Guinea: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This West African Nation

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

 

Guinea

Introduction Guinea has had only two presidents since gaining its independence from France in 1958. Lansana CONTE came to power in 1984 when the military seized the government after the death of the first president, Sekou TOURE. Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993 when Gen. CONTE (head of the military government) was elected president of the civilian government. He was reelected in 1998 and again in 2003, though all the polls have been marred by irregularities. Guinea has maintained its internal stability despite spillover effects from conflict in Sierra Leone and Liberia. As those countries have rebuilt, Guinea’s own vulnerability to political and economic crisis has increased. Declining economic conditions and popular dissatisfaction with corruption and bad governance prompted two massive strikes in 2006; a third nationwide strike in early 2007 sparked violent protests in many Guinean cities and prompted two weeks of martial law. To appease the unions and end the unrest, CONTE named a new prime minister in March 2007.
History The land composing present-day Guinea was part of a series of empires, beginning with the “Ghana Empire” which came into being around 900AD. This was followed by the Sosso kingdom in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Mali Empire took control of the region after the Battle of Kirina in 1235, but grew weaker over time from internal conflicts, which eventually led to its dissolution. One of the strongest successor states was the Songhai state, which became the Songhai Empire. It exceeded its predecessors in terms of territory and wealth, but it too fell prey to internal wrangling and civil war and was eventually toppled at the Battle of Tondibi in 1591.

A chaotic period followed, until an Islamic state was founded in the eighteenth century, bringing some stability to the region. A simultaneous important development was the arrival of Fulani Muslims in the highland region of Fuuta Jalloo in the early eighteenth century.

Europeans first came to the area during the Portuguese Discoveries in the fifteenth century, which saw the beginning of the slave trade.

Guinea was created as a colony by France in 1890 with Noël Balley as the first governor. The capital Conakry was founded on Tombo Island in the same year. In 1895 the country was incorporated into French West Africa.

On 28 September 1958, under the direction of Charles de Gaulle, Metropolitan France held a referendum on a new constitution and the creation of the Fifth Republic. The colonies, except Algeria, which was legally a direct part of France, were given the choice between immediate independence or retaining their colonial status. All colonies except Guinea opted for the latter. Thus, Guinea became the first French African colony to gain independence, at the cost of the immediate cessation of all French assistance.

After independence Guinea was governed by the dictator Ahmed Sékou Touré. Touré pursued broadly socialist economic policies, suppressed opposition and free expression with little regard for human rights. Under his leadership, Guinea joined the Non-Aligned Movement and pursued close ties with the Eastern Bloc. After his death in 1984, Lansana Conté assumed power and immediately changed his predecessor’s economic policies, but the government remained dictatorial. The first elections since independence were held in 1993, but the results and those of subsequent elections were disputed. Conté faces domestic criticism for the condition of the country’s economy and for his heavy-handed approach to political opposition.

While on a visit to France with his family in 2005, Prime Minister François Fall resigned and sought asylum, citing corruption and increasing interference from the President, which he felt limited his effectiveness as the head of the government. Fall’s successor, Cellou Dalein Diallo, was removed in April of 2006, and Conté failed to appoint a new one until the end of January 2007 after devastating nationwide strikes and mass demonstrations. During 2006, there were two nationwide strikes by government workers, during which 10 students were shot dead by the military; strikes were suspended when Conté agreed to more favorable wages to civil servants and a reduction of the cost of certain basic amenities (rice and oil).

At the beginning of 2007, citing the government’s failure to honour the terms of previous agreements, trade unions called new strikes, protesting of rising costs of living, government corruption, and economic mismanagement. Lasting for more than 2 weeks, these strikes drew some of the largest demonstrations seen during Conté’s tenure and resulted in some 60 deaths. Among the unions’ demands was that the aging and ailing President name a consensus Prime Minister, to fill the post vacant since Diallo’s removal, and relinquish to him certain presidential responsibilities. Conté reluctantly agreed to appoint a new prime minister and lower fuel and rice prices, and the strikes were subsequently suspended.

On 13 February 2007, upon the nomination of Eugene Camara to the post of Prime Minister, viewed as a close ally of Conté, violent demonstrations immediately broke out throughout the country. Strikes resumed, citing the President’s failure to nominate a “consensus” prime minister as per the January 27th agreement.[1] A state of martial law was declared after violent clashes with demonstrators, bringing the death toll since January to well over 100, and there were widespread reports of pillaging and rapes committed by men in military uniform. Government buildings and property owned by government officials throughout the country were looted and destroyed by angry mobs. Many feared Guinea to be on the verge of civil war as protesters from all parts of Guinea called for Conté’s unequivocal resignation.

After diplomatic intervention from ECOWAS, neighboring heads of state, the EU, the UN, etc., Conté agreed to choose a new Prime Minister from a list of five candidates furnished by the labor unions and civic leaders. On February 26, Lansana Kouyaté, former Guinean ambassador to the UN, was nominated to the post. Strikes were called off, and the nomination was hailed by the strikers.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone
Geographic coordinates: 11 00 N, 10 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 245,857 sq km
land: 245,857 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 3,399 km
border countries: Cote d’Ivoire 610 km, Guinea-Bissau 386 km, Liberia 563 km, Mali 858 km, Senegal 330 km, Sierra Leone 652 km
Coastline: 320 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds
Terrain: generally flat coastal plain, hilly to mountainous interior
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Nimba 1,752 m
Natural resources: bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, uranium, hydropower, fish, salt
Land use: arable land: 4.47%
permanent crops: 2.64%
other: 92.89% (2005)
Irrigated land: 950 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 226 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.51 cu km/yr (8%/2%/90%)
per capita: 161 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season
Environment – current issues: deforestation; inadequate supplies of potable water; desertification; soil contamination and erosion; overfishing, overpopulation in forest region; poor mining practices have led to environmental damage
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the Niger and its important tributary the Milo have their sources in the Guinean highlands
Politics Politics of Guinea takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President of Guinea is both head of state, head of government, and the commander in chief of the Guinean Military. The president is elected to a maximun of two 7 year term, although the current Guinee Lansana Conte who has been in power since 1984 continue to run for further tearms. Executive power is exercised by the president and members of his cabinet. To be elected president of Guinea a candidate must be a Guinean born citizen by birth, be at least 35 years of age and must be able to speak and read the French language.

Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly. The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 114 members, elected for a four year term, 38 members in single-seat constituencies and 76 members by proportional representation. Guinea is a one party dominant state with the Party of Unity and Progress in power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.

People Population: 9,947,814 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.3% (male 2,226,414/female 2,183,153)
15-64 years: 52.5% (male 2,611,833/female 2,610,773)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 138,392/female 177,249) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 17.7 years
male: 17.5 years
female: 17.9 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.62% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 41.53 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 15.33 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.781 male(s)/female
total population: 1.001 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 88.58 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 93.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 83.32 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 49.65 years
male: 48.5 years
female: 50.84 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.75 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 3.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 9,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever (2008)
Nationality: noun: Guinean(s)
adjective: Guinean
Ethnic groups: Peuhl 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, smaller ethnic groups 10%
Religions: Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, indigenous beliefs 7%
Languages: French (official); note – each ethnic group has its own language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 29.5%
male: 42.6%
female: 18.1%

Guyana: Truth, Knowledge, History On The Northern, South American Nation

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

 

Guyana

Introduction Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This ethnology-cultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then it has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi JAGAN was elected president in what is considered the country’s first free and fair election since independence. After his death five years later, his wife, Janet JAGAN, became president but resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat JAGDEO, was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006.
History When the first Europeans arrived in the area around 1500, Guyana was inhabited by the Arawak and Carib tribes of Amerindians. Although Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana during his third voyage (in 1498), the Dutch were first to establish colonies: Essequibo (1616), Berbice (1627), and Demerara (1752). The British assumed control in the late 18th century, and the Dutch formally ceded the area in 1814. In 1831 the three separate colonies became a single British colony known as British Guiana.

Escaped slaves formed their own settlements known as Maroon communities. With the abolition of slavery in 1834 many of the former enslaved people began to settle in urban areas. Indentured laborers from modern day Portugal (1834), Germany (first in 1835), Ireland (1836), Scotland (1837), Malta (1839), China and India (beginning in 1838) were imported to work on the sugar plantations.

In 1889 Venezuela claimed the land up to the Essequibo. Ten years later an international tribunal ruled the land belonged to British Guiana.

During World War II the United States arranged for its air force to use British airports in South America, including those in British Guiana

Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966 and became a republic on 23 February 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The United States State Department and the CIA, along with the British government, played a strong role in influencing who would politically control Guyana during this time.[1] They provided secret financial support and political campaign advice to pro-western Guyanese of African descent, especially Forbes Burnham’s People’s National Congress to the detriment of Cheddi Jagan-led Marxists of Indian descent.

Geography Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Suriname and Venezuela
Geographic coordinates: 5 00 N, 59 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 214,970 sq km
land: 196,850 sq km
water: 18,120 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Idaho
Land boundaries: total: 2,949 km
border countries: Brazil 1,606 km, Suriname 600 km, Venezuela 743 km
Coastline: 459 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the outer edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical; hot, humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; two rainy seasons (May to August, November to January)
Terrain: mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Roraima 2,835 m
Natural resources: bauxite, gold, diamonds, hardwood timber, shrimp, fish
Land use: arable land: 2.23%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 97.63% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 241 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.64 cu km/yr (2%/1%/98%)
per capita: 2,187 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: flash floods are a constant threat during rainy seasons
Environment – current issues: water pollution from sewage and agricultural and industrial chemicals; deforestation
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay; substantial portions of its western and eastern territories are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname respectively
People Population: 769,095
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.1% (male 102,111/female 98,325)
15-64 years: 68.6% (male 266,288/female 261,620)
65 years and over: 5.3% (male 17,308/female 23,443) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 27.8 years
male: 27.3 years
female: 28.3 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.234% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 18.09 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 8.28 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -7.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.039 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.018 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.738 male(s)/female
total population: 1.006 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 31.35 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 34.93 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 66.17 years
male: 63.52 years
female: 68.95 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.04 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 2.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 11,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 1,100 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoa diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vector-borne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: osteoporosis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Guyanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Guyanese
Ethnic groups: East Indian 50%, black 36%, Amerindian 7%, white, Chinese, and mixed 7%
Religions: Christian 50%, Hindu 35%, Muslim 10%, other 5%
Languages: English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Urdu
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.1%
female: 98.5%

Haiti: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Troubled Land

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

 

Haiti

Introduction The native Taino Amerindians – who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by COLUMBUS in 1492 – were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean, but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti’s nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L’OUVERTURE. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare its independence in 1804. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the departure of President Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponement, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006.
History This island of the Greater Antilles was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus on December 5, 1492. He named it Hispaniola. A branch of the Arawaks, the Tainos occupied the island before the arrival of the Spaniards. Their number to the end of 15th century was estimated to be lower than 100,000. The Spaniards exploited the island for its gold, gold which was mined largely by the local Amerindians under the direction of the occupying Spanish. This was hardly voluntary labor and those refusing to work in the mines were slaughtered or forced into slavery. The few who evaded capture fled to the mountains and established independent settlements.

The Europeans also brought infectious diseases with them to the island which, along with ill-treatment, malnutrition and a drastic drop of the birthrate, effectively decimated the remaining indigenous population in just a few decades. Without any more workers for the mines, the Spanish governors began importing slaves from Africa. In 1517, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, authorized the draft of the slaves. Those African slaves who managed to escape the European rule also fled to the mountains where some encountered, befriended and intermarried with fugitive Amerindians, consequently forming a line of people referred to as the Marabou.

The western part of Hispaniola, in contrast was settled by French buccaneers. Among them, Bertrand d’Ogeron succeeded in growing tobacco, thus allowing the, by then, large number of settled buccaneers and freebooters to turn into a sedentary population; a population which didn’t submit to royal authority until the year 1660, causing a number of conflicts. Bertrand d’Orgeron also attracted many colonists of Martinique and Guadeloupe, like the Roy family (Jean Roy, 1625-1707), Hebert (Jean Hebert, 1624, with his family) and the Barre (Guillaume Barre, 1642, with his family) driven out by the land pressure which was generated by the extension of the sugar dwellings. However, in the time between 1670 and 1690, a huge tobacco crisis struck the island, significantly reducing the number of settlers. The rows of the free booting grew bigger, plundering, like those of Vera Cruz in 1683 or of Campêche in 1686, became increasingly commonplace and Jean-Baptist Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay, elder son of Jean-Baptiste Colbert and at the time Minister of the Navy, brought back some order by taking a great number of measures. Among those appeared the creation of plantations of indigo and of cane sugar. The first sugar windmill was created in 1685.

The Treaty of Ryswick of 1697 divided Hispaniola between France and Spain. France received the western third, and named it Saint Domingue. Many French colonists came and worked in plantations. From 1713 to 1787, 30,000 colonists, among them Pierre Nezat, left Bordeaux, France, came to enlarge the number of the colonists present in the western part of the island. The wars burst in Europe and were prolonged on the seas to the Antilles and the Caribbean. In 1756, trade was paralyzed. A great number of colonists and their families left Saint Domingue for Louisiana, where they settled in Post established by France and managed by soldiers. Thus the families Barre, Roy, Hebert and Nezat met again in the territories of Attakapas and Opelousas (Indian tribes), where they also met other French colonists from Paris or from Nova Scotia (Alex Charles Barre, descendant of Guillaume Barre, founded in 1820 Port Barre). By about 1790, Santo Domingo had become the richest French colony in all of America thanks to the immense profits of the sugar and indigo industries and the thousands of Africans who had been brought as slaves to make these industries function. Their fate was under the jurisdiction framed by the black code, prepared by Colbert and enacted by Louis XIV. But the French Revolution involved serious social upheavals in the French West Indies and in Saint Domingue too. Most important was the revolt of the slaves which lead in 1793 to the abolition of slavery by the commissioners Sonthonax and Polverel, (decision endorsed and generalized to the whole of the French colonies by the Convention six months later). The Black Toussaint Louverture, appointed Governor by France, after having restored peace, having driven out the Spaniards and the English who threatened the colony, restored prosperity by daring measures. He went however too far promulgating a separatist constitution and Napoleon Bonaparte, under the influence of the Creoles (French – and Spaniards born on one of the islands of the Antilles, later also in Louisiana) and of the traders, sent an expedition of 30,000 men under the command of his brother-in-law the General Charles Leclerc. He had the mission of ousting Louverture and of restoring slavery. But, after some victories, the arrest and the deportation of Toussaint Louverture, the French troops ordered by Donatien Marie Joseph de Rochambeau finished by being beaten at the Battle of Vertières per Jean-Jacques Dessalines. At the end of a double battle for freedom and for independence won by former slaves over the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte, the independence of the country was proclaimed on 1 January 1804, under the name of Haiti. Haiti had become the first country in the world to make effective the abolition of slavery.

Dessalines was proclaimed governor for life by his troops. He exiled the remaining whites and ruled as a despot. He was assassinated on October 17, 1806. The country was divided then between a kingdom in the north, directed by Henri Christophe and a republic in the south, directed by Alexandre Pétion. Then president Jean Pierre Boyer reunified these two parts and conquered the east part of the island. July 11, 1825, the king of France Charles X threatened to reconquer the island and sent a fleet of 14 vessels. Boyer had to sign a treaty in which France recognized the independence of the country in exchange for an allowance of 150 million francs-or (the sum would be reduced in 1838 to 90 million francs).

A long succession of coups followed the departure of Jean Pierre Boyer. His authority did not cease being disputed by factions of the army, the mulatto and black elites, and the commercial class, now made up of great number from abroad – Germans, Americans, French and English). The country was impoverished, with few State Heads taking care of its development. As his authority weakened, armed revolts started, maintained by candidates to the succession. At the beginning of the 20th century, the country was in a state of quasi-permanent insurrection.

The United States occupied the island from 1915 to 1934. Thereafter, from 1957 to 1986, the Duvaliers reigned as dictators. They created the system of denouncement and death squads known as Tonton Macoute. Many Haitians exiled themselves, in particular to the United States and Quebec. The former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide won the elections of December 1990. His mandate began on February 7, 1991, but a coup d’etat carried out by Raoul Cédras supported by the middle-class of businesses deposed him in September. In 1994, he was restored to authority under the pressure of the Clinton administration (which threatened with military intervention) on the condition that he gave up recovering the years lost at the time of the military interlude. He left the presidency in 1995 then and was re-elected in 2000. After several months of popular demonstrations and pressures exerted by the international community, especially by France, the USA and Canada, Aristide went into exile, being taken out of the country by US soldiers on February 29, 2004, when armed forces consisting of opponents and former soldiers who controlled the North of the country threatened to go on the capital Port-au-Prince.

Boniface Alexandre, president of the Supreme Court of appeal, assumed interim authority. In February 2006, following elections marked by uncertainties on the calculation of the ballot papers, and thanks to the support of popular demonstrations, René Préval, near to Aristide and former president of the Republic of Haiti between 1995 and 2000, was elected.

Geography Location: Caribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic
Geographic coordinates: 19 00 N, 72 25 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 27,750 sq km
land: 27,560 sq km
water: 190 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries: total: 360 km
border countries: Dominican Republic 360 km
Coastline: 1,771 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
Climate: tropical; semiarid where mountains in east cut off trade winds
Terrain: mostly rough and mountainous
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Chaine de la Selle 2,680 m
Natural resources: bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydro-power
Land use: arable land: 28.11%
permanent crops: 11.53%
other: 60.36% (2005)
Irrigated land: 920 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 14 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.99 cu km/yr (5%/1%/94%)
per capita: 116 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding and earthquakes; periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: extensive deforestation (much of the remaining forested land is being cleared for agriculture and used as fuel); soil erosion; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes
Geography – note: shares the island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic (western one-third is Haiti, eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic)
People Population: 8,706,497
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.1% (male 1,846,175/female 1,817,082)
15-64 years: 54.4% (male 2,313,542/female 2,426,326)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 134,580/female 168,792) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 18.4 years
male: 17.9 years
female: 18.8 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.453% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 35.87 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 10.4 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.94 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.016 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.954 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.797 male(s)/female
total population: 0.973 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 63.83 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 68.45 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 59.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 57.03 years
male: 55.35 years
female: 58.75 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.86 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 5.6% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 280,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 24,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoa diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vector-borne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: osteoporosis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Haitian(s)
adjective: Haitian
Ethnic groups: black 95%, mulatto and white 5%
Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3%
note: roughly half of the population practices voodoo
Languages: French (official), Creole (official)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.9%
male: 54.8%
female: 51.2%

Honduras: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This South American Country

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

 

Honduras

Introduction Once part of Spain’s vast empire in the New World, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821. After two and a half decades of mostly military rule, a freely elected civilian government came to power in 1982. During the 1980’s, Honduras proved a haven for anti-Sandinista contras fighting the Marxist Nicaraguan Government and an ally to Salvadoran Government forces fighting leftist guerrillas. The country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed about 5,600 people and caused approximately $2 billion in damage.
History Archaeologists have demonstrated that Honduras had a rich, multi-ethnic prehistory. An important part of that prehistory was the Mayan presence around the city of Copán in western Honduras, near the Guatemalan border. A major Mayan city flourished during the classic period (150-900) in that area. It has many carved inscriptions and stelae. The ancient kingdom, named Xukpi, existed from the fifth century to the early ninth century, with antecedents going back to at least the second century. The Mayan civilization began a marked decline in the ninth century, but there is evidence of people still living in and around the city until at least 1200.[citation needed] By the time the Spanish came to Honduras, the once great city-state of Copán was overrun by the jungle, and the Lencas, not the Mayans, were the main Amerindian people living in western Honduras.

On his fourth and final voyage to the New World in 1502, Christopher Columbus reached the Bay Islands on the coast of Honduras.[3] Landing near the modern town of Trujillo, in the vicinity of the Guaimoreto Lagoon. After the Spanish discovery, Honduras became part of Spain’s vast empire in the New World within the Kingdom of Guatemala. Trujillo and Gracias were the first city-capitals. The Spanish ruled what would become Honduras for approximately three centuries. During this period a clock which had been built by the Moors in the twelfth Century was transferred to the Cathedral of Comayagua in 1636: it is now the oldest functioning clock in the Americas.[citation needed]

Spain granted independence to Honduras, with the rest of the Central American provinces on September 15, 1821. In 1822 the United Central American Provinces decided to join the newly declared Mexican Empire of Iturbide. The Iturbide Empire was overthrown in 1823 and Central America separated from it, forming the Federal Republic of Central America, which disintegrated in 1838. As a result the states of the republic became independent nations.

Silver mining was a key factor in the Spanish conquest and settlement of Honduras, but has been only a minor part of the national economy in recent years. The American-owned Barger Mining Company was a major gold and silver producer, but shut down its large mine at San Juancito in 1954.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Honduras joined the Allied Nations on December 8, 1941. Less than a month later, on the first day of 1942, Honduras, along with twenty-five other governments, signed the Declaration by United Nations.

In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador fought what would become known as The Soccer War.[4] There had been border tensions between the two countries after Oswaldo López Arellano, a former president of Honduras, blamed the deteriorating economy on the large number of immigrants from El Salvador. From that point on, the relationship between the two countries grew acrimonious and reached a low when El Salvador met Honduras for a three-round football elimination match as a preliminary to the World Cup. Tensions escalated, and on July 14, 1969, the Salvadoran army launched an attack against Honduras. The Organization of American States negotiated a cease-fire which took effect on July 20, and brought about a withdrawal of Salvadoran troops in early August.[4]

Contributing factors in the conflict were a boundary dispute and the presence of thousands of Salvadorans living in Honduras illegally. After the week-long football war in July 1969, many Salvadoran families and workers were expelled. El Salvador had agreed on a truce to settle the boundary issue, but Honduras later paid war damage costs for expelled refugees.

During the 1980’s, the United States established a very large military presence in Honduras with the purpose of supporting the Iran-Contra Affair, anti-Sandinista Contreras fighting the Nicaraguan government, and to support the El Salvador military fighting against the FMLN guerrillas. The U.S. built the airbase known as Palmerola, near Comayagua, with a 10,000-foot (3,000 m) runway so that C5-A cargo planes could land there, rather than at the public airport in San Pedro Sula. The U.S. also built a training base near Trujillo which primarily trained Contras and the Salvadoran military, and in conjunction with this, developed Puerto Castilla into a modern port. The United States built many airstrips near the Nicaraguan border to help move supplies to the Contra forces fighting the Sandinista’s in Nicaragua. Though spared the bloody civil wars wracking its neighbors, the Honduran army quietly waged a campaign against leftists which included extra judicial killings and forced disappearances of political opponents by government-backed death squads, most notably Battalion 316.

Hurricane Fifi caused severe damage while skimming the northern coast of Honduras on September 18 and 19, 1974.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused such massive and widespread loss that former Honduran President Carlos Roberto Flores claimed that fifty years of progress in the country were reversed. Mitch obliterated about 70% of the crops and an estimated 70-80% of the transportation infrastructure, including nearly all bridges and secondary roads. Across the country, 33,000 houses were destroyed, an additional 50,000 damaged, some 5,000 people killed, 12,000 injured, and total loss estimated at $3 billion USD.

Geography Location: Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Nicaragua and bordering the Gulf of Fonseca (North Pacific Ocean), between El Salvador and Nicaragua
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 86 30 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 112,090 sq km
land: 111,890 sq km
water: 200 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Tennessee
Land boundaries: total: 1,520 km
border countries: Guatemala 256 km, El Salvador 342 km, Nicaragua 922 km
Coastline: 820 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: natural extension of territory or to 200 nm
Climate: subtropical in lowlands, temperate in mountains
Terrain: mostly mountains in interior, narrow coastal plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Cerro Las Minas 2,870 m
Natural resources: timber, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, iron ore, antimony, coal, fish, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 9.53%
permanent crops: 3.21%
other: 87.26% (2005)
Irrigated land: 800 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 95.9 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.86 cu km/yr (8%/12%/80%)
per capita: 119 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: frequent, but generally mild, earthquakes; extremely susceptible to damaging hurricanes and floods along the Caribbean coast
Environment – current issues: urban population expanding; deforestation results from logging and the clearing of land for agricultural purposes; further land degradation and soil erosion hastened by uncontrolled development and improper land use practices such as farming of marginal lands; mining activities polluting Lago de Yojoa (the country’s largest source of fresh water), as well as several rivers and streams, with heavy metals
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: has only a short Pacific coast but a long Caribbean shoreline, including the virtually uninhabited eastern Mosquito Coast
People Population: 7,483,763
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.3% (male 1,500,949/female 1,439,084)
15-64 years: 57.2% (male 2,142,953/female 2,140,432)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 117,774/female 142,571) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 19.7 years
male: 19.4 years
female: 20.1 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.091% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 27.59 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.32 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.043 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.001 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.826 male(s)/female
total population: 1.011 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 25.21 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 28.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.35 years
male: 67.78 years
female: 70.99 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.48 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 1.8% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 63,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 4,100 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Honduran(s)
adjective: Honduran
Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 90%, Amerindian 7%, black 2%, white 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic 97%, Protestant 3%
Languages: Spanish, Amerindian dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 80%
male: 79.8%
female: 80.2%

Hong Kong: History Of This Cash Box To Communist China’s Military Aggression

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

 

Hong Kong

Introduction Occupied by the UK in 1841, Hong Kong was formally ceded by China the following year; various adjacent lands were added later in the 19th century. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and the UK on 19 December 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 1 July 1997. In this agreement, China has promised that, under its “one country, two systems” formula, China’s socialist economic system will not be imposed on Hong Kong and that Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.
History Human settlement in the location now known as Hong Kong dates back to the Paleolithic era. The region was first incorporated into Imperial China in the Qin Dynasty, and served as a trading post and naval base during the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty. The area’s earliest recorded European visitor was Jorge Álvares, a Portuguese mariner who arrived in 1513.[4][5] Contact with the United Kingdom was established after the British East India Company founded a trading post in the nearby city of Guangzhou.

In 1839, the refusal by Qing Dynasty authorities to import opium resulted in the First Opium War between China and Britain.[6] Hong Kong Island was first occupied by British forces in 1841, and then formally ceded from China under the Treaty of Nanking at the end of the war. The British established a Crown Colony with the founding of Victoria City the following year. In 1860, after China’s defeat in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula south of Boundary Street and Stone cutter’s Island were ceded to Britain under the Convention of Peking. In 1898, Britain obtained a 99-year lease of Lantau Island and the adjacent northern lands, which became known as the New Territories.

Hong Kong was declared a free port to serve as an entrepôt of the British Empire. The Kowloon-Canton Railway opened in 1910 with a southern terminus in Tsim Sha Tsui. An education system based on the British model was introduced. The local Chinese population had little contact with the European community of wealthy tai-pans settled near Victoria Peak.[6]

In conjunction with its military campaign in World War II, the Empire of Japan invaded Hong Kong on December 8, 1941. The Battle of Hong Kong ended with British and Canadian defenders surrendering control of the colony to Japan on December 25. During the Japanese occupation, civilians suffered from widespread food shortages caused by imposed rations, and hyper-inflation due to forced exchange of currency for military notes. Hong Kong lost more than half of its population in the period between the invasion and Japan’s surrender in 1945,[7] when the United Kingdom resumed control of the colony.

Hong Kong’s population recovered quickly, as a wave of mainland migrants arrived for refuge from the ongoing Chinese Civil War. With the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, more migrants fled to Hong Kong from fear of persecution by the Communist Party.[6] Many corporations in Shanghai and Guangzhou also shifted their operations to Hong Kong.[6] The colony became the sole place of contact between mainland China and the Western world, as the communist government increasingly isolated the country from outside influence. Trade with the mainland was interrupted during the Korean War, when the United Nations ordered a trade embargo against the communist government.[8]

The textile and manufacturing industries grew with the help of population growth and low-cost of labor. As Hong Kong rapidly industrialized, its economy became driven by exports to international markets. Living standards rose steadily with the industrial growth. The construction of Shek Kip Mei Estate in 1953 marked the beginning of the public housing estate program. Hong Kong was disrupted by chaos during the riots of 1967.[6] Pro-communist leftists, inspired by the Cultural Revolution in the mainland, turned a labor dispute into a violent uprising against the colonial government lasting until the end of the year.

Established in 1974, the Independent Commission Against Corruption dramatically reduced corruption in the government. When the People’s Republic of China initiated a set of economic reforms in 1978, Hong Kong became the main source of foreign investments to the mainland. A Special Economic Zone was established the following year in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, located immediately north of the mainland’s border with Hong Kong. The economy of Hong Kong gradually displaced textiles and manufacturing with services, as the financial and banking sectors became increasingly dominant. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the Hong Kong government spent 25 years dealing with the entry and repatriation of Vietnamese refugees.

With the lease of the New Territories due to expire within two decades, the governments of the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China discussed the issue of Hong Kong’s sovereignty in the 1980’s. In 1984, the two countries signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreeing to transfer the sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.[6] The declaration stipulated that Hong Kong would be governed as a special administrative region, retaining its laws and high degree of autonomy for at least fifty years after the transfer. Lacking confidence in the arrangement, some residents chose to emigrate, particularly after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

The Basic Law of Hong Kong, which would serve as the constitutional document after the transfer, was ratified in 1990. Over strong objections from Beijing, Governor Chris Patten introduced democratic reforms to the election process for the Legislative Council. The transfer of the sovereignty occurred at midnight on July 1, 1997, marked by a handover ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.[6] Tung Chee Hwa assumed office as the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s economy was affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1997 that hit many East Asian markets. The H5N1 avian influenza also surfaced that year. Implementation of the Airport Core Program led to the opening of the new Hong Kong International Airport in 1998, after six years of construction. The project was part of the ambitious Port and Airport Development Strategy that was drafted in the early 1980’s.

The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome took hold of Hong Kong in the first half of 2003.[9] That year, half a million people participated in a march to voice disapproval of the Tung administration and the proposal to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law, which had raised concerns over infringements on civil liberties. The proposal was later abandoned by the administration. In 2005, Tung submitted his resignation as chief executive. Donald Tsang, the Chief Secretary for Administration, was selected as chief executive to complete the term.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
Geographic coordinates: 22 15 N, 114 10 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 1,092 sq km
land: 1,042 sq km
water: 50 sq km
Area – comparative: six times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 30 km
regional border: China 30 km
Coastline: 733 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
Climate: subtropical monsoon; cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy from spring through summer, warm and sunny in fall
Terrain: hilly to mountainous with steep slopes; lowlands in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Tai Mo Shan 958 m
Natural resources: outstanding deep water harbor, feldspar
Land use: arable land: 5.05%
permanent crops: 1.01%
other: 93.94% (2001)
Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons
Environment – current issues: air and water pollution from rapid urbanization
Environment – international agreements: party to: Marine Dumping (associate member), Ship Pollution (associate member)
Geography – note: more than 200 islands
People Population: 6,980,412 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13% (male 476,089/female 434,326)
15-64 years: 74% (male 2,515,518/female 2,652,660)
65 years and over: 12.9% (male 419,479/female 482,340) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 41.2 years
male: 40.9 years
female: 41.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.561% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 7.34 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 6.45 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 4.72 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.096 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.948 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 0.956 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 2.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.12 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.74 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 81.68 years
male: 78.99 years
female: 84.6 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 0.98 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 2,600 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Chinese/Hong Konger
adjective: Chinese/Hong Kong
Ethnic groups: Chinese 94.9%, Filipino 2.1%, other 3% (2001 census)
Religions: eclectic mixture of local religions 90%, Christian 10%
Languages: Chinese (Cantonese) 89.2% (official), other Chinese dialects 6.4%, English 3.2% (official), other 1.2% (2001 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 93.5%
male: 96.9%
female: 89.6%

Hungary: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Eastern European Nation

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

 

Hungary

Introduction Hungary became a Christian kingdom in A.D. 1000 and for many centuries served as a bulwark against Ottoman Turkish expansion in Europe. The kingdom eventually became part of the polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed during World War I. The country fell under Communist rule following World War II. In 1956, a revolt and an announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact were met with a massive military intervention by Moscow. Under the leadership of Janos KADAR in 1968, Hungary began liberalizing its economy, introducing so-called “Goulash Communism.” Hungary held its first multiparty elections in 1990 and initiated a free market economy. It joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.
History In the time of the Roman Empire, the region west of the Danube river was known as Pannonia. After the Western Roman Empire collapsed under the stress of the migration of Germanic tribes and Carpian pressure, the Migration Period continued bringing many invaders to Europe. Among the first to arrive were the Huns, who built up a powerful empire under Attila. Attila the Hun in the past centuries was regarded as an ancestral ruler of the Hungarians, this belief however is considered to be erroneous today[9]. It is believed that the origin of the name “Hungary” does not come from the Central Asian nomadic invaders called the Huns, but rather originated from a later, 7th century Bulgar alliance called On-Ogour, which in Old Turkic meant “(the) Ten Arrows”[9][10]. After Hunnish rule faded, the Germanic Ostrogoths then the Lombards came to Pannonia, and the Gepids had a presence in the eastern part of the Carpathian Basin for about 100 years. In the 560’s the Avars founded the Avar Khaganate ,[11] a state which maintained supremacy in the region for more than two centuries and had the military power to launch attacks against all its neighbors. The Avar Khagnate was weakened by constant wars and outside pressure and the Franks under Charlemagne managed to defeat the Avars ending their 250-year rule. Neither the Franks nor others were able to create a lasting state in the region until the freshly unified Hungarians led by Árpád settled in the Carpathian Basin starting in 896. [12].

Medieval Hungary (896 – 1526)
Main articles: Kingdom of Hungary in the Middle Ages, Doctrine of the Holy Crown, Árpád dynasty, Battle of Mohács, Comitatus (Kingdom of Hungary), Mongol invasion of Europe, Islam in Hungary, History of the Székely people, Battle of Mohi, and John Hunyadi

Medieval Hungary controlled more territory than medieval France, and the population of medieval Hungary was the third largest of any country in Europe. Árpád was the Magyar leader whom sources name as the single leader who unified the Magyar tribes via the Covenant of Blood(Vérszerződés) forged one nation, thereafter known as the Hungarian nation[13] and led the new nation to the territory of the Carpathian Basin in the 9th century[13]. After an early Hungarian state was formed in this territory military power of the nation allowed the Hungarians to conduct fierce campaigns and raids as far as present-day Spain. A later defeat at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955 signaled an end to raids on foreign territories, and links between the tribes weakened. The ruling prince (fejedelem) Géza of the House of Árpád, who was the ruler of only some of theunity territory, but the nominal overlord of all seven Magyar tribes, intended to integrate Hungary into Christian (Western) Europe, rebuilding the state according to the Western political and social model[14]. He established a dynasty by naming his son Vajk (later called Stephen) as his successor. This was contrary to the then dominant tradition of the succession of the eldest surviving member of the ruling family. Hungary was established as a Christian kingdom under Stephen I of Hungary, who was crowned in December 1000 AD in the capital, Esztergom. He was the son of Géza[15] and thus a descendant of Árpád. By 1006, Stephen had solidified his power, eliminating all rivals who either wanted to follow the old pagan traditions or wanted an alliance with the orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire. Then he started sweeping reforms to convert Hungary into a feudal state, complete with forced Christianity[16]. What emerged was a strong kingdom[17] that withstood attacks from German kings and Emperors, and nomadic tribes following the Hungarians from the East, integrating some of the latter into the population (along with Germans invited to Transylvania and present-day Slovakia, especially after 1242), and subjugating Croatia in 1102[18].

In 1241-1242, this kingdom received a major blow in the form of the Mongol invasion of Europe: after the defeat of the Hungarian army in the Battle of Muhi[19], King Béla IV fled, and a large part (though not as great as suspected by historians earlier) of the population died[20] (leading later to the invitation of settlers from neighbours in the West and South) in the ensuing destruction (Tatárjárás). Only strongly fortified cities and abbeys could withstand the assault. As a consequence, after the Mongols retreated, King Béla ordered the construction of stone castles, meant to be defense against a possible second Mongol invasion. These castles proved to be very important later in the long struggle with the Ottoman Empire in the following centuries (from the late 14th century onward), but their cost indebted the King to the major feudal landlords again, so the royal power reclaimed by Béla IV after his father King András II weakened it (leading to the issue of the so-called ‘Arany Bulla’ or Golden Bull, in 1222), was lost again.

Árpád’s direct descendants in the male line ruled the country until 1301. During the reigns of the Kings after the house of Árpád, the Kingdom of Hungary reached its greatest extent, yet royal power was weakened as the major landlords greatly increased their influence. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks confronted the country ever more often. The second Hungarian king in the ‘Anjou’ Angevin line also descendant of Árpád on the female line, Louis I the Great (I. or Nagy Lajos, king 1342-1382) extended his rule over territories from the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea, and temporarily occupied the Kingdom of Naples (after his brother was murdered there by his wife, who was also his cousin). From 1370, the death of Casimir III the Great, he was also king of Poland. The alliance between Casimir and Charles I of Hungary, the father of Louis, was the start of a still lasting Polish-Hungarian friendship. Sigismund, a prince from the Luxembourg line succeeded to the throne by marrying Louis’s daughter, Queen Mary. In 1433 he even became Holy Roman Emperor.

The last strong king was the renaissance king Matthias Corvinus. He was the son of the feudal landlord and warlord John Hunyadi, who led the Hungarian troops in the 1456 Siege of Nándorfehérvár. Building on his fathers’ vision, the aim of taking on the Ottoman Empire with a strong enough background, Matthias set out to build a great empire, expanding southward and northwest, while he also implemented internal reforms. His army called the ‘Fekete Sereg’ (Black Army) accomplished a series of victories also capturing the city of Vienna in 1485. In 1514, the weakened King faced a major peasant rebellion led by György Dózsa, which was crushed barbarously by the nobles mainly by János Szapolyai. As central rule degenerated, the stage was set for a defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. In 1521, the strongest Hungarian fortress in the South Nándorfehérvár (modern Belgrade) fell to the Turks, and in 1526, the Hungarian army was destroyed in the Battle of Mohács.

Through the centuries the Kingdom of Hungary kept its old “constitution”, which granted special “freedoms” or rights to the nobility and groups like the Saxons resident in Hungary or the Jassic people, and to free royal towns such as Buda, Kassa (Košice), Pozsony (Bratislava), Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca).

Ottoman occupation 1526-1699

After some 150 years of wars with the Ottoman Empire in the south, the Turks conquered parts of Hungary, and continued their expansion until 1556. The Ottomans gained their first decisive victory over the Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohács in 1526. The next decades were characterized by political chaos; the divided Hungarian nobility elected two kings simultaneously, ‘Szapolyai János’ (1526-1540) and Ferdinand Habsburg (1527-1540), whose armed conflicts weakened the country further. With the conquest of Buda in 1541 by the Turks, Hungary fell into three parts. The north-western part see map) termed as Royal Hungary remained under the Habsburgs who ruled as Kings of Hungary. The eastern part of the kingdom (Partium and Transylvania), in turn, became independent as the Principality of Transylvania,often under Turkish influence. The remaining central area (mostly present-day Hungary), including the capital of Buda was known as Ottoman Hungary. A large part of the area became devastated by permanent warfare. Most smaller settlements disappeared. The Turks were indifferent to the type of Christian religion of their subjects and the Habsburg counter-reformation measures could not reach this area. As a result, the majority of the population of the area became Protestant (Calvinist). In 1686, Austria-led Christian forces reconquered Buda, and in the next few years, all of the country except areas near Temesvár. In the 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz these changes were officially recognized, and in 1718 the entire Kingdom of Hungary was restored from the Ottomans.

Pozsony (Bratislava) became the new capital (1536-1784), coronation town (1563-1830) and seat of the Diet (1536-1848) of Hungary. Nagyszombat(Trnava) in turn, became the religious center in 1541. Parallelly, between 1604 and 1711, there was a series of anti-Habsburg (i.e. anti-Austrian) and anti-Catholic (requiring equal rights and freedom for all Christian religions) uprisings, which – with the exception of the last one – took place in Royal Hungary. The uprisings were usually organized from Transylvania. The last one was an uprising led by ‘II. Rákóczi Ferenc’, who after the dethronement of the Habsburgs in 1707 at the Diet of Ónód took power as the “Ruling Prince” of Hungary. When Austrians defeated the uprising in 1711, Rákóczi was in Poland. He later fled to France, finally Turkey, and lived to the end of his life (1735) in nearby Rodosto. Afterwards, to make further armed resistance impossible, the Austrians blew up some castles (most of the castles on the border between the now-reclaimed territories occupied earlier by the Ottomans and Royal Hungary), and allowed peasants to use the stones from most of the others as building material (the végvárs among them).

History of Hungary 1700-1918

During the Napoleonic Wars and afterwards, the Hungarian Diet had not convened for decades. In the 1820’s, the Emperor was forced to convene the Diet, and thus a Reform Period began. Nevertheless, its progress was slow, because the nobles insisted on retaining their privileges (no taxation, exclusive voting rights, etc.). Therefore the achievements were mostly of national character (e.g. introduction of Hungarian as the official language of the country, instead of the former Latin).

On March 15, 1848, mass demonstrations in Pest and Buda enabled Hungarian reformists to push through a list of 12 demands. Faced with revolution both at home and in Vienna, Austria first had to accept Hungarian demands. Later, under governor Lajos Kossuth and the first Prime minister, Lajos Batthyány, the House of Habsburg was dethroned and the form of government was changed to create the first Republic of Hungary. After the Austrian revolution was suppressed, Franz Joseph replaced his mentally retarded uncle Ferdinand I as Emperor. The Habsburg Ruler and his advisers skillfully manipulated the Croatian, Serbian and Romanian peasantry, led by priests and officers firmly loyal to the Habsburgs, and induced them to rebel against the Hungarian government. The Hungarians were supported by the vast majority of the Slovak, German and Rusyn nationalities and by all the Jews of the kingdom, as well as by a large number of Polish, Austrian and Italian volunteers. [21] Some members of the nationalities gained coveted positions within the Hungarian Army, like General János Damjanich, an ethnic Serb who became a Hungarian national hero through his command of the 3rd Hungarian Army Corps. Initially, the Hungarian forces (Honvédség) defeated Austrian armies. To counter the successes of the Hungarian revolutionary army, Franz Joseph asked for help from the “Gendarme of Europe,” Czar Nicholas I, whose Russian armies invaded Hungary. The huge army of the Russian Empire and the remnants of the Austrian forces proved too powerful for the Hungarian army, and General Artúr Görgey surrendered in August 1849. Julius Freiherr von Haynau, the leader of the Austrian army, then became governor of Hungary for a few months and on October 6, ordered the execution of 13 leaders of the Hungarian army as well as Prime Minister Batthyány. Lajos Kossuth escaped into exile.

Following the war of 1848-49, the whole country was in “passive resistance”. Archduke Albrecht von Habsburg was appointed governor of the Kingdom of Hungary, and this time was remembered for Germanization pursued with the help of Czech officers.

Due to external and internal problems, reforms seemed inevitable to secure the integrity of the Habsburg Empire. Major military defeats, like the Battle of Königgrätz (1866), forced the Emperor to concede internal reforms. To appease Hungarian separatism, the Emperor made a deal with the Hungary, negotiated by Ferenc Deák, called the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, by which the dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary came into existence. The two countries were governed separately with a common ruler and common foreign and military policies. The first prime minister of the Hungary after the Compromise was Count Gyula Andrássy. The Hungarian Constitution was restored, and Franz Joseph was crowned as King of Hungary. The era witnessed an impressive economic development. The formerly backward Hungarian economy become a relatively modern and industrialized by the turn of the century, although agriculture remained fairly dominant. Many of the state institutions and the administrative system of Hungary were established during this period. The census in 1910 (excluding Croatia), recorded the following distribution of population Hungarian 54.5% Romanian 16.1%, Slovak 10.7%, and German 10.4%.The largest religious denomination was the Roman Catholic (49.3%), followed by the Calvinist (14.3%), Greek Orthodox (12.8%), Greek Catholic (11.0%), Lutheran (7.1%), and Jewish (5.0%) religions. In 1910, 6.37% of the population were eligible to vote in elections due to census.

In First World War Austria-Hungary was fighting on the side of Germany, Bulgaria and Turkey . With great difficulty, the Central Powers, as they were called, conquered Serbia and Romania but could not make significant progress against Italy. By 1918, the economic situation has deteriorated, uprisings in the army became commonplace, Entente troops landed in Greece and the personal union with Austria was dissolved in October 1918.

Between the two world wars (1918-1941)
Main articles: Hungarian Soviet Republic and Hungarian Communist Party, Béla Kun, Hungarian Revolutionary War, Conflict between Charles IV of Hungary and Miklós Horthy, Hungary between the two world wars, Hungarian interwar economy, First Vienna Award, and Second Vienna Award

In 1918, as a result of defeat in World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed. On October 31, 1918, the success of the Aster Revolution in Budapest brought the liberal count Mihály Károlyi to power as Prime-Minister. By February 1919 the government had lost all popular support, having failed on the domestic and military fronts. On March 21, after the Entente military representative demanded more territorial concessions from Hungary, Károlyi resigned. The Communist Party of Hungary came to power, led by Béla Kun, and proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic. The Communists – “The Reds” – came to power largely thanks to being the only group with an organized fighting force, and they promised that Hungary would defend its territory (possibly with the help of the Soviet Red Army). The Communists also promised equality and social justice. Initially, Kun’s regime achieved some impressive military successes: the Hungarian Red Army, under the lead of the genius strategist, Colonel Aurél Stromfeld, ousted Czech troops from the north and planned to march against the Romanian army in the east. In terms of domestic policy, the Communist government nationalized industrial and commercial enterprises, socialized housing, transport, banking, medicine, cultural institutions, and all landholdings of more than 400,000 square metres. Still, the popular support of the Communists proved to be short-lived. In the aftermath of a coup attempt, the government took a series of actions called the Red Terror, murdering several hundred people, which alienated much of the population. The Soviet Red Army was never able to aid the new Hungarian republic. Although it did not lose any battles, the Hungarian Red Army gave up land under pressure from the Entente. In the face of domestic backlash and an advancing Romanian force, Béla Kun and most of his comrades fled to Austria, while Budapest was occupied on August 6. All these events, and in particular the final military defeat, led to a deep feeling of dislike among the general population against the Soviet Union (which had not kept its promise to offer military assistance) and the Jews (since many members of Kun’s government were Jewish, making it easy to blame the Jews for the government’s mistakes). The new fighting force in Hungary were the Conservative counter-revolutionaries – the “Whites”. These, who had been organizing in Vienna and established a counter-government in Szeged, assumed power, led by István Bethlen, a Transylvanian aristocrat, and Miklós Horthy, the former commander-in-chief of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. Starting in Western Hungary and spreading throughout the country, a White Terror began by other half-regular and half-militarist detachments (as the police power crashed, there were no serious national regular forces and authorities), and many Communists and other leftists were executed without trial. Radical Whites launched pogroms against the Jews, displayed as the cause of all the difficulties of Hungary. The leaving Romanian army pillaged the country: livestock, machinery and agricultural products were carried to Romania in hundreds of freight cars. [23][24] The estimated property damage of their activity was so much that the international peace conference in 1919 did not require Hungary to pay war redemption to Romania.[citation needed] On November 16, with the consent of Romanian forces, Horthy’s army marched into Budapest. His government gradually restored security, stopped terror, and set up authorities, but thousands of sympathizers of the Károlyi and Kun regimes were imprisoned. Radical political movements were suppressed. In March, the parliament restored the Hungarian monarchy but postponed electing a king until civil disorder had subsided. Instead, Miklos Horthy was elected Regent and was empowered, among other things, to appoint Hungary’s Prime Minister, veto legislation, convene or dissolve the parliament, and command the armed forces.

Hungary’s signing of the Treaty of Trianon on June 4, 1920, ratified the country’s dismemberment. The territorial provisions of the treaty, which ensured continued discord between Hungary and its neighbors, required Hungary to surrender more than two-thirds of its pre-war lands. Nearly one-third of the 10 million ethnic Hungarians found themselves outside the diminished homeland. The country’s ethnic composition was left almost homogeneous, Hungarians constituting about 90% of the population, Germans made up about 6%, and Slovaks, Croats, Romanians, Jews and Gypsies accounted for the remainder.[citation needed] New international borders separated Hungary’s industrial base from its sources of raw materials and its former markets for agricultural and industrial products. Hungary lost 84% of its timber resources, 43% of its arable land, and 83% of its iron ore.[citation needed] Because most of the country’s pre-war industry was concentrated near Budapest, Hungary retained about 51% of its industrial population, 56% of its industry, 82% of its heavy industry, and 70% of its banks.[citation needed] Horthy appointed Count Pál Teleki as Prime Minister in July 1920. His right-wing government issued a numerus clausus law, limiting admission of “political insecure elements” (these were often Jews) to universities and, in order to quiet rural discontent, took initial steps toward fulfilling a promise of major land reform by dividing about 3,850 km² from the largest estates into smallholdings. Teleki’s government resigned, however, after, Charles IV, unsuccessfully attempted to retake Hungary’s throne in March 1921. King Charles’s return produced split parties between conservatives who favored a Habsburg restoration and nationalist right-wing radicals who supported election of a Hungarian king. Count István Bethlen, a non-affiliated right-wing member of the parliament, took advantage of this rift forming a new Party of Unity under his leadership. Horthy then appointed Bethlen prime minister. Charles IV died soon after he failed a second time to reclaim the throne in October 1921. (For more detail on Charles’s attempts to retake the throne, see Charles IV of Hungary’s conflict with Miklós Horthy.)

As prime minister, Bethlen dominated Hungarian politics between 1921 and 1931. He fashioned a political machine by amending the electoral law, providing jobs in the expanding bureaucracy to his supporters, and manipulating elections in rural areas. Bethlen restored order to the country by giving the radical counterrevolutionaries payoffs and government jobs in exchange for ceasing their campaign of terror against Jews and leftists. In 1921, he made a deal with the Social Democrats and trade unions (called Bethlen-Peyer Pact), agreeing, among other things, to legalize their activities and free political prisoners in return for their pledge to refrain from spreading anti-Hungarian propaganda, calling political strikes, and organizing the peasantry. Bethlen brought Hungary into the League of Nations in 1922 and out of international isolation by signing a treaty of friendship with Italy in 1927. The revision of the Treaty of Trianon rose to the top of Hungary’s political agenda and the strategy employed by Bethlen consisted by strengthening the economy and building relations with stronger nations. Revision of the treaty had such a broad backing in Hungary that Bethlen used it, at least in part, to deflect criticism of his economic, social, and political policies. The Great Depression induced a drop in the standard of living and the political mood of the country shifted further toward the right. In 1932 Horthy appointed a new prime-minister, Gyula Gömbös, that changed the course of Hungarian policy towards closer cooperation with Germany and started an effort to magyarize the few remaining ethnic minorities in Hungary. Gömbös signed a trade agreement with Germany that drew Hungary’s economy out of depression but made Hungary dependent on the German economy for both raw materials and markets. Adolf Hitler used promises of returning lost territories, and threats of military intervention and economic pressure to compel Hungarians into supporting Nazi policies, including those related to Jews. Imrédy’s attempts to improve Hungary’s diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom initially made him very unpopular with Germany and Italy. Undoubtedly aware of Germany’s Anschluss with Austria in March, he realized that he could not afford to alienate Germany and Italy on a long-term basis; in the autumn of 1938 his foreign policy became very much pro-German and pro-Italian. [25] Intent on amassing a base of power in Hungarian right-wing politics, Imrédy began to suppress political rivals, so the increasingly influential Arrow Cross Party was harassed, and eventually banned by Imrédy’s administration. As Imrédy drifted further to the right, he proposed that the government be reorganized along totalitarian lines and drafted a harsher Second Jewish Law. The new government of Pál Teleki approved the Second Jewish Law, which greatly restricted Jewish employment and defined Jews by race instead of religion. This definition altered the status of those who had formerly converted from Judaism to Christianity.

Hungary in World War II (1941-1945)

After being awarded by the Germans and Italians part of southern Chechoslovakia and Subcarpathia in the First Vienna Award of 1938, and then northern Transylvania in the Second Vienna Award of 1940, in 1941 Hungary participated in their first military maneuvers on the side of the Axis. Thus, Hungary was part in the invasion of Yugoslavia, gaining some more territory but effectively joining the Axis powers in the process (showing his non-agreement, prime minister Pál Teleki committed suicide). On 22 June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union using the code name Operation Barbarossa. Hungary joined the German effort and declared war on the Soviet Union on 26 June, and entered World War II on the side of the Axis. In late 1941, the Hungarian troops on the Eastern Front experienced success at the Battle of Uman. By 1943, after the Hungarian Second Army suffered extremely heavy losses at the river Don, the Hungarian government sought to negotiate a surrender with the Allies. On 19 March 1944, as a result of this duplicity, German troops quietly occupied Hungary in what was known as Operation Margarethe. But, by now it was clear that the Hungarians were Germany’s “unwilling satellite”. On 15 October 1944, Horthy made a token effort to disengage Hungary from the war. This time the Germans launched Operation Panzerfaust and Horthy was replaced by a puppet government under the pro-German Prime Minister Ferenc Szálasi. Szálasi and his pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party remained loyal to the Germans until the end of the war. In late 1944, Hungarian troops on the Eastern Front again experienced success at the Battle of Debrecen. But this was followed immediately by the Soviet invasion of Hungary and the Battle of Budapest. During the German occupation in May-June 1944, the Arrow Cross Party and Hungarian police deported nearly 440,000 Jews, mostly to Auschwitz.[26] Over 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, as well as tens of thousands of Romani people. Hundreds of Hungarian people were also executed by the Arrow Cross Party for sheltering Jews. The war left Hungary devastated destroying over 60% of the economy and causing huge loss of life. On 13 February 1945, the Hungarian capital city surrendered unconditionally. On 8 May 1945, World War II in Europe officially ended.

Communist era (1947-1989)

Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Following the fall of Nazi Germany, Soviet troops occupied all of the country and through their influence Hungary gradually became a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union. After 1948, Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi established Stalinist rule in the country complete with forced collectivization and planned economy. The rule of the Rákosi government was nearly unbearable for Hungary’s war-torn citizens. This led to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Hungary’s temporary withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. The Soviets retaliated massively with military force, sending in over 150,000 troops and 2,500 tanks[27]. Nearly a quarter of a million people left the country during the brief time that the borders were open in 1956. From the 1960s through the late 1980s, Hungary was often satirically referred to as “the happiest barrack” within the Eastern bloc. This was under the autocratic rule of its controversial communist leader, János Kádár. The last Soviet soldier left the country in 1991 thus ending Soviet military presence in Hungary. With the Soviet Union gone the transition to a market economy began.

Hungarian Republic (1989-)

In June 1987 Károly Grósz took over as premier. In January 1988 all restrictions were lifted on foreign travel. In March demonstrations for democracy and civil rights brought 15,000 onto the streets. In May, after Kádár’s forced retirement, Grósz was named party secretary-general. Under Grósz, Hungary began moving towards full democracy, change accelerated under the impetus of other party reformers such as Imre Pozsgay and Rezső Nyers. Also in June 1988, 30,000 demonstrated against Romania’s plans to demolish Transylvanian villages.

In February, 1989 the Communist Party’s Central Committee, responding to ’public dissatisfaction’, announced it would permit a multi-party system in Hungary and hold free elections. In March, for the first time in decades, the government declared the anniversary of the 1848 Revolution a national holiday. Opposition demonstrations filled the streets of Budapest with more than 75,000 marchers. Grósz met Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, who condoned Hungary’s moves toward a multi-party system and promised that the USSR would not interfere in Hungary’s internal affairs. In May, Hungary began taking down its barbed wire fence along the Austrian border – the first tear in the Iron Curtain. June brought the reburial of Prime Minister Nagy, executed after the 1956 Revolution, drawing a crowd of 250,000 at the Heroes’ Square. The last speaker, 26-year-old Viktor Orbán publicly called for Soviet troops to leave Hungary. In July U.S. President George Bush visited Hungary. In September Foreign Minister Gyula Horn announced that East German refugees in Hungary would not be repatriated but would instead be allowed to go to the West. The resulting exodus shook East Germany and hastened the fall of the Berlin Wall.

At a party congress in October 1989 the Communists agreed to give up their monopoly on power, paving the way for free elections in March 1990. The party’s name was changed from the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party to simply the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and a new program advocating social democracy and a free-market economy was adopted. This was not enough to shake off the stigma of four decades of autocratic rule, however, and the 1990 election was won by the centrist Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), which advocated a gradual transition towards capitalism. The social-democratic Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), which had called for much faster change, came second and the Socialist Party trailed far behind. As Gorbachev looked on, Hungary changed political systems with scarcely a murmur and the last Soviet troops left Hungary in June 1991.

In coalition with two smaller parties, the MDF provided Hungary with sound government during its hard transition to a full market economy. Antall died in December 1993 and was replaced by Interior Minister Péter Boross.

The economic changes of the past few years have resulted in declining living standards for most people in Hungary. In 1991 most state subsidies were removed, leading to a severe recession exacerbated by the fiscal austerity necessary to reduce inflation and stimulate investment. This made life difficult for many Hungarians, and in the May 1994 elections the Hungarian Socialist Party led by former Communists won an absolute majority in parliament. This in no way implied a return to the past, and party leader Gyula Horn was quick to point out that it was his party that had initiated the whole reform process in the first place (as foreign minister in 1989 Horn played a key role in opening Hungary’s border with Austria). All three main political parties advocate economic liberalization and closer ties with the West. In March 1996, Horn was re-elected as Socialist Party leader and confirmed that he would push ahead with the party’s economic stabilization program.

In 1997 in a national referendum 85% voted in favor of Hungary joining the NATO. A year later the European Union began negotiations with Hungary on full membership. In 1999 Hungary joined NATO. Hungary voted in favor of joining the EU, and joined in 2004.

Geography Location: Central Europe, northwest of Romania
Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 93,030 sq km
land: 92,340 sq km
water: 690 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Indiana
Land boundaries: total: 2,171 km
border countries: Austria 366 km, Croatia 329 km, Romania 443 km, Serbia 151 km, Slovakia 677 km, Slovenia 102 km, Ukraine 103 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: temperate; cold, cloudy, humid winters; warm summers
Terrain: mostly flat to rolling plains; hills and low mountains on the Slovakian border
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Tisza River 78 m
highest point: Kekes 1,014 m
Natural resources: bauxite, coal, natural gas, fertile soils, arable land
Land use: arable land: 49.58%
permanent crops: 2.06%
other: 48.36% (2005)
Irrigated land: 2,300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 120 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 21.03 cu km/yr (9%/59%/32%)
per capita: 2,082 cu m/yr (2001)
Environment – current issues: the upgrading of Hungary’s standards in waste management, energy efficiency, and air, soil, and water pollution to meet EU requirements will require large investments
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, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; strategic location astride main land routes between Western Europe and Balkan Peninsula as well as between Ukraine and Mediterranean basin; the north-south flowing Duna (Danube) and Tisza Rivers divide the country into three large regions
Politics The President of the Republic, elected by the Parliament every five years, has a largely ceremonial role, choosing the dates of elections.

The Prime Minister is elected by Parliament and can only be removed by a constructive vote of no confidence. The prime minister selects Cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them. Each Cabinet nominee appears before one or more parliamentary committees in open hearings and must be formally approved by the President.

A unicameral, 386-member National Assembly (the Országgyűlés) is the highest organ of state authority and initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the Prime Minister. National Parliamentary elections are held every four years; the next are due to be held in 2010.

An 11-member Constitutional Court has power to challenge legislation on grounds of unconstitutionally.

People Population: 9,956,108 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.3% (male 785,643/female 741,907)
15-64 years: 69.3% (male 3,399,926/female 3,498,403)
65 years and over: 15.4% (male 554,356/female 975,873) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 38.9 years
male: 36.5 years
female: 41.5 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.253% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 9.66 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 13.05 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.86 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.059 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.972 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.568 male(s)/female
total population: 0.909 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 8.21 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.91 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.92 years
male: 68.73 years
female: 77.38 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.33 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 2,800 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 100 (2001 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: tickborne encephalitis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Hungarian(s)
adjective: Hungarian
Ethnic groups: Hungarian 92.3%, Roma 1.9%, other or unknown 5.8% (2001 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 51.9%, Calvinist 15.9%, Lutheran 3%, Greek Catholic 2.6%, other Christian 1%, other or unspecified 11.1%, unaffiliated 14.5% (2001 census)
Languages: Hungarian 93.6%, other or unspecified 6.4% (2001 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.5%
female: 99.3%

Iran: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Great People With The Hate Filled Dictator

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

 

Iran

Introduction Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and the shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar referred to commonly as the Supreme Leader who, according to the constitution, is accountable only to the Assembly of Experts. US-Iranian relations have been strained since a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held it until 20 January 1981. During 1980-88, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq that eventually expanded into the Persian Gulf and led to clashes between US Navy and Iranian military forces between 1987 and 1988. Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US and UN economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement in terrorism and conventional weapons proliferation. Following the election of reformer Hojjat ol-Eslam Mohammad KHATAMI as president in 1997 and similarly a reformer Majles (parliament) in 2000, a campaign to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction was initiated. The movement floundered as conservative politicians, through the control of un-elected institutions, prevented reform measures from being enacted and increased repressive measures. Starting with nationwide municipal elections in 2003 and continuing through Majles elections in 2004, conservatives reestablished control over Iran’s elected government institutions, which culminated with the August 2005 inauguration of hardliner Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD as president. In December 2006 and March 2007, the international community passed resolutions 1737 and 1747 respectively after Iran failed to comply with UN demands to halt the enrichment of uranium or to agree to full IAEA oversight of its nuclear program. In October 2007, Iranian entities were also subject to US sanctions under EO 13382 designations for proliferation activities and EO 13224 designations for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.
History Early history (3200 BC–728 BC)

Dozens of pre-historic sites across the Iranian plateau point to the existence of ancient cultures and urban settlements in the fourth millennium BC,[6][7][8] centuries before the earliest civilizations arose in nearby Mesopotamia.[31]

Proto-Iranians first emerged following the separation of Indo-Iranians, and are traced to the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex.[32] Aryan, (Proto-Iranian) tribes arrived in the Iranian plateau in the third and second millennium BC, probably in more than one wave of emigration, and settled as nomads. Further separation of Proto-Iranians into “Eastern” and “Western” groups occurred due to migration. By the first millennium BC, Medes, Persians, Bactrians and Parthians populated the western part, while Cimmerians, Sarmatians and Alans populated the steppes north of the Black Sea. Other tribes began to settle on the eastern edge, as far as on the mountainous frontier of north-western Indian subcontinent and into the area which is now Balochistan. Others, such as the Scythian tribes spread as far west as the Balkans and as far east as Xinjiang. Avestan is an eastern Old Iranian language that was used to compose the sacred hymns and canon of the Zoroastrian Avesta in c. 1000 BC. Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Achaemenid empire and later Iranian empires, until the 7th century.

Pre-Islamic Statehood (728 BC–651 AD)

The Medes are credited with the foundation of Iran as a nation and empire (728–559 BC), the largest of its day, until Cyrus the Great established a unified empire of the Medes and Persians leading to the Achaemenid Empire (559–330 BC), and further unification between peoples and cultures. After Cyrus’s death, his son Cambyses continued his father’s work of conquest, making significant gains in Egypt. A power struggle followed Cambyses’ death and, despite his tenuous connection to the royal line, Darius I was declared king (ruled 522–486 BC). He was to be arguably the greatest of the ancient Iranian rulers.

Under Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great, the Persian Empire eventually became the largest and most powerful empire in human history up until that point.[33] The borders of the Persian empire stretched from the Indus and Oxus Rivers in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, extending through Anatolia (modern day Turkey) and Egypt. In 499 BC Athens lent support to a revolt in Miletus which resulted in the sacking of Sardis. This led to an Achaemenid campaign against Greece known as the Greco-Persian Wars which lasted the first half of the 5th century BC. During the Greco-Persian wars Persia made some major advantages and razed Athens in 480 BC, But after a string of Greek victories the Persians were forced to withdraw. Fighting ended with the peace of Callias in 449 BC.

The Achaemenid’s greatest achievement was the empire itself. The rules and ethics emanating from Zoroaster’s teachings were strictly followed by the Achaemenids who introduced and adopted policies based on human rights, equality and banning of slavery. Zoroastrianism spread un-imposed during the time of the Achaemenids and through contacts with the exiled Jewish people in Babylon freed by Cyrus, Zoroastrian concepts further propagated and influenced into other Abrahamic religions. The Golden Age of Athens marked by Aristotle, Plato and Socrates also came about during the Achaemenid period while their contacts with Persia and the Near East abounded. The peace, tranquility, security and prosperity that were afforded to the people of the Near East and Southeastern Europe proved to be a rare historical occurrence, an unparalleled period where commerce prospered, and the standard of living for all people of the region improved.

Alexander the Great invaded Achaemenid territory in 334 BC, defeating the last Achaemenid Emperor Darius III at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. He left the annexed territory in 328–327. In each of the former Achaemenid territories he installed his own officers as caretakers, which led to friction and ultimately to the partitioning of the former empire after Alexander’s death. A reunification would not occur until 700 years later, under the Sassanids (see below). Unlike the diadochic Seleucids and the succeeding Arsacids, who used a vassalary system, the Sassanids—like the Achaemenids—had a system of governors (MP: shahrab) personally appointed by the Emperor and directed by the central government. The new empire led by Alexander became the first, of other, later, foreign ruled Iranian empires that came to promote a Persianate society.

Parthia was led by the Arsacid Dynasty (اشکانیان Ashkâniân), who reunited and ruled over the Iranian plateau, after defeating the Greek Seleucid Empire, beginning in the late 3rd century BC, and intermittently controlled Mesopotamia between ca. 150 BC and 224 AD. These were the third native dynasty of ancient Iran and lasted five centuries. After the conquests of Media, Assyria, Babylonia and Elam, the Parthians had to organize their empire. The former elites of these countries were Greek, and the new rulers had to adapt to their customs if they wanted their rule to last. As a result, the cities retained their ancient rights and civil administrations remained more or less undisturbed.

Parthia was the arch-enemy of the Roman Empire in the east, limiting Rome’s expansion beyond Cappadocia (central Anatolia). By using a heavily-armed and armored cataphract cavalry, and lightly armed but highly-mobile mounted archers, the Parthians “held their own against Rome for almost 300 years”.[35] Rome’s acclaimed general Mark Antony led a disastrous campaign against the Parthians in 36 BC in which he lost 32,000 men. By the time of Roman emperor Augustus, Rome and Parthia were settling some of their differences through diplomacy. By this time, Parthia had acquired an assortment of golden eagles, the cherished standards of Rome’s legions, captured from Mark Antony, and Crassus, who suffered “a disastrous defeat” at Carrhae in 53 BC.

The end of the Parthian Empire came in 224 AD, when the empire was loosely organized and the last king was defeated by Ardashir I, one of the empire’s vassals. Ardashir I then went on to create the Sassanid Empire. Soon he started reforming the country both economically and militarily. The Sassanids established an empire roughly within the frontiers achieved by the Achaemenids, referring to it as Erânshahr or Iranshahr, , “Dominion of the Aryans”, i.e. of Iranians), with their capital at Ctesiphon.[37] The Romans suffered repeated losses particularly by Ardashir I, Shapur I, and Shapur II.[38] During their reign, Sassanid battles with the Roman Empire caused such pessimism in Rome that the historian Cassius Dio wrote:“
Here was a source of great fear to us. So formidable does the Sassanid king seem to our eastern legions, that some are liable to go over to him, and others are unwilling to fight at all. ”

In 632 raiders from the Arab peninsula began attacking the Sassanid Empire. Iran was defeated in the Battle of al-Qâdisiyah, paving way for the Islamic conquest of Persia.

During Parthian, and later Sassanid era, trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Indian subcontinent, and Rome, and helped to lay the foundations for the modern world. Parthian remains display classically Greek influences in some instances and retain their oriental mode in others, a clear expression of “the cultural diversity that characterized Parthian art and life”.[40] The Parthians were innovators of many architecture designs such as that of Ctesiphon, which bears resemblance to, and might have influenced, European Romanesque architecture.[41][42] Under the Sassanids, Iran expanded relations with China, the arts, music, and architecture greatly flourished, and centers such as the School of Nisibis and Academy of Gundishapur became world renowned centers of science and scholarship.

Middle Ages (652–1501)

After the Islamic conquest of Persia, Iran was annexed into the Arab Umayyad Caliphate. But the Islamization of Iran was to yield deep transformations within the cultural, scientific, and political structure of Iran’s society: The blossoming of Persian literature, philosophy, medicine and art became major elements of the newly-forming Muslim civilization. Culturally, politically, and religiously, the Iranian contribution to this new Islamic civilization is of immense importance. Indeed, the culmination of Iran caused the “Islamic Golden Age”.

Abu Moslem, an Iranian general , expelled the Umayyads from Damascus and helped the Abbasid caliphs to conquer Baghdad. The Abbasid caliphs frequently chose their “wazirs” (viziers) among Iranians, and Iranian governors acquired a certain amount of local autonomy. Thus in 822, the governor of Khorasan, Tahir, proclaimed his independence and founded a new Persian dynasty of Tahirids. And by the Samanid era, Iran’s efforts to regain its independence had been well solidified.

Attempts of Arabization thus never succeeded in Iran, and movements such as the Shuubiyah became catalysts for Iranians to regain their independence in their relations with the Arab invaders. The cultural revival of the post-Abbasid period led to a resurfacing of Iranian national identity. The resulting cultural movement reached its peak during the 9th and 10th centuries. The most notable effect of the movement was the continuation of the Persian language, the language of the Persians and the official language of Iran to the present day. Ferdowsi, Iran’s greatest epic poet, is regarded today as the most important figure in maintaining the Persian language.

After an interval of silence Iran re-emerged as a separate, different and distinctive element within Islam. Iranian philosophy after the Islamic conquest, is characterized by different interactions with the Old Iranian philosophy, the Greek philosophy and with the development of Islamic philosophy. The Illumination School and the Transcendent Philosophy are regarded as two of the main philosophical traditions of that era in Persia.

The movement continued well into the 11th century, when Mahmud-a Ghaznavi founded a vast empire, with its capital at Isfahan and Ghazna. Their successors, the Seljuks, asserted their domination from the Mediterranean Sea to Central Asia. As with their predecessors, the divan of the empire was in the hands of Iranian viziers, who founded the Nizamiyya. During this period, hundreds of scholars and scientists vastly contributed to technology, science and medicine, later influencing the rise of European science during the Renaissance.

In 1218, the eastern Khwarazmid provinces of Transoxiana and Khorasan suffered a devastating invasion by Genghis Khan. During this period more than half of Iran’s population were killed,[46] turning the streets of Persian cities like Neishabur into “rivers of blood”, as the severed heads of men, women, and children were “neatly stacked into carefully constructed pyramids around which the carcasses of the city’s dogs and cats were placed”.[47] Between 1220 and 1260, the total population of Iran had dropped from 2,500,000 to 250,000 as a result of mass extermination and famine.[48] In a letter to King Louis IX of France, Holaku, one of the Genghis Khan’s grandsons, alone took responsibility for 200,000 deaths in his raids of Iran and the Caliphate.[49] He was followed by yet another conqueror, Tamerlane, who established his capital in Samarkand.[50] The waves of devastation prevented many cities such as Neishabur from reaching their pre-invasion population levels until the 20th century, eight centuries later.[51] But both Hulagu, Timur, and their successors soon came to adopt the ways and customs of that which they had conquered, choosing to surround themselves with a culture that was distinctively Persian.[52]

Early Modern Era (1501–1921)

Iran’s first encompassing Shi’a Islamic state was established under the Safavid Dynasty (1501–1722) by Shah Ismail I. The Safavid Dynasty soon became a major political power and promoted the flow of bilateral state contacts. The Safavid peak was during the rule of Shah Abbas The Great.[53] The Safavid Dynasty frequently locked horns with Ottoman Empire, Uzbek tribes and the Portuguese Empire. The Safavids moved their capital from Tabriz to Qazvin and then to Isfahan where their patronage for the arts propelled Iran into one of its most aesthetically productive eras. Under their rule, the state became highly centralized, the first attempts to modernize the military were made, and even a distinct style of architecture developed. In 1722 Afghan rebels defeated Shah Sultan Hossein and ended the Safavid Dynasty, but in 1735, Nader Shah successfully drove out the Afghan rebels from Isfahan and established the Afsharid Dynasty. He then staged an incursion into India in 1738 securing the Peacock throne, Koh-i-Noor, and Darya-ye Noor among other royal treasures. His rule did not last long however, and he was assassinated in 1747. The Mashhad based Afshar Dynasty was succeeded by the Zand dynasty in 1750, founded by Karim Khan, who established his capital at Shiraz. His rule brought a period of relative peace and renewed prosperity.

The Zand dynasty lasted three generations, until Aga Muhammad Khan executed Lotf Ali Khan, and founded his new capital in Tehran, marking the dawn of the Qajar Dynasty in 1794. The capable Qajar chancellor Amir Kabir established Iran’s first modern college system, among other modernizing reforms. Iran suffered several wars with Imperial Russia during the Qajar era, resulting in Iran losing almost half of its territories to Imperial Russia and the British Empire, via the treaties of Gulistan, Turkmenchay and Akhal. In spite of The Great Game Iran managed to maintain her sovereignty and was never colonized, unlike neighboring states in the region. Repeated foreign intervention and a corrupt and weakened Qajar rule led to various protests, which by the end of the Qajar period resulted in Persia’s constitutional revolution establishing the nation’s first parliament in 1906, within a constitutional monarchy.

Late Modern Era (1921–)

In 1921, Reza Khan overthrew the weakening Qajar Dynasty and became Shah. Reza Shah initiated industrialization, railroad construction, and the establishment of a national education system. Reza Shah sought to balance Russian and British influence, but when World War II started, his nascent ties to Germany alarmed Britain and Russia. In 1941, Britain and the USSR invaded Iran in order to utilize Iranian railroad capacity during World War II. The Shah was forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1951 Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh was elected prime minister. As prime minister, Mossadegh became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized Iran’s oil reserves. In response Britain embargoed Iranian oil and invited the United States to join in a plot to depose Mossadegh, and in 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Ajax. The operation was successful, and Mossadegh was arrested on 19 August 1953. After Operation Ajax Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s rule became increasingly autocratic. With American support the Shah was able to rapidly modernize Iranian infrastructure, but he simultaneously crushed all forms of political opposition with his intelligence agency, SAVAK. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became an active critic of the Shah’s White Revolution and publicly denounced the government. Khomeini, who was popular in religious circles, was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months. After his release in 1964 Khomeini publicly criticized the United States government. The Shah was persuaded to send him into exile by General Hassan Pakravan. Khomeini was sent first to Turkey, then to Iraq and finally to France. While in exile he continued to denounce the Shah.

The Iranian Revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution,[54][55][56] began in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations against the Shah.[57] After strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country and its economy, the Shah fled the country in January 1979 and Ayatollah Khomeini soon returned from exile to Tehran, enthusiastically greeted by millions of Iranians.[58] The Pahlavi Dynasty collapsed ten days later on 11 February when Iran’s military declared itself “neutral” after guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran officially became an Islamic Republic on 1 April 1979 when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to make it so.[59][60] In December 1979 the country approved a theocratic constitution, whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country. The speed and success of the revolution surprised many throughout the world,[61] as it had not been precipitated by a military defeat, a financial crisis, or a peasant rebellion.[62] Although both nationalists and Marxists joined with Islamic traditionalists to overthrow the Shah, the revolution ultimately resulted in an Islamic Republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Donald Rumsfeld meets Saddam Hussein on 19–20 December 1983. Rumsfeld visited again on 24 March 1984, the day the UN reported that Iraq had used mustard gas and tabun nerve agent against Iranian troops. The New York Times reported from Baghdad on 29 March 1984, that “American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with Iraq and the US, and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been established in all but name.”

Iran’s relationship with the United States deteriorated rapidly during the revolution. On 4 November 1979, a group of Iranian students seized US embassy personnel, labelling the embassy a “den of spies”.[65] They accused its personnel of being CIA agents plotting to overthrow the revolutionary government, as the CIA had done to Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953. While the student ringleaders had not asked for permission from Khomeini to seize the embassy, Khomeini nonetheless supported the embassy takeover after hearing of its success.[66] While most of the female and African American hostages were released within the first months,[66] the remaining fifty-two hostages were held for 444 days. The students demanded the handover of the Shah in exchange for the hostages, and following the Shah’s death in the summer of 1980, that the hostages be put on trial for espionage. Subsequently attempts by the Jimmy Carter administration to negotiate or rescue were unsuccessful. But in January 19 1981 the hostages were set free according to the Algiers declaration. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein decided to take advantage of what he perceived to be disorder in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and its unpopularity with Western governments. The once-strong Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolution. Saddam sought to expand Iraq’s access to the Persian Gulf by acquiring territories that Iraq had claimed earlier from Iran during the Shah’s rule. Of chief importance to Iraq was Khuzestan which not only has a substantial Arab population, but boasted rich oil fields as well. On the unilateral behalf of the United Arab Emirates, the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs became objectives as well. With these ambitions in mind, Hussein planned a full-scale assault on Iran, boasting that his forces could reach the capital within three days. On 22 September 1980 the Iraqi army invaded Iran at Khuzestan, precipitating the Iran-Iraq War. The attack took revolutionary Iran completely by surprise.

Although Saddam Hussein’s forces made several early advances, by 1982, Iranian forces managed to push the Iraqi army back into Iraq. Khomeini sought to export his Islamic revolution westward into Iraq, especially on the majority Shi’a Arabs living in the country. The war then continued for six more years until 1988, when Khomeini, in his words, “drank the cup of poison” and accepted a truce mediated by the United Nations. Tens of thousands of Iranian civilians and military personnel were killed when Iraq used chemical weapons in its warfare. Iraq was financially backed by Egypt, the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact states, the United States (beginning in 1983), France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, and the People’s Republic of China (which also sold weapons to Iran). There were more than 100,000 Iranian victims[67] of Iraq’s chemical weapons during the eight-year war. The total Iranian casualties of the war were estimated to be anywhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000. Almost all relevant international agencies have confirmed that Saddam engaged in chemical warfare to blunt Iranian human wave attacks; these agencies unanimously confirmed that Iran never used chemical weapons during the war.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan
Geographic coordinates: 32 00 N, 53 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 1.648 million sq km
land: 1.636 million sq km
water: 12,000 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Alaska
Land boundaries: total: 5,440 km
border countries: Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan-proper 432 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km
Coastline: 2,440 km; note – Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf
continental shelf: natural prolongation
Climate: mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast
Terrain: rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,671 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur
Land use: arable land: 9.78%
permanent crops: 1.29%
other: 88.93% (2005)
Irrigated land: 76,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 137.5 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 72.88 cu km/yr (7%/2%/91%)
per capita: 1,048 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes
Environment – current issues: air pollution, especially in urban areas, from vehicle emissions, refinery operations, and industrial effluents; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; oil pollution in the Persian Gulf; wetland losses from drought; soil degradation (salination); inadequate supplies of potable water; water pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste; urbanization
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport
Politics The political system of the Islamic Republic is based on the 1979 Constitution. The system comprises several intricately connected governing bodies. The Supreme Leader of Iran is responsible for delineation and supervision of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.[71] The Supreme Leader is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, controls the military intelligence and security operations; and has sole power to declare war or peace.[71] The heads of the judiciary, state radio and television networks, the commanders of the police and military forces and six of the twelve members of the Council of Guardians are appointed by the Supreme Leader.[71] The Assembly of Experts elects and dismisses the Supreme Leader on the basis of qualifications and popular esteem.[72] The Assembly of Experts is responsible for supervising the Supreme Leader in the performance of legal duties.

After the Supreme Leader, the Constitution defines the President of Iran as the highest state authority.[71][73] The President is elected by universal suffrage for a term of four years and can only be re-elected for one term.[73] Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians prior to running in order to ensure their allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic revolution.[74] The President is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and for the exercise of executive powers, except for matters directly related to the Supreme Leader, who has the final say in all matters.[71] The President appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers, coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature.[75] Eight Vice-Presidents serve under the President, as well as a cabinet of twenty two ministers, who must all be approved by the legislature.[76] Unlike many other states, the executive branch in Iran does not control the armed forces. Although the President appoints the Ministers of Intelligence and Defense, it is customary for the President to obtain explicit approval from the Supreme Leader for these two ministers before presenting them to the legislature for a vote of confidence. Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was elected in a run-off poll in the 2005 presidential elections. His term expires in 2009.

Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran

As of 2008 the legislature of Iran (also known as the Majlis of Iran) is a unicameral body.[78] Before the Iranian Revolution, the legislature was bicameral, but the upper house was removed under the new constitution. The Majlis of Iran comprises 290 members elected for four-year terms.[78] The Majlis drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties, and approves the national budget.[79] All Majlis candidates and all legislation from the assembly must be approved by the Council of Guardians.[79][80] The Council of Guardians comprises twelve jurists including six appointed by the Supreme Leader. The others are elected by the Parliament from among the jurists nominated by the Head of the Judiciary.[81][73] The Council interprets the constitution and may veto Parliament. If a law is deemed incompatible with the constitution or Sharia (Islamic law), it is referred back to Parliament for revision.[73]

The Supreme Leader appoints the head of Iran’s Judiciary, who in turn appoints the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor.[82] There are several types of courts including public courts that deal with civil and criminal cases, and “revolutionary courts” which deal with certain categories of offenses, including crimes against national security. The decisions of the revolutionary courts are final and cannot be appealed.[82] The Special Clerical Court handles crimes allegedly committed by clerics, although it has also taken on cases involving lay people. The Special Clerical Court functions independently of the regular judicial framework and is accountable only to the Supreme Leader. The Court’s rulings are final and cannot be appealed.[82]

The Assembly of Experts, which meets for one week annually, comprises 86 “virtuous and learned” clerics elected by adult suffrage for eight-year terms. As with the presidential and parliamentary elections, the Council of Guardians determines candidates’ eligibility.[82] The Assembly elects the Supreme Leader and has the constitutional authority to remove the Supreme Leader from power at any time.[82] As all of their meetings and notes are strictly confidential, the Assembly has never been publicly known to challenge any of the Supreme Leader’s decisions.[82]

Finally, Local City Councils are elected by public vote to four-year terms in all cities and villages of Iran. According to article seven of Iran’s Constitution, these local councils together with the Parliament are “decision-making and administrative organs of the State”. This section of the constitution was not implemented until 1999 when the first local council elections were held across the country. Councils have many different responsibilities including electing mayors, supervising the activities of municipalities; studying the social, cultural, educational, health, economic, and welfare requirements of their constituencies; planning and co-ordinating national participation in the implementation of social, economic, constructive, cultural, educational and other welfare affairs.

People Population: 65,397,521 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 7,783,794/female 7,385,721)
15-64 years: 71.4% (male 23,636,883/female 23,088,934)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,701,727/female 1,800,462) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 25.8 years
male: 25.6 years
female: 26 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.663% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 16.57 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.65 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -4.29 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.054 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.024 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.945 male(s)/female
total population: 1.026 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 38.12 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 38.29 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 37.93 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.56 years
male: 69.12 years
female: 72.07 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.71 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 66,000 (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 1,600 (2005 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever and malaria
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Iranian(s)
adjective: Iranian
Ethnic groups: Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%
Religions: Muslim 98% (Shi’a 89%, Sunni 9%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha’i) 2%
Languages: Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 77%
male: 83.5%
female: 70.4%

Iraq: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Ancient War Torn Nation

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

 

Iraq

Introduction Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. A “republic” was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of military strong men ruled the country until 2003, the last was SADDAM Husayn. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait, but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait’s liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Hussein regime. Coalition forces remain in Iraq under a UNSC mandate, helping to provide security and to support the freely elected government. The Coalition Provisional Authority, which temporarily administered Iraq after the invasion, transferred full governmental authority on 28 June 2004 to the Iraqi Interim Government, which governed under the Transitional Administrative Law for Iraq (TAL). Under the TAL, elections for a 275-member Transitional National Assembly (TNA) were held in Iraq on 30 January 2005. Following these elections, the Iraqi Transitional Government (ITG) assumed office. The TNA was charged with drafting Iraq’s permanent constitution, which was approved in a 15 October 2005 constitutional referendum. An election under the constitution for a 275-member Council of Representatives (CoR) was held on 15 December 2005. The CoR approval in the selection of most of the cabinet ministers on 20 May 2006 marked the transition from the ITG to Iraq’s first constitutional government in nearly a half-century.
History Ancient Mesopotamia

The region of Iraq was historically known as Mesopotamia (Greek: “between the rivers”). It was home to the world’s first known civilization, the Sumerian culture, followed by the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian cultures, whose influence extended into neighboring regions as early as 5000 BC. These civilizations produced some of the earliest writing and some of the first sciences, mathematics, laws and philosophies of the world; hence its common epithet, the “Cradle of Civilization”.

In the sixth century BC, Cyrus the Great conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire, and Mesopotamia was subsumed in the Achaemenid Persian Empire for nearly four centuries. Alexander the Great conquered the region again, putting it under Macedonian rule for nearly two centuries. A Central Asian tribe of ancient Iranian people’s known as the Parthia’s later annexed the region, followed by the Sassanid Persians. The region remained a province of the Persian Empire for nine centuries, until the 7th century.

Islamic Caliphate

Beginning in the seventh century AD, Islam spread to what is now Iraq during the Islamic conquest of Persia, led by the Muslim Arab commander Khalid ibn al-Walid. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, the prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law Ali moved his capital to Kufa “fi al-Iraq” when he became the fourth caliph. The Umayyad Caliphate ruled the province of Iraq from Damascus in the 7th century. (However, eventually there was a separate, independent Caliphate of Cordoba.)

The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad in the 8th century as their capital, and it became the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Baghdad was the largest multicultural city of the Middle Ages, peaking at a population of more than a million, and was the center of learning during the Islamic Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city during the sack of Baghdad in the 13th century.

Mongol Conquest

In 1257, Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire’s forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu demanded surrender but the caliph refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, Baghdad was decimated. Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and The Grand Library of Baghdad (Arabic بيت الحكمة Bayt al-Hikma, lit., House of Wisdom), which contained countless, precious, historical documents. The city would never regain its status as major center of culture and influence.

In 1401, warlord of Turco-Mongol descent Tamerlane (Timur Lenk) invaded Iraq. After the capture of Baghdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred. Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur).

Ottoman Empire

Later, the Ottoman Turks took Baghdad from the Persians in 1535. The Ottomans lost Baghdad to the Iranian Safavids in 1609, and took it back in 1632. From 1747 to 1831, Iraq was ruled, with short intermissions, by the Mamluk officers of Georgian origin who enjoyed local autonomy from the Sublime Porte.[8] In 1831, the direct Ottoman rule was imposed and lasted until World War I, during which the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers.

During World War I the Ottomans were driven from much of the area by the United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war. By the end of 1918 the British had deployed 410,000 men in the area, though only 112,000 were combat troops.

During World War I the British and French divided the Middle East in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The Treaty of Sèvres, which was ratified in the Treaty of Lausanne, led to the advent of the modern Middle East and Republic of Turkey. The League of Nations granted France mandates over Syria and Lebanon and granted the United Kingdom mandates over Iraq and Palestine (which then consisted of two autonomous regions: Palestine and Transjordan). Parts of the Ottoman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula became parts of what are today Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

British Mandate of Mesopotamia

At the end of World War I, the League of Nations granted the area to the United Kingdom as a mandate. It initially formed two former Ottoman vilayets (regions): Baghdad, and Basra into a single country in August 1921. Five years later, in 1926, the northern vilayet of Mosul was added, forming the territorial boundaries of the modern Iraqi state.

For three out of four centuries of Ottoman rule, Baghdad was the seat of administration for the vilayets of Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra. During the mandate, British colonial administrators ruled the country, and through the use of British armed forces, suppressed Arab and Kurdish rebellions against the occupation. They established the Hashemite king, Faisal, who had been forced out of Syria by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities selected Sunni Arab elites from the region for appointments to government and ministry offices.[specify][9]

Hashemite monarchy

Britain granted independence to Iraq in 1932, on the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases and transit rights for their forces. King Ghazi of Iraq ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal’s death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups, until his death in 1939. The United Kingdom invaded Iraq in 1941, for fear that the government of Rashid Ali al-Gaylani might cut oil supplies to Western nations, and because of his strong ideological leanings to Nazi Germany. A military occupation followed the restoration of the Hashemite monarchy, and the occupation ended on October 26, 1947. The rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite monarchy were Nuri al-Said, the autocratic prime minister, who also ruled from 1930–1932, and ‘Abd al-Ilah, an adviser to the king Faisal II.

Republic of Iraq

The reinstated Hashemite monarchy lasted until 1958, when it was overthrown by a coup d’etat of the Iraqi Army, known as the 14 July Revolution. The coup brought Brigadier General Abdul Karim Qassim to power. He withdrew from the Baghdad Pact and established friendly relations with the Soviet Union, but his government lasted only until 1963, when it was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif. Salam Arif died in 1966 and his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, assumed the presidency. In 1968, Rahman Arif was overthrown by the Arab Socialist Bath Party. This movement gradually came under the control of Saddam Hussein ‘Abd al-Majid al Tikriti, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), then Iraq’s supreme executive body, in July 1979, while killing many of his opponents.

Saddam Hussein

In 1979, Saddam Hussein took power as Iraqi President, after killing and arresting his leadership rivals. Shortly after taking power, the political situation in Iraq’s neighbor Iran changed drastically after the success of the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which resulted in a Shi’ite Muslim theocratic state being established. This was a dangerous change in the eyes of the Iraqi government, as Iraq had a Shi’ite majority, but was ruled by Hussein’s Sunni Muslim dominated regime. In 1980, Hussein claimed that Iranian forces were trying to topple his government and declared war on Iran. Saddam Hussein supported the Iranian Islamic socialist organization called the People’s Mujahedin of Iran which opposed the Iranian government. During the Iran-Iraq War Iraqi forces attacked Iranian soldiers and civilians with chemical weapons. Hussein’s regime was notorious for its human rights abuses; for instance, during the Al-Anfal campaign as well as attacks on Kurd civilians inside Iraq, such as the Halabja massacre, as punishment for elements of Kurdish support of Iran. The war ended in stalemate in 1988, largely due to American and Western support for Iraq. This was part of the US policy of “dual containment” of Iraq and Iran.

In 1977, the Iraqi government ordered the construction of Osirak (also spelled Osiraq) at the Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, 18 km (11 miles) south-east of Baghdad. It was a 40 MW light-water nuclear materials testing reactor (MTR). In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed the facility, in order to prevent the country from using the reactor for creation of nuclear weapons.

In 1990, faced with economic disaster following the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam Hussein looked to the oil-rich neighbor of Kuwait as a target to invade to use its resources and money to rebuild Iraq’s economy. The Iraqi government claimed that Kuwait was illegally slant drilling its oil pipelines into Iraqi territory which it demanded be stopped, Kuwait rejected the notion that it was slant drilling and Iraq followed this in August 1990 with the invasion of Kuwait. Upon successfully occupying Kuwait, Hussein declared that Kuwait had ceased to exist and it was to be part of Iraq, against heavy objections from many countries and the United Nations.

The UN agreed to pass sanctions against Iraq and demanded its immediate withdrawal from Kuwait. Iraq refused and the UN Security Council in 1991 unanimously voted for military action against Iraq. The United States, which had enormous vested interests in the oil supplies of the Middle East led an international coalition into Kuwait and Iraq. The coalition forces entered the war with more advanced weaponry than that of Iraq, though Iraq’s army was the largest armed force in the Middle East at the time. Despite a large arsenal of military forces, the Iraqi army stood no match to the advanced weaponry of the coalition forces and the air superiority which the U.S. Air Force provided. Iraq responded to the invasion by launching SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Hussein hoped that by attacking Israel, the Israeli military would be drawn into the war, which he believed would rally anti-Israeli sentiment in neighboring Arab countries to support Iraq. However Hussein’s gamble failed as Israel reluctantly accepted U.S. demand for Israel to remain out of the conflict to avoid inflaming tensions. Iraqi armed forces were quickly destroyed and Hussein eventually accepted the inevitable and ordered a withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, but before they were to do so, he ordered them to sabotage Kuwait’s oil wells, which resulted in hundreds of wells being set ablaze causing an economic and ecological disaster in Kuwait.

The aftermath of the war saw the Iraqi military, especially its air force destroyed. In turn for peace, Iraq was forced to accept “no-fly zones”, the dismantlement of all chemical and biological weapons it possessed, and end any attempt to create or purchase nuclear weapons, to be insured by the allowance of UN weapons inspectors to evaluate the dismantlement of such weapons. And finally, Iraq would face sanctions if it disobeyed any of the demands. Shortly after the war ended in 1991, Shia Muslim Iraqis engaged in protests against Hussein’s regime, but Hussein responded with violent repression against Shia Muslims and the protests came to an end. After the war, Iraq on a number of occasions through the 1990s was accused of breaking its obligations including the discovery in 1993, of a plan to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush, in which sanctions were imposed and military action was taken by U.S. forces against Iraq.

Critics estimate that more than 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result of the sanctions.[13] The U.S. and the UK declared no-fly zones over Kurdish northern and Shiite southern Iraq to oversee the Kurd’s and southern Shiites.[specify]

Invasion by American-led Coalition forces

20 March 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq, with the stated reason that Iraq had failed to abandon its nuclear and chemical weapons development program in violation of United Nations resolution 687. When Iraq invaded Kuwait during the first Gulf War, the United Nations Security Council, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, adopted resolution 678, authorizing U.N. member states to use “all necessary means” to “restore international peace and security in the area.” After Iraq was expelled from Kuwait the United Nations passed a cease-fire resolution 687. The agreement included provisions obligating Iraq to discontinue its nuclear weapons program. The United States asserted that because Iraq was in “material breach” of resolution 687, the armed forces authorization of resolution 678 was revived.

The United States gave further justification for the invasion of Iraq in claims that Iraq had or was developing weapons of mass destruction and the opportunity to remove an oppressive dictator from power and bring democracy to Iraq. In his State of Union Address on 29 January, 2002, the American President George W. Bush declared that Iraq was a member of the “axis of evil”, and that, like North Korea and Iran, Iraq’s attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction gave credence to the claim that the Iraqi government posed a serious threat to America’s national security. He added, “Iraq continues to flaunt its hostilities toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade… This is a regime that agreed to international inspections—then kicked out inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world… By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes [Iran, Iraq and North Korea] pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred.”[14] However, no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have been found since the invasion.[15]

Post-invasion

Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq.[16] Government authority was transferred to an Iraqi Interim Government in June 2004 and a permanent government was elected in October 2005. More than 140,000 Coalition troops remain in Iraq.

Studies have placed the number of civilians deaths as high as 655,000 (see The Lancet study), although most studies have put the number much lower; the Iraq Body Count project has a figure of less than 10% of The Lancet Study, though IBC organizers acknowledge that their statistics are an under-count as they base their information off of media-confirmed deaths. The website of the Iraq body count states, “Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths – which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media.”

After the invasion, al-Qaeda took advantage of the insurgency to entrench itself in the country concurrently with an Arab-Sunni led insurgency and sectarian violence.

On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged.[18] Hussein’s half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan and former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court Awad Hamed al-Bandar were likewise executed on January 15, 2007;[19] as was Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam’s former deputy and former vice-president (originally sentenced to life in prison but later to death by hanging), on March 20, 2007.[20] Ramadan was the fourth and last man in the al-Dujail trial to die by hanging for crimes against humanity.

At the Anfal genocide trial, Saddam’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid (aka Chemical Ali), former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed al-Tay, and former deputy Hussein Rashid Mohammed were sentenced to hang for their role in the Al-Anfal Campaign against the Kurd’s on June 24, 2007[citation needed].

Acts of sectarian violence have led to claims of ethnic cleansing in Iraq, and there have been many attacks on Iraqi minorities such as the Yezidis, Mandeans, Assyrians and others.[21]

In 2007 Foreign Policy Magazine named Iraq as the second most unstable nation in the world after Sudan.[22]

Although violence has declined from the summer of 2007,[23] the U.N. reported of a cholera outbreak in Iraq.[24]

Iraqi diaspora

The dispersion of native Iraqis to other countries is known as the Iraqi diaspora. There have been many large-scale waves of emigration from Iraq, beginning early in the regime of Saddam Hussein and continuing through to 2007. The UN High Commission for Refugees has estimated that nearly two million Iraqis have fled the country in recent years, mostly to Jordan and Syria.[25] Although some expatriates returned to Iraq after the 2003 invasion, the flow had virtually stopped by 2006.[26]

In addition to the 2 million Iraqis who fled to neighboring countries, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimates the number of people currently displaced within the country at 1.9 million.

Roughly 40% of Iraq’s middle class is believed to have fled, the U.N. said. Most are fleeing systematic persecution and have no desire to return.[28] Refugees are mired in poverty as they are generally barred from working in their host countries.

In recent times the Diaspora seems to be reversing with the increased security of the last few months, and the Iraqi government claims that so far 46,000 refugees have returned to their homes in October of 2007 alone.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Geographic coordinates: 33 00 N, 44 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 437,072 sq km
land: 432,162 sq km
water: 4,910 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Idaho
Land boundaries: total: 3,650 km
border countries: Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 240 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 352 km
Coastline: 58 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate: mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq
Terrain: mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: unnamed peak; 3,611 m; note – this peak is not Gundah Zhur 3,607 m or Kuh-e Hajji-Ebrahim 3,595 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
Land use: arable land: 13.12%
permanent crops: 0.61%
other: 86.27% (2005)
Irrigated land: 35,250 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 96.4 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 42.7 cu km/yr (3%/5%/92%)
per capita: 1,482 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: dust storms, sandstorms, floods
Environment – current issues: government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Marsh Arabs, who inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area’s wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; development of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers system contingent upon agreements with upstream riparian Turkey; air and water pollution; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography – note: strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf
People Population: 27,499,638 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.4% (male 5,509,736/female 5,338,722)
15-64 years: 57.6% (male 8,018,841/female 7,812,611)
65 years and over: 3% (male 386,321/female 433,407) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 20 years
male: 19.9 years
female: 20 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.618% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 31.44 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.26 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.032 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.026 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.891 male(s)/female
total population: 1.024 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 47.04 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 52.73 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 41.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.31 years
male: 68.04 years
female: 70.65 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.07 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Ireland: Truth, Knowledge, History Of The Great Nation Of Ireland

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

 

Ireland

Introduction Celtic tribes arrived on the island between 600-150 B.C. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian BORU defeated the Danes in 1014. English invasions began in the 12th century and set off more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions. A failed 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion touched off several years of guerrilla warfare that in 1921 resulted in independence from the UK for 26 southern counties; six northern (Ulster) counties remained part of the UK. In 1948 Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth; it joined the European Community in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful unification of Ireland and have cooperated with Britain against terrorist groups. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland is being implemented with some difficulties. In 2006, the Irish and British governments developed and began to implement the St. Andrews Agreement, building on the Good Friday Agreement approved in 1998.
History Ireland is the successor-state to the Dominion called the Irish Free State. That Dominion came into being when all of the island of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 6 December 1922. However, the following day the Parliament of Northern Ireland exercised its right under the Anglo-Irish Treaty to opt back into the United Kingdom.[5] This action, known as the Partition of Ireland, followed four attempts to introduce devolved autonomous government over the whole island of Ireland (in 1886, 1893, 1914 and 1920). The Irish Free State was abolished when Ireland was formally established on 29 December 1937, the day its constitution came into force.

Irish independence in 1922 was preceded by the Easter Rising of 1916, when Irish volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army took over sites in Dublin and Galway under terms expressed in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The seven signatories of this proclamation, Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Thomas Clarke, Sean MacDiarmada, Joseph Plunkett, Eamonn Ceannt and James Connolly, were executed, along with nine others, and thousands were interned precipitating the Irish War of Independence.

Early background

From the Act of Union on 1 January 1801 until 6 December 1922, Ireland had been part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. During the Great Famine from 1845 to 1849 the island’s population of over 8 million fell by 30 percent. One million Irish died of starvation and another 1.5 million emigrated,[6] which set the pattern of emigration for the century to come and would result in a constant decline up to the 1960s. From 1874, but particularly from 1880 under Charles Stewart Parnell, the Irish Parliamentary Party moved to prominence through widespread agrarian agitation that won improved tenant land reforms and with its attempts to win two Home Rule Bills, which would have granted Ireland limited national autonomy within the United Kingdom. These nevertheless led to the “grass-roots” control of national affairs under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 previously in the hands of landlord dominated grand juries.

Home Rule statute

Home Rule seemed certain in 1911 when the House of Lords lost their veto, and John Redmond secured the Third Home Rule Act 1914. The Unionist movement, however, had been growing since 1886 among Irish Protestants after the introduction of the first home rule bill, fearing that they would face discrimination and lose economic and social privileges if Irish Catholics were to achieve real political power. Though Irish unionism existed throughout the whole of Ireland, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century unionism was particularly strong in parts of Ulster, where industrialization was more common in contrast to the more agrarian rest of the island. (Any tariff barriers would, it was feared, most heavily hit that region.) In addition, the Protestant population was more strongly located in Ulster, with unionist majorities existing in about four counties.

Mounting resistance

Under the leadership of the Dublin-born Sir Edward Carson of the Irish Unionist Party and the northerner Sir James Craig of the Ulster Unionist Party unionists became strongly militant in order to oppose the Coercion of Ulster. In 1914, to avoid rebellion with Ulster, the British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, with agreement of the Irish Party leadership, amended a clause into the bill providing for home rule for 26 of the 32 counties, with an as of yet undecided new set of measures to be introduced for the area to be temporarily excluded. Though it received the Royal Assent and was placed on the statute books, the Third Home Rule Act 1914’s implementation was suspended until after the Great War. (The war at that stage was expected to be ended by 1915, not the four years it did ultimately last.) For the prior reasons of ensuring the implementation of the Act at the end of the war, Redmond and his Irish National Volunteers supported the Allied cause, and 175,000 joined Irish regiments of the 10th (Irish), 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) divisions of the New British Army.

In January 1919, after the December 1918 general election, 73 of Ireland’s 106 MPs elected were Sinn Féin members who refused to take their seats in the British House of Commons. Instead, they set up an Irish parliament called Dáil Éireann. This Dáil in January 1919 issued a Declaration of Independence and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The Declaration was mainly a restatement of the 1916 Proclamation with the additional provision that Ireland was no longer a part of the United Kingdom. The new Irish Republic was recognized internationally only by the Russian Republic. The Republic’s Aireacht (ministry) sent a delegation under Ceann Comhairle Seán T. O’Kelly to the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, but it was not admitted.

After the bitterly fought War of Independence, representatives of the British government and the Irish treaty delegates, led by Arthur Griffith, Robert Barton and Michael Collins negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London from 11 October – 6 December 1921. The Irish delegates set up headquarters at Hans Place in Knightsbridge and it was here in private discussions that the decision was taken at 11.15am on 5 December to recommend the Treaty to Dáil Éireann. Under the Treaty the British agreed to the establishment of an independent Irish State whereby the Irish Free State (in the Irish language Saorstát Éireann) with dominion status was created. Dáil Éireann narrowly ratified the treaty.History of Ireland
series

The Treaty was not entirely satisfactory to either side. It gave more concessions to the Irish than the British had intended to give but did not go far enough to satisfy republican aspirations. The new Irish Free State was in theory to cover the entire island, subject to the proviso that six counties in the north-east, termed “Northern Ireland” (which had been created as one of the two separate Home Rule regions under the Government of Ireland Act 1920) could opt out and choose to remain part of the United Kingdom, which they duly did. The remaining twenty-six counties (originally “Southern Ireland” under the Act) became the Irish Free State, a constitutional monarchy over which the British monarch reigned (from 1927 with the title King of Ireland). It had a Governor-General, a bicameral parliament, a cabinet called the “Executive Council” and a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council.

Permeating partition

The Irish Civil War was the direct consequence of the creation of the Irish Free State. Anti-Treaty forces, led by Éamon de Valera, objected to the fact that acceptance of the Treaty abolished the Irish Republic of 1919 to which they had sworn loyalty, arguing in the face of public support for the settlement that the “people have no right to do wrong”. They objected most to the fact that the state would remain part of the British Commonwealth and that Teachtaí Dála would have to swear an oath of fidelity to King George V and his successors. Pro-Treaty forces, led by Michael Collins, argued that the Treaty gave “not the ultimate freedom that all nations aspire to and develop, but the freedom to achieve it”.

At the start of the war, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) split into two opposing camps: a pro-treaty IRA and an anti-treaty IRA. The pro-Treaty IRA became part of the new Irish Army. However, through the lack of an effective command structure in the anti-Treaty IRA, and their defensive tactics throughout the war, Collins and his pro-treaty forces were able to build up an army with many tens of thousands of WWI veterans from the 1922 disbanded Irish regiments of the British Army, capable of overwhelming the anti-Treatyists. British supplies of artillery, aircraft, machine-guns and ammunition boosted pro-treaty forces, and the threat of a return of Crown forces to the Free State removed any doubts about the necessity of enforcing the treaty. The lack of public support for the anti-treaty forces (often called the Irregulars) and the determination of the government to overcome the Irregulars contributed significantly to their defeat.

The Free State Army suffered 800 fatalities and perhaps as many as 4,000 people were killed altogether.[unreliable source?] The destruction caused by the war caused considerable economic damage to the Free State in the earliest days of its existence, and Northern Ireland’s Unionists became hardened in distancing themselves from the Free State

New Constitution

On 29 December 1937, a new constitution, the Constitution of Ireland, came into force. It replaced the Irish Free State by a new state called simply “Ireland”. Though this state’s constitutional structures provided for a President of Ireland instead of a king, it was not technically a republic; the principal key role possessed by a head of state, that of symbolically representing Ireland internationally remained vested, in statute law, in the King as an organ of the Irish government. The Irish government had also taken steps to formally abolish the Office of Governor-General some months before the new Constitution came into force.

Ireland remained neutral during World War II, a period it described as The Emergency.

On 18 April 1949, the Republic of Ireland Act came into force. Under that Act, Ireland declared that it was a republic and delegated the functions previously exercised by the King acting on the behalf of the Irish government to the President of Ireland instead.

The Irish state had remained a member of the then-British Commonwealth after independence until the declaration of a republic on 18 April 1949. Under the Commonwealth rules at the time, a declaration of a republic automatically terminated membership of the Commonwealth. Ireland therefore immediately ceased to be a member and did not subsequently reapply for membership when the Commonwealth later changed its rules to allow republics to join the Commonwealth.

Ireland joined the United Nations in 1955 and the European Community (now the European Union) in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful reunification of Ireland and have usually cooperated with the British government in the violent conflict involving many paramilitaries and the British Army in Northern Ireland known as “The Troubles”. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, the Belfast Agreement, was approved in 1998 in referendums north and south of the border. As part of the peace settlement, Ireland dropped its territorial claim to Northern Ireland. The peace settlement is currently being implemented.

Geography Location: Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain
Geographic coordinates: 53 00 N, 8 00 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 70,280 sq km
land: 68,890 sq km
water: 1,390 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than West Virginia
Land boundaries: total: 360 km
border countries: UK 360 km
Coastline: 1,448 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time
Terrain: mostly level to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains; sea cliffs on west coast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Carrauntoohil 1,041 m
Natural resources: natural gas, peat, copper, lead, zinc, silver, barite, gypsum, limestone, dolomite
Land use: arable land: 16.82%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 83.15% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: 46.8 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.18 cu km/yr (23%/77%/0%)
per capita: 284 cu m/yr (1994)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: water pollution, especially of lakes, from agricultural runoff
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, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe; over 40% of the population resides within 100 km of Dublin
People Population: 4,109,086 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.8% (male 442,664/female 413,556)
15-64 years: 67.5% (male 1,387,803/female 1,385,355)
65 years and over: 11.7% (male 212,782/female 266,926) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 34.3 years
male: 33.5 years
female: 35.1 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.143% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 14.4 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 7.79 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 4.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.002 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.797 male(s)/female
total population: 0.989 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.72 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.9 years
male: 75.27 years
female: 80.7 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.86 children born/woman

Israel: Truth, Knowledge, History Of God’s Country

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

 

Israel

Introduction Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. The territories Israel occupied since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives and Syria to achieve a permanent settlement. Israel and Palestinian officials signed on 13 September 1993 a Declaration of Principles (also known as the “Oslo Accords”) guiding an interim period of Palestinian self-rule. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. In addition, on 25 May 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982. In April 2003, US President BUSH, working in conjunction with the EU, UN, and Russia – the “Quartet” – took the lead in laying out a road map to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005, based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. However, progress toward a permanent status agreement was undermined by Israeli-Palestinian violence between September 2003 and February 2005. An Israeli-Palestinian agreement reached at Sharm al-Sheikh in February 2005, along with an internally-brokered Palestinian ceasefire, significantly reduced the violence. In the summer of 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, evacuating settlers and its military while retaining control over most points of entry into the Gaza Strip. The election of HAMAS in January 2006 to head the Palestinian Legislative Council froze relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Ehud OLMERT became prime minister in March 2006; following an Israeli military operation in Gaza in June-July 2006 and a 34-day conflict with Hizballah in Lebanon in June-August 2006, he shelved plans to unilaterally evacuate from most of the West Bank. OLMERT in June 2007 resumed talks with the PA after HAMAS seized control of the Gaza Strip and PA President Mahmoud ABBAS formed a new government without HAMAS.
History Early roots

The Land of Israel, known in Hebrew as Eretz Yisrael, has been sacred to the Jewish people since the time of the biblical patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Bible has placed this period in the early 2nd millennium BCE.[24] According to the Torah, the Land of Israel was promised to the Jews as their homeland,[25][26] and the sites holiest to Judaism are located there. Around the 11th century BCE, the first of a series of Jewish kingdoms and states established rule over the region; these Jewish kingdoms and states ruled intermittently for the following one thousand years.[27]

Between the time of the Jewish kingdoms and the 7th-century Muslim conquests, the Land of Israel fell under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Sassanian, and Byzantine rule.[28] Jewish presence in the region dwindled after the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE and the resultant large-scale expulsion of Jews. Nevertheless, a continuous Jewish presence in Palestine was maintained. Although the main Jewish population shifted from the Judea region to the Galilee;[29] the Mishnah and part of the Talmud, among Judaism’s most important religious texts, were composed in Israel during this period.[30] The Land of Israel was captured from the Byzantine Empire around 636 CE during the initial Muslim conquests. Control of the region transferred between the Umayyads,[31] Abbasids,[32] and Crusaders over the next six centuries, before falling in the hands of the Mamluk Sultanate, in 1260. In 1516, the Land of Israel became a part of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled the region until the 20th century.[33]

Zionism and the British Mandate

Jews living in the Diaspora have long aspired to return to Zion and the Land of Israel.[34] That hope and yearning was articulated in the Bible[35] and is a central theme in the Jewish prayer book. Beginning in the twelfth century, a small but steady stream of Jews began to leave Europe to settle in the Holy Land, increasing in numbers after Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.[36] During the 16th century large communities struck roots in the Four Holy Cities, and in the second half of the 18th century, entire Hasidic communities from eastern Europe settled in the Holy Land.

The first large wave of modern immigration, known as the First Aliyah (Hebrew: עלייה), began in 1881, as Jews fled pogroms in Eastern Europe.[38] While the Zionist movement already existed in theory, Theodor Herzl is credited with founding political Zionism,[39] a movement which sought to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, by elevating the Jewish Question to the international plane.[40] In 1896, Herzl published Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), offering his vision of a future state; the following year he presided over the first World Zionist Congress.

The Second Aliyah (1904–1914), began after the Kishinev pogrom. Some 40,000 Jews settled in Palestine.[38] Both the first and second waves of migrants were mainly Orthodox Jews,[42] but those in the Second Aliyah included socialist pioneers who established the kibbutz movement.[43] During World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour issued what became known as the Balfour Declaration, which “view[ed] with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”[44] The Jewish Legion, a group of battalions composed primarily of Zionist volunteers, assisted in the British conquest of Israel. Arab opposition to the plan led to the 1920 Palestine riots and the formation of the Jewish defense organization known as the Haganah, from which the Irgun and Lehi split off.

In 1922, the League of Nations granted Great Britain a mandate over Palestine for the express purpose of “placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home”.[46] The populations of the Ottoman districts in the area at this time were predominantly Muslim Arabs, while the largest urban area in the region, Jerusalem, was predominantly Jewish.

Jewish immigration continued with the Third Aliyah (1919–1923) and Fourth Aliyah (1924–1929), which together brought 100,000 Jews to Palestine.[38] In the wake of the Jaffa riots in the early days of the Mandate, the British restricted Jewish immigration and territory slated for the Jewish state was allocated to Transjordan.[48] The rise of Nazism in the 1930s led to the Fifth Aliyah, with an influx of a quarter of a million Jews. This influx resulted in the Arab revolt of 1936–1939 and led the British to cap immigration with the White Paper of 1939. With countries around the world turning away Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, a clandestine movement known as Aliyah Bet was organized to bring Jews to Palestine.[38] By the end of World War II, Jews accounted for 33% of the population of Palestine, up from 11% in 1922.[49][50]

Independence and first years

After 1945 Britain became embroiled in an increasingly violent conflict with the Jews[51]. In 1947, the British government withdrew from commitment to the Mandate of Palestine, stating it was unable to arrive at a solution acceptable to both Arabs and Jews.[52] The newly-created United Nations approved the UN Partition Plan (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181) on November 29, 1947, dividing the country into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. Jerusalem was to be designated an international city – a corpus separatum – administered by the UN to avoid conflict over its status.[53] The Jewish community accepted the plan,[54] but the Arab League and Arab Higher Committee rejected it.

Regardless, the State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, one day before the expiry of the British Mandate for Palestine.[56] Not long after, five Arab countries – Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq – attacked Israel, launching the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.[56] After almost a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declared and temporary borders, known as the Green Line, were instituted. Jordan annexed what became known as the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip. Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations on May 11, 1949.[57] During the course of the hostilities, 711,000 Arabs, according to UN estimates, fled from Israel.[58] The fate of the Palestinian refugees today is a major point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[59][60]

In the early years of the state, the Labor Zionist movement led by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion dominated Israeli politics.[61][62] These years were marked by mass immigration of Holocaust survivors and an influx of Jews persecuted in Arab lands. The population of Israel rose from 800,000 to two million between 1948 and 1958.[63] Most arrived as refugees with no possessions and were housed in temporary camps known as ma’abarot. By 1952, over 200,000 immigrants were living in these tent cities. The need to solve the crisis led Ben-Gurion to sign a reparations agreement with West Germany that triggered mass protests by Jews angered at the idea of Israel “doing business” with Germany.

During the 1950s, Israel was frequently attacked by Arab fedayeen, mainly from the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip.[65] In 1956, Israel joined a secret alliance with Great Britain and France aimed at recapturing the Suez Canal, which the Egyptians had nationalized (see the Suez Crisis). Despite capturing the Sinai Peninsula, Israel was forced to retreat due to pressure from the United States and the Soviet Union in return for guarantees of Israeli shipping rights in the Red Sea and the Canal.

At the start of the following decade, Israel captured Adolf Eichmann, an implementer of the Final Solution hiding in Argentina, and brought him to trial.[67] The trial had a major impact on public awareness of the Holocaust[68] and to date Eichmann remains the only person sentenced to death by Israeli courts.

Conflicts and peace treaties

In 1967, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria massed troops close to Israeli borders, expelled UN peacekeepers and blocked Israel’s access to the Red Sea. Israel saw these actions as a casus belli for a pre-emptive strike that launched the Six-Day War, during which it captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights.[70] The 1949 Green Line became the administrative boundary between Israel and the occupied territories. Jerusalem’s boundaries were enlarged, incorporating East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Law, passed in 1980, reaffirmed this measure and reignited international controversy over the status of Jerusalem.

In the early 1970s, Palestinian groups launched a wave of attacks against Israeli targets around the world, including a massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Israel responded with Operation Wrath of God, in which those responsible for the Munich massacre were tracked down and assassinated.[71] On October 6, 1973, Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched a surprise attack against Israel. The war ended on October 26 with Israel successfully repelling Egyptian and Syrian forces but suffering great losses.[72] An internal inquiry exonerated the government of responsibility for the war, but public anger forced Prime Minister Golda Meir to resign.

The 1977 Knesset elections marked a major turning point in Israeli political history as Menachem Begin’s Likud party took control from the Labor Party.[73] Later that year, Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat made a trip to Israel and spoke before the Knesset in what was the first recognition of Israel by an Arab head of state.[74] In the two years that followed, Sadat and Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Accords and the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.[75] Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula and agreed to enter negotiations over an autonomy for Palestinians across the Green Line, a plan which was never implemented.

In 1982, Israel intervened in the Lebanese Civil War to destroy the bases from which the Palestine Liberation Organization launched attacks and missiles at northern Israel. That move developed into the First Lebanon War.[76] Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon in 1986, but maintained a borderland buffer zone until 2000. The First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule,[77] broke out in 1987 with waves of violence occurring in the occupied territories. Over the following six years, more than a thousand people were killed in the ensuing violence, much of which was internal Palestinian violence.[78] During the 1991 Gulf War, the PLO and many Palestinians supported Saddam Hussein and Iraqi missile attacks against Israel.

In 1992, Yitzhak Rabin became Prime Minister following an election in which his party promoted compromise with Israel’s neighbors.[81][82] The following year, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, on behalf of Israel and the PLO, signed the Oslo Accords, which gave the Palestinian National Authority the right to self-govern parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in return for recognition of Israel’s right to exist and an end to terrorism.[83] In 1994, the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed, making Jordan the second Arab country to normalize relations with Israel.[84] Public support for the Accords waned as Israel was struck by a wave of attacks from Palestinians. The November 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a far-right-wing Jew, as he left a peace rally, shocked the country. At the end of the 1990s, Israel, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, withdrew from Hebron[85] and signed the Wye River Memorandum, giving greater control to the Palestinian National Authority.

Ehud Barak, elected Prime Minister in 1999, began the new millennium by withdrawing forces from Southern Lebanon and conducting negotiations with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and U.S. President Bill Clinton at the July 2000 Camp David Summit. During the summit, Barak offered a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state, but Yasser Arafat rejected it.[87] After the collapse of the talks, Palestinians began the Second Intifada.

Ariel Sharon soon after became the new prime minister in a 2001 special election. During his tenure, Sharon carried out his plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and also spearheaded the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier.[88] In January 2006, after Ariel Sharon suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke which left him in a coma, the powers of office were transferred to Ehud Olmert. The kidnappings of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah and the shelling of settlements on Israel’s northern border led to a five-week war, known in Israel as the Second Lebanon War. The conflict was brought to end by a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations. After the war, Israel’s Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, resigned.

On November 27, 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to begin negotiations on all issues, and to make every effort reach an agreement by the end of 2008.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
Geographic coordinates: 31 30 N, 34 45 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 20,770 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
Coastline: 273 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas
Terrain: Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Har Meron 1,208 m
Natural resources: timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand
Land use: arable land: 15.45%
permanent crops: 3.88%
other: 80.67% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,940 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 1.7 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.05 cu km/yr (31%/7%/62%)
per capita: 305 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes
Environment – current issues: limited arable land and natural fresh water resources pose serious constraints; desertification; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater pollution from industrial and domestic waste, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: there are 242 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, 0 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (August 2005 est.); Sea of Galilee is an important freshwater source
Politics Israel operates under a parliamentary system as a democratic country with universal suffrage.[2] The President of Israel is the head of state, but his duties are largely ceremonial.[101] A Parliament Member supported by a majority in parliament becomes the Prime Minister, usually the chairman of the largest party. The Prime Minister is the head of government and head of the Cabinet. Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset. Membership in the Knesset is based on proportional representation of political parties.[103] Parliamentary elections are held every four years, but the Knesset can dissolve the government at any time by a no-confidence vote. The Basic Laws of Israel function as an unwritten constitution. In 2003, the Knesset began to draft an official constitution based on these laws.

Israel has a three-tier court system. At the lowest level are magistrate courts, situated in most cities across the country. Above them are district courts, serving both as appellate courts and courts of first instance; they are situated in five of Israel’s six districts. The third and highest tier in Israel is the Supreme Court, seated in Jerusalem. It serves a dual role as the highest court of appeals and the High Court of Justice. In the latter role, the Supreme Court rules as a court of first instance, allowing individuals, both citizens and non-citizens, to petition against decisions of state authorities.[105][106] Israel is not a member of the International Criminal Court as it fears the court would be biased against it due to political pressure.[107] Israel’s legal system combines English common law, civil law, and Jewish law.[2] It is based on the principle of stare decisis (precedent) and is an adversarial system, where the parties in the suit bring evidence before the court. Court cases are decided by professional judges rather than juries.[105] Marriage and divorce are under the jurisdiction of the religious courts: Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian. A committee of Knesset members, Supreme Court justices, and Israeli Bar members carries out the election of judges.

The Israeli Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty seeks to defend human rights and liberties. Israel is the only country in the region ranked “Free” by Freedom House based on the level of civil and political rights; the “Israeli Occupied Territories/Palestinian Authority” was ranked “Not Free.”[109] Similarly, Reporters Without Borders rated Israel 50th out of 168 countries in terms of freedom of the press and highest among Southwest Asian countries.[110] Nevertheless, groups such as Amnesty International[111] and Human Rights Watch[112] have often disapproved of Israel’s human rights record in regards to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel’s civil liberties also allow for self-criticism, from groups such as B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.[113] Israel’s system of socialized medicine, which guarantees equal health care to all residents of the country, was anchored in law in 1995.

Israel is located in the region of the world (i.e.,Southwest Asia including North Africa) that is the ” . . . least hospitable to democracy. Of the 19 states in this broad region, only 2 Israel and Turkey are democratic (though in Turkey the military still retains a veto on many important issues).”

People Population: 6,426,679
note: includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.1% (male 858,246/female 818,690)
15-64 years: 64.2% (male 2,076,649/female 2,046,343)
65 years and over: 9.8% (male 269,483/female 357,268) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 29.9 years
male: 29.1 years
female: 30.8 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.154% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 17.71 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 6.17 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.048 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.015 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.754 male(s)/female
total population: 0.994 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.75 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.45 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.59 years
male: 77.44 years
female: 81.85 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.38 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 3,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 100 (2001 est.)
Nationality: noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli
Ethnic groups: Jewish 76.4% (of which Israel-born 67.1%, Europe/America-born 22.6%, Africa-born 5.9%, Asia-born 4.2%), non-Jewish 23.6% (mostly Arab) (2004)
Religions: Jewish 76.4%, Muslim 16%, Arab Christians 1.7%, other Christian 0.4%, Druze 1.6%, unspecified 3.9% (2004)
Languages: Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.1%
male: 98.5%
female: 95.9%