French Polynesia: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

French Polynesia

Introduction The French annexed various Polynesian island groups during the 19th century. In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing on the Mururoa atoll after a three-year moratorium. The tests were suspended in January 1996. In recent years, French Polynesia’s autonomy has been considerably expanded.
History The French Polynesian island groups do not share a common history before the establishment of the French protectorate in 1889. The first French Polynesian islands to be settled by Polynesians were the Marquesas Islands in AD 300 and the Society Islands in AD 800. The Polynesians were organized in petty chieftainships. [2]

European discovery began in 1521 when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sighted Pukapuka in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen discovered Bora Bora in the Society Islands in 1722, and the British explorer Samuel Wallis visited Tahiti in 1767. The French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville visited Tahiti in 1768, while the British explorer James Cook visited in 1769. Christian missions began with Spanish priests who stayed in Tahiti for a year from 1774; Protestants from the London Missionary Society settled permanently in Polynesia in 1797. [2][3]

King Pomare II of Tahiti was forced to flee to Moorea in 1803; he and his subjects were converted to Protestantism in 1812. French Catholic missionaries arrived on Tahiti in 1834; their expulsion in 1836 caused France to send a gunboat in 1838. In 1842, Tahiti and Tahuata were declared a French protectorate, to allow Catholic missionaries to work undisturbed. The capital of Papeete was founded in 1843. In 1880, France annexed Tahiti, changing the status from that of a protectorate to that of a colony. [4]

In the 1880s, France claimed the Tuamotu Archipelago, which formerly belonged to the Palmer dynasty, without formally annexing it. Having declared a protectorate over Tahuatu in 1842, the French regarded the entire Marquesas Islands as French. In 1885, France appointed a governor and established a general council, thus giving it the proper administration for a colony. The islands of Rimatara and Rurutu unsuccessfully lobbied for British protection in 1888, so in 1889 they were annexed by France. Postage stamps were first issued in the colony in 1892. The first official name for the colony was Etablissements De L’Oceanie (Settlements in Oceania); in 1903 the general council was changed to an advisory council and the colony’s name was changed to Etablissements Francaises De L’Oceanie (French Settlements in Oceania).[5]

In 1940 the administration of French Polynesia recognised the Free French Forces and many Polynesians served in World War II. Unknown at the time to French and Polynesians, the Konoe Cabinet in Imperial Japan on September 16, 1940 included French Polynesia among the many territories which were to become Japanese possessions in the post-war world [6] – though in the course of the war in the Pacific the Japanese were not able to launch an actual invasion of the French islands.

In 1946, Polynesians were granted French citizenship and the islands’ status was changed to an overseas territory; the islands’ name was changed in 1957 to Polynésie Française (French Polynesia). In 1962, France’s early nuclear testing ground of Algeria became independent and the Mururoa Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago was selected as the new testing site; tests were conducted underground after 1974.[7]In 1977, French Polynesia was granted partial internal autonomy; in 1984, the autonomy was extended. French Polynesia became a full overseas collectivity of France in 2004. [3][8]

In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing at Fangataufa atoll after a three-year moratorium. The last test was on January 27, 1996. On January 29, 1996, France announced it would accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and no longer test nuclear weapons.

Geography Location: Oceania, archipelagoes in the South Pacific Ocean about one-half of the way from South America to Australia
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 S, 140 00 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 4,167 sq km (118 islands and atolls)
land: 3,660 sq km
water: 507 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than one-third the size of Connecticut
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 2,525 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical, but moderate
Terrain: mixture of rugged high islands and low islands with reefs
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Orohena 2,241 m
Natural resources: timber, fish, cobalt, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 0.75%
permanent crops: 5.5%
other: 93.75% (2005)
Irrigated land: 10 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards: occasional cyclonic storms in January
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: includes five archipelagoes (4 volcanic, 1 coral); Makatea in French Polynesia is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean – the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Nauru
People Population: 278,963 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.4% (male 36,223/female 34,677)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 98,784/female 91,585)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 8,933/female 8,761) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 28.3 years
male: 28.6 years
female: 28 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.461% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 16.41 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 4.61 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.045 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.079 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female
total population: 1.066 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 7.84 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.31 years
male: 73.88 years
female: 78.86 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.98 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Ethnic groups: Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%
Religions: Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 10%, no religion 6%
Languages: French 61.1% (official), Polynesian 31.4% (official), Asian languages 1.2%, other 0.3%, unspecified 6% (2002 census)
Literacy: definition: age 14 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 98%
female: 98% (1977 est.)

Government Country name: conventional long form: Overseas Lands of French Polynesia
conventional short form: French Polynesia
local long form: Pays d’outre-mer de la Polynesie Francaise
local short form: Polynesie Francaise
former: French Colony of Oceania
Dependency status: overseas lands of France; overseas territory of France from 1946-2004
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Papeete
geographic coordinates: 17 32 S, 149 34 W
time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: none (overseas lands of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are five archipelagic divisions named Archipel des Marquises, Archipel des Tuamotu, Archipel des Tubuai, Iles du Vent, Iles Sous-le-Vent
Independence: none (overseas lands of France)
National holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution: 4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system: the laws of France, where applicable, apply
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007), represented by High Commissioner of the Republic Anne BOQUET (since September 2005)
head of government: President of French Polynesia Oscar TEMARU (since 13 September 2007); note – President TEMARU resigned on 27 January 2008; President of the Territorial Assembly Antony GEROS (since 9 May 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; president submits a list of members of the Territorial Assembly for approval by them to serve as ministers
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; high commissioner appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the territorial government and the president of the Territorial Assembly are elected by the members of the assembly for five-year terms (no term limits)
Legislative branch: unicameral Territorial Assembly or Assemblee Territoriale (57 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 27 January 2008 (first round) and 10 February 2008 (second round) (next to be held NA 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party – Our Home alliance 45.2%, Union for Democracy alliance 37.2%, Popular Rally (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) 17.2% other 0.5%; seats by party – Our Home alliance 27, Union for Democracy alliance 20, Popular Rally 10
note: one seat was elected to the French Senate on 27 September 1998 (next to be held in September 2007); results – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NA; two seats were elected to the French National Assembly on 9 June-16 June 2002 (next to be held in 2007); results – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – UMP/RPR 1, UMP 1
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal or Cour d’Appel; Court of the First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Administrative Law or Tribunal Administratif
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for a New Democracy or ADN [Nicole BOUTEAU and Philip SCHYLE](includes the parties The New Star and This Country is Yours); Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (Tavini Huiraatira) [Oscar TEMARU]; New Fatherland Party (Ai’a Api) [Emile VERNAUDON]; Our Home alliance; People’s Rally for the Republic of Polynesia or RPR (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) [Gaston FLOSSE]; Union for Democracy alliance or UPD [Oscar TEMARU]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: FZ, ITUC, PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas lands of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas lands of France)
Flag description: two narrow red horizontal bands encase a wide white band; centered on the white band is a disk with a blue and white wave pattern on the lower half and a gold and white ray pattern on the upper half; a stylized red, blue, and white ship rides on the wave pattern; the French flag is used for official occasions
Government – note: under certain acts of France, French Polynesia has acquired autonomy in all areas except those relating to police and justice, monetary policy, tertiary education, immigration, and defense and foreign affairs; the duties of its president are fashioned after those of the French prime minister
Demographics Total population at the August 2007 census was 259,596 inhabitants.[1] At the 2007 census, 68.6% of the population of French Polynesia lived on the island of Tahiti alone.[1] The urban area of Papeete, the capital city, has 131,695 inhabitants (2007 census).

At the November 2002 census, 87.2% of people were born in French Polynesia, 9.5% were born in metropolitan France, 1.4% were born in overseas France outside of French Polynesia, and 1.9% were born in foreign countries.[13] At the 1988 census, the last census which asked questions regarding ethnicity, 66.5% of people were ethnically unmixed Polynesians, 7.1 % were Polynesians with light European or East Asian mixing, 11.9% were Europeans, 9.3% were people of mixed European and Polynesian descent, the so-called Demis (literally meaning “Half”), and 4.7% were East Asians (mainly Chinese).[14] The Europeans, the Demis and the East Asians are essentially concentrated on the island of Tahiti, particularly in the urban area of Papeete, where their share of the population is thus much more important than in French Polynesia overall.[14] Race mixing has been going on for more than a century already in French Polynesia, resulting in a rather mixed society. For example Gaston Flosse, the current leader of French Polynesia, is a Demi (European father from Lorraine and Polynesian mother).[15] His main opponent Gaston Tong Sang is a member of the East Asian (in his case Chinese) community.[16] Oscar Temaru, the pro-independence leader, is ethnically Polynesian (father from Tahiti, mother from the Cook Islands),[17] but he has admitted to also have Chinese ancestry.[18]

Despite a long tradition of race mixing, racial tensions have been growing in recent years, with politicians using a xenophobic discourse and fanning the flame of racial tensions.[19][18] The pro-independence politicians have long pointed the finger at the European community (Oscar Temaru, pro-independence leader and former president of French Polynesia, was for example found guilty of “racial discrimination” by the criminal court of Papeete in 2007 for having referred to the Europeans living in French Polynesia as “trash”, “waste”).[20] More recently, the Chinese community which controls many businesses in French Polynesia has been targeted in verbal attacks by the newly allied Gaston Flosse and Oscar Temaru in their political fight against Gaston Tong Sang, whose Chinese origins they emphasize in contrast with their Polynesian origins, despite the fact that they both have mixed origins (European and Polynesian for Flosse; Polynesian and Chinese for Temaru).

Gaza Strip: Truth, Knowledge, History Of Human Disaster

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Gaza Strip

Introduction The September 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements provided for a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under a series of agreements signed between May 1994 and September 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza stalled following the outbreak of an intifada in September 2000, as Israeli forces reoccupied most Palestinian-controlled areas. In April 2003, the Quartet (US, EU, UN, and Russia) presented a roadmap 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. The proposed date for a permanent status agreement was postponed indefinitely due to violence and accusations that both sides had not followed through on their commitments. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT’s death in late 2004, Mahmud ABBAS was elected PA president in January 2005. A month later, Israel and the PA agreed to the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments in an effort to move the peace process forward. In September 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and withdrew settlers and redeployed soldiers from four small northern West Bank settlements. Nonetheless, Israel controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip. A November 2005 PA-Israeli agreement authorized the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt under joint PA and Egyptian control. In January 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The international community refused to accept the HAMAS-led government because it did not recognize Israel, would not renounce violence, and refused to honor previous peace agreements between Israel and the PA. HAMAS took control of the PA government in March 2006, but President ABBAS had little success negotiating with HAMAS to present a political platform acceptable to the international community so as to lift economic sanctions on Palestinians. The PLC was unable to convene throughout most of 2006 as a result of Israel’s detention of many HAMAS PLC members and Israeli-imposed travel restrictions on other PLC members. Violent clashes took place between Fatah and HAMAS supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007, resulting in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries. ABBAS and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief MISHAL in February 2007 signed the Mecca Agreement in Saudi Arabia that resulted in the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG) headed by HAMAS member Ismail HANIYA. However, fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, and in June, HAMAS militants succeeded in a violent takeover of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. ABBAS dismissed the NUG and through a series of Presidential decrees formed a PA government in the West Bank led by independent Salam FAYYAD. HAMAS rejected the NUG’s dismissal and has called for resuming talks with Fatah, but ABBAS has ruled out negotiations until HAMAS agrees to a return of PA control over the Gaza Strip and recognizes the FAYYAD-led government. FAYYAD and his PA government initiated a series of security and economic reforms to improve conditions in the West Bank. ABBAS participated in talks with Israel’s Prime Minister OLMERT and secured the release of some Palestinian prisoners and previously withheld customs revenue. During a November 2007 international meeting in Annapolis Maryland, ABBAS and OLMERT agreed to resume peace negotiations with the goal of reaching a final peace settlement by the end of 2008.
History Ancient history until mid 16th century (15th century BC-1517)

The first recorded mention of the city of Gaza was a reference by Pharaoh Thutmose II (18th dynasty; 15th century BC), though the actual habitation no doubt predates that official record. It is also mentioned in the Amarna letters, an archive of clay tablets with diplomatic and administrative correspondence between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru in the New Kingdom.

Because of its strategic position on the ancient trade route of Via Maris, linking Egypt with the northern empires of Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia, Gaza experienced little peace in antiquity. Throughout its history it was a prosperous trade center, sitting as it does on the ancient Sea Road.

The area was under Egyptian occupation for over 300 years when the Philistines took control and settled the city and surrounding area. Gaza became an important Philistine trading center and part of the Pentapolis (league of five cities).

The Bible makes a reference to Gaza as the place where Samson was delivered into bondage by Delilah and where he died while toppling the temple of the god Dagon.[1][2] It fell to the Israelite King David in 1000 BC.

The area fell to the Assyrians in 732 BC, to the Egyptians, to the Babylonians in 586 BC, Persians in 525 BC, and the Macedonians. Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great met stiff resistance there in 332 BC. After conquering it, he sold its inhabitants into slavery.[3] [4] [5]

In 145 BC Gaza was conquered by Jonathan the Hasmonean (Brother of Judah the Maccabee). In Hellenistic and Roman times the harbour, about 3 miles (5 km) from the city proper, was called Neapolis (Greek: “New City”).

It was conquered by Arabs in the 630s after a siege during which the Jewish population of the city defended it alongside the Byzantine garrison. Believed to be the site where Muhammad’s great grandfather was buried, the city became an important Islamic center. In the 12th century, Gaza was taken by Christian Crusaders; it returned to Muslim control in 1187.

Ottoman and British control (1517-1948)

In 1517 Gaza fell to the Ottomans and was part of the Ottoman Empire until the First World War.

Starting in the early 19th century, Gaza was culturally dominated by neighboring Egypt. Though part of the Ottoman Empire, a large number of its residents were Egyptians (and their descendants) who had fled political turmoil.[6]

The region served as a battlefield during the First World War (1914-18). The Gaza Strip was taken by the British in the Third Battle of Gaza on 7 November 1917.

Following World War I, Gaza became part of the British Mandate of Palestine under the authority of the League of Nations.

Jews were present in Gaza until 1929, when a long-running dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem escalated and erupted into a series of violent demonstrations and riots and forced the Gaza Jews to leave the area. After that the British prohibited Jews from living in the Gaza area, though some Jews returned and, in 1946, established kibbutz Kfar Darom near the Egyptian border. [8]

British rule of Palestine ended with the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.

Egyptian occupation (1948-67)

According to the terms of the 1947 United Nations partition plan, the Gaza area was to become part of a new Palestinian Arab state. Following the dissolution of the British mandate of Palestine and 1947-1948 Civil War in Palestine, Israel declared its independence in May 1948. The Egyptian army invaded the area from the south, starting the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.[9]

The Gaza Strip as it is known today was the product of the subsequent 1949 Armistice Agreements between Egypt and Israel, often referred to as the Green Line. Egypt occupied the Strip from 1949 (except for four months of Israeli occupation during the 1956 Suez Crisis) until 1967. The Strip’s population was greatly augmented by an influx of Palestinian Arab refugees who fled or were expelled from Israel during the fighting.

Towards the end of the war, the All-Palestine Government (Arabic: حكومة عموم فلسطين hukumat ‘umum Filastin) was proclaimed in Gaza City on 22 September 1948 by the Arab League. It was conceived partly as an Arab League attempt to limit the influence of Transjordan over the Palestinian issue. The government was not recognized by Transjordan or any non-Arab country. It was little more than a façade under Egyptian control, had negligible influence or funding, and subsequently moved to Cairo. Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or Egypt were issued All-Palestine passports until 1959, when Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt, annulled the All-Palestine government by decree.

Egypt never annexed the Gaza Strip, but instead treated it as a controlled territory and administered it through a military governor.[10] The refugees were never offered Egyptian citizenship.

During the Sinai campaign of November 1956, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula were overrun by Israeli troops. International pressure soon forced Israel to withdraw.

Israeli occupation (1967-2005)

Israel occupied the Gaza Strip again in June 1967 during the Six-Day War. The military occupation lasted for 38 years, until 2005. However, Israel retains control of air space, territorial waters, offshore maritime access, the population registry, entry of foreigners, imports and exports as well as the tax system.[2]

During the period of Israeli occupation, Israel created a settlement bloc, Gush Katif in the south west corner of the Strip near Rafah and the Egyptian border. In total Israel created 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip, comprising some 20% of the total terroritory. Besides ideological reasons for being there, these settlements also served Israel’s security concerns. The Gaza Strip remained under Israeli military administration until 1994. During that period the military administration was also responsible for the maintenance of civil facilities and services.

In March 1979 Israel and Egypt signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Among other things, the treaty provided for the withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the Sinai Peninsula which Israel had captured during the Six-Day War. The final status of the Gaza Strip as with relations between Israel and Palestinians was not dealt with in the treaty. The treaty did settle the international border between Gaza Strip and Egypt. Egypt renounced all territorial claims to the region beyond the international border.

In May 1994, following the Palestinian-Israeli agreements known as the Oslo Accords, a phased transfer of governmental authority to the Palestinians took place. Much of the Strip (except for the settlement blocs and military areas) came under Palestinian control. The Israeli forces left Gaza City and other urban areas, leaving the new Palestinian Authority to administer and police the Strip. The Palestinian Authority, led by Yasser Arafat, chose Gaza City as its first provincial headquarters. In September 1995, Israel and the PLO signed a second peace agreement extending the Palestinian Authority to most West Bank towns. The agreement also established an elected 88-member Palestinian National Council, which held its inaugural session in Gaza in March 1996.

The PA rule of the Gaza Strip and West Bank under leadership of Arafat suffered from serious mismanagement and corruption. Exorbitant bribes were demanded for allowing goods to pass in and out of the Gaza Strip, while heads of the Preventive Security Service apparatus profited from their involvement in the gravel import and cement and construction industries, like the Great Arab Company for Investment and Development, the al-Motawaset Company and the al-Sheik Zayid construction project. [11]

The Second Intifada broke out in September 2000. In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement a unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip. The plan began to be implemented on 15 August 2005 (the day after Tisha B’av) and was completed on 12 September 2005. Under the plan, all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip (and four in the West Bank) and the nearby Erez bloc were dismantled with the removal of all 9,000 Israeli settlers (most of them in the Gush Katif settlement area in the Strip’s southwest) and military bases. On 12 September 2005 the Israeli cabinet formally declared an end to Israeli military rule in the Gaza Strip. To avoid any allegation that it was still in occupation of any part of the Gaza Strip, Israel also withdrew from the Philadelphi Route, which is a narrow strip adjacent to the Strip’s border with Egypt, after Egypt’s agreement to secure its side of the border. Under the Oslo Accords the Philadelphi Route was to remain under Israeli control, to prevent the smuggling of materials (such as ammunition) and people across the border with Egypt. With Egypt agreeing to patrol its side of the border, it was hoped that the objective would be achieved.

Palestinian Authority control (2005-2007)

In accordance with the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority took over the administrative authority of the Gaza Strip (other than the settlement blocs and military areas) in 1994. After the complete Israeli withdrawal of Israeli settlers and military from the Gaza Strip on 12 September 2005, the Palestinian Authority had complete administrative authority in the Gaza Strip.

Since the Israeli withdrawal the Rafah Border Crossing has been supervised by EU Border Assistance Mission Rafah under an Agreement finalised in November 2005.

Israel continues to assert control over activities that rely on transit through Israel, as well as air space over and sea access to ports in Gaza. Israel approves all immigration to and emigration from Gaza via Israel, as well as entry by foreigners via Israel, imports and exports via Israel, and collection and reimbursement of value-added tax in Israel.

Palestinians and others maintain that the Israeli occupation is not over because of this Israeli control. The Israeli human rights organization B’tselem said in November 2006 that “the broad scope of Israeli control in the Gaza Strip creates a strong case for the claim that Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip continue.”[3] University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, law professor Iain Scobbie noted in 2006 that “Israel retains absolute authority over Gaza’s airspace and territorial sea. It is manifestly exercising governmental authority in these areas…. it is clear that Israeli withdrawal of land forces did not terminate occupation.”[4] And according to some Palestinians, Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip continued. “They control the water, the sky and the passages. How can you say occupation is over?” said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in 2005.[5] Similar viewpoints have been presented by many other Palestinian organizations and leaders.[6][7][8] The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights also argues that the Gaza Strip remains occupied by Israel.[9]

Prior to Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the United States considered the Gaza Strip to be an Israel-occupied territory. Following the withdrawal, no official US government statement has been made on the status of the Strip. However, the CIA World Factbook (an official U.S. government publication), which was last updated in 2007, continues to list the Gaza Strip as an Israeli-occupied territory.

On the other hand, Israel and others claim that Gaza is no longer occupied as it doesn’t exercise effective control or authority over any land or institutions in the Gaza Strip.[12][13] According to the The Hague convention of 1907 ‘Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army’, and ‘the occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.’ It also says that ‘[The occupying power] must safeguard the capital of these properties [like public buildings , real estate, and other land], and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.’ It seems clear that Israel is in no such position regarding the Gaza Strip, as the IDF doesn’t control any part of Gaza anymore. Israel doesn’t administer any property belonging to Gazans nor any means of transportation. The Hague convention also implies that occupation is a condition applying between states. When the Israeli army left Gaza, an unclear legal situation was created, as Gaza doesn’t belong to any sovereign state. Moreover, some argue that, if Israel would still occupy Gaza, this would mean it has the right or even the duty to maintain law and order there. [14]

Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. However, when a Hamas-controlled government was formed, continuing to refuse to recognise Israel, renounce violence and agree to honour agreements previously made by the PLO, Israel, the United States, Canada, and the European Union froze all funds to the Hamas-controlled government. They view Hamas as a terrorist organization.

In December 2006, news reports indicated that a number of Palestinians were leaving the Gaza Strip, due to political disorder and economic stagnation there.[10]

In January 2007, fighting continued between Hamas and Fatah, without any progress towards resolution or reconciliation. The worst clashes occurred in the northern Gaza Strip, where Gen. Muhammed Gharib, a senior commander of the Fatah-dominated Preventative Security Force, was killed when a rocket hit his home. Gharib’s two daughters and two bodyguards were also killed in the attack, which was carried out by Hamas gunmen.[11]

At the end of January 2007, it appeared that a newly-negotiated truce between Fatah and Hamas was starting to take hold .[12] However, after a few days, new fighting broke out.[13] Fatah fighters stormed a Hamas-affiliated university in the Gaza Strip. Officers from Abbas’ presidential guard battled Hamas gunmen guarding the Hamas-led Interior Ministry.[14]

In May 2007, the deal between Hamas and Fatah appeared to be weaker, as new fighting broke out between the factions. This was considered a major setback.[15] Interior Minister Hani Qawasmi, who had been considered a moderate civil servant acceptable to both factions, resigned due to what he termed harmful behavior by both factions.[16]

Fighting spread in the Gaza Strip with both factions attacking vehicles and facilities of the other side. In response to constant attacks by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israel launched an air strike which destroyed a building used by Hamas. Some Palestinians said the violence could bring the end of the Fatah-Hamas coalition government, and possibly the end of the Palestinian authority.[17]

Hamas spokeman Moussa Abu Marzouk placed the blame for the worsening situation in the Strip upon Israel, stating that the constant pressure of economic sanctions upon Gaza resulted in the “real explosion”.[18] Expressions of concerns were received from many Arab leaders, with many offering to try to help by doing some diplomatic work between the two factions.[19] One journalist wrote an eyewitness account stating:

Today I have seen people shot before my eyes, I heard the screams of terrified women and children in a burning building, and I argued with gunmen who wanted to take over my home. I have seen a lot in my years as a journalist in Gaza, but this is the worst it’s been.[20]

Hamas control (2007-Present)

In June 2007, the Palestinian Civil War between Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) and Fatah (Palestine Liberation Movement) intensified. Hamas routed Fatah, and by 14 June 2007, the Gaza Strip was completely overrun by Hamas, which now effectively controlled the Gaza Strip and proclaimed itself to be the legitimate government of the Palestinian Authority. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas responded by declaring a state of emergency, dissolving the unity government and forming a new government without Hamas participation. PA security forces in the West Bank arrested a number of Hamas members and closed some Hamas offices.

After Hamas’ victory in June it started ousting Fatah-linked officials from positions of power and authority in the Strip (such as government positions, security services, universities, newspapers etc) and strove to obtain a monopoly of fire power by progressively removing guns from the hands of peripheral militias, clans, and criminal groups, and gaining control of smuggling tunnels. Under Hamas rule, newspapers have been closed down and journalists have been harassed.[21] Fatah demonstrations have been forbidden or suppressed, as in the case of a large demonstration on the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, which was suppressed violently by Hamas security forces, killing 7 and wounding 130. [22]

Christians are being threatened and assaulted in the Gaza Strip. The owner of a Christian bookshop was abducted and murdered,[15], and on February 15, 2008, the Christian Youth Organization’s library in Gaza City was bombed.[16] Hamas condemns these attacks.

Since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, the EU Border Monitors at the Rafah Crossing have not been able to perform their functions under the Agreement, citing security concerns, resulting in the Rafah Crossing being mostly closed. The only land access into the Strip to Israel is via the Erez and Karni crossings. Meanwhile Hamas continued smuggling in large quantities of explosives and arms from Egypt through tunnels, as Israeli and Egyptian security reports claim. Egyptian security forces uncovered 60 tunnels in 2007. [17]

While clamping down on lawlessness in the Strip, Hamas has made no effort to control the continued firing of Qassam rockets from the Strip across the border into Israel, targeted at Israeli civilians. According to Israel, since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip until the end of January 2008, 697 rockets and 822 mortar bombs have been fired at Israeli towns. [18] In response, Israel targeted Qassam launchers and military targets and on September 19, 2007, declared the Gaza Strip a hostile entity, to make it possible to cut fuel and electricity supplies. In January 2008 the situation escalated and Israel curtailed travel from Gaza and entry of goods, and decided to cut fuel supplies to the Strip on January 19, resulting in power shortages. This brought charges that Israel was inflicting collective punishment on the Gaza population, leading to international condemnation. Israel countered that Gaza had enough food and energy suplies for weeks[19]

Current situation

Abbas’ government has won widespread international support. Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia said in late June 2007 that the West Bank-based Cabinet formed by Abbas was the sole legitimate Palestinian government, and Egypt moved its embassy from Gaza to the West Bank.[20]. The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip faces international diplomatic and economic isolation.

However, both Saudi Arabia and Egypt support reconciliation and the forming of a new unity government, and press Abbas to start serious talks with Hamas. Abbas has always conditioned this on Hamas ceding control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority. Hamas is supported by Syria and Iran, and is believed to have brought in large sums of money from Iran. Hamas fighters are also believed to have received training in Iran. Hamas has been invited to and has visited a number of countries, including Russia, and in the USA and EU countries, opposition parties and politicians have called for a dialog with Hamas and an end to the economic sanctions.

On January 23, 2008, after months of preparation during which the steel reinforcement of the border barrier was weakened[21], Hamas destroyed several parts of the wall dividing Gaza and Egypt in the town of Rafah. Hundreds of thousands of Gazans crossed the border into Egypt seeking food and supplies. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered his troops to allow the Palestinians in, due to the crisis, but to verify that they did not bring weapons back.[23] Egypt arrested and later released several armed Hamas militants in the Sinai who presumably wanted to infiltrate into Israel. At the same time, Israel increased its state of alert along the length of the Israel-Egypt Sinai border, and warned its citizens to leave Sinai “without delay”. The EU Border Monitors have indicated their readiness to return to monitor the border, should Hamas guarantee their safety; while the Palestinian Authority has demanded that Egypt deal only with the Authority in negotiations relating to borders. Israel has eased up some influx of goods and medical supplies to the strip, but it has curtailed electricity by 5% in one of its ten lines, while Hamas and Egypt have shored up some of the gaping holes between the two areas.[22] The first attempts by Egypt to reclose the border were met by violent clashes with Gaza gunmen, but after 12 days the borders were sealed again.[23] In mid-February there had still been no agreement reached between the parties on conditions for reopening the Rafah crossing.[24] In February 2008 an Haaretz poll indicated that 64% of Israelis favour their government holding direct talks with Hamas in Gaza about a cease-fire and to secure the release of Gilad Shalit,[24] an Israeli soldier who was abducted in a cross border raid by Palestinian militants on 25 June 2006 and has been held hostage since.[25][26][27]

In February 2008, Israeli-Palestinian fighting intensified with rockets launched at Israeli cities and Israel attacking Palestinian militants. An increase in rocket attacks lead to a heavy Israeli military action on March 1, resulting in over 100 Palestinians being killed according to BBC News, as well as 2 Israeli soldiers. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem estimated that 54 of those killed were not involved in hostilities, and 25 were minors. [28] . Current ongoing status is held between Hamas and Israel. Some Jewish groups are also trying to wrestle sovereignity away from Hamas, such as Baruch Marzel and Tzvi Fishman.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel
Geographic coordinates: 31 25 N, 34 20 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 360 sq km
land: 360 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 62 km
border countries: Egypt 11 km, Israel 51 km
Coastline: 40 km
Maritime claims: Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement – permanent status to be determined through further negotiation
Climate: temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers
Terrain: flat to rolling, sand- and dune-covered coastal plain
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Abu ‘Awdah (Joz Abu ‘Auda) 105 m
Natural resources: arable land, natural gas
Land use: arable land: 29%
permanent crops: 21%
other: 50% (2002)
Irrigated land: 150 sq km; note – includes West Bank (2003)
Natural hazards: droughts
Environment – current issues: desertification; salination of fresh water; sewage treatment; water-borne disease; soil degradation; depletion and contamination of underground water resources
Geography – note: strategic strip of land along Mideast-North African trade routes has experienced an incredibly turbulent history; the town of Gaza itself has been besieged countless times in its history
Demographics In 2007 approximately 1.4 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, of whom almost 1.0 million are UN-registered refugees.[29] The majority of the Palestinians are descendants of refugees who fled from their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The Strip’s population has continued to increase since that time, one of the main reasons being a total fertility rate of more than 5 children per woman. In a ranking by total fertility rate, this places Gaza 19th of 222 regions.[25]

The vast majority of the population are Sunni Muslims, with an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Christians.[30] The Christian population has been shrinking since Hamas’ takeover, due to tensions with the Muslim community and economic sanctions imposed by Israel. In December 2007, Israel has permitted 400 Gaza Christians to travel through Israel to Bethlehem for Christmas. While they are strictly travel permits, many Christian families are taking the opportunity to settle in the West Bank, despite the illegality.[26]

One of the largest foreign communities in the Gaza Strip was the approximately 500 women from the former Soviet Union. During the Soviet era, the Communist Party subsidized university studies for thousands of students from Yemen, Egypt, Syria and the territories. Some of them got married during their studies and brought their Russian and Ukrainian wives back home. However, over half of them were able to leave the Strip via the Erez crossing to Amman within days of Hamas’ takeover. From there they have flown back to Eastern Europe.

People Population: 1,482,405 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 47.6% (male 361,115/female 344,236)
15-64 years: 49.9% (male 377,927/female 361,824)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 15,454/female 21,849) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 16 years
male: 15.9 years
female: 16.2 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.66% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 38.9 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 3.74 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.43 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.049 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.045 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.707 male(s)/female
total population: 1.037 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 21.88 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 22.91 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.16 years
male: 70.84 years
female: 73.54 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.64 children born/woman

Georgia: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This South West Asian Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Georgia

Introduction The region of present-day Georgia contained the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Kartli-Iberia. The area came under Roman influence in the first centuries A.D. and Christianity became the state religion in the 330s. Domination by Persians, Arabs, and Turks was followed by a Georgian golden age (11th-13th centuries) that was cut short by the Mongol invasion of 1236. Subsequently, the Ottoman and Persian empires competed for influence in the region. Georgia was absorbed into the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Independent for three years (1918-1921) following the Russian revolution, it was forcibly incorporated into the USSR until the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. An attempt by the incumbent Georgian government to manipulate national legislative elections in November 2003 touched off widespread protests that led to the resignation of Eduard SHEVARDNADZE, president since 1995. New elections in early 2004 swept Mikheil SAAKASHVILI into power along with his National Movement party. Progress on market reforms and democratization has been made in the years since independence, but this progress has been complicated by two ethnic conflicts in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. These two territories remain outside the control of the central government and are ruled by de facto, unrecognized governments, supported by Russia. Russian-led peacekeeping operations continue in both regions.
History The territory of modern-day Georgia has been continuously inhabited since the early Stone Age. The classic period saw the rise of the early Georgian states of Colchis and Iberia, which laid the foundation of Georgian culture and eventual statehood. The proto-Georgian tribes first appear in written history in the 12th century BC.[14] Archaeological finds and references in ancient sources reveal advancement of early Georgian political and state formations – their urban heritage and advanced metallurgy and goldsmith techniques that date back to the 7th century BC and beyond.[15] In the 4th century BC a unified kingdom of Georgia – an early example of advanced state organization under one king and the hierarchy of aristocracy, was established.[16]

Christianity came to Georgia with its first missionaries and it was declared the state religion as early as AD 337. The conversion to Christianity provided a great stimulus to literature and the arts and helped to unify the country. Early and medieval Christian scholarship, the links with the rest of the Christian world and dynamic exchange with the Islamic world, together with the development of national literature and the political consolidation of the state in the 11th century AD culminated in a true renaissance in the 12-13th centuries AD.[17]

This early Georgian renaissance, which preceded its European analogue by several hundred years, was significant and was characterized by magnificent secular art and culture, the flourishing of a romantic- chivalric tradition, breakthroughs in philosophy, and an array of political innovations in society and state organization, including religious and ethnic tolerance. The Golden age of Georgia left a legacy of great cathedrals, romantic poetry and literature, and the epic poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin”. This Golden Age was interrupted at its peak by the Mongol Invasion in the 13th century AD Throughout the next six centuries, Georgia was conquered by repeated invasions by Persians and Turks, resulting in the disintegration of the Georgian state into several small kingdoms. Due to this national crisis, in 1783 Georgia signed the Treaty of Georgievsk with the Russian Empire, placing the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti under the Russian protectorate. Despite Russia’s commitment to defend Georgia, it rendered no assistance when the Turks invaded in 1785 and again in 1795. This period culminated in the 1801 Russian annexation of remaining Georgian lands and the deposing of the Bagrationi dynasty.

A few decades later, Georgian society produced a modernist nationalistic elite which united Georgian society around the dream of the restoration of their once glorious state. In 1918, this dream was fulfilled and the Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918-1921) was established. This democratic experiment was short-lived, as in 1921 Georgia was occupied by Bolshevik Russia. Georgia was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922. Georgia gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and, after a period of civil war and severe economic crisis, Georgia was mostly stable by the late 1990s. The bloodless Rose Revolution of 2003 installed a new, pro-Western reformist government that aspired to join NATO and attempted to bring the secessionist territories back under Georgia’s control. These efforts resulted in a deterioration of relations with Russia, in part because of the continued presence of Russian troops. As of 2007, most Russian military forces have been withdrawn, with the last remaining base in Batumi handed over to Georgia in 2007.[18]

Georgia in antiquity

Ancient Georgian Kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia

Two early Georgian kingdoms of late antiquity, known to ancient Greeks and Romans as Iberia (Georgian: იბერია) in the east of the country and Colchis (Georgian: კოლხეთი) in the west, were among the first nations in the region to adopt Christianity (in AD 337, or in AD 319 as recent research suggests.).

In Greek Mythology, Colchis was the location of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts in Apollonius Rhodius’ epic tale Argonautica. The incorporation of the Golden Fleece into the myth may have derived from the local practice of using fleeces to sift gold dust from rivers. Known to its natives as Egrisi or Lazica, Colchis often saw battles between the rival powers of Persia and the Byzantine Empire, both of which managed to conquer Western Georgia from time to time.

In the last centuries of the pre-Christian era, the area, in the form of the kingdom of Kartli-Iberia, was strongly influenced by Greece to the west and Persia to the east.[19] After the Roman Empire completed its conquest of the Caucasus region in 66 B.C., the kingdom was a Roman client state and ally for nearly 400 years.[19] In A.D. 330, King Marian III’s acceptance of Christianity ultimately tied the kingdom to the neighboring Byzantine Empire, which exerted a strong cultural influence for several centuries.[19]

The early kingdoms disintegrated into various feudal regions by the early Middle Ages. This made it easy for Arabs to conquer Georgia in the 7th century. The rebellious regions were liberated and united into a unified Georgian Kingdom at the beginning of the 11th century. Starting in the 12th century AD, the rule of Georgia extended over a significant part of the Southern Caucasus, including the northeastern parts and almost the entire northern coast of what is now Turkey.

Although Arabs captured the capital city of Tbilisi in A.D. 645, Kartli-Iberia retained considerable independence under local Arab rulers.[19] In A.D. 813, the prince Ashot I also known as Ashot Kurapalat became the first of the Bagrationi family to rule the kingdom: Ashot’s reign began a period of nearly 1,000 years during which the Bagrationi, as the house was known, ruled at least part of what is now the republic.

Western and eastern Georgia were united under Bagrat V (r. 1027-72). In the next century, David IV (called the Builder, r. 1099-1125) initiated the Georgian golden age by driving the Turks from the country and expanding Georgian cultural and political influence southward into Armenia and eastward to the Caspian Sea.[19]

Medieval Georgia

Kingdom of Georgia at peak of its military dominance, 1184-1225

The Georgian Kingdom reached its zenith in the 12th to early 13th centuries. This period has been widely termed as Georgia’s Golden Age or Georgian Renaissance. The revival of the Georgian Kingdom was short-lived however, and the Kingdom was eventually subjugated by the Mongols in 1236. Thereafter, different local rulers fought for their independence from central Georgian rule, until the total disintegration of the Kingdom in the 15th century. Neighbouring kingdoms exploited the situation and from the 16th century, the Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire subjugated the eastern and western regions of Georgia, respectively.

The rulers of regions which remained partly autonomous organized rebellions on various occasions. Subsequent Persian and Osman invasions further weakened local kingdoms and regions. As a result of wars against neighbouring countries, the population of Georgia was reduced to 250,000 inhabitants at one point.

Within the Russian Empire

In 1783, Russia and the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti signed the Treaty of Georgievsk, according to which Kartli-Kakheti received protection by Russia. This, however, did not prevent Tbilisi from being sacked by the Persians in 1795.

On December 22, 1800, Tsar Paul I of Russia, at the alleged request of the Georgian King George XII, signed the proclamation on the incorporation of Georgia (Kartli-Kakheti) within the Russian Empire, which was finalized by a decree on January 8, 1801,[20][21] which was confirmed by Tsar Alexander I on September 12, 1801.[22][23] The Georgian envoy in Saint Petersburg reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Prince Kurakin.[24] In May 1801, Russian General Carl Heinrich Knorring dethroned the Georgian heir to the throne David Batonishvili and instituted a government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lasarev.[25]

The Georgian nobility did not accept the decree until April 1802 when General Knorring compassed the nobility in Tbilisi’s Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath on the Imperial Crown of Russia. Those who disagreed were arrested temporarily.[26]

In the summer of 1805, Russian troops on the Askerani River near Zagam defeated the Persian army and saved Tbilisi from conquest.

Democratic Republic of Georgia, 1918-1921

In 1810, after a brief war,[27] the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti was annexed by Tsar Alexander I of Russia. The last Imeretian king and the last Georgian Bagrationi ruler Solomon II died in exile in 1815. From 1803 to 1878, as a result of numerous Russian wars against Turkey and Iran, several territories were annexed to Georgia. These areas (Batumi, Akhaltsikhe, Poti, and Abkhazia) now represent a large part of the territory of Georgia. The principality of Guria was abolished in 1828, and that of Samegrelo (Mingrelia) in 1857. The region of Svaneti was gradually annexed in 1857–59.

Brief independence period and Soviet era

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia declared independence on May 26, 1918 in the midst of the Russian Civil War. The parliamentary election was won by the Georgian Social-Democratic Party, considered to be a party of Mensheviks, and its leader, Noe Zhordania, became the prime minister. In 1918 a Georgian–Armenian war erupted over parts of Georgian provinces populated mostly by Armenians which ended due to British intervention. In 1918–19 Georgian general Giorgi Mazniashvili led a Georgian attack against the White Army led by Moiseev and Denikin in order to claim the Black Sea coastline from Tuapse to Sochi and Adler for independent Georgia. The country’s independence did not last long, however. Georgia was under British protection from 1918-1920.

In February 1921 Georgia was attacked by the Red Army. Georgian troops lost the battle and the Social-Democrat government fled the country. On February 25, 1921 the Red Army entered the capital Tbilisi and installed a puppet communist government led by Georgian Bolshevik Filipp Makharadze, but the Soviet rule was firmly established only after the 1924 revolt was brutally suppressed. Georgia was incorporated into the Transcaucasian SFSR uniting Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The TFSSR was disaggregated into its component elements in 1936 and Georgia became the Georgian SSR.

The Georgian-born communist radical Ioseb Jughashvili, better known by his nom de guerre Stalin (from the Russian word for steel: сталь) was prominent among the Russian Bolsheviks, who came to power in the Russian Empire after the October Revolution in 1917. Stalin was to rise to the highest position of the Soviet state.

From 1941 to 1945, during World War II, almost 700,000 Georgians fought as Red Army soldiers against Nazi Germany. (A number also fought with the German army). About 350,000 Georgians died in the battlefields of the Eastern Front. Also during this period the Chechen, Ingush, Karachay and the Balkarian peoples from the Northern Caucasus, were deported to Siberia for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. With their respective autonomous republics abolished, the Georgian SSR was briefly granted some of their territory, until 1957.

The Dissidential movement for restoration of Georgian statehood started to gain popularity in the 1960s.[28] Among the Georgian dissidents, two of the most prominent activists were Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Dissidents were heavily persecuted by Soviet government and their activities were harshly suppressed. Almost all Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia (the Georgian parliament).

On April 9, 1989, a peaceful demonstration in the Georgian capital Tbilisi ended in a massacre in which several people were killed by Soviet troops. This incident launched an anti-Soviet mass movement, soon shattered, however, by the in-fighting of its different political wings. Before the October 1990 elections to the national assembly, the Umaghlesi Sabcho (Supreme Council) — the first polls in the USSR held on a formal multi-party basis — the political landscape was reshaped again. While the more radical groups boycotted the elections and convened an alternative forum (National Congress), another part of the anticommunist opposition united into the Round Table—Free Georgia (RT-FG) around the former dissidents like Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The latter won the elections by a clear margin, with 155 out of 250 parliamentary seats, whereas the ruling Communist Party (CP) received only 64 seats. All other parties failed to get over the 5%-threshold and were thus allotted only some single-member constituency seats.

On April 9, 1991, shortly before the collapse of the USSR, Georgia declared independence. On May 26, 1991, Zviad Gamsakhurdia was elected as a first President of independent Georgia. However, Gamsakhurdia was soon deposed in a bloody coup d’état, from December 22, 1991 to January 6, 1992. The coup was instigated by part of the National Guards and a paramilitary organization called “Mkhedrioni”. The country became embroiled in a bitter civil war which lasted almost until 1995. Eduard Shevardnadze returned to Georgia in 1992 and joined the leaders of the coup — Kitovani and Ioseliani — to head a triumvirate called the “State Council”.

In 1995, Shevardnadze was officially elected as a president of Georgia, and reelected in 2000. At the same time, two regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, quickly became embroiled in disputes with local separatists that led to widespread inter-ethnic violence and wars. Supported by Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia achieved and maintained de facto independence from Georgia. More than 250,000 Georgians were ethnically cleansed from Abkhazia by Abkhaz separatists and North Caucasians volunteers, (including Chechens) in 1992-1993. More than 25,000 Georgians were expelled from Tskhinvali as well, and many Ossetian families were forced to abandon their homes in the Borjomi region and move to Russia.

In 2003, Shevardnadze was deposed by the Rose Revolution, after Georgian opposition and international monitors asserted that the November 2 parliamentary elections were marred by fraud.[29] The revolution was led by Mikheil Saakashvili, Zurab Zhvania and Nino Burjanadze, former members and leaders of Shavarnadze’s ruling party. Mikheil Saakashvili was elected as President of Georgia in 2004.

Following the Rose Revolution, a series of reforms was launched to strengthen the country’s military and economic capabilities. The new government’s efforts to reassert the Georgian authority in the southwestern autonomous republic of Ajaria led to a major crisis early in 2004. Success in Ajaria encouraged Saakashvili to intensify his efforts, but without success, in the breakaway South Ossetia.

Geography Location: Southwestern Asia, bordering the Black Sea, between Turkey and Russia
Geographic coordinates: 42 00 N, 43 30 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 69,700 sq km
land: 69,700 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than South Carolina
Land boundaries: total: 1,461 km
border countries: Armenia 164 km, Azerbaijan 322 km, Russia 723 km, Turkey 252 km
Coastline: 310 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: warm and pleasant; Mediterranean-like on Black Sea coast
Terrain: largely mountainous with Great Caucasus Mountains in the north and Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the south; Kolkhet’is Dablobi (Kolkhida Lowland) opens to the Black Sea in the west; Mtkvari River Basin in the east; good soils in river valley flood plains, foothills of Kolkhida Lowland
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Mt’a Shkhara 5,201 m
Natural resources: forests, hydropower, manganese deposits, iron ore, copper, minor coal and oil deposits; coastal climate and soils allow for important tea and citrus growth
Land use: arable land: 11.51%
permanent crops: 3.79%
other: 84.7% (2005)
Irrigated land: 4,690 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 63.3 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 3.61 cu km/yr (20%/21%/59%)
per capita: 808 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: earthquakes
Environment – current issues: air pollution, particularly in Rust’avi; heavy pollution of Mtkvari River and the Black Sea; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil pollution from toxic chemicals
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: strategically located east of the Black Sea; Georgia controls much of the Caucasus Mountains and the routes through them
People Population: 4,646,003 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.7% (male 413,506/female 364,407)
15-64 years: 66.6% (male 1,489,081/female 1,605,021)
65 years and over: 16.7% (male 311,098/female 462,890) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 38 years
male: 35.5 years
female: 40.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.329% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 10.54 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 9.37 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -4.45 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.14 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.135 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.928 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.672 male(s)/female
total population: 0.91 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 17.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19.42 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.3 years
male: 73 years
female: 80.07 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.42 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 3,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Georgian(s)
adjective: Georgian
Ethnic groups: Georgian 83.8%, Azeri 6.5%, Armenian 5.7%, Russian 1.5%, other 2.5% (2002 census)
Religions: Orthodox Christian 83.9%, Muslim 9.9%, Armenian-Gregorian 3.9%, Catholic 0.8%, other 0.8%, none 0.7% (2002 census)
Languages: Georgian 71% (official), Russian 9%, Armenian 7%, Azeri 6%, other 7%
note: Abkhaz is the official language in Abkhazia
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2004 est.)

Greenland: Truth, Knowledge, History Of The North Atlantic Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Greenland

Introduction Greenland, the world’s largest island, is about 81% ice-capped. Vikings reached the island in the 10th century from Iceland; Danish colonization began in the 18th century, and Greenland was made an integral part of Denmark in 1953. It joined the European Community (now the EU) with Denmark in 1973, but withdrew in 1985 over a dispute centered on stringent fishing quotas. Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament; the law went into effect the following year. Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland’s foreign affairs in consultation with Greenland’s Home Rule Government.
History In prehistoric times, Greenland was home to a number of Paleo-Eskimo cultures. From AD 984 it was colonized by Norse settlers in two settlements on the west coast on the fjords near the very southwestern tip of the island. They thrived for a few centuries, but after nearly 500 years of habitation, disappeared sometime in the 15th century.[2]

Data from ice cores indicate that from AD 800 to 1300 the regions around the fjords of southern Greenland experienced a relatively mild climate similar to today. Trees and herbaceous plants grew there, and the climate initially allowed farming of livestock as in Norway.[2] These remote communities thrived on farming, hunting and trade with Norway. When the Norwegian kings converted their domains to Christianity, a bishop was installed in Greenland, subordinate to the archdiocese of Nidaros. The settlements seem to have coexisted relatively peacefully with the Inuit, who had migrated south from the Arctic islands of North America around 1200. In 1261, Greenland became part of the Kingdom of Norway.

Around the 14th and 15th centuries, the Scandinavian settlements vanished, likely due to famine and increasing conflicts with the Inuit.[3] The condition of human bones from this period indicates the Norse population was malnourished. Main reasons appeared to have been soil erosion due to destruction of the natural vegetation for farming, turf, and wood by the Norse, a decline in temperatures during the Little Ice Age, and armed conflicts with the Inuit.[2] It has been suggested that cultural practices, such as rejecting fish as a source of food and reliance solely on livestock ill-adapted to Greenland’s climate, caused by the mini-ice age, which resulted in recurring famines, with environmental degradation led to the abandonment of the colony.[2] Research (written before Diamond’s book) has made it clear however that fish were a major source of food for the Norse Greenlanders from the early 1300s on.

Denmark-Norway reasserted its latent claim to the colony in 1721. But ties with Norway were severed by the Treaty of Kiel of 1814, ceding Norway to the king of Sweden while Denmark retained all of her common overseas possessions: the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, as well as Denmark-Norway’s small territories in India (Tranquebar), West Africa (Danish Gold Coast), and the West Indies (Danish Virgin Islands).

Norway occupied and claimed parts of (then uninhabited) East Greenland also called Erik the Red’s Land in July 1931, claiming that it constituted Terra nullius. Norway and Denmark agreed to settle the matter at the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1933, where Norway lost.

During World War II, Greenland’s connection to Denmark was severed on April 9, 1940 when Denmark was occupied by Germany. Greenland was able to buy goods from the United States and Canada, by selling cryolite from the mine in Ivigtût. During the war the system of government changed. Governor Eske Brun ruled the island via a 1925 law that allowed governors to take control under extreme circumstances. The other governor, Aksel Svane, was transferred to the US to lead the commission to supply Greenland. The Sirius Patrol, guarding the northeastern shores of Greenland using dog sleds, detected and destroyed several German weather stations, giving Denmark a better position in the postwar turmoil.

Greenland had been a protected and very isolated society until 1940. The Danish government, which governed its colony Greenland, had been convinced that the society would face exploitation from the outside world or even extinction if the country was opened up. But during World War II, Greenland developed a sense of self-reliance through its self-government and independent communication with the outside world.

However, a commission in 1946 (with the highest Greenlandic council Landsrådet as participant) recommended patience and no radical reformation of the system. Two years later the first step towards changing the governing was initiated when a grand commission was founded. In 1950 the report (G-50) was presented. Greenland was to be a modern welfare society with Denmark as the sponsor and example. In 1953, Greenland was made an equal part of the Danish Kingdom. Home rule was granted in 1979.

Geography Location: Northern North America, island between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada
Geographic coordinates: 72 00 N, 40 00 W
Map references: Arctic Region
Area: total: 2,166,086 sq km
land: 2,166,086 sq km (410,449 sq km ice-free, 1,755,637 sq km ice-covered) (2000 est.)
Area – comparative: slightly more than three times the size of Texas
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 44,087 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
continental shelf: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
Climate: arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters
Terrain: flat to gradually sloping icecap covers all but a narrow, mountainous, barren, rocky coast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunnbjorn 3,700 m
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, diamonds, gold, platinum, niobium, tantalite, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: continuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island
Environment – current issues: protection of the arctic environment; preservation of the Inuit traditional way of life, including whaling and seal hunting
Geography – note: dominates North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe; sparse population confined to small settlements along coast, but close to one-quarter of the population lives in the capital, Nuuk; world’s second largest ice cap
People Population: 56,344 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24% (male 6,926/female 6,597)
15-64 years: 69.1% (male 20,901/female 18,012)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 1,873/female 2,035) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 34.1 years
male: 35.4 years
female: 32.3 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.03% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 16.01 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 7.93 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -8.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.16 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 1.115 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 14.98 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.23 years
male: 66.65 years
female: 73.9 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.4 children born/woman

Grenada: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This South Atlantic Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Grenada

Introduction Carib Indians inhabited Grenada when COLUMBUS discovered the island in 1498, but it remained uncolonized for more than a century. The French settled Grenada in the 17th century, established sugar estates, and imported large numbers of African slaves. Britain took the island in 1762 and vigorously expanded sugar production. In the 19th century, cacao eventually surpassed sugar as the main export crop; in the 20th century, nutmeg became the leading export. In 1967, Britain gave Grenada autonomy over its internal affairs. Full independence was attained in 1974, making Grenada one of the smallest independent countries in the Western Hemisphere. Grenada was seized by a Marxist military council on 19 October 1983. Six days later the island was invaded by US forces and those of six other Caribbean nations, which quickly captured the ringleaders and their hundreds of Cuban advisers. Free elections were reinstituted the following year and have continued since that time. Hurricane Ivan struck Grenada in September of 2004 causing severe damage.
History The recorded history of Grenada begins in 1498, when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island and gave it the name Conception Island, and later called it Granada. At the time the Island Caribs (Kalinago) lived there and called it Camerhogue. The Spaniards did not permanently settle in Camerhogue. Later the English failed their first settlement attempts, but the French fought and conquered Grenada from the Caribs circa 1650. The French conquest resulted in the genocide of 17th century Caribs from present-day Grenada. Warfare also existed between the Caribs of present day Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines with the French invaders. The French took control of Camerhogue and named the new French colony La Grenade. La Grenade prospered as a wealthy French colony; its main export was sugar. The French established a capital known as Fort Royal in 1650 as ordered by Cardinal Richelieu. To wait out harsh hurricanes, the French navy would shelter in the capital’s natural harbour. No other French colony had a natural harbour to even compare with that of Fort Royal (later renamed St. George’s). The colony was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris. A century later, in 1877 Grenada was made a Crown Colony.

History 1958-1984: Independence and Revolution

The island was a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. In 1967, Grenada attained the status of “Associated State of the United Kingdom”, which meant that Grenada was now responsible for her own internal affairs, and the UK was responsible for her defense and foreign affairs. Independence was granted in 1974 under the leadership of the then Premier, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, who became the first Prime Minister of Grenada.

Civil conflict gradually broke out between Eric Gairy’s government and some opposition parties including the New Jewel Movement (NJM). Gairy’s party won elections in 1976 but the opposition did not accept the result. In 1979, the New Jewel Movement under Maurice Bishop launched a successful armed revolution against the government. Maurice Bishop suspended the constitution and declared a People’s Revolutionary Government. All parties except the NJM were banned and elections were never held to legitimize the change.

A dispute later developed between Bishop and certain high-ranking members of the NJM. Party members including Bernard Coard demanded that Bishop either step down or enter into a power sharing arrangement. The dispute eventually led to Bishop being deposed in 1983 and placed under house arrest. These actions led to street demonstrations in various parts of the island. Bishop was eventually freed by a large demonstration in the capital. Soon after, he was captured and executed by soldiers along with seven others including cabinet ministers of the government.

After the execution of Bishop, the People’s Revolutionary Army formed a military government with General Hudson Austin as chairman. The army declared a four-day total curfew during which it said that anyone leaving their home without approval would be shot on sight.

Six days after the execution of Bishop, the island was invaded by forces from the United States. The US stated this was done at the behest of Dame Eugenia Charles, of Dominica. Five other Caribbean nations participated with Dominica and the USA in the campaign, called Operation Urgent Fury. While the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon, later stated that he had requested the invasion, the governments of the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago expressed anger at not having been consulted.

Eighteen members of the PRG and the PRA (army) were arrested after the invasion on charges related to the murder of Maurice Bishop and seven others. The eighteen included the top political leadership of Grenada at the time of the execution as well as the entire military chain of command directly responsible for the operation that led to the executions. Fourteen were sentenced to death, one was found not guilty and three were sentenced to forty-five years in prison. The death sentences were eventually commuted to terms of imprisonment. Those in prison have become known as the Grenada 17.

Twenty-first century history

In 2000-2002, much of the controversy of the late 1970s and early 1980s was once again brought into the public consciousness with the opening of the truth and reconciliation commission. The commission was chaired by a Roman Catholic priest, Father Mark Haynes, and was tasked with uncovering injustices arising from the PRA, Bishop’s regime, and before. It held a number of hearings around the country. The commission was formed, bizarrely, because of a school project. Brother Robert Fanovich, head of Presentation Brothers’ College (PBC) in St. George’s tasked some of his senior students with conducting a research project into the era and specifically into the fact that Maurice Bishop’s body was never discovered. Their project attracted a great deal of attention, including from the Miami Herald and the final report was published in a book written by the boys called Big Sky, Little Bullet. It also uncovered that there was still a lot of resentment in Grenadian society resulting from the era, and a feeling that there were many injustices still unaddressed. The commission began shortly after the boys concluded their project.

In 2004, after being hurricane free for forty-nine years, the island was directly hit by Hurricane Ivan (September 7). Ivan struck as a Category 4 hurricane and caused 90 percent of the homes to be damaged or destroyed. The following year, 2005, Hurricane Emily (July 14) a Category 2 hurricane struck the northern part of the island, causing an estimated USD $110 million (EC$ 297 million) worth of damage. This was much less damage than Ivan had caused.[citations needed]

Grenada has recovered with remarkable speed, due to both domestic labor and financing from the world at large. By December 2005, 96% of all hotel rooms were to be open for business and to have been upgraded in facilities and strengthened to an improved building code. The agricultural industry and in particular the nutmeg industry suffered serious losses, but that event has begun changes in crop management and it is hoped that as new nutmeg trees gradually mature, the industry will return to its pre-Ivan position as a major supplier in the Western world.[citations needed]

In April 2007, Grenada jointly hosted (along with several other Caribbean nations) the 2007 Cricket World Cup. After hurricane Ivan, the Chinese government paid for the new $40 million national stadium, along with the aid of over 300 Chinese labourers to build and repair it.

Geography Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Geographic coordinates: 12 07 N, 61 40 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 344 sq km
land: 344 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 121 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; tempered by northeast trade winds
Terrain: volcanic in origin with central mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Saint Catherine 840 m
Natural resources: timber, tropical fruit, deepwater harbors
Land use: arable land: 5.88%
permanent crops: 29.41%
other: 64.71% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: NA
Natural hazards: lies on edge of hurricane belt; hurricane season lasts from June to November
Environment – current issues: NA
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the administration of the islands of the Grenadines group is divided between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada
Politics As a Commonwealth Realm, Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Grenada and Head of State. The Crown is represented by a Governor-General, who is currently Sir Daniel Williams. Day-to-day executive power lies with the Head of Government, the Prime Minister. Although appointed by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister is usually the leader of the largest faction in the Parliament.

The Parliament consists of a Senate (thirteen members) and a House of Representatives (fifteen members). The senators are appointed by the government and the opposition, while the representatives are elected by the population for five-year terms. With 48% of the votes and eight seats in the 2003 election, the New National Party remains the largest party in Grenada. The largest opposition party is the National Democratic Congress with 45.6% of the votes and seven seats.

Grenada is a full and participating member of both the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

People Population: 89,971 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 32.8% (male 14,876/female 14,641)
15-64 years: 64.1% (male 30,522/female 27,137)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 1,353/female 1,442) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 22.1 years
male: 22.6 years
female: 21.6 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.336% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 21.87 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 6.61 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -11.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.016 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.125 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.938 male(s)/female
total population: 1.082 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.92 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.57 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 65.21 years
male: 63.38 years
female: 67.05 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.3 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Grenadian(s)
adjective: Grenadian
Ethnic groups: black 82%, mixed black and European 13%, European and East Indian 5%, and trace of Arawak/Carib Amerindian
Religions: Roman Catholic 53%, Anglican 13.8%, other Protestant 33.2%
Languages: English (official), French patois
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96%

Guam: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Pacific Island Nation

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

 

Guam

Introduction Guam was ceded to the US by Spain in 1898. Captured by the Japanese in 1941, it was retaken by the US three years later. The military installation on the island is one of the most strategically important US bases in the Pacific.
History Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, sailing for the King of Spain, reached the island in 1521 during his circumnavigation of the globe. General Miguel López de Legazpi claimed Guam for Spain in 1565. Spanish colonization commenced in 1668 with the arrival of Padre San Vitores, who established the first Catholic mission. The islands were then governed as part of the Spanish East Indies from the Philippines. Between 1668 and 1815, Guam was an important resting stop on the Spanish trade route between Mexico and the Philippines. Guam, along with the rest of the Mariana and Caroline Islands, was treated by Spain as part of their colony in the Philippines. While Guam’s Chamorro culture is unique, the cultures of both Guam and the Northern Marianas were heavily influenced by Spanish culture and traditions.[2]

The United States took control of the island in the 1898 Spanish-American War. Guam came to serve as a station for American ships traveling to and from the Philippines, while the northern Mariana islands passed to Germany then Japan.[2] During World War II, Guam was attacked, and invaded, by the armed forces of Japan on December 8, 1941. Before the attack, most of the United States citizens were transported from the island and away from imminent danger. The Northern Mariana Islands had become a Japanese protectorate before the war. It was the Chamorros from the Northern Marianas who were brought to Guam to serve as interpreters and in other capacities for the occupying Japanese force. The Guamanian Chamorros were treated as an occupied enemy by the Japanese military. After the war, this would cause some resentment by the Guamanian Chamorros towards the Chamorros in the Northern Marianas. Guam’s occupation lasted for approximately thirty-one months. During this period, the indigenous people of Guam were subjected to forced labor, family separation, incarceration, execution, concentration camps and prostitution. Approximately a thousand people died during the occupation according to Congressional Testimony in 2004. The United States returned and fought the Battle of Guam on July 21, 1944, to recapture the island from Japanese military occupation. To this day, Guam remains the only U.S. soil, with a sizable population (in the thousands), to have ever been occupied by a foreign military power – the Japanese Imperial Army. The U.S. also captured and occupied the Northern Marianas. After the war, the Guam Organic Act of 1950, which established Guam as an unincorporated organized territory of the United States, provided for the structure of the island’s civilian government, and granted the people United States citizenship.

Geography Location: Oceania, island in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 13 28 N, 144 47 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 541.3 sq km
land: 541.3 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: three times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 125.5 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical marine; generally warm and humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season (January to June), rainy season (July to December); little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: volcanic origin, surrounded by coral reefs; relatively flat coralline limestone plateau (source of most fresh water), with steep coastal cliffs and narrow coastal plains in north, low hills in center, mountains in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Lamlam 406 m
Natural resources: fishing (largely undeveloped), tourism (especially from Japan)
Land use: arable land: 3.64%
permanent crops: 18.18%
other: 78.18% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: frequent squalls during rainy season; relatively rare, but potentially very destructive typhoons (June – December)
Environment – current issues: extirpation of native bird population by the rapid proliferation of the brown tree snake, an exotic, invasive species
Geography – note: largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago; strategic location in western North Pacific Ocean
People Population: 173,456 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 28.6% (male 25,686/female 23,938)
15-64 years: 64.5% (male 57,023/female 54,872)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 5,592/female 6,345) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 28.8 years
male: 28.5 years
female: 29 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.4% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 18.56 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 4.56 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.073 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.039 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.881 male(s)/female
total population: 1.037 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.68 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.76 years
male: 75.69 years
female: 82.01 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.57 children born/woman

Guatemala: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This South American Nation

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

 

Guatemala

Introduction The Mayan civilization flourished in Guatemala and surrounding regions during the first millennium A.D. After almost three centuries as a Spanish colony, Guatemala won its independence in 1821. During the second half of the 20th century, it experienced a variety of military and civilian governments, as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the conflict, which had left more than 100,000 people dead and had created, by some estimates, some 1 million refugees.
History Pre-Columbian

The first evidence of human settlers in Guatemala goes back to 10,000 BC, although there is some evidence that puts this date at 18,000 BC, such as obsidian arrow heads found in various parts of the country.[2] There is archaeological proof that early Guatemalan settlers were hunters and gatherers, but pollen samples from Petén and the Pacific coast indicate that maize cultivation was developed by 3500 BC.[3] Archaic sites have been documented in Quiché in the Highlands and Sipacate, Escuintla on the central Pacific coast (6500 BC).

Archaeologists divide the pre-Columbian history of Mesoamerica into 3 periods: The Pre-Classic from 2000 BC to 250 AD, the Classic from 250 to 900 AD, and the calistic from 900 to 1500 AD.[4] Until recently, the Pre-Classic was regarded as a formative period, with small villages of farmers who lived in huts, and few permanent buildings, but this notion has been challenged by recent discoveries of monumental architecture from that period, such as an altar in La Blanca, San Marcos, from 1000 BC; ceremonial sites at Miraflores and El Naranjo from 801 BC; the earliest monumental masks; and the Mirador Basin cities of Nakbé, Xulnal, Tintal, Wakná and El Mirador.

El Mirador was by far the most populated city in the pre-Columbian America, and contained the largest pyramid in the world, at 2,800,000 cubic meters in volume (some 200,000 more than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt).[citation needed] Mirador was the first politically organized state in America, named the Kan Kingdom in ancient texts. There were 26 cities, all connected by Sacbeob (highways), which were several kilometers long, up to 40 meters wide, and 2 to 4 meters above the ground, paved with stucco, that are clearly distinguishable from the air in the most extensive virgin tropical rain forest in Mesoamerica.

The Classic period of Mesoamerican civilization corresponds to the height of the Maya civilization, and is represented by countless sites throughout Guatemala, although the largest concentration is in Petén. This period is characterized by heavy city-building, the development of independent city-states, and contact with other Mesoamerican cultures.

This lasted until around 900 AD, when the Classic Maya civilization collapsed. The Maya abandoned many of the cities of the central lowlands or were killed off by a drought-induced famine.[5] Scientists debate the cause of the Classic Maya Collapse, but gaining currency is the Drought Theory discovered by physical scientists studying lakebeds, ancient pollen, and other tangible evidence.[6] A series of prolonged droughts in what is otherwise a seasonal desert is thought to have decimated the Maya, who were primarily reliant upon regular rainfall.[citation needed] The Post-Classic period is represented by regional kingdoms such as the Itzá and Ko’woj in the Lakes area in Petén, and the Mam, Ki’ch’es, Kack’chiquel, Tz’utuh’il, Pokom’chí, Kek’chi and Chortí in the Highlands. These cities preserved many aspects of Mayan culture, but would never equal the size or power of the Classic cities.

Colonial

After arriving in what they named the New World, the Spanish mounted several expeditions to Guatemala, beginning in 1518. Before long, Spanish contact resulted in an epidemic that devastated native populations. Hernán Cortés, who had led the Spanish conquest of Mexico, granted a permit to Captains Gonzalo de Alvarado and his brother, Pedro de Alvarado, to conquer this land. Alvarado at first allied himself with the Cakchiquel nation to fight against their traditional rivals the Quiché nation. Alvarado later turned against the Cakchiquels, and eventually held the entire region under Spanish domination.

During the colonial period, Guatemala was a Captaincy General (Capitanía General de Yucatán) of Spain, and a part of New Spain (Mexico).[citation needed] It extended from the modern Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas (including the then separate administration of Soconusco) to Costa Rica. This region was not as rich in minerals (gold and silver) as Mexico and Peru, and was therefore not considered to be as important. Its main products were sugarcane, cocoa, blue añil dye, blue dye from cochineal insects, and precious woods used in artwork for churches and palaces in Spain.

The first Capital was named Tecpan Guatemala, founded in July 25, 1524 with the name of (Villa de Santiago de Guatemala) and was located near Iximché, the Cakchiquel’s capital city, It was moved to Ciudad Vieja on November 22, 1527, when the Cakchiquel attacked the city. On September 11, 1541 the city was flooded when the lagoon in the crater of the Agua Volcano collapsed due to heavy rains and earthquakes, and was moved 4 miles (6 km) to Antigua Guatemala, on the Panchoy Valley, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This City was destroyed by several earthquakes in 1773-1774, and the King of Spain, granted the authorization to move the Captaincy General, to the Ermita Valley, named after a Catholic Church to the Virgen de El Carmen, in its current location, founded in January 2, 1776.

Independence and 19th century

On September 15, 1821, the Captaincy-general of Guatemala (formed by Chiapas, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras) officially proclaimed its independence from Spain and its incorporation into the Mexican Empire. This region had been formally subject to New Spain throughout the colonial period, but as a practical matter was administered separately. All but Chiapas soon separated from Mexico after Agustín I from Mexico was forced to abdicate.

In this period the people of Guatemala was affected losing great part of his territory (67 %) in hand of the Mexicans.

The Guatemalan provinces formed the United Provinces of Central America, also called the Central American Federation (Federacion de Estados Centroamericanos). That federation dissolved in civil war from 1838 to 1840 (See: History of Central America). Guatemala’s Rafael Carrera was instrumental in leading the revolt against the federal government and breaking apart the Union. During this period a region of the Highlands, Los Altos, declared independence from Guatemala, but was annexed by Carrera, who dominated Guatemalan politics until 1865, backed by conservatives, large land owners and the church.

Guatemala’s “Liberal Revolution” came in 1871 under the leadership of Justo Rufino Barrios, who worked to modernize the country, improve trade, and introduce new crops and manufacturing. During this era coffee became an important crop for Guatemala. Barrios had ambitions of reuniting Central America and took the country to war in an unsuccessful attempt to attain this, losing his life on the battlefield in 1885 against forces in El Salvador.

1944 to Present

On July 4, 1944, Dictator Jorge Ubico Castañeda was forced to resign his office in response to a wave of protests and a general strike. His replacement, General Juan Federico Ponce Vaides, was later also forced out of office on October 20, 1944 by a coup d’état led by Major Francisco Javier Arana and Captain Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. About 100 people were killed in the coup. The country was led by a military junta made up of Arana, Arbenz, and Jorge Toriello Garrido. The Junta called Guatemala’s first free election, which was won with a majority of 85 percent by the prominent writer and teacher Juan José Arévalo Bermejo, who had lived in exile in Argentina for 14 years. Arévalo was the first democratically elected president of Guatemala to fully complete the term for which he was elected. His “Christian Socialist” policies, inspired by the U.S. New Deal, were criticized by landowners and the upper class as “communist.”

This period was also the beginning of the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR, which was to have a considerable influence on Guatemalan history. From the 1950s through the 1990s, the U.S. government directly supported Guatemala’s army with training, weapons, and money.

In 1954, Arévalo’s freely elected Guatemalan successor, Jacobo Arbenz, was overthrown by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a small group of Guatemalans (landowners, the old military caste, and the Catholic Church), after the government instituted Decree 900, which expropriated large tracts of land owned by the United Fruit Company, a U.S.-based banana merchant (Chiquita Banana). The CIA codename for the coup was Operation PBSUCCESS (it was the CIA’s second successful overthrow of a foreign government after the 1953 coup in Iran). Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas was installed as president in 1954 and ruled until he was assassinated by a member of his personal guard in 1957.

In the election that followed, General Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes assumed power. He is most celebrated for challenging the Mexican president to a gentleman’s duel on the bridge on the south border to end a feud on the subject of illegal fishing by Mexican boats on Guatemala’s Pacific coast, two of which were sunk by the Guatemalan Air Force. Ydigoras authorized the training of 5,000 anti-Castro Cubans in Guatemala. He also provided airstrips in the region of Petén for what later became the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. Ydigoras’ government was ousted in 1963 when the Air Force attacked several military bases. The coup was led by his Defense Minister, Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia.

In 1966, Julio César Méndez Montenegro was elected president of Guatemala under the banner “Democratic Opening.” Mendez Montenegro was the candidate of the Revolutionary Party, a center-left party which had its origins in the post-Ubico era. It was during this time that rightist paramilitary organizations, such as the “White Hand” (Mano Blanca), and the Anticommunist Secret Army, (Ejército Secreto Anticomunista), were formed. Those organizations were the forerunners of the infamous “Death Squads.” Military advisers of The United States Army Special Forces (Green Berets) were sent to Guatemala to train troops and help transform its army into a modern counter-insurgency force, which eventually made it the most sophisticated in Central America.

In 1970, Colonel Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio was elected president. A new guerrilla movement entered the country from Mexico, into the Western Highlands in 1972. In the disputed election of 1974, General Kjell Lauguerud García defeated General Efraín Ríos Montt, a candidate of the Christian Democratic Party, who claimed that he had been cheated out of a victory through fraud. On February 4, 1976, a major earthquake destroyed several cities and caused more than 25,000 deaths. In 1978, in a fraudulent election, General Romeo Lucas García assumed power. The 1970s saw the birth of two new guerrilla organizations, The Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) and the Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA), who began and intensified by the end of the seventies, guerrilla attacks that included urban and rural guerrilla warfare, mainly against the military and some of the civilian supporters of the army. In 1979, the United States president, Jimmy Carter, ordered a ban on all military aid to the Guatemalan Army because of the widespread and systematic abuse of human rights. Almost immediately, the Israeli Government took over supplying the Guatemalan Army with advisors, weapons and other military supplies.

In 1980, a group of Quiché Indians took over the Spanish Embassy to protest army massacres in the countryside. The Guatemalan government launched an assault that killed almost everyone inside as a result of a fire that consumed the building. The Guatemalan government claimed that the activists set the fire and immolated themselves.[7] However, the Spanish ambassador, who survived the fire, disputed this claim, claiming that the Guatemalan police intentionally killed almost everyone inside and set the fire to erase traces of their acts. As a result of this incident, the government of Spain broke diplomatic relations with Guatemala. This government was overthrown in 1982. General Efraín Ríos Montt was named President of the military junta, continuing the bloody campaign of torture, disappearances, and “scorched earth” warfare. The country became a pariah state internationally. Ríos Montt was overthrown by General Óscar Humberto Mejía Victores, who called for an election of a national constitutional assembly to write a new constitution, leading to a free election in 1986, which was won by Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, the candidate of the Christian Democracy Party.

In 1982, the four Guerrilla groups, EGP, ORPA, FAR and PGT, merged and formed the URNG, influenced by the Salvadoran guerrilla FMLN, the Nicaraguan FSLN and Cuba’s Government, in order to become stronger. As a result of the Army’s “scorched earth” tactics in the countryside, more than 45,000 Guatemalans fled across the border to Mexico. The Mexican government placed the refugees in camps in Chiapas and Tabasco.

In 1992, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Rigoberta Menchú for her efforts to bring international attention to the government-sponsored genocide against the indigenous population.

The bloody 35-year old war of repression ended in 1996 with a peace accord between the guerrillas and the government of President Álvaro Arzú, negotiated by the United Nations through intense brokerage by nations such as Norway and Spain. Both sides made major concessions. The guerrilla fighters disarmed and received land to work. According to the U.N.-sponsored truth commission (styled the “Commission for Historical Clarification”), government forces and state-sponsored paramilitaries were responsible for over 93% of the human rights violations during the war.[8] During the first 10 years, the victims of the state-sponsored terror were primarily students, workers, professionals, and opposition figures, but in the last years they were thousands of mostly rural Mayan farmers and non-combatants. More than 450 Mayan villages were destroyed and over 1 million people became internal and external refugees. In certain areas, such as Baja Verapaz, the Truth Commission considered that the Guatemalan state engaged in an intentional policy of genocide against particular ethnic groups in the Civil War.[8] In 1999, U.S. president Bill Clinton stated that the United States was wrong to have provided support to Guatemalan military forces that took part in the brutal civilian killings.[9]

Since the peace accords, Guatemala has witnessed successive democratic elections, most recently in 2007. The past government has signed free trade agreements with the Caleb and the rest of Central America through CAFTA, and other agreements with Mexico and Panama. In 2007 elections were held in Guatemala. El Partido Nacional de la Esperanza and its president candidate Álvaro Colom won the presidency as well as the majority of the seats in congress.

Guatemala continues to rank as having one of the highest murder rates in the world with an extremely low conviction rate.

Geography Location: Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize
Geographic coordinates: 15 30 N, 90 15 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 108,890 sq km
land: 108,430 sq km
water: 460 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Tennessee
Land boundaries: total: 1,687 km
border countries: Belize 266 km, El Salvador 203 km, Honduras 256 km, Mexico 962 km
Coastline: 400 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Volcan Tajumulco 4,211 m
Natural resources: petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 13.22%
permanent crops: 5.6%
other: 81.18% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 111.3 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.01 cu km/yr (6%/13%/80%)
per capita: 160 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast extremely susceptible to hurricanes and other tropical storms
Environment – current issues: deforestation in the Peten rainforest; soil erosion; water pollution
Environment – international agreements: party to: 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: no natural harbors on west coast
Politics Guatemala is a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Guatemala is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Congress of the Republic. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Foreign Relations

Álvaro Colom is the President of Guatemala as of 14 January 2008

People Population: 12,728,111 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 40.8% (male 2,641,179/female 2,556,397)
15-64 years: 55.5% (male 3,426,376/female 3,642,157)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 213,801/female 248,201) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 18.9 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 19.5 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.152% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 29.09 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.27 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.033 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.941 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.861 male(s)/female
total population: 0.974 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 29.77 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.26 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.69 years
male: 67.94 years
female: 71.52 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.7 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 1.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 78,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 5,800

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%