Botswana is a landlocked country in southern Africa. Bechuanaland freed itself from British control on September 30th 1966 and became the commonwealth of Botswana. At the time it was one of the most impoverished countries in Africa. Today it is one of the most successful nations in Africa due to its stable political system and growing market economy.
San Marino may have the smallest population of the entire Council of Europe, but they are considered the oldest sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world.
San Marino was founded on September 3rd, 301 by Saint Marinus and his friend Leo after being persecuted for their Christian teachings and fleeing to Monte Titano. Until today the Three Towers of San Marino (Guaita, the oldest from the 11th century, Cesta from the 13th century, and Montale from the 14th century) are located on the three peaks of Monte Titano.
While San Marino was neutral during both World Wars it didn’t not remain so without incident. During World War I, Italy suspected San Marino of helping the Austrians; as a result Italian police were dispatched and San Marino’s telephone communications were suspended. San Marino remained neutral during World War II despite incurring a bombing which killed 60 civilians.
San Marino is almost famous for its small size. While slightly disputed by Nauru, it is likely the smallest republic on Earth. It is the third smallest country in Europe despite having the smallest population. Interestingly there is no level natural land and 100% of the country is built on top of the Apennines mountain range.
San Marino is not part of the European Union, however it received special permission to use the Euro and even print its own images and designs. With one of the smallest military forces in the world, Italy’s armed forces have taken over most military responsibilities. However, the San Marino Miltary still is composed of 6 largely ceremonial sectors. The most famous of these is the Guard of the Council, or Guard of Nobels, which is comprised of volunteers with ceremonial duties who wear distinctive blue, white and gold uniforms. The Army Militia is the main army force of San Marino, and while it too is largely ceremonial, it is a great source of pride for the citizens to belong to it.
San Marino’s cuisine is very similar to Italy’s, especially the Emilia-Romagna and Marche region; however, it does contain several unique dishes – most famously ,a chocolate wafer cake, La Torta Di Tre Monti, which translates to the Cake of the Three Mountains/ Towers.
While San Marino is attempting to modernize, it is still largely Roman Catholic. While the ban on homosexuality was lifted in 1864, in 1974 a new penile code was adopted which contained Article 274. Article 274 states that punishment with imprisonment from 3 months to a year would befall those “regularly committing lustful acts with a person of the same sex, if from that act public scandal is derived.” Currently, the age of consent for heterosexual or homosexual relations is 14 years old.
Interesting fact: San Marino has the longest average life span in the world, 81 years. It is tied for second with Italy for the largest combined average life span of the two sexes at 82 years. They are rivalled only by Japan.
Liechtenstein is the smallest German speaking nation in the world. Originally made a territory by the Holy Roman Empire, it ceased obligation to any feudal lord after the Holy Roman Empire was taken over by the French during the Napoleonic Wars. Soon, Liechtenstein joined the German Confederation. After World War II Liechtenstein gave asylum to 500 Russian soldiers from the First Russian National Army. This proved to be difficult because it did not have much money or food, so the soldiers were transferred to Argentina, who agreed to house them. To fix their financial straights Liechtenstein resorted to selling family artistic treasures, such as Ginevra de Benci by Leonardo da Vinci. Today it is a popular location for winter sports!
The monarch of Liechtenstein (also the head of state) is the reigning prince of the Princely House of Liechtenstein. Switzerland, however, has taken over most of Liechtenstein’s international relations. Liechtenstein is divided into two halfs: the Oberland (upper country) and Unterland (Lower country). The government is made up of an executive authority, legislative authority and judicial authority. The parliament elects a Landesausschuss (national committee) made of the president of the parliament and four additional members that perform parliamentary oversight functions.
So there is a lot going on in the land down under. Australia has quite a unique ecosystem. It has the most diverse reptile population of anywhere in the world, with a total of 755 types of reptiles. Australia is the single home of the monotremes (platypus and echidna) and such marsupials as the koala and kangaroo. Geographically, Mount Augustus may be the largest monolith in the world. For those of you who don’t know what a monolith is, it is basically a very large rock or stone. The plant life there has a rich variety of endemic legumes (plants that have fruit or nuts). This is because these plants have a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi