Sunday, 18 August 2019

The Culture Of Iceland

Iceland is a Nordic island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean with a population of only 343,518 inhabitants. The country is part of Europe and its population is largely homogenous, primarily of Nordic and Gaelic descent, with a foreign population of only 6%.

Iceland is a Nordic island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean with a population of only 343,518 inhabitants. The country is part of Europe and its population is largely homogenous, primarily of Nordic and Gaelic descent, with a foreign population of only 6%. Christianity is the predominant religion in Iceland, and in particular, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland is the most widely practiced Christian denomination.

Cuisine of Iceland

Iceland's cuisine has a long history. Fish and other seafood, dairy, and lamb are important parts of the country’s cuisine. Since the harsh climate of Iceland makes the cultivation of crops difficult, the diet of the Icelandic people is primarily based on animal products. However, the consumption of vegetables has increased in recent times, but most plant products have to be imported. Some popular Icelandic dishes include Hangikjöt (smoked lamb), kleinur (fried pastry), skyr (an Icelandic cultured dairy product), and laufabrauð (a traditional Icelandic bread). In festivals like Þorrablót, Icelanders enjoy a traditional buffet dinner that includes cured fish and meat dishes served with rúgbrauð (a type of rye bread) and brennivín (an Icelandic distilled spirit).

Icelandic Literature and Graphic Art

Icelandic literature traces its beginnings back to the 13th century, when sagas were written in the Old Norse language. Icelandic works represent a large section of the Old Norse literature Sagas or stories often focus on Nordic and Germanic history, Viking invasions and voyages, and ancient battles.

Prior to the 20th century, Icelandic art was influenced by northern European traditions. However, with the emergence of an independent national identity, Icelandic artists began to focus on the country's unique landscape, mythology, and culture. Abstract art became popular in Iceland during the mid-20th century.

Performing Arts in Iceland

Iceland has a rich and thriving music scene that includes multiple genres including pop, folk, classical, and contemporary. The country is home to many such famous music bands and groups, such as the Sugarcubes, a popular alternative rock band, and the Voces Thules, a celebrated group specializing in medieval music. Several music festivals are hosted in Iceland year round, like the Iceland Airwaves and the LungA Art Festival. Iceland also has a rich tradition of dance, especially folk dance. Annual events like the Reykjavik Dance Festival promote dance in Iceland and provide a platform for Icelandic dancers to showcase their talents to the world.

Sports and Games in Iceland

Icelanders are very active in numerous sports and games, such as soccer, basketball, handball, athletics, swimming, horseback riding, chess, and golf. Chess has a long history in Iceland, as the game was played by the Viking ancestors of many Icelanders. In fact, Iceland has historically produced many chess grandmasters. Another sport associated with the Vikings is Glíma, which is a form of wrestling that remains popular even today. Approximately 1 in 8 Icelanders play golf. Iceland also as one of the world’s best handball teams. Mountain climbing, horse riding, and swimming are all popular leisure activities.

Life in an Icelandic Society

Both men and women enjoy equal rights and freedoms in Iceland. In fact, the country ranks as one of the best in the world in terms of gender equality. The rate of marriage is lower than the rate of cohabitation, and same-sex marriages and other forms of union are also legally permitted in Iceland.

Household units are nuclear in nature, and both single-parent and two-parent families are common. Icelanders tend to get together with their families during religious festivities or social ceremonies like weddings.

Children are important in Icelandic society. Public health nurses regularly visit homes to ensure children are healthy and not subject to any form of abuse. Since both parents often work, the use of daycare services is common. Basic education is compulsory and free.

The Icelandic people are egalitarian in their attitude towards life, and individuals are allowed to live on their own terms as long as it does not harm others. Icelanders tend to be private and reserved with strangers, but are warm and friendly among friends and family. Personal space is highly valued in Icelandic society, and Icelanders are known to be polite, punctual, helpful, and self-sufficient. Despite their modern attitude towards life, Icelanders are also proud of their heritage and take great care to preserve their traditions. Thus, it is not surprising that Iceland is considered to be one of the happiest nations in the world.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Friday, 16 August 2019

Biggest Cities In Hungary

With more than 3 million metro residents, the capital city of Budapest is by far Hungary's most populous urban area.

Hungary, a country situated in the Pannonian Basin in Central Europe, covers an area of 35,920 square miles. It borders Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine, and Austria. Hungary is an official member of the European Union (EU). The official language spoken in the country is the Hungarian, the most popular Uralic language in the world. The economy of Hungary is world’s 57 th largest by nominal gross domestic product (GDP). The country is also a middle power and a substantial actor in the industrial and technological sector. Hungary has a population of about 10 million people with more than 25% living in the metropolitan areas or the big cities. The big cities are characterized by modern developments and facilities which continue to attract larger population. Some of the biggest cities in the country are discussed below.


Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and also the most populous city in the country with a population of 3,303,786. It is also one of the most populous cities in the European Union. Budapest is both city and a county, a center of the Budapest Metropolitan area. The city was originally a Celtic settlement becoming a Roman capital of the Lower Pannonia. The Hungarians began occupying the territory in the late 9 th Century. Budapest entered an age of prosperity in the 18 th and 19 th Centuries after many years of Ottoman Empire's rule in the region. The unification of Budapest took place in 1873 thus becoming a global city. Currently, Budapest is an Alpha global city of art, commerce, entertainment, media, and tourism. It is also the headquarters of some of the largest banks and companies and a leading financial center in Central and Eastern Europe. Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and the most livable in Eastern and Central Europe.


Debrecen is Hungary’s second largest city with a population of 216,888. It is the regional capital of the Northern Great Plain. Debrecen was the largest city in Hungary before Budapest was founded in the 18 th Century and also the capital of Hungary between 1848 and 1849 and also at the end of the World War II from 1944 to 1945. The economy of Debrecen is driven by agriculture. It is one of the most developed cities in the country with several international companies having their headquarters in the city. It is also one of the most important cultural cities in Hungary. Debrecen is served by modern transport network system including Debrecen airport, railway stations, and road network. Its proximity to countries such as Ukraine and Romania makes it a significant trade center and a transport hub.


Szeged is the largest city and the regional center of Hungary's Southern Great Plain near the country's borders with Romania and Serbia. The name Szeged came from Hungarian word which means “corner” because of the sharp bend of the River Tisza that flows through the city. The city is situated near the southern border of Hungary to the south of Maros River. It is one of the centers of food industries in Hungary. It is also the higher education center of the southern Hungary with thousands of international students studying there. The main attractions include the Szeged Open Air Festival held every summer.

Economic Role of Urban Areas in Hungary

These and other major cities and towns in Hungary continue to attract foreign direct investments from all around Europe due to the efficiency and ease of doing business in them, and the well-developed infrastructure found in these cities. The cities have highly developed transport system including roads, railways, air, and water. Cities such as Budapest, Szeged, and Debrecen have tram networks which serve their large populations efficiently across their metropolitan areas. These cities are also major tourist destinations because of their magnificent buildings, economic activities, festivals, and educational facilities, among other attractions.

Rank Biggest Cities in Hungary Metro Area Population

1 Budapest 3,303,786
2 Debrecen 216,888
3 Szeged 195,776
4 Miskolc 263,658
5 Pécs 178,332
6 Győr 357,264
7 Nyíregyháza 152,304
8 Kecskemét 145,663

By John Misachi

•culled from

The Hungarian People - Cultures around the World

Hungary is a land of particularly rich folk heritage that is preserved in traditions of many of Hungary's small villages, local communities, and even modern-day city-dwellers.


Hungarians, as their name implies, hail from the country of Hungary . They are often further classified into numerous subgroups based on cultural distinctions and native linguistic nuances. Examples of these subgroups are the Jassic, the Székelys, the Palocs and the Csangos. In the period between 1918 and 1920, the longstanding Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was dissolved, leaving today’s Hungary with a population of about 9.8 million of its own. Hungarians can also be found scattered in several other parts of the world today, such as the United States, Germany , Australia , Columbia, Argentina,
Canada, and Chile. German was the most often used language among Hungarians before World War II. During the country's socialist republic period, however, Russian became the mandatory language. English is their most valued language today, second in use only to their own native Hungarian tongue. English fluency is especially common among the younger members of the population who wish to go into academics, banking, finance, and any of the many branches of science.


In traditional Hungarian peasant society a clean house, called a tiszta szoba, is customary. These are primarily used for rites and special occasions, such as weddings, baptismal ceremonies, and funerals, as well as births. Another important section of the house is the “sacred corner”, where pictures of statues brought from Catholic pilgrimages and saints are often hung. More often than not, Hungarian villages are crowded around where a Catholic church is centrally located. In 1867, when the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was formally established, an impressive wave of industrialization occurred, bringing forth such major commercial cities as Budapest, where the population had grown to 1 million by the beginning of World War I. Hungary boasts of having Europe’s largest Synagogue, as well as its largest medicinal bath, which is known as the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath. Gödöllő is recognized as the second largest Baroque castle in the world, while Pécs is the largest Early Christian Necropolis located outside of Italy.


Many Hungarians prefer to refer to themselves as Magyar, which is reflected in the name of their staple food, called the Magyar kenyér, or Hungarian Bread. For this reason, wheat is among their most vital crop, while pig meat and its by products remain to be prominent in their everyday diets. During weddings, a common favorite dish is a kind of chicken soup prepared with ingredients believed to enhanced fertility, such as csiga noodles. Other dishes that usually accompany the chicken soup are stuffed cabbage, sweetened rice, butter cream tortes, and gulyas, a kind of Goulash stew. Many Hungarians tend to think of themselves as being avid wine drinkers. However, if you roam the streets of Budapest, you’ll soon find that beer is a very common beverage there. Other world famous Hungarian dishes are chicken paprikash, vadas, and foie gras. Popular Hungarian desserts include Strudel, Perec, kifli, sour cherry soup, and the ever-present Dobos Cake.

Cultural Significance

Hungary has the largest population of Jews in the Eastern European region, second only to Russia, of which around 80% live in the Hungarian capital city. Hungarians are known for their intricate carvings, embroidery, and pottery, along with their brilliant and vibrant literature. Unfortunately, the Hungarian language is not very well known in most other parts of the world, somewhat limiting the popularity of their excellent poets and writers. Included in the list of notable authors who hail from Hungary are János Kodolányi, Péter Esterházy, Sándor Márai, Magda Szabó and Imre Kertész, Despite language barriers, all of these are well known in Italy, Finland, Germany, and Austria.


Throughout its history, Hungarian culture has been under almost perpetual attack by the succession of outside influnces and conquering countires who have desired the Hungarian people to assimilate to their own ways of life. More recently, with the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, Hungary’s prime minister has been facing several challenges from neighboring countries insisting that his refusal to accept the refugees is his way of protecting their Christian culture and heritage, as part of a right-wing, anti-refugee movement that has gained popular throughout movement.

By Lanessa Cago

•culled from

The Culture Of Hungary

Hungary has a spa culture as it is a land of thermal water.

The Central European country of Hungary has a rich and vibrant culture characterized by a rich and vibrant folk art tradition, love for sports and spas, a unique Magyar cuisine, and more.

Ethnicity, Language, and Religion in Hungary

Hungary is home to a population of 9,825,704 individuals. Hungarian constitutes 85.6% of the country’s population. Romani and Germans are the second and third biggest minority ethnic groups, respectively. Hungarian is the official language of the country and is spoken by 99.6% of the population. English, German, and Russian are some of the other languages spoken in the nation. 37.2% of the population is affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church. Calvinist, Lutheran, and Greek Catholic account for 11.6%, 2.2%, and 1.8% of Hungary’s population, respectively.

Hungarian Cuisine

The country’s cuisine is dominated by the cuisine of its primary ethnic groups, the Magyars. Meats, seasonal fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and fresh bread are the main constituents of the traditional Hungarian cuisine. Beef, pork, and lamb are heavily consumed. Other meats like lamb, turkey, duck, fish, and even game meats are eaten. The Hungarian sausages and salamis are famous for their top quality and low prices. Bread is consumed in almost all meals. Other bakery products like pastries and buns are also popular. Some favorite dishes of the Hungarian people include paprika chicken with noodles, sour cream, and bread with stuffed cabbage, goulash and other meat stews, soups, smoked meat, casseroles, etc.
Pálinka (a fruit brandy), wine including Tokaji (a label for wines from Hungary’s Tokaj-Hegyalja region), Zwack Uncium (a liqueur produced by a Zwack family using a secret recipe) are some of the popular Hungarian beverages.

Literature and the Arts in Hungary

Hungarian literature refers to writings in the Hungarian language. Originally, a runic-like was used to write in Hungarian but later, the Latin script was used. The oldest written work in Hungarian dates back to the 11th century. It was called Establishing charter of the abbey of Tihany and had some Hungarian terms. The first published work written entirely in Hungarian was the 12th-century Funeral Sermon and Prayer. Initial literary works in the language focussed on religion, history, and legends. In the 15th century, Renaissance literature flourished in the region. Chronica Hungarorum was the first published book in Hungarian. The library set up by Matthias Corvinus is Hungary’s oldest library. It was set up during the rule of King Matthias in the 15th century. Today, many Hungarian literary works have been translated into other languages that have become popular worldwide.

Hungarian art has a long history. The country’s folk art incorporates both Baroque and Renaissance elements. Ceramics, pottery, and embroidery are the most highly developed forms of Hungarian folk crafts. Black pottery and Herend porcelain from Hungary are famous. The former is made of black clay and exhibits centuries-old traditional Transdanubian folk patterns. Every pottery item is unique as it is handcrafted. The latter is a ceramic company specializing in the production of luxury hand painted and gilded porcelain. Hungarian embroidery work is known for its intricate designs and beauty.

Performance Arts in Hungary

Hungary has a rich heritage of music ranging from traditional Hungarian folk music to classical and contemporary music. The country has also produced many internationally famous musicians and composers. The country’s folk music has significantly influenced the music of neighboring countries like Poland, Slovakia, and Romania. Busójárás carnival is a major folk music event held in Mohács every year. Jumping dances called Ugrós, a circle dance called Karikázó, new style dances called Csárdás, Verbunkos and Legényes (solo dances for men) are some of the folk dances of Hungary.

Sports in Hungar

Hungarians have a strong culture of sports. Many Hungarians participate in sports. The country is one of the top performers in the Olympic Games. The country has the world’s second highest gold medals per capita in the Summer Olympics. Ferenc Puskás, a footballer, is one of the most famous Hungarian sportspersons. He scored 84 goals in the 85 international matches in which the Hungarian national team has participated. Hungarians have a strong legacy in water sports like water polo, canoeing, and swimming. The Duna and Tisza rivers and lake Balaton are the top places for practicing water sports. Hungarian athletes also excel in saber fencing. The country also has a strong basketball and ice hockey team.

Spa Culture of Hungary

Hungary has a spa culture as it is a land of thermal water. The Hungarian spas feature Roman, Turkish, Greek, and other architectural elements in their design. The first Hungarian spas were started by the Romans. Budapest, the country’s capital , has one of the richest thermal water supplies in the world. Nearly 450 public baths are located in the country. Healing services are often offered at the spas in the country.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

The Biggest Cities In Greece

Several millennia old, the ancient city of Athens is still unmatched as the largest city in Greece in the early 21st Century.

Greece Cities of the World

Almost three-and-a-half millennium old, the city of Athens is the largest city in Greece today. Athens is also the capital of Greece and has the most developed economy in the country. The cities in Greece bear monuments belonging to the Jewish, Roman, Ottoman, and Byzantine settlement. The city’s history dates back to several centuries and cultures the cities were influenced by the Roman Empire and the Turkish Empire before independence. The cities flourished to make Greece the cradle of Western civilization. Besides, the strategic location of the country along the Balkan Peninsula facilitated the development of ports, trading centers, and shipping docks.


Athens, the capital city of Greece, is also the largest city in the country. The town’s history dates back to the 11th and 7th millennia BC. It developed as a port of Piraeus, a center for arts, and as a scholarly center of the old world. The city development and diversified economy helped it grow to the birthplace of democracy and also the cradle of western civilization. Today, Athens is the largest cosmopolitan metropolis of Greece and serves as an economic, industrial, financial, maritime, culture, and political center of the country. The UBS study of 2015 ranked Athens as the 29th richest and 67th most expensive city in the world. The economy of Athens prospers on shipping, tourism, commerce, media, education, culture, international trade and arts, and entertainment. Athens has a population of 3,753,783 as of 2011.


Thessaloniki is the second-largest city and the capital of Macedonia, Greece. As of 2011, the population of the city was 1,084,001. The city has the second-largest economy, transportation, industrial, commercial and political centers in the country. The port of Thessaloniki serves both Greece and the European hinterland. The economy is based on services like trade, education and healthcare, real estate, transport, communications and storing, financial institutions, public administration, and hospitality. The Thessaloniki port is one of the largest ports in the world and in 2010, the port served more than 15.8 million tons of products. The city GDP by 2011 was €18.293 billion with per capita income of €15,900. The city economy accounts for 8.9% of the total economy of the country.


Built on the foothills of Mount Panachaikon, Patras is the 3rd largest city and the regional capital of Western Greece. As of 2011, the city had a population of approximately 260,308. The city is a commercial hub while its port is a trading and communication point between Italy and Western Europe. Its economy is based on public sector services, finance industry, logistics, and trade. Other areas of the economy include tertiary education, construction and real estate, tourism, and manufacturing. Also every year the city hosts the Patras Carnival, the largest and most successful carnivore in the whole of Europe. In 2006, the city was named European Capital of culture thanks to the indigenous culture of the city.


Larissa is the transportation hub of Greece linked by roads and rails to the port of Volos, Athens, and Thessaloniki. The city is also connected to other cities in Europe via an international airport of Central Greece in Nea Anchialos. It is also a principal agricultural, industrial, and commercial center of the country. The city experiences cold and wet winters and the summers are hot and moist with destructive thunderstorms. Larissa has existed since antiquity. The region around Larissa had an important agricultural impact back in its developing days as it does today.

The principal environmental problem facing cities in Greece are industrial smog and automobile exhausts. Since over half of all Greece industries are in Athens, the pollution problem is quite high in the city. Over the years the government has had to shut down some industries, limit operations in others, and ban traffic in the city areas to regulate the smog and exhausts. Water pollution is another environmental problem in the cities. Most industries dump their industrial waste on water bodies because the country has few environmental protection laws and regulations.

The Biggest Cities In Greece

Rank Biggest Cities in Greece Metro Population

1 Athens 3,753,783
2 Thessaloniki 1,084,001
3 Patras 260,308
4 Heraklion 173,993
5 Ioannina 167,901
6 Larissa 162,591
7 Volos 144,449
8 Rhodes 115,490
9 Chania 108,310
10 Agrinio 106,053

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Ethnic Groups of Greece

Albanians are the largest ethnic minority in Greece. While ethnic Greeks are generally Orthodox Christian, Islam is more common among most minorities.


Greece, also known as the Hellenic Republic has a population of approximately 10.9 million people. It is divided into nine regions namely Macedonia, Central Greece, Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, Aegean Islands, Thrace, Cretan Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Greek is the main ethnic group consisting of 98% of the population. However, there exist minority ethnic groups which comprise of the Turks, Albanians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Armenians, and Jews among others.

Minority Ethnic Groups In Greece


The Albanians are divided into two major groups, the Cham Albanians and the Arvanites Albanians following different migration waves. These two groups are said to have migrated to Greece during the late middle Ages. In the 20th century, another wave of economic Albanians migrated to Greece and settled in Western Thrace. The Chams speak Tosk Albanian, and the Arvanites speak Arvanitika while the Western Thrace Albanians speak Northern Tosk.
The main religion practiced is orthodox Christianity but many Cham Albanians converted to Islam, as an influence of the Ottoman Empire. The Albanians in Greece are estimated to be about 445,000.


The Romani are also known as the Gypsies and are said to have originated from India. They are nomadic in nature and are thus scattered all over the country instead of having a common geographical settlement. Religion divides them into two groups, the Greek Roma who are Orthodox Christians and the Roma Muslims who are Islam and have adopted Turkish identities. The Romani population in Greece is about 205,000people.


Aromanians also called Vlachs and they speak Aromanian language which was derived from Latin with additional influences from surrounding languages. The Aromanians are divided into sub-groups depending on their geographical area. They have adopted the Greek culture and were active participants in the Greek independence struggle. Currently, the populations of Aromanians in Greece are about 200,000.


Macedonian Slavs are mostly found in the Macedonia region and speak Slavic also called Macedonian. Some claim to be indigenous while others believe they have roots in the Macedonian nation. Macedonians are Orthodox Christians by religion. They hold the Koleda festival around Christmas where they gather in the square, light a bonfire, sing, and dance. Presently, the Macedonian population in Greece is approximately 150,000.


The Arvanites speak Arvanitika language and they are believed to have migrated to Greece in the late middle ages. Despite being Albanians by origin, they consider themselves Greeks and have fully assimilated into the Greek culture. Arvanites were keen to eradicate the Islam religion thet was introduced by the Ottoman Empire and fought alongside the Greeks against the Ottomans. Arvanites are mostly found in Attica and Peloponnese. Women were held in high position and had more say in public issues and bore arms. Arvanite men wore kilts or baggy breeches while their women wore heavily embroidered chemise shirts, silk gowns, and thick woolen coats. Currently, the Arvanites population is estimated at 95,000.


Turks are mostly found in Western Thrace and are Muslim by religion. The Greek government refers to the Turks as the Islam minority and does not recognize a separate Turkish minority. Languages widely spoken are Turkish and Greek. There are about 90, 000 people of Turkish ethnic group in present-day Greece.


Pomaks refers to Slavic Muslims living in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria. The Pomaks speak Pomak language but are also fluent in Greek and Turkish. They are said to be descendants of native Bulgarians. The Pomaks hold most of their weddings during winter, the traditional wedding season. The bride is painted white, and the ceremony takes two days involving the whole village. The Pomaks today living in Greece are approximately 35000 people.
Greece, the cradle of western civilization
Greece is considered the cradle of western civilization having given birth to political science, Western literature, philosophy, most scientific principles, and even the Olympic Games. The main religion in practice is Orthodox Christianity followed by Islam at 1.3% and other religions at 0.7%. Greece is a home to diverse ethnic groups, different cultures, and great tourist attractions.

Minority Ethnic Groups In Greece

Rank Significant Ethnic
Minorities in Greece Estimated Population in Contemporary Greece

1 Albanians 445,000
2 Roma (Romani) 205,000
3 Aromanians 200,000
4 Macedonians 150,000
5 Arvanites 95,000
6 Turkish 90,000
7 Pomaks 35,000

By Joyce Chepkemoi

•culled from

What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Greece?

Greeks are the predominant ethnic group in Greece.

Greece, officially known as the Hellenic Republic , is a sovereign state in Southeastern Europe. It is the 87th most populous country in the world with a population of about 10.5 million as of 2019. Greece is among the few countries in the world that have registered a decline in population over the past decade. The population density is about 212/square mile. Athens is the capital and largest city ; it is also among the oldest cities in the world, dating back to at least 3,500 years. About two-thirds of the Greek population lives in the urban environment.

Ethnic Groups

It is difficult to quantify the ethnic diversity of the Greek population since the collection of data concerning ethnic, linguistic, and religion of the minorities was abolished in 1951. However, it is estimated that 98% of the population is Greek, while minority groups include Albanian, Turks, Macedonians, Armenians, Bulgarians, and Jews. Greek is the official language and is spoken by more than 90% of the population as a first or second language.

Minority Ethnic Groups of Greece


Albanians in Greece are divided into Arvanites and Cham Albanians. Both groups migrated into the country during the late Middle Ages, but in the 20th century, economic immigrants migrated from Albania to Greece and settled in Thrace. There are about 445,000 Albanians in Greece, but some identify as Greeks.


The Romani population is believed to have migrated into Greece from India. They practice nomadism and are scattered across the country. The Romani are divided into Greek Roma who identify as Orthodox Christians and the Roma Muslims who consider themselves Turkish.


Macedonians are mostly found in the Macedonia region of Greece. Part of the population claim to be native while the other is believed to have migrated from present-day North Macedonia. There are about 150,000 Macedonian in Greece most of whom are Orthodox Christians.


The constitution recognizes the Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the primary religion in the country. During the Ottoman Empire, the Orthodox church was the official representative of Christianity. The church is credited with preserving the Greek language, national identity, and values. The church was also a unifying factor and a rallying point during the revolution against the Empire. A Muslim minority is concentrated in Thrace and mostly consist of Muslim Bulgarians and Turks.

By Victor Kiprop

•culled from

Monday, 12 August 2019

Where is the Rock of Gibraltar?

The Rock of Gibraltar is located in Gibraltar, a territory of the United Kingdom.

The Rock of Gibraltar is a monolithic limestone rock 426 m (1,398 ft) high located in Gibraltar. It is also known as the Pillars of Hercules. The Rock was one of the pillars that flanked the Strait of Gibraltar, the other promontory being located in Northern Africa. It is situated on the Iberian Peninsula close to the Southwestern tip of Europe. Most of the rock’s upper surface is covered in the natural reserves. For this reason, the Rock of Gibraltar is a home to a number important flora and fauna species, which attracts tourists to the sites.


The Gibraltar Nature Reserve located in the upper Rock area is home to approximately 300 Barbary macaques ( Macaca sylvanus ), commonly known as rock monkeys in the area. The five troops are the European continent's only wild monkey population.

The Rock is also known for its many underground tunnels. Constructed by the British Army over about 200 years, the 55 km (34 miles) of tunnels can accommodate 16,000 men and supplies. Many of the tunnels are now under the control of the Government of Gibraltar and are open for tourists to visit.


The formation of Rock of Gibraltar dates back to the Jurassic period. The Jurassic period was around 175-200 million years ago in history. However, some parts of the Rock of Gibraltar exhibit actions in the recent past, approximately 5 million years ago. The recent activities took place when the African Tectonic Plate collided with the Eurasian plate. The Rock of Gibraltar is described to be a monolithic promontory. The peaks of the Rock of Gibraltar, some of which are above 400 meters above the sea levels, were formed by early Jurassic dolomites and limestone.

Location of the Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar is in Gibraltar. The rock of Gibraltar is located in Gibraltar, which is an overseas territory of Great Britain. It is therefore considered a property of the United Kingdom. Gibraltar, however, is bordered by Spain and is located on the Iberian Peninsula. Tthere have been conflicts between England and Spain on who owns it. The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht gave England full sovereignty over Gibraltar. Since England rightfully acquired the land, Spain has been striving to get it back. Gibraltar itself has voted in the 2002 and 1967 referendums to remain part of England. Nonetheless, Spain has declined to give up and still contests for ownership of Gibraltar.

By John Misachi

•culled from

Is Gibraltar A Country?

Gibraltar is an British Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.

A country refers to an area of land that is inhabited by people that have their own autonomous government. Essentially, this means that a politically defined region can have the powers of a self-government but will not qualify as a country if it does not have total independence. By definition, therefore, Gibraltar is not a country but a British Overseas Territory that lies at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, on the southwestern side of Europe. The territory has an area of about 2.6 square miles and a population of more than 30,000 people. Gibraltar shares a border with Spain to the north and with Morocco through a maritime border. The largest district in Gibraltar by population is Westside.

Governance of Gibraltar

Under the current law, Gibraltar has almost complete autonomy of its governance through its parliament, whose members serve a term of four years. The unicameral parliament has 17 elected members and is headed by the Speaker. The British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, represented the Governor of Gibraltar, is the head of state. The Chief Minister is the head of government and is appointed by parliament. Interestingly, Gibraltar is the only British territory that has membership in the European Union.

Economy of Gibraltar

Historically, the economy of Gibraltar was dominated by the British military through naval dockyards. However, this trend has reduced over the last twenty years, as the military now accounts for only 7% of the economy compared to 60% of 1984. Currently, the major economic sectors include financial services, shipping, tourism, and online gambling. The territory uses the Gibraltar pound as its currency, which is distributed by the Government of Gibraltar.

Gambling gained popularity due to favorable tax rules in the early 2000s for non-resident controlled firms. However, even after these favorable conditions were removed in 2011, they were replaced by another favorable tax rate of only 10%. As a tourist destination, Gibraltar is a famous port for ships. The famous Rock of Gibraltar, which is about 1,398 feet tall, is also a major tourist attraction.

Climate of Gibraltar

The climate in Gibraltar is mainly Mediterranean and is characterized by mild and wet winters, while summers are warm and dry. In some places, such as Tarifa and Algeciras, the annual temperatures are steadier overall and the summers are cooler, unlike other cities on the Iberian Peninsula’s southern coast. The average annual daytime temperature is about 72 °F, while the nighttime temperature averages about 59 °F. The coldest month is January, while August is the warmest month.

Demographics of Gibraltar

Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated territories in the world. Most of the population are of European descent, especially from Britain (27%) and Spain (26%). Other populations groups in Gibraltar include Italian, Portuguese, French, Moroccan, and Maltese.

English is the official language, although most of the population can speak Spanish as well. The mixture of people ensures that there are several other languages such as Arabic, Berber, Hindi, Maltese, Portuguese, and others. A census in 2012 showed that about 72.1% of the population are Christians. Other religions include Islam (3.6%), Judaism (2.4%), and other minor religions.

By Ferdinand Bada

•culled from

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Biggest Cities In Germany

he Rhine-Ruhr EMR, comprised by Cologne, Bonn, and Dusseldorf, is home to almost 12 million Germans.

Germany is a country located in central- western Europe. It has a land area of 137,847 square miles and a total population of 82 million. The climate is seasonal temperate and the country is the second most popular migration destination in the world. Its residents enjoy universal healthcare, free education, and a high standard of living. They make their homes across the many cities located there, the biggest of these are described below in this article.

1. Berlin - 3,520,031
Berlin is the capital of Germany and holds city-state status, with the city being surrounded by the state of Brandenburg. Berlin is the largest city in Germany by population. Around 3,520,031 people live in Berlin. The capital region is roughly 30% covered by forests, parks, rivers, and lakes, and has held an important role in German society since the 15th Century. The area is surrounded by lowland, marshy woodlands and has a temperate continental climate. The economy is held strong by the service industry which provides roughly 84% of all jobs. This city was also host to the largest number of start-up companies in Europe in 2015.

2. Hamburg - 1,787,408

Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, with a population of around 1.7 million. Located in the country's north, Hamburg was once known for being an important industrial city. Today, it is known for being a prominent tourist attraction and for its large entertainment district. Hamburg also has the claim to fame of having more bridges than any other city in the world - yes, even more than Venice.

3. Munich - 1,450,381

Munich is the third largest city in Germany and the largest city in the region of Bavaria. Munich is perhaps best known for Oktoberfest, an annual festival of German culture that is held in October. The area surrounding Munich has the highest population density in Germany. Munich is home to one of the largest parks in the world, the English Garden (The Englische Garten).

4. Cologne - 1,060,582

Cologne is found near the German borders with Belgium and the Netherlands. Cologne is famous for its Cologne Cathedral, which is Germany's most visited landmark and hosts around 20,000 visitors a day. The Cologne Cathedral is notable for its long construction process, which took a total of 632 years! Cologne is an important city in Germany's Rhineland region, which is roughly located in the middle of the country.

5. Frankfurt am Main - 732,688

Formerly one of the most important cities of the Holy Roman Empire, Frankfurt today is known as an important financial centre not only for Germany but for the European Union as a whole. In fact, Frankfurt’s financial center features many high-rise buildings, making it one of the most recognizable skylines of Europe. Frankfurt is also known for being home to the largest and busiest airport in Germany as well as in Europe as a whole.

6. Stuttgart - 623,738

Stuttgart, located in Baden-Wurttemberg, has a population of 623,738. The city is covered in hilly terrain with many green spaces. The area has a growing economy and therefore, a fast growing population. The economy is supported by its high-tech industry. Both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche hold their headquarters in the city. This state is bordered by the Rhine river and the Black Forest overlooks the Upper Rhine Valley.

7. Düsseldorf - 612,178

Düsseldorf serves as the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia and therefore is the center of public administrative activities which provide the majority of jobs. Düsseldorf has existed since long before the 17th Century and is rich in history and cultural traditions including classical music, opera, and theater. Düsseldorf is notably home to the most popular shopping street in all of Germany, called "Königsallee" (or simply just "Kö").

8. Dortmund - 586,181

Like Düsseldorf, Dortmund is also located in North Rhine-Westphalia. The city dates back to around the year 882. Dortmund is known for being the center of the Ruhr Area, a highly-developed, highly-industrialized area of Germany. Dortmund was hit by bombs more than any other city in World War II. Today, however, the city has rebuilt and reinvented itself to be a hotbed of culture and education, as well as arts and culture. While the city has an industrial past, today it is known for possessing an impressive amount of park land.

9. Essen - 582,624

Essen’s 582,624 inhabitants make it the ninth largest city in the country. Also located in North Rhine-Westphalia in the heavily industrialized Ruhr area, Essen is known for being home to many German corporations, including the largest energy companies in Germany, E.ON and RWE. Essen is also well-known for being one of the greenest cities in the country, with plenty of forest coverage and park space.

10. Leipzig - 560,472

Leipzig is the tenth largest city in Germany. It is home to 560,472 residents. Leipzig today is known for being a very liveable city, as well as for its distinctive Renaissance-style buildings and famous opera house, Oper Leipzig. Leipzig is around 160 km southwest of Berlin. The main train station of Leipzig, called Hauptbahnhof, is the largest train station in Europe.

The Biggest Cities In Germany

Rank City Population

1 Berlin 3,292,031
2 Hamburg 1,787,408
3 Munich 1,450,381
4 Cologne 1,060,582
5 Frankfurt am Main 732,688
6 Stuttgart 623,738
7 Dusseldorf 612,178
8 Dortmund 586,181
9 Essen 582,624
10 Leipzig 560,472

By Amber Pariona

•culled from

Friday, 9 August 2019

Largest Ethnic Groups In Germany

Germans make up the largest ethnic group in Germany, with an estimated 80% of the population.

Germany is a Western European nation with an estimated population of 81 million people. The country is primarily home to ethnic Germans and many ethnic minority groups. Before 1950, Germany was mainly occupied by ethnic Germans and very few ethnic minorities. In the mid-1950s, foreigners immigrated into Germany as workers. Most of these immigrants were of Turkish ancestry. Over time, many more immigrants moved to Germany seeking asylum, economic opportunities, education, and better living standards. Currently, Germans make up the largest ethnic group. Ethnic minorities in the country include Turks, Poles, Italians, and Russians. The majority of Germans speak the German language. Irreligion is the largest religious group in the country , followed by Christianity.


Germans are the predominant ethnic group in Germany. They are estimated at 80% of the country’s population. German tribes existed as far back as to the Nordic Bronze Age. They closely interacted with Slavic, Baltic, and Iranian tribes in those ancient days. These tribes played a part in shaping German culture. Today, Germans are known as great writers and philosophers. They are very keen on keeping time. Germans celebrate various folk festivals such as Oktoberfest, which is a beer festival. Over 60% of Germans identify themselves as Christians. Approximately 18% are non-religious.


Turks are the largest minority group in Germany. They make up around 3.7% of the German population. Their entry in Germany started from as early as the 16th Century. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire attempted to expand their territory beyond Balkan borders. They were held Siege in Vienna. After the Siege, some Turks were taken as prisoners in Germany. Then, in the 1960s and 1970 Germany had a shortage of laborers. They sought foreign workers from Turkey , Italy, and Spain. Turks moved to Germany as laborers, and they brought their culture with them. Some aspects of Turkish culture introduced in Germany are the Turkish language, their cuisine, and Islam. Turkish restaurants can be found in Germany. German Turks are actively involved in the art and music scene in Germany. They have been integrated into the German society, and they take part in all national events. German Turks have suffered a few attacks from neo-Nazi groups through the years.


Germany has close to three million Germans of Polish ancestry. They make up an estimated 1.9% of the German population. Most of these Poles have lost their Polish identity because they have been assimilated into German culture. Poles initially settled in modern day Germany after the partition of Poland in the 18th Century. Later in the 19th Century, close to 300,000 Poles moved to the Ruhr region in Germany drawn by the rapid industrialization in the area. The German government does not recognize German Poles as a national minority group.


Russians form a significant minority group in Germany. Most Russians moved to Germany after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russians in Germany have assimilated well into the German society. However, they face discrimination and intolerance similar to other ethnic minorities in Germany.

Ethnic Diversity and Cooperation

Germany is a home for people hailing from many distinct cultures and having a variety of different religious beliefs. Close to 20% of German citizens trace their ancestries to other parts of the world. These ethnic minorities significantly contribute to the German culture regarding art, music, cuisine and lifestyle. Similarly, German culture has influenced the way of life of these ethnic minorities. The variety of cultures in Germany has made the country advance in many aspects.

Largest Ethnic Groups In Germany

Rank Ethnic Group Share of German Population

1 German 80.0%
2 Turk 3.7%
3 Pole 1.9%
4 Russian 1.5%
5 Italian 1.0%
6 African German 1.0%
7 Arab 0.6%
8 Romanian 0.5%
9 Greek 0.5%
Others 9.3%

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

10 Interesting Facts About Germany

How much do you know about Germany, the most populated country in the European Union?

10. It is the most populous member state of the EU.

Germany has a population of 82 million people. This makes it the European Member state with the highest number of inhabitants, representing 15% of the entire EU population. The annual population growth rate of the country is estimated at 430,074 on average, which is about 0.5%. Germany is followed by France with a population of 67 million people and the United Kingdom follows in closely with a population of 65 million people.

9. It is the second most popular immigrant destination in the world.

After the United States of America, which has an immigrant population of 44 million people, Germany comes in second with 12 million of its population having been born in foreign countries. The figure represents 4.9% of the global immigrant population. The majority of the immigrants come from Europe, and the country that has the highest representation is Turkey with 13% of its nationals residing in Germany. Reasons for migration to Germany include job prospects and investment opportunities.

8. It has one of the largest economies in the world - fourth-largest, in fact.

Germany's GDP is valued at $3.4 trillion and it is ranked the fourth biggest in the world. It accounts for 4.5% of the world’s economy. The country is the most industries state in Europe and is ranked second globally in terms of exports. It is a rich nation and controls the strength of the Euro. Germany’s emphasis on self reliance as opposed to borrowing is one of the reasons behind its success. It also has very good labour laws hence its job market is stable with a strong workforce.

7. The Nobel Prize has been awarded to 106 German laureates.

Germany ranks third in the world in terms of Nobel laureates, taking the credit for 106 awards. 24 of these awards have been in the fields of Physics and Chemistry. The famous German scientist Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 due to his landmark discovery of photoelectric effect laws.
The first laureate to receive the award for his service in physics was Germany’s Wilhelm Rontgen in 1901, for discovering the X-Ray in 1895. Germany’s Emil Von Behring, who discovered the diphtheria serum, also received the first medicine award in the same year.

6. German restaurants have the second highest awardance of Michelin stars, after France.

Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants for exemplary culinary skills and fine dining. In Europe, France has the highest number of Michelin star rated restaurants followed by Germany with a total of 290 restaurants awarded the Michelin stars.

241 German restaurants have one Michelin star rating, 39 restaurants have been awarded 2 stars while 10 of its restaurants have the ultimate 3 star rating for their exquisite dining experience. The city with the most Michelin star awards in Germany is Berlin, with a total of 26 stars for 19 restaurants.

5. German beer purity regulations date back to the 15th century.

Germany is country that takes its beer seriously. The world famous Pilsner brand is a product of the country, originating from Bavaria. In brewing, Germany follows a beer purity law that was officially accented in 1516 though it has been preceded by other regulations. The law states that beer should only be made from water, barley and hops. Yeast was added to the list later after its importance in brewing was discovered. The law was initially meant to govern brewing in Bavaria but other German states adopted it and in 1906 it was officially made a national law.

4. Its largest and most visited city is Berlin.

Berlin is the capital and biggest city in Germany, covering 891.68 km squared. Its population of more than 3.6 million inhabitants is the highest for any city in the country and the figure is also the highest for any city within the European Union countries. The city also takes in more visitors than any other city in the country, with more than 135 million visitors per day. In the year 2012 alone, the city hosted more than 24 million overnight guests in its hotels. The City is also home to the leading tourism trade fair in the world, ITB Berlin.

3. The world's first magazine was published in Germany in 1663.

The earliest magazine to be published in the world was called "Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen" which when translated to English means "Edifying Monthly Editions". It was first published in 1663 by a poet and theologian from Hamburg known as Johann Rist. The magazine discussed topics revolving around literature and philosophy. It was published until 1668 and it set the pace for publication of other journals in the same decade and over the years. Today, there are thousands of different types of periodicals to be found all over the world thanks to Rist.

2. Germany is home to over 6,000 museums.

Germany has a wide variety of museums, ranging from art museums, ethnological museums, historical museums, musical oriented museums amongst other. In total, the country has about 6000 museums and the number grows every year. The New National Gallery in Berlin is described by many people as the most beautiful museum in the world, being widely referred to as Temple of Glass. One of the most visited museums in the country is the haunting Jewish Museum in Berlin.

1. The popular tradition of having a Christmas tree comes from Germany.

Germany takes the credit for the origin of the Christmas tree tradition, which started in the 16 th century. It began with the country’s devout Christians who took brought trees into their households and decorated them each year. Some of them made wood pyramids and used evergreens and candles to decorate them when the trees were scarce. The Germans spread this culture to other parts of the world as well. For example, the first Christmas tree in America was seen in 1830s in the household of German Settlers.

By Chelangat Faith

•culled from

Music in Palestine before 1948

This article briefly explores four genres of music that prevailed in Palestine during the first half of the twentieth century, namely, folkloric music, Arabic classical music, national anthems, and Western classical music. It highlights a few of the factors that contributed to the development of these various musical genres, taking into consideration that Palestine is part of the extended region that includes Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, and that it shares with those countries basic elements of their musical traditions.

Folk music is the most prevalent genre of music all over the world. It is spontaneous and unsophisticated, and it expresses the general spirit of a people as it addresses current situations and moods in a direct manner. Folk music in Palestine is expressed in song and is often accompanied by dances. It was vibrant and alive at the turn of the twentieth century and still remains an integral part of social celebrations, especially weddings, whereas dirges are performed at funerals. It is interesting to note that the lyrics that accompany music change according to the situation. Talented poets and singers called zajaleen are often called upon to improvise and transform the words to fit any emerging situation at the spur of the moment. In Palestine, the scene of so much political turmoil, it is not uncommon to hear the lyrics of a love song turned into a political ditty, a call to an uprising, or a satire aimed at personalities in high places.
Artwork by Sliman Mansour.

Classical Arabic and Oriental music constitutes a deeply rooted tradition in Palestine and the region. At the beginning of the twentieth century it continued to be transmitted orally from one generation to the next through individual teaching and small-scale performances held in homes or small venues such as coffeehouses. It was not until the middle of the last century, with the introduction of radio, cinema, and the gramophone, that it began to be shared and appreciated on a larger scale. Moreover, memorable performances of famous Arab musicians from Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria, who frequently visited Palestine to perform in the major cities and in the newly established Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS), contributed significantly to the prevalence and appreciation of Arabic music during that period.

The diaries of Wasif Jawhariyyeh (1897–1973), an amateur musician and performer, are an important source of information about the vibrant musical scene at the time, especially in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, very few scores were notated during this period. Palestinian music is therefore hardly available for researchers who have to rely mainly on PBS archives and some of Wasif Jawhariyyeh’s recordings.

The establishment of the PBS in 1936 by the British Mandate, via the radio station named Jerusalem Calling, played a major role in propagating music and in providing opportunities for outstanding Palestinian and visiting musicians and performers to be heard nationwide. The Arabic section of the PBS was directed by the renowned Palestinian poet Ibrahim Touqan – who was relieved of his post after four years because of his political activism. The Arabic music section was directed for four years by the popular composer and singer Yahya Lababidi; its music ensemble was directed by the outstanding Syrian buzuq player and composer Mohammad Abdel Karim.*

One of the more renowned members of the PBS musical team was composer and conductor Yousef Batrouni who was versed in both Oriental and Western musical genres. He enhanced the musical skills of many of his colleagues and renowned visiting performers by teaching them music theory and notation. Amin Majaj, a 16-year-old violinist, made a dent in the music landscape at the time by forming his own ensemble in the PBS which was also invited to perform by the Egyptian Broadcasting Service. He later became better known as a prominent pediatrician.
Amin Nasir, Rima Nasir, Yousef Batroni, and Kamal Naser.

The PBS also played an important role in introducing classical music to the public. This was accomplished through a variety of musical programs, many of which employed the PBS orchestra. It was composed largely of foreign musicians and performed at the YMCA in Jerusalem; some of its members also gave private lessons. An outstanding event during that period was Arturo Toscanini’s visit to Palestine and his conducting of the PBS orchestra.

Arab national songs flourished during the first half of the twentieth century and continued beyond, due to the emergence of Arab nationalism and the struggle for Arab renaissance and liberation from the yoke of subjugation and colonialism. Schools played a major role in propagating anthems that became a beacon for youth and a rallying call for national consciousness. Two of the most influential contributors to this genre were the Lebanese Fleifel brothers whose songs were very popular in Palestine as they were being taught in schools and sung enthusiastically on various occasions by young people. The Fleifel brothers’ music was set to words written by renowned Arab poets who expressed the mood and aspirations of the people during that period. The appeal of these anthems reverberated beyond Palestine and Lebanon. Mawtini, written by Ibrahim Touqan, remains one of the most popular anthems in the region. The composers Salvador Arnita and Yousef Batrouni made further contributions to this genre. After the Nakba, Yousef Batrouni continued this tradition at Birzeit College together with two other younger composers, Rima Nasir and Amin Nasser, who gradually developed anthems into art songs and cantatas.

Classical music started to become a vibrant part of the Palestinian musical landscape before 1948. A few prominent names in Jerusalem stand out as pioneers and major players in propagating classical music through teaching numerous students to be performers and appreciative listeners.
Augustine Lama

Augustine Lama (1902–1988), an organist, composer, and teacher, was among the most accomplished classical musicians in Palestine. His influence on the musical landscape can be felt even now through the many outstanding students who studied with him, the latest being his composer son, Patrick, who currently lives in Paris. Augustine Lama studied music with the Franciscans and spent the rest of his life in Jerusalem as chief organist of the Catholic Church, also composing, teaching, and conducting school choirs.
Salvador Arnita conducting the Palestine Orchestra with the Birzeit College Choir in 1941.

Salvador Arnita (1914–1989) was a composer, conductor, organist, clarion player, and teacher. Originally a student of Augustine Lama, he continued his music education in Italy before he came to play a major role in the musical life of Jerusalem and the region. He was head of the music department at the YMCA, a vibrant cultural center in Jerusalem at the time and a venue for the PBS orchestra, and he taught music at Birzeit College for many years. As a teacher, Arnita inspired many of his students to take up music seriously (including the author of this article); as a composer, he left a legacy of orchestral works and songs written especially for the choir of Birzeit College. After the Nakba, Arnita and his musicologist wife Yusra, daughter of the renowned Wasif Jawhariyyeh, moved to Lebanon, where he took on the post of head of the music department at the American University of Beirut, and she taught musicology.

Yousef Batrouni (d. 1955) was also a student of Augustine Lama. An extremely talented and versatile musician, he contributed to the development of the music section at the PBS, taught music, composed songs, and conducted school choirs even after 1948. He left a legacy in the form of a sizeable number of national anthems that, unfortunately, have not yet been published.
Yousef Khasho (1927–1996), another student of Augustine Lama, pursued his musical education in Italy. Having worked as an organist, teacher, and composer, he left Palestine after the Nakba to settle in Amman, where he became a cofounder of the Jordanian music academy.

Hanna Khatchadurian (Ohan Durian, 1922–2012), who studied music at the Jerusalem Conservatory, was a very talented composer and pianist. He gave piano lessons, conducted choirs, and raised the level of classical music appreciation at the Armenian schools and at Birzeit College, where he taught for a while. After the Nakba he changed his name to Ohan Durian and moved on to Europe, ending up in Armenia as artistic director and principal conductor of the opera house in Yerevan.

Ibrahim Bawarshi, from Haifa, and Hanna Khill (1896–1980) from Nazareth, were also among the composers and music teachers whose education was based on Western classical music and whose contribution to the musical renaissance in Palestine was outstanding.

Schools played a major role in propagating classical music. The school system in early twentieth-century Palestine featured governmental and nongovernmental schools, with most of the latter being located in the Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Haifa, Nazareth, and Ramallah areas. A number of these schools were affiliated with religious organizations such as the Isalmic Waqf and the various Christian denominations; whereas some of them were foreign, others were run privately by Palestinians. Foreign schools introduced classical music to their students through music teachers who came from abroad. A limited number of students received piano lessons in some of these schools, and music teachers taught singing to school children of all ages, forming school choirs that performed on special occasions. The Quaker Friends School in Ramallah was foremost among the schools that considered music to be a high priority. Many of its graduates would later contribute substantially to the advancement of the music scene in Palestine, among them Salwa Tabri, Nadia Mikhail, and Tania Tamari. Some private, independent Palestinian schools had the vision early on that music and art were vital for the education and development of children. Therefore, they employed expatriates to teach Western classical music, since no formal system of Arabic music education existed at the time.
Artwork by Sliman Mansour.

Jerusalem has always been a musical hub in Palestine. For centuries, Jerusalem has embraced peoples from all over the world who come as visitors, seekers of knowledge, and devout pilgrims. This has earned it a special place in the hearts of many faithful who express their devotion in a variety of musical genres. One can hear chants coming from the Aqsa Mosque together with calls to prayer from the city’s various minarets, blending with the chimes of the various churches together with the Oriental chants of the Orthodox, Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopian churches, and the Western choral singing of the Catholic and Protestant churches, in a mosaic of superb harmonic sounds not to be surpassed anywhere.

By Rima Tarazi

•culled from

Thursday, 8 August 2019

What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Georgia?

Georgians are the predominant ethnic group in Georgia.

Georgia is a country located in the south Caucasia
bordering Russia, Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. It has a total land area of 69,700 square kilometers with a population estimated at 3.723 million. The country’s official language is Georgian. Tbilisi is the capital and largest city in Georgia. The ethnic groups in Georgia are the Georgians, Azerbaijanis, Armenians, and other minority groups.


Georgians constitute 86.8% of the total population. Also known as Kartvelians, the Georgians are a Caucasian ethnic group indigenous to Georgia. Georgians originated from the Iberian and Colchian civilizations. They have been a majority in the country except for one time in history, 1939 when its population was less than two-thirds of the total population. The Georgian language is a complex one as it is not linguistically related to any other language in the Kartvelian language family. It also possesses its own writing system that comprises of 33 alphabets. The earliest literature written in Georgian dates back to 430 CE. Besides Georgia, other Georgians have settled in Greece, Ukraine, Turkey, the United States, Russia, Iran, and the European Union.


The Azerbaijanis constitute 6.2% of the population of Georgia which translates to about 230,000 inhabitants. It is the largest ethnic minority in the country with most of the Azerbaijanis having settled in the rural parts of the country such as Shida Kartli, Kakheti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, and Kvemo Kartli. This region occupied by the Azerbaijanis is referred to as Borchali. The Azerbaijani has a rich cultural heritage as seen in their beautifully woven rugs, the art of ashiks, performing arts, and literature among others. Also known as the Azeris, most of the Azerbaijanis are Muslim. They are the largest ethnic group in the Republic of Azerbaijan.


The Armenians are an ethnic group that found refuge in Georgia when they fled from the Soviet Union many years ago. They constitute 4.5% of Georgia’s population which comes to about 167,000 people. Some of the Armenians live in the country’s capital city whereas others have chosen to live in the less developed parts of the country.

Other Ethnic Groups

The ethnic minorities in Georgia include Yazidis, Greeks, Ukrainians, Abkhaz, Kists, and Assyrians. The country also hosts a small population of Jewish and Polish ethnic groups. The Jewish people mainly live in Tbilisi town. Russians are also an ethnic minority living in Georgia. However, they are the largest ethnic group in Europe. The population of the Russians in Georgia is slightly above 26,400. Another ethnic minority are the Ossetians who originated from Iran in a linguistic region called Ossetia. These people speak Ossetic which is an Alanic language that is popular in Iran.

By Sharon Omondi

•culled from

The Largest Cities in Georgia

The following is a list of the largest cities in the US state of Georgia.

The state of Georgia is found in the southern part of the United States , and by 2010, it was the 9th state with the highest population in the US with a population of 9,688,681 people. The state of Georgia is also the 21st largest in the country covering an area of 57,513.49 square miles, and it has 159 counties. There are also 535 incorporated municipalities having cities, consolidated cities, towns, and consolidated city-counties. The state of Georgia does not offer legal difference between cities and towns. Atlanta city is the largest city in the state of and it is the state capital of Georgia.

The Largest Cities in Georgia


Atlanta is not only Georgia's capital city, it is also the largest city in the state. The city had a population of 486,290 people in 2017, which at the time was the city with the highest population in the state and the 39th most populous city in the US. In 2010, the population of the city was 420,003. The city of Atlanta also serves as a crucial cultural and economic and cultural center in the Atlanta metro area, which was home to about 5.8 million people and the 9th largest metro area in the country. The city of Atlanta serves as the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in the state. Part of the city extends eastward to the to the DeKalb County. Atlanta traced its roots as a transportation hub when it was founded at the intersection of two railroads in 1837. During the American Civil War, the city was burned to the ground but rose again to become the unofficial capital and center of commerce of the New South. In the 1950s and 1960s, the city was the center for organizing the civil rights movement.


Augusta is the second largest city in Georgia, and in 2010 the city had a population of 195,844. Augusta is another consolidated city-county found in the central eastern border of Georgia. By 2017, the population of the city had reached 197,166, and this did not include the unconsolidated cities of Hephzibah and Blythe. These figures indicate that the city was the 122nd largest city in the country. The process of consolidating between the city of Augusta and the county of Richmond started in 1995 with a referendum in the two jurisdictions, and the merger was accomplished in 1996. The Augusta metropolitan area is located along the eastern border of Georgia with North Agusta located in the neighboring state of South Carolina . The city has a combined population of 600,151, making it the second largest metropolitan area in the state of Georgia and the 93rd in the US.


In 2010 the city of Columbus had a population of 189,885, and it is a consolidated city-county found on the west border of the central part of Georgia. The city is a county seat of Muscogee, and it is the 3rd largest city in Georgia and the 4th largest metropolitan area. In 2017, the city had a population of 194,058 people and the population in the metropolitan area standing at 303,811 people.

Population Growth in Georgia

The population of the state of Georgia is expected to continue growing into the future with estimates putting at the rate of 1% every year. This growth makes the state one of the fastest growing states in the US earning a slot at position 12. According to projections made in 2010, the population in the state is expected to reach 12.7 million in 2030.

The Largest Cities in Georgia

Rank City Population

1 Atlanta 420,003
2 Augusta 195,844
3 Columbus 189,885
4 Macon 155,447
5 Savannah 136,286
6 Athens 115,452
7 Sandy Springs 93,853
8 Roswell 88,346
9 Albany 77,434
10 Johns Creek 76,728

By Joyce Chepkemoi

•culled from

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Biggest Cities In The Country Of Georgia

Established in the late 5th Century AD, Tbilisi is the capital and by far most populous Georgian city.

Georgia is at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe in the region of Eurasia. It borders the Black Sea to the east, Russia, Turkey, and Armenia to the north, and Azerbaijan to the northwest. The modern nation of Georgia was established in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union it was previously part of, after which the country suffered a period of the civil and economic crisis up to the peaceful Rose Revolution. The country has a population of 3.75 million people according to the 2015 census and covers an area of over 69,000 square kilometers. Georgia is marked by the presence of several large cities, the most notable of which are looked at below.


Tbilisi is Georgia’s capital and largest city, and is located on the banks of the Kura River. The city has a population of about 1.3 million people. Tbilisi was established around the 5th Century by the monarch of the Kingdom of Iberia and has been the capital of several Georgian’s kingdoms and republics. Historically, the city was home to diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious groups although it is dominated by the Eastern Orthodox Christian. The location of the country at the crossroad of Europe and Asia makes it a lucrative east-west trade route. The architecture of the city is a mix of Medieval, classical, and modernist structure which reflects the country’s history. The city is governed by the Tbilisi City Assembly which is elected once every four years. Tbilisi is divided into raions or districts for administrative purposes.


Kutaisi is a legislative capital of Georgia and the second largest city. It is situated along the banks of Rioni River to the west of Tbilisi. The city has a population of 198,808. Geographically, the city is surrounded by deciduous forest and experiences humid subtropical climate. Kutaisi was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Colchis in the 6th Century and subsequently a capital of several other kingdoms including the United Kingdom of Georgia and the Imeretian Kingdom. Kutaisi remains a cultural center with several cultural sites including Kutaisi State Historical Museum, Kutaisi Museum of Sport, and Kutaisi State Historical Archives. The city is served by different transport network including the David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport, rail terminals, and roads. Kutaisi city celebrates a holiday known as Kutaisoba which is marked by a gathering of crowds in the central park to celebrate together.


Batumi is located on the coast of the Black Sea near the feet of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. It is the third largest city with a population of 166,420 and a popular tourist’s destination in Georgia because of its varying weather and bustling seaside resort. The economy of Batumi revolves around tourism and gambling, but it is also an important sea port with several industries including shipbuilding and food processing. The modern city of Batumi is characterized by modern skyscrapers and restoration of the classical 19th Century architecture. The city continues to attract international investors, especially in real estate. The Constitutional Court has its seat at Batumi.

Other Major Cities in Georgia
Other major cities of Georgia include Rustavi, Sukhumi, Zugdidi, Gori, Poti, Tskhinvali, and Samtredia. These cities play both administrative and economic functions in Georgia. Administratively, most of these cities are the capital of some of the districts and regions of Georgia with several administrative seats established in the cities. Economically, the cities are home to some of the major industries and financial institutions in the Georgia. The cities of Georgia are still on the growth path and are expected to expand significantly over the coming years.

Rank Biggest Cities in Georgia Population

1 Tbilisi 1,299,018
2 Kutaisi 198,806
3 Batumi 166,420
4 Rustavi 123,802
5 Sukhumi 62,914
6 Zugdidi 59,449
7 Gori 49,472
8 Poti 47,700
9 Tskhinvali 30,000
10 Samtredia 29,647

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Music of Oman

When visiting a new country, travellers are always intrigued by the food, the clothes, and the language of the local people. But most often, they're intrigued by the local music. No matter where you travel in the world, you're always going to be moved by the emotion of songs, regardless of linguistic barriers. In Oman, musical performances are wonderful opportunities to enjoy the lovely rhythms of Arab music combined with the beats of Africa and the passion of the Omanis. After all, due to its location in the Arabian Peninsula, Oman has been influenced by varieties of cultures from India, Portugal, Yemen, Iran - even as far as Tanzania!

Music plays a major role in the Sultanate of Oman and it's a vital part of all important life events like the birth, marriage and death of an individual. Unlike other Arab countries, all Omanis take part in music regardless of age or sex. On national days of celebration, each region and governorate prepares their own celebration of Oman's culture. There are more than 130 known forms of traditional music in the country.

Different regions of the country have their own celebrated musical cultures. Most traditional music of Oman is accompanied by dancing and recitation of poetry, though the styles differ between regions. Dhofar region in southern Oman has a tradition called Al-Bar'ah which includes a war-like dance and tribal chanting. It is performed in a half-circle by both men and women.

As a primarily desert country with a long coastline, Oman's music can be typically divided into 'sea music' and 'desert music'. The many songs can be attributed to various tasks performed by the locals across the day. Some examples of sea music are shallat al-baura for pulling the anchor of a boat, nazag sheraa for hoisting the sail, and yarah mashumah for rowing the boat. The Bedouins of the country have their own musical culture, as do the locals in Oman's mountain ranges. Other common themes in Omani music are longing, homesickness, and travel.

What Are The Instruments Used?

The Omanis have many instruments used in their music. They have a number of string instruments. The tambura, also called fann at-tanbura or nuban, is a six-string instrument. The strings called 'khiyut' are beaten with a horn. This instrument draws its influence from Africa.

The rababa is considered the 'mother of all string instruments'. It has one, two, and four string versions. The Omani version called rababit ash-shair has one string. Unlike a violin, it is played vertically with the instrument placed on the player's thigh. The rababa is rarely used nowadays, but it was once integral to Oman's music. Another important string instrument is the oud. It is commonly used in Arab music. It has a short wooden neck. It commonly has five or six strings. Other instruments used in Omani music are the duff (tambourine), khulkhal (ankle bracelet), qassaba (flute) and a surnay (wooden oboe of Beluchi origin).

Patronage of the Sultan

Although music has always been an important part of Oman's culture, it was revitalized by Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said when he came to power in 1970. The decade after his ascension is considered the Renaissance of Oman. The Sultan known to play the oud himself and has great knowledge of Western classical music. He was determined to give the country's music a structured program, which resulted in the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra in 1985.

As part of this program, musically gifted children were found from all across Oman and sent to a special boarding school where music was an important subject. Highly-qualified teachers from Europe were specially brought to Oman. After several decades of this program, Oman now has a large number of well-taught individuals who are qualified to play in a national orchestra. When students graduate from the program, their first performances are typically in front of the Sultan. Then they are allowed to play for the Oman public. The Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra performed for the first time in 2007 at the Young Euro Classic Festival in Berlin. They were very well-received.

Today, their music is known for combining traditional Omani folk music with strong Western techniques. Their music can be watched at the Royal Opera House in Muscat which was inaugurated in 2011. It is known for its wonderful architecture and many musical programs that include jazz and international music. The hall is generally sold out for every event. When there aren't performances taking places, there are weekly tours of the opera house.

Other ways in which the Sultan patronised music in the country include the new Department of Musicology at the Qultan Qaboos University, music education in schools and the formation of the Muscat Festival. The Oman Centre for Traditional Music was created in 1984 to document the country's traditions. The Centre now has over 20,000 photographs, 500 audio-visual media and sound recordings in its archives.

Musical Festivals of Oman

The Muscat Festival is a national celebration of Oman's culture. It generally takes place in the months of Jan and Feb for a period of two weeks. There are musical performances, intellectual seminars, poetry evenings, and even lectures by specialists in their fields. These take place in a number of locations of Muscat-like public parks, exhibition centres and cultural halls. There's even an Arabic concert night when Arab singers perform. It is hugely popular amongst locals and tourists alike, gathering crowds of over 50,000 people each year. There is always music playing in Oman. The Ministry of Tourism plans multiple cultural evenings in Al Flayj Castle Theatre and Salalah's Al Morooj Theatre. You can also catch performances in Oman's souks like Souq es Sabt in Muscat. Taking place in two sessions each year, several local bands perform both modern and traditional music here between 3 PM and 7 PM.
The rise of tourism in Oman has created a cosmopolitan culture in the country. Major modern music festivals include Spring Music Festival and Sunset Music Festival that host international DJ's and include a variety of genres like EDM and hip-hop. So whether you're seeking some traditional sounds or modern music, you'll find it all in Oman!

By Rhea Nath

•culled from

Music of Lebanon

Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, has long been known, especially in a period immediately following World War 2, for its art and intellectualism. Several singers emerged in this period, most famously including Feirouz, Sabah, Wadii El Safi, Majida El Roumi, Nasri Shamsiddine, Ziad Rahbani and Marcel Khalifa an activist folk singer and Oud player. During the fifteen-year civil war, most of the Lebanese music stars moved to Cairo or Paris, with a large music scene in Beirut only returning after 1992. Modern stars include Najwa Karam, Diana Haddad,Nawal Al Zoghbi, Ramy Ayash, Haifa Wehbe, Elissa, Ragheb Alama, Walid Toufic, Wael Kfoury, Amal Hijazi, Nancy Ajram, Melhem Zein, Fadhil Shaker, The 4 Cats, Aasi El Helani and Moniem who is well known for his extraordinary talent in playing Oud, Cello, Guitar, Qanoon, Buzuq, along with song writing, music composing and singing in many languages including English.

The underground music scene is equally vibrant, spearheaded by rock-pop duo Soap Kills but expanding to include a number of groups from a wide array of genres. Underground Arab hip hop groups, such as the Lil' G'z, Rayess Bek Kitaayoun and Ramez in particular are growing in popularity and alternative Lebanese rock as Meen. The annual Fête de la Musique, held in late June, brings the whole country out for organized and spontaneous underground concerts.

Music has played an important role in Lebanese cultural and religious traditions for millennia. In addition to the voice, traditional music incorporates instruments such as the Oud, the Derbakki (a kind of drum also known as the Tabla), and the Ney.

Le Conservatoire libanais national supérieur de
musique or The Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music is the heart of the classical music world in Lebanon, and home to both the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra and the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music.

A few Instruments of the Lebanese Sound
One popular instrument used in Lebanese music is the lute. The word lute is an English word which came from the Spanish laud, the laud which originally came from the Arabic word and instrument al-Oud (meaning the branch of wood). The lute is shaped like a half pear with a short fretted neck, it is a six courses of two-strings instrument played with a plectrum-regularly a trimmed eagle’s feather. This instrument creates a deep and mellow sound.

The Mijwiz which literally means “double” in Arabic is a very popular instrument used in Lebanese music. It is a type of reed clarinet and it is played by breathing smoothly through a circular aperture at the end and by operating the fingers over the holes down the front of the tube in order to create specific sounds. The minjjayrah is very related to the mijwiz, it is an open ended reed flute played in the same style, very popular among mountain villagers of Lebanon.

The Tabla is a small hand-drum also known as the
Derbakki. Most Tablas are beautifully decorated, some with wood, tile or bone inlay, etched metal, or paintings in designs typical of the Near East. One of the most commonly played of the percussion instruments; the Tabla is a membrane of goat or fish skin stretched over a vase-shaped drum with a wide neck. Usually made of earthenware or metal, it is placed either under the left arm or between the legs and struck in the middle for the strong beats and on the edge for the sharp in-between beats.

Also known as the Riqq, the Deff is the Arabic name for the popular instrument corresponding to the English tambourine. It consists of a round frame, covered on one side with goat or fish skin. Pairs of metal discs are set into the frame to produce the jingle when struck by the hand. The sounds of this percussion instrument set the rhythm of much Arab music, particularly in the performances of classical pieces.

The word Buzuq comes from the Turkish and occurs in 'bashi-buzuq,' the name given to the Ottoman troops, literally meaning 'burnt head' or 'uprooted.' The Buzuq, which is an essential instrument in the Rahbani repertoire, is a hybrid instrument that is not classified among the classical instruments of Arab music or among those of Turkish music. However, this instrument may be looked upon as a larger and deeper-toned relative of the Turkish Saz, to which it could be compared in the same way as the viola to the violin in Western music. Before the Rahbani’s popularized the use of this instrument, the Buzuq had been associated with the gypsy music of Lebanon. A long-necked fretted string instrument, the Buzuq is furnished with 2 metal strings which are played with a plectrum.

The Dabke of Lebanon

Its History

In the olden days, before tiled roofs were installed on Lebanese homes, their flat roofs were made of tree branches that were topped with mud. When the change of seasons came, especially winter, the mud would crack and start to leak and would need to be fixed. The owner of the house would call his neighbors for help- Al-Awneh- and the neighbors would gather up on the roof. They would hold hands, form a line and start stomping their feet while walking on the roof in order to adjust the mud. After a while, Al-Awneh, became to be known as Daloonah, a form of improvised singing and dancing the dabke. A Derbakki, nay and a mijwiz were added in order to keep the men going in the cold weather (it helped stimulate the blood pressure to produce more energy). As time emerged, the Dabke dance came to be known one of Lebanon's most famous traditions. Today Dabke is performed in every Lebanese household. The Dabke is made livelier, when friends and families gather around the Lebanese mezze with Arak or wine and begin to perform this dance.

Dabke is the national dance of Lebanon and Lebanese take pride in their skills in dabke dancing. Young and old, men and women participate in this festive dance. Dabke is a traditional line dance and it is sometimes compared to Irish step dancing, the Greek Hassapiko and the Jewish hora.
Dabke is best sang in Lebanese mountain dialects, many great dabke singers include Tony Kaiwan, Assi El Helani, Fares Karam, Feirouz, Najwa Karam and many more. Dal'ouna and Howaara are famous Lebanese dabke songs popularized through out the Levant.

Lebanese Dialect Lebanese Singers

Lebanese singers sing in either Lebanese or Egyptian dialect. Lebanese artists are very distinct due to the fact of their Lebanese dialect. Feirouz sparks Lebanese national pride with her songs such as Behibbak ya Lebnan (I love you Lebanon) and Ya Hawa Beirut. Another famous Lebanese singer known for her powerful voice is Najwa Karam. While other Lebanese singers have followed the trend of more fast paced Egyptian dialectic music (due to the large population of Egyptian dialect speaking persons) a few singers such as Feirouz and Najwa have stayed grounded with their traditional Lebanese.

•culled from
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