Taiwan is a mountainous island in the South China Sea, about 90 miles (140 kilometres) off the Chinese coast. The Chinese call the island Taiwan, meaning terraced bay. The wild, forested beauty of the island led Portuguese sailors in 1590 to name it Ilha Formosa, meaning beautiful island.
After the Chinese Communists conquered mainland China in 1949, the Chinese Nationalist government moved to Taiwan. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the Nationalist president, made Taipei the capital of the Republic of China. The Nationalist government also controls several islands in the Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan and China. These islands include the Quemoy, Matsu, and the Pescadores groups.
Northern Chinese (Mandarin, or putonghua).
13,892 sq. mi. (35,980 sq. km), including the Pescadores islands, but excluding Matsu and Quemoy.
north-south, 235 mi. (378 km);
east-west, 90 mi. (145 km).
Coastline - 555 mi. (893 km).
Highest--Yu Shan (Mount Morrison), 13,113 ft. (3,997 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level.
Estimated 1996 population - 21,709,000; density, 1,563 persons per sq. mi. (603 per sq. km); distribution, 75 percent urban, 25 percent rural. 1990 census - 20,285,626. Estimated 2001 population - 2,772,000.
Agriculture - asparagus, bananas, chickens and ducks, citrus fruits, hogs, mushrooms, pineapples, rice, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, tea, vegetables.
Fishing - shrimp, snapper, tuna.
Forestry - cedar, hemlock, oak.
Manufacturing - calculators, clothing and textiles, iron and steel, paper, plastics, plywood, processed foods, radios, ships, sporting goods, sugar, television sets, toys.
Basic unit--New Taiwan dollar or yuan.
The flag has a red field. A white sun appears on a blue canton in the upper left-hand corner. Red stands for liberty and sacrifice, and white for fraternity and honesty. Adopted in 1928.
Tajikistan also spelled Tadzhikistan, is a mountainous country in central Asia. Its name in the Tajik language is Jumhurii Tojikiston (Republic of Tajikistan). Its largest city is Dushanbe. Tajikistan became independent in 1991, after more than 60 years as a republic of the Soviet Union. In 1992, civil war broke out. A peace agreement was signed in 1997.
55,251 sq. mi. (143,100 sq. km).
north-south, 300 mi. (485 km);
east-west, 425 mi. (685 km).
Highest - Communism Peak, 24,590 ft. (7,495 m).
Lowest - Syr Darya river at northwestern border, 980 ft. (300 m).
Estimated 1996 population - 6,155,000; density, 111 persons per sq. mi. (43 per sq. km); distribution, 68 percent rural, 32 percent urban. 1989 census - 5,108,576. Estimated 2001 population - 6,964,000.
Agriculture - cotton, fruit, grain, livestock, vegetables.
Manufacturing - food processing, textiles, wine.
Mining - antimony, coal, fluorite, lead, molybdenum, natural gas, petroleum, salt, tungsten, uranium, zinc.
Basic unit - ruble.
The flag has horizontal stripes of reddish orange, white, and green. An emblem lies in the centre of the middle white stripe. It consists of an arc of seven yellow, five-pointed stars over a yellow figure resembling a crown.
Tanzania is a large country in eastern Africa that borders the Indian Ocean. Most of Tanzania lies on the mainland of Africa. Several nearby islands make up the rest of the country. Dar es Salaam is Tanzania's largest city. The country's official name is the United Republic of Tanzania.
Tanzania's population consists mainly of Africans. The rest are people of Asian or European descent. Tanzania is one of the world's poorest countries. Most of its people live in rural areas and farm for a living. The government has tried to develop industries, but the economy still depends heavily on agricultural production and imported goods.
Tanzania's fascinating wildlife and spectacular scenery are world famous. Elephants, giraffes, lions, zebras, and many other wild animals roam across the vast Serengeti National Park, Selous Game Reserve, and other areas where hunting is banned or limited. Africa's highest mountain, the majestic, snow-capped Kilimanjaro, rises 19,340 feet (5,895 metres) in northern Tanzania. Lake Tanganyika, the longest freshwater lake in the world, extends 420 miles (680 kilometres) along the country's western border. Part of Lake Victoria, which is the largest lake in Africa, lies within northern Tanzania. The lake covers an area of 26,828 square miles (69,484 square kilometres).
During the 1800's, Germany established a colony on the mainland of what is now Tanzania. Britain ruled a group of nearby islands, known as Zanzibar. The mainland area became the British colony of Tanganyika during the early 1900's. Both Tanganyika and Zanzibar gained independence during the early 1960's. In 1964, they united to form Tanzania.
Dar es Salaam. However, the government has announced plans to move the capital to Dodoma, in central Tanzania.
English and Swahili.
341,217 sq. mi. (883,749 sq. km).
Estimated 1996 population - 31,698,000; density, 93 persons per sq. mi. (36 persons per sq. km); distribution, 76 percent rural, 24 percent urban. 1988 census - 23,174,336. Estimated 2001 population - 36,990,000.
Agriculture - bananas, beef, cashews, cassava, cloves, coconuts, coffee, corn, cotton, milk, millet, rice, sisal, sorghum, sugar cane, tea, tobacco, wheat.
Manufacturing - fertiliser, food products, textiles.
"Mungo Ibariki Africa" ("God the Almighty Bless Africa").
Basic unit - shilling.
Thailand is a tropical country in Southeast Asia. The people of Thailand are called Thai. Most are farmers and live in small, rural villages. However, Thailand has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and its urban centres have expanded rapidly. Almost 6 million people live in Bangkok, Thailand's capital and largest city.
Thailand is the only nation in Southeast Asia that has never been ruled by a Western power. The Thai people date their history from A.D. 1238, when the Sukhothai Kingdom was founded in what is now Thailand. For most of its history, the country was called Siam. In 1939, it officially adopted the name Thailand.
198,115 sq. mi. (513,115 sq. km).
north-south, 1,100 mi. (1,770 km);
east-west, 480 mi. (772 km).
Coastline - 1,625 mi. (2,615 km).
Highest - Inthanon Mountain, 8,514 ft. (2,595 m).
Lowest - sea level.
Estimated 1996 population - 58,836,000; density, 297 persons per sq. mi. (115 per sq. km); distribution, 75 percent rural, 25 percent urban. 1990 census - 54,532,300. Estimated 2001 population - 61,765,000.
Agriculture - cassava, corn, pineapples, rice, rubber, sugar cane.
Manufacturing - automobiles, cement, electronic goods, food products, plastics, textiles.
Fishing - herring, tuna, shrimp and other shellfish.
Mining - copper, iron ore, lead, natural gas, precious stones, tin, zinc.
5922 miles from London
GMT +7 hours
International aircraft prefix
International dialling code
Thai and English
5 December - The King's Birthday
Telephone (00 66) (2) 2530191-9
Opening hours 0745 to 1200/1245 to 1630 Monday to Thursday, 0745 to 1315 Friday (local time)
web site http://www.britishemb.or.th/
5 horizontal bands of red, white, blue, white and red
Tibet is a land in south-central Asia. It is often called the Roof of the World. Its snow-covered mountains and a windswept plateau are the highest in the world. The world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, rises in southern Tibet. Ka-erh, in western Tibet, is believed to be the highest town in the world. It is more than 15,000 feet (4,570 metres) above sea level. Valley bottoms in Tibet are higher than the mountains of most countries. Lhasa is Tibet's capital.
Tibet has been a part of China since the 1950's. However, for many years Tibet was an independent or semi-independent state. Although Tibet carried on some trade with other lands, its mountain ranges generally isolated the country from outside peoples. The Tibetans are sometimes called the hermit people. Tibet was traditionally a theocracy (religious kingdom). Buddhist monks had a strong voice in the rule of Tibet before China took control.
Tibet has an area of 471,662 square miles (1,221,600 square kilometres). A high, cold plateau called the Plateau of Tibet covers much of the land. High mountain walls border the plateau. Along the southern end of the plateau, the snowy Himalaya rises higher than any other mountain chain in the world. Mount Everest (29,028 feet, or 8,848 metres, above sea level) is in the Himalaya. In the north, many peaks of the Kunlun range rise more than 20,000 feet (6,000 metres). Tibet has an average elevation of 16,000 feet (4,880 metres).
Large parts of Tibet are wastelands of gravel, rock, and sand. Most of the land cannot be farmed because of poor soil and cold climate. But there are some fertile valleys and other areas suitable for farming. Tibet also has areas of grasslands and forests. More than 5,000 different kinds of plants grow in Tibet. Tibet's wild animals include deer, gazelles, tigers, bears, monkeys, pandas, and wild horses. Tibet has hundreds of lakes and streams, but many of them have barren shores and a high salt content. Some of the great rivers of Asia begin in the mountains of Tibet. These include the Brahmaputra, Indus, Mekong, Salween, and Yangtze rivers.
Much of Tibet receives less than 10 inches (25 centimetres) of rain annually. The Himalaya shuts out moisture-bearing winds from India. Sudden blizzards and snowstorms are common. Violent winds sweep Tibet in all seasons. January temperatures average 24 °F (-4 °C). July temperatures average 58 °F (14 °C).
Tibet has a population of about 2 million. About 96 per cent of the people are Tibetans. Most of the rest are Chinese. Most of the people live in southern Tibet, where there is land that is fertile enough for farming and raising livestock. Nomads who raise sheep and yaks live in the northern grasslands. About 106,000 people live in Lhasa, Tibet's largest city. Many of these people are employed in jobs in government, light industry, or tourism.
Tibet's main traditional language is Tibetan. All Tibetans speak Tibetan at home. But Mandarin Chinese is the official language of Tibet. Both Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese are taught in the schools. All government documents are written in both languages.
Before China seized Tibet, the nobility and monks called lamas owned the farmland and governed the country. Most farmers were serfs. The serfs were not free to leave the land, and they had to give much of what they produced to the landowners. China, a Communist country, broke up the large estates of the monks and the nobility and distributed them among farmers.
Tibetan homes have stone or brick walls and flat roofs. Few houses have more than two floors. But houses built for the wealthy have three or four floors. The ground floor is used to house animals.
Barley is Tibet's chief crop, and barley flour is the main food. Tibetans mix barley flour with tea and butter. Milk and cheese are also important parts of the diet. Chinese tea is the chief beverage. Tibetans flavor the tea with salt, soda, and yak butter.
The yak, a hairy ox, serves many purposes in Tibet. It provides cloth, meat, milk, and transportation. It is also used as a beast of burden. Its hair is used for tents, and its hide for shoe leather and boats.
Typical clothing of Tibetan men and women includes a long robe with long sleeves and a high collar. Wealthy people wear silk robes. Wool, felt, and sheepskin are common clothing materials for the cold weather. Lighter garments are made of hemp and cotton.
Cloth weaving and carpet making are household industries in Tibet. Wool is a major export. Other traditional exports include furs, mules, musk, and ponies.
Tibetans are intensely religious. People turn prayer wheels and recite prayers on the streets. Religious rites are an important part of life. Festivals are religious in character. Long pilgrimages to important temples in Lhasa or Xigaze are popular.
Tibet's religion is a branch of Buddhism called Lamaism. The religion recognises two Grand Lamas. The Dalai (High) Lama is regarded as the ruler of Tibet and its highest spiritual ruler. The Panchen Lama is regarded as a leading spiritual authority. Tibetans regard both Grand Lamas as Buddha, born again. When the Dalai or Panchen Lama dies, his spirit is thought to enter the body of a baby boy. Monks search the country for a boy born about the same time as the death of the lama. The boy thus selected becomes the lama's successor. The Chinese Communists ended the authority of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama after they took control of Tibet.
There are several different sects of Lamaism. The chief sect is the Yellow Hat, headed by the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India.
In the past, large numbers of Tibetan men became monks and every town and valley had a monastery, called a lamasery. Before the Chinese take-over, as many as 20 percent of all Tibetan males were monks. Many Tibetans became monks because they were sent to the monasteries as children by poor parents who could not pay their debts or taxes. Others went because the monasteries were the only places that provided an education.
During the 1960's and 1970's, the Chinese Communists closed or destroyed most of the monasteries in Tibet. As a result, the religious emphasis of life in Tibet decreased a great deal. During the 1980's, some monasteries were allowed to reopen and recruit new monks.
Today, Tibet has far fewer monasteries than it had in the past, and only a few thousand males are monks. Many monks engage in agriculture and handicrafts. The monasteries are centres of education, art, and public worship. Tibetan art reflects Chinese and Indian influences, and presents Buddhist themes.
Lhasa is the political and religious centre of Tibet. The Potala Palace is the most impressive landmark in Lhasa. It is a grand, castlelike structure with gold roofs and more than 1,000 rooms. Formerly a residence of the Dalai Lama and other monks, it now houses a museum that has many art treasures. Other cities include Gyangze, Xigaze, and Yadong.
During the A.D. 600's, Tibet became a powerful kingdom. Buddhism and writing were introduced from India, and Lhasa was founded. The Dalai Lama became the ruler of Tibet in the 1600's. In the early 1700's, Tibet fell under the control of China. A British mission arrived in Lhasa in 1904. The British and Tibetans signed a treaty, setting up trading posts in Tibet.
Tibet remained in Chinese hands until 1911, when Tibetans forced out the Chinese troops stationed there. Even after 1911, China claimed Tibet as an area within the Chinese domain. In the 1920's, rivalry grew between the Dalai and Panchen lamas over political affairs. The Panchen Lama fled to China with his court. He remained there until his death in 1937. A new Panchen Lama was enthroned in China in 1944, but he was not officially recognised in Tibet until 1949. The Dalai Lama died in 1933. According to custom, a boy was chosen as his successor. The successor, a peasant boy, was officially installed as Dalai Lama in 1940.
Communists gained control of China's government in 1949. In 1950, Chinese forces entered Tibet. In 1951, Tibetan representatives signed an agreement with China in which Tibet surrendered its sovereignty to the Chinese government but kept its right to regional self-government. The agreement promised no immediate change in the political system of Tibet and guaranteed the Tibetans freedom of religious belief. Committees made up of Tibetans and Chinese were established as local governments in parts of the country. In 1956, the Preparatory Committee for the Tibetan Autonomous Region was formed with the Dalai Lama as chairman, and a Chinese general and the Panchen Lama as two of the vice chairmen. This committee was set up to establish Tibet as an autonomous (self-governing) region.
But also in 1956, China began tightening its control of Tibet. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959. The Panchen Lama became head of the Preparatory Committee. By 1965, when Tibet officially became an autonomous region, the large estates of landlords and monks had been broken up. Peasants were required to sell a fixed amount of grain to the government and were forced to grow wheat rather than barley to feed the Chinese soldiers. The Chinese government took control of the radio stations, newspapers, banks, and food shops. Chinese took over a majority of such jobs as local government administrators and teachers. Tibetans faced discrimination by Chinese soldiers and settlers. In the 1950's and 1960's, Tibetans staged riots against Chinese rule.
In the 1980's, the Chinese government adopted a more liberal policy. Some religious shrines and monasteries were reopened. Farmers were again allowed to decide which crops to grow and to sell them as they chose. But in the late 1980's, Tibetans rioted against Chinese rule in the Lhasa area. Many observers believe the riots were protests against the slow pace of reform and the discrimination by Chinese against Tibetans. In 1989, the Panchen Lama died. He had supported many of China's policies in Tibet and favoured unity with China.
While living in exile, the Dalai Lama worked to end China's domination of Tibet through nonviolent means. He won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his consistent opposition to the use of violence in his campaign. In 1995, the Dalai Lama announced the selection of a new Panchen Lama. But the Chinese government refused to recognise his selection and installed its own candidate.
Togo is a small country in western Africa. Togo is long and narrow. It extends about 365 miles (587 kilometres) inland from the Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. It is only 40 miles (64 kilometres) wide at the coast and 90 miles (145 kilometres) wide at its widest point.
Most of the people of Togo work as farmers. But farm production is small, and many people grow only enough food to feed their families. Lome, which has a population of about 366,000, is the only large city. Togo's name in French, the official language, is Republique du Togo (Republic of Togo). Togo means behind the sea in Ewe, the most commonly used language in Togo
21,925 sq. mi. (56,785 sq. km).
north-south, 365 mi. (587 km);
east-west, 90 mi. (145 km).
Coastline - 40 mi. (64 km).
Estimated 1996 population - 4,264,000; density, 194 persons per sq. mi. (75 per sq. km); distribution, 69 percent rural, 31 percent urban. 1981 census - 2,705,250. Estimated 2001 population - 4,959,000.
Agriculture - cacao, cassava, coffee, corn, cotton, millet, palm kernels and oil, peanuts, sorghum, yams.
Mining - phosphates.
The flag has five horizontal stripes, three green and two yellow, with a white star on a red square in the upper left corner. Green symbolises hope and agriculture; yellow, faith; white, purity; and red, charity and fidelity.
Basic unit - franc.
Tonga is a country made up of about 150 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The islands lie about 3,140 miles (1,950 kilometres) east of Australia. The British explorer Captain James Cook, who first visited the islands in 1773, called them the Friendly Islands. In 1789, Captain William Bligh and 18 crewmen of the British ship Bounty floated through the islands after being cast adrift by mutineers. Tonga is the only remaining kingdom in Polynesia, one of the three main regions in the Pacific Islands. It became independent in 1970 after being a protectorate of Britain since 1900. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Most Tongans are farmers. About two-thirds of the people live on Tongatapu, the largest island. Nukualofa, Tonga's chief port and commercial centre lies on Tongatapu. Nukualofa has about 29,000 people.
English and Tongan.
Kingdom of Tonga.
288 sq. mi. (747 sq. km).
Highest - Kao, an extinct volcano in the Haapai group, 3,380 ft. (1,030 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level, along the coasts.
Estimated 1996 population - 100,000; density, 347 persons per sq. mi. (134 per sq. km); distribution, 69 percent rural, 31 percent urban. 1986 census - 94,649. Estimated 2001 population - 104,000.
bananas, copra, sweet potatoes, tapioca.
"'E 'Otua Mafimafi" ("O God Almighty").
The flag has a red field and a white canton. A red cross in the canton symbolises the Christian faith of the Tongans. Adopted in 1866.
Basic unit--pa'anga. The pa'anga approximately equals the Australian dollar.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Trinidad and Tobago is a country that consists of two islands in the West Indies. It lies in the Caribbean Sea, near the northeast coast of South America. Trinidad, the larger island, is 7 miles (11 kilometres) east of Venezuela. Tobago is about 20 miles (32 kilometres) northeast of Trinidad.
Trinidad accounts for about 95 percent of the land area of Trinidad and Tobago, and approximately 95 percent of the country's people live there. Port-of-Spain, on Trinidad, is the nation's largest city and chief port.
Total Land Area
1,981 sq. mi. (5,130 sq. km).
Coastline - 292 mi. (470 km).
Highest - Mt. Aripo, 3,085 ft. (940 m).
Lowest - sea level.
Estimated 1996 population - 1,317,000; density, 665 persons per sq. mi. (257 per sq. km); distribution, 67 percent urban, 33 percent rural. 1990 census - 1,234,388. Estimated 2001 population - 1,375,000.
Asphalt, oil, sugar.
Basic unit - Trinidad and Tobago dollar.
"Forged from the Love of Liberty."
A black stripe, bordered by white stripes, runs across a red field from the upper left to the lower right corner.
Tunisia extends farther north than any other country in Africa. Its northern tip is only 85 miles (137 kilometres) from Sicily, a part of Europe. Both northern and eastern Tunisia border the Mediterranean Sea.
Tunisia is part of the Arab world, the Mediterranean area, and Africa. Almost all Tunisians speak Arabic and follow an Arab way of life. For hundreds of years, trade routes have connected Tunisia to Africa south of the Sahara. France controlled Tunisia from 1881 until Tunisia became independent in 1956. Tunisia shows many French influences. Tunis is its largest city.
63,170 sq. mi. (163,610 sq. km).
north-south, 485 mi. (781 km);
east-west, 235 mi. (378 km).
Coastline - 639 mi. (1,028 km).
Estimated 1996 population - 9,095,000; density, 144 persons per sq. mi. (56 per sq. km); distribution, 59 percent urban, 41 percent rural. 1984 census - 6,966,173. Estimated 2001 population - 9,929,000.
Agriculture - barley, citrus fruit, olives, wheat, wine.
Mining - iron, lead, lignite, phosphates, zinc.
Forestry - oak, pine.
The flag has a large white circle on a red field. Inside the circle are a red crescent and star, emblems of the Muslim religion. Capital city
1132 miles from London
GMT +1 hour
International aircraft prefix
International dialling code
Tunisian Dinar (TND)
Arabic and French
20 March - National Day
141/143 Avenue de Liberte
Telephone (00 216) 1 846184
Opening hours 0800 to 1200/1300 to 1600 Monday to Friday and 0730 to 1430 July to August Monday to Friday (local time)
Red with a white centre disk bearing a red crescent nearly encircling a red five-pointed star
Turkey is a Middle Eastern nation that lies both in Europe and in Asia. About 3 percent of the country occupies the easternmost tip of southern Europe, a region called Thrace. Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, lies in this region of green, fertile hills and valleys. To the east, the rest of Turkey covers a large, mountainous peninsula called Anatolia or Asia Minor. Anatolia has several large cities, including the capital city of Ankara, and areas of rich farmland. But much of Anatolia is rocky, barren land.
Turkey borders Bulgaria on the northwest; Greece on the west; Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran on the east; and Iraq and Syria on the south. The Black Sea lies to the north, the Aegean Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.
Three bodies of water - the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles - separate Anatolia from Thrace. These three bodies of water, often called the Straits, have had a major role in the history of Turkey. By its control of the Straits, Turkey can regulate the movement of ships between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.
Most of Turkey's people live in cities or towns. The rest live on farms or in small villages. Nearly all the people are Muslims (followers of Islam). Turkey is a developing country, and over half of its workers are farmers. However, Turkey's economy has become increasingly industrialised since the mid-1940's. As a result, manufacturing now contributes slightly more to the national income than does agriculture.
Various Asian and European peoples have ruled what is now Turkey since ancient times. During the A.D. 1300's, a group of Muslim Turks called the Ottomans began to build a powerful empire that eventually controlled much of the Middle East, southeastern Europe, and northern Africa. The Ottoman Empire ended in 1922. The next year, Turkey became a republic.
Islamic law had strongly influenced Turkish life for nearly 1,000 years. However, Turkey's new republican government introduced sweeping cultural and political reforms that discouraged or outlawed many traditional Islamic practices. Most of the Turkish people accepted the reforms. However, many others, especially those living in rural areas, resisted the changes. This conflict over the role of Islam in Turkish life continues to divide the nation.
Turkiye Cumhuriyeti (Republic of Turkey).
Head of state
300,948 sq. mi. (779,452 sq. km).
north-south, 465 mi. (748 km);
east-west, 1,015 mi. (1,633 km).
Coastline - 2,211 mi. (3,558 km).
Highest - Mount Ararat, 17,011 ft. (5,185 m).
Lowest - sea level along the coast.
Estimated 1996 population - 63,204,000; density, 211 persons per sq. mi. (82 per sq. km); distribution, 69 percent urban, 31 percent rural. 1990 census - 56,473,035. Estimated 2001 population - 69,262,000.
Agriculture - barley, corn, cotton, fruits, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat.
Manufacturing - fertilisers, iron and steel, machinery, motor vehicles, processed foods and beverages, pulp and paper products, textiles and clothing.
"Istiklal Marsi" ("Independence March").
Crescent and star.
Yurtta sulh, Cihanda sulh (Peace at home, peace in the world).
1761 miles from London
GMT +2 hours
International aircraft prefix
International dialling code
Turkish Lire (TRL)
Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian and Greek
Vehicle nationality plates
29 October - Anniversary of the Declaration of the Republic
Sehit Ersan Caddesi 46/a
Telephone (00 90) (312) 4686230/42
Red with a vertical a white crescent and a white five-pointed star centred just outside the crescent opening
Turkmenistan is a country in west-central Asia. It is located in a broad, dry lowland extending east from the Caspian Sea. Most of the country is desert. The capital and largest city of Turkmenistan is Ashgabat. The country's official language is Turkmen, which is a Turkic language.
Turkmenistan became independent in 1991. From 1924 to 1991, it had been one of the republics of the Soviet Union. It was called the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, or Turkmenia.
188,456 sq. mi. (488,100 sq. km).
east-west, 750 mi. (1,205 km);
north-south, 525 mi. (845 km).
Highest - Kugitangtau (mountain range), 10,292 ft. (3,137 m) above sea level.
Lowest - Garabogazkol Gulf, 102 ft. (31 m) below sea level.
Estimated 1996 population - 4,260,000; density, 23 persons per sq. mi. (9 per sq. km); distribution, 55 percent rural, 45 percent urban. 1989 census - 3,533,925. Estimated 2001 population - 4,820,000.
Basic unit - manat.
Agriculture - camels, cotton, grains, grapes, horses, pigs, potatoes, sheep.
Manufacturing - cement, chemicals, glass, textiles.
Mining - bromine, copper, gold, iodine, lead, mercury, natural gas, petroleum, salt, sodium sulfate, zinc.
The flag has three unequal vertical stripes of green, maroon, and green. On the maroon stripe are five different carpet patterns in black, white, maroon, and orange. To the upper right of the maroon stripe are five white stars and a white crescent.
TURKS AND CAICOS
Turks and Caicos Islands are made up of about 30 barren, flat islands that lie in the West Indies, about 90 miles (145 kilometres) north of the Dominican Republic. The two island groups form a British dependency in the Commonwealth of Nations. The main islands are Grand Turk and Salt Cay in the Turks Islands, and South Caicos, East Caicos, Grand or Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, and West Caicos in the Caicos Islands.
The islands cover a total land area of 166 square miles (430 square kilometres). Many of the 13,000 residents make their living by fishing and tourism. Lobster is the chief export. The capital and largest town is Grand Turk, also called Cockburn Town, on the island of Grand Turk. Europeans discovered the Turks and Caicos Islands in the early 1500's. British settlers arrived in the late 1600's to obtain salt.
Tuvalu is a small island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It has a population of about 10,000 and a land area of 10 square miles (26 square kilometres). Among the nations of the world, only Vatican City and Nauru have fewer people, and only Vatican City, Monaco, and Nauru are smaller in area. Tuvalu lies about 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometres) northeast of Australia. It consists of nine islands in a chain that extends about 360 miles (580 kilometres). People live on eight of the islands. Tuvalu means eight standing together.
Tuvalu, formerly called the Ellice Islands, was ruled by Britain from the 1890's to 1978. It became independent in 1978. The capital of Tuvalu is an islet called Funafuti. This islet is part of an atoll (ring-shaped coral reef) that is also called Funafuti. The country's national anthem is "Tuvalu mo te Atua" ("Tuvalu for God"). Its unit of money is the Australian dollar.
Tuvalu is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. A prime minister, chosen by a parliament of 12 members elected by the people, heads the government. Local governments include seven island councils and the Town Council at Funafuti. The island councils have six elected members and up to four additional members appointed by various groups. Communities help control the government through gatherings in communal meeting houses called maneapa. Island courts handle most trials. The High Court of Tuvalu hears appeals.
Most of the Tuvaluans are Polynesians. Most live in villages built around a church and a meeting house. Tuvaluan houses have raised foundations, open sides, and thatched roofs. However, houses made of cement blocks and iron roofing are becoming more common. The main foods of the people are bananas, coconuts, fish, and taro, a tropical plant with one or more edible underground stems called tubers. The islanders also raise pigs and chickens, which they eat at feasts. They usually wear light, bright-coloured cotton clothing.
The people speak the Tuvaluan language, and many also know English. Both languages are used in official government business. Each of the eight inhabited islands has at least one elementary school supported by the government. There are only two secondary schools in Tuvalu. A few Tuvaluans attend the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, an island country to the south.
The nine islands of Tuvalu are, from north to south, Nanumea, Niutao, Nanumanga, Nui, Vaitupu, Nukufetau, Funafuti, Nukulaelae, and Niulakita. Niulakita is uninhabited. Most of the islands are atolls that surround lagoons. The principal trees of Tuvalu are coconut palms and pandanus palms.
Tuvalu has a tropical climate, with daytime temperatures of about 80 °F (27 °C). The southern islands receive about 140 inches (356 centimetres) of rain a year. The northern islands are drier.
Tuvalu is one of the least developed countries. It has poor soil, few natural resources, almost no manufacturing, and no mining. Coconut palm trees cover much of the country, and the islanders use the coconuts to produce copra (dried coconut meat), their chief export. Fees charged to foreign vessels fishing for tuna in the waters around Tuvalu are becoming another important source of income. Tuvalu women weave baskets, fans, and mats for export. Many young islanders work on ocean ships because of a lack of employment opportunities at home. Countries that provide aid to Tuvalu include Australia, Britain, Japan, and New Zealand.
The first inhabitants of Tuvalu probably came from Samoa hundreds of years ago. In 1568, Alvaro de Mendana, a Spanish explorer, became the first European to see part of Tuvalu. But the islands remained largely unknown to Europeans until the early 1800's. Europeans called them the Ellice Islands. Britain took control of the islands in the 1890's. In 1916, Britain combined the islands with the Gilbert Islands to the north to form the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. In 1975, the two island groups were separated. The Ellice Islands were renamed Tuvalu. Britain granted Tuvalu independence on Oct. 1, 1978.
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