Wednesday 31 July 2019

Music of Jordan

The folk music of Jordan can be distinguished from that of its neighboring countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia by its strong Bedouin influence. Rural Zajal songs, with improvised poetry played with a Rabab and reed pipe ensemble accompanying is popular.

Popular music

The musician and composer Sameer Baghdadi, the
Bedouin singer Omar Al-Abdullat, and Diana
Karazon, winner of the Arab version of Pop Idol, are perhaps Jordan's biggest stars, known for his patriotic song "Hashemi, Hashemi" [3]. Other well-known Jordanian musicians are Qamar Badwan, who won the golden prize in the 2000 Cairo Song Festival, percussionist Hani Nassir, the pianist, and composer Khalid Asad. A new age group called Rum, lead by Tareq Al Nasser has been gaining regional and international popularity. Sign of Thyme on the other hand has been gaining Regional popularity with its Oriental-Jazz-Ethnic Fusion, the band has been active since 2004 and till this day produced 2 albums. Many Jordanian singers constantly use Western melodies and fuse it with Middle Eastern music bringing a fresh new generation of music. The controversial female singer, Malak El Nasser, known for her extremely seductive video clips is another popular Jordanian singer.

In Amman, the capital of Jordan, there has been a movement of alternative music in the last two decades. Rock bands that mix western and eastern influences are continuously becoming more popular. Ethereal was a famous oriental rock band early this decade, they were the first band in Jordan to have a large base of fans, their music was played on local radios. They ranked first when they presented Jordan in the European youth festival in Turkey in the year 1999. At the present there are some popular bands in Jordan such as Jadal and Illusions - who are famous for their pure classic rock style. with many bands reaching international audiences such as Ala'a Tarawneh who first performed a concert in PSUT (Princess Sumaya University for Technology) in their annual Open day and cover Alternative/Rock hits.

Jordan is also known to have a fairly large underground heavy metal scene that is always erroneously connected to Satanism causing people to attack it. Examples of Jordanian metal bands are Tyrant Throne (Death metal), Blind vision (Progressive metal), Bilocate (Doom/Death metal),
Esodic ,Spade (Thrash) and Ajdath who currently reside in Poland. Other bands, like Augury (Black metal) and Darkcide (Doom/Death metal), had to stop due to the lack of support or band members leaving the country.

One of the most important musicians in Jordan are the Faqir family which extends for more than 100 years. Jordan's western radio station, Play 99.6, works towards exposing new local artists, including many western pop singers such as Humam Ammari, Al'a Ayyoub, and Walid Karadsheh.
The thriving Indie rock scene was achieved thanks to artists such as Kais Khoury, Ibrahim Baggili, Hani Mitwasi and Yousef Kawar, as well as the Cowboys from Jordan; a band managed by Yousef Kawar himself. Other notable genres in Jordan are Hip Hop; which was popularized through DJ Shadia, who was hailed as resident DJ for the lofty club Nai, as well as a host on Play 99.6. DJ Shadia had previously opened for global stars such as Sean Paul and Massari. Other popular Hip Hop artists include LSP as well as MC Niz-r.

As of recent times, Jordan's Trance and electronic music scenes are rising rapidly within Jordanian youth, and techno and house have become staples in the musical tastes in Jordan. This was helped by the rapid rise of talented DJs such as Bee Bee and DJ Flava, as well as heavy airplay of trance songs on Jordanian radio channels. Many raves and underground techno gatherings occur, and electronic music is currently reaching number one status of music genre in Jordan; such a status was reached due to DJs playing continuously throughout Amman's many nightspots, a few notable DJs were Ali Saadi and Zafer Saadi, DJ Exoda, and the Hip Hop superstar, DJ Shadia. This was all achieved in a very short time frame starting from the 21st century.

•culled from

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Biggest Cities In Estonia

Situated along the northern coast of Estonia, Tallinn is the biggest city of Estonia and also the capital city of the country.

Estonia is a country in the Baltic region, bordered by the Gulf of Finland to the north, Lake Peipus, and Russia to the east, Latvia to the south, and the Baltic Sea to the west. Estonia attained formal independence in 1991 from the Soviet rule after successive colonization of the Teutonic, Danish, Swedish, and Russian rule. It freed itself from the Russian rule towards the end of the First World War only to fall in the hands the Soviet Union in the Second World War, 1940.

The Five Biggest Cities Of Estonia


Tallinn is the largest and the capital city of Estonia, covering an area of 159 square kilometers with a population of 443, 268. Founded in the 13th Century, Tallinn is one of the oldest cities in the northern Europe. Owing to its strategic location on the north coast, on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, the small town became a major trade hub and radically grew in importance as part of the Hanseatic League in the 14th and 16th centuries. The city is a prime financial, political, cultural, and educational center of Estonia, commonly aliased as the silicon valley of Europe. Tallinn's old town is among the best preserved gothic towns and UNESCO listed it as a world heritage site.


Tartu city comes second after Tallinn city of Estonia. It covers an area of 40 square kilometers with a population of 100,000. The locals of Estonia perceive the city as the intellectual harbor of the country particularly as it hosts the renowned University of Tartu. Almost a seventh of its populations consist of students who have made the city's nightlife flourish and active almost all year round. The city is also home to the supreme court of Estonia, Estonian National Museum, and the Ministry of Education and Research. It lays claim to being Estonia's spiritual capital with locals talking about special Tartu vaim created by the feel of its wooden houses and stately buildings and the beauty of its parks and riverfront. Its climate is rather mild considering the high altitude due to its proximity to the Baltic Sea.


Narva city covers an area of 60 square kilometers and has a population of 62,000, ranks third among the biggest cities of Estonia. This frontier location of the city, at the extreme eastern point of Estonia and bordering Russia, is the most distinguishing feature of the past and the present face of the town. At this border, two distinct cultures meet, interact, and mutually influence each other culminating into a typical architectural ensemble, appealing beauty and dramatic effect. This skillful architectural fusion resulted into the city's most prominent landmark- 51 m-high long Hermann tower, the 15th-century castle.


The strategic location of Parnu city on the southwest of Estonia, coast of Parnu Bay makes this fourth largest city of Estonia a famous summer holiday resort center. With a population of 40, 000, Parnu is the official summer capital of Estonia, hence a major tourist center in the country.


The city is a municipality in northeastern Estonia, founded in 1924 and acquired city rights in 1946. Ranking fifth among the biggest cities in Estonia,Kohtla-jarve is a major industrial center based in oil and petroleum productions. Kohtla-jarve city is ethnically diverse, consisting of people of over 40 ethnic groups. It comprises of two main parts, Jarve and Ahtime with approximate populations of 20,000 individuals in each, and set 10 km apart.

Global Position Of Estonia

Despite its successive colonization, Estonia is a developed country with a highly advanced high-income economy. Its economy is among the rapidly growing economies in the European Union. There are many important cities in Estonia which include Viljandi, Rakvere, Maardu, Sillamae, Kuressaare, Voru, Jovi, Paide among others. Estonia has an approximate population of 1.3 million and is one of the lowest populated members of the European Union, OECD, Schengen area, and The North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Biggest Cities In Estonia

Rank City Population

1 Tallinn 440,950
2 Tartu 93,687
3 Narva 58,375
4 Pärnu 41,170
5 Kohtla-Järve 35,928
6 Viljandi 17,860
7 Rakvere 15,747
8 Maardu 15,128
9 Sillamäe 13,686
10 Kuressaare 13,449
11 Valga 12,632
12 Võru 12,430
13 Jõhvi 10,152
14 Haapsalu 10,146
15 Keila 9,577
16 Paide 8,127
17 Saue 5,779
18 Elva 5,679
19 Põlva 5,643
20 Tapa 5,478

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Largest Ethnic Groups In Estonia

The vast majority of Estonia's residents are either ethnically Estonian or Russian, with smaller minority groups generally hailing from neighboring countries.

The vast majority of Estonia 's residents are either ethnically Estonian or Russian. The presence of the Soviet Union and the annexation of the country contributed to the presence of the Russian ethnic group in the country. Before World War 1 the population of Estonia was relatively homogeneous. The Russians, Germans, Jewish, Poles, Finns, and other nationalities constituted around 12% of the country’s population. After the political war era, the number of ethnic Estonians increased and that of war immigrants reduced. Even so, the country’s population is low but recent studies reveal that the immigration rate is slowly exceeding the emigration, and so the in the country will increase.


The ethnic Estonian group is predominant in all of the country’s counties, with Hiuu and Saare counties having more than 95% of their populations made up by Estonians. In 1934 before the Soviet Union, the Estonian community was around 80%, but by 1989 the population had decreased to 61.2%. This reduction resulted from the Soviet government trying to "Russify" Estonia.The purge era led to more than 60,000 ethnic Estonians killed or deported. After Estonia’s independence in 1991, the national catastrophe came to an end, and the population of ethnic Estonians increased. Today, the Estonians number 905,805, approximately 68% of the population.


During the Soviet rule, many ethnic Russians were given incentives to migrate into non-Russian states such as Estonia. As a result, the Russian population in the country increased to form the largest minority group. After Estonia gained independence in 1991, the immigration ceased, and a large number of Russians left the country. Today, the Russians are approximately 330,263 and still the most significant minorities. The presence of the Russian was influential enough that even to today, the Russian language education is taught in public and private schools. Today the integration of the Russian to Estonians has led to around 19% of Estonians attending Russian schools. There are also Russian newspapers, radio stations, Russian-based TV programs, and in general, many people are conversant with Russian.


Ukrainians are the third largest ethnic group in Estonia with a population of around 23,256, which is 1.7% of the total population. The history of Ukrainians in Estonia dates back to the Soviet Union rule in Estonia, the annexation, and World War 1. The immigration of Ukrainians in the Soviet government largely contributed to their presence in the country. The majority of the Ukrainians occupy the cities of Tallinn, Parnu, Maardu, and Tartu. Ukrainians also live in the North-Eastern region of the country as a result of the chemical industry specialists and coal miners sent by the Soviet Union. Today there are Ukrainian learning institutions, political parties, and religion masses held in Ukrainian.


Estonia has relatively close ties with Belarus . As a result, around 12,171 Belarusians live in Estonia. The state of Estonia promotes the cultural aspirations of culture identification of the Belarusian living in the country and facilitates the development of the Belarusian community. In fact, in 2001, the cultural associations of Belarusians joined to form the Estonian Association of Belarusians.


Estonia more closely relates to Nordic countries more than other Western European countries. Since post-independence, Estonia has had close ties with
Finland. In 1999, the foreign minister declared Estonia as a Nordic country, and the president in 2006 confirmed the declaration. As a result, three-quarters of the external investment in the country is from Nordic countries. In return, Estonia sends 42% of all its exports to Sweden and Finland. The unity of the two nations has facilitated the growth of the Finnish community in Estonia to around 7,659, making them one of the largest minorities in the country.


The presence of Germans in Estonia dates back to the 1970s, and even earlier many came following World War I. In that era, the Imperial German Army occupied the islands of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, and Muhu. The Germans drove the Russians out of Estonia but after the German Revolution in 1918, Russian took over Estonia as the Germans left. However, Hitler in 1939 destroyed the German Baltic Communities reducing the population of Germans in Estonia. Today, Germans are around 1,913 in the country, one of the smallest minority groups. The little population of the Germans in the country has fully assimilated in the Estonian culture. The ethnic Estonians and the Germans have learned to coexist and assimilated each other’s culture, and small traces of the German language exist in the country.

Other Minorities in Estonia

The ethnic minority groups of Estonia came into the country predominately during the Soviet Union's rule. These include the Tartars who number 1,981, Latvians (2,198), Jewish (2,023), Lithuanians (1,882), and Poles (1,747). Most of them are immigrants from their home countries. Despite the years of the political war era in the 20th Century, Estonian is a multiethnic country. The constitution protects all ethnic groups in the country. There is Ethnic tolerance among the people, and a majority of citizens integrate with the natives by recognizing the similarities between their individual countries. Despite the measures to unify the country, it lacks immigration rules that contributes to the small population. As a result, Estonia records one of the lowest populations in the world with around 1.3 million citizens.

Largest Ethnic Groups In Estonia

Rank Ethnic Background Number Living in Estonia, 2016

1 Estonian 905,805
2 Russian 330,263
3 Ukrainian 23,256
4 Belarusian 12,171
5 Finnish 7,659
6 Tatars 1,981
7 Latvians 2,198
8 Jewish 2,023
9 German 1,913
11 Lithuanian
Polish 1,882

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Monday 29 July 2019

The Culture Of Estonia

Estonia has a rich culture combining both indigenous and foreign cultural elements.

Estonia is a Northern European country composed of a mainland and over 2,000 islands. The country is bordered by Latvia, Russia, the Gulf of Finland, and the Baltic Sea. The culture of Estonia is considered to have grown out of Germanic culture. It is also influenced by the cultures of other nations like Russia , Sweden, and Denmark.

6. Ethnicity, Language, and Religion in Estonia

Estonia is home to a population of around 1,244,288 people. 68.7% of the population comprises of ethnic Estonians. Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Finns account for 24.8%, 1.7%, 1%, and 0.6% of the population respectively. Estonian is the country’s
official language and is spoken by 68.5% of the population. The ethnic minority communities speak their own native languages. The Communist rule in Estonia had a massive impact on the country’s religious scene. Today, nearly 54.1% of the nation’s population do not adhere to any religion. Christianity is the largest religion in the state with its various denominations like Lutheranism, Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, etc., having a significant presence in the country.

5. Estonian Cuisine

Traditional Estonian cuisine is based on meat, rye bread, potatoes, and fish (in coastal areas and near water bodies). However, today the cuisine is influenced by many other cuisines like German, Russian, Scandinavian, etc. Pork is the most widely consumed meat. Potato salad is often served with sausages, meat, and pickles. Meat, vegetable, or fish-filled pastries are also eaten. A wide variety of seafood like Baltic dwarf herring, crayfish, crabs, smoked or marinated eel, etc., are popular in Estonia. Soups are consumed as starters or main course. These are usually made of chicken or meat stock mixed with vegetables. Leivasupp is a unique soup made of black bread crumbs and apples. It is seasoned with sugar and cinnamon and served with sour cream. Kringle, curd snack, kama, and kissell are popular desserts of the cuisine. Birch sap beverages, wine, vodka, etc., are popular alcoholic drinks of Estonia. During summer, Estonians love to barbecue. Pickles, jams, and preserves are heavily consumed during this season. The traditional Estonian Christmas menu features blood sausage, roasted potatoes, sepik bread, sauerkraut, and head cheese.

4. Literature and the Arts in Estonia

Estonian literature refers to literary works in the Estonian language. The earliest of these works date from the 13th century. The growth of Estonian literature was, however, quite slow because of the domination of the region by the Germans, Swedes, and Russians for significant periods in the country's history. The earliest Estonian written literary works featured historical accounts and folktales. Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald is considered to be the father of Estonian national literature. The epic poem Kalevipoeg written by him is regarded as the national epic of Estonia. Oskar Luts is a prominent Estonian prose writer. Kevade, a lyrical school novel written by him, is read widely even today. Andrus Kivirähk and Tõnu Õnnepalu are two of the country's most celebrated writers of the 21st century. They produced literary works with elements from Estonian mythology and folklore.

Like literature, Estonia has a rich heritage of art beginning with the cave paintings of the Stone Age era. The Gothic Age in Estonia lasted between the 13th and 16th centuries. Gothic art in the form of church paintings, religious sculptures, etc., were predominant artworks of this period. Medieval Estonian art came next and was heavily inspired by Swedish art. Art pieces from this era were usually flat and had little association with reality. Skeletons and walking corpses were featured in many artworks of this time. Soviet-era art, lasting from 1940 to 1991, was based on socialist realism. Today, Estonian art is about both realism and surrealism.

3. Performance Arts in Estonia

Estonian music has a long history and dates back to the 12th century. Accounts from this time mention Estonian warriors singing the night before an epic battle. Folksongs in Estonia can be categorized into two traditions, the older folksongs in the poetic meter regivärss and the rhythmic folksongs of the 18th century. Following the national awakening in Estonia in the 19th century, professional Estonian musicians emerged for the first time. Rudolf Tobias, Heino Eller, Cyrillus Kreek were some of the most renowned composers of this time. Folk and classical music were prominent in the 20th century. Today, Estonian music and dance cover a variety of genres ranging from folk to classical and contemporary. A number of music and dance festivals are held in the country to inspire the nation’s performance artists. Ewert and The Two Dragons is one of Estonia’s most celebrated indie folk rock bands. Many of the country’s modern musicians and songwriters incorporate folk elements in their work.

2. Sports in Estonia

Sport is an integral part of the Estonian culture. A large variety of sports are played in the nation including basketball, beach volleyball, cricket, cycling, fencing, floorball, football, swimming, tennis, formula racing, ice hockey, judo, and more. Estonian athletes also participate in the Olympic Games and have won many medals for their country. Ice Cricket is an Estonian variety of cricket played on frozen lakes in the nation. Tallinn, the capital city, hosts the Ice Cricket World Championship every year. Skiing and other winter sports are very popular in Estonia. Otepää is regarded as the country’s “winter capital”. Cross-country skiing World Cup event is held there every year.

1. Life in the Estonian Society

The Constitution and law of Estonia grant equal rights and freedoms to both men and women. However, Estonian women are still not equally represented in the country’s workforce and under-represented in the government. Women also receive lower wages and lower positions in office than men in many areas of employment. Women, working or not, are expected to manage the household and children while working men generally do not engage in these activities.

Marriages on Estonia are generally based on a couple’s choice and there are no restrictions on such choice. However, marriages to foreigners, especially Russians, is not welcome, but also not forbidden. Divorces are common in Estonia. Estonian households are mostly of the nuclear type consisting of a couple living with their single child or maybe more than one child. Grandparents often assist the parents in bringing up the children, especially in households where both parents work outside the home. Education is highly valued and university education is prized.
Estonians tend to be private in nature. They usually keep to themselves in public places. Eye contact and loud voices in public are avoided. However, Estonians are warm and friendly within their personal space and love to enjoy their time with close friends and family.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Sunday 28 July 2019

Largest Ethnic Groups In The United Kingdom (Great Britain)

The ethnic groups in the United Kingdom include white, black British or Afro-Caribbean, and Indian.

The United Kingdom Demographics
In the United Kingdom, a census is conducted after every ten years. According to the 2011 census, the United Kingdom had a total population of 63,181,775, making it the 3rd most populous in the European Union and the 22nd most populous in the world. Immigration has contributed to the high population growth that has been experienced in the country in the last decade. The immigrants together with the natives compose the various ethnic groups in Great Britain. The indigenous British are believed to be descendants of the various ethnic groups that settled in the Great Britain before the 11th Century including the Romans, Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and Celts. The largest ethnic groups in the United Kingdom are looked at below.

White Europeans

White Europeans, or the White British people, are a racial classification for the people belonging to various ethnic European ancestries. In 2011, the White British population accounted for 87.1% of the entire United Kingdom’s population. The white European population included the population in the Northern Ireland. The majority of the white European (64%) in the United Kingdom is between the age of 16 and 64. White European (65%) are predominantly Christians, mostly Anglican while 25% have no religion. The unemployment rate among the White European is lower than the other ethnic group. The White European also dominates other ethnic groups in the political, social and economic sectors in the Great Britain.

Black British and Afro-Caribbean

Black British and the Afro-Caribbean are groups of people of the Caribbean and former British colonies who trace their origins to Africa. The Afro-Caribbean culture arose in the 16 th and 17 th Centuries during the triangular trade that was led by the Europeans who brought Africans to European-held colonies in the new World to work as slaves. The Africans who moved into Europe intermarried with the native Europeans leading to the formation of the Afro-Caribbean. Great Britain, France , and Netherlands have the highest number of Afro-Caribbean. In the United Kingdom, the Black British form 3% of the total population. The Black British speak a variety of English dialect. The dialect has been influenced by Jamaican Patois and the social class. Most of the Afro-Caribbean are found in big and across the United Kingdom, especially in London. The majority of Black British have faced a significant amount of racism with discrimination in employment, housing, and other social facilities. Racist Crime continues to plague the Afro-Caribbean with the media coverage of focusing more on the crimes involving the Black. The police have also been accused of racism when dealing with criminals and also when carrying out inspections.


The British Indian community totals over one million, thus representing 2.3% of the national population. The Indian people in the United Kingdom are of Indian origin or have their ancestry coming from India . Indian culture in the United Kingdom is similar to that practiced in India and other parts of the world. The culture is an amalgamation of different cultures which have been shaped over a long period. The culture is characterized by philosophy, literature, architecture, and music. Most of these Indian people in the United Kingdom are Buddhists and Hindus. The Indian dressing and clothing is unique and distinct and is influenced by culture. Women wear saris while men wear angarkhs . Just as with Indians anywhere else, their food often includes lentils, rice, wheat flour, and pearled barley.

Largest Ethnic Groups In The United Kingdom (Great Britain)

Rank Ethnic Group Share of Population in the United Kingdom

1 White European 87.1%
2 Black British or Afro-Caribbean 3.0%
3 Indian 2.3%
4 Multiracial 2.0%
5 Pakistani 1.9%
6 Bangladeshi 0.7%
7 Chinese 0.7%
Other Groups 2.3%

By John Misachi

•culled from

The Biggest Cities In The United Kingdom

The London Metropolitan Area alone has more residents than Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland combined.

The United Kingdom is a sovereign state in Europe. Its boundaries include the island of Great Britain, the northeastern portion of the island of Ireland, and several other smaller islands. The United Kingdom is surrounded by the North Sea, English Channel, Atlantic Ocean, and the Celtic Sea. The country has the 13th longest coastline in the world (12th if Antarctica is not considered). The United Kingdom covers a total area of 242,500 square kilometers, making it the 11 th largest country in Europe and 78 th in the world. The country has an estimated population of 65.1 million, the fourth most densely populated country in Europe. The United Kingdom is a developed economy with some of the best-developed cities in the world, the largest of which are looked at below.

The 3 Biggest Cities in The United Kingdom


London, first settled during the reign of the Roman Empire over what is now Britain, is today the capital city of both England and the United Kingdom. The city is the most populous city in the United Kingdom with a population of 8.6 million inhabitants who speak over 300 languages. London is one of the leading global cities in art, entertainment, commerce, finance, fashion, media, and healthcare. The city is also one of the world’s leading financial centers and has the fifth largest metropolitan area GDP in the world. London, which is home to four World Heritage Sites, is among the world's most visited cities.


The city of Birmingham is in the West Midlands of England. The city is home to 2.8 million people. Birmingham grew to prominence in the 18th century during the Midlands Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. Today, the city’s economy is driven by the service sector being a major international commercial sector. The city is also a conference, retail, events, and transport hub. Its economy is the second largest in the United Kingdom with an average GDP of $121 billion. Its six universities make it one of the largest higher education centers. The cultural institutions in the city enjoy international recognition because of the vibrant art, music, culinary, and literary scenes.


Manchester has a population of 2.7 million inhabitants, which makes it the third largest city in the United Kingdom by population. Manchester was ranked as a beta world city by Globalization and World Cities Research Network in 2014. The city is the third most visited in the United Kingdom because of its culture, media links, architecture, scientific output, social impact, and sports clubs. Manchester has been called Europe’s most affordable city with a cost of living index below 95.

List of the Largest Cities in the United Kingdom

Rank City Population (2015)

1 Greater London 8,674,000
2 Birmingham (West Midlands) 2,834,000
3 Greater Manchester 2,756,000
4 West Yorkshire 2,282,000
5 North East 1,957,000
6 Glasgow 1,804,000
7 Liverpool 1,525,000
8 Cardiff 1,505,000
9 Sheffield 1,375,000
10 Edinburgh 1,350,000

By John Misachi

•culled from

Population Of The United Kingdom

64.1 million people inhabit the European nation of United Kingdom, equivalent to about 0.88% of the total world population.

The United Kingdom, comprised of England , Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland , has a population of approximately 64.1 million. About 83.9% of the people live in England. The entire region has gone through all the phases of demographic changes and today experiences a low population growth. This decline in growth is due, in part, to the low fertility rate of 1.92 children per woman. In order to maintain a healthy population size, a fertility rate of 2 is required. The mortality rate is also low with 9.3 deaths per 1,000 people. Ages are distributed as follows: 17.6% are between 0 and 14 years, 66% between 15 and 64, and 16.4% over the age of 65. Together, cardiovascular disease and cancer are responsible for 60% of all deaths.


People of British ancestry have their roots in a variety of indigenous groups including the Celtic, Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Normans, and Romans. Many of these groups came to and settled in the area from the Iberian Peninsula during the Neolithic period between 10,500 BC and 2,000 BC. Over time, these settlers divided into three major groups: the English, Scotch, and Welsh. The people were divided into various kingdoms ruled by different indigenous leaders for hundreds of years. By 937 AD, the regions were united as one nation state under the rule of Anglo-Saxon King Athelstan of Wessex. This was the first unifying moment that brought the cultures together as one “British” culture. This did not, however, stop tribal and clan identities which, over many centuries, led Scotland, Wales, and Ireland to fight for their independence from England. In 1707, Scotland and England signed a unity treaty and in 1800, Ireland followed suit.


Religious identity and practice of the poupulation of the United Kingdom are varied but declining. In fact, 49% of the population identifies as irreligious, which is the lack of religious belief, atheism, and agnosticism. This religious identity is common and increasing throughout Europe. The UK has entered a period of post-Christianity. Of the four nations within the UK, England is the least religious.

The second most commonly practiced religion is Anglican Christianity, practiced in the Church of England, Church of Scotland, Church of Ireland, and Church of Wales. The religion was formed in 1534 when its followers broke away from the Catholic Church due to different interpretations of the Christian holy text. Since then, this has been the predominant Christian denomination and today, 17% of the population identify as such. Another 17% of the people of the UK practice non-Catholic and non-Anglican Christian denominations. These include Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Orthodox, and Evangelical (to name a few). In Ireland, the second largest religion is Protestantism.

Roman Catholicism is practiced by 8% of the population and has an interesting history in the UK. After the church split, the Catholic Church would not recognize the previously mentioned Anglican church. Catholics, in turn, were discriminated against and prohibited from fully participating in society. In Northern Ireland, 40% of the population is Catholic.

Only 5% of the population consider themselves Muslim, although it is the fastest growing religion in the region due to immigration patterns. Approximately 3% of the population practice religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Baha’i.


Today, the UK is made up of more than people of British descent. Events throughout history have shaped the face of the region today and resulted in some groups of different ethnicities. For example, the African slave trade of the 1700’s resulted in a small population of Black British (a controversial term). International trade with China during the 19th century brought many Chinese immigrants. Beginning in 1964, many immigrants from former British colonies came to the UK, originating from Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia. Additionally, since 2004, many immigrants have come from Central and Eastern Europe as a result of being included in the European Union.

The 2011 census results are as follows: White (87%); Asian British, including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, and others (6.9%); Black British (3%); Mixed (2%); Other (.9%); and Gypsy or Irish Traveller (.1%).


The official language of the poupulation of the United Kingdom is English, which is spoken by 95% of the population. In 1992, Europe drafted the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in order to preserve historical languages throughout the region. This protection is only provided to the original languages used by historic national populations, thus excluding the languages of recent immigrants. In the UK, these languages include Scots, Cornish, Ulster-Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Irish. The use of these languages is measured by abilities like speaking, reading, and writing. The percentage of people who can at least speak these languages is Welsh (18.35%), Scots (30.12%), Irish (6.05%), Ulster-Scots (2.04%), Scottish Gaelic (1.13%), and Cornish (.09%). The second most common non-historic language spoken in the UK is Polish, used by 1.01% of the population.


The UK has provided free public education since a long time. In 1870, universal primary level education was established in England, Wales, and Scotland. The secondary level was established in 1900. Children between the ages of 5 and 16 are required to attend school, and only small percentages attend private school. After secondary school, children have the option to obtain higher levels of education which includes apprenticeships and vocational training. This dedication to education has had a tremendous impact on the literacy rate throughout the UK. Today, approximately 99% of the population can read and write.

Sources Of Livelihood

The economy in the UK is one of the strongest in the world. About 78% of the UK’s gross domestic product comes from the service industry, which includes jobs in retail, transportation, sales, entertainment, restaurants, hotels, healthcare, financial services, and any other area that provides services to other businesses or customers. Other major employers in the UK include the automobile, pharmaceutical, and aerospace industries.

Future Trends

As previously mentioned, the poupulation of the United Kingdom is experiencing relatively slow growth due to low fertility rates among women. However, immigration to the region has led to an increase in population. In fact, 53% of the growth experienced between 1991 and 2014 was due to migration. This trend is could continue over the next 20 years or so. As people from different countries and cultures settle in the UK, they will contribute to natural changes in birth and death rates. Approximately 17% of future growth is expected to come from these changes. This means that new immigrants will directly, and indirectly, contribute to roughly 70% of expected future growth trends.

By Amber Pariona

•culled from

Friday 26 July 2019

Israeli Folk Music

The music and lyrics expressed the dreams of a new nation.

Throughout world history, music has served political purposes. Plato’s Republic describes the ability of music to calm the passions, thereby allowing for the building of a harmonious society. In 17th-century France, Louis XIV commissioned new large-scale musical works for every social occasion or political event; the grandeur of those musical works was to reflect the grandeur of the monarch himself. American revolutionaries adopted songs that spoke of freedom and national pride to unify them in their quest for independence from Britain.

Fostering a Love of Israel

Music played an equally important role in the spread of Zionism in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The Zionist movement from its beginnings posited that the Jewish people had a common attachment to the ancient land of Israel, beginning with Abraham’s departure from his father’s home in Mesopotamia, and lasting to the present day, even after thousands of years of exile and dispersion. But the actualization of such a profound common love of the land required creativity and work. The pressing question for the early Zionists was how to bring the Jewish people together, to rekindle their love of their common heritage and especially of Israel.

Music is in many societies an expression of common experiences and values. Participants in the early Zionist movement reversed this process: they created, almost instantaneously, a “folk” music, in order to unify Jews throughout the world around their cause.

The early Zionists were by and large Socialists, and their approach to music reflected their politics. Music, like almost everything else in life, needed to be dedicated to and related directly to the common good. It needed to serve as an inspiration for the new olim (immigrants to Israel), both in its topics and in its musical characteristics. The topics of Israeli folk songs are as disparate as love (for example, in “Erev Shel Shoshanim” –“Evening of Lilies”) and the physical construction of the new state (as in “Havu Livenim“–Carry the Bricks). But the unifying characteristic of these songs is their description of the experience of living in Israel and fulfilling the national destiny.

During this time, music created in the Land of Israel was for the express purposes of identity-building and furthering the goals of Zionism. (It was not until the era of World War II that large numbers of classically-trained composers began to arrive in the Land of Israel, allowing for the growth of “art music” there.)

From Biblical Text to Popular Song

From early in the 10th century, there were songs composed not only to texts descriptive of life in the Land of Israel, but also to texts from the Bible. This is not to say that many of the early olim were religious; indeed, many saw life in the Holy Land as a substitute for religious practice. But the use of biblical texts for popular songs emphasized the common experiences of the Jewish people throughout history, their common “folklore.”

Indeed, as early as 1862, the composer Eliakim Zunser published collections of
songs, intended to concretize the culture being left behind in Europe.

Jews had always created music in the Diaspora, but each community had its own musical style, often influenced by its host society. Jewish musicians in British -ruled Palestine and in the early State of Israel developed a distinctive musical style, drawing heavily on European tonality, but coloring it with “eastern” or “exotic” sounds.
With the first wave of immigrants to the Land of Israel in the 1880s came the musical traditions of Europe. In fact, many of the earliest songs simply reused melodies familiar from the old country, but applied to them new words that reflected the nature of life in pre-state Israel.

But the traditions of Europe were not enough; the early olim wanted to develop their own national voice, one that reflected their reality. They thus quickly began to develop their own musical style, one that embodied the “exotic” nature of their quest. They therefore sought out and employed sounds of the music of their middle-eastern Arab neighbors to give their new music an authentic Middle Eastern flavor; many songs from this early period imitate closely folk songs already circulating among Arab populations of the area. Composers of the new musical style also eagerly applied their new sounds to the verses of such important poets as Chayim Nachman Bialik.

Exploring New Subjects

After the War of Independence in 1948, the topics of Israeli folk songs began to change. Rather than describing the pastoral scenes or the construction of the Land of Israel, they began to reflect the political reality of the new state. Songs were composed memorializing fallen friends and describing warfare, the defense of Jewish villages against their enemies, and the perpetual desire of the Jewish people for peace.

With the establishment of the State of Israel came an enormous influx of new olim from more heterogeneous backgrounds. The folk music of the country reflected this new variety, and a many distinct musical styles and trends were crystallized among Israeli composers. In 1960, the first Israel Song Festival took place to celebrate the rich musical tradition that had emerged in such a short time, and as a means of sharing the diverse musical flavors of the country.

Israeli folk music, along with its companion folk dance, spread throughout the country and the world quickly, and the invention first of radio and then of television made this process even faster. Especially in the 1960s, the use of radio allowed for the formation and popularization of musical groups like “ HaTarnegolim” (The Roosters) and “ Batzal Yarok ” (“Spring Onions”). Naomi Shemer’s compositions and her voice came to represent the spirit of the young country, and the radio spread the sound of her songs across Israel, America, and beyond.

Television was first used in Israel in the late 1960s, and with it came increased musical programming, as well as the spread of musical theater. Today, much of Israeli popular music retains a folk-like element, both in the topics of the songs and in musical style.

The folk music created in Israel in the past century has taken on significance not only for that tiny country, but also for Jews across the world who look to Israel for cultural and religious inspiration. Israeli folk music old and new, true to its original creative impetus, allows for the unification and common identification of Jews throughout the world.


•culled from Jewish

Thursday 25 July 2019

What are Citizens of Denmark Called?

Citizens of Denmark are called Danish, or Danes.

Where Is Denmark?

Denmark, officially known as the Kingdom of Denmark, is located in the continent of Europe. It is bordered to the South by Germany and borders Sweden (south-west) and Norway (south). It also comprises of the Faroe Islands (in the North Atlantic Ocean) and Greenland. It has a total population of 5.75 million covering an area of 2,210,579 square kilometers inclusive of Faroe Islands and Greenland.

The capital city of Denmark is Copenhagen and other major cities include Arhus, Odense, Aalborg, Esbjerg, Randers, Kolding, Horsens, Roskilde, Greeves Strand, among others.

What Are Citizens Of Denmark Called?
The citizens of Denmark are called Danes and their language is Danish. The two words can, however, be used interchangeably to mean the citizens of Denmark since the Danes consider themselves to be of Danish ethnicity. Danish citizenship is automatically granted to one born of a Danish parent (mother or father), whether born in Denmark or out of Denmark. Those who do not receive Danish citizenship in this way can only receive it through the decree of law.

The Danish system does not allow dual citizenship, hence, the Danish citizenship will be automatically lost when one applies for foreign citizenship or if upon attainment of 22 years of age, a person fails to apply for Danish citizenship despite being born of Danish parents and has never lived in Denmark.

What Are The Most Common Ethnicities In Denmark?
There are four most common ethnicities in Denmark. The Danish consist the largest group of about 89.60% of the total population. This is due to the fact that most of the people born in the country are born out of at least one Danish parent, which accords the person automatic Danish ethnicity and citizenship.

Albanian is another group consisting 10.4% of the population in Denmark. The Danish Albanians are mostly descendants of immigrants into the country.
The third group is the Arabs who were mainly born of Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian parents who later migrated to Denmark and acquired Danish citizenship.

The fourth common group is the Pakistanis. They consist of both immigrants from Pakistan and those born of the immigrant parents. Most of these immigrants were from Punjab and Kharian who sought employment in Denmark and as a result became citizens of Denmark.

Other ethnicities in Denmark include Bangladeshis, Chinese and Ethiopians who were also immigrants from their mother countries to Denmark in search of employment.

Due to the various ethnicities, religion is also a vast sector having religious practices such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Neopaganism. Notably, Christianity is the predominant religion in Denmark since it is the State religion. Islam follows next due to heavy immigration from Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Syria and Iraq. The Danish ethnic group are predominantly Lutheran Christians.

Famous Danes

Some of the famous Danes include the professional tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, Nicklas Bendtner a professional football player in the Denmark national team. Some famous Dane actors and actress include; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Viggo Mortensen, Mads Mikkelsen and Brigitte Nielsen.

By Ms Aggie

•culled from

Biggest Cities In Denmark

Originally a Viking fishing village, Copenhagen is today the capital and most populous city of the Scandinavian nation of Denmark.

A Scandinavian country, Denmark is located in Europe and is south of Norway and southwest of Sweden. The country has a total area of 42,924 square km and houses a population of 5.7 million. Denmark’s residents enjoy a high standard of living and the country excels in the fields of education, healthcare, governance, civil liberties, and prosperity. Denmark is among the world’s least corrupt countries and has one of the highest per capita incomes and highest levels of income equality in the world. Thus, the cities of Denmark are also some of the world’s best cities in terms of living conditions, infrastructure, health and education facilities, and other related factors.

The Five Biggest Cities In Denmark


Copenhagen is the biggest and capital city of Denmark situated on the Zealand island’s eastern coast. A small section of the city is also located on the Amager Island. Copenhagen was founded in the 10th century as a Viking fishing village. Since then, the city witnessed several periods of ups and downs till it finally emerged as one of the most developed and happiest cities of the world in the current century. The city is home to several major universities of the country like the University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark, and more. It is one of the world's greenest cities and is also famous for being bicycle-friendly. The Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup is the largest airport in the Nordic countries. The city houses major attractions like Rosenborg Castle Gardens, Tivoli Gardens, the Little Mermaid Statue, several restaurants, nightclubs, and museums.


Ranking second among the biggest cities in Denmark, Aarhus is located on the Jutland Peninsula’s east coast, 187 km northwest of Copenhagen. The city was founded as a fortified Viking settlement in the 8th century. The industrial revolution led to the rapid development of the city, and today it is the economic and cultural core of the region. The city ranks among the top 100 conference cities in the world. Aarhus is the country’s important industrial port and trade hub with major Danish companies having their headquarters in the city. It is an important research and education center, and the Aarhus University is a major university in the country. The city is also associated with a rich musical history.


The third largest Danish city of Odense is located on the island of Funen, 167 km southwest of Copenhagen. The area in and around the city has a long history of settlement of over 4,000 years. Odense houses some of the major industries of the region like the GASA and the Albani Brewery. The tourist attractions here include the Odense Palace, Odense Theatre, Hans Christian Andersen Museum, the Odense Symphony Orchestra, etc.


Aalborg ranks fourth among the biggest cities in Denmark. The industrial and university city is located in the North of Jutland, 118 km north of Aarhus. Aarhus has served as an important harbor since the Middle Ages and later became a major industrial center in the country. The city’s architecture displays half-timbered mansions that were built by wealthy merchants of the past. Aalborg is an important cultural hub in the country and houses several museums, palaces, orchestras, theaters, and more. The end of May Aalborg Festival is one of the biggest festivals held in the Scandinavian region.


The city of Frederiksberg is an affluent Danish town that is part of the Capital Region of the country. There are vast tracts of green spaces in the town and some attractions considered to be part of Copenhagen like the Copenhagen Zoo are actually part of Frederiksberg.

Which Are The Biggest CIties In Denmark?

Rank Name Population

1 Copenhagen , Capital Region 1,153,615
2 Aarhus , Central Jutland 237,551
3 Odense , South Denmark 145,931
4 Aalborg , North Denmark 122,219
5 Frederiksberg , Capital Region 95,029
6 Esbjerg , South Denmark 72,205
7 Randers , Central Jutland 55,780
8 Kolding , South Denmark 55,363
9 Vejle , South Denmark 51,177
10 Horsens , Central Jutland 50,074

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

The Culture Of Denmark

Denmark has a rich culture and heritage.

The Scandinavian nation of Denmark occupies a total area of 42,924 square km and hosts a population of around 5,809,502 people. 86.7% of the country’s population comprises of the ethnic Danish people including the Faroese and the Greenlandic peoples. The ethnic Turkish people and other ethnic groups (Polish, German, Syrian, etc.) constitute 1.1% and 12.2% of the population of the country, respectively. Christianity is the religion of the vast majority in Denmark. Around 76% of the population is affiliated to the Evangelical Lutheran church. Muslims are the largest religious minority making up 4% of the country’s population. Adherents of other Christian denominations and other religions account for the rest of the population.

Danish Cuisine
Danish cuisine is influenced by the local produce of the country. The cuisine was later improved with the use of newer cooking techniques that were developed in the latter half of the 19th century. Smørrebrød or open sandwiches are popular in the country. Meat and fish are the main ingredients of everyday meals. Roast pork with crackling called flæskesteg, frikadeller or meat balls, fried sausage, breaded pork patties, etc., are also part of the Danish cuisine. Modern-day cooking in Denmark is also inspired by global cuisines. Imported tropical spices are often used to add flavor to traditional dishes.

Danish Art

Although the history of Danish painting can be traced back to centuries, the Golden Age of Danish Painting began only in the 19th century. Earlier, Danish painting was visible primarily in the form of frescos in churches. Landscape painting inspired by the country’s magnificent landscapes became popular with Christoffer W. Eckersberg popularising the art form in the country. In the 19th century, several towns in the country developed as artists’ colonies. Artists from across the nation traveled to these places to paint the places and the people.

Literature In Denmark

Denmark has a rich literature scene. The country has produced many world-renowned authors like the fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, the storyteller Karen Blixen, and the playwright Ludvig Holberg. Peter Høeg is one of the most well-known Danish writers of the modern times. Others include Benny Andersen, Klaus Rifbjerg, Kirsten Thorup.

Performing Arts In Denmark

Denmark has a rich and thriving music scene. Carl Nielsen from Denmark was an internationally renowned classical music composer. The Royal Danish Ballet is also a world-famous classical ballet company based in Copenhagen. Jazz music is also popular in Denmark and the great success of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival proves the fact. Danish bands like Aqua, Michael Learns to Rock, Kashmir, D-A-D, etc., represent the modern rock and pop scene in the country.

Denmark also has its own film industry. In recent times, films produced by this industry have been recognized abroad. Some films have also won Oscars. Many theaters exist throughout the country which put on both Danish and foreign performances. Ludvig Holberg is often regarded as the founder of the Danish theater.

Sports In Denmark

Sports is highly popular in the country with its citizens actively participating in a wide variety of sports. Football is regarded as the national sport of Denmark. Marine sports are also hugely popular in the country. Its numerous beaches are well-known for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, etc. Denmark is also internationally renowned for speedway racing and has won several world championships in this game. Denmark has also emerged as a strong cycling nation in recent times. Cycling is one of the most favored modes of transport in much of Denmark as it considered to be environmentally friendly.

Festivals And Celebrations In Denmark

Midwinter celebrations have been a significant part of Danish culture since ancient times. Danes celebrate the 24th of December as the most important day. It is on this day that the family members get together to celebrate Christmas Eve. They refer to this day as Juleaften or Yule Eve. A traditional dinner is laid out in the evening on this day.

A variety of non-religious festivals are also celebrated in Denmark including many music and dance festivals. The Copenhagen Pride Parade is a major event in Copenhagen, the capital city of the country. The Copenhagen Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is another festival dedicated to same-sex couples in the country. Copenhagen is thus a popular travel destination for same-sex couples from around the world.

Life In A Danish Society

Men and women enjoy equal rights in a Danish society. The country has one of the highest percentages of women in the workforce in Europe. There is a strong representation of women in politics. Marriages are based on romantic relationships and individuals are free to select their marriage partners. Co-habitation prior to marriage is acceptable in society. Same-sex unions are also legal. Families in Denmark are generally nuclear in nature with two-parent or single-parent households being common. Children usually leave their parents' homes in their teens or just as they attain adulthood. Both sons and daughters have equal inheritance rights of their parents’ properties.

Both paternity and maternity leaves are granted to parents so that the women do not need to leave their careers for motherhood. Child care centers flourish as children of working parents are often left there during working hours.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Biggest Cities In The Czech Republic (Czechia)

Around 1 in 5 Czech citizens live in the metropolitan area containing and surrounding the capital city of Prague.

Below, we take a look at the five largest cities in the Czech Republic . These, along with the 6th through 10th most populous cities in the country and their respective population sizes, are listed at the conclusion of the article as well.

5. Liberec

Librec is the fifth largest city in the Czech Republic with a population of 102,0562 people. Liberec is the capital of the Librec region of the country. The city was first settled by Flemish and German migrants at some point in the 14th Century and is first known to be mentioned in a document from 1348. The city sits on the Lusatian Neisse River that runs through central Europe and is surrounded by the Jizera Mountains and the Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge. The city is home to the North Bohemian Museum which was built in 1873 and is one of the oldest museums on the natural sciences in the country. The zoo in Liberec was the first to ever be opened when the country was still Czechoslovakia, back in 1919. Some of the city's notable locations are the Libretto Castle, which was built in the 1500s, the F. X. Šalda theater built in 1885, the Liberec Town Hall built in 1893 and the Ještěd Tower built in 1968 that sits on top of the Ještěd Mountain.

4. Plzen

Plzen, alternatively known as Pilsen, is the fourth largest city in the Czech Republic with a population of 169,033 people. Plzen is the capital of the Plzen region of the country. Plzen is first mentioned in documentation in 976 as a castle during a battle involving the Holy Roman Emperor Emperor Otto II (955-983) and in 1295 Plzen became a town when King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia (1271-1305) granted the city its civic charter. The city of Plzen is located in the Plzen basin which is where the Berounka River is formed from the confluence of the Mze, Radbuza, Uhlava, and Uslava Rivers. The city of Plzen is the main hub for culture, business and academia in the western area of the Czech Republic. The city center has been declared a cultural heritage preservation site since 1989 and in 2015 was named as one of the two cities to be the European Capital of Culture. Some of the cities main attractions are the St. Bartholomew's Cathedral, which was built in 1295 and has the highest tower in the country. The city is also home to the second largest Jewish synagogue in all of Europe, the Moorish Revival Great Synagogue and one of the longest underground tunnel networks in all of Central Europe. The oldest operating brewery in the world, the Dobrow Monastery, is located near and has been in operating since 1375. The city is also world famous for its pilsner beer, which has been made in the city since 1842.

3. Brno

Brno is the third largest city in the Czech Republic with a population of 810,000 people. Brno is the capital of the South Moravian Region of the country. At some point in the early 11th Century, a castle was established for a prince from the House of Přemyslid that would become the city of Brno. The city was first mentioned in documentation in the Chronica Boëmorum by Cosmas of Prague (1045-1125) and was officially recognized as a town by the King of Bohemia, Wenceslaus I (907-935), in 1243. Brno also served as the capital of the Margraviate of Moravia (1182-1918) from 1641 until 1918. Brno is in the southeastern part of the country, is located at the point where the Svitava and Svratka Rivers converge, and is surrounded by hilly forest. The city is home to many sites including the 13th Century Špilberk and Veveří castles, the Church of St.Peter and Paul and the St. Thomas's Abbey where Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) established genetics with his experiments on pea plants. The city is also home to the second largest ossuary in all of Europe, the Brno Ossuary, and the AZ Tower, which was completed in 2013 is the tallest building in the country at 364 feet (111 meters) tall.

2. Ostrava

Ostrava is the second largest city in the Czech Republic with a population of 1,164,328 people. Ostrava is the capital of the Moravian-Silesian Region of the country. The first documented mention of the city of Ostrava comes from a 1229 document from Pope Gregory IX that mentions the town. Ostrava is situated in the Moravian Gate, a broad river basin and is located at the point where the Lučina, Odra, Opava, and Ostravice Rivers meet. The city of Ostrava is the location of the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, which and international renowned as well and also hosts the Spectaculo Interesse festival and the Theater Without Barriers Festival in the Ostrava Puppet Theater. The city also adds to its rich culture of the arts with the Colours of Ostrava music festival and is host to many international film and theater festivals each year. The city is also host to a wide variety of different and unique museums, including toy, brewery, firefighting, railway and blacksmith museums.

1. Prague

Prague is the largest city and the capital city of the Czech Republic with a population of 2,156,097 people. Various groups from across Western, Central, and Northern Europe, including the Celts, Marcomanni, Germanic Tribes, and Slavic tribes, had settled in the region that is now Prague. However, Prague itself was not established until 885, when Bořivoj I (852-889) of the Premyslid dynasty founded the Prague Castle and established the city. Prague in the past has been the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, the capital of the Holy Roman Empire for two emperors and the capital of Czechoslovakia. Prague is located in the center of the Bohemian Basin and sits on the Vltava River. Prague is the cultural center of the Czech Republic and as one of the capitals of Europe is the location of culture, arts, industry and architecture that spans over the centuries. The city is home to various museums, theaters, art galleries, universities and is a major hub for tourists to visit. Prague is the location of many old world wonders, including the Jewish Quarter of the city which had been settled by Jews beginning in the early 10th Century, the Vyšehrad Fort which was built in the middle of the 10th Century, and the Charles Bridge which was built in 1402. The city is also home to the Prague astronomical clock, which was installed in 1410 and is the oldest astronomical clock still operating in the world. Prague Castle which started being built in 876 is the largest ancient castle in the world and has been the past home to kings, emperors and is the current resident of the Czech Republic's president. The castle also houses the Bohemian Crown Jewels, including the crown used for the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (1316-1378) which is the fourth oldest crown in all of Europe.

Biggest Cities In The Czech Republic (Czechia)

Rank Biggest Cities in the Czech Republic Metro Population

1 Prague 2,156,097
2 Ostrava 1,164,328
3 Brno 810,000
4 Plzen 169,033
5 Liberec 102,562
6 Olomouc 100,154
7 Usti nad Labem 93,409
8 Ceske Budejovice 93,285
9 Hradec Kralove 92,808
10 Pardubice 89,693

By Gregory Sousa

•culled from

Ethnic Groups In The Czech Republic

According to the 2011 census, ethnic Czechs are by far the largest ethnicity, while Moravians are the largest minority.

The Czech Republic is a central European country bordered by Germany , Austria , Poland, and Slovakia. The country covers an area of 78,866 square kilometers with Prague being the largest city and its capital city as well. The Czech Republic has a parliamentary representative democracy characterized by the pluralistic multi-party system. In the country the premier is the head of government while the president is the head of state but with limited powers. The executive powers of the premier are derived from the constitution of the country. The Czech Republic has a population of about 1.2 million people divided into several ethnic groups. The country is also home to several foreigners mostly from Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland, Germany America,
China, and Vietnam. Ethnic groups in the Czech Republic include:


The Czech people are the largest ethnic group in the country with its population accounting for 63.7% of the country’s population, translating to 6.7 million people. The group was initially called the Bohemians because of their initial settlement in Bohemia during the late Iron Age. However, they migrated into the various modern day settlements in the 20th century. Czechs are also found in US, UK, Italy, Germany, and Canada. Czechs are believed to have been brought into the Czech Republic by their forefather Cech or by Václav Havel who established a dynasty that ruled for 400 years up to 1306. Some of the notable figures associated to Czechs include Charles IV, a Holy Roman Emperor, Vaclav Hava who was the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of Czech Republic. Czechs are famous for sports, music, art and literature. The ethnic group lives mainly in three regions of Czech Republic, namely Bohemia, Czech Silesia, and Moravia.


Moravians live predominantly in the Moravia regions of Czech Republic. This ethnic group forms part of Czechs who speak the Moravian dialect. Moravians can be traced back to 9th century when they began settling in the regions of Moravia and lower parts of Austria. However, in Czech, Moravians were declared an ethnic group in 1991. Currently, they form 4.9% of the total population in the country representing a population of 522,474.


Slovaks form part of the ethnic minority in the Czech Republic with a population of only 149,140 people representing 1.4% of the population. The majority of the Slovaks live in Slovakia where they form an ethnic majority. Slovaks were part of the framework of Czechoslovakia formed in the 20th century after the World War I. In the period of the framework, and the Slovaks were significantly influenced by the Czechs especially their Slovak language. Slovaks are known for their culture, sports, and art. In sports, they are known for ice hockey.

The Other Ethnic Groups

During 2011 census, 26% of the people did not declare their ethnic group. These people constitute the second largest group in the country after Czechs with a population of 2.7 million. Other ethnic groups in the Czech Republic are the Ukrainians, Poles, Vietnamese, Germans, Russians, and Silesians. These are mainly immigrants into the country from the neighboring countries.

Ethnic Groups In The Czech Republic

Rank Self-Declared Ethnic Group Share of Population in the Czech Republic Today (number)

1 Czechs 63.7% (6,732,104)
2 Undeclared 26.0% (2,742,669)
3 Moravians 4.9% (522,474)
4 Slovaks 1.4% (149,140)
5 Ukrainians <1% (53,603)
6 Poles <1% (39,269)
7 Vietnamese <1% (29,825)
8 Germans <1% (18,772)
9 Russians <1% (18,021)
10 Silesians <1% (12,231)
11 Hungarians <1% (9,049)
12 Roma/Romani <1% (5,199)

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

The Czech People - Cultures of the World

The Czech people have had a history filled with rich food, fine arts, and gifted intellectuals.


Western Slavic tribes, displacing earlier Celtic tribes inhabiting Bohemian territory, were gradually united under the dominant Czech Slavs starting in the Sixth Century, culminating in the crowning of the first Czech King, Bohemian Vratislaus II, in 1085. Today, the term ‘Czech’ refers to the inhabitants of the Czech Republic, which includes Bohemia, its larger, western area, and Moravia, which lies in the east. The country is bounded by Poland to the north, Germany to the west, Austria in the south, and the Republic of Slovakia (to which it was formerly united with) to the east. The Czech language, an an Indo-European language, is part of the West Slavic sub-branch of the larger group of Slavic languages.


The Czech Republic is a fairly densely populated country, and about 65% of its population live in cities and towns today. Prague, the Czech capital, has 1.3 million inhabitants, while Brno, the capital of the Moravian region, has around 400,000. The tendency for Czechs to leave the countryside for towns and cities predates the founding of Czechoslovakia (the politically united Czech and Slovak republics) in 1918, and Prague has only continued to expand since then. Its new, cheaply built apartment blocks contrast with the astonishing wealth and variety of central Prague’s historical architecture, the latter of which is one of the major draws to over 17 million visitors who frequent the city each year. Such notable pieces of Prague's construction include the modern Dancing House (late 20th Century), the National Theater (19th Century), the Church of St. Nicholas (18th Century), and the Royal Summer Palace (16th Century).


Traditional Czech foods tend to be heavy, often based on meat, primarily pork, beef, and poultry, and their organ meats, such as kidneys, livers, and brains. These are served alongside such staples as potatoes or dumplings, and often accompanied by gravies or rich sauces. Soups are also very popular, particularly at lunch-time, with the goulash-style "gulasova" soup being one of the favorites. The Czech nation also has a pronounced sweet tooth, with a "cuckrarna’on" on almost every corner selling a large range of baked goods, such as "buchty" (small, square-shaped yeast buns filled with preserves), and "kolace" (small, flat, round, flour cakes, usually topped with poppy seeds, plum jam, or sweetened farmers cheese).

Cultural Significance

The arts continued to thrive under the Communist regime of Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989, mostly because the arts and artists were generously supported by the state. Tickets for theatrical and musical events were cheap, and within the reach of most people. Still, many artists were not happy with such state support, as they had to ensure their work followed what the Communist Party's political agenda and ideologies dictated in return. Though state support ended in 1989, prestigious artistic institutions such as the National Theater continue to receive it. Czechs have traditionallly read more than they have watched plays, however, and have been served by many great writers and poets alike, such as the world-renowned novelist Milan Kundera, and the Nobel Prize-winning poet Jaroslav Seifert.


Though the Czech people are inevitably becoming much like people elsewhere in Western European democracies, with old customs and habits changing under commercial and global popular culture pressures, they face no existential threat to themselves or their homeland. Though some, along with their Slavic cousins in other Central and Eastern European countries, look with trepidation at the rise of a resurgent Russia . The country is, however, firmly embedded in the European Union, and since 1999 has been a member of NATO. These alliances, however, do not completely reassure a people who have seen themselves become conquered by various foreign powers through the ages.

By James Burton

•culled from

Monday 22 July 2019

Calligraphy in Iran

The Calligraphy in Iran has gone through lots of developments. In fact, calligraphy is one of the most eye-catching and fascinating manifestations of Iranian culture in the post-Islam period. The holy book of Muslims, Koran, has constantly confirmed the importance of writing.

According to this book, the eternally protected word must be respected because it expresses the destiny of all creatures from the beginning of time until the end.

Each one of human deeds is written on the pages of a book that will be opened after this life. Some code words were written in Koran as well. So, calligraphers have always been encouraged by the divine confirmation of their art.
Iran has played the most significant role in the evolution of calligraphy. A national feature of Iranian Muslims has been known as the perseverance in learning to write beautifully. To Iranians, it meant the manifesting point of human spirituality where pure writing was regarded as originated from a pure heart.

The Evolution of Calligraphy in Iran

According to traditions, Ali-ibn-e-Abitaleb, the first Imam of Shiites who was living in Kufa, had his particular writing style. In the post-Islam period, this art began by imitating his handwriting. The peculiar style depicted was known as Kufic, a name attributing it to its region of origin. This script became the dominant style used in all Islamic world.

In less than 400 years, an Iranian dynasty called Samanids introduced a newly distinguished style of Kufic called Qarmatian script. Floral designs, decorative scrolls and other decorations characterized this style. The script in question inspired some of the inscriptions in architecture. Of course, this should be mentioned that the evolution of calligraphy in Iran and its environs are indebted to splendid inscriptions on the buildings.

Innumerable Iranian buildings were embellished by inscriptions in different styles. They are various Kufic, Thulth and Naskh scripts decorated differently in very beautiful manners.

On the other hand, some of the best instances of calligraphy can be found on pottery, metalwork and even silk or velvet cloths. The very first calligraphic styles were worked out on the silver and gold coins as well as agate seals. They were plane and floriated Kufic.
During the last Ghaznavid kings, an Iran loving movement was being reflected in some Persian inscriptions at the rhythm of Ferdosy’s Shahnameh in Ghazneh.

Role of Iranian Masters of Calligraphy
During different stages of history, there have been some masters of calligraphy who have helped a lot with the evolution of this art. In the 10th century, a Shirazy master created six different distinguished styles in Kufic script.

At about 100 years later, teaching regulations, word proportions and letter limits were set and Reyhan script was improved by another Iranian calligrapher. A third one, a master in Thulth and Naskh trained famous students one of whom, for example, decorated lots of buildings in Iraq with his inscriptions. This artist has written 33 copies of Koran during the 13th and 14th centuries that are now displayed in Iranian and European museums.

Tamurlane’s grandchildren were promoting this art too. One of the most spectacular tasks done by one of them was to write a unique 65cm x 54cm Koran in gilded letters. The Timurid court was a patron of calligraphy in other non-religious books like Shahnameh. The famous Baysonqory Shahnameh was handwritten in Herat during the same era. Herat’s court also had some other calligraphers whose works can still be visited either as books or as inscriptions.

During the same period, another particular style emerged in Iran called Taaliq (meaning suspending). Then Nastaaliq style was evolved as a result of mixing Naskh with Taaliq style. The innovator of this style was competed and even rejected by some other artists, but the style survived and evolved.
It is important to know that many artists had no choice but to serve the court of their time. Some of them had expressed that calligraphy in Iran had been a state of being forced to such destiny as an artist.

Later in the Timurid period, many calligraphers left Herat for Tabriz, Qazvin, and Esfehan. This migration resulted in most of Safavid kings’ interest in this art. Mir Emad-e-Qazviny, the most famous master of Nastaaliq, created some works of art like Ferdosy’s Shahnameh and Jamy’s poems in calligraphic manuscripts during the Safavid era.
The Iranian style of Nastaliq found many enthusiasts in Iran and the countries under Iranian cultural influence like Turkey and India. Later, a new style was derived from Nastaaliq called Shekasteh (meaning broken). It gained great popularity in India. The pure and ambiguity-arousing aesthetic features of this graphic-like style catch the eyes so profoundly that cause a lot of appreciations.

Also, there are some other styles which look more decorative. For instance, some artists wrote religious words and similar subjects in the form of lions, horses, birds, humans, etc in Thulth script.

Other Innovative Steps in Iranian Caligraphy

In the 16th century, a new branch in calligraphy emerged called “decoupe work”, the ultimate form of which was a combination of calligraphy, gilding paper, marginal decorations, and annexations. Adding decorations like the miniature, floral designs and arabesque to calligraphic styles like Naskh and Nastaliq created a new style called Golzar (meaning flower garden).
“Mosavvadeh” (meaning draft writing) together with several other similar branches were created out of the innovative mixture of words, motifs, and styles. Even artists went much further to implement calligraphy to the surfaces of coins, seals, silk and the panels of inscriptions on carpets.

It should be pointed out that calligraphy has been an active life-giving factor in Islamic culture, especially in Persian poetry and literature. This traditional art has survived in Iran and other Iranian culture-influenced countries.

There are still some top Iranian calligraphers creating innovative styles or branches of this art. Their works have stepped beyond the traditions and attracted the attention of all visitors, both those who can read them and those who cannot.

By Rahman Mehraby

•culled from

Music of Iran

Music of Iran is an ancient traditional art. One can find the traces of this art at various parts of this country. To have a better understanding of its history, let’s review how it’s been evolved in Iran.

Music of Iran during the Pre-Islam Era

During antiquity, music was a means of communication. It later became part of people’s beliefs and rites and was played in funerals and happy occasions.

According to an ancient seal found in Choghamish, back to 3400 B.C, there was the most ancient music orchestra of the world in Khoozestan province at the southwest of Iran.

In 8th century B.C, Elamites music was under Assyrians’ influence. Even during Achaemenians, that influence was still present. Under Seleucids and Parthians, Hellenistic art had put an impact on Iranian music. But it was during Sassanians that Iranian music was brought to an independent innovative identity.


During Achaemenians, there were three kinds of music in Iran: religious, military and local. The religious music was a special kind of song called Gatheha sung by priests and was merely vocal, not instrumental. It differentiated Iranian music from others of its time like Assyrians, Babylonians or Semites. The influence of this kind of music is still present in various kinds of music in different parts of Iran.


Music became one of the essential parts of schooling and training in the Sassanian court. It is said that some 12000 Indian entertainers were invited to migrate from India to Iran to bring joy and pleasure by music in different corners of the empire. During Anushirvan, music was brought to a higher status and Iranian music entered Arabs’ world and was imitated there so that they could lay the foundation of this art.

Barbod, Ramtin, Sarkis, Bamshad, Nakisa and Azadvar-e-Changi were the outstanding figures among the musicians of the Sassanian era who composed unforgettable pieces and founded the basis of some schools of music still being played in Iran. Also, the influence of Manichaeism and Mazdakism in the music of that era cannot be denied. Minstrelsy was also an ancient Iranian tradition that was well liked by all classes of people.

From ancient Iran to the end of the Sassanian era, in a 1200-year span of time, there is not much information about the musical instruments made and played. There are only a few of them, which are quite ancient, belonging to the pre-Achaemenian period, unique and first instances of their kinds in the world.

Music during Post-Islam Iran

In the early post-Islam period, when Caliphs interpreted Iranian music to be against the principles of Islam, Iranian artists preserved music in any way they could and changed its theme from happy to sad one to match the nations’ mood. Arabs’ army was inclined toward martial music. Like Iranians, they had mixed poetry with music. The musical instruments they seemed to have had were drums and horns. They learned a lot from Iranian music. Today, among 52 various tones of Arabic music of Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon there are 30 Iranian organizations, which had entered their music.

The first two Caliphs were no patrons of music and even forbade it. They stepped further and ordered sever sentences like mutilating for all people involved in this art. During the reign of the third Caliph, luxurious life began in his court and music became part of his life. When the fourth Caliph, Ali, took power, the status of the music was improved by his supports. Yet Muslims regarded music as something equal to alcoholism, gambling, and sensuality.

As a result of Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphs’ more contact with the charming values of Iranian music, it was elevated to higher positions.

From 10th to 11th century, some outstanding figures like Faraby and Avicenna appeared in Iranian music. Muslim Iranians composed the first instances of religious music. Iranians’ mourning for the third Imam, Hossein, in form of music and passion play was actually a means of opposing Caliphate System and Arabs. Sufis came up with an innovative form of music. Their traditional music is still being played.

Samanid Period

Samanids triggered a renaissance void of restrictive ethnic or geographic biases. Greek, Babylonian, Egyptian, Syrian, Indian and other artistic and scientific works were properly studied and used.

Seljuk Period

Seljuq kings and governors promoted music and supported musicians. Not only capitals but also other minor towns and cities began to flourish in many fields of art including music. Music was no exception among the arts receiving such influence.

Safavid Period

Music went through plenty of ups and downs afterward because of other invasions by other nations. Safavids took power in Iran at about the 16th century and reunited the whole nation and did many good things in the realm of politics. But the early kings’ strictly religious biases and policies demanded the removal of any support on philosophy, which is correlated with music, poetry, and literature. This led to a decline in music until Shah Abbas I started ruling. Meanwhile, many Iranian musicians migrated to other countries, especially to India. Unfortunately, it was too late and the support of Shah Abbas I could not flourish the music and bring it back to its previous stand.

Playing Naqqareh was revived and continued during that era. Naqqareh is a pair of kettledrums one producing bass sound and the other treble. The tradition of playing Naqqareh goes back to Mithraism period in Iran when various musical instruments together with Naqqareh were played every day at five different times including sunrise and sunset. During Safavids and after them, it was played at various other occasions as well.

Afsharid Period

Nader Shah was so busy fighting in the battlefields that had no time to support music. He banned the mourning ceremonies of Moharram in the army and punished the disobedient severely. He liked to listen to various songs and the poems of Shahnameh while riding his horse.

Zand Period

Karim Khan supported music and believed that the peace and happiness of himself and people were more important than broadening the borders of Iran. His reign did not last long.

Qajar Period

During the first period of Qajar dynasty, kings sought a comfortable life and pleasure. It was during the same era when the foundation of music was laid in a way that it survived up to now. Famous masters of music appeared and composed many pieces. The old happy music was also revived to some extents.

In 1847, Amir Kabir, Naser-ed-Din Shah’s prime minister, invited a French general to Iran to teach military music. Therefore, Iranian students became familiar with the theoretical and practical principles of western music. Gramophone entered Iran during the general’s stay in Iran by his efforts.

Constitutional Revolution

Simultaneous with the constitutional revolution in Iran, the young musicians sought new forms of music to synchronize it with the tide of social changes. Their products became very popular and well liked by the people in different corners of Iran.

Pahlavi Period

During Pahlavi period many young people were sent to Europe for education. The graduated people returned to Iran and subsequently, the Iranian music was taught in Iran according to a new insight based on European basics and principles. Alinaqi Vaziry started the first modern Iranian orchestra using Iranian and western musical instruments. Music organizations, magazines, newspapers and books began to work and music became institutionalized.

In 1937, Tehran’s Symphonic orchestra started working and performing western as well as Iranian music. In 1952, pop music started in Iran. The traditional music gained less and less attention from the authorities.

Instead, cabarets were opened and no truly inherited Iranian music was played there. There were only two music bands called Sheyda and Aref that kept the traditional music alive. Of course, some musicians introduced valuable pop music to Iran.

The music of Iran is undergoing modern developments these days. I invite you to listen to some of the most recent ones to see how entertaining and enjoyable it is.

By Rahman Mehraby

•culled from
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