Focused Series »

Indo-European Origins
Siberia
Northern California
The Caucasus
Imaginary Geography

Recent Posts »

Belize Vs. Guatemala

By Martin W. Lewis | January 8, 2010 |

A major controversy engulfed the small Central American country of Belize in early January 2010 after its foreign minister, Wilifred Erlington, described the border between his country and Guatemala as “artificial.” Enraged Belizean nationalists denounced Erlington as a “sell-out,” while opposition leaders demanded his resignation.

The Marshall Islands and the U.S.

By Martin W. Lewis | January 7, 2010 |

The Marshall Islands is a sovereign state in the Pacific Ocean, recognized as such by its fellow members of the United Nations. But the Marshall Islands forms an unusual country in several regards. Its population is small (62,000) and its land area meager (70 square miles), yet its tiny atolls spread across a vast swath

Pre-Trianon Hungary

By Martin W. Lewis | January 6, 2010 |

Pertaining to the post below, the map shows the diminution of Hungary that occurred after the signing of the Treat of Trianon, while the dual images show the use of the pre-Trianon map as a political icon

Language and Voting In Romania

By Martin W. Lewis | | One Comment

As the previous post indicated, many Hungarian-populated areas lie outside of Hungary’s national borders. More than half of Hungary’s territory was stripped away in the post-WWI settlement, although most of the areas lost had non-Hungarian majorities. Hard-core Magyar (or Hungarian) nationalists who dream of reclaiming these lands often advertise their views by displaying maps of

Vojvodina: Europe’s Newest Old Autonomous Region

By Martin W. Lewis | January 5, 2010 | 4 Comments

In late 2009 Europe gained a new autonomous region when Serbia granted its northern area of Vojvodinia control over its own regional development, agriculture, tourism, transportation, health care, mining, and energy. Vojvodina, population two million, will even gain representation in the European Union (although it will be allowed to sign only regional agreements, not international ones)

The Northern Areas Become Gilgit-Baltistan

By Martin W. Lewis | January 4, 2010 | 2 Comments

The former princely state of Kashmir is one of the world’s most contested territories (see map). During the British colonial period, Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja (under British “advisement”) even though its population was (and is) mostly Muslim. The political partition of British India into the independent states of India and

The Country of Greenland

By Martin W. Lewis | January 3, 2010 | One Comment

There is no single, unambiguous term in the English language to denote the sovereign entities that form the bedrock of the global political system. We often call them “nations,” but strictly speaking a “nation” is a group of people who either have or aspire to have a sovereign entity of their own

The Plight of the Rohingyas

By Martin W. Lewis | January 2, 2010 |

The standard linguistic map of Burma/Myanmar (below) reveals a significant number of ethnic groups. Unfortunately, it also conceals much of the country’s diversity, as a number of separate peoples are joined together into composite ethnic categories, while others are simply ignored. The most important group in the latter category are the Rohingyas, a distinct people

Australian Camel Invasion

By Martin W. Lewis | January 1, 2010 |

The remote Aboriginal village of Kaltukatjara (“Docker River”) in Australia’s Northern Territory is currently under siege – from camels. Severe drought has driven some 6,000 dromedaries into the community, where they wreak havoc by knocking over fire hydrants and busting into houses – right through the walls in some cases

Linguistic Geography and the Nuba Mountains

By Martin W. Lewis | December 31, 2009 |

The Ethnologue is one of the best sites on the web for information about languages and linguistic geography. In the Ethnologue map shown above, a red dot is placed at the geographical center of each of the 6,906 languages listed in the organization’s database. One of the more interesting patterns visible in

Ethnic Rioting in Suriname

By Martin W. Lewis | December 30, 2009 | 4 Comments

In late December 2009, anti-Brazilian rioting broke out in the town of Albina in northeastern Suriname after a Brazilian man allegedly stabbed and killed a local resident. The ethnic violence grew so intensive that the Brazilian Foreign Ministry was forced to send in two aircraft to airlift its citizens from

South Ossetia Gains Recognition

By Martin W. Lewis | December 27, 2009 | 2 Comments

South Ossetia is a self-declared independent country located in what the United States and most of the international community regards as Georgian territory. It has functioned as an autonomous client state of Russia ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union in

Troubled Eritrea

By Martin W. Lewis | December 26, 2009 | One Comment

On December 23, 2009, the United Nations voted to impose sanctions on Eritrea for supporting Islamist militants in Somalia. The next day, Eritrea denied the accusations, labeling the UN actions as “shameful.”

Yemen: A Failing State?

By Martin W. Lewis | December 25, 2009 |

Concerns that Yemen could become a failed state have recently mounted. The country has a weak central government, faces separate rebellions in the north and south, and contains a considerable al Qaeda contingent. The northern rebellion attracts most international attention, as it has

Giant Killer Mice of Gough Island

By Martin W. Lewis | December 24, 2009 | One Comment

Remote oceanic islands often form interesting laboratories for biological process, as well as arresting geopolitical anomalies. Few are as remarkable as Gough Island, a 35 square mile landmass in the temperate reaches of the South Atlantic. Although without a self-sustaining permanent population, Gough is one of the world’s most isolated places