The Lucayan Indians inhabited the islands when Christopher COLUMBUS
first set foot in the New World on San Salvador in 1492. British
settlement of the islands began in 1647; the islands became a colony in
1783. Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, The Bahamas has
prospered through tourism and international banking...
In 1783, the Sunni Al-Khalifa family captured Bahrain from the
Persians. In order to secure these holdings, it entered into a series
of treaties with the UK during the 19th century that made Bahrain a
British protectorate. The archipelago attained its independence in
1971. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum...
Islands Baker Island: The US took possession of the island in 1857. Its
guano deposits were mined by US and British companies during the second
half of the 19th century. In 1935, a short-lived attempt at
colonization began on this island but was disrupted by World War II and
thereafter abandoned. The island...
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Muslim conversions and settlement in the region now referred to as
Bangladesh began in the 10th century, primarily from Arab and Persian
traders and preachers. Europeans began to set up trading posts in the
area in the 16th century. Eventually the area known as Bengal,
primarily Hindu in the western section and mostly...
The island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627.
Slaves worked the sugar plantations established on the island until
1834 when slavery was abolished. The economy remained heavily dependent
on sugar, rum, and molasses production through most of the 20th
century. The gradual introduction of social and political reforms in...
After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus
attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and
economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics.
Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December
1999 envisioning greater political and economic...
Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; it was
occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country prospered
in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European
state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the
Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons...
Belize was the site of several Mayan city states until their decline at
the end of the first millennium A.D. The British and Spanish disputed
the region in the 17th and 18th centuries; it formally became the
colony of British Honduras in 1854. Territorial disputes between the UK
and Guatemala delayed the independence...
Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African
kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French
Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the
Republic of Benin. A succession of military governments ended in 1972
with the rise to power of...
Bermuda was first settled in 1609 by shipwrecked English colonists
headed for Virginia. Tourism to the island to escape North American
winters first developed in Victorian times. Tourism continues to be
important to the island’s economy, although international business has
overtaken it in recent years. Bermuda has also developed into a highly
In 1865, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which
Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding some
border land to British India. Under British influence, a monarchy was
set up in 1907; three years later, a treaty was signed whereby the
British agreed not to interfere in...
Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away
from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted
of a series of nearly 200 coups and countercoups. Democratic civilian
rule was established in 1982, but leaders have faced difficult problems
of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and illegal drug production.
Saint Eustatius and Saba The three “BES” islands of Bonaire, St.
Eustatius (or “Statia”) and Saba comprise the Caribbean portion of the
Netherlands. These special overseas municipalities of The Netherlands
are also part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The economies of the
BES islands are well-developed and tourist facilities are widely
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and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina’s declaration of sovereignty in
October 1991 was followed by a declaration of independence from the
former Yugoslavia on 3 March 1992 after a referendum boycotted by
ethnic Serbs. The Bosnian Serbs – supported by neighboring Serbia and
Montenegro – responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the
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Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its
new name upon independence in 1966. Four decades of uninterrupted
civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant
capital investment have created one of the most stable economies in
Africa. Mineral extraction, principally diamond mining, dominates
economic activity, though tourism is a growing sector due...
Island Â This uninhabited, volcanic, Antarctic island is almost
entirely covered by glaciers and is the most remote island on Earth,
making it difficult to approach. It was discovered in 1739 by the
French naval officer after whom the island was named. No claim was made
until 1825, when the British flag was raised....
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Following more than three centuries under Portuguese rule, Brazil
gained its independence in 1822, maintaining a monarchical system of
government until the abolition of slavery in 1888 and the subsequent
proclamation of a republic by the military in 1889. Brazilian coffee
exporters politically dominated the country until populist leader
Getulio VARGAS rose to...
Indian Ocean Territory Â Formerly administered as part of the
Crown Colony of Mauritius, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)
was established as an overseas territory of the UK in 1965. A number of
the islands of the territory were later transferred to the Seychelles
when it attained independence in 1976. Subsequently, BIOT...
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Virgin Islands First inhabited by Arawak and later by Carib
the Virgin Islands were settled by the Dutch in 1648 and then annexed
by the English in 1672. The islands were part of the British colony of
the Leeward Islands from 1872-1960; they were granted autonomy in 1967.
The economy is closely...
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The Sultanate of Brunei’s influence peaked between the 15th and 17th
centuries when its control extended over coastal areas of northwest
Borneo and the southern Philippines. Brunei subsequently entered a
period of decline brought on by internal strife over royal succession,
colonial expansion of European powers, and piracy. In 1888, Brunei