I have found a new hobby!
And it’s delightfully delightful, and I can’t get enough of it.
First off, who knew the CIA had such an amazing resource!? World Factbook, you are the very best thing on the inter webs at the moment. What is it? Well, I’ll let them explain it ya:
The World Factbook, produced for US policymakers and coordinated throughout the US Intelligence Community, presents the basic realities about the world in which we live. We share these facts with the people of all nations in the belief that knowledge of the truth underpins the functioning of free societies.
-The CIA World Factbook, ‘Did you Know?’
So, my favorite pastime for the past week or so has been to fill a small note card for each country/region with facts about it from the World Factbook, such as the capital, currency, form of government, date of independence, current transnational issues, official languages, economic status, geography description, and popular religion. Then, after studying for a bit, I make tests for myself, eight countries at a time. I know it’s nerdy, but I can’t help think how useful all this information will be.
I’ve already learned so much. A sampling of perhaps obvious facts/issues I didn’t know about?
- Andorra, the teensy country between France and Spain, actually has no military and relies upon France and Spain to defend it.
- The capital of Albania is Tirana.
- In Austria, sixteen-year-olds can vote!
- Bulgaria was formerly communist.
- Bosnia & Herzogovina is highly vulnerable to money laundering, due to a cash-based and unregulated economy, weak law enforcement, and corruption.
- When Cyprus declared independence in 1960, the UK retained ownership of two regions, Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The currency of the two regions is the euro, though, and not the pound.
- Belarus is a republic in name but in reality has more similarities to a dictatorship.
- Finland successfully held off the Soviets in the 40s, with little loss of territory. (Go Finland!)
- The Czech Republic has a very controversial Soviet-style nuclear plant in Temelin, a city that borders Austria.
- On Cyprus, the Greeks and Turks don’t universally get along too well. The Turks have actually declared a Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but it is only recognized by Turkey.
- France was founded around 486.
- Germany has Europe’s largest economy.
So, because I’ve had so much fun studying and researching all this, here’s the tests I’ve made for the first sixteen European countries I’ve studied. I figured someone might enjoy to test their European knowledge! I’ll try to make a key in the next few days. But for now:
Listening to: Camille-Påle Septembre
Reading: Burn Before Reading by Stansfield Turner: nonfiction about how the relationship between the DCI and the President affects foreign policy. Interesting!
Learning: Well, that’s what this whole post was about, wasn’t it? 🙂