Tuesday, 7 August 2012

All countries great and small

The 2012 Olympics are on. London is shining. Hard working athletes are taking centre stage.
Medals are being won and lost, countries around the world are celebrating and commiserating.

But despite the 24/7 coverage of all things Olympic, my attention has been seized by all the countries taking part. 205 to be exact. 
205 countries have contributed 10,000 athletes to compete in over 300 events.
The symbol from The Hunger Games

The opening ceremony,  felt  a bit like the Hunger Games, or indeed something Victorian, something in a twisted fairytale or novel. A sort of war without weapons, battles without deaths. 
But still a contest between countries, nations - Democratic states, Republics, Dictatorships and Communist identities.

During the opening ceremony I looked on with awe as countries, nations carried their flags with honour – and many of them were unknown to me.
Arbua, Benin, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kiribati, Lesotho, Micronesia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Tuvalu were some of the countries that did not spark with me. 
I couldn't place them on a map, I didn't have a handy fact to hand nor could I spell or pronounce them.

So while my partner stares and ooh and aahs at the nightly commentating from the London Olympics I am researching these 'new' countries, looking at histories, stats and checking out the price of flights!

So here are a few handy facts about those less well known countries – have these at the ready when the Olympic chat dies down or if your hairdresser asks you 'Any holidays this year':

Aruba - Aruba is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands just north of Venezuela.

Benin- Officially the Republic of Benin, West Africa and the birthplace of Voodoo

Burkina Faso - Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta, it is one of the safest countries in West Africa.

Djibouti – One of the smallest African countries - you can snorkel with whale sharks there!

Eitrea National Flag
Eritrea - One of the most secretive countries in Africa, the capital boasts the most shining collection of colonial architectural wonders in in Africa.

Kiribati - Located in the Pacific ocean,  it was the scene of a number of the bloodiest battles fought in World War II.

Lesotho- It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 meters in elevation, skiing is a big draw here.

Micronesia – Found in the Pacific Ocean close to the Philippines, it is a group of islands Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap.

Saint Kitts and Nevis – Also known as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, it is a federal two-island state in the West Indies.

Tuvalu – Sitting midway between New Zealand and Australia with a population of just 10,554, it is the fourth smallest country in the world.

The island of Tuvalu


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