Fun Facts: World Countries
"A country can be judged by the quality of its proverbs."
In the principality of Andorra, a 180-square-mile country consisting
mainly of deep valleys
and the Pyrenees Mountains, the heads of state are both foreign: the
bishop of the Spanish town of Seo de Urgel, south of the Andorran
border, and the President of France. Seven centuries ago, a Spanish
bishop and the French Count of Foix settled a long-term land dispute
by agreeing to become co-princes of the Andorran valley. The Spanish
title was handed down the centuries to the present bishop. On the
French side, the title was passed to the kings of Navarre, then to the
kings of France, and now to the presidents of France.
The army of Andorra, a small principality in the Pyrenees
between France and Spain, consists entirely of officers. Its duties
are mostly of a ceremonial nature.
India has a bill of rights for cows.
There are currently between 4,200 and 5,600 spoken languages in the world
(it is difficult to arrive at an exact count because even linguists don't always
agree as to whether two tongues are different languages or if one is a
dialect of the other).
About 4% of them are spoken by 96% of Earth's population.
There are only two double-landlocked countries in the world, countries surrounded entirely by other landlocked countries. The first is Uzbekistan, which is surrounded by Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikstan, and Afghanistan; the second is Liechtenstein, which is surrounded by Switzerland and Austria.
At only four lines long, the Japanese national anthem is the shortest
The national anthems of Jordan and San Marino are also four lines long.
The longest is the Greek national anthem at 158 verses long.
Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia have built a golf course on the border
between the three countries. The 27-hole course comprises nine holes
in each country. Much of the course was formerly a minefield.
"Iran" means "Land of the Aryans".
What we now call Iran has, in the past, been called Persia, Parthia,
or Media, depending on the ethnic group ruling it.
Map of the Spratly Islands.
The Spratly Islands, a group of over 100 small, uninhabited islands or
reefs in the middle of the South China Sea, are claimed, in whole or in part, by five different
Singapore is the largest country without any farms (approximately
650 square kilometres). As well, the world's three smallest countries
(Vatican City, Monaco, and Nauru) don't have any farms either.
The country of Indonesia comprises over 17,000 islands.
The official president of North Korea is still Kim Il-Sung, even though
he died in 1994.
India is the world's second most populous country, with a population
of more than 1,000,000,000. The world's third most populous country,
the United States, has a population less than 30% of that of India.
Guyana is the only South American country with English as its official
In New Zealand, there are four sheep for each person.
Half of the population of Uganda is under 15 years of age.
Russia can be seen as having been founded as a by-product of Viking slave raids
in the ninth century.
The Falkland Islands have a human population of around 2,000 but a
sheep population of 700,000, making 350 sheep for each person.
The only country that has changed the pronunciation of its name
is Kenya. While it was formerly pronounced "KEEN-ya", the name is
now pronounced "KEN-ya", like the last name of leader Jomo Kenyatta
Over 800 languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea, none of which are
spoken by more than a small percentage of the population.
The name of Switzerland used on Swiss stamps is not in any of Switzerland's
four official languages (German, French, Italian, or Romansch), but in Latin
The modern country of Ghana is not the same as ancient Ghana. Today's
Ghana was formerly known as the Gold Coast, on the Gulf of Guinea in West
Africa. Ancient Ghana, which lasted until around 1240, occupied parts of what are now Mali and Mauritania,
between the Senegal and Niger rivers. The word "ghana" was a title meaning
"war chief", and the area got its name from Africans from the north who
would trade with "ghana".
Everyone in Iceland is literate. Every Icelander must graduate
from school in order to get a job, and he has to be able to speak
three languages. (The "native" language, namely Icelandic - which is
the ancient language of the sagas - is spoken in no other country.)
England and Portugal have never been at war with each other. It is
probably the longest unbroken peace (Portugal was created over 850 years
ago) between any two nations in the world.
Among countries with area over 1,000 square kilometres, the most
densely populated is Bangladesh, with over 1,075 people per square kilometre.
The country of Liberia was founded as a voluntary haven for freed
American slaves. The American Colonization Society purchased the land
from tribal chiefs in 1822; the price included, among other
items, a box of beads, three pairs of shoes, a box of soap, a barrel
of rum, and 12 spoons.
The South American country of Suriname comprises around 23% Catholics,
25% Protestants, 20% Muslims, and 27% Hindus. Additionally, many of the native
people practise traditional animism, a population of former black slaves
whose ancestors escaped into the rainforest practise an African syncretic
faith, and a Chinese community practises Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.
During the 19th century, Turkey lost three wars to Russia
(in 1812, 1829, and 1878). The Greeks won their independence by
defeating the Turks in 1827, while the Egyptians invaded and defeated
Turkey in wars fought in 1832, 1839, and 1840. From 1912 to 1913,
Turkey lost wars to Italy, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania.
During World War I, Turkey joined the Central Powers and went down to
defeat with Germany.
As recently as 1890, almost no country required its nationals to
have appropriate documents to travel abroad, and only a few countries
(such as Persia, Romania, Russia, and Serbia) required foreigners to
have passports to cross their borders.
In the year 2002, there were 397 civil offences and 608 penal
offences in Vatican City, which has 455 residents. Most of these
offences were committed by some of the millions of tourists that