Friday, August 7, 2015

The United Nations Takes a Step Forward

On this day in History, President Harry Truman signed the United Nations Charter, and the United States became the first nation to complete the process of joining the new international organization - which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in October.

There are currently 193 nations in the United Nations.  I had an idea that I was going to do a series of posts this year to commemorate the founding of the UN, but couldn't get it together.  How could I adequately highlight all of the countries?

I used to visit the UN Headquarters often while growing up in New York.  If you're in New York, it is absolutely worth a visit.

To mark this significant anniversary, here are 15 Crazy Facts About Some of the World's Lesser Known Countries. From BuzzFeed.
  1. Kiribati (UN Member since 1999) is the world’s only country to fall within all four hemispheres.
  2. The island nation of Niue (not a member of the UN) has coins featuring Disney characters, Star Wars characters, and more. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and with only about 1,200 residents, the small island nation of Niue is one of the most remote in the world.
  3. Ethiopia (Original Member - 1945) still follows a traditional calendar that is seven years behind the rest of the world. Because of the strong presence of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the country, the traditional calendar of that church is still influential in Ethiopia. The calendar came about in the 16th century when most of Christianity changed the date Jesus is believed to have been born on, but those in Ethiopia decided to maintain the original date. 
  4. Greenland (an autonomous country within Denmark) is unable to join FIFA because the ground there can’t grow a grass field. Because of the country’s climate, the ground is generally covered in ice or permafrost, making it nearly impossible to grow enough grass to form a regulation-size soccer field. 
  5. The country of Nauru (member since 1999) does not have a capital city.
  6. Nauru also holds the distinction of being the fattest nation in the world. Due to the popularity of Western-style fast food that was brought to the country following the island’s financial success in phosphate mining, the average citizen of Nauru has a BMI of between 34 and 35. For reference, a normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.
  7. Tuvalu (member since 2000) received $50 million in exchange for the rights to the nation’s lucrative internet domain, .tv. 
  8. The most isolated tree in the world was located in the middle of the Sahara Desert in Niger (member since 1960). Known as the Tree of Ténéré (or L’Arbre du Ténéré to locals, as Niger’s official language is French), this small acacia tree was separated from any other trees by a distance of 250 miles. 
  9. One of the islands in the Federated States of Micronesia (UN member since 1991)uses giant carved stones as a form of currency. The country is made up of numerous islands spread across the Pacific Ocean, including the island state of Yap. And on Yap, instead of paper currency, the traditional form of money has been giant limestone discs (rai stones), which are considered rare and important because the limestone originated on another island far away. Of course, the sheer size of these stones makes it difficult for them to actually be moved, so most times, payment with the stones is simply based on oral agreement rather than any physical exchange. 
  10. There are 23 native languages recognized by the government in Guatemala (Original UN Member - 1945). Overall, about 40% of the population speaks one of these languages, including Quiche, Kekchi, and Mam.
  11. In 1973, Bhutan (UN Member since 1971) instituted a policy to measure the nation’s Gross National Happiness (as opposed to the more typical Gross Domestic Product). 
  12. A 2007-2008 Gallup poll found Estonia (UN Member since 1991) to be the least religious country in the world. The poll asked respondents from around the world, “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” Only 14% of Estonians answered in the affirmative, the lowest of all nations. In contrast, in that same poll, Egypt had a 100% “yes” rate.
  13. San Marino (UN Member since 1992) has the highest amount of automobiles per people in the world. A 2010 study found that the tiny nation of San Marino, which is located entirety within Italy, had 1,139.06 cars per 1,000 people the only nation in the study, in fact, that had more cars than citizens.
  14. Papua New Guinea (UN Member since 1975), with only 6.5 million residents, contains about 12% of the world’s spoken languages. Although most are spoken by fewer than 1,000 people, there are more than 800 indigenous languages used in Papua New Guinea.
  15. Liechtenstein (UN Member since 1990) is the world’s largest producer of false teeth. Even with just under 40,000 residents, the Principality of Liechtenstein is a major powerhouse when it comes to the production of false teeth. In 2010, it was manufacturing about 60 million false teeth, which was one-fifth of the total amount of false teeth produced worldwide.

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