Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan
in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian
Empires until it won independence from notional British control in
1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978
Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded...
By terms of the 1960 Treaty of Establishment that created the
independent Republic of Cyprus, the UK retained full sovereignty and
jurisdiction over two areas of almost 254 square kilometers – Akrotiri
and Dhekelia. The southern most and smallest of these is the Akrotiri
Sovereign Base Area, which is also referred to as...
Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but
was conquered by Italy in 1939. Communist partisans took over the
country in 1944. Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until
1960), and then with China (to 1978). In the early 1990s, Albania ended
46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and...
After more than a century of rule by France, Algerians fought through
much of the 1950s to achieve independence in 1962. Algeria’s primary
political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), was established
in 1954 as part of the struggle for independence and has largely
dominated politics since. The Government of Algeria in 1988...
Samoa Settled as early as 1000 B.C., Samoa was “discovered” by European
explorers in the 18th century. International rivalries in the latter
half of the 19th century were settled by an 1899 treaty in which
Germany and the US divided the Samoan archipelago. The US formally
occupied its portion – a smaller group...
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The Principality of Andorra is one of the smallest states in Europe,
nestled high in the Pyrenees Mountains on the French and Spanish
borders. For 715 years, from 1278 to 1993, Andorrans lived under a
unique co-principality, ruled by French and Spanish leaders (from 1607
onward, the French chief of state and the...
Angola is rebuilding its country after the end of a 27-year civil war
in 2002. Fighting between the Popular Movement for the Liberation of
Angola (MPLA), led by Jose Eduardo DOS SANTOS, and the National Union
for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas SAVIMBI,
followed independence from Portugal in 1975....
Colonized by English settlers from Saint Kitts in 1650, Anguilla was
administered by Great Britain until the early 19th century, when the
island – against the wishes of the inhabitants – was incorporated into
a single British dependency along with Saint Kitts and Nevis. Several
attempts at separation failed. In 1971, two years...
Speculation over the existence of a “southern land” was not confirmed
until the early 1820s when British and American commercial operators
and British and Russian national expeditions began exploring the
Antarctic Peninsula region and other areas south of the Antarctic
Circle. Not until 1840 was it established that Antarctica was indeed a
and Barbuda The Siboney were the first people to inhabit the islands of
Antigua and Barbuda in 2400 B.C., but Arawak Indians populated the
islands when COLUMBUS landed on his second voyage in 1493. Early
Spanish and French settlements were succeeded by an English colony in
1667. Slavery, established to run the sugar...
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In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their
independence from Spain. After Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went
their separate ways, the area that remained became Argentina. The
country’s population and culture were heavily shaped by immigrants from
throughout Europe, with Italy and Spain providing the largest
percentage of newcomers from...
Armenia prides itself on being the first nation to formally adopt
Christianity (early 4th century). Despite periods of autonomy, over the
centuries Armenia came under the sway of various empires including the
Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Persian, and Ottoman. During World War I in the
western portion of Armenia, Ottoman Turkey instituted a policy...
Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the
Dutch in 1636. The island’s economy has been dominated by three main
industries. A 19th century gold rush was followed by prosperity brought
on by the opening in 1924 of an oil refinery. The last decades of the
20th century saw...
and Cartier Islands These uninhabited islands came under Australian
authority in 1931; formal administration began two years later. Ashmore
Reef supports a rich and diverse avian and marine habitat; in 1983, it
became a National Nature Reserve. Cartier Island, a former bombing
range, became a marine reserve in 2000. Location – South eastern...
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Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia at
least 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the
17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when
Capt. James COOK took possession of the east coast in the name of Great
Britain (all of Australia was claimed as...
Once the center of power for the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, Austria
was reduced to a small republic after its defeat in World War I.
Following annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938 and subsequent occupation
by the victorious Allies in 1945, Austria’s status remained unclear for
a decade. A State Treaty signed in 1955...
Azerbaijan – a nation with a majority-Turkic and majority-Shia Muslim
population – was briefly independent (from 1918 to 1920) following the
collapse of the Russian Empire; it was subsequently incorporated into
the Soviet Union for seven decades. Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its
conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily
Armenian-populated region that...