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Republic

Posted on Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Dave!I went to bed last night early at 10:00pm and, since I seem incapable of sleeping more than 4-5 hours each night, woke up at 2:30am this morning. The blogosphere was relatively quiet (with the sad exception of even more catastrophic death tolls from the tsunamis) and I didn't have a book to read, so I was left with nothing to do. I'd like to get some work done, but I'm useless for anything requiring much thought this early, so that's not going to happen. After surfing a list of new Mac software, I came across "World of Where" which is a program to help learn all the various countries of the world and their capitals (also available for you Window sufferers). It costs $10 to get an unlock key, but Europe is free, so I thought "time to prove how smart I am" and downloaded it.

Only to find out I am not quite so smart as I thought I was.

I started out doing well, zipping through countries with ease (though I always seem to mix up Estonia and Latvia, which is really stupid considering the Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania trio is in alphabetical order). Yes, everything was going swimmingly until...

San Marino?

What the heck is a San Marino? That's a country?!? I've never heard of it before. It sounds like an island, so I start clicking like mad off the coasts of Italy and Spain, all to no avail. WTF? How can there be a country I've never heard of before? Is this new? Did they make up a country while I wasn't looking? And that's when I notice a small area within Italy that, at first glance, I ridiculously assumed was Vatican City (only to realize it's completely in the wrong place, as it's nowhere even remotely near Rome). Could it be?? Sure enough. And once I had finished filling in the map, this small country stood out like a beacon of my ignorance, mocking me...

Dave San Marino

Obsessed with all things San Marino, I head over to Wikipedia and learn a few things:

  • San Marino is not new. In fact, it's the oldest republic still in existence, having been founded in A.D. 301.
  • San Marino's official title is "The Most Serene Republic of San Marino."
  • San Marino was in a state of war with Sweden for 348 years, that only just ended in 1996. Yes, you read that right, Sweden. Never mind that there are a half-dozen countries and thousands of miles between the two, they somehow found something to fight about (apparently having to do with San Marino not signing the Westfalian peace treaty).
  • San Marino is not officially a member state of the EU, but uses the Euro as its currency (including the minting of it's own design on the national-side of Euro coins!).
  • San Marino is the third-smallest country in Europe (after Vatican City and Monaco).
  • San Marino gets 50% of it's economic production from tourism.
  • San Marino issues postage stamps that are only valid within the country and, for this reason, they are mostly designed for and sold to stamp collectors (thus providing another source of income).
  • San Marino does have a military (voluntary) which is primarily ceremonial in nature (though I'd imagine protecting the country from Swedish invasion is part of the job).
  • San Marino is a full member of both the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
  • San Marino, much to my shock, has an Olympics committee and regularly enters into the Olympic Games (from what I can tell, they have not won a medal yet, however). They also take part in the "Games of the Small Countries of Europe" (which also includes Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, and Monaco), an event taking place every two years.
  • San Marino has its own top-level domain on the internet: .sm

I am still reeling from the fact that I was so blissfully unaware that an entire country existed. Certainly I must have heard of it before, but perhaps I just thought it was a city or something? How many other countries are out there that I am ignorant of? I guess I'm going to have to register "World of Where" so I can find out.

Bleh. Just when you think you know everything...

Categories: News - Politics 2004Click To It: Permalink  18 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Donate

Posted on Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Dave!For anybody wanting to do something to assist the recovery efforts in Asia just now, there are several charitable organizations who would be glad to take your money. If you were a reader of my old blog, you know that one of my favorites is "Doctors Without Borders" (or "Médecins Sans Frontières" as it is originally known). I had named them my "real-life" heroes in a Friday Five entry back in April...

Who is your favorite "real-life" hero? There are many amazing heroes throughout history, but if forced to pick just one, I'd have to say anybody who is a part of the Doctors Without Borders group. These amazing people boldly go where angels fear to tread to offer medical assistance to people who otherwise wouldn't get any. A quote from their site... "Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders or MSF) delivers emergency aid to victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters, and to others who lack health care due to social or geographical isolation." How amazing is that?

You can read more about the bravest people on earth and, if it's in your heart to do so, make a donation to their remarkable efforts in humanitarian aid. They are currently airlifting more than 60 tons of medical, surgical, and water-and-sanitation equipment to be sent to Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and MSF teams are on the ground in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Categories: News - Politics 2004Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

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