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International Information I

International Information - I

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ICELAND
Iceland is an island country that lies just below the Arctic Circle in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is about 200 miles (320 kilometres) east of Greenland and about 650 miles (1,050 kilometres) west of Norway.
Iceland is sometimes called the Land of Ice and Fire because large glaciers lie next to steaming hot springs, geysers, and volcanoes. The country was named Iceland by an early settler who was upset by seeing the coastal waters choked with ice after an unusually cold and long winter. But Iceland is not as cold as most places so far north. The Gulf Stream ocean current warms most of Iceland's coast. Iceland is also a land of midnight sun. It is light almost 24 hours a day in June and dark for a similar period in December.
Most Icelanders live in coastal towns. Many of them make their living from the sea, either by fishing or by working in fish processing plants. Almost all the country's exports are fish or fish products.
People from Norway and from Viking colonies in the British Isles settled Iceland beginning about A.D. 870. Norway gained control of Iceland in 1262. After 1380, Denmark ruled the island. In the late 1800's, the Icelandic government regained control over internal affairs. In 1918, Iceland became a self-governing kingdom united with Denmark. It gained full independence in 1944. Its official name in Icelandic is Lydveldid Island (Republic of Iceland). Reykjavik is the largest city.
Area
39,769 sq. mi. (103,000 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, 300 mi. (483 km);
north-south, 190 mi. (306 km).
Coastline - 1,243 mi. (2,000 km).
Elevation
Highest - Hvannadalshnukur, 6,952 ft. (2,119 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 271,000; density, 7 persons per sq. mi. (3 persons per sq. km); distribution, 92 percent urban, 8 percent rural. 1970 census - 204,930. Estimated 2001 population - 286,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - cattle, hay, market gardening, sheep.
Fishing - capelin, cod, haddock, herring.
Manufacturing and processing - aluminium, cement, clothing, electrical equipment, fertiliser, food processing, printing and bookbinding.
Capital city
Reykayvik
1175 miles from London
GMT +0.00
International aircraft prefix
TF
International dialling code
00 354
Currency
Icelandic Krone (ISK)
Language
Icelandic
Vehicle nationality plates
IS
National holidays
17 June - Anniversary of the Republic
Embassy details
British Embassy
Laufasvegur 31
101 Reykjavik
Telephone (00 354) (550) 5100
Opening hours 0830 to 1600 Monday to Thursday, 0830 to 1530 Friday (local time)
email britemb@centrum.is
National flag
A red cross edged in white appears on a blue field. Blue is the national colour, and red and white recall the flag of Denmark, former ruler of Iceland.


INDIA
India is a country in southern Asia that ranks as the second largest country in the world in population. Only China, its neighbour to the north, has more people. India is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world and one of the largest in area. Its capital is New Delhi. Bombay, also known as Mumbai, is its largest city.
Much of India forms a peninsula that extends southward into the Indian Ocean. India is bordered on the west by the Arabian Sea and Pakistan; on the north by China, Nepal, and Bhutan; and on the east by Burma, Bangladesh, and the Bay of Bengal. India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan are sometimes said to make up a region called the Indian subcontinent.
India is a land of great variety and contrast. The mighty snow-capped Himalaya, the world's tallest mountain system, rises along its northern border. A vast, scorching desert lies in the west, but parts of eastern India receive some of the highest rainfall in the world. The country also has broad plains, winding rivers, lush rain forests, and tropical lowlands.
The people of India belong to a variety of ethnic groups and speak hundreds of dialects and languages. Hindi is the national language and is widely spoken in north and central India.
The people of India practice a number of religions. A large majority are Hindus, but India has one of the largest populations of Muslims in the world as well.
Indians vary widely in terms of education and wealth. The nation has a growing number of scientists and engineers, but a large part of the population cannot read and write. India is one of the world's major manufacturing countries, but many of its people live in extreme poverty.
Most Indians are farmers, and they depend on seasonal rains to grow their crops. These farmers live in villages throughout the land. On the other hand, a growing number of Indians work in offices and factories in the country's cities. The urban centres of Bombay, Calcutta, and Delhi are among the largest in the world.
India has been home to several major empires and civilisations through the ages. The first of these civilisations, the Indus Valley civilisation, was established about 4,500 years ago. Through the centuries, travelers to India described it as a land rich in gold, spices, textiles, and other valuables, and India became fabled for its wealth. Eventually, it attracted European traders, and in the late 1700's, India came under British rule. In 1947, after a long struggle for freedom, India became independent.
Principal official language
Hindi.
Other languages with official status
English, ("associate national language"), Sanshrit, and 16 regional languages.
Official name
Bharat Ganarajya (Republic of India).National anthem: "Jana-gana-mana" (Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of ll People").
National song
"Vande Mataram" ("I Bow to Thee, Mother").
Largest cities (1991 census)
Bombay (9,925,891);
Delhi (7,206,704);
Calcutta (4,399,819);
Madras (3,814,396);
Bangalore (3,841,296).
Land
India lies in southern Asia, north of the Indian Ocean. It borders Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, and Bangladesh. Most of northern India is a low-lying plain that includes the valleys of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. The Himalaya rises in the far northern parts of the country. The large triangular peninsula that forms southern India is a plateau bordered on the east and west by mountains that drop down to coastal plains.
Area
1,269,346 sq. mi. (3,287,590 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, about 2,000 mi. (3,200 km);
east-west, about 1,700 mi. (2,740 km).
Coastline - 4,252 mi. (6,843 km), including 815 mi. (1,312 km) of coastline of island territories.
Elevation
Highest - Kanchenjunga, 28,208 ft. (8,598 m) above sea level.
Lowest - Sea level along the coast.
Climate
Northern and central India have mild, cool temperatures from October to February. In the northwest and north-central regions, temperatures occasionally drop below freezing. Southern India lacks a true cool season, but the period from October to February is not as hot as the rest of the year. The entire country, except the mountains, is hot from March to June. From June to September, rains brought by seasonal winds called monsoons bring relief from extreme dry heat. The northeast and west coast receive heavy rainfall.
Form of government
Federal republic.
Head of state
President.
Head of government
Prime minister.
Legislature
Parliament of two houses - Lok Sabha (545 members) and Rajya Sabha (a maximum of 250 members). The Lok Sabha is more powerful than the Rajya Sabha.
Executive
President and prime minister. The prime minister selects the members of the Council of Ministers, who are then appointed by the president.
Judiciary
Highest court is the Supreme Court.
Political subdivisions
25 states and 7 territories.
Population
Estimated 1998 population - 986,026,000. 1991 census - 846,302,688. Estimated 2003 population - 1,069,021,000. Population density: 777 persons per sq. mi. (300 persons per sq. km). Distribution: 73 percent rural, 27 percent urban.
Major ethnic/national groups.
72 percent Indo-Aryan, 25 percent Dravidian.
Major religions
82 percent Hindu, 12 percent Muslim, 2 percent Christian, 2 percent Sikh.
Chief products
Agriculture - bananas, beans, chickpeas, coconuts, cotton, jute, mangoes, onions, oranges, peanuts, pepper, potatoes, rice, sesame seeds, sorghum, sugar cane, tea, wheat.
Manufacturing and processing - bicycles, brassware and silverware, cement, chemicals, clothing and textiles, fertiliser, food products, iron and steel, jute bags and rope, leather goods, machinery, medicines, motor vehicles, paper, petroleum products, rugs, sewing machines, sugar, wood products.
Mining - coal, iron ore, limestone, petroleum.
International trade
Major exports - chemicals, cotton textiles and clothing, cut diamonds and jewelry, engineering goods, handicrafts, iron ore, leather goods, tea.
Major imports - chemicals, fertiliser, industrial machinery, pearls and gemstones, petroleum products.
Major trading partners - Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States.
Capital city
New Delhi
4172 miles from London
GMT +5½ hours
International aircraft prefix
VT
International dialling code
00 91
Currency
Indian Rupee (INR). One hundred paise equal one rupee.
National holidays
26 January - Proclamation of the Republic
Embassy details
British High Commission
Shantipath
Chanakyapuri
New Delhi 110 021
Telephone (00 91) (11) 6872161
email info@ukinindia.com
National flag
3 horizontal bands of orange, white and green with a blue spoked wheel centred in the white band
India's flag was adopted in 1947. It has horizontal stripes of orange-yellow, white, and green. The wheel is an ancient symbol called the Dharma Chakra (Wheel of Law). India's national emblem is copied from a pillar built by Ashoka, and ancient Indian emporer. The words in Sanskirt beneath the pillar mean "Truth alone triumphs."


INDONESIA
Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia that consists of more than 13,600 islands. The islands lie along the equator and extend more than 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometres). Many of the islands cover less than 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometres). But about half of New Guinea and three-fourths of Borneo, which are the second- and third-largest islands in the world after Greenland, also belong to Indonesia.
Indonesia is one of the largest countries in the world in population. People live on more than 6,000 of its islands. About three-fifths of all the Indonesian people live on Java, which covers about 7 percent of Indonesia's total area. Most of Indonesia's large cities are also on Java. They include Jakarta, the capital and largest city. Most of the country's people are Muslims.
Most Indonesians live in small farm villages and still follow many ancient ways of life. For example, Javanese villagers celebrate important personal or family events with a ceremonial feast called a selametan. Many dedicate the various foods to spirits and combine Muslim prayers with this spirit worship.
Farming is the chief industry of Indonesia, but manufacturing has grown rapidly since the 1970's. Rice is the people's main food, and Indonesia ranks among the leading rice producers. Other important farm products in the country include coconuts, coffee, corn, rubber, tea, and spices. Indonesia also has large deposits of petroleum and tin.
Tropical rain forests with many valuable hardwood trees cover much of Indonesia. Crocodiles, elephants, pythons, rhinoceroses, and tigers are found in some of the forests. Much of the country has mountains, among them about 60 active volcanoes. A number of Indonesia's volcanoes have erupted and killed many people. However, Indonesians still live near volcanoes in spite of the danger, because volcanic ash makes the soil extremely fertile.
In early times, the region from India to Japan, including Indonesia, was known to Europeans as the Indies. Christopher Columbus was looking for a westward sea route from Europe to the Indies when he arrived in America. During the 1600's, Dutch political control began to spread through Indonesia. Indonesia declared its independence in 1945 and fought the Dutch until 1949, when they gave up their control.
Capital
Jakarta.
Official Language
Bahasa Indonesia.
Area
741,052 sq. mi. (1,919,318 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, about 3,200 mi. (5,150 km);
north-south, about 1,200 mi. (1,930 km).
Coastline - 22,888 mi. (36,835 km).
Elevation
Highest - Puncak Jaya, 16,503 ft. (5,030 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level along the coasts.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 204,660,000; density, 276 persons per sq. mi. (107 per sq. km); distribution, 67 percent rural, 33 percent urban. 1990 census - 179,378,946. Estimated 2001 population - 220,788,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - bananas, cassava, coconuts, coffee, corn, palm oil, poultry and eggs, rice, rubber, spices, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, tea, tobacco.
Fishing - prawns, tuna.
Forest industry - ebony, teak.
Manufacturing - alumina, cement, cigarettes, fertilisers, glassware, petroleum products, processed foods, steel, textiles, wood products.
Mining - bauxite, coal, copper, natural gas, nickel, petroleum, tin.
National Anthem
"Indonesia Raya" ("Great Indonesia").
Money
Basic unit - rupiah.


IRAN
Iran is an ancient country in the Middle East region of southwestern Asia. It is a land of snow-capped mountains, green valleys, and barren deserts. Teheran is the country's largest city.
Iran is one of the world's oldest countries. Its history dates back almost 5,000 years and includes the days of the great Persian Empire. In Biblical times, Persian kings ruled a vast territory that included most of southwestern Asia and parts of Europe and Africa.
Foreign powers have invaded and occupied Iran time and again during its long history. One of the most important invasions occurred in the mid-600's, when Muslim Arabs conquered the country. The Arab conquest had a lasting effect on Iranian culture. The Muslim caliphs (religious leaders) governed the country for about 200 years. During their rule, the Islamic faith spread throughout Iran. Today, the vast majority of Iranians are Muslims.
In the early 1900's, the discovery of oil in southwestern Iran gave the country an enormous source of wealth. Reza Shah Pahlavi ruled Iran as shah (king) from 1925 to 1941. In 1941, his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, became shah. Both men used revenues from Iran's oil exports to modernise the country and promote economic and social development. In 1979, revolutionaries under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a Muslim religious leader, overthrew the regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and took control of Iran. The revolutionaries changed Iran's government from a constitutional monarchy to an Islamic republic. Their policies led to strict Islamic control over all areas of people's lives and resulted in severe economic problems for the nation and strained relations between Iran and Western countries.
Official Language
Persian, also called Farsi.
Official Name
Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran (Islamic Republic of Iran).
Area
636,296 sq. mi. (1,648,000 sq. km).
Greatest distances
northwest-southeast, 1,375 mi. (2,213 km);
northeast-southwest, 850 mi. (1,370 km).
Coastline - 1,650 mi. (2,655 km).
Elevation
Highest - Mount Damavand, 18,386 ft. (5,604 m) above sea level.
Lowest - 92 ft. (28 m) below sea level along the Caspian Sea.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 64,073,000; density, 101 persons per sq. mi. (39 per sq. km); distribution, 57 percent urban, 43 percent rural. 1991 census - 55,837,163. Estimated 2001 population - 74,581,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - wheat, sugar beets, rice, barley, nuts.
Fishing - caviar.
Manufacturing - petroleum products, textiles, cement, brick, food products.
Mining - petroleum.
National Anthem
"Soroude Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran" ("Anthem of the Islamic Republic of Iran").
Capital city
Tehran
2730 miles from London
GMT +3½ hours
International aircraft prefix
EP
International dialling code
00 98
Currency
Iranian Rial (IRR)
Language
Persian, Turkic and Kurdish
National holidays
1 April - Islamic Republic Day
Embassy details
British Embassy
143 Ferdowsi Avenue
Tehran 11344
Telephone (00 98) (21) 6705011
Opening hours 0630 to 1530 April to October Sunday to Thursday, 0730 to 1430 November to March Sunday to Thursday (local time)
National flag
3 equal horizontal bands of green, white and red with the red national centred in the white band; ALLAH AKBAR (in Arabic) appears along the bottom edge of the green band and the top edge of the red band


IRAQ
Iraq is an Arab country at the head of the Persian Gulf in southwestern Asia. The country is bordered by Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. Baghdad is Iraq's largest city.
The world's first known civilisation and other early cultures developed along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq. The ancient Greeks called part of Iraq and the surrounding region Mesopotamia (between rivers) because it lay between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. For thousands of years, civilisations there have depended on controlling flooding from the two rivers and on using their waters for irrigation.
Iraq became part of the Arab Empire in the A.D. 600's and absorbed Arab Muslim culture. Today, about 75 percent of Iraq's people are Arabs. Iraq also has a large Kurdish population that has struggled on and off for self-government for many years.
Iraq's economy depends heavily on the export of oil. Income produced by the oil industry has improved living conditions for Iraq's people.
In the 1980's and the early 1990's, President Saddam Hussein and other leaders of the ruling Baath Party involved Iraq in two wars that had devastating effects on the country. Iraq fought a war with Iran from 1980 to 1988, when a cease-fire was declared. In 1990, Iraq invaded and occupied neighbouring Kuwait. The United Nations (UN) condemned the invasion and imposed a trade embargo on Iraq. A coalition of 39 nations, including the United States and Canada, opposed the invasion and sent forces to the region. In early 1991, they defeated Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.
In 2003, the United States and a coalition of other countries invaded Iraq in order to overthrow the President, Saddam Hussain. He went into hiding and was not found until much later. There is still conflict in Iraq. (2006)
Official Name
Al-Jumhuriya Al-Iraqiya (Republic of Iraq).
Area
169,235 sq. mi. (438,317 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, 530 mi. (853 km);
east-west, 495 mi. (797 km).
Coastline - 40 mi. (64 km).
Elevation
Highest - about 11,840 ft. (3,609 m) in Zagros Mountains.
Lowest - sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 21,882,000; density, 129 persons per sq. mi. (50 per sq. km); distribution, 73 percent urban, 27 percent rural. 1987 census - 16,335,199. Estimated 2001 population - 25,503,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - barley, dates, grapes, rice, tomatoes, and wheat.
Mining - petroleum.
Manufacturing - building materials, chemicals, flour, iron and steel, leather goods, petroleum refining, textiles.
National Anthem
"Al-Salam Al-Jumhuri" ("Salute to the Republic").
Capital city
Baghdad
2539 miles from London
GMT +3 hours
International aircraft prefix
YI
International dialling code
00 964
Currency
Iraqi Dinar (IQD)
Language
Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian and Armenian
National holidays
17 July - Anniversary of the Revolution
Embassy details
Not available
National flag
3 equal horizontal bands of red, white and black with three 5-pointed stars in green in a horizontal line centered in the white band. ALLAHU AKBAR (in Arabic) in green Arabic script appears either side of the middle star.


IRELAND
Ireland is a small, independent country located in northwestern Europe. The country's official name is Ireland. However, the country is generally called the Republic of Ireland to distinguish it from Northern Ireland. Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland. The country occupies about five-sixths of the island of Ireland. The remaining one-sixth of the island is occupied by Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In Gaelic, the ancient language of Ireland, the country is called Eire (pronounced AIR uh). Gaelic and English are the country's two official languages. Ireland also has long been known by the poetic name Erin. Erin go bragh is a well-known phrase in Gaelic that means Ireland forever.
Ireland is also known as the Emerald Isle. It is called this because of its beautiful green countryside. Rolling farmlands, which are mainly pasture, cover much of the central part of the country, and mountains rise near the coasts.
Ireland is divided into 26 counties, and some of the counties are known for special features. For example, County Kerry is famous for its mountains and the scenic Lakes of Killarney. County Waterford is known for its delicate cut glass, and County Donegal is famous for its tweed cloth.
Many people consider the Irish to be exceptionally warm-hearted and friendly. The Irish also have a reputation for hospitality, close family ties, and skill as writers and storytellers.
The Irish have a long history that includes many hardships and struggles. In the 1840's, a potato blight and the starvation and disease that followed caused the deaths of about a million people and at least as many people left their homeland. After this famine, a shortage of jobs and other problems caused emigration to continue. As a result, little more than half as many people live in Ireland today as lived there in 1845.
Ireland was under British rule for hundreds of years. Ireland gained its independence from Britain in 1921.
Official Languages
English and Gaelic.
Area
27,137 sq. mi. (70,284 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, 289 mi. (465 km);
east-west, 177 mi. (285 km).
Coastline - 1,738 mi. (2,797 km).
Elevation
Highest - Carrauntoohill, 3,414 ft. (1,041 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level along the coast.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 3,462,000; density, 128 persons per sq. mi. (49 per sq. km); distribution, 58 percent urban, 42 percent rural. 1991 census - 3,525,719. Estimated 2001 population - 3,436,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - barley, beef and dairy cattle, hogs, horses, potatoes, poultry, sheep, sugar beets, wheat.
Manufacturing - alcoholic beverages, chemicals, clothing, computers, machinery, medicines, metal products, paper, printed materials, processed foods, textiles.
National Anthem
"The Soldier's Song."
Capital city
Dublin
290 miles from London
GMT +0.00
International aircraft prefix
EI
International dialling code
00 353
Currency
Euro
Language
English, Gaelic
Vehicle nationality plates
IRL
National holidays
17 March - St Patrick's Day
Embassy details
British Embassy
29 Merrion Road
Dublin 4
Telephone (00 353) (01) 2053700
Emergencies outside office hours (00 353) 086 2434655
Opening hours 0900 to 1700 Monday to Friday (local time)
email consular@dublin.mail.fco.gov.uk
National flag
3 equal vertical bands of green, white and orange


ISLE OF MAN
The Isle of Man is an island in the Irish Sea. It is a dependency of the British Crown and lies about halfway between England and Ireland and about 20 miles (32 kilometres) south of Scotland. The island has an area of 221 square miles (572 square kilometres) and a population of about 77,000. Most people have Celtic ancestry, and a few speak a Celtic language called Manx as well as English. A breed of cats called Manx, most of which have no tail, originated on the island.
There are several theories about the origin of the island's name. One of the most widely held theories is that the name Man comes from the Celtic word monadh, meaning mountain. Most of the Isle of Man is covered by farmland and moors (wastelands of coarse grasses and evergreen shrubs called heather). A low mountain chain runs the length of the island. The highest peak, Snaefell, rises 2,034 feet (620 metres) above sea level. Douglas, the island's capital, lies on the east coast.
The Isle of Man is a popular summer resort for the people of the British Isles. An international motorcycle race, held each June, is a major attraction of the island. In addition to tourism, important industries include agriculture and fishing. In 1961, the Isle of Man greatly lowered its taxes on individuals and companies. The low taxes helped attract new residents and industries.
The Isle of Man was ruled at various times by Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, and England. Great Britain bought the Isle of Man from local rulers in 1765 and has controlled it ever since. However, British laws do not apply to the Isle of Man unless they specifically name the island. A British lieutenant governor represents Great Britain on the island. A 1,000-year-old parliament called Tynwald Court regulates internal affairs.


ISRAEL
Capital city
Israel is a small country in southwestern Asia. It occupies a narrow strip of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel was founded in 1948 as a homeland for Jews from all parts of the world, and more than 4 out of 5 of its people are Jews. Even Jews who live elsewhere consider Israel their spiritual home. Almost all the non-Jews in Israel are Arabs. Jerusalem is Israel's capital and largest city.
Israel makes up most of the Biblical Holy Land, the place where the religious and national identity of the Jews developed. According to the Bible, Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, established a Semitic population in the Holy Land. Many scholars believe this happened sometime between 1800 and 1500 B.C.
Eventually this land fell to a series of conquerors, including - in 63 B.C. - the Romans. Following unsuccessful Jewish revolts against Roman rule in A.D. 66-70 and A.D. 132-135, the Romans forced most of the Jews to leave. The Romans then began to call this region by the word that became Palestine in English. Palestine was ruled by the Roman and then the Byzantine empires until the A.D. 600's, when Arabs conquered the region. From that time until the mid-1900's, the majority of people in Palestine were Arabs.
In the late 1800's, European Jews formed a movement called Zionism, which sought to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Jewish immigrants began arriving in Palestine in large numbers, and by the early 1900's friction had developed between the Jewish and Arab populations. In 1947, the United Nations (UN) proposed dividing the region into an Arab state and a Jewish state.
On May 14, 1948, the nation of Israel officially came into being. The surrounding Arab nations immediately attacked the new state, in the first of several Arab-Israeli wars. In 1967, at the end of one of the wars, Israeli troops occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank - territories that are home to more than 1 million Palestinian Arabs. Israel's occupation of these territories further inflamed Arab-Israeli tensions. In 1994, Israeli troops withdrew from the Gaza Strip, and by 1996, they had withdrawn from most cities and towns of the West Bank. The withdrawals were part of 1993 and 1995 agreements with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which represents Palestinian Arabs.
Israel has few natural resources and imports more goods than it exports. Still, it has achieved a relatively high standard of living. More than 90 percent of its people can read and write, and the level of unemployment is low. Jewish settlers have established major industries, drained swamps, and irrigated deserts.
Although it is a small country, Israel has a diverse terrain that includes mountains, deserts, seashores, and valleys. Israel has a pleasant climate, with hot, dry summers, and cool, mild winters.
Area
8,130 sq. mi. (21,056 sq. km), not including 2,700 sq. mi. (7,000 sq. km) of Arab territory occupied since 1967.
Greatest distances
north-south, 260 mi. (420 km);
east-west, 70 mi. (110 km).
Coastline - 170 mi. (273 km).
Elevation
Highest - Mount Meron, 3,963 ft. (1,208 m) above sea level.
Lowest - shore of the Dead Sea, about 1,310 ft. (399 m) below sea level.
Population
Estimated 1996 population - 5,971,000; distribution, 93 per cent urban, 7 per cent rural; density, 734 persons per sq. mi. (284 per sq. km). 1983 census - 4,098,184. Estimated 2001 population - 6,420,000. Population figures do not include people living in occupied Arab territories, except for Israeli citizens.
Chief Products
Agriculture - citrus and other fruits, cotton, eggs, grains, poultry, vegetables.
Manufacturing - chemical products, electronic equipment, fertiliser, finished diamonds, paper, plastics, processed foods, scientific and optical instruments, textiles and clothing.
Mining - potash, bromine, salt, phosphates.
National Anthem
"Hatikva" ("The Hope").
Jerusalem
2240 miles from London
GMT +2 hours
International aircraft prefix
4X
International dialling code
00 972
Currency
Shekel (ILS)
Language
Hebrew, Arabic and English
National holidays
14 May 1948 - Independence Day. However, since the Jewish calendar is lunar the actual celebration date changes annually and occurs in either April or May
Embassy details
British Embassy
192 Hayarkon Street
Tel Aviv 63405
Telephone (00 972) (3) 7251222
email wmaster@telaviv.mail.fco.gov.uk
National flag
White with a blue Magen David (Star of David) centered between two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and bottom edges of the flag


ITALY
Italy is a country in southern Europe. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Its cities have spectacular churches and large central plazas. Their museums contain some of the world's best-known art. The countryside has warm, sandy beaches; high, glacier-topped mountain peaks; and rolling hills covered with green fields and vineyards.
Italy occupies a boot-shaped peninsula that extends into the Mediterranean Sea from southern Europe. The country also includes two large islands, Sicily and Sardinia. Two independent countries lie within Italy's borders: the tiny Republic of San Marino, in north-central Italy, and Vatican City, which is located completely within the city of Rome.
Italy's landscape is dominated by two mountain ranges - the Alps and the Apennines. The Alps tower across the northernmost part of Italy. The Apennines form a backbone that runs nearly the entire length of the peninsula.
Italy got its name from the ancient Romans. The Romans called the southern part of the peninsula Italia, meaning land of oxen or grazing land.
The country boasts several world-famous cities. Rome, the capital and largest city of Italy, was the centre of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago. Florence was the home of many artists of the Renaissance, a period of great achievements in the arts. Venice, with its intricate canal system, attracts tourists from all over the world.
For hundreds of years, the history of Italy dominated the history of Western civilization. Ancient Rome began its overseas conquests during the 200's B.C., and by the A.D. 100's the Roman Empire controlled all the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The empire influenced the government, the arts, and the architecture of many later groups of people. After the fall of Rome in the A.D. 400's, the Italian peninsula was divided among many different rulers.
Much of the Italian peninsula was united during the early 1800's, when Napoleon Bonaparte captured the region and made it part of the French Empire. Most of Italy was united as an independent country for the first time in 1861 under the constitutional monarchy headed by King Victor Emmanuel II.
Benito Mussolini, a Fascist, took control of the Italian government in the early 1920's. Mussolini ruled as a dictator until 1943, when he was overthrown as a result of Italy's declining fortunes in World War II (1939-1945). In 1946, the people of Italy voted to abolish the monarchy. Italy has had a republican form of government since that time.
Since World War II, Italy has experienced great economic and industrial expansion. Today, northern Italy is among Europe's wealthiest and most modern regions, but the south of Italy remains considerably poorer.
Official name
Repubblica Italiana (Italian Republic).
National anthem
"Fratelli d'Italia" ("Brothers of Italy").
Largest cities: (1991 census)
Rome (2,775,250);
Milan (1,369,231);
Naples (1,067,365);
Turin (962,507).
Land
Italy lies in southern Europe on the Mediterranean Sea. It borders France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia. The Alps form Italy's northern and northwestern border. The Apennines (a mountain chain) occupy the centre of Italy's peninsula. The Po River Valley is Italy's only major flat area.Area: 116,320 sq. mi. (301,268 sq. km).
Greatest distances
north-south, 708 mi. (1,139 km);
east-west, 320 mi. (515 km).
Elevation
Highest - near the summit of Mont Blanc, which is 15,771 ft. (4,807 m).
Lowest - sea level.
Climate
Central and southern Italy have hot summers - daytime high temperatures of about 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Winters are mild, with daytime highs reaching about 54 degrees F (12 degrees C). Northern Italy is only slightly cooler than the rest of the country in summer. However, it is much cooler in winter - daytime highs of only about 41 degrees F (5 degrees C). The north receives adequate year-round moisture. Central and southern Italy have dry summers and moderate winter rainfall. In general, total precipitation decreases from north to south.
Form of government
Parliamentary democracy.
Head of state
President (elected by Parliament to a 7-year term).
Head of government
Prime minister.
Legislature
Parliament of two houses - the Chamber of Deputies (630 members) and the Senate (315 elected members). The two houses have equal legislative powers.
Executive
Prime minister, nation's chief executive, is approved by Parliament. Prime minister chooses Cabinet.
Judiciary
Highest court is the Constitutional Court.
Political Subdivisions
20 regions, each divided into provinces and communes.
Population
1996 estimate - 57,956,000. 1991 census - 57,103,833. 2001 estimate - 58,189,000. Density: 498 persons per sq. mi. (192 persons per sq. km). Distribution: 71 percent urban, 29 percent rural.
Major ethnic/national groups
About 98 percent Italian; small numbers of Germans, French, and Slovenes.
Major religion
Roman Catholic (95 percent of population).
Chief products
Agriculture - grapes, wheat, beef cattle, hogs, olives, corn, oranges, tomatoes.
Manufacturing - clothing and shoes, foods and beverages, motor vehicles, petroleum products, machinery, chemicals.
Mining - natural gas, granite, marble.
Foreign Trade
Major exports - clothing and shoes, motor vehicles, machinery, chemicals, fruits and vegetables.
Major imports - machinery, petroleum, motor vehicles, textile yarns, metals.
Major trading partners - Germany, France, United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands.
Capital city
Rome
889 miles from London
GMT +1 hour
International aircraft prefix
I
International dialling code
00 39
Currency
Euro
Language
Italian, German and French
Vehicle nationality plates
I
National holidays
2 June - Anniversary of the Republic
Embassy details
British Embassy
Via XX Settembre 80a
1-00187 Roma
Telephone (00 39) 06 4220001
email info@rome.mail.fco.gov.uk
National flag
3 equal vertical bands of green, white and red
The Italian flag was adopted in 1870. It was first used in 1796 by Italians who supported Napoleon Bonaparte of France during a war against Austria. Napoleon designed the flag to look like that of France, but substituted green, his favourite colour, for the blue of the French flag.
Italy's coat of arms was established after the formation of the Italian republic in 1946. The star represents unity, the wreath of laurel and oak stands for republicanism, and the cogwheel represents industry. The country's name in Italian is on the ribbon.


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This page (internati.html) was last modified on Thursday 26/07/2012