mercoledì 2 febbraio 2011

Greek Islands: Rhodes

Rhodes is a Greek island approximately 18 kilometres southwest of Turkey.
It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population. Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. The major industry is tourism.
The island of Rhodes is shaped like a spearhead. The city of Rhodes is located at the northern tip of the island, as well as the site of the ancient and modern commercial harbours.In terms of flora and fauna, Rhodes is closer to Asia Minor than to the rest of Greece. The interior of the island is mountainous, sparsely inhabited and covered with forests of pine and cypress. While the shores are rocky, the island has arable strips of land where citrus fruit, wine grapes, vegetables, olives and other crops are grown.The island was populated by ethnic groups from the surrounding nations, including Jews. In 1947, together with the other islands of the Dodecanese, Rhodes was united with Greece.In ancient times, Rhodes was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World—the Colossus of Rhodes. This giant bronze statue was documented as once standing at the harbour. It was completed in 280 BC but was destroyed in an earthquake in 224 BC. No trace of the statue remains today.The economy is tourist-oriented. The most developed sector is service. Small industries process imported raw materials for local retail. Other industry includes agricultural goods production, stockbreeding, fishery and winery.Many of the outdoor scenes of The Guns of Navarone (starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn) and Escape to Athena (starring Roger Moore and Telly Savalas) were filmed on the Island of Rhodes.Historical sites on the island of Rhodes include the Acropolis of Lindos, the Acropolis of Rhodes, the Temple of Apollo, ancient Ialysos, ancient Kamiros, the Governor's Palace, Rhodes Old Town (walled medieval city), the Palace of the Grand Masters, Kahal Shalom Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, the Archeological Museum, the ruins of the castle of Monolithos, the castle of Kritinia, St. Catherine Hospice and Rhodes Footbridge.

The Ionian Islands: Corfu

Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands.The principal town  of the island is also named Corfu. The island is connected to the history of Greece from the beginning of Greek mythology.  The island's history is laden with battles and conquests. The legacy of these struggles is visible in the form of castles punctuating strategic locations across the island.  In 2007 the city's old town was designated for the UNESCO World Heritage List.  The name Corfu is an Italian corruption of the Byzantine Κορυφώ (Koryphō), meaning "city of the peaks".  Two high and well-defined ranges divide the island into three districts, of which the northern is mountainous, the central undulating, and the southern low-lying. Homer identifies seven plants that adorn the garden of Alcinous: wild olive, oil olive, pear, pomegranate, apple, fig and vine (Grape). Of these the apple and the pear are now very inferior in Corfu; the others thrive, together with all the fruit trees known in southern Europe, with addition of the kumquat, loquat and prickly pear and, in some spots, the banana. When undisturbed by cultivation, the myrtle, arbutus, bay and holm oak form a rich brushwood and the minor flora of the island are extensive.The old town, having grown within fortifications, where every metre of ground was precious, is a labyrinth of narrow streets paved with cobblestones, sometimes tortuous but colourful and clean.
Aside from being a leading centre for the Fine Arts, Corfu is also the home of the Ionian Academy, an institution carrying through and strengthening the tradition of Greek education while the rest of Greece was still fighting Turkish occupation. 
Corfiotes have a long history of hospitality to foreign residents and visitors, typified in the twentieth century by Gerald Durrell's childhood reminiscence My Family and Other Animals. The North East coast has largely been developed by a few British holiday companies, with large expensive holiday villas. Package holiday resorts exist on the north and east coasts.
At the other end of the island, the southern resort of Kavos also provides tourist facilities.
Corfu is mostly planted with olive groves and vineyards and has been producing olive oil and wine since antiquity. Modern times have seen the introduction of specialist cultivation supported by the mild climate, like the kumquat and bergamot oranges, which are extensively used in making spoon sweets and liqueurs. Local culinary specialties include sofrito (a veal rump roast of Venetian origin), pastitsáda (bucatini pasta served with diced veal cooked in a tomato sauce), bourdétto (cod cooked in a peppery sauce), mándoles (caramelized almonds), pastéli (honey bars made with sesame, almonds or pistacchios), mandoláto (a "pastéli" made of crushed almonds, sugar, honey and vanilla), and tzitzibíra, the local ginger beer, a remnant of the British era.

martedì 1 febbraio 2011

Balearic Islands - Ibiza

The Balearic Islands are an archipelago in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain, of which the capital city is Palma. The co-official languages in the Balearic Islands are Spanish and Catalan. The main islands of the autonomous community are Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, all of which are popular tourist destinations.  

Majorca is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the Balearic Islands. It is the largest by area and second most populated island of Spain (after Tenerife in the Canary Islands). The capital of the island, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. Like the other Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Formentera and Minorca, the island is a highly popular holiday destination, particularly for tourists from Germany, the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent, Ireland.In 1983, Palma became the capital of the autonomous region of the Balearic Islands.Since the 1950s, the advent of mass tourism has transformed the island into a centre of attraction for foreign visitors and attracting workers from mainland Spain. The climate of Majorca is a Mediterranean climate, with mild and stormy winters and hot, bright summers.Summers are hot in the plains and winters mild to cool, getting colder in the Tramuntana range; in this part of the island brief episodes of snow during the winter are not unusual.The members of the Spanish Royal Family spend their summer holidays in Majorca where the Marivent Palace  is located. The Marivent Palace is the royal family's summer residence. Majorca's own language is Catalan. The two official languages of Majorca are Catalan and Spanish. Since the 1950s Majorca has become a major tourist destination, and the tourism business has become the main source of revenue for the island.More than half of the population works in the tourist sector.
Despite Majorca’s location in the Mediterranean, seafood is often imported. Olives and almonds are typical of the Majorcan diet. The island now has over 4 million almond and olive trees. Among the food items that are Majorcan are sobrassada, arros brut (saffron rice cooked with chicken, pork and vegetables), and the sweet pastry ensaïmada.

domenica 30 gennaio 2011

Canary Islands - Fuerteventura Island

Fuerteventura, a Spanish island, is one of the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa.
It is the second largest of the Canary Islands, after Tenerife.  The Canary Islands obtained the right to self-govern in 1912.   
In 1927, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote became part of the province of Gran Canaria. Tourism arrived in the mid-1960s with the building of the present airport at El Mattoral and the first tourist hotels.Since the island is close to Africa, many illegal African immigrants try to enter the European Union through it, by a dangerous boat trip from Morocco.  Located just 100 kilometres off the coast of North Africa, it is the second biggest of the islands, after Tenerife, and has the longest beaches in the archipelago. The island is a destination for sun, beach and watersports enthusiasts. It lies on the same latitude as Florida and Mexico and temperatures here rarely fall below 18 °C or rise above 24 °C . There are no fewer than 152 beaches along its coastline - 50 kilometres of fine, white sand and 25 kilometres of black volcanic shingle.  The climate on Fuerteventura is pleasant throughout the year. The island is also often referred to as the island of eternal spring. The sea adjusts the temperature making the hot Sahara winds blow away from the island. The island's name in English translates as 'strong fortune' or 'strong wind', the Spanish word for wind being 'viento'. The economy of Fuerteventura is mainly based on tourism. Other main industries are fishing and agriculture (cereals and vegetables). The summer Trade Winds and winter swells of the Atlantic make this a year-round surfers' paradise. Sailors, scuba divers and big-game fishermen are all drawn to these clear blue Atlantic waters where whales, dolphins, marlin and turtles are all common sights. With many hills present through out the Island, hikers are also attracted to this Island.

Cyclades islands - Mykonos

The Cyclades  is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece.
They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around (κυκλάς) the sacred island of Delos. The Cyclades is where the native Greek breed of cat (the Aegean cat) first came from. The Cyclades comprise about 220 islands, the major ones being Amorgós, Anáfē, Ándros, Antíparos, Dēlos, Eschátē, Íos, Kéa, Kímōlos, Kýthnos, Mēlos, Mýkonos, Náxos, Páros, Folégandros, Sérifos, Sífnos, Síkinos, Sýros, Tēnos, and Thēra or Santoríni. Most of the smaller islands are uninhabited.  The islands are peaks of a submerged mountainous terrain, with the exception of two volcanic islands, Milos and Santorini (Thera). The climate is generally dry and mild, but with the exception of Naxos the soil is not very fertile: agricultural produce includes wine, fruit, wheat, olive oil, and tobacco. Cooler temperatures are in higher elevations and mainly do not receive wintry weather. 


Mykonos is a Greek island and a top tourist destination, renowned for its cosmopolitan character which attracts large numbers of tourists. The island is part of the Cyclades. It has little natural fresh water and relies on the desalination of sea water in order to meet the needs of its population. There are 9,320 inhabitants  most of whom live in the largest town, Mykonos, also known as Chora (i.e. the Town in Greek) .Mykonos is one of the most cosmopolitan islands in Greece, known for its diverse and intense nightlife as evidenced by a vast number of bars and nightclubs. Mykonos is also known for its sandy beaches. The island has an international airport, and is a frequent destination for cruise ships.In Greek mythology Mykonos was the location of the battle between Zeus and the Titans, and the island was named in honor of Apollo's grandson Mykons. The nightlife of Mykonos is marketed as among the best in Europe. During the summer Mykonos attracts the top producers and DJs in dance, to its renowned clubs and beach bars. Mykonos nightlife focuses mainly on beach bars rather than clubs, yet a number of notable clubs can be found throughout the island. Well-known nightclubs are Space Dance, Paradise and the gay bar Pierro's. Famous beach bars are Cavo Paradiso, Super Paradise and Tropicana.

Sharm el-Sheikh

Sharm el-Sheikh is a city situated on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, in South Sinai Governorate, Egypt, on the coastal strip along the Red Sea.
Sharm el-Sheikh is sometimes called the "City of Peace", referring to the large number of international peace conferences that have been held there.  Before 1967 Sharm el-Sheikh was little more than an occasional base of operations for local fishermen.  The average temperatures during the winter months (November to March) range from 15 to 35 degrees Celsius (59-95°F) and during the summer months (April to October) from 20 to 45 degrees.Sharm el-Sheikh was formerly a port, but commercial shipping has been greatly reduced as the result of strict environmental laws introduced in the 1990s.Sharm el-Sheikh's major industry is foreign and domestic tourism, owing to its dramatic landscape, year-round dry and temperate climate and long stretches of natural beaches. Its waters are clear and calm for most of the year and have become popular for various watersports, particularly recreational scuba diving and snorkeling which some consider to be among the best in the world.There is great scope for scientific tourism with diversity in marine life species; 250 different coral reefs and 1000 species of fish.These natural resources, together with its proximity to European tourism markets, have stimulated the rapid growth of tourism that the region is currently experiencing. Sharm el-Sheikh has also become a favourite spot for Scuba divers from around the world. Being situated near to the Red Sea, it provides some of the most stunning underwater scenery and warm water making this an ideal place to dive. Visitors to Sharm el-Sheikh can experience a variety of water and activities. Beach seekers find many activities such as diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, kitesurfing, para-sailing, boating, and canoeing.

Red Sea

The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The sea is the habitat of over 1,000 invertebrate species, and 200 soft and hard corals. It is the world's northernmost tropical sea. It is theorized that it was named so because it borders the Egyptian Desert, which the ancient Egyptians called the Dashret or "red land"; therefore it would have been the sea of the red land.The Red Sea is one of four seas named in English after common color terms — the others being the Black Sea, the White Sea and the Yellow Sea. The climate of the Red Sea is the result of two distinct monsoon seasons; a northeasterly monsoon and a southwesterly monsoon. Very high surface temperatures coupled with high salinities makes this one of the hottest and saltiest bodies of seawater in the world. The average surface water temperature of the Red Sea during the summer is about 26 °C. The Red Sea is one of the most saline bodies of water in the world, due to high evaporation.The Red Sea was formed by Arabia splitting from Africa due to movement of the Red Sea Rift.The sea is still widening and it is considered that the sea will become an ocean in time.The Red Sea is a rich and diverse ecosystem. More than 1200 species of fish  have been recorded in the Red Sea, and around 10% of these are found nowhere else. This also includes 42 species of deepwater fish. The rich diversity is in part due to the 2,000 km  of coral reef extending along its coastline; these fringing reefs are 5000–7000 years old and are largely formed of stony acropora and porites corals. The reefs form platforms and sometimes lagoons along the coast and occasional other features such as cylinders (such as the Blue Hole (Red Sea) at Dahab). These coastal reefs are also visited by pelagic species of red sea fish, including some of the 44 species of shark. The special biodiversity of the area is recognized by the Egyptian government, who set up the Ras Mohammed National Park in 1983. The rules and regulations governing this area protect local marine life, which has become a major draw for diving enthusiasts.Other marine habitats include sea grass beds, salt pans, mangroves and salt marshes.

sabato 29 gennaio 2011


The Republic of Madagascar is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. The main island, also called Madagascar, is the fourth-largest island in the world.
Malagasy, the Austronesian language spoken by the vast majority of the population, is the national language and one of the official languages. The other official languages are French (official since independence) and English.
The primary religions are Malagasy mythology and Christianity, but adherents to other faiths, Islam in particular, are found throughout the country.
Madagascar is home to as many as 12,000 of the world's plant species. 
Madagascar is the world's 46th-largest country and the fourth-largest island. It is slightly larger than France, and is one of 11 distinct physiographic provinces of the South African Platform physiographic division. 
There are two seasons: a hot rainy season from November to April and a cooler dry season from May to October. Southeastern trade winds predominate, and the island occasionally experiences cyclones. Madagascar was divided into six autonomous provinces and subdivided into 22 regions . Although the present head of state is self-proclaimed, Madagascar is usually a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Madagascar is head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy. Major exports are coffee, vanilla (Madagascar is the world's largest producer and exporter of vanilla), sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), beans, bananas, peanuts and livestock products.  Madagascar's sources of growth are tourism; textile and light manufacturing exports (notably through the EPZs); agricultural products; and mining. Madagascar is the world's leading producer of vanilla and accounts for about half the world's export market. Tourism targets the niche eco-tourism market, capitalizing on Madagascar's unique biodiversity, unspoiled natural habitats, national parks and lemur species. Several major projects are underway in the mining and oil and gas sectors that, if successful, will give a significant boost to the Malagasy economy.  Madagascar's population is predominantly of mixed Austronesian  and African origin. Today about 45% of the Malagasy are Christian, divided almost evenly between Catholics and Protestants.  Many of the Christian churches are influential in politics. The best example of this is the Malagasy Council of Churches comprising the four oldest and most prominent Christian denominations (Roman Catholic, Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, Lutheran, and Anglican).  A significant proportion of the adult population is illiterate.  Malagasy culture reflects a blend of Southeast Asian, Arab, African and European influences.
The Malagasy language is of Malayo-Polynesian origin and is generally spoken throughout the island. Madagascar is a francophone country, and French is spoken among the educated population. English, although still rare, is becoming more widely spoken, and in 2003 the government began a pilot project of introducing the teaching of English into the primary grades of 44 schools.

mercoledì 26 gennaio 2011


Zanzibar  is a semi-autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, informally referred to as Zanzibar), and Pemba.
Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros and Mayotte to the south, Mauritius and Réunion to the far southeast, and the Seychelles Island.
The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City.   Zanzibar's main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. In particular, the islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. For this reason, the islands, together with Tanzania's Mafia Island, are sometimes called the Spice Islands.    
Zanzibar has a government of national unity, with the current president of Zanzibar being Ali Mohamed Shein, since 1st November 2010. As a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, Zanzibar has its own government.  Zanzibar is a mainly low lying island, with its highest point at 120 meters.   
It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town - said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. The coral reefs that surround the East Coast are rich in marine diversity. The heat of summer is seasonally often cooled by windy conditions, resulting in sea breezes, particularly on the North and East coasts. Being near to the equator, the islands are warm all year round, but officially, summer and winter peak in December and June respectively.
Rare native animals include the Zanzibar leopard, which is critically endangered and possibly extinct.  The most commonly practised religion is Islam. About 95% of Zanzibar's population follow the laws of Islam. Its history was influenced by the Arabs and the Indian mainland people. The remaining are Christians. 
Zanzibar exports spices, seaweed and fine raffia. It also has a large fishing and dugout canoe production. Tourism is a major foreign currency earner. Zanzibar's economy is based primarily on the production of cloves (90% grown on the island of Pemba), the principal foreign exchange earner. Exports have suffered with the downturn in the clove market. Tourism is a promising sector with a number of new hotels and resorts having been built in recent years.
The island's manufacturing sector is limited mainly to import substitution industries, such as cigarettes, shoes, and processed agricultural products. In 2000 there were 207 government schools and 118 privately owned schools in Zanzibar. There are also two universities and one college: Zanzibar University, the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA). Zanzibar now has an improved and thriving sea transport network, by which public owned ships and private speed boats serve the ports of Zanzibar, which was renovated by the help of European Union. The energy sector in Zanzibar consists of unreliable electric power, petroleum and petroleum products; it is also supplemented by firewood and its related products. Coal and gas are rarely used for either domestic and industrial purposes. Zanzibar's local people are from a mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of its colourful history. Zanzibaris speak Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili), a language which is spoken extensively in East Africa. Zanzibar's most famous event is the Zanzibar International Film Festival, also known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries.

martedì 25 gennaio 2011

Hawaï islands

Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states  and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It occupies most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean. Hawaii’s natural beauty, warm tropical climate, inviting waters and waves, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike. Due to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vibrant native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu.
Hawaii is the only state of the United States that:
  • is not geographically located in North America
  • grows coffee
  • is completely surrounded by water
  • is entirely an archipelago
  • has a royal palace
  • does not have a straight line in its state boundary
Hawaii has more endangered species and has lost a higher percentage of its endemic species than any other U.S. state.
Several areas in Hawaii are under the protection of the National Park Service. Hawaii has two national parks.
Hawaii’s climate is typical for the tropics, although temperatures and humidity tend to be a bit less extreme due to near-constant trade winds from the east. Local climates vary considerably on each island, grossly divisible into windward and leeward  areas based upon location relative to the higher mountains. Hawaii is one of four states that were independent prior to becoming part of the United States. Hawaii has a de facto population of over 1.3 million due to large military and tourist populations. The State of Hawaii has two official languages recognized in its 1978 constitution: English and Hawaiian.  In addition, 2.6% of the state's residents speak Spanish; 1.6% speak other Indo-European languages. The history of Hawaii can be traced through a succession of dominant industries: sandalwood, whaling, sugarcane (see Sugar plantations in Hawaii), pineapple, military, tourism, and education. Since statehood in 1959, tourism has been the largest industry, contributing 24.3% of the Gross State Product. Food exports include coffee (see coffee production in Hawaii), macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, and sugarcane. The aboriginal culture of Hawaii is Polynesian. Hawaii represents the northernmost extension of the vast Polynesian triangle of the south and central Pacific Ocean. While traditional Hawaiian culture remains only as vestiges in modern Hawaiian society, there are reenactments of the ceremonies and traditions throughout the islands.Graduates of secondary schools in Hawaii often enter directly into the work force. Some attend colleges and universities on the mainland or other countries, and the rest attend an institution of higher learning in Hawaii.The state government of Hawaii is modeled after the federal government with adaptations originating from the kingdom era of Hawaiian history. As codified in the Constitution of Hawaii, there are three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.

Philippines Islands

 The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. 
Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and its tropical climate make the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons but have also endowed the country with natural resources and made it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. 
The Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country. An additional 11 million Filipinos live overseas. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. The United States retained sovereignty over the islands until the end of World War II when the Philippines gained independence. 
The Philippines is a constitutional republic with a presidential system of government. It is governed as a unitary state.  
The Philippines' international relations are based on trade with other nations and the well-being of the 11 million overseas Filipinos living outside the country.Relations with other nations are generally positive. Shared democratic values ease relations with Western and European countries while similar economic concerns help in relations with other developing countries. Historical ties and cultural similarities also serve as a bridge in relations with Spain and Latin America.  
Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, mineral deposits are abundant. The country is estimated to have the second-largest gold deposits after South Africa and one of the largest copper deposits in the world. It is also rich in nickel, chromite, and zinc. The Philippines' rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures. It is one of the ten most biologically mega-diverse countries.The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate and is usually hot and humid. Temperatures usually range from 21°C  to 32°C although it can get cooler or hotter depending on the season. The coolest month is January; the warmest is May.Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits. Major trading partners include China, Japan, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia. Its unit of currency is the Philippine peso. According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is a de facto version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions. Both Filipino and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media, and business.More than 90% of the population are Christians. Philippine traditional religions are still practiced by many aboriginal and tribal groups, often syncretized with Christianity and Islam. The transportation infrastructure in the country is relatively underdeveloped. Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences. One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish names and surnames among Filipinos. However, a Spanish name and surname does not necessarily denote Spanish ancestry.Philippine cuisine has evolved over several centuries from its Malayo-Polynesian origins to become a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences that have been adapted to local ingredients and the Filipino palate to create distinctively Filipino dishes.



Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia comprises 17,000 islands. It is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the 7th century. Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the largest—and the politically dominant—ethnic group. Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism. Administratively, Indonesia consists of 33 provinces, five of which have special status. Each province has its own political legislature and governor. Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands. The largest are Java, Sumatra, Borneo (shared with Brunei and Malaysia), New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea), and Sulawesi. Lying along the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate, with two distinct monsoonal wet and dry seasons. Temperatures vary little throughout the year; the average daily temperature range of Jakarta is 26–30 °C. Indonesia's size, tropical climate, and archipelagic geography, support the world's second highest level of biodiversity (after Brazil), and its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australasian species. The country has extensive natural resources, including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper, and gold. Indonesia's major imports include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs. The official national language, Indonesian, is universally taught in schools, and consequently is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. It is the language of business, politics, national media, education, and academia. Indonesia has around 300 ethnic groups, each with cultural identities developed over centuries, and influenced by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, and European sources. Indonesian cuisine varies by region and is based on Chinese, European, Middle Eastern, and Indian precedents. Rice is the main staple food and is served with side dishes of meat and vegetables. Spices (notably chili), coconut milk, fish and chicken are fundamental ingredients.

lunedì 24 gennaio 2011

Bahamas Islands

The Bahamas, officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, is a country consisting of 29 islands.  It is located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and southeast of the United States.
Geographically, the Bahamas lie in the same island chain as Cuba.  The Bahamas were the site of Columbus' first landfall in the New World in 1492. 
The climate of the Bahamas is subtropical to tropical, and is moderated significantly by the waters of the Gulf Stream, particularly in winter. Conversely, this often proves very dangerous in the summer and autumn, when hurricanes pass near or through the islands. The Bahamas is a sovereign independent nation. Political and legal traditions closely follow those of the United Kingdom and the Westminster system. The Bahamas is a parliamentary democracy with two main parties.  Tourism generates about half of all jobs, but the number of visitors has dropped significantly since the beginning of the global economic downturn during the last quarter of 2008. The colours embodied in the design of the Bahamian flag symbolise the image and aspirations of the people of the Bahamas; the design reflects aspects of the natural environment (sun, sand, and sea) and the economic and social development. The yellow elder was chosen as the national flower of the Bahamas because it is native to the Bahama Islands, and it blooms throughout the year.  One of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean region, the Bahamas relies on tourism to generate most of its economic activity. Tourism as an industry not only accounts for over 60 percent of the Bahamian GDP, but provides jobs for more than half the country's workforce.  In the less developed outer islands, handicrafts include basketry made from palm fronds. This material, commonly called "straw", is plaited into hats and bags that are popular tourist items.


Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories.
The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. Malaysia is located near the equator and has a tropical climate. It has a biodiverse range of flora and fauna, and is considered one of the 17 megadiverse countries. Malaysia contains numerous islands, the largest of which is Labuan. The local climate is equatorial and characterised by the annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons. The temperature is moderated by the presence of the surrounding oceans. Humidity is usually high. Kuala Lumpur is the official capital and the largest city in Malaysia. Putrajaya is the federal administrative capital. Although many executive and judicial branches of the federal government have moved there (to ease growing congestion within Kuala Lumpur), Kuala Lumpur is still recognised as the country's legislative capital since it houses the seat of the Parliament of Malaysia. It is also the main commercial and financial centre of the country.
Malaysia's foreign policy is based on the principle of neutrality and maintaining peaceful relations with all countries, regardless of their political system, and to further develop relations with other countries in the region. It attaches a high priority to the security and stability of Southeast Asia, and has tried to strengthen relations with other Islamic states.
Malaysia is a relatively open state-oriented and newly industrialised market economy. The state plays a significant but declining role in guiding economic activity through macroeconomic plans. Malaysia is an exporter of natural and agricultural resources, the most valuable exported resource being petroleum. At one time, it was the largest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world. Manufacturing has a large influence in the country's economy, although Malaysia’s economic structure has been moving away from it. tourism has become Malaysia’s third largest source of income from foreign exchange, although it is threatened by the negative effects of the growing industrial economy, with large amounts of air and water pollution along with deforestation affecting tourism.