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International Information C

International Information - C

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CAMBODIA
Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia. It is sometimes called Kampuchea. Most Cambodians live on the fertile plains created by the floodwaters of the Mekong River, or near the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and Tonle Sap River northwest of Phnom Penh.
Cambodia is chiefly a farming nation. Its relatively flat land, plentiful water, and tropical climate are ideal for growing rice. By Western standards, its farms are small, and the farmers have few modern tools. Like other Southeast Asian countries, it has few factories and imports most of the manufactured goods it needs.
About a thousand years ago, Cambodia was the centre of a great empire of the Khmer people, who controlled much of the Southeast Asian mainland. Angkor, a huge ruined city that was the capital of the Khmer empire, has magnificent sculpture and architecture.
Capital
Phnom Penh.
Official Language
Khmer.
Official Name
State of Cambodia.
Area
69,898 sq. mi. (181,035 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, 350 mi. (563 km); north-south, 280 mi. (451 km). Coastline - 220 mi. (354 km).
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 9,661,000; density, 138 persons per sq. mi. (53 per sq. km), distribution, 87 percent rural, 13 percent urban. 1962 census - 5,728,771. Estimated 2001 population - 10,799,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - rice, rubber, soybeans.
Manufacturing and processing - cement, paper, plywood, processed rice and fish, textiles.
Money
Basic unit - riel.
Flag
Horizontal stripes of blue, red, and blue. A white temple appears on the red stripe.
National Anthem
"Royal Kingdom".


CAMEROON
Cameroon is a country on the west coast of Africa. It has a varied landscape, including mountains in the west, grasslands in the north, and tropical lowlands in the south. The people of Cameroon belong to about 200 ethnic groups. Douala is its largest city.
Capital
Yaounde.
Official languages
English and French.
Official name
Republique du Cameroun (Republic of Cameroon).
Area
183,569 sq. mi. (475,442 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, 770 mi. (1,239 km); east-west, 450 mi. (724 km).
Coastline
250 mi. (400 km).
Elevation
Highest - Mount Cameroon, 13,353 ft. (4,070 m) above sea level. Lowest - sea level, along the coast.
Population
Estimated 2009 population - 18,651,000; density, 102 persons per sq. mi. (40 per sq. km); distribution, 55 percent rural, 45 percent urban. 2003 census - 15,746,179.
Currency
Central African CFA franc (XAF)
Chief products
Agriculture and forestry - bananas, cacao beans, coffee, cotton, palm oil, root crops, rubber, timber.
Manufacturing - aluminium, beer, cocoa, petroleum products, shoes, soap.
Mining - petroleum.
National anthem
"O Cameroon, Thou Cradle of Our Fathers." ("National Anthem").
Flag
The flag has green, red, and yellow vertical stripes, with a yellow star in the centre of the red stripe.

CANADA
Canada is the second largest country in the world. Only Russia has a greater land area.
Canada extends across the continent of North America, from Newfoundland on the Atlantic coast to British Columbia on the Pacific coast. Canada is slightly larger than the United States, its southern neighbour, but has only about a tenth as many people. More than 28 million people live in Canada. About 75 percent live within 100 miles (150 kilometres) of the southern border. Much of the rest of Canada is uninhabited or thinly populated because the country has rugged terrain and a severe climate.
Canada is a land of great variety. Towering mountains, clear lakes, and lush forests make the far west a region of great natural beauty. Farther inland, fields of wheat and other grains cover vast prairies. These fertile farmlands contrast vividly with the Arctic wastelands to the north. Most of the nation's largest population and industrial centres are located near the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River in central Canada. In the east, fishing villages and sandy beaches dot the country's Atlantic coast.
Like the country's landscape, Canada's people are also varied. About 45 percent of all Canadians have some English ancestry. About 31 percent have some French ancestry. A small percentage of people in these groups have both English and French ancestry. The Canadian government recognises both English and French as official languages. French Canadians, most of whom live in the province of Quebec, have kept the language and many customs of their ancestors. Other large ethnic groups in Canada include German, Irish, and Scottish people. Western Canada and Ontario have large numbers of Asians.
Native peoples - American Indians and Inuit (formerly called Eskimos) - make up about 3 percent of the nation's population.
More than three-fourths of Canada's people live in cities or towns. Toronto, Ont., and Montreal, Que., are the two largest urban areas in Canada. The Toronto area has about 3 3/4 million people, and the Montreal area has about 3 1/4 million people.
A wealth of natural resources is Canada's greatest possession. European settlers first came to Canada to fish in its coastal waters and to trap the fur-bearing animals in its forests. Later, the forests became sources of timber for shipbuilding and other construction. Today, pulpwood from these forests enables Canada to lead the world in the production of newsprint (paper for newspapers). Fertile soil helps Canada rank among the world's leading wheat producers. Thanks to power plants on its mighty rivers, Canada ranks with the United States as a leader in the generation of hydroelectric power. Plentiful resources of petroleum, iron ore, and other minerals provide raw materials that help make Canada a top manufacturing nation.
Canada is a federation (union) of 10 provinces and 2 territories. The nation's name probably comes from kanata-kon, an Iroquois Indian word that means to the village or to the small houses. Today, maintaining a sense of community is one of Canada's major problems because of differences among the provinces and territories. Many Canadians in eastern and western areas feel that the federal government does not pay enough attention to their particular problems and interests. French Canadians make up about 80 percent of the population of Quebec. Many of these people believe their province should receive special recognition in the Canadian constitution. The province has passed legislation aimed at protecting the French language and culture.
Canada is an independent, self-governing nation. But the Constitution Act of 1982 recognises the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, as queen of Canada. This position symbolises the country's strong ties to Britain. Britain ruled Canada completely until 1867, when Canada gained control of its domestic affairs. Britain continued to govern Canada's foreign affairs until 1931, when Canada gained full independence. Canada and the United States have had a relationship of cooperation and friendship since the 1800's. But the United States - because of its larger population and greater economic power - has tended to dominate Canada both culturally and economically. The people of Canada today are striving to maintain control of their economy and to safeguard their Canadian identity.
Area
3,849,674 sq. mi. (9,970,610 sq. km), including 291,577 sq. mi. (755,180 sq. km) of inland water.
Greatest distances
east-west, 3,223 mi. (5,187 km), from Cape Spear, Nfld., to Mount St. Elias, Y.T.;
north-south, 2,875 mi. (4,627 km), from Cape Columbia on Ellesmere Island to Middle Island in Lake Erie.
Coastline - 151,485 mi. (243,791 km), including mainland and islands;
Atlantic Ocean, 28,019 mi. (45,092 km);
Arctic Ocean, 82,698 mi. (133,089 km);
Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and James Bay, 24,786 mi. (39,890 km);
Pacific Ocean, 15,985 mi. (25,726 km).
Shoreline - Great Lakes, 5,251 mi. (8,452 km).
Elevation
Highest - Mount Logan, 19,524 ft. (5,951 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 28,902,000; density, 8 persons per sq. mi. (3 per sq. km); distribution, 78 percent urban, 22 percent rural. 1991 census - 27,296,859. Estimated 2001 population - 30,787,000.
Chief products
Agriculture - beef cattle, milk, wheat, hogs, chickens, canola, eggs.
Fishing industry - crab, lobster, salmon.
Forestry - spruce, pine, fir.
Manufacturing - motor vehicles and parts; processed foods and beverages; chemicals; electrical equipment; paper products; fabricated metal products; aluminum; steel, and other metals; wood products.
Mining - petroleum, natural gas, copper, gold, nickel, coal, zinc, potash, iron ore.
National anthem
"O Canada."
Capital city
Ottawa
3329 miles from London
GMT -5 hours
International aircraft prefix
C/CF
International dialling code
00 1
Currency
Canadian Dollar (CAD)
Language
English and French
National holidays
1 July - Canada Day
Embassy details
British High Commission
80 Elgin Street
Ottawa
Ontario K1P 5K7
Telephone (00 1) (613) 2371542
Emergency number out of office hours given on office voicemail system
Opening hours 0830 to 1630 Monday to Friday (local time)
email visaenquiries@britain-in-canada.org
National Anthem
"O Canada".
National flag
3 vertical bands of red, white and red with a red maple leaf centered in the white band



CAPE VERDE
Cape Verde is an African country that consists of 10 main islands and 5 tiny islands. It lies in the Atlantic Ocean, about 400 miles (640 kilometres) west of Dakar, Senegal, on the African mainland. Cape Verde has a total land area of 1,557 square miles (4,033 square kilometres). Sao Tiago, the largest island, covers 383 square miles (991 square kilometres). Santo Antao is the second largest island, followed by Boa Vista, Fogo, Sao Nicolau, Maio, Sao Vicente, Sal, Brava, and Santa Luzia. Santa Luzia and the five islets are uninhabited. Praia, the capital and largest city, is on Sao Tiago. It has a population of about 62,000 and is a major seaport and trading center. Portugal ruled the islands from the 1460's until they gained independence in 1975.
Coastline
517 mi. (966 km).
Elevation
Highest - Pico, 9,281 ft. (2,829 m).
Lowest - sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 430,000; density, 276 persons per sq. mi. (107 per sq. km); distribution, 68 percent rural, 32 percent urban. 1990 census - 341,491. Estimated 2001 population - 490,000.
Money
Basic unit--escudo.
Chief Products
Bananas, salt, sugar cane.
Flag
The flag has five horizontal stripes of blue, white, red, white, and blue. A ring of 10 yellow, five-pointed stars overlaps all five stripes. It is set toward the lower left part of the flag.


CAYMAN ISLANDS
Cayman Islands, a British dependency, lies about 200 miles (320 kilometres) northwest of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea. The three islands that form the group - Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac - cover about 100 square miles (259 square kilometres), and have about 30,000 people. The capital and largest city, Georgetown, lies on Grand Cayman, the largest island. Taxes are extremely low in the Cayman Islands. As a result, many companies from other lands conduct business there. These businesses and tourism contribute greatly to the economy. Agricultural production is low in the Caymans, and most food must be imported.


CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Central African Republic is a thinly populated country in the centre of Africa. Most of the Central African Republic is a vast, rolling plateau broken by deep river valleys. Grass and scattered trees cover most of the country. Rain forests grow in the southwest, and the extreme northeast section is arid. Antelope, buffaloes, elephants, gorillas, lions, rhinoceroses, and other animals live in the Central African Republic.
The Central African Republic is one of the least developed countries in Africa. Most of the people are farmers, and the country has little manufacturing. The country was formerly a territory in French Equatorial Africa called Ubangi-Shari. It became independent in 1960. Bangui, a river port, is the largest city of the Central African Republic.
Capital
Bangui.
Official Language
French.
Official Name
Republique Centrafricaine (Central African Republic).
Area
240,535 sq. mi. (622,984 sq. km).
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 3,026,000; density, 13 persons per sq. mi. (5 per sq. km); distribution, 51 percent urban, 49 percent rural. 1988 census - 2,463,616. Estimated 2001 population - 3,402,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - bananas, coffee, cotton, livestock, palm kernels, peanuts, rubber, sesame, yams.
Forestry - timber.
Mining - diamonds, gold.
Money
Basic unit - franc.
Flag
Horizontal blue, white, green, and yellow stripes are divided at the centre by a red vertical stripe. A yellow star represents the guiding light of the future. Red, white, and blue recall the French flag. Green, yellow, and red are for the people and their unity.


CHAD
Chad is a large, thinly populated country in north-central Africa. Chad is landlocked - that is, it has no borders on the sea. Most of its people live in the fertile southern part of the country. The northern part is mostly desert. N'Djamena is the largest city. Chad became an independent nation in 1960. It had been ruled by France since 1920.
Political, social, and religious differences between the Muslim peoples of the north and the peoples of the south - most of whom follow traditional African religions or Christianity - have kept Chad in a nearly constant state of civil war since the mid-1960's. Because of the war and because Chad lacks many economic resources, it is one of the world's least developed nations.
Capital
N'Djamena.
Official Languages
French and Arabic.
Official Name
Republique du Tchad (Republic of Chad).
Area
495,755 sq. mi. (1,284,000 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, 640 mi. (1,030 km); north-south, 1,097 mi. (1,765 km).
Elevation
Highest - Emi Koussi, 11,204 ft. (3,415 m) above sea level.
Lowest - Lake Chad, 922 ft. (281 m) above sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 6,537,000; density, 13 persons per sq. mi. (5 per sq. km); distribution, 63 percent rural, 37 percent urban. 1993 census - 6,158,992. Estimated 2001 population - 7,487,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - cattle, cotton, millet, peanuts, rice, sorghum.
Manufacturing - beer, cigarettes, textiles.
National Anthem
"La Tchadienne" ("The Chadian").
Money
Basic unit--franc.
Flag
The flag has vertical blue, yellow, and red stripes. Blue symbolises the sky and hope. Yellow stands for the sun. Red represents fire and unity.

CHILE
Chile is a long, narrow country on the west coast of South America. It is over 10 times as long as it is wide and stretches about 2,650 miles (4,265 kilometres) from Peru in the north to the southern tip of the continent.
Chile's name probably comes from chilli, an Indian word meaning where the land ends.
Chile is a land of great variety. The Atacama Desert in the north is one of the driest places on the earth, while parts of the south are among the rainiest. The towering Andes Mountains form Chile's eastern boundary, and low mountains rise along the country's Pacific coast. A series of fertile river basins called the Central Valley lies between the mountain ranges in central Chile. The landscape of southern Chile is breathtaking. There are snow-capped volcanoes, thick forests, and huge glaciers. Many rocky, windswept islands dot the rugged shore.
Most Chileans are of mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry. Many others are of unmixed European descent. Indians - Chile's original inhabitants - form a tiny minority. Nearly all Chileans speak Spanish, the nation's official language, and most are Roman Catholics.
The great majority of Chile's people live in the Central Valley, which has the country's largest cities, major factories, and best farmland. More than four-fifths of all Chileans live in urban areas. Santiago has about a third of Chile's total population.
Since the mid-1900's, poor rural Chileans have poured into the cities in search of a better life. But there are not enough jobs in the cities. In addition, most rural Chileans lack the skills needed for available city jobs. As a result, Chile's large urban areas have such problems as poverty, unemployment, and overcrowded slum housing.
Chile is the world's leading copper-producing nation. Its economy depends on copper exports. Farms in the Central Valley produce plentiful crops, but most fruit grown there is exported. Chile imports much of its food, manufactured goods, and petroleum. In most years, the cost of Chile's imports far exceeds the value of the nation's exports.
For nearly 300 years, Chile was a Spanish colony. After gaining independence in 1818, it was ruled for a long period by democratic governments. This long tradition of democracy ended temporarily in 1973, when military leaders overthrew the civilian government and set up a dictatorship. The country returned to democratic civilian rule in 1989.
Official Name
Republica de Chile (Republic of Chile).
Area
292,258 sq. mi. (756,945 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, 2,650 mi. (4,265 km);
east-west, 265 mi. (427 km).
Coastline - 3,317 mi. (5,338 km).
Elevation
Highest - Ojos del Salado, 22,572 ft. (6,880 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 14,436,000; density, 49 persons per sq. mi. (19 per sq. km); distribution, 84 percent urban, 16 percent rural. 1992 census - 13,348,401. Estimated 2001 population - 15,461,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - wheat, beans, sugar beets, grapes, potatoes, corn, apples, beef cattle, oats, citrus fruits, peaches, rice, nuts, poultry, barley, sheep.
Fishing industry - -jack mackerel, sardines, anchovettas.
Manufacturing - food products, chemicals, iron and steel, beverages, paper products, textiles, transportation equipment, metal products, wood products, clothing, cement.
Mining - copper, sodium nitrate, molybdenum, petroleum, gold, silver, manganese, iron ore, natural gas, lithium.
National Anthem
"Cancion Nacionale de Chile" ("National Song of Chile").
Capital city
Santiago
7256 miles from London
GMT -4 hours
International aircraft prefix
CC
International dialling code
00 56
Currency
Chilean Peso (CLP)
Language
Spanish
National holidays
18 September - Independence Day
Embassy details
British Embassy
Avda El Bosque
Norte 0125
Las Condes
Santiago
Telephone (00 56) (2) 3704100
Opening hours 0800 to 1630 Monday to Thursday, 0800 to 1200 Friday (local time)
email embsan@britemb.cl
National flag
2 equal horizontal bands of white and red; with a blue square (bearing a white 5-point star in the centre) at the side of the white band


CHINA
China is a huge country in eastern Asia. It is the world's largest country in population and the third largest in area. About a fifth of the world's people live in China.
The country covers more than a fifth of Asia. Only Russia and Canada have more territory. China's vast land area includes some of the world's driest deserts and highest mountains, as well as some of the richest farmland.
The Chinese call their country Zhongguo, which means Middle Country. This name may have come into being because the ancient Chinese thought of their country as both the geographical centre of the world and the only cultured civilisation. The name China was given to the country by foreigners. The name may have come from Qin (pronounced chihn), the name of an early Chinese dynasty (series of rulers from the same family).
Most of the Chinese people live in densely populated areas in the eastern third of the country. This part of the country has most of China's major cities and nearly all the land suitable for farming. Agriculture has always been the chief economic activity in China. About 74 percent of the people live in rural villages, and about 60 percent of all workers are farmers. Although only a small percentage of the people live in urban areas, China has several of the largest cities in the world. They include Shanghai and Beijing (also spelled Peking).
China has the world's oldest living civilization. Its written history goes back about 3,500 years. The Chinese people take great pride in their nation, its long history, and its influence on other countries. The Chinese were the first people to develop the compass, paper, porcelain, and silk cloth. Over the centuries, Japan, Korea, and other Asian lands have borrowed from Chinese art, language, literature, religion, and technology.
In early times, China was divided into many small states. In 221 B.C., the Qin dynasty established an empire with a strong central government. This empire lasted in some form for more than 2,000 years. During those years, Chinese society survived wars, rebellions, and the rise and fall of numerous dynasties. The Chinese developed an increasingly powerful and efficient system of government, built great cities, and created magnificent works of literature and art. From time to time, nomadic invaders conquered all or part of China. But the invaders had little effect on Chinese civilization.
In the 1800's, the Chinese empire began to weaken. In 1911, revolutionaries overthrew the empire. The next year, China became a republic. But the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), which ruled the republic, never established an effective government over all of China. In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party defeated the Nationalists and set up China's present government. The Communists gave the nation the official name Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo (People's Republic of China). The Nationalists fled to the island of Taiwan, where they reestablished their own government. But the People's Republic claims that Taiwan should be part of its territory.
China has gone through many major changes under the Communists. All important industries have been placed under state ownership and direction. The government also controls most trade and finance. The Communists have dramatically increased industrial production and have expanded and improved education and medical care. China has one of the world's largest economies in terms of its total economic production. However, the country has so many people that its economic output per person is small. As a result, economists consider China a developing country. The Communist Party and the government are making major efforts to modernise China.
Official Language
Northern Chinese (Mandarin, or putonghua).
Official Name
Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo (People's Republic of China).
National Anthem
"March of the Volunteers."
Largest Cities: (1990 census)
Shanghai (8,214,436);
Beijing (7,362,425);
Tianjin (5,855,068);
Wuhan (3,340,000).
Area
3,705,822 sq. mi. (9,598,036 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, 3,000 mi. (4,828 km);
north-south, 2,500 mi. (4,023 km).
Coastline - 4,019 mi. (6,468 km), including 458 mi. (737 km) for Hainan Island.
Elevation
Highest - Mount Everest, 29,028 ft. (8,848 m);
Lowest - Turpan Depression, 505 ft. (154 m) below sea level.
Climate
China has a wide range of climates. Northern and western China have long, bitterly cold winters, but central and southern China have mild to warm winters. Summers are hot and humid in eastern China and southern Manchuria and extremely hot and dry in the northwestern deserts. January temperatures average below 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) in Manchuria and Tibet, about 20 degrees F (-7 degrees C) throughout much of eastern China, and about 60 degrees F (16 degrees C) on the southeastern coast. July temperatures average about 80 degrees F (27 degrees C) throughout much of China but may reach over 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) in the northwestern deserts. Rainfall varies from light in the northern deserts to heavy in the southeast.
Form of Government
Control by Communist Party.
Head of State
President (largely ceremonial).
Head of Government
Premier.
Executive
Premier, assisted by State Council.
Legislature
National People's Congress of almost 3,000 members. Congress has little independent lawmaking power; it usually follows suggestions of party leaders.
Judiciary
Highest court is the Supreme People's Court.
Political Subdivisions
22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 3 special municipalities, 1 special administrative region.
Population
1998 estimate - 1,265,413,000. 1990 census - 1,153,914,618. 2003 estimate - 1,322,141,000. Population Density: 341 persons per sq. mi. (132 persons per sq. km).Distribution: 74 percent rural, 26 percent urban.
Major Ethnic/National Groups.
About 92 percent Han. Smaller groups include Kazakhs, Mongols, Tibetans, and Uygurs.
Major Religions
The government discourages religious practice. But some people still practice religion. Traditional Chinese religions include Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Also, about 2 percent of the Chinese people are Muslims, and about 1 percent are Christians.
Chief Products
Agriculture - corn, cotton, eggs, fruits, hogs, peanuts, potatoes, rice, soybeans, sweet potatoes, tea, tobacco, tomatoes, wheat.
Manufacturing - cement, chemicals, clothing and textiles, iron and steel, machinery, processed foods.
Mining - coal, copper, iron ore, petroleum, salt, tin, tungsten.
Gross Domestic Product
1992 total GDP - $434,084,000,000. 1992 GDP per capita - $380.
International Trade
Major exports - clothing, textiles, tea, food.
Major imports - metals, machinery, grain, cotton, fertilisers.
Major trading partners - Germany, Japan, United States.
Capital city
Beijing
5055 miles from London
GMT +8 hours
International aircraft prefix
B
International dialling code
00 86
Currency
Yuan Renminbi (CNY)
Language
Standard Chinese or Mandarin, Yue, Wu, Minbei, Minnan, Xiang, Gan, Hakka
National holidays
1 October - National Day
Embassy details
British Embassy
11 Guanghua Lu
Jianguomenwai
Beijing 100600
Telephone (00 86) (10) 6532 1962
Opening hours 0830 to 1200/1330 to 1700 (local time)
email info@britishembassy.org.cn
National flag
Red with a big 5-pointed yellow star and four small yellow 5-pointed stars in the upper hoist-side corner

China's flag was adopted in 1949. The large star represents the leadership of the Communist Party. The four small stars stand for groups of workers. The state emblem shows the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing framed by grains of rice and wheat that stand for agriculture and a cogwheel that represents industry.



CHRISTMAS ISLAND
Christmas Island is an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean about 1,553 miles (2,500 kilometres) northwest of Perth. The island is about 12 miles (20 kilometres) long and 9 miles (15 kilometers) wide. Its main industry is phosphate mining. Most of its people are Chinese or Malays.
Captain William Mynors, a British merchant, sighted and named the island on Christmas Day of 1643. The British took control of the island in 1888. Phosphate mining began in 1897. The island became an Australian territory in 1958.


COCOS ISLANDS
Cocos Islands are in the Indian Ocean, 1,720 miles (2,768 kilometres) northwest of Perth, Australia. The islands are an overseas territory of Australia.
There are 27 coral islands in the whole group, with a total land area of about 9 square miles (24 square kilometres). None of the islands rises more than 20 feet (6 metres) above sea level. The main islands are West Island, Home Island, South Island, Direction Island, and Horsburgh Island. North Keeling Island is 15 miles (24 kilometres) to the north of the main group. Most of the islands are densely covered with coconut palms. Only Home Island and West Island are inhabited.
Coconuts, grown throughout the islands, are the sole cash crop. A Cocos postal service, including a bureau for the collection and study of stamps and other postal materials, has operated since 1979. Revenue from the islands' postal service is used for the benefit of the community.
Captain William Keeling, of the East India Company, sighted the Cocos Islands in 1609. Alexander Hare, an Englishman, and Captain John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish seaman, established settlements in 1826 and 1827.

COLOMBIA
Colombia is a country in northwestern South America. It is the only country on the continent with a coast along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Colombia ranks second in population and fourth in area among the countries of South America. Only Brazil has more people, and only Brazil, Argentina, and Peru cover a larger area.
Colombia's landscape and climate offer striking contrasts, ranging from the snow-capped peaks of the Andes Mountains to hot lowland plains. The equator crosses southern Colombia. Yet parts of the country have a chilly climate because of their high elevation.
The population of Colombia is distributed extremely unevenly. Most of the people live in valleys and basins of the Andes Mountains. Bogota, Colombia's largest city, lies in a basin of the Andes.
The differences in climate throughout Colombia enable farmers to grow many kinds of crops, including coffee, rice, bananas, and potatoes. Colombia produces more coffee than any other country except Brazil.
Colombia's economy depends heavily on agriculture, though manufacturing is growing in importance. Colombia has huge supplies of many raw materials used in industry and enormous sources of energy. However, the country has not fully developed its vast resources.
During the early 1500's, Colombia's natural wealth, especially its gold, attracted Spanish explorers. The Spaniards conquered most of the Indians, the region's original inhabitants. Colombia remained a Spanish colony for nearly 300 years. After gaining independence in 1819, it suffered long periods of violence and civil war. But unlike some other Latin American countries, Colombia has a tradition of democratic government.
Colombia was named after Christopher Columbus. The nation's official name is Republica de Colombia (Republic of Colombia).
Area
439,737 sq. mi. (1,138,914 sq. km).
Greatest distances
northwest-southeast, 1,170 mi. (1,883 km);
northeast-southwest, 850 mi. (1,368 km).
Coastline - 580 mi. (933 km) along the Pacific Ocean; 710 mi. (1,143 km) along the Caribbean Sea.
Elevation
Highest - Cristobal Colon, 18,947 ft. (5,775 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level, along the coasts.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 35,624,000; density, 81 persons per sq. mi. (31 per sq. km); distribution, 73 percent urban, 27 percent rural. 1985 census - 27,837,932. Estimated 2001 population - 38,329,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - bananas, beef cattle, cassava, coffee, corn, cotton, milk, potatoes, rice, sugar cane.
Manufacturing - cement, chemicals, metal products, processed foods and beverages, textiles and clothing.
Mining - coal, emeralds, gold, iron ore, natural gas, petroleum, salt.
Capital city
Bogata
5285 miles from London
GMT -5 hours
International aircraft prefix
HK
International dialling code
00 57
Currency
Colombian Peso (COP)
Language
Spanish
National holidays
20 July - Independence Day
Embassy details
British Embassy
Edificio Ing Barings
Carrera 9 No 76-49 Piso 9
Bogota
Telephone (00 57) (1) 3176690
Opening hours 0830 to 1230/1330 to 1700 Monday to Thursday, 0830 to 1330 Friday (local time)
email britain@cable.net.co
National Anthem
Columbia National Anthem.
National flag
3 horizontal bands of yellow, blue, and red




COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a loose association of nations that were formerly republics of the Soviet Union. The members are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The headquarters are in Minsk, Belarus.
The Soviet Union consisted of 15 republics. In 1990, several republics declared independence. In August 1991, the Soviet Union began to break apart after an attempted coup. All the other republics except Russia declared independence during the coup or soon after. Russia proclaimed itself the Soviet Union's successor. On Dec. 8, 1991, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine announced the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.) and declared that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Eleven republics formally constituted themselves as the C.I.S. on December 21. The Soviet Union was formally dissolved December 25. Georgia joined the C.I.S. in 1993. Former republics Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania did not join.
The C.I.S. was created for several reasons. The economies of the former republics were closely linked, and most members wanted to keep some of those economic ties. Each member also wanted to guarantee its own territory and sovereignty. The members also sought to reassure the rest of the world that the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union were under reliable control. Basically, the C.I.S. was intended to help the new countries continue to work together and thus make the breakup of the Soviet Union as peaceful as possible.
However, C.I.S. members disputed various matters. The C.I.S. originally aimed to have a single military for all its members but later abandoned that plan. Each member created its own armed forces. Russia and Ukraine disputed the ownership of the Black Sea fleet. They resolved the dispute in 1997. Many members rejected the idea of continuing to use the ruble - the former Soviet monetary unit - as their own official currency. Each C.I.S. country created its own currency.
Experts believe many of the commonwealth's problems result from a lack of clear purpose or structure. Russia, for example, seemed to see the C.I.S. as permanent. Other members expressed fears that Russia might dominate the C.I.S. and use it as a means to gain control over the former republics. Some members, such as Ukraine, viewed the C.I.S. as a temporary association to help the former republics become truly independent. The C.I.S. does not have a charter that sets forth its duties and powers. It also lacks a governing body to enforce decisions or settle conflicts.


COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS
The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of independent countries and other political units that have lived under British law and government. It includes the United Kingdom, about 50 independent nations that were once British colonies, and about 25 other political units, such as territories and dependencies.
Britain is involved in some way in the government of most of the units in the Commonwealth. In the rest, Australia or New Zealand has some involvement in the government. Members cover about a fourth of the earth's land surface and have about a fourth of the world's population.
The Commonwealth countries have a tradition of mutual cooperation that stems from their common history. The Commonwealth heads of government assemble from time to time to exchange views on important international issues. At these meetings, the leaders seek to identify common goals in economic and foreign affairs. They work to coordinate their national policies to pursue these goals. But the nations are not required to obey conclusions reached at the conferences.
The Commonwealth of Nations conducts various programs through Commonwealth agencies. For example, several jointly financed programs provide economic aid and technical assistance to developing nations in the group. The Commonwealth also supports agencies that promote cooperation in such activities as broadcasting, cable and satellite communication, education, health care, and scientific research. The Commonwealth Secretariat leads and coordinates Commonwealth activities. The secretariat has its headquarters in London.
Independent members of the Commonwealth of Nations consist of former British colonial areas, dependencies, or dominions that have become self-governing but have retained their Commonwealth ties. Despite the Commonwealth's tradition of cooperation, each nation maintains its own foreign policy, which reflects its own interests.
All of the independent members recognise the British monarch as head of the Commonwealth. But the monarch is mainly a symbol and has no real power to govern. Britain and about 15 other Commonwealth nations are monarchies that regard the British ruler as head of state. A few others have their own monarchs. Over half the Commonwealth nations are republics.
Dependencies are Commonwealth areas that do not have complete self-government. They are administered by independent Commonwealth members. Most dependencies are developing toward self-government.
A majority of the dependencies are areas that have been annexed to the British Crown. This means that persons living in them are British citizens. These dependencies were formerly called colonies or crown colonies. A governor appointed by the British government is the highest official in each such dependency. The governor holds all political power in some dependencies. Others have elected assemblies, and in them the governor's power is limited. Some of the dependencies have become practically self-governing. Most of these areas are ruled as though they were parts of Britain.
The term dependency may also be used to refer to other kinds of political units. These units include crown dependencies, joint administrations, self-governing areas, and territories.
Crown dependencies are self-governing territories annexed by the British Crown. They are not bound by acts of the British Parliament unless the crown dependencies are named.
Joint administrations are controlled by two nations that have interests there. Each of the nations is responsible for its own property and personnel in the area.
Self-governing areas control their own internal affairs. They have agreed to let a Commonwealth nation handle their defence and foreign relations. But these areas can declare full independence at any time.
Territories are dependencies of Australia or New Zealand. Each territory has an administrator chosen by the government of Australia or New Zealand. In some territories, this official holds all political power. In other territories, the administrator shares power with an elected assembly. Some territories have become nearly self-governing. Australia and New Zealand control defense and foreign policy for their territories.
The Commonwealth of Nations began to take form in the early 1900's. At that time, representatives of certain British colonies met with British representatives at Imperial Conferences. All these colonies had self-government in domestic affairs. But Britain managed their foreign policy and defense.
During the 1910's and 1920's, the self-governing colonies moved toward independence in foreign affairs. Representatives at a 1926 Imperial Conference declared all participating countries to be completely self-governing nations. They described these nations as equal in rank, "united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations." The Statute of Westminster, a British law of 1931, legalized the 1926 declaration. The original members were Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and South Africa.
In 1932, the Commonwealth nations established a system of trade called Commonwealth Preference. Under this system, Britain imported goods from other Commonwealth countries without imposing the usual tariffs. Other Commonwealth nations negotiated favourable trade agreements with each other.
Between 1947 and 1980, about 40 more British colonies became independent nations. Nearly all joined the Commonwealth. During this time, Newfoundland became a province of Canada, and Ireland and South Africa gave up Commonwealth membership because of disagreements with other members. By the mid-1960's, nearly half the members were African nations. South Africa rejoined the Commonwealth in 1994.
In 1977, Britain completed a plan to discontinue its special trade agreements with Commonwealth nations. It began this plan in 1973, when it joined the European Community (EC), an economic association of European nations. In 1993, the EC members formed the European Union (EU) to increase economic and political cooperation among themselves, and the EC was incorporated into the EU. Individual Commonwealth members participate in the European Union and its trade agreements.

Independent Members
Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom (Britain), Vanuatu, Western Samoa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Dependencies of United Kingdom
Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Is., Cayman Islands, Channel Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island Group, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands.
Territories of Australia
Antarctica (Aust.), Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Is., Coral Sea Islands, Heard and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island.
Areas Associated With New Zealand
Cook Island, Niue Island, Ross Dependency, Tokelau.


COMOROS
Comoros is an archipelago (group of islands) in the Indian Ocean between the mainland of Africa and the island country of Madagascar. Comoros consists of four main islands - Anjouan, Grande Comore, Mayotte, and Moheli - and several smaller ones.
All the islands belonged to France until 1975. Three of the four largest islands declared their independence that year, but Mayotte chose to remain a French possession. The Comoran government considers Mayotte part of the country, but the people of Mayotte have voted to stay under French rule.
The country's official name is the Federal and Islamic Republic of the Comoros. The islands, including Mayotte, have an area of 863 square miles (2,235 square kilometres). Mayotte has an area of 144 square miles (373 square kilometres). Moroni, on Grande Comore, is the largest city.
Capital
Moroni.
Official Language
Comorian and French.
Total Land Area
863 square miles (2,235 sq. km).
Coastline - 243 mi. (391 km).
Area figures include Mayotte.
Elevation
Highest - Mont Kartala, 7,746 ft. (2,361 m).
Lowest - sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 676,000; density, 783 persons per sq. mi. (302 per sq. km), distribution, 69 percent rural, 31 percent urban. 1991 census - 446,817. Estimated 2001 population - 804,000.
Population figures include Mayotte.
Chief Products
bananas, cassava, cloves, coconuts, corn, perfume oil, rice, sweet potatoes, vanilla.
Money:
Basic unit - franc.
Flag:
A green field covers the flag. A crescent moon and four five-pointed stars are located in the centre. The green colour and the crescent symbolise Islam. The four stars on the flag represent the four islands of the country.



CONGO (BRAZZAVILLE)
Congo (Brazzaville) is a hot, humid country in west-central Africa. The equator runs through the country. Thick forests of trees and tangled bushes and vines cover the northern half of Congo. Much of this part of the country is inhabited chiefly by wild animals. The few people who live there travel by dugout canoe.
Congo was once a territory in French Equatorial Africa. It became independent in 1960. Its name in French is Republique du Congo (Republic of the Congo). It is called Congo (Brazzaville) to distinguish it from its neighbour, Congo (Kinshasa). Brazzaville is the largest city.
Most of Congo's soil is poor, but the country has several mineral resources. Congo is a transportation centre. Pointe-Noire, on the Atlantic coast, is an important port.
Capital
Brazzaville.
Official Language
French.
Area
132,047 sq. mi. (342,000 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, 590 mi. (950 km);
east-west, 515 mi. (829 km).
Coastline - 100 mi. (160 km).
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 2,662,000; density, 20 persons per sq. mi. (8 persons per sq. km); distribution, 57 percent rural, 43 percent urban. 1984 census - 1,843,421. Estimated 2001 population - 3,055,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - bananas, cassava, coffee, palm kernels and oil, peanuts, plantains, rice, rubber, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, yams.
Forestry - limba, mahogany, okoume.
Mining - lead, natural gas, petroleum, potash, zinc.
Money
Basic unit - franc.
Flag
A large green triangle is in the upper left corner, and a large red triangle is in the lower right corner. The triangles are separated by a yellow diagonal stripe. Adopted 1991.



COOK ISLANDS
Cook Islands lie in the South Pacific Ocean, about 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometres) northeast of New Zealand. The 15 islands of the Cook group are spread out over 850,000 square miles (2.2 million square kilometres) of ocean. They have a total land area of 91 square miles (236 square kilometres) and a total coastline of 90 miles (145 kilometres). The main islands include Rarotonga, Mangaia, Atiu, Aitutaki, and Mauke. The capital, Avarua, is on the northern shore of Rarotonga. The southern islands have fertile soil and a mild climate, Their chief exports include copra, fruits, and tomatoes. Most of the 18,000 people are Polynesians.
In 1773, Captain James Cook became the first known European to reach the islands. Britain took control of the islands in 1888, and gave administrative control to New Zealand in 1891. A new constitution gave the islanders control of their internal affairs in 1965. Today, the islands have an arrangement with New Zealand called free association. Under free association, the islands are self-governing, the people are citizens of New Zealand, and New Zealand offers the islands military support for defence.


COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is a small, mountainous country in Central America. It is bordered by Nicaragua on the north, the Caribbean Sea and Panama on the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the south and west. A chain of rugged mountains stretches across central Costa Rica from northwest to southeast. A few of the highest peaks in this chain are active volcanoes. Tropical forests grow on the country's coastal lowlands.
Spanish explorers arrived in what is now Costa Rica in the early 1500's. The Indians who lived there told them stories about deposits of gold and other precious metals supposedly mined in the region. The Spaniards named the land Costa Rica, which means rich coast. But the explorers found that the area has little mineral wealth.
Today, about three-fourths of Costa Rica's people people live on a fertile plateau in the mountains of central Costa Rica. San Jose, the largest city, lies in this region. Hillsides covered with coffee trees surround San Jose. Coffee ranks as the country's chief export. Bananas, another major export, grow on large plantations near the coasts.
Capital
San Jose.
Official Language
Spanish.
Official Name
Republica de Costa Rica (Republic of Costa Rica).
Area
19,730 sq. mi. (51,100 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, 220 mi. (354 km); east-west, 237 mi. (381 km).
Coastline - 380 mi. (612 km) on the Pacific; 133 mi. (214 km) on the Caribbean.
Elevation
Highest - Chirripo Grande, 12,530 ft. (3,819 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level along the coasts.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 3,495,000; density, 177 persons per sq. mi. (68 per sq. km); distribution, 50 percent rural, 50 percent urban. 1984 census - 2,416,809. Estimated 2001 population - 3,868,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - bananas, beef cattle, cacao, coffee, corn, rice, sugar cane.
Manufacturing - cement, clothing, furniture, machinery, processed foods, textiles.
Money
Basic unit--colon.
National Anthem
Costa Rica National Anthem.


COTE D'IVOIRE
Cote d'Ivoire is a country that lies along the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa. Nearly all of Cote d'Ivoire's people are Africans. Most work in agriculture, the nation's leading source of income. Coffee and cacao seeds (seeds used to make chocolate and cocoa) are the main commercial crops and chief exports.
Cote d'Ivoire received its name in the late 1400's, when French sailors began to trade for ivory there. It became a French colony in 1893. Cote d'Ivoire became independent in 1960. Its official name is Republique de Cote d'Ivoire, which is French for Republic of the Ivory Coast.
Capital
Abidjan.
Official Language
French.
Area
124,504 sq. mi. (322,463 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, 420 mi. (676 km); east-west, 411 mi. (661 km).
Coastline - 315 mi. (507 km).
Elevation
Highest - Mount Nimba, 5,748 ft. (1,752 m). Lowest - sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 14,891,000; density, 120 persons per sq. mi. (46 per sq. km); distribution, 56 percent rural, 44 percent urban. 1988 census - 10,815,694. Estimated 2001 population - 17,625,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture and forestry - bananas, cacao, cassava, coffee, corn, palm oil, pineapples, rice, timber, yams.
Manufacturing and processing - processed foods, refined petroleum products, textiles, timber products.
National Anthem
"L'Abidjanaise" ("Hail O Land of Hope").
Money
Basic unit - CFA franc.
Flag
Vertical stripes of orange, white, and green.


CROATIA
Croatia is a country in southeastern Europe that declared its independence in June 1991.
In 1918, Croatia had become part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, later renamed Yugoslavia. In 1946, Yugoslavia became a federal state consisting of six republics, one of which was Croatia.
Most of the people of Croatia are Croats. In addition, a number of Serbs live in the country.
Croatia borders on Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Serbia to the east, Bosnia-Herzegovina to the south, and the Adriatic Sea to the west. Zagreb, Croatia's capital and largest city, is the centre of cultural and political life in the country. Other important towns include Dubrovnik, Osijek, Rijeka, and Split.
From 1945 to 1990, Communists held a monopoly on power in Croatia, as in all of what was then Yugoslavia. In 1990, non-Communists won a majority of seats in Croatia's first multiparty elections. In 1991, war broke out in Croatia between Croats and Serbs. A cease-fire in early 1992 ended most of the fighting. However, some fighting continued. In late 1995, the government of Croatia and the leaders of the Croatian Serbs made an agreement to end the war.
Official name
Republika Hrvatska (Republic of Croatia).
Area
21,829 sq. mi. (56,538 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, 290 mi. (465 km);
east-west, 290 mi. (465 km).
Elevation
Highest - Mount Troglav, 6,276 ft. (1,913 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level along the coast.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 4,801,000; density, 220 persons per sq. mi. (85 per sq. km); distribution, 51 percent urban, 49 percent rural. 1991 census - 4,784,265. Estimated 2001 population - 4,817,000.
Chief products
Agriculture - apples, cattle, cherries, corn, grapes, olives, pears, pigs, plums, potatoes, poultry, sheep, soybeans, sugar beets, tobacco, wheat.
Manufacturing - chemicals, petroleum, ships, textiles.
Mining - bauxite, coal.
National anthem
"Lijepa nasa domovino" ("Our Beautiful Homeland").
Capital city
Zagreb
833 miles from London
GMT +1 hours
International aircraft prefix
9A
International dialling code
00 385
Currency
Kuna (HRK)
Croatian Dinar (HRD)
Language
Croatian
Vehicle nationality plates
HR
National holidays
30 May - Statehood Day
Embassy details
British Embassy
Vlaska 121/111 Floor
P O Box 454
10000 Zagreb
Telephone (00 385) (1) 4555310
Opening hours 0730 to 1600 Monday to Thursday, 0730 to 1300 Friday (local time)
email british-embassy@zg.tel.hr
National flag
3 horizontal bands of red, white and blue with the Croatian coat of arms




CUBA
Cuba is an island nation that is the only Communist state in the Americas. It lies about 90 miles (145 kilometres) south of Key West, Florida. Havana is Cuba's capital and largest city.
Cuba is the largest island and one of the most beautiful islands in the West Indies. Towering mountains and rolling hills cover about a third of the island. The rest of Cuba consists mainly of gentle slopes and broad grasslands. Cuba has a magnificent coastline marked with deep bays, sandy beaches, and colourful coral reefs.
Cuba's geographic location has greatly influenced its history. The island lies at the intersection of major sea routes between the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. The famous explorer Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba in 1492, and the island later became an important strategic outpost of Spain's empire in the New World.
During the late 1700's and early 1800's, sugar cane became Cuba's single most important crop. Sugar cane was grown on large plantations that depended heavily on human labour. The desire for cheap labour for the plantations led to the importation of thousands of African slaves to Cuba.
During the 1800's, many Cubans began to call for independence from Spain. In 1898, the United States helped defeat Spain, which then gave up all claims to Cuba. A U.S. military government ruled Cuba from 1899 until 1902, when the island became a republic. But the United States maintained close ties with Cuba and often intervened in the island's internal affairs. During most of the period from the 1930's to the 1950's, Cuba was controlled by a dictator, Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar.
In 1959, Fidel Castro led a revolution that overthrew Batista. The rebels later set up a Communist government, with Castro as its head. Relations between Cuba and the United States became tense soon after the revolution. The Castro government developed close ties with the Soviet Union, then the main rival of the United States in a struggle for international power. In 1961, the United States ended diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Today, the government of Cuba is highly centralised, and Castro has strong control. The government provides many benefits for the people, including free medical care and free education. But political and economic freedom is severely limited.
Capital
Havana.
Official Language
Spanish.
Area
42,804 sq. mi. (110,861 sq. km).
Greatest distances
northwest-southeast, 759 mi. (1,221 km); north-south, 135 mi. (217 km).
Coastline - 2,100 mi. (3,380 km).
Elevation
Highest - Pico Turquino, 6,542 ft. (1,994 m).
Lowest - sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 11,172,000; density, 261 persons per sq. mi. (101 per sq. km); distribution, 76 percent urban, 24 percent rural. 1981 census - 9,723,605. Estimated 2001 population - 11,572,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - citrus fruits, coffee, milk, sugar cane, tobacco, vegetables.
Manufacturing - cement, cigars, fertilisers, refined petroleum, refined sugar, rum, textiles.
Mining - chromium, iron, nickel.
National Anthem
"La Bayamesa."
National Holiday
July 26, the anniversary of Fidel Castro's attack on the Moncada Army Barracks.
Money
Basic unit - peso.


CYPRUS
Cyprus is an island country in the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea. It lies about 40 miles (64 kilometres) south of Turkey and 60 miles (97 kilometres) west of Syria. Geographically, Cyprus is part of Asia. But its people live much like southern Europeans and have a relatively high standard of living. Cyprus is a scenic country noted for its hilltop castles, old churches, beaches, and rugged mountains.
About four-fifths of the people in Cyprus are of Greek origin, and most of the rest are of Turkish origin. Nearly all of the people regard themselves as Greeks or Turks rather than as Cypriot nationals. Conflicts between the two groups have caused problems. Problems have also been caused by the interference of other countries in Cyprus's affairs. In 1974, Turkish troops invaded the island. The Turkish government claimed the troops were sent to support the Turkish Cypriots. The Turks captured a large part of northeastern Cyprus, and thousands of Greek Cypriots fled to the southwestern part of the country. Today, most of the Greeks live in southwest Cyprus, and most of the Turks live in northeast Cyprus.
Cyprus became independent in 1960, after being ruled by Britain since 1878. Its official name is Kypriaki Dimokratia in Greek and Kibris Cumhuriyeti in Turkish. Both mean Republic of Cyprus. Nicosia is the largest city. Most of Nicosia lies in the Greek area, but part is in the Turkish area.
Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004.
Area
3,572 sq. mi. (9,251 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, 128 mi. (206 km);
north-south, 75 mi. (121 km).
Elevation
Highest - Mount Olympus, 6,403 ft. (1,952 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 742,000; density, 208 persons per sq. mi. (80 per sq. km); distribution, 56 percent urban, 44 percent rural. 1976 census - 612,851. Estimated 2001 population - 771,000.
Chief products
Agriculture - barley, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, olives, oranges, potatoes.
Manufacturing - cement, cigarettes, olive oil, shoes, textiles, wines.
Mining - asbestos, chromium.
National anthem
"Imnos pros tin Eleftherian" ("The Hymn to Liberty").
Capital city
Nicosia
1996 miles from London
GMT +2 hours
International aircraft prefix
5B
International dialling code
00 357
Currency
Euro
Language
Greek, Turkish and English
Vehicle nationality plates
CY
National holidays
1 October - Independence Day;
(The Turkish Cypriot area celebrates Independence Day on 15 November)
Embassy details
British High Commission
Alexander Pallis Street
P O Box 21978
1587 Nicosia
Telephone (00 357) (2) 861100
Opening hours 0730 to 1400 Monday to Friday, except Tuesday - Tuesday 0730 to 1300/1400 to 1730 (local time)
email infobhc@cylink.com.cy
National flag
White with an outline of the island in copper above two green crossed olive branches in the middle of the flag



CZECH REPUBLIC
Czech Republic is a country in central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west. Prague is the largest city.
Most of the people in the Czech Republic belong to a Slavic group called Czechs. Two regions - Bohemia in the west and Moravia in the east - make up most of the republic. The country also includes a small part of a region called Silesia, which extends from the northern section of the Czech Republic into Poland.
The area that is now the Czech Republic has been an industrial center since the 1800's. In 1918, at the end of World War I, the area became part of the newly created nation of Czechoslovakia. From 1948 until 1989, when Communists ruled Czechoslovakia, the nation's people had one of the highest standards of living in Communist central and eastern Europe. However, their prosperity declined in the 1980's, and dissatisfaction with the Communist government grew. In 1989, after mass protests, the country's top Communist leaders resigned. Non-Communists took over the Czechoslovak government
Soon after the Communists left office, tensions began to build between Czechoslovakia's two main ethnic groups, the Czechs and the Slovaks. In mid-1992, Czech and Slovak leaders decided to split Czechoslovakia into two nations, one for Czechs and one for Slovaks. On Jan. 1, 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were formed to replace Czechoslovakia.
Official Name
Ceska Republika (Czech Republic)Area: 30,450 sq. mi. (78,864 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, 305 mi. (491 km);
north-south, 175 mi. (282 km).
Elevation
Highest - Snezka, 5,256 ft. (1,602 m) above sea level.
Lowest - 377 ft. (115 m) along the Elbe River near the German border.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 10,464,000; density, 344 persons per sq. mi. (133 per sq. km); distribution, 63 percent urban, 37 percent rural. 1991 census - 10,298,731. Estimated 2001 population - 10,690,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - barley, cattle, corn, hogs, hops, oats, potatoes, poultry, rapeseed, rye, sheep, sugar beets, wheat.
Manufacturing - footwear, glass, iron and steel, textiles.
Mining - coal.
National Anthem
"Kde domov muj?" ("Where Is My Home?" )
Capital city
Prague
640 miles from London
GMT +1 hour
International aircraft prefix
OK
International dialling code
00 420
Currency
Czech Koruna (CZK)
Language
Czech
Vehicle nationality plates
CZ
National holidays
8 May - National Liberation Day
28 October - Founding of the Republic
Embassy details
British Embassy
Thunovska 14
118 00 Prague 1
Telephone (00 420) (2) 5753 0278
Opening hours 0730 to 1400 March to September, 0830 to 1700 September to March (local time)
email info@britain.cz
National flag
2 equal horizontal bands of white and red with a blue triangle on the hoist side


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