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THE WORLD TODAY

What are the world's newest countries?

In the 1990s, over two dozen new countries appeared on the map. These included 15 new countries that were created when the U.S.S.R. broke up in 1991—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

The dissolution of Yugoslavia also created several new countries in 1991 and 1992—Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia.

In 1993, Eritrea became independent of Ethiopia, and Czechoslovakia dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. That same year, the Pacific island countries of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau all became independent. In 1990, Namibia split from South Africa to become its own country, while East and West Germany combined to become Germany.

How many countries does the United States recognize?

The State Department is the official U.S. government agency that recognizes independent countries. It maintains an updated list of the official independent States of the world. As of this writing, there are 194 states listed. Taiwan and Vatican City, though commonly considered countries, are not included on this list. Kosovo, which gained independence in February 2008, is the newest country to be recognized.

Why isn't Taiwan recognized by the U.S. government?

The People's Republic of China has had a dispute with Taiwan since the Nationalists, who were fighting the Communists on the mainland, fled to Taiwan at the end of

Taipei is a prosperous, world-class city with a political future that is in doubt because of China's claim on Taiwan.

Taipei is a prosperous, world-class city with a political future that is in doubt because of China's claim on Taiwan.

World War II. Decades later, as China became more powerful in the eyes of various American political administrations, China gave the United States a choice: recognize China or Taiwan, but not both. The United States chose China. Although officially not recognized, Taiwan is one of the United States's strongest allies in the region, and one of its most significant trading partners. Taiwan has very close official and unofficial ties with the United States.

Why are some borders curvy while others are straight?

There are two primary types of boundaries—geometric and natural. Geometric boundaries are straight and follow lines of latitude, longitude, or a certain compass direction between points. Geometric boundaries were established to divide territories before settlers entered areas. Most of the states in the Western United States have at least a portion of their borders formed by geometric boundaries (especially rectangular-shaped Colorado and Wyoming). Natural boundaries are usually curvy because they follow the crests of mountains or the center of rivers. Natural boundaries are very common in places like Europe, where the region was populated before the countries were created.

Why do third world countries no longer exist?

The term "third world" was part of the classification of countries during the Cold War. This classification designated those countries aligned with the United States as "first world," those countries aligned with the Soviet Union as "second world," and those countries that were nonaligned as "third world." Over time, the term "third world" came to mean a poorer or less-developed country. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the acceptance of democracy in Russia and Eastern Europe, the classification no longer exists. The preferred terms are now "developed" countries and "less-developed" (or "developing") countries.

Why was the border between the Yemen and Saudi Arabia dashed on maps?

In the sandy desert between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the border between the two countries was in dispute. A treaty signed in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, in July of 2000 resolved the conflict, and maps no longer show a dashed line between the two countries.

What other countries have border disputes?

For years, India and Pakistan have had disputes about the borders of Kashmir, a region located in northern India. Other countries in Central America, like Honduras and El Salvador, have had disputes over very small parcels of land because of ill-defined border markings implemented during the countries' colonial period.

Which countries are surrounded entirely by landlocked countries?

The two countries surrounded entirely by landlocked countries are Uzbekistan and Liechtenstein. Uzbekistan is surrounded by the landlocked countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland and Austria, neither of which have access to the ocean.

How is gerrymandering like a salamander?

In 1812, Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a law that established an oddly shaped congressional district. It was redrawn by political cartoonists into a salamander-type creature and thus the term gerrymander was born. Gerrymandering is the process of establishing oddly shaped congressional districts in order to include voters from dispersed areas. Gerrymandered districts can be helpful or detrimental to minority groups, depending on who draws the borders. The U.S. courts have found gerrymandering to be a legal method of establishing congressional boundaries.

What is the best shape for a country?

Though countries come in various shapes for various reasons, the best shape for a country is compact. A compact country, such as Germany or France, is easier to govern than those that are fragmented (such as Indonesia) or elongated (such as Chile). Compact countries are easier to govern because transportation, communication, and internal security are easier to maintain. Also, compact countries have shorter borders to protect. Elongated and fragmented countries are more easily divided and conquered.

THE WORLD ECONOMY

What is the difference between GNP and GDP?

GDP, or gross domestic product, is the value of all goods and services produced in a country in a year. GNP, or gross national product, is the total value of GDP plus all income from investments around the world. Per capita GDP is usually compared between countries.

Which country has the highest GDP?

GDP is the gross domestic product, which is the total value of all goods and services produced by a country. Technically, the European Community, representing an economic union of the nations of Europe, has the highest GDP at $16 trillion, followed by the United States with $13 trillion and Japan with $4 trillion.

Which country has the highest per capita GDP?

Qatar, an oil producing nation on the Arabian coast, has a gross domestic product of $80,600 per person. This is followed by banking giant Luxembourg, with a per capita GDP of $80,457, and Malta, with $53,359.

Which countries give the highest proportion of their GNP in the form of aid to other countries?

Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark, and the Netherlands each give nearly one percent of the value of all of their goods and services to the cause of foreign aid.

Which advanced industrial democracy ranks last in giving foreign aid as calculated as a percentage of its GNP?

The United States, although giving the highest amount in dollars of any country, contributes the least amount of money in foreign assistance as a percentage of GNP: less than 0.16 percent.

Which country spends the most money on the military?

The United States leads the world in military spending. American taxpayers commit more than $580 billion per year for military activities. The next closest nation is France, which spends $74 billion.

Which country is the top exporter of goods and services?

Germany exports $1.113 trillion in goods and services. It is followed by the United States, with $1.024 trillion, and China, with $974 billion.

 
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