Syria: ISIS Leaves behind a Thousand Children with 100 Accents + 500 Wives

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

 

ISIS Leaves behind a Thousand Children with 100 Accents

Monday, 29 October, 2018 – 07:15
Kurdish officials say they are holding at least 500 women and 1,200 children from 44 nationalities in three camps across northeast Syria. AFP file photo
London – Asharq Al-Awsat

On a small hill in the flat brush lands of northeastern Syria lies the Roj camp for displaced people. With its white tents and red soil, it looks much like the scores of other refugee settlements in the region.

Shut away in a corner, however, behind a chain-link fence and under supervision by female Kurdish militia guards, are some inhabitants who are very different, The Sunday Times reported.

They are the women and children of the “caliphate”: ISIS brides who came from across the world to live under a so-called “Islamic state.” It did not go so well.

Kurdish officials say they are holding at least 500 women and 1,200 children from 44 nationalities in three camps across northeast Syria. Most of the women’s native countries are unwilling to take them back. The Kurd’s do not want to keep them.

According to the report, as ISIS imploded, these women and children were thrown into the strange limbo of camp life, waiting among displaced Syrians for their fate

Here a visitor can see all the bizarre combinations of lives turned upside down in the “caliphate”: an English-speaking boy in a Spider-man costume whose father was American, he thinks. A teenage girl who joined ISIS at 13, married two fighters and had been widowed twice. A smiling Dutch woman with her blonde children, who could have stepped out of a Vermeer painting.

The tents hum with dozens of different languages — Syrian Arabic words mixed with Dutch, English and Swedish in a hundred accents and dialects.

While the women are not really in prison, they are under guard. Internet access is heavily restricted, as is communication with family and officials.

Even if they wanted to leave, there would be few chances of escape across the flat savanna. The women are all intent on survival. Of the hundreds who joined ISIS, they are the ones who made it out — holding on through the paranoid horror of the fall of Raqqa and escaping, often across minefields or through intense fighting, with their children.

Whatever their reasons for joining ISIS they know that the stories they tell the officials here could decide the rest of their lives.

During several visits by The Sunday Times, the European women held in these camps were overwhelmingly friendly, erudite and polite.

They all said they regretted joining ISIS. Many claimed they had been tricked into coming to Syria by their partners.

Those who did not insisted they had simply been attracted by a life of piety under ISIS.

Their dress has changed now they are beyond ISIS rule. None wore the face-covering niqab. All claimed they remembered Europe fondly. They even shook hands with male members of staff from The Sunday Times.

Most of them were lying through their teeth. They had joined ISIS at a time when videos had been posted online that showed captive journalists and aid workers being beheaded. Although they may not have fought, they were members of the militant group and supported its foul ideology.

For officials, as well as visitors, it can be almost impossible to piece together which parts of their stories are true. That is a task that interrogators will be faced with should British ISIS members return to the UK.

 

 

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

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

 

Vanuatu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zambia

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

 

Zambia

Introduction The territory of Northern Rhodesia was administered by the [British] South Africa Company from 1891 until it was taken over by the UK in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, advances in mining spurred development and immigration. The name was changed to Zambia upon independence in 1964. In the 1980s and 1990s, declining copper prices and a prolonged drought hurt the economy. Elections in 1991 brought an end to one-party rule, but the subsequent vote in 1996 saw blatant harassment of opposition parties. The election in 2001 was marked by administrative problems with three parties filing a legal petition challenging the election of ruling party candidate Levy MWANAWASA. The new president launched an anticorruption investigation in 2002 to probe high-level corruption during the previous administration. In 2006-07, this task force successfully prosecuted four cases, including a landmark civil case in the UK in which former President CHILUBA and numerous others were found liable for USD 41 million. MWANAWASA was reelected in 2006 in an election that was deemed free and fair. Upon his abrupt death in August 2008, he was succeeded by his Vice-president Rupiah BANDA, who subsequently won a special presidential election in October 2008.
History The area of modern Zambia was inhabited by Khoisan hunter-gatherers until around AD 300, when technologically-advanced migrating tribes began to displace or absorb them. In the 12th century, major waves of Bantu-speaking immigrants arrived during the Bantu expansion. Among them, the Tonga people (also called Batonga) were the first to settle in Zambia and are believed to have come from the east near the “big sea”. The Nkoya people also arrived early in the expansion, coming from the Luba-Lunda kingdoms located in the southern parts of the modern Democratic Republic of the Congo and northern Angola, followed by a much larger influx, especially between the late 12th and early 13th centuries. In the early 18th century, the Nsokolo people settled in the Mbala district of Northern province. During the 19th century, the Ngoni peoples arrived from the south. By the late 19th century, most of the various peoples of Zambia were established in the areas they currently occupy.

The earliest account of a European visiting the area was Francisco de Lacerda in the late 18th century, followed by other explorers in the 19th century. The most prominent of these was David Livingstone, who had a vision of ending the slave trade through the “3 C’s” (Christianity, Commerce and Civilization). He was the first European to see the magnificent waterfalls on the Zambezi River in 1855, naming them Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria. Locally the falls are known “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or “(the) thundering smoke” (in the Lozi or Kololo dialect). The town of Livingstone, near the falls, is named after him. Highly publicized accounts of his journeys motivated a wave of explorers, missionaries and traders after his death in 1873.

In 1888, the British South Africa Company, (BSA Company) led by Cecil Rhodes, obtained mineral rights from the Litunga, the king of the Lozi for the area which later became North-Western Rhodesia.[6] To the east, King Mpezeni of the Ngoni resisted but was defeated in battle and that part of the country came to be known as North-Eastern Rhodesia. The two were administered as separate units until 1911 when they were merged to form Northern Rhodesia. In 1923, the Company ceded control of Northern Rhodesia to the British Government after the government decided not to renew the Company’s charter.

That same year, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), which was also administered by the BSA Company, became self-governing. In 1924, after negotiations, administration of Northern Rhodesia transferred to the British Colonial Office. In 1953, the creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland grouped together Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now Malawi) as a single semi-autonomous region. This was undertaken despite opposition from a sizeable minority of Africans, who demonstrated against it in 1960-61. Northern Rhodesia was the centre of much of the turmoil and crisis characterizing the federation in its last years. Initially, Harry Nkumbula’s African National Congress (ANC) led the campaign that Kenneth Kaunda’s United National Independence Party (UNIP) subsequently took up.

A two-stage election held in October and December 1962 resulted in an African majority in the legislative council and an uneasy coalition between the two African nationalist parties. The council passed resolutions calling for Northern Rhodesia’s secession from the federation and demanding full internal self-government under a new constitution and a new National Assembly based on a broader, more democratic franchise. The federation was dissolved on 31 December 1963, and in January 1964, Kaunda won the first and only election for Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia. The Colonial Governor, Sir Evelyn Hone, was very close to Kaunda and urged him to stand for the post. Soon afterwards there was an uprising in the north of the country known as the Lumpa Uprising led by Alice Lenshina – Kaunda’s first internal conflict as leader of the nation.

Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia on 24 October 1964, with Kaunda as the first president.

At independence, despite its considerable mineral wealth, Zambia faced major challenges. Domestically, there were few trained and educated Zambians capable of running the government, and the economy was largely dependent on foreign expertise. There were 70,000 Europeans in Zambia in 1964. Three neighboring countries – Angola, Mozambique and Southern Rhodesia – remained under colonial rule. Southern Rhodesia’s white-ruled government unilaterally declared independence in November 1965. In addition, Zambia shared a border with South West Africa (Namibia) which was administered by South Africa. Zambian sympathies lay with forces opposing colonial or white-dominated rule, particularly in Southern Rhodesia (subsequently called Rhodesia). During the next decade, it actively supported movements such as UNITA in Angola; the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU); the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa; and the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO).

Conflict with Rhodesia resulted in the closure of the border with that country in 1973 and severe problems with international transport and power supply. However, the Kariba hydroelectric station on the Zambezi River provided sufficient capacity to satisfy the country’s requirements for electricity (despite the fact that the control centre was on the Rhodesian side of the border). A railway to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, built with Chinese assistance, reduced Zambian dependence on railway lines south to South Africa and west through an increasingly troubled Angola. Until the completion of the railway, however, Zambia’s major artery for imports and the critical export of copper was along the TanZam Road, running from Zambia to the port cities in Tanzania. A pipeline for oil was also built from Dar-es-Salaam to Ndola in Zambia.

By the late 1970s, Mozambique and Angola had attained independence from Portugal. Zimbabwe achieved independence in accordance with the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, however Zambia’s problems were not solved. Civil war in the former Portuguese colonies created an influx of refugees and caused continuing transportation problems. The Benguela railway, which extended west through Angola, was essentially closed to traffic from Zambia by the late 1970s. Zambia’s strong support for the ANC, which had its external headquarters in Lusaka, created security problems as South Africa raided ANC targets in Zambia.

In the mid-1970s, the price of copper, Zambia’s principal export, suffered a severe decline worldwide. In Zambia’s situation, the cost of transporting the copper great distances to market was an additional strain. Zambia turned to foreign and international lenders for relief, but, as copper prices remained depressed, it became increasingly difficult to service its growing debt. By the mid-1990s, despite limited debt relief, Zambia’s per capita foreign debt remained among the highest in the world.

Geography Location: Southern Africa, east of Angola
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 S, 30 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 752,614 sq km
land: 740,724 sq km
water: 11,890 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Texas
Land boundaries: total: 5,664 km
border countries: Angola 1,110 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,930 km, Malawi 837 km, Mozambique 419 km, Namibia 233 km, Tanzania 338 km, Zimbabwe 797 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: tropical; modified by altitude; rainy season (October to April)
Terrain: mostly high plateau with some hills and mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Zambezi river 329 m
highest point: unnamed location in Mafinga Hills 2,301 m
Natural resources: copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, silver, uranium, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 6.99%
permanent crops: 0.04%
other: 92.97% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,560 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 105.2 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.74 cu km/yr (17%/7%/76%)
per capita: 149 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: periodic drought, tropical storms (November to April)
Environment – current issues: air pollution and resulting acid rain in the mineral extraction and refining region; chemical runoff into watersheds; poaching seriously threatens rhinoceros, elephant, antelope, and large cat populations; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; lack of adequate water treatment presents human health risks
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; the Zambezi forms a natural riverine boundary with Zimbabwe
Politics Zambian politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Zambia is both head of state and head of government in a pluriform multi-party system. The government exercises executive power, whilst legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. Zambia became a republic immediately upon attaining independence in October 1964.
People Population: 11,862,740
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 45.1% (male 2,685,142/female 2,659,771)
15-64 years: 52.6% (male 3,122,305/female 3,116,846)
65 years and over: 2.3% (male 114,477/female 164,199) (2009 est.)
Median age: total: 17 years
male: 16.9 years
female: 17.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.631% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 40.52 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 21.35 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.59 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 101.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 105.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 96.28 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 38.63 years
male: 38.53 years
female: 38.73 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.15 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 15.2% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 1.1 million (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 56,000 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and plague are high risks in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2008)
Nationality: noun: Zambian(s)
adjective: Zambian
Ethnic groups: African 98.7%, European 1.1%, other 0.2%
Religions: Christian 50%-75%, Muslim and Hindu 24%-49%, indigenous beliefs 1%
Languages: English (official), major vernaculars – Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga, and about 70 other indigenous languages
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write English
total population: 80.6%
male: 86.8%
female: 74.8% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 7 years
male: 7 years
female: 7 years (2000)
Education expenditures: 2% of GDP (2005)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Zambia
conventional short form: Zambia
former: Northern Rhodesia
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Lusaka
geographic coordinates: 15 25 S, 28 17 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 9 provinces; Central, Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Lusaka, Northern, North-Western, Southern, Western
Independence: 24 October 1964 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 24 October (1964)
Constitution: 24 August 1991; amended in 1996 to establish presidential term limits
Legal system: based on English common law and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in an ad hoc constitutional council; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Rupiah BANDA (since 19 August 2008); Vice President George KUNDA (since 14 November 2008); note – President BANDA was acting president since the illness and eventual death of President Levy MWANAWASA on 18 August 2008, he was then elected president on 30 October 2008 to serve out the remainder of MWANAWASA’s term; the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Rupiah BANDA (since 19 August 2008); Vice President George KUNDA (since 14 November 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 30 October 2008 (next to be held in 2011); vice president appointed by the president; note – due to the untimely death of former President Levy MWANAWASA, early elections were held to identify a replacement to serve out the remainder of his term
election results: Rupiah BANDA elected president; percent of vote – Rupiah BANDA 40.1%, Michael SATA 38.1%, Hakainde HICHILEMA 19.7%, Godfrey MIYANDA 0.8%, other 1.3%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (158 seats; 150 members are elected by popular vote, 8 members are appointed by the president, to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 28 September 2006 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – MMD 72, PF 44, UDA 27, ULP 2, NDF 1, independents 2; seats not determined 2
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (the final court of appeal; justices are appointed by the president); High Court (has unlimited jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal cases)
Political parties and leaders: Forum for Democracy and Development or FDD [Edith NAWAKWI]; Heritage Party or HP [Godfrey MIYANDA]; Movement for Multiparty Democracy or MMD [vacant]; Patriotic Front or PF [Michael SATA]; Party of Unity for Democracy and Development or PUDD [Dan PULE]; Reform Party [Nevers MUMBA]; United Democratic Alliance or UDA (a coalition of RP, ZADECO, PUDD, and ZRP); United Liberal Party or ULP [Sakwiba SIKOTA]; United National Independence Party or UNIP [Tilyenji KAUNDA]; United Party for National Development or UPND [Hakainde HICHILEMA]; Zambia Democratic Congress or ZADECO [Langton SICHONE]; Zambian Republican Party or ZRP [Benjamin MWILA]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, AU, C, COMESA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURCAT, MONUC, NAM, OPCW, PCA, SADC, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Inonge MBIKUSITA-LEWANIKA
chancery: 2419 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-9717 through 9719
FAX: [1] (202) 332-0826
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Donald E. BOOTH
embassy: corner of Independence and United Nations Avenues, Lusaka
mailing address: P. O. Box 31617, Lusaka
telephone: [260] (211) 250-955
FAX: [260] (211) 252-225
Flag description: green field with a panel of three vertical bands of red (hoist side), black, and orange below a soaring orange eagle, on the outer edge of the flag
Culture The culture of Zambia is mainly indigenous Bantu culture mixed with European influences. Prior to the establishment of modern Zambia, the indigenous people lived in independent tribes, each with their own ways of life. One of the results of the colonial era was the growth of urbanisation. Different ethnic groups started living together in towns and cities, influencing each other as well as adopting a lot of the European culture. The original cultures have largely survived in the rural areas. In the urban setting there is a continuous integration and evolution of these cultures to produce what is now called “Zambian culture”.

Traditional culture is very visible through colourful annual Zambian traditional ceremonies. Some of the more prominent are: Kuomboka and Kathanga (Western Province), Mutomboko (Luapula Province), Ncwala (Eastern Province), Lwiindi and Shimunenga (Southern Province), Likumbi Lyamize (North Western), Chibwela Kumushi (Central Province), Ukusefya Pa Ng’wena (Northern Province).

Popular traditional arts are mainly in pottery, basketry (such as Tonga baskets), stools, fabrics, mats, wooden carvings, ivory carvings, wire craft and copper crafts. Most Zambian traditional music is based on drums (and other percussion instruments) with a lot of singing and dancing. In the urban areas foreign genres of music are popular, in particular Congolese rumba, African-American music and Jamaican reggae.

The Zambian staple diet is based on maize. It is normally eaten as a thick porridge, called Nshima, prepared from maize flour commonly known as mealie meal. This may be eaten with a variety of vegetables, beans, meat, fish or sour milk depending on geographical location/origin. Nshima is also prepared from cassava, a staple food in some parts of the country.

Economy Economy – overview: Zambia’s economy has experienced strong growth in recent years, with real GDP growth in 2005-08 about 6% per year. Privatization of government-owned copper mines in the 1990s relieved the government from covering mammoth losses generated by the industry and greatly improved the chances for copper mining to return to profitability and spur economic growth. Copper output has increased steadily since 2004, due to higher copper prices and foreign investment. In 2005, Zambia qualified for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative, consisting of approximately USD 6 billion in debt relief. Zambia experienced a bumper harvest in 2007, which helped to boost GDP and agricultural exports and contain inflation. Although poverty continues to be significant problem in Zambia, its economy has strengthened, featuring single-digit inflation, a relatively stable currency, decreasing interest rates, and increasing levels of trade. The decline in world commodity prices and demand will hurt GDP growth in 2009, and elections and campaign promises are likely to weaken Zambia’s improved fiscal stance.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $17.83 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $15.23 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 6.2% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $1,500 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 16.7%
industry: 26%
services: 57.3% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 5.093 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 85%
industry: 6%
services: 9% (2004)
Unemployment rate: 50% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line: 86% (1993)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 38.8% (2004)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 50.8 (2004)
Investment (gross fixed): 26% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $3.777 billion
expenditures: $4.104 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 25.7% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 11.8% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 11.73% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 18.89% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $995.8 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $1.709 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $1.968 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $2.346 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seed, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca), coffee; cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, milk, eggs, hides
Industries: copper mining and processing, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer, horticulture
Industrial production growth rate: 7% (2008 est.)
Electricity – production: 9.289 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 8.625 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 255 million kWh (2006)
Electricity – imports: 68 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 0.5%
hydro: 99.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 150 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 14,760 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 191 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 13,810 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: NA
Natural gas – production: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$478 million (2008 est.)
Exports: $5.632 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: copper/cobalt 64%, cobalt, electricity; tobacco, flowers, cotton
Exports – partners: Switzerland 41.8%, South Africa 12%, Thailand 5.9%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 5.3%, Egypt 5%, Saudi Arabia 4.7%, China 4.1% (2007)
Imports: $4.423 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, electricity, fertilizer; foodstuffs, clothing
Imports – partners: South Africa 47.4%, UAE 6.3%, China 6%, India 4.1%, UK 4% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $504 million (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $1.35 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $2.913 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $NA
Currency (code): Zambian kwacha (ZMK)
Currency code: ZMK
Exchange rates: Zambian kwacha (ZMK) per US dollar – 3,512.9 (2008 est.), 3,990.2 (2007), 3,601.5 (2006), 4,463.5 (2005), 4,778.9 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 91,800 (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 2.639 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: facilities are aging but still among the best in Sub-Saharan Africa
domestic: high-capacity microwave radio relay connects most larger towns and cities; several cellular telephone services in operation and network coverage is improving; Internet service is widely available; very small aperture terminal (VSAT) networks are operated by private firms
international: country code – 260; satellite earth stations – 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 19, FM 5, shortwave 4 (2001)
Radios: 1.2 million (2001)
Television broadcast stations: 9 (2001)
Televisions: 277,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .zm
Internet hosts: 7,610 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 5 (2001)
Internet users: 500,000 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 107 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 9
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 98
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 64
under 914 m: 29 (2007)
Pipelines: oil 771 km (2008)
Railways: total: 2,157 km
narrow gauge: 2,157 km 1.067-m gauge
note: includes 891 km of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) (2006)
Roadways: total: 91,440 km
paved: 20,117 km
unpaved: 71,323 km (2001)
Waterways: 2,250 km (includes Lake Tanganyika and the Zambezi and Luapula rivers) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Mpulungu
Military Military branches: Zambian National Defense Force (ZNDF): Zambian Army, Zambian Air Force, National Service (2009)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service (16 years of age with parental consent); mandatory HIV testing on enlistment; no conscription (2009)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 2,678,668
females age 16-49: 2,567,433 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 1,364,173
females age 16-49: 1,245,220 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 149,567
female: 148,889 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures: 1.8% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: in 2004, Zimbabwe dropped objections to plans between Botswana and Zambia to build a bridge over the Zambezi River, thereby de facto recognizing a short, but not clearly delimited, Botswana-Zambia boundary in the river; 42,250 Congolese refugees in Zambia are offered voluntary repatriation in November 2006, most of whom are expected to return in the next two years; Angolan refugees too have been repatriating but 26,450 still remain with 90,000 others from other neighboring states in 2006
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 42,565 (Angola); 60,874 (Democratic Republic of the Congo); 4,100 (Rwanda) (2007)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Zambia is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation; many Zambian child laborers, particularly those in the agriculture, domestic service, and fishing sectors, are also victims of human trafficking; Zambian women, lured by false employment or marriage offers abroad, are trafficked to South Africa via Zimbabwe and to Europe via Malawi for sexual exploitation; Zambia is a transit point for regional trafficking of women and children, particularly from Angola to Namibia and from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to South Africa for agricultural labor
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Zambia is on the Tier 2 Watch List for failing to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking, particularly in regard to its inability to bring alleged traffickers to justice through prosecutions and convictions; unlike 2006, there were no new prosecutions or convictions of alleged traffickers in 2007; government efforts to protect victims of trafficking remained extremely limited throughout the year (2008)
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for moderate amounts of methaqualone, small amounts of heroin, and cocaine bound for southern Africa and possibly Europe; a poorly developed financial infrastructure coupled with a government commitment to combating money laundering make it an unattractive venue for money launderers; major consumer of cannabis

Ghana: History And Current Conditions

(This article is courtesy of Wikipedia)

Ghana (Listeni/ˈɡɑːnə/), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a sovereign unitary presidential constitutional democracy, located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2, Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. The word Ghana means “Warrior King” in the Soninke language.[10]

The territory of present-day Ghana has been inhabited for millennia, with the first permanent state dating back to the 11th century. Numerous kingdoms and empires emerged over the centuries, of which the most powerful was the Kingdom of Ashanti.[11] Beginning in the 15th century, numerous European powers contested the area for trading rights, with the British ultimately establishing control of the coast by the late 19th century. Following over a century of native resistance, Ghana’s current borders were established by the 1900s as the British Gold Coast. In 1957, it became the first Sub-Saharan African nation to declare independence from European colonization.[12][13][14]

A multicultural nation, Ghana has a population of approximately 27 million, spanning a variety of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups.[5] Five percent of the population practices traditional faiths, 71.2% adhere to Christianity and 17.6% are Muslim. Its diverse geography and ecology ranges from coastal savanna’s to tropical jungles. Ghana is a democratic country led by a president who is both head of state and head of the government. Ghana’s economy is one of the strongest and most diversified in Africa, following a quarter century of relative stability and good governance.[15] Ghana’s growing economic prosperity and democratic political system has made it a regional power in West Africa.[16] It is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Group of 24 (G24).[17]

Trump: Germany Owes US, NATO Vast Sums of Money

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

World

Trump: Germany Owes US, NATO Vast Sums of Money

Trump

Washington –President Donald Trump said on Saturday that Germany owed “vast sums of money” to NATO and the US, and that Berlin “should pay.”

Trump’s statements come following his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington.

Trump took it to twitter where he said: “Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

The two leaders did not show any signs of agreement on several pending issues, including NATO and defense expenditures.

During a joint press conference with Merkel, Trump complained that other NATO members have not paid their dues for years. He insisted they pay for “their fair share of the defense they receive.”

NATO countries are asked to contribute 2 percent of their GDP to the alliance’s defense spending.

Merkel said that Germany agreed on the need for “increasing expenditure” to meet the 2 percent goal.

Trump then criticized the way the media had dealt with the meeting saying on Twitter also: “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

Expenditure was not the only point of disagreement between the two. A German journalist brought up the case of wiretapping and Trump’s accusations that British Intelligence was working with Obama to spy on him.

Despite constant negations and absence of evidence, the US President continued with his allegations and even joked that Merkel had also been a victim of wiretapping.

Since his arrival at the White House, the Republican billionaire had written several controversial tweets, none of which had damaged his credibility as much as the one he wrote on March 4.

He tweeted: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism.”

Media reports reveal each day new findings on Trump’s or his close personnel’s contacts with Russia.

Trump had repeatedly denied any affiliations to the Kremlin, but he could not control the flow of information and therefore decided to attack his predecessor.

Since then, Obama, former intelligence director James Clapper and many democratic and republican officials have denied those allegations.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to apologize to the UK for press secretary Sean Spicer’s allegation that the GCHQ had spied on Trump Tower for Obama. Spicer almost caused a diplomatic crisis by defending the president.

On Thursday, Spicer quoted a series of articles that discussed surveillance. He referenced comments made earlier this week on Fox News TV by Andrew Napolitano in relation to Trump’s controversial claim that wiretaps had been installed at his New York residence.

“Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ,” Spicer said in the press conference.

British officials were quick to comment on Napolitano’s claims, saying they were “rubbish”.

A government source reportedly said the claim was “totally untrue and quite frankly absurd”.

It told Reuters that under British law, GCHQ “can only gather intelligence for national security purposes” and noted that a US election “clearly doesn’t meet that criteria”.

“As for as wiretapping, I guess by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said during his press conference with Chancellor Merkel, referring to reports that the National Security Agency had tapped Merkel in 2010.

Such incidents do not reassure US Congressmen, including those in Trump’s camp. Trump promised to reveal next week new evidences that prove his allegations.

Chairman of the House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes confirmed Friday that the Justice Department had “fully complied” with the committee’s request.

He did not provide any further details.

FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.

The public hearing is the first of several that the intelligence committees are expected to hold on alleged Russia’s interference in the presidential election.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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175 Km Long Crack In Antarctic Ice Shelf: Largest Iceberg In Our Lifetime Is Possible

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Plane flies along Antarctica’s giant Larsen crack

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has released new footage of the ice crack that promises to produce a giant berg.

The 175 km-long fissure runs through the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

If it propagates just 20km more, a block of ice a quarter the size of Wales will break away into the Weddell Sea.

Scientists gathered the new video while recovering instrumentation that had been placed on the ice shelf.

Uncertainty about the stability of the region means researchers cannot set up camp as they would normally do, and instead make short visits in a Twin Otter plane.

The most recent sortie enabled the researchers also to fly along the length of the crack, which is 400-500m wide in places, to assess its status.

No-one can say for sure when the iceberg will calve, but it could happen anytime.

At 5,000 sq km, it would be one of the biggest ever recorded.

When it splits, interest will centre on how the breakage will affect the remaining shelf structure.

The Larsen B Ice Shelf further to the north famously shattered following a similar large calving event in 2002.

The issue is important because floating ice shelves ordinarily act as a buttress to the glaciers flowing off the land behind them.

In the case of Larsen B, those glaciers subsequently sped up in the absence of the shelf. And it is the land ice – not the floating ice in a shelf – that adds to sea level rise.

If Larsen C were to go the same way it would continue a trend across the Antarctic Peninsula.

In recent decades, a dozen major ice shelves have disintegrated, significantly retreated or lost substantial volume – including Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller, Jones Channel, and Wilkins.

Dr Paul Holland from BAS commented: “Iceberg calving is a normal part of the glacier life cycle, and there is every chance that Larsen C will remain stable and this ice will regrow.

“However, it is also possible that this iceberg calving will leave Larsen C in an unstable configuration. If that happens, further iceberg calving could cause a retreat of Larsen C.

“We won’t be able to tell whether Larsen C is unstable until the iceberg has calved and we are able to understand the behaviour of the remaining ice.”

The removal of the ice would also enable scientists to study the uncovered seabed.

When Larsen B broke away, the immediate investigation chanced upon new species.

Under the Antarctic Treaty, no fishing activity would be permitted in the area for 10 years.

The big bergs that break away from Antarctica are monitored from space.

They will often drift out into the Southern Ocean where they can become a hazard to shipping.

The biggest iceberg recorded in the satellite era was an object called B-15.

Covering an area of some 11,000 sq km, it came away from the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000.

Six years later fragments of the super-berg passed by New Zealand.

In 1956, a berg of roughly 32,000 sq km – bigger than Belgium – was spotted in the Ross Sea by a US Navy icebreaker. But there were no satellites at that time to follow-up.

Many of the bergs that break away from the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica get exported into the Atlantic. A good number get caught on the shallow continental shelf around the British overseas territory of South Georgia where they gradually wither away.

The study of the Larsen C Ice Shelf is led by Swansea University through its MIDAS Project, which involves BAS.

South GeorgiaImage copyright THINKSTOCK
Image caption The remnants of many such bergs end up at South Georgia

[email protected] and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

The Land: Israel And The Palestinians: And The U.S. And The Native Indians

 

Most people in the ‘wired’ world of today know about the struggles in the Holy Lands of Israel between the Nation of Israel and the displaced Palestinian population. For those of you who do not know the back story of this issue I will try to condense this issue into just a few sentences so as to not make a book out of this article. When World War Two broke out the Ottoman Empire ruled the current land of Israel. After the war the British took control of that region but in the U.N. in 1947 a resolution was passed to recreate the Nation of Israel so that the displaced Jewish population could have a Nation of their own again, and this came about in 1948. Because of all the turmoil in the U.N. about this issue the Jewish people were only given a small sliver of the land that they used to call home for over 2,000 years. The British had made an agreement with the U.N. that they would pull out of Palestine in May of 1948 and then give this land to the Jewish people for their homeland. It is sad that the people who lived there were displaced, these folks years later became known as the Palestinians, refugees, a people with no ‘home’. These ‘Refugees’ were eventually taken in by Jordan but were kicked out in 1967, again making them homeless. The Islamic people of the Middle-East own about 99% of the land in this region of the world yet none of them (except for the short stint in Jordan) would let them into their countries. Either this issue shows that the ‘Palestinians people’ are very lousy guests, and/or the Islamic countries of the region are really lousy hosts, or possibly both? I say that because a brother is suppose to take in and to help when their brothers and sisters are in need but the Islamic Nations have not done that.

 

In 1948 on the day that the British completed their pull out the tiny newborn Nation of Israel was attacked by all of their Arab neighbors in an attempt to push all of the Jewish people into the Mediterranean Sea. To make a long story shorter, the people of Israel won that war but just 19 years later the Arab Nations of the Middle-East attacked Israel once again in what has become know as the Six Day War. In this war which Israel won they captured a lot more land from the Arab population who had attacked Israel. Among the lands captured was the Golan Heights in the north and they captured the rest of Jerusalem, to the south they also captured the West Bank and Gaza all the way down to the border with Egypt. The people who started the war who were in the lands that Israel recovered were also now displaced adding to a lousy situation for the Islamic people who caused the war. By my understanding it is the land that Israel recaptured in that six-day war of 1967 that has been causing the biggest conflict with the U.N. (among others). It is this land that has become known as the “occupied territories”. Some world leaders think that Israel has no rights to this land and should not build anything on it.

 

Israel was given a much larger piece of the land by God Himself somewhere around the human year of 1,800 B.C.. They lived on this land until about the year 630 A.D. when Mohammad’s army murdered their way through many countries including the land that belonged to Israel. So, here is where I want to start making some comparisons with land issues inside the U.S.. The Islamic people in Palestine had lived in what is now Israel for about 1,400 years before the U.N. gave some of it back to Israel, it is easy to understand why the ‘displaced’ people are mad at the people who now live on that land. Yet they refuse to accept the fact that there was ever a Nation of Israel before the time of Mohammad no matter how much evidence they are shown. What I am saying is the people of Israel simply took back some of what was their own in 1948 and then again in 1967. In 2005 the Israeli government in an attempt for peace gave back the ‘West Bank’ and the Gaza Strip so that the Palestinian people could have a home of their own since none of the Arab countries would ever allow them to settle in any of their countries. Land for peace is what this event was called, that concept failed, all it did was to give Israel’s haters closer Bases in which to attack Israel from. I have often wondered why if there is going to be a ‘two nation’ reality why can’t the ‘West Bank’ be given “Statehood” status? With Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip there is no way to allow them to become a State. So, who’s land is it in your eyes?

 

Now I would like to talk about the Native American ‘Indians’ and their rights to the land that we call America. A little over 500 years ago Europeans discovered North America and started settling it as if the land was barren of other human beings. Most Europeans did not consider the Indian people who were already here, and had been for thousands of years, as being humans, they demonized them as nothing but Savages. For the next 400 years Europeans kept marching west, killing the Indian people and taking their lands. By the late 1800’s America reached from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and the Native Americans had almost been exterminated. When the newspapers in the east started showing and telling the people what was being done to the Indian people they raised such a ruckus that the extermination concept ended and the concept of Reservations began. The Indian people were ‘given’ the worst of the worst lands to be exiled upon, these were lands that the white man didn’t want, so the Indian people were forced to live there.

 

I am going to make a small example for the purpose of easy clarity. There is a large Navajo Reservation in southwest New Mexico and part of eastern Arizona. I am going to use them in this example. When Europeans discovered what is today the State of New Mexico less than 300 years ago they began ‘settling’ it by removing the Native Americans who had lived there for thousands of years. If today the Navajo people decided that they were tired of living on their Reservation and told the white, black and Mexican people to move off of their land or they would be removed by the Navajo Nation, what do you think would be the result? I know this would not happen, it’s just a conversation point, but what if the U.S. Government said, okay we agree with you so all non-Indian people have to leave the state of New Mexico, what do you think would happen? Now put that concept to all of the 50 States, if the United Nations and the World Court ruled in favor of the Native Americans and they told all of us non-indigenous people to pack up and get off of the Native Americans land, where would we all go? I honestly believe that the Native American people do have the right to tell us all to get off of their land, after all it was stolen by the end of a gun from them. Now back to Israel and the Palestinian people, the Islamic people stole the land  from the Jewish people at the point of a blade, they either had to leave their homes or die. What I am saying is that there is no such thing as Israel’s “occupation” of Arab lands, there is no such thing as Israel building on occupied lands. Just as the correct thing to do here in North America is to give back the occupied lands to its rightful owners because they were well established here long before Europeans crossed the Atlantic, the people of Islam should give back all of the land that was Israel before they were stolen from them. Here in North America there is an occupation” going on right now and has been for about 500 years. In Israel the only “occupation” going on is in the lands where believers of Islam are occupying land that belongs to Israel, it is not the other way around. I hope you liked the article, I am just trying to get people to think and to consider the truth of history.

CIA Tried To Get Syria’s President Assad To Help Stop Lebanon’s Civil War

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

Middle East

CIA Releases: Franjieh Enlisted Assad’s Help after Failing to Contain Lebanon Civil War

Considered a critical time for Lebanon during the President Suleiman Franjieh administration both the LNM and the PLO held the upper hand.

With the bearings for in stating balance fading, the region was threatened by the conflict breaking out of its local constraints– warring parties stringed along powerful regional players pushing the conflict beyond Lebanese borders.

CIA documents reveal that Franjieh phoned his Syrian counterpart, Assad, relaying outrage and threatening escalatory measures should the latter roll back a direct military intervention dedicated to end the fighting in Lebanon.

The declassified documents drew a link between the impending direct Israeli intervention seeking to keep PLO, leftist allies and nationalists (natural Israel enemies) from securing a militarized advantage, and Franjieh resorting to Assad to step in and end the conflict.

Perhaps the most significant document of all declassified excerpts was a telegram involving British foreign minister, James Callaghan, (who later became British Prime Minister) reviewing the Lebanon situation with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and communicating and consulting with United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

In hindsight, the then Lebanon civil war truly was a quagmire involving not only regional players, but also international superpowers.

The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon, lasting from 1975 to 1990 and resulting in an approximated 250,000 fatalities.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Iran’s Supreme Ruler: Iman Khamenei “Islamic Unity Only Solution To Extricate Muslims From U.S., Zionist Evil

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF: ENGLISH.ALMAMAR.COM.LB T.V. NETWORK)

Imam Khamanei: Islamic Unity Only Solution to extricate Muslims from US, Zionist Evil
Imam Khamenei
Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei

“Should we unite and proceed toward Islamic goals in a united manner, then the US and the malignant, nefarious Zionist nexus can no longer hold nations in their clutches,” he said on Saturday on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

The Leader was addressing a number of state officials and diplomatic representatives of Muslim countries as well as participants at an international unity conference in Tehran.

“Today, the Muslim world is facing great tribulations, the way out of which is Islamic unity,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

“Today, Muslim killings are taking place  from Myanmar to Africa; some are being killed at the hands of Boko Haram, others by Buddhists.”

“Today, there are two volitions at contrast with each other in the region: The will for unity and the will for schism. Should unity transpire, the situation will not be as it is today and Muslims will earn esteem.”

Imam Khamenei said the British version of Shia Islam and the American version of Sunni Islam, which pit Muslims against one another, are “two blades of the same pair of scissors.”

The British policy of “divide and rule” is seriously being pursued by the enemies of Islam, the Leader said.

Imam Khamenei said worldwide Muslim unity, the most important type of readiness needed by the Muslim world, would abort the conspiracy to consign the issue of Palestine to oblivion.

 

Source: Press TV

Recent Developments Surrounding The South China Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

BANGKOK — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

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PHILIPPINES DOESN’T WANT TO BE USED FOR U.S. FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION MISSIONS

The Philippines has again thumbed its nose at the U.S., its longtime defense ally, saying it won’t be used as a springboard for U.S. ships and planes conducting operations that challenge China in the South China Sea.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Philippines will not allow its territory to be used as a staging ground for U.S. patrols — a possible departure from the current policy that allows U.S. aircraft, ships and submarines access to designated Philippine military bases under a 2014 defense agreement.

Lorenzana said U.S. ships and planes can use Guam or Okinawa in Japan for South China Sea missions. But he said they can still refuel and resupply in the Philippines after conducting such maneuvers, not before.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said she could not comment on Lorenzana’s remarks as she hadn’t seen them, but added: “Our adherence to freedom of navigation is well known. You know, we will fly, we will sail anywhere within international waters and we will continue that.”

Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, the commander of the U.S. Army’s I Corps who leads international military exercises in the Pacific, said that the U.S. military was prepared to change next year’s joint exercises with the Philippines to humanitarian and disaster relief training.

“If we change the training, we would probably look at putting a different force and a different capability in the Philippines versus the initial one that had been planned to go there,” he told Voice of America, referring to the initial focus on the Philippines’ territorial defense.

President Rodrigo Duterte has reached out to China to try to smooth over the territorial disputes. He also said he wants to scale back the Philippines’ military engagements with the U.S., including scuttling a plan to carry out joint patrols with the U.S. Navy in the disputed waters, which he said China opposes.

But Manila still continues to rely on Washington. On Friday, the Philippine navy took delivery of a third frigate decommissioned from the U.S. Coast Guard.

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US, CHINA REACT TO VIETNAM’S REPORTED ISLAND DREDGING

The United States has called on Vietnam and other claimants to refrain from reclamation and militarization activities in contested South China Sea waters following reports that Hanoi has carried out dredging on one of the features it occupies in the Spratlys.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters that the U.S. is aware of the reports.

“We have consistently warned that reclamation and militarization in contested areas of the South China Sea will risk driving a destabilizing and escalatory trend. We encourage all claimants to take steps to lower tensions and peacefully resolve differences,” she said.

Vietnam’s government has not commented on satellite imagery purportedly showing dredging activities inside a channel on Ladd Reef, about 15 nautical miles (28 kilometers) west of Spratly Island where Hanoi recently began extending a runway and building hangers. It wasn’t clear if the latest activity was meant as repair or construction work.

Ladd Reef, which is submerged at high tide, has a lighthouse, which also serves as quarters for Vietnamese troops.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang urged Vietnam to “respect China’s sovereignty and rights, stop illegal invasion and construction activities, and not to take actions that could complicate the situation.”

He repeated Friday that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.

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CHINA WARNS BRITAIN AGAINST SOUTH CHINA SEA PATROLS

China has reacted angrily to Britain’s announcement that its four Typhoon fighter jets on a training visit to Japan will patrol the skies over the East and South China sea, where Beijing is embroiled in territorial disputes with neighbors.

The British ambassador in Washington, Kim Darroch, also said last week that his government plans to conduct freedom of navigation operations involving its newest aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, when it becomes operational in 2020. He said that Britain “absolutely shares” the U.S. objective to protect freedom of navigation in what it considers international waters despite China’s claiming virtually the entire South China Sea as its territory.

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, in an opinion piece, said Darroch was perhaps trying to impress his Japanese colleague and that his remarks create the impression that London may soon deviate from “a largely aloof attitude” toward the South China Sea issue and start to meddle like the U.S. and Japan.

“Should a British warplane embark on a so-called ‘freedom of navigation’ mission in the South China Sea, it would only serve to further complicate the issue and weigh on thriving China-Britain ties,” Xinhua said.

It says China has never denied any legitimate passage of ships or planes in the area.

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CHINA ADDS SECOND CRUISE IN THE PARACELS

China is adding a second cruise ship to the Paracel Islands, a tropical paradise of pristine beaches and little else.

The new cruise ship called Nanhai Zhi Meng will start its maiden four-day voyage in late December from Sanya, a port on southern Hainan Island, to Yinyu, Quanfu and Yagong islands in the Paracels, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The first cruise was launched in April 2013 and so far has attracted 23,000 Chinese tourists.

The tours only serve islands with no military installations and are only open to Chinese nationals. Unlike the largest island in the Paracels, Woody Island, which is also an administrative center founded in 2012, the coral reefs on the cruise tour have no accommodation or any significant infrastructure.

Prices range from $580 to $1,450 per person.

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Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.