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DR Congo: A Potemkin State?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 16, 2010 | 2 Comments

The ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo is reputed to be the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II. Most observers estimate the death toll at around 5.4 million deaths; some figures put the toll as high as 6.9 million. One controversial 2009 report—from the Human Security Report Project of Simon Fraser University—claims

National Parks of DR Congo: Hippos, Rhinos, Gorillas, and Guerillas

By Martin W. Lewis | February 15, 2010 |

Despite its poverty, lack of infrastructure, and interminable wars, the Democratic Republic of Congo has admirably tried to salvage its national park system and preserve its wildlife. It has not been easy. Since 1994, an estimated 120 rangers have died trying to protect Virunga National Park alone. The existence of large wild areas in

54-40 or Fight, Canadian Bacon, and Vancouver: Land of the Olympics and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh

By Samuel Raphael Franco | February 14, 2010 |

We’re going to run with the Olympic torch here at Geocurrents, and fill you in on the history and geography of Vancouver, beefed up with 3D Google Earth imagery. Vancouver is North America’s fourth largest seaport, by tonnage. This owes largely to the geography of the region. The port is nestled away the pacific, by

The Republic of Hau Pakumoto?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 12, 2010 |

The globe-spanning European empires of the 1800s were essentially dismantled in the decades following World War II, with one important exception. In the maritime realm, empire lingers in the form of continuing colonial control over small oceanic islands, some inhabited, others not. If one includes the 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zones that sovereign states

Peace Between Sudan and Chad?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 11, 2010 |

On February 9, 2010, the leaders of Sudan and Chad agreed to quit supporting rebel movements in the other’s territory, thus promising to end one of Africa’s proxy wars. They also pledged to discuss mutual development projects along the war-ravaged border. Such initiatives could diminish tensions in western Sudan (Darfur) and adjacent areas in eastern

And the Capital of Sri Lanka Is?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 10, 2010 | One Comment

Perceptive Geocurrents reader Gnesileah noted that the Mo Rocca/Claire Calzonetti “capital-off” contest (posted on January 30) contained a few minor errors. The capital of Sri Lanka is not Colombo, as Mo Rocca had responded, apparently correctly, but rather Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte (usually simply called “Kotte”). Kotte is not far from Colombo, but it is a

Russia’s Changing Demography

By Martin W. Lewis | February 9, 2010 |

In August 2009, Russia recorded 1,000 more births than deaths, the first month of natural population increase in more than 15 years. Russian officials, worried about their country’s declining population, were pleased that their efforts to encourage childbearing were showing signs of success. Overall, however, demography is still a major concern for Russian nationalists

Kaliningrad, Russia’s Restive Exclave

By Martin W. Lewis | February 8, 2010 | 9 Comments

In the last weekend of January, 2010, massive protests erupted in the Russian city of Kaliningrad, unnerving the country’s political establishment. Despite bitter weather, an estimated 10,000 people took to the streets to denounce both the local governor and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, ostensibly for raising utility prices and transport taxes during a time of

Soccer Diplomacy Keeps Armenia, Azeris, Apart

By Samuel Raphael Franco | |

The UEFA , football’s governing body, switched Armenia from its assigned group for a 2012 tournament, as draw would have guaranteed a matchup with neighbor and rival Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan and Armenia are in a frozen territorial dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is territorially part of Azerbaijan, but has remained under Armenian control since the Nagorno-Karabakh

Geocurrentcast Episode #7- Latin America

By Samuel Raphael Franco | February 7, 2010 |
Geocurrentcast Episode #7- Latin America

Geocurrents.info is proud to present our seventh GeocurrentCast, which provides a broad scan of the electoral geopolitics of Latin America, while profiling the major candidates and ideals across Bolivia, Honduras, Chile, Brazil and Venezuela.Download or watch the podcast here

Pashtun Shiites

By Martin W. Lewis | February 6, 2010 |

Today’s New York Times includes three important articles pertaining to Sunni/Shiite tensions. Two of these are all-too-typical reports of terrorist attacks on Shia pilgrims by Sunni extremists, one in Karachi, Pakistan, the other in Iraq. The third article, on new leadership emerging among the Pakistani Taliban, is much less conventional (“With Taliban Leader Reported Dead

Coke vs. Pepsi; Venezuela vs. Zulia

By Martin W. Lewis | February 5, 2010 | One Comment

Although Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has been able to secure relatively high levels of electoral support, his campaigns have faltered in the northwest. In the Andean highland zone, closely linked to neighboring Colombia, the states of Táchira and Mérida both voted “no” on Chavez’s constitutional referendum in 2009. Anti-Chavez sentiments also run strong in the

Circassia and the 2014 Winter Olympics

By Martin W. Lewis | February 4, 2010 | One Comment

Yesterday’s post referred to the Ossetians as a people of “profound world-historical significance,” a phrase that fits their neighbors, the Circassians, even better. That members of the so-called White race are called “Caucasians” stems largely from the widespread nineteenth-century European notion that the Circassians, natives of the northwestern Caucasus, somehow represented the ideal human form

Caucasus Emirate: A Self-Proclaimed Virtual State Entity

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

In the global hierarchy of polities, a “self-proclaimed virtual state entity” occupies a lowly position, being little more than a dream. But such dreams must be taken seriously if they are accompanied by violent actions intended to make them come true, as is the case in regard to the Caucasus Emirate. This Islamist “virtual state

Renewed Violence in the Niger Delta

By Martin W. Lewis | February 2, 2010 |

Few of Africa’s many insurgent groups receive much notice in the global media. One way they can get attention is to attack the infrastructure of oil production. Thus the Movement for The Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) found itself in headlines on January 30, 2010, after breaking its truce with the Nigerian government and