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Article Archive for October 2011

Contested French Islands and Sea-Space in the Western Indian Ocean

By Martin W. Lewis | October 31, 2011 |
Map of Europa Island

As was recently discussed in GeoCurrents, France’s incorporation of Mayotte as an overseas department has been attributed by some to the quest for geo-strategic advantage. It is difficult to see, however, exactly what advantage is gained. It is true that the possession of Mayotte gives France an extensive maritime realm by way of the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that …

Conflict in the Comoros

By Martin W. Lewis | October 28, 2011 | 4 Comments
Wikipedia Map of the Invasion of Anjouan in the Comoros

Although Mayotte is a troubled island, its difficulties are minor compared to those of the other islands in the Comoro Archipelago, which collectively form an independent state. By some accounts, the Comoros is the most coup-wracked country in the world, having suffered twenty military assaults on its government since independence in 1975. Its instability is almost matched by its poverty; …

Mayotte: The EU’s—and France’s—Troubled New Exclave

By Martin W. Lewis | October 27, 2011 | 11 Comments
Map of the Comoros and Mayotte

On March 31, 2011, the European Union expanded, adding 144 square miles (374 km2) and almost 200,000 persons. The population of this new UE territory is almost entirely Muslim (97 per cent). It is also, by European standards, quite poor, with a nominal per capita GDP of only US $6,500. Oddly, the land in question is not even physically located in Europe, situated …

Arabs and Persians; Shiites and Sunnis: More Complicated Than You Might Think

By Martin W. Lewis | October 25, 2011 | 17 Comments
Language Map of Persian/Arabic Gulf from Muturzikin

Uninformed voices in the United States commonly refer to Iran as an “Arab country”—a fundamental error committed even by outlets as respectable as Slate magazine. Few Americans grasp the lines of division between Arab and Persian (or Iranian) culture and society. Iranian-Americans emphasize the distinction; calling a person of Iranian heritage an Arab is likely

Oil and Arabic-Speakers in Iran’s Troubled Southwest

By Martin W. Lewis | October 22, 2011 | 9 Comments
Incorrect Map of Sunni/Shia Distribution in the Middle East

If Saudi Arabia faces a restive Shia minority in its main oil-producing area (see GeoCurrents Oct. 14, 2011), Iran has a similar challenge. Its foremost oil-producing zone—the southwestern province of Khuzestan (Ahwaz in Arabic)—is the heart of Iran’s dissatisfied Arabic-speaking minority. Fear of unrest in Khuzestan looms large in Iranian security deliberations. Not only does

Iran’s Territorial Disputes with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates

By Martin W. Lewis | October 20, 2011 | 6 Comments
Map of Bahrain

As explained in last Friday’s post, tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia run deep. Iran’s relations with several other Arab countries of the region are also strained, due in part to active and potential territorial disputes in the Gulf region. The small island country of Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim political establishment rules a Shiite

GeoCurrents Advertising Policy AND British Slang in The Economist

By Martin W. Lewis | October 17, 2011 | 9 Comments

Attentive readers may have noticed a small “advertise on GeoCurrents” banner on the website. This feature was added after the blog was approached by several firms interested in posting ads on specific pages that pertain to tourism. In accommodating advertisers, GeoCurrents seeks not to become a profit-making venture, but rather merely to

Saudi-Iranian Tensions and Shia Islam in Saudi Arabia

By Martin W. Lewis | October 14, 2011 | 2 Comments
Ralph Peters Blood Borders Map

After the United States accused Iran of hatching an elaborate and ill-conceived plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, a number of commentators expressed incredulity, some wondering why the Saudi diplomat would be so targeted. The most common response to such questioning was to outline the history of Saudi-Iranian regional rivalry

Same-Sex Couples and Native American Communities

By Martin W. Lewis | October 12, 2011 | 2 Comments
Map of Native Americans by County

On October 10, 2011, Andrew Sullivan’s blog ran a corrected U.S. Census map showing the proportion of same-sex couples in American counties. (An interactive version of the same map was posted on the National Public Radio website.) The Census had originally claimed that there were 901,997 self-reported same-sex couples in the United States. Evidently, a

Dams and the Ignored Ethnic Conflict of Northern Burma

By Martin W. Lewis | October 10, 2011 | 8 Comments
Map of Cease-Fire Armies in Burma

Recent news reports have trumpeted Burma’s (Myanmar’s) decision to suspend construction of the massive, Chinese-financed Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River in the northern reaches of the country. The Economist magazine, for example, claims that the cancellation provides “mounting evidence that the new government in Yangon is serious about reform.” That assessment may well be

The Geography of the Death Penalty in the United States

By Martin W. Lewis | October 6, 2011 |
Map of 2000 Election, USA

 The death penalty has featured prominently in news editorials over the past several weeks. Depending on the context, assessments of the punishment vary tremendously, as seen in two recent New York Times opinion pieces. On October 5, 2011, the paper opined that an Alabama case “should leave no doubt why the death penalty should be

The Geography of Capital Punishment

By Martin W. Lewis | October 4, 2011 | 5 Comments
Wikipedia Map of Death Penalty

Capital punishment has featured prominently in the global news in recent weeks, due both to the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia and to the scheduled hanging of three men in India convicted of killing prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. One reason for this attention is the relative rarity of the death penalty. Many

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