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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

Southern Sudan

By Martin W. Lewis | December 23, 2009 |

In its December 19, 2009 issue, The Economist magazine reported a rare bit of “good news” from Sudan: the country’s ruling party and the former rebels of the south had agreed upon provisions for the scheduled 2011 referendum that will supposedly allow the south to secede. According to the agreement, Southern Sudan will indeed

Geo-Trivia: Enclaves, counter-enclaves, and (the world’s only) counter-counter-enclave

By Martin W. Lewis | December 22, 2009 |
Sovereign states (or countries) generally appear on the map as solid, contiguous blocks of territory, and they are certainly conceptualized as such. But exceptions abound. Many countries, for example, have separates “annexes” located at some distance, technically known as exclaves (think of Alaska). Bits of territory within the boundaries of one state that

Telangana: A New State in India?

By Martin W. Lewis | December 20, 2009 | 2 Comments

Not long after gaining independence, India remapped its internal political geography so that its main divisions would roughly correspond with linguistic groups. With each major language community being granted its own state, local demands for autonomy would, theoretically, be much reduced. Although this policy has generally resulted in stable “statoids”(see http://www.statoids.com/), agitation for the creation