Saturday 31 August 2019

The Culture Of Lithuania

The Baltic country of Lithuania has a rich heritage and culture that is influenced by Christian traditions and the cultures of neighboring nations.

The Baltic country of Lithuania has a rich heritage and culture that is influenced by Christian traditions and the cultures of neighboring nations, especially Nordic, Slavic, and Germanic cultures.

6. Ethnicity, Language, and Religion in Lithuania

Lithuania is home to a population of around 2,793,284 individuals. Ethnic Lithuanians comprise 84.1% of the population. Other ethnic communities with a significant presence in the country include Russians, Polish, and Belarusians. Lithuanian, the
official language, is spoken by 82% of the population. Russian and Polish are also spoken. Most of Lithuania’s residents (77.2% of the population) adhere to Roman Catholic Christianity. Adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church, Old Believers, Evangelical Lutherans, and others also live in the country.

5. Cuisine of Lithuania

The cuisine of Lithuania is quite similar to the cuisines of other Baltic countries. It is also influenced by other northern European cuisines. Potato, barley, rye, berries, cucumber, beet, radish, dill pickle, mushroom, greens, dairy products, etc., are some of the common ingredients of this cuisine. These products are usually locally grown or produced. Soups are consumed widely and are considered to be the key to good health. Various pickling processes help preserve food for the winter. Dark rye bread is a staple of Lithuanian cuisine and is often consumed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with other accompaniments. Potato is the most popular vegetable in the country and a great variety of potato recipes exist. Seasonings like caraway seed, garlic, bay leaf, dill, pepper, etc., are used to prepare Lithuanian dishes. Pork is the most frequently eaten meat. Beef, lamb, chicken, baked or stuffed fish, etc., are also consumed. Beer is the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in Lithuania. A variety of fruit and berry wines and midus (a variety of mead made from honey) are also quite popular.

4. Literature and the Arts in Lithuania

Literature in the Lithuanian language began to appear from the 16th century onwards. Until the 18th century, the literature was mainly of religious nature. The Catechism of M. Mažvydas is known to be the first book to be printed in the Lithuanian language. It was published in 1547. Lithuanian literary works of a secular nature were produced from the 18th century. Dictionaries, grammar rulebooks, and folk songs were among the initial publications of secular nature. Historical accounts of the country began to be recorded in the 19th century. Although the literary works began to diversify, the Communist rule during the Soviet occupation of the country suppressed nationalist thoughts and expressions to a great extent. Today, independent Lithuania’s writers and poets enjoy full freedom to publish their work in various genres ranging from romance to war, nationalism and more.

Like literature, Lithuania also has a rich heritage of art and craft. Religious art initially dominated the art scene in the country. It involved church frescoes, statues of a religious nature, carved wooden crosses, etc. Later, Lithuanian art and craft scene diversified. It was influenced by various themes including nature, culture, nationalism, etc. Today, the important works of Lithuanian art and craft can be observed in the various galleries and museums throughout the country. Souvenir shops catering to the tourist markets also sell Lithuanian art and craft to the international visitors.

3. Performance Arts in Lithuania

Lithuania has a long history of folk music and dance. Flutes, zithers, quadrilles, fiddles, polkas, etc., are primarily used to produce this type of music. The folk songs of the country are based on a variety of themes like romance, wedding, archaic war, traditional work, etc. The rateliai, a type of round dance, is a popular folk dance of Lithuania. Classical and popular music are also popular in the nation. A lively drama scene prevails in Lithuania. Many film festivals are hosted every year.

2. Sports in Lithuania

Football, basketball, athletics, and cycling are Lithuania’s most popular sports. The government of the country promotes sports in the nation and supports the country’s talented sportspersons through financial and other aid. The Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education has been established to educate sportspersons and trainers in their respective games. The country’s athletes have participated in many Olympic Games and have won medals on several occasions. The national football, basketball, and rugby union teams of Lithuania have participated in several international competitions in their respective games.

1. Life in the Lithuanian Society

The Lithuanian law grants equal rights and freedoms to the country’s men and women. Discrimination on the basis of gender in the workplace is illegal. However, although women constitute nearly 50% of the workforce, men receive better pay or are employed in more high-salary jobs than women. Education, health, social service, etc., are some of the areas where women have a large presence.

Marriages in Lithuania are usually based on consensual choice. There are two components to such marriages, religious and legal. Most marriage ceremonies thus include a religious union in a church accompanied by the registration of the marriage at the municipal wedding hall. Although the age of marriage in Lithuania is lower compared to countries in Western Europe, the age is slowly increasing as more and more women are seeking higher education and better jobs. Lithuanian households are generally nuclear in nature comprising of the married couple and their children if any. Women still do most of the household chores like cooking and cleaning even when they work outside the home. Child rearing is also traditionally the mother’s responsibility. Although paternal leaves are allowed in the country, few men take such leaves.

Education in the country is either free or highly subsidized. Thus, literacy levels are quite high. In recent years, higher education has become more important to get a good job.

Lithuanians are generally reserved people. They are very respectful of their traditions. They usually do not look directly at someone in a public conveyance unless the person is known to them. Lithuanians are also good hosts and make great efforts to make their guests feel comfortable.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Who Are the Royal Family of Liechtenstein?

The Royal Family of Liechtenstein, also known as the House of Liechtenstein, is the family who reigns over the small European nation of Liechtenstein.



Liechtenstein is a microstate in Central Europe. Liechtenstein is governed as a constitutional monarchy that is headed by a royal family whose current head is Prince Hans-Adams II. As the head of the house, Price Hans is also the ruler of the principality of Liechtenstein today. Leadership is hereditary which means that there are lines of succession in the royal family that is strictly followed. Male members are eligible to inherit the leadership and must come from the lineage of Johan Joseph I.

Brief History of Liechtenstein

Just like the royal family, Liechtenstein has a rich history behind it. The country is landlocked and is surrounded by Austria and Switzerland, both landlocked countries, on both sides. The country was born after the princes of Liechtenstein bought land in 1719 and was given the name ‘Liechtenstein’. However, the new territory was not occupied and was subsequently neglected for almost a century by the princes. The territory was ruled by successive administration ranging from Napoleon to the Austrian Empire. The country survived the vagaries of the two World Wars by remaining neutral like Switzerland.
House Laws Governing the Royal Family
The House of Liechtenstein is governed by house laws. The document stipulates the preamble and has several articles bearing the house laws. As stated, the leadership of the principality has been designated for males from the house of Prince Johan I. The other requirement to the males in contention for leadership is that they should be members by birth. Princesses can become members of the family by birth or by marriage to a prince in the royal family. Most importantly, membership is by free will. The house laws also describe rules concerning citizenship, royal titles, governance, marriage, and disciplinary measures to be taken should a member of the royal family break the rules. Vaduz Castle is the official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein.

Prince Hans-Adams II

Prince Hans-Adams II is the reigning ruler of the principality since the year 1989. He is the son of Prince Franz Joseph II and Princess Gina. Prince Franz was the head since 1939 and he had succeeded his uncle who had died without having a clear successor. By virtue of birth, Prince Hans-Adams is the rightful prince. He had a privileged childhood on account of his royal status meaning that he attended top schools and generally enjoyed the comforts of royalty. Prince Hans is married to Countess Marie Kinsky von Wchinitz and they have four children together. He is also a grandfather to 15 children. Prince Alois, his eldest son, is the next in line to succeed him as the next leader.

Important Events in Liechtenstein

The ruling house of Liechtenstein has seen the standards of living being ranked among the highest in the world today. With the world’s lowest tax rates, major companies have set foot here and brought business. Political stability has been maintained through democratic processes and diplomacy. For example, Prince Hans in 2009 had settled a dispute with the Czech Republic and Slovakia which had seized royal palaces after World War Two. The Eastern European countries were given recognition after they returned the seized properties. A referendum in 2003 was passed by the citizens introduced a new constitution that gave more powers to Prince Hans-Adams II, who had threatened to move out of the country if the referendum failed to pass.

By Jane Gips

•culled from

Thursday 29 August 2019

Biggest Cities In Liechtenstein

Schaan is the biggest municipality of Liechtenstein by population, and a major economic hub in the country.



Schaan is the largest municipality of Liechtenstein by population and a major economic hub. Liechtenstein is an independent Principality nestled between Austria and Switzerland. The country occupies an area of 160 km2 and has an estimated population of 37,000 people. Liechtenstein has eleven municipalities headed by a mayor and each with its administration.

The Four Biggest Cities In Liechtenstein


Schaan Municipality boasts a population of 5,748 inhabitants and occupies a total area of 26.8 km2. Schaan is an ancient region as witnessed in the numerous buildings built in the Baroque period such as the Chapel of St, Mary Consolation. The tower of St. Laurentius Parish Church, built in the 1100s, stands in the Municipality. The Municipality is an economic hub and is home to large global manufacturers including Hilti Corporation and Ivoclar Vivadent AG. The region is also a tourism hub since it is located in proximity to the mountain range along the border with Switzerland.


The Municipality of Vaduz is home to 5,197 inhabitants. Vaduz serves as Liechtenstein’s capital, and it covers an area of 17.3 km2. As a political center, Vaduz is the location of the national parliament and the Vaduz Castle. The region was established by the Counts of Werdenberg in 1322 and has medieval architecture as part of its history including the Cathedral of St. Florin and City Hall. The Municipality has a well-established tourism sector and cultural centers such as the National Museum and Art Gallery. The municipality enjoys good infrastructure although it lacks railway and airport stations.


Triesen is the third largest municipality with a population of 4,701, and it occupies a total area of 26.4 km2. The Municipality lies south of Vaduz and in proximity to the Rhine. Triesen is a historic center, being home to numerous medieval buildings, churches, and chapels as well as a weaving mill built in 1863. Triesen is largely a hillside, complete with vineyards and ancient houses. The region has however been modernizing in recent times, and it is characterized by a blend of new and old. Triesen has been experiencing a growing population who are attracted to the excellent infrastructure and modern residential areas.


Balzers Municipality lies in southern Liechtenstein, and it is home to 4,447 residents. The region occupies a total area of 19.6 km square, and it is Liechtenstein’s fourth largest municipality. One of the most famous landmarks in the Municipality is Gutenberg Castle. The castle has been occupied since the 12th century, and it has undergone construction works throughout the centuries. It is a major tourist attraction, and it serves as a public museum in a modern day. As an economic center, the city is home to the headquarters of Oerlikon Balzers.

Other Municipalities In Liechtenstein

The rest of Liechtenstein’s municipalities and their populations are include Eschen (4,008); Mauren (3,626); Triesenberg (2,689); Ruggell (1,862); Gamprin (1,268), and Schellenberg (1,004). The population of Liechtenstein is projected to reach 39,000 by 2030, with the increase being spread out across its municipalities. The municipalities are also expected to experience an increased number of foreign immigrants, fueled by economic growth, urbanization, and good infrastructure and amenities.

Which Are The Biggest Municipalities In Liechtenstein?

Rank City Population

1 Schaan 5,748
2 Vaduz 5,197
3 Triesen 4,701
4 Balzers 4,447
5 Eschen 4,008
6 Mauren 3,626
7 Triesenberg 2,689
8 Ruggell 1,862
9 Gamprin 1,268
10 Schellenberg 1,004

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

The People and Culture Of Liechtenstein

Most native and foreign Liechtensteiners alike are Alemannic German-speakers, with more than 30% of the population being comprised by immigrants.



Liechtenstein, formally the Principality of Liechtenstein, is a doubly landlocked German-speaking microstate in Central Europe. it is a constitutional monarchy with the ranks of the realm being headed by the Prince of Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland toward the west and south and Austria toward the east and north. It has a territory of a little more than 160 square kilometers (62 square miles) and a population of around 37,000. Liechtenstein is divided into 11 municipalities, with its capital being Vaduz and its biggest municipality being Schaan.


Standard German is the official language of Liechtenstein, with many dialects of the same language being used in the small country. It is utilized for official purposes and must also be taught in the schools. Despite German being the official language, a great many people additionally speak a local Alemannic tongue that is similar to the German spoken in Switzerland. The general population in the mountain locale of Triesenberg speak a unique vernacular dialect referred to as Walser. The principle secondary languages instructed in schools are English and French.
Liechtensteiner Ways of Life
Liechtenstein is an advanced industrialized nation whose occupants have some of the highest standards of living on the planet. Most Liechtensteiners live in single-family homes. There is adequate housing for the majority of Liechtenstein's occupants, and residences range from wooden houses scattered crosswise over beautiful mountain towns to cutting edge multi-story loft structures in the capital city of Vaduz.

Private cars are Liechtenstein's most imperative method of transportation, and the principality has a very intricate arrangement of streets and roadways. Its primary expressway goes through the nation, connecting it with Austria and Switzerland. Low cost open transportation is provided by postal transports. These convey travelers to destinations inside Liechtenstein, furthermore to Austria and Switzerland.

Liechtenstein has one railroad, worked by the Austrian Federal Railways. There is no airplane terminal inside Liechtenstein. The closest one is Kloten Airport in Zurich, Switzerland.

Cultural Heritage

Liechtenstein's cultural fortune is embodied by the accumulation of visual art pieces by its sovereigns through the years, and these royal collections date back to the middle of the 1600s. Housed in the capital city of Vaduz, some of the most notable of these make up the second largest private art collection on the planet. Britain's illustrious family are the only ones who have surpassed Liechtenstein’s art collection. Its numerous art culminations cover an extensive variety of periods and schools of art. It incorporates figures, woven artworks, silver, and porcelain, and additionally depictions by Breughel the Elder, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Rubens, and a wide variety of other masters of Renaissance workmanship.

Liechtenstein has a solid musical tradition. Brass bands and vocal gatherings are more basic in rustic territories, while the cities of Vaduz and Balzers have respected operetta companies.

By Nikhil Budathoki

•culled from

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Music And Dance Feature In Heritage

Unique instruments played during special occasions
Folklore artists perform at Hatta Heritage village. In the past Emirati music and dance were played and performed to entertain workers who had usually accomplished some kind of success.

Dubai: Emirati music and dance are performed to express happiness during joyous occasions such as Eid, engagements, wedding parties and celebrations in general. The UAE has its own exclusive types of music and dance that have been regularly practised in the past and are still a well-kept tradition for today's generation — and surely for generations to come.

UAE musical instruments include the famous oud (a stringed instrument), drums; tambourine, (which Emiratis call the daf), rababa (a stringed instrument), tanboura, doumbek (a goblet drum) and the nai.

Emiratis have shown these musical instruments were used many years ago by Bedouins. Since then, generations have passed their knowledge on about them, until they have become an integral part of UAE heritage. The instruments are also widely used in the region.

In days gone by Emirati music and dance was played and performed to entertain workers who had usually accomplished some kind of success. For example, for the Emirati pearl voyagers, traditional songs were sung by a Nahaan.

A famous UAE dance is called the Al Ayyalah, which is practised only in the UAE. It is accompanied by a large drum called Al Ras.

Its solid, deep tones, sets the beat for the three smaller takhamir drums. The dance is performed only by men and 25 is the minimum acceptable number for a performance of the Al Ayyalah.

Occasionally, participants number 200, and they stand in two equal rows that face each other with arms linked, as a gesture of unity and support. Then they gently wave sticks in front of them and sway back and forth. Each row sings in a declaration of a challenge to the opposite group.
The Harbiyah is another traditional dance that reflects victory, pride and courage.

The Liwa is a dance that was brought to the Gulf by East African traders. It is danced to African-style music and features a pipe-flute called the mizmar. The three backing drums for this dance are the shindo, the jabwah, and the jasser.

The Liwa begins with the mizmar solo of about six minutes in a slow tempo, later the drums join in and are followed by ten dancers or singers and gradually the pace increases to a swirl of activity. This type of dance accepts participants of both men and women and usually takes about 25 minutes.

The Haban is another type of dance, which is also known as the Khamiri or the Khayali. The names refer to the stringed musical instrument that control the dance. The performance is carried out by three groups. The first one consists of six to eight men, the second is made up of the same number of women, and the third comprises nine or 10 musicians.

The conductor of the performance is the player of the Haban. Men and women performers move on a two-step steady rhythm forth and back.

There is a huge variety of music and dance in the UAE. Emiratis were — and still are, strongly attached to playing the oud and performing the Al Ayyalah during special occasions.

*Image Credit: Gulf News archive

•culled from

Religious Beliefs In Latvia

Christianity is the religion of the majority in Latvia.

Latvia is a Baltic nation located in Northern Europe. It covers a territory of 64,589 square km. The population of the country is estimated to be 1,957,200 individuals. Latvia has a multiethnic population. Ethnic Latvians account for 62% of the total population. Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles, Lithuanians, and others account for 25.4%, 3.3%, 2.2%, 2.1%, 1.2%, and 3.8% of Latvia’s population, respectively.

Christianity is the main religion that has been traditionally practiced in the country. It can be regarded as the religion of the majority in Latvia but only a small percentage of the Latvian population is actually religious in nature. According to the CIA World Factbook, 19.6% of the population of Latvia practice Lutheranism. 15.3% adhere to Orthodox Christianity. Believers in other Christian denominations account for only 1% of the total population of Latvia. A vast majority, about 63.7% is mentioned under the “unspecified” category in the CIA World Factbook. They are people who have not claimed to adhere to any particular religion.

The History Of Christianity In Latvia

Prior to the introduction of Christianity in Latvia, the indigenous inhabitants of the country had their beliefs rooted in Baltic mythology and paganism. Christianity arrived in the region quite late during the Northern Crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries. During this time, the Christian kings of the Scandinavian nations and some German military orders exhibited interest in the Baltic territories. Thus, Latvia came under the influence of Catholicism due to the invasions by these powers. The country also witnessed the growth of Orthodox Christianity for a brief period of time when it came under the influence of the Rurik dynasty of the Vikings. Despite the wave of Christianity in Latvia, the indigenous inhabitants of the nation did not immediately let go of their pagan beliefs and practices. Many blended their indigenous religion and Christianity to create a new religious system. Protestantism became popular in Latvia when the Lutheran ideas and beliefs were introduced in the country from Scandinavia and northern Germany. Soon, nearly two-thirds of the Latvian population accepted Lutheranism. However, following World War II and the Soviet occupation of Latvia, religious practices were greatly suppressed. Today, the effects of the Soviet policy of atheism are visible in the fact that a large section of Latvians claims not to be affiliated to any religion. The country has one of the poorest church attendances today.

Other Religions In Latvia

According to the CIA World Factbook, only about 0.4% of the population of Latvia believe in religions other than Christianity. There are about 416 Jews residing in the country. Islam claims a few hundred followers in Latvia. Buddhists, Hindus, and some other religions also have a small presence in the nation.

Religious Beliefs In Latvia

Rank Religion Population (%)

1 Unspecified 63.7
2 Lutheran 19.6
3 Orthodox 15.3
4 Other Christian 1
5 Other 0.4

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Biggest Cities In Latvia

Located along the Gulf of Riga at the mouth of the Daugava River is Riga, the capital and most populous city of Latvia.

Latvia is a Northern European Baltic country that is bordered by Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, and Sweden. The country houses 1,957,200 people and encompasses an area of 64,589 square km. The country also shares a maritime border with Sweden. Latvia has well-developed cities with proper infrastructural facilities and amenities. The country was listed as a high-income country on July 1, 2014. The capital and biggest city of Latvia is the Riga. Liepāja is an ice-free port in the city. Jūrmala and Daugavpils are major tourist attractions in the country.

The Biggest Cities In Latvia


Riga is Latvia’s biggest city and also the nation’s seat of government. It is the largest city among the cities of the Baltic States, and one-third of Latvia’s population call the city their home. Riga is situated on the Gulf of Riga and occupies an area of around 307.17 square km. The city was founded in 1201, and its historical center has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was the declared as the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Several important international events like the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, and others have been hosted in Riga.


Daugavpils is a southeastern Latvian city that is located on the banks of the Daugava River. It is the second biggest city in Latvia. The city borders Lithuania and Belarus and is also only 120 km away from the Russian border. The strategic position of Daugavpils thus enhances its importance in Latvia. It is a beautiful and well-visited city that is dotted with many nature parks and lakes. This age-old city that was established in 1275 has a number of cultural institutions and historical monuments. The Daugavpils fortress is most prominent among them. The city is also famous for its numerous red brick buildings.


Liepāja is the third biggest city in Latvia. The city is most well-known for being an ice-free port. The city is referred to as the "City where the wind is born,” due to the constantly blowing sea breeze. Liepāja, being Latvia’s windiest city, hosts the nation’s biggest wind farm. An industrial city, many high technology plants are located in Liepāja. The Blue Flag Beach with its rolling dunes and white sand is the major tourist attraction in the city. Age-old churches and ruins of military fortifications are historical attractions in Liepāja.


Jelgava is located 41 km southwest of Riga in central Latvia. The city is located in a fertile belt of the country at an elevation of only 3.5 meters above sea level on the river Lielupe’s right bank. The Jelgava Air Base and a railway center are located in this city. Between 1578 and 1795, the city served as the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia’s capital. Several ruins and preserved buildings from this era remain as tourist attractions in the city today.


Jūrmala is the fifth biggest city in Latvia. It is located about 25 km west of Riga. The city is one of Latvia's major tourist destinations and a resort town. The location of the city between the Lielupe River and the Gulf of Riga make endows it with scenic natural beauty. Long beaches and romantic wooden houses draw tourists to this city from around the world.

Which Are The Biggest Cities In Latvia?

Rank Name Population

1 Riga 742,572
2 Daugavpils 111,564
3 Liepāja 85,132
4 Jelgava 61,791
5 Jūrmala 54,088
6 Ventspils 42,644
7 Rēzekne 38,340
8 Jēkabpils 27,078
9 Valmiera 26,963
10 Ogre 26,760

Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

The Culture Of Latvia

Latvia has a rich culture that is influenced by the varied historical heritage of the nation.

7. Social Beliefs And Customs In Latvia

Latvia, one of the Baltic states of Northern Europe, has a rich history of that has led to its current unique culture. Most of the people of this country have a shared belief in its folklore, which tends to describe the lifestyle of ancient Latvia. The principal characters of these stories generally have deity status and provide strength or courage to people who wear their symbols.
Latvia has a number of other customs, including the incorporation of yeast breads in almost all family celebrations and the widespread availability of artisan markets in many of the towns here. This article takes a closer look at some of the specific characteristics of the culture of Latvia.

6. Cuisine Of Latvia

Because Latvia is located along the Baltic Sea, fish (especially smoked and raw) play an important role in its traditional cuisine. Additionally, many of dishes served in this country can only be found during certain times of the year as many ingredients are only available in specific seasons. Some of the most common ingredients include: wheat, barley, potatoes, cabbage, eggs, and onions. Meat plays a central role in many of the dishes, particularly pork.

Latvian cuisine is known to be high in butter content and makes use of dill, caraway, and black pepper. It is rarely spicy. Dairy products are also very common in this country, especially sour cream, cottage cheese, and soured milk. As previously mentioned, yeast bread is considered a dietary staple in this country and rupjmaize is the most popular. This particular type of bread is made of rye. Sklandrausis, a sweet pie, is another popular dish. It consists of a rye crust filled with a mashed potato, carrot, sugar, and caraway filling.

5. Clothing Of Latvia

The traditional folk clothing of Latvia varies from region to region and is often used during celebrations and other festivities. Clothing style here was significantly influenced by German styles during the 20th century and introduced knitted socks, gloves, and mittens. Traditional colors include red, blue, grey, green, and cream.
Shirts are the basis of Latvian outfits. Women, for example, where shirts that reach to knee-length. These serve as both a shirt and petticoat. Skirts, jackets, and bodices are worn over top of the shirts. Men wear similarly long shirts topped with a vest and overcoat (either short or long). Typical head coverings include: crowns for unmarried teenagers and young women and head scarves for married women. Both men and women wear long, woven, colorful belts.

4. Latvian Music And Dance

Traditional Latvian music dates back to the pre-Christian era over a thousand years ago and features dainas, traditional poetry sung in drone vocal style. The themes of dainas are centered around popular folk legends, native mythological stories, or traditional lifestyles. Ancient deities, births, weddings, and funerals take center stage of these songs. Dainas have only a few stanzas, which are typically short in length with unrhyming lyrics. These songs are accompanied by the music of traditional instruments, particularly kokles. Kokles are stringed instruments that are laid flat and plucked on a table or lap.

Folk dancing in Latvia has evolved from the dancing styles of the Baltic people, who immigrated to this region around 2000 BC. Like the dainas, these dances are representative of traditional daily life and celebratory events. Many of the dances are performed in groups of multiple couples (usually 4) and involve switching partners. It has often been compared to square dancing.

3. Latvian Arts And Literature

Literature in this country is rooted in its folk songs and music. Its literary tradition is said to have begun in 1856, when the poetry book Songs by Juris Alunans was published. Nearly 30 years later, Lacplesis was published; today, this work is considered the national epic of Latvia. During the early 20th century, literary themes were influenced by a wide range of political movements, including socialism and Marxism.

During World War II, many Latvian authors left the country to emigrate to Sweden. Latvian works were primarily written here published and later published in Stockholm, New York City, and London. Today, some of the most well-known Latvian writers include: Nora Ikstena, Eduards Aivars, Laima Muktupavela, and Anna Auzina.

Works of art created from the 1700’s until now can be seen at the National Museum of Art, located in Riga. It houses over 52,000 pieces, providing a look at the the evolution of artwork over the last 300 years.

2. Religions And Festivals Of Latvia

The most widely practiced religion in Latvia is Christianity, with 70% of the population identifying as Christian. Lutheranism is the most popular denomination (34.3%) followed by Roman Catholicism (25.1%). Despite this high percentage, only 7% of the population reports attending church services. Historically, this country was one of the last in Europe to be introduced to Christianity and indigenous religions remained commonly practiced throughout rural regions until around the 1600’s.

Today, the majority of the people of Latvia celebrate the two Christian holidays: Christmas and Easter. Each celebration, however, continues to be influenced by pagan roots. Christmas, for example, is a combined holiday that honors both the birthday of Jesus and the winter solstice. Easter is also celebrated with pagan rituals and marks the spring equinox. The celebration includes a number of customs related to eggs, which date back to before Easter.

One of the largest festivals to take place here is known as the Latvian Song and Dance Festival, which was first celebrated in 1873. It is considered one of the important cultural events in the country and one of the largest amateur choir events in the world. Approximately 30,000 participants take part in the festival, singing folksongs, classical choir songs, and a capella style. Additionally, this festival offers spectators other activities, including: a large parade, arts and crafts exhibits, works of photography, and orchestras.

1. Martial Arts In Latvia

Martial arts are widely practiced throughout Latvia as well. This includes mixed martial arts, kickboxing, wrestling, boxing, and judo. Igors Kostins, Konstantin Gluhov, Raivis Vidzis, and Misha Cirkunov. Of these individuals, Misha Cirkunov participates in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the light heavyweight division. He was born in Latvia of Russian descent, but currently lives in Canada.

By Amber Pariona

•culled from

Monday 26 August 2019

The Population Of Latvia

Latvians (62.1%), Russians (26.9%), and Belarusians (3.3%) are the largest ethnic groups in Latvia, one of the 3 Baltic nations.
Vital Statistics Of The Population Of Latvia
The Republic of Latvia is one of the three Baltic states of Northern Europe. The country is bordered by Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, Lithuania to the south, and Estonia to the north. The population of Latvia is 2,070,371, and it occupies an area of 64,589 square km.
The fertility rate of the population of Latvia is 1.52 children born per woman. This figure is lower than the replacement rate of 2.1. As per 2012 data, 45% of the births in the country were to unmarried women. The life expectancy of the population of Latvia is 73.19 years. It is 78.53 for females and 68.13 for males. The sex ratio in the country is 0.85 males/female, one of the lowest in the world.

Ethnic Origins of the Latvian Population
Though Latvians, the natives of Latvia have always been a majority in the country, over the years the growth of minority groups have been quite overwhelming. Prior to the World War II, about 25% of Latvia’s population was composed of minority groups (approximately: 10% Russians, 5% Jews, 2% to 3% of Poles and Germans). After the World War had ended, a major change in the ethnic composition of the Latvian population occurred. While Jews and Germans exited the country in large numbers, Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians immigrated in great numbers. The immigration rates were so high that the native Latvians almost became a minority and by 1989, Latvians formed only 52% of the population of Latvia. However, the proportion of Latvians gradually recovered over the years and was 62.1% as per the 2011 census. The large-scale emigration of the minority groups has led to this status of the population of Latvia.

Religions Of The People Of Latvia

As per a survey conducted in 2005, 24.1% of Latvians claimed to be Russian Orthodox Christians, 20.7% were Catholics, 20.0% adhered to the Lutheran faith, and 4.4% were Old Believers. 10.6% of the Latvian population did not believe in any religious denomination, and 15.8% were classified as non-believers. Though Lutheranism was the most widely practiced religion in the country in the past, the World War II changed the scenario. After the World War, Russian Orthodoxy and Catholicism became more predominant.
Languages Spoken By The Population Of Latvia
As per the 2011 census, 62.1% of the population of Latvia speaks the Latvian language at home which is also the official language of the country. Russian is the second major languages spoken in homes in Latvia. 37.2% of the population of the country speak this language (2011). Russian was the second language of 43.7%, and Latvian was the second language of 20.8% of the Latvian population. As per the 2000 census, 71% of the ethnic Latvians in the country claimed they could converse in Russian while 52% of the Russians of Latvia claimed to speak the Latvian languages.
Other languages in Latvia spoken by at least 500 speakers include Ukrainian, Polish, Tatar, German, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Yiddish, Estonian, Romani.
The Latvian and the Russian Sing Languages are the two types of sign languages recognized in the country.

Cultures Of The People Of Latvia

Latvians are highly fond of singing and every year the Song Festival is hosted in the country where thousands of singers participate to exhibit their talent. Folk songs of Latvia are extremely popular in the country and are known as the “ daina.” Rye, potatoes, and wheat are the staple food of the population of Latvia. Dairy products are also highly favored. Smoked fish is popular in the coastal areas.

The family is valued in Latvia and is the center of the social structure. Families are usually small with one to two children. Parents often provide financial assistance to adult children if needed and children are expected to attend to the needs of their elderly parents. In Latvia, age and experience are considered to be assets and people and helps gain respect. Latvians are also private people and are formal and reserved in their dealings with outsiders.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Sunday 25 August 2019

Music of Syria

Syria's capital and largest city, Damascus, has long been one of the Arab world's centers for cultural and artistic innovation, especially in the field of classical Arab music. Syria has also produced several pan-Arab stars, often in exile, including George Wassoof and Nour Mahanna. The city of Aleppo is known for its Muwashshah, a form of Andalousian sung poetry popularized by Sabri Moudallal, as well as popular stars like Sabah Fakhri. Dabke and other forms of dance music are also popular.

Syria was one of the earliest centers of Christian hymnody, in a repertory known as Syrian chant, which continues to be the liturgical music of some of the various Syrian Christians.
There was formerly a distinctive tradition of Syrian Jewish religious music, which still flourishes in the Syrian-Jewish community of New York: see The Weekly Maqam, Baqashot and Pizmonim.


Muwashshah or muwaššah (Arabic: ﻣﻮﺷٌﺢ, literally "girdled"; plural Muwashshhaat ﻣﻮﺷـّﺤﺎﺕ or tawāshīh
ﺗﻮﺍﺷﻴﺢ) is an Arabic poetic form, as well as a secular musical genre in the eastern part of the Arab world using muwaššah texts as lyrics. The poetic form is also used in Andalusi Nawbah which similarly originates in Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). It is a multi-lined strophic verse poem written in classical Arabic, usually consisting of five stanzas. It was customary to open with one or two lines which matched the second part of the poem in rhyme and meter. In North Africa poets ignore the strict rules of Arabic meter while the poets in the East follow them.

Musical genre

Musically, the ensemble consists of Oud (lute),
kamenjah (spike fiddle), Qanoon (box zither),
darabukkah (goblet drum), and daf (tambourine), all of which often perform as the choir. The soloist performs only a few chosen lines of the selected text. In Aleppo multiple Maqam rows and up to three awzān are used and modulation to neighboring Maqamat was possible during the B section [clarify]. Until modernization it was typical to present a complete Wasla, or up to eight successive muwaššah including an instrumental introduction (Sama'i or Bashraf).[2] It may end with a Longa.


Examples of muwaššah start to appear as early as the ninth or tenth century CE. The full sense of the word is not clear, though it appears to be related to the word for a type of double-banded ornamental belt, the wišah. Interpretations differ, and according to one authority [who?], "Since it was held together by the concluding line as by a belt, and written down the visual effect was of a chain belt, it was called
muwaššah 'girdled' poem. needed]

Syrian chant is the chant used in Syriac Christianity. As Syria was one of the earliest centers of Christianity, its style of chant is among the oldest in the world. However, as no early musical manuscripts exist, it is conjectural to what extent the modern repertoire reflects the early traditions.

In the early church, the music consisted of hymns and antiphonal psalmody. The earliest extant work is the Gnostic Psalter of the 2nd century, a collection of Psalm texts in hymn form reflecting a Gnostic theology. The first orthodox work are the hymns of Ephrem the Syrian (306-373), some of which are still used today. Both hymns and antiphonal psalmody were brought by St. Ambrose to Milan and are apparently the basis for Ambrosian chant.

•culled from

Saturday 24 August 2019

Kosovo Country Profile

This week we’re exploring one of the newest and more controversial countries in the world – the disputed territory of Kosovo! Since declaring independence less than a decade ago, Kosovo is still seeking recognition from some major global players.

•Kosovo Capital: Pristina
•Largest City in Kosovo: Pristina
•Kosovo Population (2016): 1,836,978
•Total Area of Kosovo: 10,908 km²
•Official Languages of Kosovo: Albanian, Serbian
•Kosovo Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)

History Of Kosovo

Like the rest of former Yugoslavia, ancient Kosovo was mostly populated by different tribes until it was conquered by Rome in the 2nd century BCE. This lasted for about five centuries until the collapse of the Western Empire led to an influx of barbarian invasions. Over the course of the early Middle Ages, Kosovo became ingratiated with the Slavic peoples – much like the surrounding region.

Empires Aplenty

Around the year 850, the Bulgarian Empire took control of the area…at least until the Byzantines claimed the land around 1018, cementing the Christian faith as the dominant religion in the region.

Kosovo became a hotbed of Slavic nationalism and the independence movement from the Byzantines, eventually becoming a key part of the Serbian Empire in the 14th century. This lasted for a few decades before the Empire splintered into a loose coalition of powers. They were however united against a new threat – the growing and powerful Ottoman Empire.

Ottoman Kosovo

However it wasn’t to last long, as Ottoman forces successfully conquered much of the region. From the year 1455 all the way until 1912, Kosovo was a part of the vast Empire. One of the key events during Ottoman rule was the Serbian majority giving way to an influx of ethnic Albanians to work the fertile land (this will be important later). Life continued throughout the centuries of Ottoman ownership, with Kosovo sometimes at the mercy of invading forces and struggles between the powerful states of Europe. Near the end of Ottoman rule, there was an increasing national consciousness – both between the Balkans as a whole and the Albanians themselves.

The Birth Of Yugoslavia And War

Everything fell apart in 1912. After a coup in the Ottoman Empire, they lost most of their possessions in the Balkans while the loose collection of states also jockeyed for position amongst themselves. The Albanians defeated the Ottomans while many Kosovar soldiers in the Ottoman forces deserted. Things didn’t get much easier, as World War I saw Kosovo occupied by Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary of the Central Powers. After the war there was a brief period of part-independence, however Kosovo soon became a part of the new Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Meanwhile, the Serbian government sought to increase the Serb population in Kosovo, and began ‘re-colonizing’ the land to a degree. From then on, Kosovar Albanians were not recognized as inhabiting an independent state within Yugoslavia (à la Croatia or Slovenia). To add to the country’s struggle, Kosovo was invaded and occupied by the Axis powers during WWII. There was a degree of ethnic conflict (among other battles) during this time, though not to the devastating degree of some nearby countries. At the war’s end, the communists quickly took power and founded the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, of which Kosovo was a ‘Socialist Autonomous Province’ within Serbia.

Communist Yugoslavia

Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Kosovo persevered under the leadership of Tito. The increasing Albanian nationalism continued to be a concern for many Serbs (as well as harassment from the majority), while the Kosovar Albanians were angry about their perceived second-class status. By the 80’s, the proportion of Albanians had increased to about 90% in Kosovo, while tensions with the Serb minority were only building. In addition, the Yugoslav police and army sought to quell any notion of increased independence of Kosovar Albanians. By the end, Kosovo (and Yugoslavia as a whole) was a powder keg of political and ethnic tension just waiting to explode.

War And Independence

In 1989 and 1990 Yugoslavia began to disintegrate with many of the constituent countries breaking away from Belgrade. After five years of brutal warfare, many of the conflicts had ended with the independence of Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina – however the Kosovar Albanians situation had not changed. After a period of non-violent resistance, paramilitary groups took over and began the Kosovo War. This brought the eye of Western powers back to the region in 1998. While initial agreements failed, the Račak massacre of 45 Kosovo Albanians by Serb forces galvanized NATO to intervene. After the deployment of peacekeeping forces was rejected by Belgrade, NATO began sustained bombing of Yugoslavia to force their army to leave Kosovo.

While the UN did not approve the intervention, NATO did wield considerable might and support. In the end, the bombings forced the Yugoslav army to withdraw from Kosovo. Though both sides claimed victory, the end result was de facto independence of Kosovo from Yugoslavia/Serbia. Following the end of the war in 1999, a nearly 10 year period of UN administration began – though tensions between Albanians and what remained of the Serb minority continued. For many years, the governments of Serbia, Kosovo, and those on the UN Security Council sought to find a solution. This was complicated by Russia’s general position against independence.

Modern Kosovo

In the end, Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008. Many Western countries, including the US, France, and the UK (as well as Canada a month later), supported the move – while Russia opposed it and China remained “concerned”. Today, the country is still partially recognized with 113 official diplomatic recognitions (also 109 out of 193 UN members). The Serb minority still opposes independence, and many questions remain. Despite this, Kosovo has for the most part solidified its independence from Belgrade, even if the political and diplomatic struggle remains ongoing.

Kosovar Culture

Much of Kosovar culture is divided upon ethnic lines, namely the Albanian majority and Serb minority. The enmity between the groups is well known and has existed for centuries. In addition, minority groups such as the Romani seek to find a place in the modern Kosovo, though they all face challenges.

Flag Of Kosovo

The flag of Kosovo was adopted following the declaration of independence in 2008. It was determined thanks to the help of an international competition, with the current flag a variant of one proposal. The flag consists of a golden map of Kosovo on a blue background with six white stars above (denoting the six major ethnic groups of Kosovo). In addition, the Albanian and Serbian flags are seen throughout the country to this day.

Kosovar Cuisine

The food in Kosovo is mostly similar to the other Balkan countries, though Turkish and Albanian traditions have greatly influenced it as well. Burek (a pastry), flia (a sort of creamy crepe), and kebab are all popular – among a wide variety of other dishes. In addition, the cuisine changes throughout the year, depending on the climate, seasons, and region of the country. Lastly, wine is also produced in Kosovo, and the industry has been growing significantly in recent years.

Sports In Kosovo

Sports are very important in Kosovo, with soccer, basketball, handball, volleyball, wrestling, judo, swimming, boxing, karate, and skiing all popular throughout. The country has mostly succeeded on the international stage in individual sports, particularly wrestling, boxing, and other combat sports. For many years, the national soccer team and league were independent from both the European federation (UEFA) and FIFA. Just this year however, Kosovo became an official member of both. As a result, the national team will be able to participate in qualification for the 2018 World Cup. Though some Kosovar players are currently on other national teams (such as Xherdan Shaqiri who plays for Switzerland and Stoke City in the English Premier League), they may be given the option to switch allegiances – though time will tell how many do.

Geography Of Kosovo

Kosovo is a relatively small landlocked country that borders Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. The majority of the land is dominated by mountains, however there are regions of plains in the country as well. Beyond this, over a third of Kosovo is forested.

Cities In Kosovo

The biggest city in Kosovo is the capital, Pristina, which numbers around 200,000 people. Other important cities include in the historic and cultural centre of Prizren and the eastern city of Gjilan.

Facts About Kosovo

•Kosovo is about the size of Connecticut
•70% of the population is under 35 years old
•There is a Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina,
which includes a larger than life statue of the
•A battle between Serbs and Turks in the 14th
century is often pointed to as the birth of Serb
•Despite mostly recognized independence, the
country is one of the poorest in Europe.
•Kosovo is one of only three Muslim majority
countries in Europe (alongside Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Albania)

•culled from

Friday 23 August 2019

Is Kosovo A Country?

Kosovo is a partially recognized state that declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
Kosovo is a partially recognized country and a disputed territory in Southeastern Europe. It declared sovereignty and independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia acknowledges the democratically elected government of Kosovo, but considers it to be an autonomous province, officially known as the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. Kosovo covers an area of 4,212 square miles and is a landlocked state bordering Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. It is a vital link between Southeastern and Central Europe, the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea. Pristina is the largest and the capital city. One hundred and thirteen member states of the United Nations recognize Kosovo as a country, including the United States, Canada, as well as members of the European Union, except Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Cyprus, and Greece. Mexico, India, Brazil, China, and Russia are some of the other countries that do not recognize the independence of Kosovo. The country is yet to be admitted to the United Nations.

The History of Kosovo

Kosovo was an integral part of the Ottoman Empire from the 15th to the early 20th century. After the Ottoman Empire was defeated in the Balkan War, Serbia and Montenegro acquired Kosovo. After the First World War, Serbia and Montenegro joined Yugoslavia and declared Kosovo an autonomous province. Throughout the 20th century, tension simmered between the Albanian and Serb communities, culminating in an armed conflict between 1988 and 1989. The Yugoslav army withdrew from the territory and the United Nations established an interim administration. In February 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia and sought recognition as a sovereign state. Although Serbia continues to contest the sovereignty of Kosovo, the Brussels Agreement of 2013 requires the country to recognize the legitimacy of institutions in Kosovo.

Present-Day Kosovo

Kosovo is governed as a representative democracy. The government consists of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The country is governed by the constitution that was adopted on April 7, 2008. The president is elected by parliament and serves as the head of state, as well as representing the unity of the country. The prime minister is also elected by parliament and serves as the head of government. The population of Kosovo is about 1.9 million, while its GDP is $22.41 billion. The country's largest trading partners are Switzerland, Germany, China, Albania, and Turkey. The state has a free trade policy with the Republic of Macedonia, Albania, and Croatia.

By Victor Kiprop

•culled from

Thursday 22 August 2019

Tallest Mountains In Italy

Topped by Monte Bianco along the French border, Italy's highest peaks are all in the Aosta Valley region.



Italy is one of the European Union countries located bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. The country shares its land border with San Marino, France, Switzerland , Austria, and Slovenia. Italy's total area is 116,347 square miles of which 2784 square miles is water. The country has a total population of 66 million inhabitants, the third most populous country in the EU. Italy’s climate is highly diverse ranging from humid subtropical to humid continental with hot summer and harsh winter. The country experiences considerable seismic and volcanic activities since the country is at the meeting point of African and Eurasian Plates. The highest elevation in Italy is Monte Bianco at 15,782ft. Italy’s tallest mountains are;

Monte Bianco

Bianco meaning “White Mountain” is the highest mountain in Italy with an elevation of 4,808 meters. The mountain, also known as Mont Blanc, is in the Graian Alps Range on the Watershed Line between Ferret and Veny Valleys. Monte Bianco is popular for snowboarding, hiking, mountaineering, and skiing. The mountain was first ascended in 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard. Currently, the mountain is climbed by over 20,000 mountaineers. The summit has provided perfect sites for the filming of television programs including Malabar Princess, Storm over Monte Bianco, and La Roue. The mountain is being considered a World Heritage Site because of its cultural importance. Temperature change and heat waves have had an impact on most climbing routes across the mountain and also causing the landslides which are dangerous to climbers.


Lyskamm is a mountain within the Pennine Alp lying on the border of Italy and Switzerland. The mountain, also called Silberbast meaning “Silver Blast,” is 4,527 meters above the sea level. Lyskamm is sometimes considered part of the Monta Rosa group due to its modest prominence. The mountain is composed of two summits; Western Lyskamm and Eastern Lyskamm separated by just a 1km long ridge. Lyskamm Mountain has several cornices lying on the ridge and also the frequent avalanches. The northern part of the mountain is an ice-covered wall rising to 1,100 meters while the southern side rises slightly above the glacier. The mountain is famous for mountaineering and hiking with the climbing routes accessed from Gnifetti Hut or Monte Rosa Hut.

Monte Cervino

Monte Cervino, also called Matterhorn, is a mountain in the Alps bordering Italy and Switzerland. The mountain is a huge symmetrical pyramidal peak within the Monte Rosa area. The pyramidal shape has four faces facing the four compass directions. The faces are prone to banner cloud formation giving the mountain a wonderful panoramic view. The summit of Monte Cervino Mountain is 4,478m high. The mountain has two summits; the Swiss and Italian Summit which are almost of the same height. Monte Cervino is very isolated and is exposed to rapid weather changes. The base of the mountain is composed of gneiss rocks. The mountain is rich in history, making it one of the major tourist attraction sites in Italy. Monte Cervino mountain area is serviced by railway and cable car facilities making the summit areas easily accessible.


Italy’s other tall mountains include Grandes Jorasses (4,208m), Dent d'Herens (4,174m), Breithorn (4,164m), Gran Paradiso (4,061m), Piz Zupo (3,996m), Grivola (3,969m), and Aiguille de Tre la Tete (3,930m). These mountains form the Alpine mountain mass consisting of some of the highest peaks in Italy.

Tallest Mountains In Italy

Rank Tallest Mountains in Italy Elevation

1 Monte Bianco 4,808 meters
2 Lyskamm 4,527 meters
3 Monte Cervino 4,478 meters
4 Grandes Jorasses 4,208 meters
5 Dent d'Herens 4,174 meters
6 Breithorn 4,164 meters
7 Gran Paradiso 4,061 meters
8 Piz Zupo 3,996 meters
9 Grivola 3,969 meters
10 Aiguille de Tre la Tete 3,930 meters

By John Misachi

•culled from

The Largest Cities in Italy

Rome is the most populous city in Italy, followed by Milan and Naples.


Italy Cities of the World

Italy's history dates back to long before the classical age. As the country developed and gained global influence, civilizations and settlements sprouted up all over. Today, Rome is the biggest city in Italy, as well as the 8th largest city in Europe. As Italy is one of the world's most visited countries, the city of Rome is very popular amongst tourists as well.
All data comes from the Italian Census.

Top 5 Most Populated City in Italy

Rome - 2,872,800

Rome is the largest city in Italy, with nearly 3 million residents within its city center. This city has a history of more than 2,500 years and was first inhabited by Latins, Sabines, and Etruscans. Today, Italians and immigrants from Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bangladesh, the Phillippines, and China reside in Rome. Given that this city home to Vatican City , it’s no surprise that the dominant religion is Catholicism.

Milan - 1,366,180

With a population of 1.3 million, Milan is the second largest city in Italy. Over history, many different cultures have conquered the city and together they have shaped it into the place it is today. Milan was originally founded by Celtic Insubres around 400 BC. Later, Romans took power followed by the Germanic Visigoths, the Huns, the Ostrogoths, the Lombards, and the Franks. In recent times, Italians from rural areas and foreign born individuals (particularly from Africa, Eastern Europe, Asians, and South Americans) make up the composition of the city.

Naples - 966,144

The third largest city in Italy is Naples with a population of just under one million. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, its history of inhabitants is long and diverse. Around 2,000 BC, Greek immigrants settled here and stayed throughout centuries until the city became part of the Roman Republic. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Naples became the capital of the Kingdom of Naples for nearly 600 years until 1812. Interestingly, 98.5% of the residents are Italian born.

Turin - 882,523

Turin, in northern Italy, is the fourth most populated city in Italy with a population of just under one million. It is found in the country's Piedmont region . Turin is well known for its art galleries, public squares, and architecture. It hosted the 2006 Olympics.

Palermo - 668,405

Palermo is Italy's fifth largest city, with a population of over half a million. It is the largest city in Sicily . It is an ancient city that dates back thousands of years. It is often visited for its Mediterranean weather.

Future Demographic Trends

Although these cities have impressive population sizes, they are not expected to grow. In fact, the overall population of Italy is expected to decline over the next three decades or so. The issue is that of an aging population, and the fact that the death rate is exceeding the birth rate.

The Ten Biggest Metropolitan Cities In Italy

Rank City Population

1 Rome 2,872,800
2 Milan 1,366,180
3 Naples 966,144
4 Turin 882,523
5 Palermo 668,405
6 Genoa 580,097
7 Bologna 389,261
8 Florence 380,948
9 Bari 323,370
10 Catania 311,620

By Amber Pariona

•culled from

Largest Ethnic Groups Of Italy

Around 8% of Italy's population identify as one of numerous non-Italian minorities, with Romanian Italians being the largest among them.


Italy Demographics

Around 8% of Italy’s population identify as one of the numerous non-Italian minorities, with Romanian Italians being the largest of the minority groups. The dominant ethnic group in Italy is the native Italians who mainly speak the Italian language. Minority groups in Italy are majorly a result of immigration and settlement from other countries. Most of these immigrants went to Italy seeking employment opportunities.


Nearly 92.0% of Italy’s population is Italians making it the largest ethnic group in the country. Native groups in the Italian Peninsula were the Etruscans while groups such as Greeks, Germans, Jews, Romans and Celts occupied the Peninsula in medieval times. Descendants of the indigenous groups and the settlers make up the modern-day Italians. In the Southern part of Italy, Greek-Italians and Albanian-Italians are found while the North part is dominated by the French-Italians, Slovene-Italians, and German-Italians. Of all the occupations in the Italian Peninsula, the Romans influenced the culture of Italians the most. With time, different provinces of Italians developed their culture and dialects, a diversity which is still evident in the modern day Italy. Most Italians profess to the Roman Catholic religion while a small number profess to Judaism or Protestantism or migratory Islam. Notable Italians have made major contributions in the fields of culture, arts, language, science, and literature. Famous Italians are Leonard da Vinci for his contributions in architecture and paleontology and Galileo Galilei, a dominant figure in astronomy.


1.8% of the total population in Italy are Romanians. The presence of Romanians in Italy is attributed to immigrations to Italy by Romanian citizens who began in the 1990s. The first phase of immigrants was fleeing persecution in Romania, while the second phase flocked to Italy for better employment opportunities and improved standards of living. A large number of Romanians in Italy are Christians more specifically Orthodox Christian. Roman Catholic and Protestant make up a small number of Romanians.

The relationship between Italians and Romanians is one of mistrust. Romanians are blamed for illegal and criminal activities. A particular event in October 2007, where an Italian woman was killed in a violent murder by an alleged Romanian immigrant, sparked a significant outcry from Italians. Proposed legislations were made to allow the government to remove certain EU citizens it deems a threat to Italy’s security. Although the legislation was not eventually enforced, profiling of Romanian citizens as criminals continues in Italy. Romanians in Italy are characterized by a strong link to their culture and language. The Romanian presence in Italy is attested through over 200 Orthodox Churches, a political party, and numerous Romanian associations. There is also a Television Station that broadcasts in the Romanian language in Italy.

Maghrebi and Arabic

Maghrebi and Arabic both have a share of 1.1% of the total population in Italy. The majority of the people from these two groups are immigrants from Arab countries such as Tunisia , Libya , Syria,
Morocco, Lebanon , and Egypt. There existed Muslim communities in Italy in the medieval era, whose presence dwindled as a result of various conquests. Somali asylum seekers in the 20th century to Italy sparked a wave of Muslim immigration. The dominant religion practiced by these ethnicities is Islam, more specifically the Sunni branch of Islam. The Maghrebi Arabic communities have various associations.


0.8% Albanians make up the total population of Italy. Albania and Italy had long close ties in medieval times, mostly through military assistance given by Albania to Italy. Some Albanians, fleeing the occupation of Turks, settled in Italy and established Albanian communities mainly in Southern Italy. These communities still inhabit parts of modern Southern Italy such as Sicily, Calabria, Campania, Molise, and Abruzzi. Arberesh language is common among Albanians in Italy, with different dialects used in various villages. The Albanian community has influenced festivals and celebrations in Italy. The primary religion of the Albanians is Christian Catholic.


Other ethnicities found in Italy by share of the total population are Han Chinese (0.3%) and Ukrainian (0.3%). Italy has been increasingly receiving immigrants seeking asylum, especially from countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa. These immigrants have the potential to affect Italy’s demographics to a small extent. The Muslim population in Italy is projected to increase steadily in Italy and other parts of Europe.

Largest Ethnic Groups Of Italy

Rank Ethnicity or Nationality Share of Italian Population

1 Italian 92.0%
2 Romanian 1.8%
3 Maghrebi and/or Arabic 1.1%
4 Albanian 0.8%
5 Han Chinese 0.3%
6 Ukrainian 0.3%

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Wednesday 21 August 2019

The Irish People - Cultures of the World

Despite the influence the Irish culture has had globally, they are threatened with the loss of their native Gaelic tongue in their homeland.


Ireland itself has a population of about 6.3 million people, while it is estimated that around 70 million people worldwide share a genetic link to Irish heritage. Irish or Irish Gaelic is the original language spoken by the Irish people, and this language belongs to the family of Indo-European languages, and originated in Ireland. Currently, it enjoys the status of being the national and official language of Ireland.

However, English still continues to exert its dominating effects over Gaelic Irish throughout much of the country. Currently, 85% of the island of Ireland (predominately Catholic) is designated as the Republic of Ireland, while the remaining part, referred to as Northern Ireland (predominately Protestant), is still under British rule. Archaeological studies have claimed that Ireland has been inhabited for around 9,000 years.

Some of the earliest inhabitants of Ireland were believed to be the Gaelic People, who were of Celtic origins. In the 9th and 10th Centuries AD, Ireland was fiercely attacked by the Vikings, which were groups of seafaring warriors from what are now the Scandinavian countries. In 853, Danes invaded Ireland, and Danish settlers began to inhabit the region and adopted Christianity. From the late 12th Century until the 1400’s, Ireland witnessed the Norman invasion of Ireland, and the Normans started occupying lands along the eastern coast of the island. In the 15th Century, the British monarchy took control over the entirety of Ireland, and the laws of England prevailed there. This led to the infiltration of a large number of English and Lowland Scots into Ireland in the 16th and 17th Centuries, and their settlement as a separate ethnic group in the northern parts of Ireland. On the other hand, wars, famines, and economic depression led to the emigration of large numbers of Irish people to such foreign (and newly discovered) countries as the United States,
Canada, and Australia, as well as to the United Kingdom.


The architectural style of Ireland has transformed significantly over time, being heavily influenced by the political scenario and social conditions prevailing during each of the respective eras. Little evidence of prehistoric Irish architecture remains today due to the nomadic life of the ancient inhabitants of Ireland, as well as the use of wood (which rapidly decomposes) instead of stone in these early constructions. However, burial sites dating to as far back as 3,500 years have been discovered, with court graves and passage graves being some of the predominant features of these ancient burial sites. Early Christian Ireland presented ring forts, or "raths", as some of the most notable architectural examples of that period. The ring forts were small, roughly circular settlements surrounded by earthen embankments. Improvements in raths involved the building of stone-walled ring forts, castles, hill forts, promontory forts, and crannogs.

Beginning in the 8th Century, a few stone churches were constructed and served as the earliest reminders of ancient Christian buildings in Ireland. Later, the Romanesque style influenced church buildings, with the Cormac’s Chapel of the early 12th Century being evidence of this fact. A trend of constructing round, stone towers (cloigtheacha or “bell-houses") in churches and monasteries across Ireland started in the 10th Century. These tall, narrow, and elegant towers were built as defensive structures, specifically to serve as lookout posts or places to seek refuge in during troubled times. The first buildings in Ireland, inculcating the Gothic style of architecture, were built during the late 12th Century, and were patronized by the Anglo-Normans.

The cathedral churches in Dublin were one of the best representations of this style, with their pointed lancet windows and ‘stiff-leaf’ capitals. A number of castles, such as the Bunratty Castle, the Carrickfergus Castle, and the Castle at Cahir, represent Norman architectural examples from Medieval Ireland. The Palladian architecture was introduced into Ireland in the early 18th Century, and its most famous example is said to be the Castletown House, built by the Irish architect Edward Lovett Pearce. In the latter part of the 18th Century, the Georgian style of architecture prevailed in Ireland. Some of the most famous buildings of this era included the Four Courts, the Custom House, and the King’s Inns, the latter being built by the London-born architect James Gandon. British architecture heavily influenced 19th Century Ireland, and some of the most prominent Irish buildings today, including the National Museum of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, and the National Gallery of Ireland, were built during this period.


Traditional Irish cuisine is plain and simple with only a few basic ingredients, and thereofre involves a minimal amount of spices and herbs. The staples of Irish cuisine include grains, dairy products, and, of course, potatoes, after they were introduced to Ireland in the 16th Century from the New World. Being an island nation surrounded by water, seafood has also long been abundantly available in this country, and the Irish thus enjoy a variety of seafood items like lobsters, oysters, and salmon. When discussing Irish dishes with others, Irish stew is worth mentioning. Besides the stew, other well-known traditional Irish dishes include those involving colcannon, coddle, boxty, bacon, and cabbage. Bread also finds an important place in Irish cuisine, with fresh Irish soda bread being a national staple dish of Ireland. The Irish love to consume tea, which is the most common beverage in Ireland. Irish coffee, which is coffee combined with whiskey and whipped cream, is a world famous Irish beverage as well, and the Irish are known to be lovers of adult beverages.

Cultural Significance

Despite being a small country, the Irish contribution to global literature is quite significant. Both English and Gaelic literary works have been produced in Ireland and earned fame worldwide. The 18th Century saw the proliferation of Bardic poetry, and poets like Jonathan Swift and Oliver Goldsmith produced some of their most significant work during this time. In the 19th Century, Irish poets wrote in English, often translating bardic poetry and ancient Gaelic verses into English, often using stories from Celtic mythology to inspire them as they penned their poems. The immortal poet W.B. Yeats produced some of his early works during this period.
In the 20th Century, Irish poets were divided between those who were influenced by the early Celtic styles of poetry and those who followed Modernism, such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.

Irish fiction captured the world's attention during the 18th Century, especially with the works of Jonathan Swift and Oliver Goldsmith. Some of the immortal fictional writings contributed by the Irish writers include James Joyce’s ‘Uysses’ (1922) and ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ (1916), Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ (1890) and ‘Importance of Being Earnest’ (1895), Flann O’Brien’s ‘At Swim Two Birds’ (1939), and Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ (1726). Besides literature, Ireland has contributed its own folk music and dance to the global cultural landscape. The harp is a traditional Irish musical instrument that was popularly used by Irish musicians between the 10th and 17th Centuries. In 1762, the first written record of Irish music was compiled by the Neale Brothers, legendary Irish musicians. Presently, every year the annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, an Irish music festival, is held to encourage traditional Irish musicians and their art. Ireland’s ‘Republic of Ireland Film Industry’ has also contributed significant film productions like ‘My Left Foot’ (1989), ‘Intermission’ (2001) and’ Man about Dog’ (2004), to the global film scene. In the field of sports, Gaelic football is the most popular sport of Ireland, and is one of the oldest games played in this region.


Similar to the situation in other parts of the world, globalization has also taken its toll on the Irish culture. In the past, the Irish pubs were typically family owned and operated business, known for their small, cosy interiors. These encouraged conversations and social interactions against a backdrop of soft, Irish folk music. However, these traditional Irish pubs, promoting warmth and fraternity, are being gradually replaced by modern trophy pubs, which are owned by large corporations and promote a pub culture based on loud music and heavy drinking. The Irish diet is now heavily influenced by the "fast food culture" of the U.S.A., as well as other major global cuisines. The proliferation of these new, often unhealthy, food habits has led to an increase in the incidence of obesity and lifestyle-related diseases among the people of the country. Perhaps the greatest threat to Ireland’s culture of all is the diminishing utilization of the Irish language. It is already regarded as being an "endangered language" by the UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Even though courses in the Irish language have been made mandatory in schools across Ireland, only 1.8% of its population actually use the language in their daily communications. The dire status of the Irish language was probably the result of longstanding British rule in Ireland, and the dominant position occupied by the English language in the country during that period. Today, continuous efforts are being made by the Government of Ireland to restore the status of the Irish language and protect it from extinction.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Biggest Cities In Ireland

The capital city of Dublin along the island nation's east coast is the only Irish city with more than 1 million residents.

Ireland is an island nation in the North Atlantic Ocean, on one of the two major British Isles off of the coast of Western Europe. The island of Ireland is the twentieth largest island in the world with an area of 32,595 square miles and reaching a maximum elevation of 3,415 feet above sea level. The island is divided politically into two domains, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the latter being a part of the United Kingdom. This current division was established after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921. The main languages used in the country are English, Irish, and Ulster Scots. Dublin is the largest and the capital city of the Republic of Ireland with a metro population of approximately 1.9 million. It and other major Irish cities are discussed below.


Dublin, the capital and largest city of Ireland, is located at the mouth of the River Liffey in Leinster Province in east-central Ireland. It was established as a Viking settlement and became a principal city after Norman invasion. It has rapidly grown over the years from the 17 th Century and experiences a maritime climate with cool summers, mild winters without extreme temperatures. It covers a land area of approximately 44 square miles with a population of 1.9 million.


The city of Cork in Ireland is located in Cork County in Munster Province. It was founded in the 6th Century AD and is the second largest city in the country. It covers an area of 14.4 square miles and an estimated metro population of 399,216. During the Irish Civil War, the city was a center of anti-treaty forces and is often referred to as the real capital by the inhabitants of the city. It has a mild oceanic climate, with abundant rainfall, and no extreme temperatures.


Limerick city in Ireland was founded in 812 AD, and is located in Limerick County in Munster Province. It is the third most populous city in the country with a population of 162,413. During the Williamite War in Ireland in the 17 th Century, Catholics and Protestants fought against one another in the region, but the Treaty of Limerick brought an end to the hostilities in 1691. The city has a temperate oceanic climate mild and majorly cloudy. The town is also the inaugural National City of Culture with high cultural and artistic significance.


Galway city is located in the western part of Ireland in Galway County in the province of Connacht. It is situated 82 feet above sea level and covers an area of 20 square miles with a population 79,504. A fort was built by the king of the province in 1124, which was later captured during the Norman Invasion of Ireland, and the city has consistently grown over the centuries. The prevailing wind of the North Atlantic Current has an all-year-round mild, moist, and temperate climate.


Swords, an expansive urban town in the Dublin Region of Leinster Province, was founded in 560 AD by Saint Colmcille as an early Christian settlement. It became a county seat in 1994 for the County of Fingal after the new county's breakaway from the County of Dublin. The town has a maritime temperature climate without extreme temperatures. It has a population of 68,543 which began to boom in the 1970s following the construction of the Rivervalley Estate development.

Problems Facing Irish Cities Today

There has been increased air pollution due to a rise in the number of of industries which release harmful gases into the atmosphere. In the long run, these gases lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. With the ever increasing urban population, more vehicles are needed, and thus public transport has been increased and traffic jam is constantly on the increase. Overcrowding is another challenge faced in the cities, especially in terms of the scarcity of infrastructure and municipal services available.

Biggest Cities In Ireland

Rank Biggest Cities in Ireland Metro Area Population

1 Dublin 1,904,806
2 Cork 399,216
3 Limerick 162,413
4 Galway 79,504
5 Swords 68,583
6 Waterford 51,519
7 Drogheda 38,578
8 Dundalk 37,816
9 Bray 31,872
10 Navan 31,689

By Kenneth Kimutai too

•culled fro

Tuesday 20 August 2019

The Culture Of Ireland

The Irish cuisine reflects the style of cooking that was developed by the Irish people over a period of centuries of political and social change.

The island of Ireland in the North Atlantic is politically divided between Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) and the Republic of Ireland , a sovereign nation. Despite the political differences, the people of the island are called Irish and have their own Irish culture. As of 2011, Ireland had a population of about 6.6 million with 4.8 million residing in the Republic of Ireland and the rest in Northern Ireland. Learn more about culture of the Republic of Ireland and its similarities with its northern neighbors.

Ethnicity, Language, and Religion in Ireland

82.2% of the population of Ireland comprises the ethnic Irish. People from other white, Asian, and black ethnic backgrounds represent 9.5%, 2.1%, and 1.4% of the population, respectively. Both English and Irish are the official languages of the country. English is spoken throughout the island while Irish is spoken by around 39.8% of the population, especially by people living along the western coast of the country. Christianity is the religion of the vast majority of the Irish population. 78.3% of the population comprises of Roman Catholics. Adherents of the Church of Ireland represent 2.7% of the population. Orthodox Christians and Muslims both represent around 1.3% of the population. A significant section of the Irish population of around 9.8% does not claim affiliation to any religion.

Although the Irish are predominantly Christians, both Pagan customs and Christian traditions influence the Irish festival calendar. Christmas is celebrated with many local traditions not observed in other parts of the world. Saint Patrick's Day, the Irish national holiday, is celebrated with parades and festivals in all major cities and towns in Ireland. The Brigid's Day, although is not linked to Christianity, is another religious observance of the Irish people.

Cuisine of Ireland

Irish cuisine reflects the style of cooking that was developed by the Irish people over a period of centuries of political and social change. The crops that are grown and the animals reared in Ireland’s temperate climate have heavily determined the types of food consumed by the Irish people. English cuisine also had a significant impact on Irish cuisine. Potato is often regarded as the staple of the cuisine. Potatoes are used in a wide variety of Irish dishes. Some of the traditional and most popular Irish dishes include cabbage and bacon with potatoes, Irish stew (a meat stew made with goat or lamb meat), colcannon (mashed potato, cabbage, and butter), potato pancake, etc.

Irish Whiskey, known as the water of life, and beer have long histories in Ireland. Whiskey distilleries and beer breweries are found throughout the country. Guinness, the world's largest stout brewery, is based in Dublin, Ireland. Smithwick's, Harp, and Murphy's are other popular beer breweries based in the country while Jameson Irish Whiskey is one of the most well known Irish Whiskeys.

Literature and the Arts in Ireland

Despite its small size, Ireland has made massive contributions to the world of literature. Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, and James Joyce are all globally renowned Irish writers. Ireland has also produced four Nobel laureates in the field of literature including the legendary poet William Butler Yeats and playwright George Bernard Shaw. Ireland also has a rich heritage of oral literature. Leprechaun, the mischievous fairy type creature, is an important figure of Irish folklore. The Irish literature is the third oldest literature in the European continent.

Like literature, Ireland has a great wealth of art and craft. The earliest forms of art from the country dates to the Bronze age. A strong indigenous tradition of painting developed in Ireland in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Performing Arts in Ireland

Ireland has a thriving scene of folk, classical, and contemporary music. The Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is an Irish folk music festival held every year in Ireland to promote Irish folk music. Traditional Irish folk elements are often incorporated in the other genres of music prevalent in the country. U2, The Undertones, Snow Patrol, etc., are some famous Irish bands of modern times. Rock, jazz, rock and roll, pop, and other contemporary music styles are popular among Irish youth.

A number of traditional dance forms have also originated from Ireland. They include both solo and group dancing performances. English country dancing and French quadrilles have significantly influenced Irish dance forms. The Sean-nós dance, Irish céilí dances, Irish set dancing, and festival Irish dance are some of the island's traditional dance forms.

Sports in Ireland

Irish people play a wide variety of sports. The most popular spectator sports played in the country include Gaelic football, rugby union, hockey, hurling, and soccer. The All-Ireland Football Final is the most watched spectator sports event in Ireland. Games with the highest number of participants include cycling, aerobics, swimming, Gaelic football, and snooker or billiards. The Irish national football team has performed well at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. While some sports in Ireland like Gaelic football and hurling have teams representing the island of Ireland, others like soccer have two separate organizing bodies representing the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Life in the Irish Society

Despite Ireland being progressive in many respects, gender bias still remains an issue in the country. While the law of the country promotes gender equality in the workplace, gender-based inequities in pay continue to create trouble. Feminism is also growing throughout Ireland but still must overcome the obstacles put forth by traditionalists.

Marriages in Ireland are based on romantic relationships and are seldom arranged. Monogamous marriages are the norm and sanctioned by the state and the churches. Since 1995, divorce has been made legal in Ireland. Over the years, the rate of marriage has continued to decrease and the average age of marriage has continued to increase as in the case of neighboring Western cultures.

Most households are nuclear in nature. All children have legal rights to inheritance. In rural areas, however, sons are often the preferred inheritors of land and farm. Extended families continue to play a significant role in the lives of Irish people. Great emphasis is paid on education resulting in high literacy levels in Ireland.

Pub culture is prevalent in Irish society and pervades across all cultural divides. Most Irish frequent pubs or bars. Pubs are not just for drinking but also important meeting and socializing places. The traditional Irish pub is known for its relaxed atmosphere, tavern-like warmness, and traditional Irish music.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from
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