
FAX: [1] (202) 333-0817
consulate(s) general: Chicago, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador William B. TAYLOR Jr.
embassy: 10 Yurii Kotsiubynsky Street, 01901 Kyiv
mailing address: 5850 Kiev Place, Washington, DC 20521-5850
telephone: [380] (44) 490-4000
FAX: [380] (44) 490-4085
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of azure (top) and golden yellow represent grain fields under a blue sky
Culture Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by Christianity, which is the dominant religion in the country. Gender roles also tend to be more traditional, and grandparents play a greater role in raising children than in the West. The culture of Ukraine has been also influenced by its eastern and western neighbours, which is reflected in its architecture, music and art.

The Communist era had quite a strong effect on the art and writing of Ukraine. In 1932, Stalin made socialist realism state policy in the Soviet Union when he promulgated the decree “On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organisations”. This greatly stifled creativity. During the 1980s glasnost (openness) was introduced and Soviet artists and writers again became free to express themselves as they wanted.

The tradition of the Easter egg, known as pysanky, has long roots in Ukraine. These eggs were drawn on with wax to create a pattern; then, the dye was applied to give the eggs their pleasant colours, the dye did not affect the previously wax-coated parts of the egg. After the entire egg was dyed, the wax was removed leaving only the colourful pattern. This tradition is thousands of years old, and precedes the arrival of Christianity to Ukraine. In the city of Kolomya near the foothills of the Carpathian mountains in 2000 was built the museum of Pysanka which won a nomination as the monument of modern Ukraine in 2007, part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine action.

The traditional Ukrainian diet includes chicken, pork, beef, fish and mushrooms. Ukrainians also tend to eat a lot of potatoes, grains, fresh and pickled vegetables. Popular traditional dishes include varenyky (boiled dumplings with mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, cottage cheese or cherries), borscht (soup made of beets, cabbage and mushrooms or meat) and holubtsy (stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, carrots and meat). Ukrainian specialties also include Chicken Kiev and Kiev Cake. Ukrainians drink stewed fruit, juices, milk, buttermilk (they make cottage cheese from this), mineral water, tea and coffee, beer, wine and horilka.

Economy Economy – overview: After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was far and away the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied the unique equipment (for example, large diameter pipes) and raw materials to industrial and mining sites (vertical drilling apparatus) in other regions of the former USSR. Shortly after independence was ratified in December 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices and erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Ukraine’s dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. Ukraine depends on imports to meet about three-fourths of its annual oil and natural gas requirements. A dispute with Russia over pricing in late 2005 and early 2006 led to a temporary gas cut-off; Ukraine concluded a deal with Russia in January 2006 that almost doubled the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas. Outside institutions – particularly the IMF – have encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms. Ukrainian Government officials eliminated most tax and customs privileges in a March 2005 budget law, bringing more economic activity out of Ukraine’s large shadow economy, but more improvements are needed, including fighting corruption, developing capital markets, and improving the legislative framework. Ukraine’s economy was buoyant despite political turmoil between the prime minister and president until mid-2008. Real GDP growth reached roughly 7% in 2006-07, fueled by high global prices for steel – Ukraine’s top export – and by strong domestic consumption, spurred by rising pensions and wages. The drop in steel prices and Ukraine’s exposure to the global financial crisis due to aggressive foreign borrowing has lowered growth in 2008 and the economy probably will contract in 2009. Ukraine reached an agreement with the IMF for a $16.5 billion standby arrangement in November 2008 to deal with the economic crisis. However, political turmoil in Ukraine as well as deteriorating external conditions are likely to hamper efforts for economic recovery.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $359.9 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $198 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5.3% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $7,800 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 9.3%
industry: 31.7%
services: 58.9% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 21.71 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 19.4%
industry: 24.2%
services: 56.4% (2005)
Unemployment rate: 2.1% officially registered; large number of unregistered or underemployed workers; the International Labor Organization calculates that Ukraine’s real unemployment level is nearly 7% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 37.7% (2003)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.4%
highest 10%: 25.7% (2006)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 31 (2006)
Investment (gross fixed): 23.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $65.02 billion
expenditures: $68.48 billion; note – this is the planned, consolidated budget (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 10% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 25% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 8% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 13.9% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $35.97 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $41.51 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $87.13 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $111.8 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, vegetables; beef, milk
Industries: coal, electric power, ferrous and nonferrous metals, machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food processing (especially sugar)
Electricity – production: 182.4 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 148.1 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 12.52 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – imports: 2.082 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 48.6%
hydro: 7.9%
nuclear: 43.5%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 102,400 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 344,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 190,500 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 441,200 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 395 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 19.5 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 84.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 4 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 65.4 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 1.104 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$14.22 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $64.89 billion (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: ferrous and nonferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, food products
Exports – partners: Russia 23.3%, Turkey 7.9%, Italy 5.8% (2007)
Imports: $82.52 billion (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: energy, machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports – partners: Russia 23.9%, Germany 11.8%, China 8.5%, Poland 8.1%, Turkmenistan 5.4% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $409.6 million (1995); IMF Extended Funds Facility $2.2 billion (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $31.92 billion (1 November 2008)
Debt – external: $82.07 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $44.08 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $1.13 billion (2008 est.)
Currency (code): hryvnia (UAH)
Currency code: UAH
Exchange rates: hryvnia (UAH) per US dollar – 4.9523 (2008 est.), 5.05 (2007), 5.05 (2006), 5.1247 (2005), 5.3192 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 12.858 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 55.24 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: Ukraine’s telecommunication development plan emphasizes improving domestic trunk lines, international connections, and the mobile-cellular system
domestic: at independence in December 1991, Ukraine inherited a telephone system that was antiquated, inefficient, and in disrepair; more than 3.5 million applications for telephones could not be satisfied; telephone density is rising and the domestic trunk system is being improved; about one-third of Ukraine’s networks are digital and a majority of regional centers now have digital switching stations; improvements in local networks and local exchanges continue to lag; the mobile-cellular telephone system’s expansion has slowed, largely due to saturation of the market which had reached 100 mobile phones per 100 people by early 2007
international: country code – 380; 2 new domestic trunk lines are a part of the fiber-optic Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) system and 3 Ukrainian links have been installed in the fiber-optic Trans-European Lines (TEL) project that connects 18 countries; additional international service is provided by the Italy-Turkey-Ukraine-Russia (ITUR) fiber-optic submarine cable and by an unknown number of earth stations in the Intelsat, Inmarsat, and Intersputnik satellite systems
Radio broadcast stations: 524 (station types NA) (2006)
Radios: 45.05 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 647 (2006)
Televisions: 18.05 million (1997)
Internet country code: .ua
Internet hosts: 524,202 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 260 (2001)
Internet users: 10 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 437 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 193
over 3,047 m: 13
2,438 to 3,047 m: 53
1,524 to 2,437 m: 27
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 95 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 244
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 217 (2007)
Heliports: 10 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 33,721 km; oil 4,514 km; refined products 4,211 km (2007)
Railways: total: 21,852 km
broad gauge: 21,852 km 1.524-m gauge (9,648 km electrified) (2007)
Roadways: total: 169,422 km
paved: 165,611 km (includes 15 km of expressways)
unpaved: 3,811 km (2007)
Waterways: 2,176 km (most on Dnieper River) (2007)
Merchant marine: total: 189
by type: bulk carrier 6, cargo 141, chemical tanker 1, container 3, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 9, refrigerated cargo 11, roll on/roll off 7, specialized tanker 2
foreign-owned: 2 (Luxembourg 1, Russia 1)
registered in other countries: 204 (Belize 7, Cambodia 34, Comoros 8, Cyprus 4, Dominica 4, Georgia 18, Liberia 25, Lithuania 1, Malta 30, Moldova 5, Mongolia 1, Panama 10, Russia 11, Saint Kitts and Nevis 9, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 11, Sierra Leone 10, Slovakia 12, Tuvalu 1, unknown 3) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Feodosiya, Kerch, Kherson, Mariupol’, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Yuzhnyy
Military Military branches: Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Air Forces (Viyskovo-Povitryani Syly), Air Defense Forces (2002)
Military service age and obligation: 18-25 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation – 18 months for Army and Air Force, 24 months for Navy (2004)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 11,457,562
females age 16-49: 11,767,357 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 7,141,814
females age 16-49: 9,428,876 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 288,605
female: 276,324 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 1.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: 1997 boundary delimitation treaty with Belarus remains un-ratified due to unresolved financial claims, stalling demarcation and reducing border security; delimitation of land boundary with Russia is complete with preparations for demarcation underway; the dispute over the boundary between Russia and Ukraine through the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov remains unresolved despite a December 2003 framework agreement and ongoing expert-level discussions; Moldova and Ukraine operate joint customs posts to monitor transit of people and commodities through Moldova’s break-away Transnistria Region, which remains under OSCE supervision; the ICJ gave Ukraine until December 2006 to reply, and Romania until June 2007 to rejoin, in their dispute submitted in 2004 over Ukrainian-administered Zmiyinyy/Serpilor (Snake) Island and Black Sea maritime boundary; Romania opposes Ukraine’s reopening of a navigation canal from the Danube border through Ukraine to the Black Sea
Illicit drugs: limited cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly for CIS consumption; some synthetic drug production for export to the West; limited government eradication program; used as transshipment point for opiates and other illicit drugs from Africa, Latin America, and Turkey to Europe and Russia; Ukraine has improved anti-money-laundering controls, resulting in its removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) Noncooperative Countries and Territories List in February 2004; Ukraine’s anti-money-laundering regime continues to be monitored by FATF

You Are A King: But Only Of Rubble And Sand

You Are A King: But Only Of Rubble And Sand

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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