Browsing Tag: borders

    Brazil’s Geography Problem
    Articles, Blog

    Brazil’s Geography Problem

    August 14, 2019

    This video was made possible by Skillshare. Learn from 21,000 classes for free for two
    months at There are plenty of lines you can draw on
    the globe but perhaps none is more consequential than the equator. Of the 15 wealthiest countries
    in the world as measured by GDP per capita, all are in the northern hemisphere. Only 800
    million of earth’s 7.6 billion residents live south of the equator. There is a clear
    divide between north and south but of those 800 million people a quarter of them, about
    207 million, live here in Brazil. The country is an exception to the global trend. Brazil
    is the fifth most populous country in the world and the most populous entirely within
    the southern hemisphere. Its economy has grown enormously and the country is quickly developing.
    Although, the very land it sits on stacks the odds against it. Its location gives it
    a disadvantage. Given this, the question is whether Brazil can develop into a world superpower
    by the likes of the US, Europe, Russia, India, and China or if the country is doomed to fail? Brazil, of course, looks like this but in
    reality almost 80% of the country’s population lives here—within 200 miles of the coast.
    You do see a concentration of population near the coast in any country as it provides a
    cheap and easy means of transportation by boats and a source of food through fishing
    but few countries have such a severe concentration of people by the oceans as Brazil. This small
    area, for example, is home to three of Brazil’s six largest cities. Normally this would help
    development as the area in between cities will urbanize but this map doesn’t tell
    the whole story—this one does. You see, this area of Brazil is rather mountainous.
    The major cities mostly exist in small pockets of low-altitude, flat land on the ocean. This
    is because major cities need easy water access to get goods in and out. The majority of Brazil’s
    coast is defined by steep, sheer cliffs. Petrópolis, for example, a suburb of Rio, is a mere 13
    miles from the ocean and yet it sits at almost 3,000 feet of altitude. The rare areas with
    low-altitude land on the water are where cities like Porte Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife
    are but this pattern has two consequences. First, these cities, while being on flat land
    themselves are surrounded by cliffs and mountainous regions which means their growth is limited.
    There are plenty of cities that exist in mountainous regions but the world’s largest and most
    influential cities like London and Delhi and Beijing all exist in areas with absolutely
    no geographical features limiting their growth. The fact that Brazil’s cities locate in
    rare low-altitude coastal land means that the country will likely never have a megalopolis
    by the likes of the Pearl River Delta or the US Northeast. It takes a surprising six hours
    to drive between Rio and Sao Paolo and since there’s no low-altitude coastal land in
    between them, there are really no major cities in between them too. Brazil’s cities are
    confined to the geographically convenient areas which are spread out from each other.
    This means the cities can’t collaborate easily with each other thereby limiting Brazil’s
    impact on the world stage. Like any large country, Brazil’s development
    potential is also linked to how it gets its food. This, in fact, might be Brazil’s greatest
    obstacle as it really doesn’t hav e much great farmland, at least yet. The country’s
    main agricultural region is its south which is blessed with great soil and great rivers
    that help transport crops away from their farms. Interestingly, the same elevation that
    leads to steep coastal cliffs causes rivers to run in a counterintuitive direction. The
    Tietê river, for example, starts near Sao Paolo a mere 10 miles away from the Atlantic
    ocean but then runs inland almost 500 miles where it flows into the Paraná River which
    eventually flows out into the ocean near Buenos Aires, Argentina. If a farmer wants to export
    their food abroad, it’s often cheaper to first ship it the thousands of miles by boat
    on these rivers than just hundreds of miles overland to Brazil’s coast due to their
    poor road infrastructure. This means that Argentina gets the business of packing up
    and shipping Brazil’s food to other countries. That’s just lost money for Brazil as a result
    of their geography. Brazil’s south, though, does not even have enough land to feed the
    country’s own 200 million residents. Given that, the question is where to put the rest
    of the farms. In Brazil’s north is the Amazon basin. The
    central feature of this region is, of course, the Amazon River which is navigable for boats.
    Normally this feature would lead to a significant population as navigable rivers serve as cheap
    and easy transport for crops and goods but the banks of the Amazon are a tough place
    to farm or live. Not only are they muddy and unstable which makes building difficult, but
    the Amazon also regularly floods which means that every year many of the communities on
    the banks of the Amazon can have their streets underwater for months. Building and living
    in the Amazonian cities is difficult, but what’s more difficult is building the roads
    in and out. The largest city in the Amazon, Manaus, is home to 2.6 million people, it’s
    as big as Baltimore, and yet there are only three roads connecting the city to the outside
    world. Many of the smaller towns around the Amazon have no roads going in and out as its
    just incredibly costly and difficult to build roads through the rainforest. In fact, rather
    unbelievably, there is not a single bridge spanning over the Amazon so there is no way
    to drive from the northernmost region of Brazil to the rest without taking a ferry. Overall,
    this whole area is just empty. Even if there was the infrastructure to transport crops
    to market, farming in the Amazon involves clearing huge amounts of land and even then,
    the soil is relatively infertile which leads to poor yields. Despite being Brazil’s largest
    state, Amazonas is home to just 1.8% of its population. It just costs too much to build
    the infrastructure needed to live there. To the south of the Amazon, though, is an
    area known as the Cerrado. This vast savanna used to be in the same category as the Amazon—it
    was empty. The problem was not only that there was no natural network of rivers to get crops
    out of the area but also that the soil was too acidic and lacking enough nutrients to
    easily grow large quantities of crops. Between both the Amazon and the Cerrado being off-limits
    for large-scale farming, that meant that Brazil really didn’t have much land at all for
    farming. 30 years ago, with only the south to farm, Brazil was actually a net importer
    of food—it bought more food from other countries than it sold. That was until researchers discovered
    that all you needed to do to fix the soil was add phosphorous and lime. The phosphorous
    served as a fertilizer in the place of natural nutrients and the lime worked to reduce the
    level of acidity. In the early 2000’s, the country spread more than 25 million tons of
    lime per year and so today the Cerrado accounts for 70% of Brazil’s farmland. In addition,
    Brazil has begun growing soybeans. This plant is normally grown in more temperate climates
    such as the US, northern China, or Japan, but through cross-breeding and genetic modification
    it can be modified to grow in warmer and acidic environments such as the Brazilian Cerrado.
    Thanks to the enormous amount of land Brazil has and these technological advancements the
    country has gone from producing 16% of the world’s soybean in 2005 to 31% today.
    A country’s level of development is often to linked to how good its natural transportation
    system is. That’s part of why the US developed so much so fast—it has a great system of
    navigable rivers right in its agricultural heartland that helps get goods from the fields
    to cities fast and inexpensively. The Brazilian Cerrado, though, does not have that. It doesn’t
    even have much of a preexisting network of roads since before this recent agricultural
    advancement barely anyone lived there. Therefore anyone who wants to farm in the Cerrado has
    to find land, level it, treat it with phosphate and lime, and build roads to get supplies
    in and crops out. Cerrado farms can be profitable but it takes an enormous amount of money to
    build the infrastructure needed to start a farm. It’s not like the US or France or
    China where all you need is some land. The consequence of this is that farms in Brazil
    tend to owned by corporations rather than individuals because only corporations have
    the money to build farms. That therefore increases the level of wealth disparity in Brazil. According
    to the World Bank’s Gini index, Brazil is the 11th most economically unequal country
    in the world. Lower wealth disparity and the emergence of a middle class are indicators
    of economic development so the country should want to fix this. Brazil’s government has
    recognized its infrastructure problem as a source of its wealth disparity and has therefore
    worked to build roads in the interior so that more individuals can run farms but the government
    only has so much money to spend and it’s a big country.
    Brazil does, though, understand the importance of its core. It understands that the coastal
    cities are constrained and that economic development will come from the center. It was partially
    for that reason that the country decided to move its capital from Rio de Janeiro to here—Brasília.
    The thinking was that putting the capital in the core would stimulate the economically
    underdeveloped region and, in many ways, it worked. The city simply did not exist before
    1960 yet today more than 4 million people live in its metropolitan area. Being located
    on relatively flat land unlike Rio, the city can just grow and grow and grow without hinderance.
    Brazil has potential, but its defining issue is that it’s an expensive place. It’s a
    vicious cycle. In order to make money, Brazil needs to invest in its infrastructure but
    without people making money it doesn’t have the tax money to build what it takes t o transition
    into the first world. The question of why tropical countries are less developed is an
    enormous one without a clear answer, but Brazil is one of the most likely candidates to break
    this trend. It certainly lags behind other developing countries like China, but as its
    agriculture industry develops it will become a bigger and bigger exporter which will bring
    more money in. With time, its average income will inch up. The country already does have
    major companies in other industries such as banking, manufacturing, and oil but with how
    big Brazil is, agriculture is the one that’s the world’s focus right now. Only France,
    Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States export more agricultural products per year
    which is good company to be in. Brazil may not have the explosive growth rate of some
    other less developed countries but by continuously taking what it earns and reinvesting it to
    open up more of the country to agricultural production it will continue its path to superpower
    status. One of the common questions I receive is how
    I started making these videos. The first step was learning the skills needed from writing
    to research to sound design and editing, but for each and every one of them there’s a
    course on Skillshare. Skillshare, you see, is an online learning community that has more
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    a great place to learn or improve your skills so please do check them out, once again, at Thanks for watching and I’ll see you again in three weeks for another
    Wendover Productions video.

    Canada & The United States (Bizarre Borders Part 2)
    Articles, Blog

    Canada & The United States (Bizarre Borders Part 2)

    August 12, 2019

    Canada and the United States share the longest,
    straightest, possibly boringest border in the world. But, look closer, and there’s plenty
    of bizarreness to be found. While these sister nations get along fairly
    well, they both want to make it really clear whose side of the continent is whose. And
    they’ve done this by carving a 20-foot wide space along the border. All five and a half
    thousand miles of it. With the exception of the rare New England
    town that predates national borders or the odd airport that needed extending, this space
    is the no-touching-zone between the countries and they’re super serious about keeping it
    clear. It matters not if the no-touching-zone runs through hundreds of miles of virtually
    uninhabited Alaskan / Yukon wilderness. Those border trees, will not stand. Which might make you think this must be the
    longest, straightest deforested place in the world, but it isn’t. Deforested: yes, but
    straight? Not at all. Sure it looks straight and on a map, and the
    treaties establishing the line *say* it’s straight… but in the real world the official
    border is 900 lines that zig-zags from the horizontal by as much as several hundred feet. How did this happen? Well, imagine you’re
    back in North America in the 1800s — The 49th parallel (one of those horizontal lines
    you see on a globe) has just been set as the national boundary and it’s your job to make
    it real. You’re handed a compass and a ball of string and told to carefully mark off the
    next 2/3rds of a continent. Don’t mind that uncharted wilderness in the way: just keep
    the line straight. Yeah. Good luck. With that. The men who surveyed the land did the best
    they could and built over 900 monuments. They’re in about as straight as you could expect a
    pre-GPS civilization to make, but it’s not the kind of spherical / planar intersection
    that would bring a mathematician joy. Nonetheless these monuments define the border
    and the no-touching-zone plays connect-the-dots with them. Oh, and while there are about 900 markers
    along this section of the border, there are about 8,000 in total that define the shape
    of the nations. Despite this massive project Canada and the
    United States still have disputed territory. There is a series of islands in the Atlantic
    that the United States claims are part of Maine and Canada claims are part of New Brunswick.
    Canada, assuming the islands are hers built a lighthouse on one of them, and the United
    States, assuming the islands are hers pretends the lighthouse doesn’t exist. It’s not a huge problem as the argument is
    mostly over tourists who want to see puffins and fishermen who want to catch lobsters,
    but let’s hope the disagreement gets resolved before someone finds oil under that lighthouse. Even the non-disputed territory has a few
    notably weird spots: such as this tick of the border upward into Canada. Zoom in and
    it gets stranger as the border isn’t over solid land but runs through a lake to cut
    off a bit of Canada before diving back down to the US. This spot is home to about 100 Americans and
    is a perfect example of how border irregularities are born: Back in 1783 when the victorious Americans
    were negotiating with the British who controlled what would one day be Canada, they needed
    a map, and this map was the best available at the time. While the East Coast looks pretty
    good, the wester it goes the sparser it gets. Under negotiation was the edge of what would
    one day be Minnesota and Manitoba. But unfortunately, that area was hidden underneath an inset on
    the map, so the Americans and British were bordering blind. Seriously. They guessed that the border should start
    from the northwestern part of this lake and go in a horizontal line until it crossed the
    Mississippi… somewhere. But somewhere, turned out to be nowhere as
    the mighty Mississippi stops short of that line, which left the border vague until 35
    years later when a second round of negotiations established the aforementioned 49th parallel. But there was still a problem as the lake
    mentioned earlier was both higher, and less circular than first though, putting its northwesterly
    point here so the existing border had to jump up to meet it and then drop straight down
    to the 49th, awkwardly cutting off a bit of Canada, before heading west across the remainder
    of the continent. Turns out you just can’t draw a straight(-ish)
    line for hundreds of miles without causing a few more problems. One of which was luckily spotted in advance:
    Vancouver Island, which the 49th would have sliced through, but both sides agreed that
    would be dumb so the border swoops around the island. However, next door to Vancouver Island is
    Point Roberts which went unnoticed as so today the border blithey cuts across. It’s a nice
    little town, home to over 1,000 Americans, but has only a primary school so its older
    kids have to cross international borders four times a day to go to school in their own state. In a pleasing symetry, the East cost has the
    exact opposite situation with a Canadian Island whose only land route is a bridge to the United
    States. And these two aren’t the only places where
    each country contains a bit of the other: there are several more, easily spotted in
    sattelite photos by the no-touching zone. Regardless of if the land in question is just
    an uninhabited strip, in the middle of a lake, in the middle of nowhere, the border between
    these sister nations must remain clearly marked.

    Every Country in the World (Part 1)
    Articles, Blog

    Every Country in the World (Part 1)

    August 9, 2019

    This is every country in the world… by Wendover
    Productions. We’ll start with
    Afghanistan, the first country alphabetically. Afghanistan is one of the few countries worldwide
    to be offset from Greenwich Mean Time by a 30 minute interval, its at GMT +4:30, while
    China is one of the many countries to only have
    one timezone… except its ginormous. It aligns to GMT
    + 8 so that means that stepping over the 47 mile long Afghanistan-China border jumps you
    forward by 3.5 hours. That’s the largest single time zone jump
    on earth. China in all its craziness
    has rather ambitious plans to build a high-speed railroad from Beijing, up across the Bering
    Strait, and down into the United States, which happens to be the home of 41% of Wendover
    Productions viewers. Up in the north-west of the US, Point Roberts,
    a part of the mainland US, is cut off from the US by Canada and since it
    doesn’t have a high-school, students have to cross
    into Canada then back into the US each day on their way to school. Canada happens to be the
    second largest country on earth and has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. Its so
    huge, in fact, that its easternmost point is closer to Croatia than it is to Vancouver. One of
    Croatia’s thousands of islands is Rab, the birthplace of the sculptor Marinas who went
    on and founded San Marino, the fifth smallest country
    in the world and one of three to be completely surrounded by another country. One of the others is the Vatican—the smallest
    sovereign state in the world—and there’s also Lesotho, which
    is home to one of Africa’s seven ski resorts. Lesotho
    is of course surrounded by South Africa which is the only country in the world to have three
    capitals—Cape Town is the seat of the Parliament, Pretoria is the home of the president, and
    Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. South Africa also almost completely surrounds
    another country—Swaziland, where roads are so bad
    that two of the last four transport ministers died in
    car accidents. While mostly surrounded by South Africa, Swaziland’s
    eastern border is with Mozambique, whose name scores higher in scrabble
    than any other one-word country, but in second place for scrabble is Kyrgyzstan which
    is home to six enclaves, the smallest of which is
    part of Uzbekistan and is only 2 miles wide. In Uzbekistan, no river leads to the Ocean—they
    all drain into endorheic basins where all the
    water evaporates out. Uzbekistan is one of only two
    countries worldwide to be double-landlocked—as in, landlocked by landlocked countries. In this
    case, every surrounding country of Uzbekistan also ends in -stan—Kazakhstan, Tajikistan,
    Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan,and Turkmenistan. The other double-landlocked country is
    Liechtenstein—a tiny and historically neutral nation. In their last military engagement in 1886,
    none of the 80 soldiers were injured or killed, and they actually returned with 81 people
    since they made a “new italian friend.” Italy is home to the Breuil Cervinia ski resort
    where you can ski across the border into Switzerland. Switzerland is rather paranoid about war to
    the extent that 3,000 points of entry into the country are
    rigged to blow at an instant in case of invasion. Switzerland is also home to one end of the
    shortest regularly-scheduled commercial international flight in the world—a six minute, 10 mile
    jaunt over to Germany where its not actually illegal to
    escape prison. Seriously—they say its only human nature. Germany is home to half of one of the
    world’s few internationally divided islands, and the Polish side of this island, despite
    being only 200 feet from mainland Poland, is not connected
    by any bridges to Poland, so just like point Roberts, residents have to cross international
    borders to get to their own country. Poland also
    happens to have been a part of Sweden’s monarchy for a brief eight years in the 16th
    century. Sweden has an internationally divided island
    too, and this one is a mere 7 acres large. The border
    looks like this because Finland accidentally built a lighthouse in Swedish territory and
    so they just readjusted the border to make everyone
    happy. Finland has exactly 187,888 lakes, and its
    northernmost point is actually closer to Greenland than Poland due to the curvature of the earth. Greenland isn’t actually a country so I’m
    not allowed to talk about it—its a dependency of
    Denmark, where its impossible to be more than 30 miles from the ocean. The wife of Denmark’s Crown Prince, Crown
    Princess Mary, was born in Australia which is the 6th largest country on earth and is
    home to the longest fence in the world—a 3,500 mile structure to keep wild dogs out
    of the the fertile south-east region. The middle of Australia also has practically
    nobody and nothing in it except a 297 mile long precisely straight section of railroad
    track. Australia freed the country of Brunei from
    occupation back in WWII which is one of the few countries worldwide to be comprised of
    two comparably sized sections. St Kitts and Nevis is
    also split into two but that’s because its a two island nation and also the smallest
    country in the Americas. In Saint Kitts and Nevis you can gain citizenship
    by making a $400 thousand real estate investment much like Bulgaria, where people nod up and
    down to signify no and shake left and right to mean yes. Bulgaria is one of the few countries to have
    an embassy in North Korea which created its own time zone in 2015 for
    no real reason than to be different. North Korea is
    only separated by one country from Norway, where more than half the population lives
    below this line. Between Norway and North Korea is of course
    Russia—the largest country in the world. Its easternmost point is, in fact, closer
    to Mexico than Moscow. Mexico once had three
    different presidents in one hour during a military coup, but also accustomed to short
    regimes is Alsace-Lorraine in France which was an fully-recognized
    independent country for 12 short days between being part of Germany and France at
    the end of World War One. France, of course, had
    an enormous empire including Algeria which is the largest country in Africa and unlike
    some of its neighboring countries, is quite nice to
    women. 70% of the countries lawyers are female. Right
    next door to Algeria is Morocco which has de facto control of some of Western Sahara,
    a place thats not really part of any country. That’s why its always blank on data maps. Morocco
    surrounds two Spanish exclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, which are politically part of mainland
    Spain, rather than overseas territories, despite
    being in Northern Africa. Spain once had an enormous
    empire, part of which was Micronesia which is now a US associated state, meaning they’re
    an independent nation but the US covers defense
    and funding. Micronesian citizens can join the US
    military without becoming a US resident—a right only given to citizens of freely associated
    states. Their currency is also the US dollar. Palau is also a nearby US associated state
    which is often compared to Fiji since they’re both
    idillic pacific island destinations even though they’re
    over 3,500 miles apart. Fiji was a British colony up until 1970 and
    you have no idea how hard it was to avoid using this transition up until
    now. I could’ve used it with Nauru, St Kitts
    and Nevis, Brunei, Australia, South Africa, Canada, the
    United States, and Afghanistan but I kept it for now. The UK is home to the shortest regularly scheduled
    commercial flight in the world between Westray and Papa Westray in the Scottish isles. It costs 17 pounds, takes 53 seconds, and
    traverses only 1.7 miles. The UK has two exclaves—both of which are
    overseas territories. One
    is Gibraltar, right across from Ceuta, and the the other is Akrotiri and Dhekelia on
    the island of Cyprus. There are border control agents from three
    countries on Cyprus, the UK, Cyprus, and Turkey. Northern Cyprus is a self-declared state only
    recognized by Turkey who helps them keep control of the territory with a heavy military
    presence and border control agents. Istanbul,
    Turkey, is the only city on the planet to span two continents—Europe and Asia—although
    there are plenty of countries on two continents. In Egypt, the Sinai peninsula sits in Asia
    while the rest is in Africa. Just past the southern border of Egypt is
    Bir Tawil, a piece of land claimed by no country since Egypt and Sudan disagree on
    where their borders are. Sudan recently split into two
    and created South Sudan—the world’s youngest UN recognized country. The second youngest
    country is Serbia which, up until 2006, was called Serbia and Montenegro but split after
    a referendum. Montenegro also happens to be a town in Costa
    Rica where about 100 people live. The capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, only
    allows car owners to drive 6 days a week to fight
    pollution and congestion, so the last digit of license plates correspond to their banned
    day. Costa
    Rica’s southern border is with Panama, home to the Panama Canal which, counterintuitively,
    has its Atlantic end, the ocean to the east, to
    the west, and its Pacific end, the ocean to the west, to the
    east. Panama’s southern border is with Colombia
    but there’s not one road crossing this 50 mile
    jungle which means its impossible to drive between North and South America. You probably
    know that Colombia was once part of Spain but so was the Netherlands. It was called the Spanish
    Netherlands. The Netherlands is also home to Baarle-Nassau,
    one of the most messed up borders in the world. Belgium is well known for having a UN headquarters,
    and so does Nairobi, Kenya —the suspected birthplace of the human race. Kenya’s northern neighbor is Somalia, which
    received its first ATM machine in 2014. Somalia has had three separate wars with Ethiopia
    in the last century, and Ethiopia national airline
    was the second in the world to receive the 787
    Dreamliner despite being the 13th poorest country. Ethiopia also has another one of those
    internationally divided islands, this one with Djibouti, which is home to the lowest
    point in Africa, Lake Assal, at 509 feet below sea
    level. Djibouti also hosts the only US military base
    in Africa, and Israel hosts one of the smallest
    ones, Dimona Radar Base. Despite being a middle eastern country, Israel
    competes in Eurovision and many European sports leagues since they’re
    culturally much closer to Europe than the middle-east. Israel has one of the weirder international
    borders with Palestine which is only a country depending on who you ask. The largest
    Palestinian community outside the Arab world is in Chile which is one of the only countries
    to have a government sponsored UFO research organization. Chile is the southernmost mainland
    country in the world but doesn’t have the southernmost commercial airport. That title goes to
    Argentina with their Ushuaia – Malvinas International Airport. This (Iguazu Falls) spectacular
    waterfall is the border between Argentina and Brazil which is home to the Amazon River,
    which doesn’t have a single bridge over it. Not one—its just in an area where practically
    nobody lives. Recife, Brazil is closer to Dakar, Senegal
    than to Porte Alegre in South-western Brazil. Just off
    the coast of Senegal is Cape Verde which is pretty much paradise. They have a high human
    development index score, high GDP, high literacy rate, and the lowest recorded temperature
    in history there was 50 degrees fahrenheit. As a former Portuguese colony, Cape Verde
    speaks Portuguese which is the 6th most spoken language
    in the world even though its origin country, Portugal, is smaller than Kentucky. They just had an enormous empire, which for
    a while included Indonesia, which has another one
    of those internationally divided islands with Papau
    New Guinea, similar to Hispaniola island which is divided between Haiti and the Dominican
    Republic. Hispaniola is the 22nd largest island in the
    world but Madagascar is number four. Its
    also the largest single-island-country. 85 million years ago Madagascar was connected
    to India before the continents shifted but Sri Lanka
    was connected to India as recently as 1480 via a land
    bridge that has since eroded. Sri Lanka is just north of the equator but
    right on the equator is Ecuador. Its capital, Quito, is only 20 miles from
    the equator so its day length varies by only 15
    minutes between winter and summer. Although, since the country is split by the
    equator, winter and summer happens at the same time in the
    same country. Ecuador is one of 30 countries to have an
    antarctic research base and right next door to
    Ecuador’s base is Peru’s. Copacabana, not that one, this one, in Bolivia,
    can only be reached by driving through Peru. Bolivia, despite being a landlocked country,
    maintains a 5,000 person Navy, although Mongolia, also a landlocked
    country, maintains a navy that has one ship—a tugboat—and seven total sailors. Mongolia is also the least dense country on
    the planet with only 5 people per square mile. While they may seem un-intimidating now, the
    Mongolian empire was once, the largest contiguous land empire in
    history. Part of that empire was Cambodia, which has
    changed its name six times in the last 65 years. 95% of Cambodia’s population is Theravada
    Buddhist. The other major branch of buddhism is Mahayana
    Buddhism which is practiced in Japan where, out of its total population of
    126 million, they had three gun murders in 2012. Iceland, however, can top that, because they
    had one murder total in 2012. Of course, Iceland
    doesn’t have a huge population which makes it less impressive until you consider that
    30% of Iceland’s residents own guns. 60% of that population, however, lives in
    this circle. Iceland was
    also the first country to recognize Armenia’s independence, and Armenia separates Azerbaijan
    from its Nakhchivan exclave and since the Armenia-Azerbaijan border is closed, residents
    of Nakhchivan have to go all the way around Armenia
    to get to to their own country. Azerbaijan’s
    national soccer team has played Andorra’s five times in the past few decades and four
    of those games have ended in a 0-0 tie. Andorra is the largest country in the world
    to not have an airport which is less impressive when you consider
    that they’re the 19th smallest in the world. The
    smallest country in the world to have a major international airport is the Maldives, the
    8th smallest country. This airport has dozens of destinations and
    is on a small island with no land connections to other islands which means once
    you land you have to either take a boat or seaplane to your destination. One of the airport’s destinations is Kuala
    Lumpur in Malaysia which is home to world’s largest roundabout
    in Putrajaya at 2 miles in diameter. Malaysia is the
    only country connected by road to Singapore, the largest surviving city-state in the world. Despite having hundreds of skyscrapers, Singapore
    is not the densest country in the world. That
    title goes to Monaco which is less than one square mile large. Monaco has no income tax, much
    like the Bahamas, which is one of two countries whose official name starts with the word
    “the”, the other one being the Gambia. The Gambia’s interesting shape comes from
    the flow of the river Gambia whose watershed reaches all
    the way to Guinea which is one of three countries to have the word Guinea in its name. The other two are Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial
    Guinea. Guinea was once the word for the entire west-african
    region so when these countries became independent from their colonizers many chose
    to include “guinea” in their names. Equatorial
    Guinea’s capital actually isn’t on the mainland—its on an offshore island—and,
    despite its name, the equator doesn’t intersect Equatorial
    Guinea but the country is on both sides of the equator
    since they have sovereignty over Annobón island to the south of the equator. This is similar to
    Kiribati—a nation comprising of a few dozen islands in the Pacific. Kiribati is the first place on
    earth to experience New Year’s since their time zone is UTC +14—a time zone exclusive
    to these islands. Kiribati is close friends with Cuba since
    Cuba sent doctors to the islands who reduced the child mortality rate by 80%. Cuba—the only Caribbean island to have a
    commercial railroad—is one of the few remaining communist
    states. One of the others is Laos—the only
    landlocked country in south-east Asia—which borders Vietnam—also communist and the 14th
    most populous country in the world despite having the size of about New Mexico. Vietnam is
    good political friends with Venezuela who is not great friends with bordering Guyana
    since Guyana thinks the border looks like this and
    Venezuela thinks the border looks like this. Guyana
    —the only English-speaking country in South America—borders Suriname—the smallest
    country in South America and the only country other than the Netherlands whose sole primary
    language is Dutch. Suriname was our 98th country so that means
    that we’re halfway through and that that’s the end of part one of Every Country in the
    World, however, part two will be out on Tuesday, December 13th so make sure you’re subscribed
    to catch that right when it comes out. If you enjoyed this and other Wendover Productions
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    every country in the world.