Belgium

Belgium is located in Western Europe between France and Germany. The main languages spoken are German, French and Dutch as well as some local Flemish. The climate is temperate, a lot like the United States with four seasons. Belgium has an industrial economy with most monies coming from food and taxes. In fact, about 40% of one’s gross earnings are given from a single family income. Belgium is famous for their chocolates, waffles and beer. News travels fast through TV and other media broadcasting including the Internet. Facebook, Twitter, and Skype are also very popular. The religions are mostly Catholic, Christian, and Protestant. The government is a parliamentary democracy which means it has a monarchy but also has a voting process. Belgium boasts equality for men and women in education as well as voting. Some places to visit in Belgium would be Brussels, which is the capital city, and the capital of the European Union. Brussels also boasts many WWI and WWII memorial sites for people to visit.

The saxophone was invented by Antonio Joseph Sax, a Belgium musician.

Antwerp, Belgium is the diamond capital of the world.

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Colombia

The Republic of Colombia is located in northwest South America. The primary language spoken is Spanish. The climate in Colombia is tropical with cooler temps in the east and warmest in the north. Colombia has a volatile economy with petroleum as a major export. Food consists of soups, plantains, bananas along with more vegetation and fruits though it’s most known for its coffee. Communication here is mainly through TV, newspapers and Internet with many enjoying Facebook and Twitter. The religion is about 90% Catholic. The 20th of July is one of their major holidays when Columbians celebrate their independence from Spain. The government consists of two political parties: liberals and conservatives. When it comes to equality, the women run the home and the men earn the money to keep up their social status. The capital is Bogotá and is a bustling tourist area with museums, markets and a great nightlife. Another must see is Ciudad Perdida, Colombia’s “lost city,” which is the ultimate adventure trek.

Colombia is the only South American country that has coasts on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

95% of the world’s emeralds are from Colombia.

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Congo

The Congo, formerly known as Zaire is located in Central Africa. The official language is French, however, with nearly 250 cultures, there are almost 200 different languages spoken. The climate in the Congo is tropical with high temperatures and humidity about 80% with little seasonal variation. The economy is a mixture of village agriculture, handicrafts and the petroleum sector. The food is a variety of meats, fresh and smoked, which includes fish, rice and plantains. The Congo is not as developed as western countries so Internet, Facebook, Twitter and even television are only available in big cities and to wealthy people. The main religion is Christianity. The government is democratic after major reforms resulting from a colonialist past. As far as equality, women have very few rights. In fact, in the Eastern Congo, rape and sexual violence is the worst in the world and violence against women seems to be accepted as normal. The capital city is Kinshasa and is likely the safest destination in a country largely noted for its widespread violence.

The Congo was the personal property of King Leopold II of Belgium.

The life expectancy is, on average, 48 years old.

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Egypt

Egypt is located in northern Africa and bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Sinai, Libya and Israel. The main language is Arabic and English is secondary. The climate is hot and dry in the summer, warm and rainy in the winter. Currently the economy is weakened by political upheaval. Egyptians eat lots of legumes and vegetables. Fish is plentiful. News travels fast in Egypt whether through television, newspaper or Internet. Egyptians enjoy Facebook and Skype. The religion is mainly Muslim — about 90% — and the rest is Christianity but Christmas celebrated across the country. The government is military controlled but, after numerous protests and the stepping down of President Mubarak, the people are hopeful for change. In this society, men and women are equal as well as in the education system. Cairo is the capital and other common tourist spots are Giza and Sinai, and the beautiful Mediterranean and Red Seas. The pyramids are a must see too.

Most people live close to the Nile River because it is the only place crops will grow.

The 365 day calendar and the 24 hour day were both Ancient Egyptian inventions.

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England

England is located in the United Kingdom, in northwest Europe. The language spoken is, of course, English! The climate is quite dreary and summer seemingly only lasts for about two weeks and the rest of the time it is cloudy, overcast and rainy. The economy is much like any industrialized country as it is very expensive to live there and people must work hard for a living. London is one of the most expensive places with rent for an apartment going for £2,000 a month. Fish and chips are a staple food and Sunday roast dinners with potatoes and vegetables are a traditional meal. Facebook, Skype and Twitter are accessible to all. There are many different cultures in England so there are a vast variety of religions. The government is run by the House of Parliament. Men and women are treated equally overall and quite frequently women make more money than the men. England’s capital is London and many tourists visit there as well as Manchester and Liverpool.

Windsor Castle is the largest royal home in the world and remains a royal residence.

Public schools are actually very exclusive and expensive private schools, while ordinary schools, which are called state schools, are free.

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France

France is in Western Europe with Luxembourg and Belgium to the north, Germany, Switzerland and Italy to the east, Spain and the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. French is the language spoken and their climate varies over the four seasons. The economy is industrial, diverse and relies heavily on technology. French cuisine is famous for bread and cheeses as well as coque van which is a traditional favorite dish. The religion is mainly Catholic, but there are quite a few who are Muslim, Protestant and Jewish. The government is republic which means they elect their representatives. The men and women in this country are relatively equal in society and education. The capital and largest city is Paris and is a tourist hot spot, as well as Nice, Dijon and Normandy. Some things to see would be the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Latin Quarter.

The French healthcare system was ranked #1 in the world.

The Eiffel Tower was built for the Paris exhibition and was intended to be a tourist attraction for 20 years after which it would be transformed into a superior radio tower.

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Greece

Greece is located in southeastern Europe. The official language is Greek but Albanian, Mastomian, Slavic and Bulgarian are also commonly spoken. The climate is hot and humid in the summer. There are four seasons with the north experiencing colder, wet winters and the south enjoying warmer temperatures. Recently, Greece has fallen victim to a massive financial crises leaving the economy in shambles. One food staple is called Bogotá, a peasant-style corn bread that is popular mostly because it is inexpensive to produce. Greeks also love lamb and beef dishes, feta, fava and lentils. They get their news mostly through television, Internet or Facebook. They also like Twitter and Skype although that is somewhat new to them because they have their own social networking medium. The most popular religions are Greek Orthodox, Islam and Catholicism. Their democratic government is considered a parliamentary republic and holds routine elections. The capital city of Athens boasts many tourist attractions including the Parthenon.

Voting in elections is required by law for everyone over 18 years of age.

In the 1950’s only about 30% of adults could read and write. Now that number is up to 95%.

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India

India is located in Southeast Asia, north of the equator. Of the several hundred spoken languages, Hindi is the national language although some of India’s 28 states and 7 territories speak different languages. The climate ranges mostly from hot and arid to some tropical regions. The northern states have cold winter months and monsoons during the summer. Their economy is boosted by the information technology industry and the largest film industry in the world, Bollywood. Their cuisine is famous for using many spices and saffron is a major export. They get their news from the television, Internet and Orchid, a social site similar to Facebook. Religion is basically a melting pot with Hindu still being the most dominate followed by Christianity. The government is a union of three branches – executive, legislative and judicial. Women have held a variety of political seats throughout India’s history. The capital of New Delhi attracts many tourists and is close to another site that is not to be missed, the Taj Mahal.

The flag of India has three horizontal bands of color; saffron for courage and sacrifice; white for truth and peace; and green for faith, fertility and chivalry.

India boasts having the world’s largest postal system.

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Iraq

Iraq is located in the heart of the Middle East. Many languages are spoken in Iraq such as Syriac, South Azeri, Armenian, but Arabic and Kurdish are the official languages. The climate in the summer is dry and hot. Almost 90% of the annual rainfall occurs between November and April, most of it in the winter months. Two food favorites of Iraqi’s are humus and stuffed grape leaves. Information is transmitted in Iraq by traditional means: television, newspapers, Internet and word or mouth. The major religion in Iraq is Islam, followed by about 97% of Iraqis; Shia and Sunni Muslims are prominent throughout Iraq. The government of Iraq is defined under the current constitution as an Islamic, democratic, federal parliamentary republic. It is comprised of judicial, legislative and executive branches. Although the 2005 constitution states that all Iraqis are equal before the law, men are the dominating force and the women typically take care of the home.

It is said that every road in Iraq leads to Baghdad, the capital.

The region between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers is called the birth place of writing and the cradle of civilization.

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Israel

Israel is part of southwest Asia and the Middle East with geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. It is the only Jewish-majority state in the world. Israel has two official languages: Hebrew, which is spoken by the majority of the population, and Arabic. Some English is spoken as well since it is taught early in school and broadcast on television. Coastal cities such as Tel Aviv and Haifa enjoy a Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers. The economy is based on tourism, agriculture and technology and recently ranked among the world’s most economically developed nations. Food staples for Israelis are falafel, hummus and couscous. Their religion representation is 80% Jewish with the rest being mostly Muslim. Israel’s government is a western-style democracy with freedom of the press, individual democracy and elected officials. Men and women are quite equal in parliament and judiciary representation. The capital of Israel is Jerusalem, a holy land. Some points of interest are the Mediterranean and Red Seas.

One of the most highly educated countries in the world, 135 people out of 10,000 are either engineers, scientists or have PhD’s.

Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain of trees.

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Italy

Sometimes called the “Boot of Europe,” Italy is located in Southern Europe. The Alps form Italy’s northern boundary. The official language is Italian and there are numerous dialects spoken throughout the country. The climate is highly diverse with temperate inland northern regions such as Lombardy and harsh winters and summers of the Po Valley region. Italy has a capitalist economy with high per capita GDP and a developed infrastructure. Tourism is one of the fastest growing and profitable sectors of the national economy – Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world. Social networking is common here, but Italians prefer the intimate feel of face-to-face contact. Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in the country, although no longer the state religion. Italy has a parliamentary government based on a proportional voting system. The parliament is bicameral and a prime minister is the head of government. By law there is not disparity between genders but practical barriers exist. The capital of Italy is Rome and a major attraction is the Coliseum. Venice is a beauty that must be seen as well.

The oldest European university still in use is the University of Bologna, founded in 1088.

Italy has the lowest birthrate in Europe, which contradicts the ‘large family’ culture.

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Lebanon

Lebanon is located in the Western Asia and is bordered by Syria, the Mediterranean Sea, and Israel. The main languages spoken are Arabic, French and English. The climate is mostly moderate. The American dollar and the Lebanese lira are freely traded there. Grape leaves, hummus and raw kibbee are cultural favorites. The primary religions in Lebanon are Islam, Druze and Maronite Catholics; however, 40% of the Lebanese people are Christians. (This is the highest percent in all the Arab countries). The government is parliamentary democracy. This system is intended to deter sectarian conflict and attempts to fairly represent the demographic distribution of the 18 recognized religious groups in government. High-ranking offices are reserved for members of specific religious groups. The President, for example, has to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim and so forth. Beirut was destroyed and rebuilt seven times. (This is why it's often compared to the Phoenix.) The country has been able to regain its beauty and one visiting that area will find a vibrant nightlife and mountainous retreats.

The national symbol and pride of Lebanon is the cedar tree, although only a few remain because of deforestation.

Lebanon is one of the most populated countries in its archeological sites, in the world!

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Liberia

Liberia is located in Africa and the official language is English. Other languages that are commonly used are Pidgin-English, Kpelle, Passa and Mono. The climate in Liberia is tropical with two seasons, dry and rainy. Fifteen years of civil war has caused the economy to stagnate but the United States, China and India have all been helping to restore the country. The main food staple is rice with beans, bananas and plantains being important foods as well. The news gets around Liberia by TV and newspapers. but even more so through radio because it’s inexpensive. The Internet and Facebook are growing in popularity. The two main religions in Liberia are Christianity and Islam. There is a democratic form of government. Women don’t receive much education but, with a new female president, that is all starting to change. The capital of Liberia is Monrovia and that is where Hotel Africa, the place where diplomats stay, is located. A couple places to see in Liberia would be Providence Island, Centennial Pavilion and Ce Ce Beach.

Monrovia is named after an American president, James Monroe.

The first president of Liberia was Joseph Jenkins Roberts, who was born in Virginia.

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Mexico

Mexico is located North America, in the southern region. The main language spoken in Mexico is Spanish, however, more and more people are speaking English too. The climate has four seasons, with very hot summers and mild winters. The economy in Mexico is weak and people have to work very hard to make a living there. There are so many foods in Mexico, and they vary upon region. One very common food is the taco, and these can be made with beef, chicken, pork, fish, or just about anything else. The food is pretty spicy, and they use lots of peppers and cumin. The news travels through Tv, radio and internet, and many have Facebook, Twitter or Skype, except in the poorer regions where they do not yet have these luxuries. The religion is mostly Catholic and one of their main holidays is called "Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe", which is day of prayers for the mother of Jesus. The government it is a democratic system. Equality in this country varies, although there is still plenty of the machismo mentality. The capital is Mexico City and two places to go visit would be Cancun or Mazatlan, with beautiful sandy beaches and luxury resorts, these are the places to see and be seen.

Mexico is home to a very rare rabbit called the volcano rabbit which lives near Mexican volcanoes.

Mexico introduced chocolate, corn, and chilies to the world.

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Native Americans

The Native American people are located throughout the United States and Canada. There are over 568 tribes that all have variations of language, but Navajo is the most popular. Because Native Americans are spread over such a large area, they live in a wide variety of climates. Though widely known for running casinos, Native Americans participate in many facets of the North American economy. The food they eat varies depending on the area the tribe is from but one common is fry bread, which is basically a bread made with cornmeal. Most Native Americans enjoy TV, Internet, radio and many have a Facebook or Twitter account. As far as religion is concerned, they are a spiritual people. Because there are so many tribes, there are many systems of tribal government. Some have “clan mothers” or “elders” that make decisions. Equality is absolutely true for Native Americans with some of the governments being run by women.

A-ne-jo-di or stickball was a popular sport for Cherokees and greatly resembles lacrosse.

The largest Cherokee clan is called the Wolf Clan and is known for producing war chiefs.

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Pakistan

Pakistan is located next to India; to the south is the Red Sea and northward is China. Urdu is the national language with English being used secondarily. They experience all four seasons in their climate with cool, dry winters; a hot, dry spring; the summer rainy season or monsoon period. Pakistan cuisine is known for its richness and flavor relying on being highly seasoned and very spicy. For years now, Pakistanis get their news through typical media outlets – newspapers, TV, radio and Internet – though there isn’t much journalistic freedom. The religion is primarily Islam which consists of two branches: 70% -Sunni and 28% - Shiites. The government is a parliamentary democracy which means it has a monarchy but also has a voting process. The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad and people go there to see mosques and archeological ruins at Mohenjo-Daro of the Indus Valley Civilization.

In the early years, Pakistan had two regions, East and West, until 1971 when East Pakistan broke away and became a separate country, Bangladeshi.

Islamabad became the capital in the 1970s, but before that Karachi was the capital.

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Palestine

Palestine is located in the Middle East. The languages most commonly spoken are Arabic, English. Winter lasts for three months, from mid-December to mid-March, and can be severe. During the remainder of the year, the climate is temperate, with the hottest weather in the months of July and August. Summer although hot in the daytime, is fairly cool at night. The economy is unstable although, in the last few years, there’s been substantial industrial growth in Palestine that has helped in the country’s development. Some common foods are hummus, tabbouleh and chicken dishes. The news is received through satellite, TV or radio and Internet use, including Facebook, Twitter, and Skype. Palestinians are predominantly Muslims, particularly of the Sunni branch if Islam, The government is democratic. Men are dominant in this society, however, when it comes to education, they are equal. Jerusalem is the heart of the holy land, so tourists flock here on a regular basis.

The official language is Arabic, the script of which is written from the right to the left.

The word “Palestine” originates from the word “Phillistia”, given by the Greek writers to the land of the Philistines.

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Philippines

The Philippines are an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands off the coasts of China and Japan. There are one hundred seventy-five languages spoken, however, Filipino and English are the two official languages. The Philippines has a tropical marine climate dominated by a rainy season and a dry season. Although normally the Philippines don’t experience extremes in weather, they have been devastated by tsunamis lately. The food has an Asian base with a blend of Malay and Spanish. They eat a lot of rice, egg rolls and adobo. Information is shared via television, radio, Internet and cell phone. The two main religions are Catholicism and Islam, but traditional Philippine religions are also practiced. Their government is similar to the United States with a constitutional republic, bicameral congress along with judicial and executive components. Although the government introduced a constitution in 1987 that affirms women’s equality with men, gender imbalances remain. The capital city is Manila and places of interest in the Philippines include Puerta Princesa, the Underground River, the Banaue of Painterly Dreams and the Chocolate Hills.

Philippines are considered the text capital of the world with some 350 million plus SMS messages sent daily. This is more than the USA and Europe combined!

There are more than 200 volcanoes, although only a few are active.

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Russia

Russia is the largest country in the world and is located in northern Asia. While Russian is the nation’s only official language, there are 27 other languages which are considered “co-official.” Because Russia is so large, there is a wide range of climates with frozen tundra to the north and sub-tropical temperatures to the extreme southeast around the Black Sea. The economy in Russia is the 11th largest in the world. Russia has an abundance of natural resources including oil, coal, and precious metals. The food in Russia is composed heavily of potatoes, bread, eggs, meat and butter. The way information is communicated in Russia resembles much of America with the common media being television, newspapers, Internet and radio. The country’s major religion is the Russian Orthodox Church, practice by approximately 60-80% of the population. Since the end of the Soviet Union, Russia’s government has taken the form of a federation. Men and women share basic rights and liberties but tradition and social norms allow more success and opportunity for men. The capital of Russia is Moscow with the Red Square and the Kremlin being famous tourist attractions.

For years Russia was ruled by the Tsars (or Czars), monarchies that were strongly connected to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russia spans nine time zones.

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Venezuela

Venezuela is located in the northern portion of South America. There are at least 40 languages but Spanish is the official language spoken by the majority of population. The largest part of the country has a distinct rainy season; the rainy period (May through November) is normally referred to as winter and the remainder of the year as summer. Venezuelan eat lots of fish and shellfish reflecting a native diet that contains a heavy marine flavor. The national dish of Venezuela is “pabellon” which is composed of stewed and shredded meat together with rice, black beans and banana. The religion is predominantly Catholic – about 92% – followed by Protestant. Valenzuela is a federal republic. Changes in the constitution adopted in 1999 uphold equal rights for men and women in all areas of daily life. The capital city is Caracas, officially called “Santiago de Leon de Caracas.” When visiting Venezuela, be sure to go to Canaima National Park – it’s three times the size of Yellowstone.

Angel Falls is the highest water in the world, about 20 times higher than Niagara Falls.

It’s about 3,212 feet tall and 500 wide at its base.

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