Sunday 30 December 2018

The Culture Of Maldives

Maldivian culture is rich and varied, and influenced by the cultures of the people of different ethnicities who have settled on the island over the years.

The culture of Maldives is influenced by the proximity of the island nation to India and Sri Lanka. The state religion of the country, Islam, also dictates various cultural aspects of the people. Elements of African culture can also be observed in the Maldivian culture.

7. Social Beliefs And Customs In Maldives

The Maldivian society pays great respect to the elders and promotes strong bondage with immediate and extended family members. However, most families on the island are nuclear in nature. Women also enjoy a respectable role in the society. Inheritance laws apply equally to both males and females. Women maintain their maiden names after marriage. The members of society are expected to adhere to the Islamic code of conduct. 18 is the legal age of marriage in Maldives but marriage at a younger age is usually the norm. Although males are allowed to marry four wives, polygamy is rare. Pre-marital sex is not allowed and punishable. Divorce rates in the country are high. Prostitution is illegal in the country and homosexuality has been criminalized.

6. Cuisine Of Maldives

The cuisine of Maldives mostly involves fish as the main source of protein. Most meals include rice and fish. Fishing is the second biggest industry in the country. Meat other than pork is consumed on certain ceremonial occasions. Food for tourists is mostly imported. Vegetables are almost absent in the cuisine of Maldives as the country has little arable land to grow vegetables. Rice, sugar, and flour are some of the basic commodities that are imported to Maldives from other countries. The guduguda is an elongated pipe that is smoked by the elders. The raa is a local brew that is consumed widely.

5. Clothing Of Maldives

The traditional costume of the tropical island is nice and simple. For men, the traditional attire involves a sarong wrapped around the waist as a lower garment and a cotton shirt which is more often white in color.Libaas are traditional costumes worn by women and appear like a long dress with gold and silver colored threads adorning the dress.

4. Music And Dance

Music and dancing is an integral part of the culture of Maldives and is heavily influenced by North Indian music and dance. Bollywood films, films of the Indian film industry based in Mumbai, are extremely popular among the people of the Maldives. The language of the country being related to the northern Indian languages makes this affinity for Indian music and dance quite natural. Songs of Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Asha Bhonsle, all notable Indian singers, are enjoyed by the people in the island nation. The North Indian kathak dance and Bollywood dance moves also shape the dance forms in Maldives. The bulbul tarangis a popular musical instrument played in the island nation.

3. Literature And Arts

Maldivian literature has a distinct folk aspect associated with it. Folk tales in the country have been passed from one generation to the next by word of mouth and many have been penned down to the written form. Folk tales of Maldives feature various aspects like magicians, plants and animals of the island, good and evil spirits, royals who ruled the region, and origin of life on the islands, etc. A significant volume of religious literature is also treasured in the country. One of the famous religious works produced here is the "Siyarathunnabaviyyaa" by the writer Husain Salaahuddheen.
The island life of the Maldives also influences many art and craft forms in the nation. Woodcarving and lacquer work of Maldives is famous for its intricate designs and bright colors. Mats woven from dyed reeds are created by the women of the country and used as prayer mats or sold as souvenirs. Traditional boats called "dhonis" are built of coconut wood and their sturdy and stylish appearance exhibit the excellent craftsmanship skills of the Maldivian boat-builders.

2. Religions And Festivals Of Maldives

The freedom of religion is severely restricted in Maldives. Islam is the nation's state religion and is the only religion allowed to be practiced by the Maldivians. Non-Muslims are not allowed to vote, hold public positions or be the citizens of the country. The President of the country must be a Sunni Muslim. Foreigners are not allowed to worship publicly in the country if they are adherents of any other religion.
Islam being the state religion of the Maldives, Islamic festivals are the only religious festivals celebrated here. The people of the island celebrate the end of the month of Ramadan with great festivities. The Prophet's Birthday is another Islamic festival observed in the nation and involves visits to the mosques for prayers. The National Day, held on the first day of the lunar calendar's third month, is celebrated with parades and marches held across the country. Republic Day is held on November 11 and celebrates the foundation of the Republic of Maldives.

1. Sports Arts In Maldives

Football is the most popular sports in Maldives. The locals adore the game and young boys and men can often be observed playing football in their locality. Tennis, basketball, baseball, badminton are also some of the other sports played in the country. The presence of beautiful and expansive beaches means that the country is a hub for many types of aquatic sports and beach activities. Jet skiing, windsurfing, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, diving, swimming, parasailing, and beach volleyball are some of the sports activities which attract a large number of tourists to the country from across the world. Adventure activities like bungee jumping, gliding, rock-climbing, etc., are also popular in the country.

By Oshimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Thursday 27 December 2018

Ethnic Groups Of Malaysia

Malays account for more than half of the country's population, while significant minorities of Chinese, Bumiputera, and Indian are also present.

Malaysia is a Southeastern Asian country that is multiracial, with many different ethnic groups living in the country. These include Malays, Chinese, Indians, and other indigenous Bumiputra groups. The demographic composition in the country are as follows. 50.1% of the population are Malay, 22.6% are Chinese, 11.8% are indigenous Bumiputra groups other than the Malays, 6.7% are Indian, and other groups account for 0.7%. Non-citizens account for 8.2% of Malaysia's resident population. This multicultural context makes Malaysia a highly rich society, with diverse religions, foods, culture, and customs.


Accounting for 50.1% of the Malaysian population, the Malays are the largest ethnic group in the country. Indigenous to the country, the Malays are generally Muslim and practice Malay culture. This means that Muslims of any race are counted as Malays provided they practice Malay culture. The largest community in the country, with their language, Malay, being the national language, Malays are dominant in the political landscape of Malaysia. Their culture is influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, and animism. Aspects of their culture which portray these elements have however been banned or abandoned since the 1980s and 1990s due to the efforts of the "Islamization" Movement.

Chinese Malaysians

Accounting for 22.6% of the Malaysian population, Chinese Malaysians are the second largest ethnic group in the country. Chinese people have been in Malaysia for centuries, with the peak of this immigration in the Nineteenth Century. Chinese Malaysians dominate business and trading in the country. At their arrival, the Chinese worked in railway construction and tin mining, and later they began to own businesses. These businesses are today large conglomerates. Their religion is mainly Taoism or Buddhism. They continue to have strong ties with China. The Chinese have over the years absorbed elements of Malaysian culture, intermarrying with the indigenous groups, which have led to the development of a syncretism of practices and beliefs, a new culture consisting both Malay and Chinese tradition.

Non-Malay Bumiputra and Other Indigenous Groups

11.8% of the Malaysian population is comprised by other non-Malay indigenous groups who have also been given Bumiputra status. These tribes include the Dayak, the Iban, the Biyaduhs, the Kadazan, and various aboriginal groups. Other Bumiputras include the Burmese, the Chams, Khmers, and the Malaysian Siamese.

Indian Malaysians

Indian Malaysians account for 6.7% of the Malaysian population. Indian subgroups include Tamils, Telugus, and Punjabis. Tamils, who account for 86% of Malaysian Indians, began arriving in the 18th and 19th Centuries during the colonial era. Indian laborers were brought to the country to construct railways, to work in plantations, and in rubber and oil palm estates. Tamils from Ceylon (today Sri Lanka who were English-educated worked as teachers, clerks, public servants, doctors, hospital assistants, and other white collar jobs. Most Punjabis were enlisted in the Malaysian army. Their religions are Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism, with more than 86% practicing Hinduism. Some of the Muslims of South Asian (Indian) ancestry have intermarried with the Malay Muslims and become integrated in Malaysia.

Other Ethnic Groups

Other groups collectively account for 8.8% of the Malaysian population. These include Malaysians of European or Middle Eastern ancestry, the Madhesi Nepalese, Filipinos, Burmese, Vietnamese, and Chinindians. Eurasian Malaysians are often descendants of British, Portuguese, and Dutch colonists. Chinindians are the offspring of intermarriage between Chinese and Indians a growing group, they have not yet been recognized as an official category. Having so many ethnic groups has made Malaysia a multicultural and multilingual society, contributing to diversity and richness of Malaysian national culture.

Ethnic Groups Of Malaysia

Rank Ethnic Group Share of Population of Malaysia
1 Malay (or Muslim Malay) 50.1%
2 Chinese Malaysians 22.6%
3 Non-Malay Bumiputera and Other Indigenous Groups 11.8%
4 Indian Malaysians 6.7%
Other Groups 8.8%

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Traditional Irish Music

You may have heard the rumor that traditional Irish music embodies the spirit of the people of Ireland? 
Take a seat, listen up and you'll find out why.

Traditional Irish music is a full body experience: the upbeat tempos compel you to dance a jig, clap your hands and join in. And that's what trad music is all about, joining in and having the craic (fun). 

Knowing your seisúns from your céilís

First things first, learn the lingo. The two places you're most likely to experience trad music in Ireland are a seisún and a céilí – and there's a difference between the two. 

A trad music seisún (pronounced: seh-shoon) can best be described as an informal gathering of musicians. Often, it'll kick off with just a guitar. But before long you've got a whole group of fiddlers, flutists, banjos andbodhrán (drum) or Lambeg drum players belting out the tunes. 

You can expect a bit of dancing at seisúns, too. People clap along to the beat as dancers twirl and skip around. Don't be afraid to join in, no one minds if you don't know the steps. And before you know it, you'll be a jigging pro.

In Armagh or Tyrone, you'll probably find that an Ulster-Scots musical session is slightly more formal than the relaxed affairs, say, in County Clare. But the enjoyment factor is exactly on par for both.

You'll find a pub seisún in nearly every village, town and city on the island, especially on weekends, and usually in a pub.

céilí (pronounced like: kay-lee), meanwhile, is all about dancing to this music; and there's a huge emphasis on joining in with the locals. Every corner of Ireland has its own favorite dances, from jigs to set dances. 

County Clare: Trad capital

Just like the dances, depending on where you are in Ireland the style of trad music will differ, too. Take County Clare where the style of trad reflects the landscape. From the Burren to the Cliffs of Moher, the landscape of County Clare is imbued with a poetic quality that commands you to slow down, and breathe it all in. 

As Martin Hayes, the renowned fiddler and Clare native, puts it, "we take things a little slower here, our music, too". In the pubs of Clare they lean more towards a lyrical, lilting style of trad. But that's not to say Clare doesn't know how to enjoy itself – far from it. 

The pubs here are packed with locals and visitors almost every night listening and dancing to trad. While the village of Doolin is known as the "traditional music capital of Ireland". 

And music spills out onto the streets in Clare, too. Every August the Feakle Festival erupts onto the streets of sleepy Feakle village. "Feakle has this real folk feel to it," says Martin Gaffney, one of the organizers of the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, "everything takes place on the one street; you can't help but feel right at home." So you see, joining in the fun is what it's all about. 

Dublin City's trad scene

When it comes to trad music, few places offer a better selection than Dublin City. Head straight for Temple Bar in the city center. This is the city's cultural quarter, the streets are lined with medieval cobble stones and it's here that Dublin comes to party. You'll find many trad pubs in Temple Bar, but one of our favorites is Oliver St. John Gogartys. You can't miss it (it's the one covered in flags).

The trad music begins in the early afternoon here and doesn't stop until closing. Expect the odd bit of dancing inside, too. 

Temple Bar really becomes the trad capital of Ireland during the Temple Bar Trad Fest. This annual event sees Temple Bar fill up with trad musicians from all over Ireland and abroad. Every pub fills up with music, dancing and song. The streets are lined with buskers and a festival vibe grips the entire area. Lots of the events are free, too.

The All-Ireland Fleadh

Think of this as the Olympics of trad music. It's the single biggest gathering of traditional Irish musicians in the world. And this year Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann takes place in Drogheda County Louth. Musicians travel from around Ireland and abroad to battle through heats to win the final competition and eternal glory. A buzzing atmosphere, plenty of friendly banter and street entertainment are par for the course here.

The city will be awash with bands,seisúns, street performers, ceilís, competitions and over 2,000 competitors.

Care for a dance?

So then, to recap. You'll find trad music pretty much everywhere in Ireland. It's about having fun and joining in. Don't know the steps? Ask a local or just make them up, traditional Irish music is all about having the craic!

Now, who's for a seisún?

•culled from

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Biggest Cities In Laos

Vientiane along the Thai border and Mekong River is Laos's capital and most populous city.
Laos is a country on the Indochinese peninsula. Most of its big cities are located on or near river systems, notably the Mekong. These cities are the economic, cultural, historical, and the political backbone of the country with museums, large portions of the country's population residing or working in the towns. Most of the people in these cities are of Vietnamese, Chinese, Lao, and Thai descent. Laos' biggest cities are also important points of the historical heritage from the ancient times through the colonial era to the post-independence era.

Biggest Cities In Laos

Vientiane is the largest city with an area of 3,920km² and the most populous in Laos with a population of 562,244. The city is Laos' capital and is located along the banks of the Mekong River. It was founded in 1563 and was prompted by fears of attacks from Burma. The town experiences a tropical wet and dry climate and attracts some tourists due to its cultural heritage. Among the tourist attractions within the city are the Buddha Park, Buddhist monuments including the Pha That Luang stupa and the Lao National Museum among others. The city has been central to economic growth and change in Laos due to foreign investment. Other functions served by the city include transport, communication, and education.


Savannakhet is the capital of Savannakhet Province with a population of 93,277 people and the second largest and second most populous city in Laos. Savannakhet is a growing economy with influence from the economy of the neighboring Thailand. The city experiences a wet and dry tropical climate with an average annual precipitation of 1500mm the city is an important cultural, historical, and religious town with Buddhist temples, monuments, Christian churches, and Chinese temples. The town currently serves other functions such as transport, religious, and tourist center.


Pakxe is the capital of Champasak District and the third most populous city in Laos with a population of 88,166 people. The city served as an administrative center in the Kingdom of Champasak after its establishment by the French rulers in 1905. The location of Pakxe at the River confluence of Mekong and Xe Don made an important commercial center as well as a cultural center. Today the town is home to the Champasak Provincial Museum. The museum is important to the history of the province due to its collection of both historical documents and artifacts. The city serves other functions such as health services, transport and communication, and tourism. Some of its tourist attractions include Wat Phu and Si Phan Don.


Thakhek has a population of 55,244 making it the fourth most populous in Laos. The city was established by the French on the Mekong River and serves as the capital of Khammouane province. The city has unique French architecture, limestone cliffs, a national park (Phu Hin Bun). These features attract many tourists coupled with the culture of the people and festivals conducted along the river courses. Other activities enjoyed by visitors within Thakhek include trekking and water activities such as swimming.

Tourism In Cities of Laos

Laos' big cities including Muang Xai, Luang Prabang, Phansavan, Vang Vieng and Muang Pakxan are major tourist sites due to their cultural wealth, historical heritage as well as natural areas like national parks. Other attractions include the presence of religious monuments dating from previous centuries which attracts pilgrims to these cities.

Biggest Cities In Laos

Rank Biggest Cities in Laos Population
1 Vientiane 562,244
2 Savannakhet 93,277
3 Pakxe 88,166
4 Thakhek 55,600
5 Muang Xai 52,267
6 Luang Prabang 51,203
7 Xam Neua 42,896
8 Phonsavan 37,507
9 Vang Vieng 25,000
10 Muang Pakxan 24,686

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Laos Culture – the Culture of Laos

Laos has a rich cultural diversity.
Laos is Southeast Asia's only landlocked nation. The small country is home to around 6,758,353 individuals. Despite its size, Laos has great cultural diversity due to a large number of ethnic groups residing in the country. The government of the country officially recognizes 49 of the about 200 ethnic groups living in Laos. The ethnic Lao people are the largest group accounting for about 53.2% of the population. Buddhism is the religion of the majority in Laos.


The ethnic diversity of Laos is reflected in the country's cuisine. Strong regional variations exist among the dishes. Sticky rice is the staple food of Laos. Common meals in the country include sticky rice served with a spicy minced chicken or fish dish. Most Laotian dishes are spicy. The green papaya salad called tam mak hung is a popular dish. Tropical fruits are often served as dessert. Lao cuisine uses generous volumes of fermented fresh water, fish sauce, chilies, and galangal. Insects are also sometimes consumed.


Although fashion in Laotian cities are influenced by Western culture, traditional clothing is worn during special occasions or in rural areas. Clothing often helps distinguish among the ethnic groups in the country. Traditional clothing for Lao women features a long skirt and a matching shawl. French inspired blouses are usually worn with the skirt. Lao Men wear the traditional sampot or billowed trouser with an Indochinese shirt or a Mandarin collar jacket. They also wear a traditional shawl. Silk is extensively used to make clothing. Gold and silver jewelry is usually worn with the traditional dresses. Similar to the Lao people, other ethnic groups in Laos have their distinct styles of clothing.


Football is the most popular sports played in Laos. Muay Lao, a martial arts form and Ka-taw or kick-volleyball, boat races, etc., are some of the traditional sports played in the country.


Traditional literature in Laos is influenced by Hindu and Buddhist cultures. Hindu mythological stories and epics have helped shape the literary scene in Laos. The Lan Xang kingdom's rule in the 16th and 17th centuries witnessed an increase in its literary wealth. Epic poetry like the Sang Sinxay and the Thao Hung Thao Cheuang is the most valued literature from this period. The country also has a rich folklore tradition.

Arts and Crafts

Weaving is an important cultural expression in Laos and is popular among most ethnic groups. Weaving skills are passed from mothers to daughters in Laos households. Silk weaving is most valued and often silkworms are raised at home on a diet of mulberry leaves. Traditional Laotian clothing is usually heavily embroidered with stunning motifs of elephants, temples, and other Khmer influenced patterns and designs. Bronze sculptures of Buddha are present throughout the country. Buddha is represented in different forms in these sculptures. 
Laotian craftsmen are also famous for their woodworking skills. Richly carved furniture produced by them are very attractive in appearance. Lao metalwork in silver and gold is also appreciated globally. Bamboo handicrafts and basketry are also quite common.

Music and Dance

The lam is regarded as the national music of Laos. It involves a singer singing improvised poetry to quick tempo music. This form of music traces its origin to the animist traditions that involved chanting during religious ceremonies. Lam can also be used in story-telling. The khaen is an important Laotian musical instrument. It is a mouth organ made of bamboo. Other musical instruments used in the country include drums, gongs, flutes, cymbals, zithers, etc.

The lam vong is the national folk dance of the country. The dance is influenced by Buddhist traditions. It begins with an individual performing Buddhist mudras with the hands and the head. The performer is soon joined by other dancers. The ethnic groups of the country have their distinct dance forms. Most involve dressing up in colorful, elaborate costumes and elegant movements.

Social Life in Laos

The gender gap in Laos is less pronounced. Lao Women are generally treated with respect and enjoy considerable cultural and social status. However, the status of women belonging to some of the other ethnic groups is not always high. 
Gender discrimination at work is not permitted in the country. However, in traditional households, there is a natural tendency for women to manage household chores and children. In the religious scene in Laos, men dominate as religious leaders. Although women play an important part in religious practices, it is the men who have the top positions.

Ethnic Lao usually have a considerable degree of freedom in selecting their life partners. Marriages are usually hosted in the bride's home. Divorce can be initiated by either of the partners if the marriage fails. In some of the patrilineal groups living in Laos, however, marriages are usually fixed by the parents. Some of the highland groups also practice polygyny although it is an illegal practice in the country.
The families living in lowland Laos have a tendency toward matrilocality. Here families consist of a group of related women. Usually, the older daughter leaves with her husband when the younger one marries and moves in with her mother and father. The youngest daughter of the family usually inherits the house and is responsible for taking care of her aging parents. In highland patrilineal groups, brothers usually live together with their parents and their own families under one roof. Here, the sons usually inherit their parents' property.

The people of Laos are of peaceful nature and try to avoid conflicts with others. Social hierarchy is considered important. People are expected to greet each other with politeness.

By Oshimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Sunday 23 December 2018

Biggest Cities In Kyrgyzstan

A city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings, Bishkek is the most populous and the capital city of the Kyrgyzstan.


A mountainous, landlocked state in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is surrounded by the countries of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and China. The country attained sovereignty in 1991 after the downfall of the Soviet Union.
The country has a population of about 5.6 million as of 2013. The majority of the population of the country live in rural areas. Only one-third of Kyrgyzstan's population live in urban areas. Bishkek is the most populous city in the country and also the seat of government. The country has a population density of about 25 people per square km.

The Five Biggest Cities In Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek is the largest and capital city of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Chuy Province's administrative province. Bishkek is located at an elevation of about 2,600 get with a spectacular backdrop of the Tian Shan mountain ranges. The area in and around Bishkek is drain by the Chui River. The city is famous for its wide boulevards, Soviet-style apartment blocks, marble-faced public buildings, and more. Pollution levels are highest among all Kyrgyz cities in Bishkek. The city has an agriculture-based economy and barter system of exchange is practiced along the outlying regions of the city. Downtown Bishkek has stores, banks, malls, and markets. Tourists visiting this city can shop for traditional hand-crafted items like carvings, paintings, statues, and more.


Kyrgyzstan's second biggest city, Osh is situated to the south of the country in the Fergana Valley. Also known as the "capital of the south," Osh is the country's oldest city and is estimated to be as old as 3,000 years. Since 1939, Osh has served as the administrative center of the Osh Region. It has a mixed population of Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, Russians, and several smaller ethnic groups.
Jalal-Abad is Jalal-Abad Region's economic and administrative center. Located in the Fergana Valley's north-eastern end, along the valley of the Kögart River, the city is close to Kyrgyzstan's border with Uzbekistan. Jalal-Abad is known for its mineral springs, and several Soviet-era sanatoriums offer mineral water cure programs to patients of various chronic diseases. The city also is a popular tourist spot for its beautiful scenery and walnuts.


Karakol is the fourth biggest city in Kyrgyzstan and is located near the Lake Issyk-Kul's eastern tip. The city is about 150 km from country's border with China and 380 km off from Bishkek. Karakol serves as the Issyk-Kul Province's administrative center. The city is one of the major tourist destinations of the country and tourists visit the city for skiing, mountaineering, and trekking. Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Dungan mosque, Prjevalski Museum, Karakol Historical Museum, Bugu-Ene Zoo, Jeti-Ögüz are some of the tourist attractions in Karakol.


Tokmok is Kyrgyzstan's fifth biggest city and lies at an altitude of 816 meters above sea level. It had served as the Chui Province's administrative center between 2004 and 2006. The Chu River and the Kazakhstan border lies close to Tokmok.


Kara-Balta is a city located in the Chuy Province of Kyrgyzstan and is the Jaiyl District's capital. The city is located on the Kyrgyz Ala-Too's northern slopes, 62 km to the west of Bishkek.

The Biggest Cities In Kyrgyzstan

Rank City Region Population
1 BishkekBishkek 750,327
2 OshOsh Region 208,520
3 Jalal-AbadJalal-Abad Region 70,401
4 KarakolIssyk-Kul Region 64,322
5 TokmokChuy Region 59,409
6 Kara-BaltaChuy Region 47,159
7 UzgenOsh Region 41,497
8 BalykchyIssyk-Kul Region 41,342
9 NarynNaryn Region 40,050
10 Talas, KyrgyzstanTalas Region 32,638

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Saturday 22 December 2018

The Culture Of Kyrgyzstan

The traditional music of Kyrgyzstan is influenced by the nomadic and rural way of life of its people.
The Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked mountainous country with a population of around 5 million. The ethnic Kyrgyz comprise 73.2% of the country's population. Uzbeks and Russians are the largest minority ethnic groups accounting for around 14.6% and 5.8% of the total population, respectively. Islam is the religion of 75% of the population of Kyrgyzstan. 20% of the population adhere to Russian Orthodox Christianity. The remaining 5% practice other religions. Here is an important overview of some of the aspects of Kyrgyz culture.

Kyrgyz Cuisine

Kyrgyz cuisine exhibits great similarity to Kazakh cuisine. Mutton, horse meat, beef, and dairy products constitute the main part of the Kyrgyz diet. The former nomadic way of life of the people has heavily influenced the cuisine with cooking techniques focussing on the long-term preservation of the food items. International cuisines are served in many of the large cities of the nation. Beshbarmak is regarded as the national dish of the country. It is horse meat cooked in its own broth and served with noodles. Horse meat is also substituted by sheep meat on some occasions. Beshbarmak is an important dish during important celebrations like a birthday or a funeral. Paloo is another popular Kyrgyz dish. It consists of meat pieces fried in a cast-iron cauldron. It is served with cooked rice, fried garlic cloves, and red peppers. Manty (steamed meat-filled dumplings), Samsa (vegetables or meat wrapped in flaky pastry), Shorpo (a meat soup), Shashlik (a grilled mutton dish), etc., are some other traditional Kyrgyz dishes. The kymyz (an alcoholic drink prepared by fermenting the milk of a mare), maksym (a fizzy drink from fermented grains), etc., are some of the beverages consumed by the Kyrgyz people.

Kyrgyz Literature

Kyrgyz literature was mostly in the oral form until the 20th century. The oral literature was based on folk tales and epics about mythical warriors and creatures. Novel-writing developed only in the 20th century. Historical and romantic novels flourished during this time. One of the most renowned Kyrgyz writers was the novelist Chingiz Aitmatov who is remembered for his works on life in Soviet Central Asia.

Kyrgyz Art And Craft

Kyrgyz women produce textiles made of felt from the wool of local sheep. These handicrafts are very popular among tourists visiting the country and are also exported. Shyrdaks are hand-made felt carpets made in Kyrgyz homes. Tush kiyiz are beautiful, embroidered wall hangings prepared by the elderly women in the country. The Kalpaks is the national hat of the country. Kyrgyz embroidery is usually ornate and colorful and represents the emblems of the Kyrgyz culture, plants, animals, national designs, flowers, etc.

Performance Arts In Kyrgyzstan

The traditional music of the country is influenced by the nomadic and rural way of life of its people. Long, sustained pitches characterize the folk music of the country. Folk songs and dances are performed during the various cultural and religious festivals held in the country. The growing tourism sector has also helped boost the performance arts sector of Kyrgyzstan. Some of the traditional Kyrgyz musical instruments include the mouth harp called oz-komuz, the komuz (a 3-stringed lute), and a clay wind instrument called the chopo choor.

Life In A Kyrgyz Society

Historically, Kyrgyz women have enjoyed a respectable status in society. The Soviet rule in the nation maintained the equality of genders. Women do work outside of the home, mainly in the education and agricultural sectors. Men are, however, dominant in administration, politics, and business.

Arranged marriages were more common in the past in Kyrgyzstan. Currently, couples, especially those in cities, choose each other for marriage. People are expected to marry early and bear children at a young age. Brides are expected to give a dowry in the form of clothing, rugs, sleeping mats, etc. The groom pays a bride price in exchange for the bride to the bride's family. It is usually in the form of cash or livestock. Kyrgyz weddings are elaborate, typically lasting for three days.
Brides usually move into the groom's house where the couple continues to stay if the groom is the youngest son. If not, they move out as soon as they have a home. The youngest son inherits the parental house and is also assigned the duty of caring for the parents.
A shocking marriage tradition that is prevalent in Kyrgyzstan is that of bride stealing. A man might kidnap a woman and take her to his home to make her his wife. The bride has the right to sue her kidnapper but it is unlikely that any other man would be willing to marry her. Often, such marriages have ended in disastrous consequences.
Kyrgyz households are fairly large consisting of grandparents, parents, and children. Generally, families have three or more children. Mothers or other female family members usually care for the infants. A newborn is not exposed to the outside world for the first forty days of her or his life. Education is provided to both daughters and sons.
Respect for the elders is the most important aspect of etiquette in the country. Politeness is expected while speaking to elders. Respect is also exhibited in other forms like, for example, elders are offered seats in buses and trains while traveling. Greetings are made by shaking hands or kissing on the cheeks. The greeting style, however, varies in different parts of the country and between genders. The Islamic greeting by saying Assalom aleikum is often used while meeting people. Bread is regarded as sacred and is never wasted. Leftover bread is given to the animals. Prayers are usually said at the end of a meal.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Friday 21 December 2018

Ethnic Minorities And Immigrants In South Korea

96% of the South Korean population is comprised by ethnic Koreans, while the largest groups of immigrants are from China and the United States.
The South Korean Republic has Seoul as its capital and largest city. The country is highly urbanized with over 92% of its citizens living in urban areas with over 50% of them residing in Seoul. South Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world with almost a negligible percentage of foreign immigrants. The immigrants mostly come from the People's Republic of ChinaUnited States of America, VietnamThailand, and the Philippines.

Chinese in South Korea

After the People's Republic of China and South Korea reformed their relationship in 1992, a new wave of Chinese migrants into South Korea emerged. The latest statistics show that 50% of immigrants to the country are Chinese. The relationship between the two nations dates back to 1882 during the Qing Dynasty where the dynasty lifted trade restrictions with Korea. The Korean government was also very instrumental in helping the Qing Dynasty quell rebellions. In the early 1900s, a trade agreement was signed, allowing Chinese merchants to conduct business in Korea. During the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, most Chinese migrants in Korea shifted to the USA but were unable to cope with the culture, climate, and the language and opted back to South Korea. Today, most Chinese prefer going to Seoul due to its quiet, serene and clean environment.

Americans in South Korea

Most Americans come to the country as tourists or professionals. They are the majority of English teachers found in the country.
Vietnamese in South Korea
Vietnamese-South Korean ties date back to the year 1200 when Ly Duong had to flee to Goryeo in Korea after a succession of power disputes. The Vietnamese have kept contact with both the South Koreans and North Koreans after the division of Korea in 1945.

Filipinos in South Korea

The bilateral relationship between the Philippines and South Korea can be traced back to 1950 during the Korean War, when over 7,500 Filipino soldiers fought on the United Nations' side to assist South Korea's conflict against communist North Korea. After the war, Filipino engineers and technicians played a vital role in reconstructing the country. In the 1990s, South Korea experienced a rapid economic growth coupled with decreasing birth rates which required increased labor and therefore many people immigrated to fill these positions. In 2007, Filipino immigrants to South Korea were estimated to number 70,000 people.

Ethnic Minorities And Immigrants In South Korea

Rank Country of Origin Share of Foreign-Born Population in South Korea
1 People's Republic of China 50%
2 United States of America 7.6%
3 Vietnam 7.2%
4 Thailand 5.2%
5 Philippines 3%
6 Japan 2.7%
7 Indonesia 2.6%
8 Uzbekistan 2.4%
9 Cambodia 2.1%
Other Countries17.2%

By Kenneth Kimutai too

•culled from

Thursday 20 December 2018

Ethnic Groups Of North Korea

Often referred to as the Hermit Kingdom, North Korea's ongoing social isolation promotes its ethnic homogeneity.

Koreans In North Korea

Under the Kingdom of Goryeo (918-1392), the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1897) and the Korean Empire (1897-1910), the country of Korea was a unified country. The Japanese invasion and occupation of Korea from 1910 until 1945 was the event that would eventually lead to a divided Korea. After Japan surrendered in World War Two in 1945, the Korean Peninsula got divided into northern and southern zones along the 38th parallel, with the north occupied by the Soviet Union and the south occupied by the United States of America. Due to Cold War politics, any hopes for an independent Korea faded and over the next three years in the Soviet north sweeping reform policies got enacted to support a communist government and socialist economy. In September of 1948, two months after the South declared statehood, North Korea was established, and Soviet forces withdrew from the country. Following the Korean War (1950-53), which resulted in a military stalemate, North Korea, and South Korea have had an extremely icy and hostile relationship.
In the late 1970's North Korea cut off ties with China and with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 they lost more support and aid. They have reestablished relations with China since, who are the North's major trading partner, but besides that North Korea is mostly isolated and hostile. In this climate, the hermit kingdom of North Korea has managed to become one of the least ethnically and culturally diverse countries on Earth. Due to its past, sanctions, isolation, and strict government, North Korea has basically no immigration, which keeps the country homogeneous and having little contact with outsiders. Due to these factors, North Korea has a population of slightly more than 24 million people, with over 99% being ethnically Korean.

Chinese In North Korea

Since North Korea is more than 99% ethnically Korean, other ethnic groups in the country are almost nonexistent. In North Korea's last census in 2008, only 0.002% of the population was listed by the government as being non-Korean. North Korea has a small community of Chinese expatriates that numbered almost 15,000 in the late 1950s but shrunk over the following two decades as the government encouraged them to leave. Today it's estimated that the Chinese population in the country is between 4,000 to 10,000 people.

Japanese In North Korea

There are also a very small amount of ethnic Japanese in North Korea, most of who were the spouses of Zainichi Koreans, who emigrated from Japan to North Korea in the late 1950s and 1960s as part of a repatriation campaign. This repatriation campaign was soon stopped once information got back to Japan of the harsh conditions in North Korea. The rest of Japanese in North Korea are either defectors or kidnapping victims.

Russians And Americans in North Korea

There are also a few Russian-Korean repatriates, probably less than 10,000 people, mostly from the Russian island of Sakhalin, located north of Japan. After having to stay on the island following World War Two, due to the Soviet Union's lacking workers after expelling the Japanese population, some of these Russian-Koreans returned to North Korea in the late 1950s and early 1960s. North Korea also has a few defectors from other countries, like James Joseph Dresnok, who was one of six American soldiers who was known to have defected in the years after the Korean War.

By Gregory Sousa

•culled from

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan

Almost two-thirds of citizens are ethnic Kazakhs, while Russians comprise by far the largest ethnic minority.
Kazakhstan, officially referred to as the Republic of Kazakhstan is a transcontinental county located in the northern Central Asia and extends to parts of Eastern Europe. It is considered the largest landlocked country in the world covering approximately 1,052,100 square miles. It is the most developed nation in Central Asia and generates close to 60% of the GDP of the region. It has a population of 18 million and a population density of roughly 6 people per square mile, making it one of the most sparsely populated country. The Kazakhs are the largest ethnic group, the Russians make up 23.7% of the population, Other ethnic groups include the Uzbeks, Germans and Ukrainians.

Major Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan


The Kazakhs are the largest ethnic group in Kazakhstan with an estimated population of 11 million people as at 2007. They use the Kazakh language which is written in Cyrillic, but some Kazakhs living in China use an Arabic-derived alphabet. In 2006, the president of Kazakhstan proposed a shift from the use of Cyrillic to Latin. The attempt failed with critics arguing that this would erode the rich history of the community and the country as a whole. The ancestors of the community belonged to Tengrism religion and later converted to Christianity. Islam was introduced later when Islam missionaries entered Central Asia. Islam took root and is now the predominant religion among the community members. There are many prominent Kazakhs in Kazakhstan including a large number of the heads of state of the country. Other include businessmen like Timur Kulibayev and Olag Novachuk.


Russians were first reported in the country in the 16th century as traders. The Russian army under the Soviet Union later invaded and colonized the country after defeating the Kazakhs who were at the time in the war with Kalmyks. In the early 1990s, the majority of Russians opted to go back to Russia citing lack of economic opportunities in Kazakhstan. The government also set up policies which sought to reaffirm the position of the Kazakhs as the real owners of the country. For example, the Kazakh language was made a national language. The Russian language was made to be an inter-ethnic language but was stripped the status of the national or official language. In 200, the Russian president met with a representative of the Russian community living in the country and a proposal for the departure of the remaining Russians back to their countries of origin was drafted. However, the proposal is yet to see the light of the day as the Russian government has not offered the necessary resources for repatriation.


The Uzbeks live in Chimkent Oblast which is in the southern parts of the country. They are the third largest ethnic group in the country making them one of the major minorities. They are believed to have come from Iran and are predominantly Sunni Muslims. The history of the Uzbeks in the country can be traced back in the 13th century following the Mongol invasion in central Asia. The Kazakhs and the Uzbeks have been in constant cold wars due to their different lifestyles with the Kazakhs being xenophobic towards the Uzbeks sedentary lifestyles. This rivalry has continued up to date with reports that there are deliberate efforts to drive Uzbeks from all leadership roles including in religious leadership. This I true even in the southern parts of the country where they are the majority. Schools that teach the Uzbek language have to obtain permission from the state and receive very minimal monetary support.

Other Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan

Other minorities living in the country include Germans and Ukrainians. These are however not native communities in Kazakhstan.

Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan

Rank Ethnic Groups Share of Population in Kazakhstan, 2009 Census
1 Kazakhs 63.1%
2 Russians 23.7%
3 Uzbeks 2.8%
4 Ukrainians 2.1%
5 Germans 1.1%
Other Peoples 7.2%

By Kenneth Kimutai too

•culled from

Monday 17 December 2018

Ethnic Groups And Nationalities In Japan

Japan has one of the most culturally homogeneous major societies on earth, dominated by the Yamato people.

Yamato Japanese

The Yamato Japanese are the dominant group in Japan, making up the lion's share of Japan's population. In fact, around 98% of the country's residents identify as being Yamato. However, the term Yamato Japanese did was not used until the late 1800s so that the people of mainland Japan would be distinguished from the other ethnic groups who were being incorporated into the Empire of Japan. The Yamato Dynasty, has run the Imperial House of Japan since it was founded in 660 B.C. by Emperor Jimmu, who lived from 711 B.C. until 585 B.C. according to tradition. The Yamato Japanese have ruled every major dynasty, kingdom, and period in Japanese history, and are the quintessential group that one thinks of when thinking of Japan and its people.

Ryukyuan Japanese

The Ryukyuan Japanese are indigenous to the Ryukyu Islands chain that stretches from the Japanese island of Kyushu all the way to Taiwan (Formosa). Starting in 1371, the Ryukyu islands became a key trade intermediary between China and Japan. In the early 1600s the Satsuma Domain invaded the Ryukyuan Kingdom and took it over as a nominal state to keep the benefits of trading with China but later on during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) the Ryukyu Kingdom was abolished and the area was fully incorporated into Japan. Since World War Two ended the United States as had a military presence in Okinawa, which has caused Ryukyuan Japanese in Okinawa to resent the Japanese government as they are very anti-military and feel as though they carry an unfair share of the burden when it comes to housing the U.S. military presence in Japan. The Ryukyuan Japanese have several different recognized subgroups and their unique language makes up one of the two branches of the Japonic language family.


The first ethnic Chinese immigrants are thought to have first come to Japan around 2,300 years ago from both China and the Koreaan Peninsula. Japan's first known Chinese visitor was Hui Shen, who was a Buddhist missionary who visited Japan in 499 AD, as described later in the book Liang Shu a little more then a century later. During the Sanzan period (1314-1429) in Okinawa, Chinese people were known to have migrated to the country at the invitation of the Ryukuyuan Kings to serve as royal advisers. During the Meiji period and the Taisho period (1912-26) many Chinese students came to Japan, mostly living in Tokyo, to study at universities since Japan was a cheaper and closer option them Europe or America. Following the end of the Chinese Civil War (1927-50), there was some immigration from China and Taiwan by Chinese to Japan by Chinese who had backed the Republic of China. There have also been some Chinese from the People's Republic of China, since in recent decades the Communist Party has allowed more freedom among its citizens to move and travel. Today, most Chinese live in the major cities of Japan and there are five Chinese schools in Japan, as well as Chinese newspapers.


In 1910, the Japanese Empire annexed the Korean Empire and shortly afterwards a Korean migration to Japan began. A large number of Koreans were conscripted into the Japanese army during World War Two and some stayed in Japan after the war. These Koreans are called Zainichi Koreans in Japan and they refer to most Koreans currently in Japan who traced their ancestry back to when Koreans came to Japan when Korea was under Japanese Rule from 1910 until 1945. Following the end of World War Two, around seventy percent of Japan's Korean population went back to Korea, although a new wave of migrants came to Japan from Korea following the Jeju uprising (1948-49) and the devastation of the Korean War in the 1950s. After World War Two the Koreans in Japan became divided between the Mindan, those who supported South Korea, and the Chongryon, those who supported North Korea. Since the 1970's the amount of Koreans who are Chongryon has declined and currently around 65% of Koreans in Japan are Mindan. A major issue effecting Koreans in Japan was the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty, that ended the occupation of Japan by the allies. This caused Zainichi Koreans to lose their Japanese nationality, as Japan had to give up its territorial claims to Korea. These caused Zainichi Koreans to not be able to receive government support or insurance and caused them to be discriminated against until 1965 when Japan and South Korea signed the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Koreawhich among other things gave Zainichi Koreans status as Special Permanent Residents. Currently, assimilation is a issue as only around 1% of Zainichi Koreans living in Japan go through naturalization to become citizens as Korean identity among both the Mindan and Chongryon link Korean ethnic identity with nationality.

Latin Americans

Most of Japan's Latin American population is from either BrazilPeru, or Colombia. In the 1980s, Brazilians, many of whom were of Japanese ancestry, with Brazil having the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan, starting coming to Japan as contract workers since Brazil was in the midst of huge political and economic problems at the time. In 1990, the Japanese government changed their immigration policy so that only people who were at least the third generation of the descendants could come to Japan, due to problems with illegal immigrants. This caused even more immigration from Brazil to Japan and also immigration from Peru and Colombia. Japanese Latin Americans have faced discrimination do to that fact that most of them do not act Japanese or have a Japanese identity. While Latin American Japanese are overwhelmingly Catholic, they do not have much interaction with Japan's small native Catholic population as differences in religious tradition, culture and language make it difficult to integrate into the local Catholic community.


The modern history of Filipinos in Japan really starts with the Japanese occupation of Japan during World War Two, when many Filipino students where selected to go to Japan to study at Japanese universities in an effort to try to reorient them towards supporting Japan and not the United States. Most people from the Filipinos in Japan only stay there for a few years as overseas workers, while sending the money that they made back to there families in the Philippines. In 2014 Japan announced that visa requirements would be relaxed for people from the Philippines, as well as IndiaIndonesia and Vietnam, that want to visit Japan.


The Ainu are a group of indigenous Japanese people concentrated on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, the disputed Kuril Islands, and the Russian island of Sakhalin. The Ainu made active contact with the Japanese in the 1200s and by the Muromachi period (1336-1573) disputes between the two groups turned into war in with the Ainu led Koshamain's Revolt in 1456. During the Edo period (1601-1868) the Ainu experienced increased trade with the Japanese and also suffered from smallpox and other diseases. During this period there was more mutual understanding between the two sides, though there were two large scale Ainu led revolts, Shakushain's Revolt (1169-72) and the Menashi-Kunashir Battle in 1789. In 1869 the Japanese incorporated Hokkaido into Japan and banned Ainu language and took Ainu land. In 1899 the government of Japan label the Ainu as former aborigines and gave them automatic Japanese citizenship, with the hope of fully integration the Ainu. In 2008, the Japaneses Diet passed a resolution that the government accepted that the Ainu has been discriminated against and were to be officially recognized as a indigenous group.

Ethnic Groups And Nationalities In Japan

Rank Ethnic Group or Nationality Population in Japan Today
1 Yamato Japanese 123,900,000
2 Ryukyuan Japanese 1,300,000
3 Chinese 650,000
4 Korean 525,000
5 Latin American 275,000
6 Filipino 200,000
7 Ainu 25,000

By Gregory Sousa

•culled from

Thursday 13 December 2018

Largest Ethnic Groups In Iraq

Arabs comprise the majority of Iraq's demography, while Kurds are the largest minority.
Iraq has an estimated population of 32,585,692 according to 2014 figures, and almost 80% of these are Arabs. Iraqi Arabs are followed in number in the country by Kurds, while numerous other groups comprise the remainder. Around 99% of the total population is Muslim, Christians constitute 0.8%, and others belong to smaller minority religious groups. The dominant ethnic group is the Mesopotamian Arabs. These Arabs are a fusion of old Mesopotamian, Arabian, Iranian, and other populations who speak the old Mesopotamian Arab. The official language of Iraq is Arabic and Kurdish which are the languages of the two largest communities in the country.


Modern Iraqi Arabs descended from a clustered group of peoples known as the Levant Arabs. Levant Arabs initially settled at the Arabian Peninsula and later migrated to North Africa. The Arabian culture developed from the tribes of nomads and villagers who lived in the Arabian Desert several hundred years ago. They speak Semitic language. They coexist as two groups, Sunni and Shiite Arabs. This division resulted from a split over who would inherit the leadership of Muslims after the death of Prophet Mohammad. This disagreement eventually led to a power struggle between the two. However, the Shiite Muslim dominates the Arabic population of Iraq.


Kurds trace their origins to the ancient Middle East. It is an independent ethnic group in Iraq and has a population of approximately 4 million people. They are descendants of various Indo-European tribes that arrived in Iraq around 4,000 years ago. The Arabs named them 'Kurds' after they conquered the region. Later, they fell under the Ottoman rule. The Kurds originally lived in the present day turkeyIranSyria, and Iraq. The Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in the northern part of Iraq covering an area of 15,692 square miles. The Kurdish people now live around the Zagros Mountains. Originally the Kurds were followers of Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, and local pagan beliefs. After the Arab overpowered them, Islam slowly dominated the Kurds. Today, most Kurds are Sunni Muslims with a minority population of Shiite Muslims. The majority of the Kurds speak the Kurdish language. Their main dialects are Sorani and Kurmanji. At the national level, the Kurdish identity is strong. Their language became public and was taught in schools, and educational institutions.


The Assyrians once existed as part of a mighty empire which covered parts of what are now northern Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran. Their empire fell between 612BC and 599 BC. During the Sassanid Empire, there was an Assyrian revival leading to the emergence of some independent Assyrian states. It was later dissolved as an entity when the Arab Islam conquests took place. They suffered massacres and discrimination owing to their Christian belief. Most refugees settled in Northern Iraq where they moved toward Kirkuk. The Assyrians speak Aramaic language. In the 1970s, the Ba'ath regime tried to recognize the Assyrians by ordering that Aramaic language be taught in schools, but it failed. Their Christian religion is also significantly discriminated against in the large Islamic population in Iraq. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Assyrians formed Assyrian Democratic Movement which was one of the smallest parties. Over two-thirds of the Assyrian Christian population has fled the country.


Turkmen originated from Central Asia and settled in Iraq. This migration took place in three phases. The first phase was in the 7th Century when Oghuz Turks served in the Muslim army. The second phase was the Turks of the Great Seljuq Empire during the repair of the holy road to Mecca. The last wave was Turks of the Ottoman Empire under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. The Turkmen speak a dialect that is considered to be either a South Azeri dialect or an intermediate between the South Azeri and the standard Turkish. Many of them are bilingual or trilingual, speaking Arabic and Kurdish. The majority of them are Muslims. They mostly occupy the northern and central regions of Iraq. The Turkmen were originally the administrative and business classes of the Ottoman Empire. Today they are an increasingly discriminated ethnic group in Iraq. They have been victims of several massacres, such as the Kirkuk massacres of 1924 and 1959. The government of Iraq tried to assimilate the Turkmen through "Arabization" in 1990 by the Arabs and a subsequent "Kurdification" in 1991. Today, they are no longer tribally organized due to the assimilation policies imposed upon them.

Ethnic Conflict

The Arabs dominate the population of Iraq, and thus have the greatest sway and impact in the country. Their Semitic language and the Muslim religion and culture dominate other minority populations. The Sunni are an Islamic minority group in Iraq as the Shiite is the majority group. There exists a continual battle between the Arabs and the Kurds leading to a survivalist mentality for the Kurds. The Turkmen also experience a strained relationship with the Kurds as they historically acted as buffers between Arabic and Kurdish areas. There are also the Yazidis, which are believed to be of Kurdish decent, as well as Persians, Kawliya, Armenians, Mandeans, Shabakis, and Circassians, among others.

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from
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