The Geographical Curiosities

(Odd geographical facts with a personal touch)

Odd Geographical Fact - 05/23/2016

Boundaries are often fickle man-made lines, but sometimes some boundaries just survive the test of time, even though the reasoning could be easily forgotten. The English King was creating colonies in the Americas and two of the earlier colonies were the Carolinas and Virginia. The original boundary of North Carolina and Virginia was 36o N latitude. Unfortunately, that latitude passes smack dab in the middle of the Albemarle Sound area. As Virginia was taxing trade from the Carolinas and the fact that Virginia already had its own trading route in Chesapeake Bay, the Carolinas asked for a boundary adjustment. King Charles II revised the border Northward to 36o30' N latitude in the middle of the two trading routes. Nobody realized it at the time, but the boundary became one of the longest lasting both spatially and chronologically. The boundary is almost 40 years old and the straight line currently is the origin of boundaries between Virginia-North Carolina, Virginia-Tennessee, Tennessee-Kentucky, Missouri-Arkansas and Oklahoma-Texas.

Odd Geographical Fact - 04/23/2016o

You would think that the world's borders are pretty set but there have been changes even in the last two years. One such case of such a territorial change is between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, though it is most likely a de facto transfer instead of de jure. Two islands, Tiran and Sanafir, were Egyptian territory since 1950. The islands were handed from Saudi Arabia to Egypt as Saudia Arabia did not have a viable navy. The worry was that Israel, with its powerful armed forces, would run roughshod over Saudi Arabia to bolster their travel through the Gulf of Aqaba. Both Israel and Jordan has tiny coastlines on Gulf of Aqaba with Jordan's coastline on the gulf being it's only coastline. The islands are being handed over to Saudi Arabia after a 5-day visit by King Salman of Saudi Arabia to Egypt from the 9th to 13th of April. Though Egyptians are protesting that no part of Egypt should be handed over, the two governments are suggesting that it is only a return that was always Saudi Arabian land that was only under the control of Egypt but never a sovereign land of the country. The treaties that Egypt has signed with various countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia previously have generally borne that scenario out.

Odd Geographical Fact - 03/23/2016

There have been a few rock formations in the world that are iconic to the place they are in like Uluru in Northern Territory, Australia or Old Man in the Mountain in New Hampshire, USA. One such rock was Elephant Rock in New Brunswick. It was in Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park. The rock was featured in Health Insurance cards for New Brunswick. However, on March 14, 2016, the rock collapsed in pieces and currently does not exist anymore. It is the second time the rock was befallen by erosion. In 1997, part of the rock formation resembling elephant trunk fell off. Falling rocks are part of nature as the 12 apostle rock formation has only 8 apostles now and Wall Arch is not an arch anymore. And the Old Man of the Mountain has no face since May 3, 2003.

Odd Geographical Fact - 02/23/2016

Nevada just had the Democratic caucus on February 20th and the Republican Caucus today, the 23rd. The politics in Nevada gets a bad rap for having a crazy Wild-West vibe to it. And the most interesting case of this crazy Nevada politics is the creation of Bullfrog County. The United States federal government was planning for a nuclear waste disposal site in the 1980s and one of the options they had was in Nye County, Nevada. When the federal government was dealing with Nye County for a deal to pay them equivalent to tax to the county, the state government decided on an ingenious way to keep the money for themselves. They created the County of Bullfrog at the site of the waste disposal facility on June 18, 1987 and included a high tax rate for the county. The county was in a very inhospitable area with no population or settlements so all the money from the federal government would go to the state. Not so oddly enough, the capital of the county was not in the county but in Carson City, which is actually part of no county but an independent city. Not surprisingly, Nye county complained. Among the valid complaint was the fact that having no courts nor population, there are neither police, judge or jury for any crimes committed in the county. Due to this and other reasons, there were special hearings heard on the subject and the county was declared unconstitutional. The county ceased to exist in 1989.

Odd Geographical Fact - 01/23/2016

We, in New York City, are going through a truly historic snowstorm. Over the last twenty-four hours, 27.5 inches of snow fell near where I live in Queens. If you think that is bad, you would not want to be in Capracotta, Italy on March 5 of last year. Supposedly , 100.8 inches of snow fell on one day. However, measuring snowfalls are notoriously finicky. Because of wind and snow drifts, snow can move around and pile up causing a difference in measurement. Snow density can also make a difference according to temperature and that also makes a difference in measurement. Due to this reason, World Meteorological Organization does not keep official records for snow. The “official” United States record for snowfall in a 24-hour day is 75.8 inches in Silver Lake, Colorado.

Odd Geographical Fact - 12/23/2015

You may be wondering why I have not been on the website for some time. The reason is a profound sadness over the disappearance of the India-Bangladesh enclaves. The enclaves, counter-enclave and the world's only counter-counter-enclave ceased to exist on July 31st when the enclaves were exchanged and the India-Bangladesh boundary become one border. Since looking at the atlas of Bangladesh and realizing the complexity of the situation got me interested in geography at the tender age of ten, the news of the exchange hit me really hard and I almost considered never to be interested in geographical curiosities again. However, my wife convinced me that I should not stop liking geographical curiosities because of this one event and there are many others in the world for me to share, I am back and will continue to share from now on.

Odd Geographical Fact - 06/23/2015

Just over two weeks ago I saw the horse American Pharoah win the Triple Crown of horse racing. As you can tell by the name of the horse, the owner of the horse is Egyptian-American. Somehow thinking of Egypt reminds me of the Sudan-Egypt border zone and the oddities of it. In 1899, the border was defined to be the 22nd degree North Latitude. In 1902, the treaty was amended so the border deviated in three areas from the latitude. At the current time, Egypt claims the border from the original treaty as it is favorable to them while Sudan claims the amended border as it is favorable to them. Because of this, Bir Tawil is unclaimed by both countries while the Halaib Triangle, a much larger area is disputed. There is also Wadi Halfa Salient, a small area which is also disputed between the two countries. This area was right on the Nile and was deemed to be easier to administer from Sudan. Currently Wadi Halfa is not much talked about as most of the area is submerged due to Aswan High dam with only around 25 square miles of land area remaining with most of it being uninhabitable.

Odd Geographical Fact - 05/23/2015

The apartheid era was a shameful time for South Africa. To excuse the racism of it all, the South Africa government at the time had a separate but equal plan where many of the Black people were asked to leave separately from the White people in different homelands. The homelands were not recognized by any other governments except their own. There were ten homelands in South Africa with four of them granted independence, namely Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei and Venda. In Namibia, which was governed by South Africa, there were also ten homelands. Four were granted self-determination, namely Ovamboland, Hereroland, Kavangoland and East Caprivi. In both countries, the homelands have been abolished. In South West Africa or Namibia, it was abolished in May 1989 when the transition to independence started. In South Africa, they were abolished in 1994 when apartheid was ended.

Odd Geographical Fact - 04/23/2015

My parents just left for Bangladesh on Turkish Airlines and my wife will do the same thing in less than a month. One one-time Turkish place you cannot fly to is the island of Ada Kaleh for the simple reason it does not exist anymore. The Ottoman Empire kept on losing territory in the 19th and 20th centuries. When the Russo-Turkish War was ended by the Congress of Berlin, the territory on one side of the Island became Romania and the other side was Serb. However, the island of Ada Kaleh was not mentioned in the talks and remained De Jure a Turkish territory. Like a few other far-flung territories in history, the island was exempt from taxes and the citizens were also not conscripted. But the Turkish government kept on sending administrative officials and judges. Though Austro-Hungarian Empire took over the island on 1913, de jure it was still Turkish territory until the Treaty of Lausanne when it was handed to Romania. The citizens still identified with Turkey so much so that when in 1970 caused the island to be submerged, most chose to resettle in Turkey.

Odd Geographical Fact - 03/23/2015

The World Cup of cricket is still going on in the countries of New Zealand and Australia. You would think the country of Australia, which is about the size of the contiguous United States, will have three times observed. However, currently they have six, though there is officially only three time zones. Western Australia has a time offset from GMT of +8hr. The middle of Northern Territory and South Australia has an offset of +9½hr and all the eastern states has an offset of +10hr. However, Western Australia and the Northern part of the country in Northern Territory and Queensland do not observe Daylight Savings while the rest of the country do. Currently, it is summer in Australia. Because of that, there are five official times now with South Australia having an offset of +10½hr and New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and ACT having an offset of +11hr. There is oddly also an unofficial time zone in Eucla and other nearby towns in Western Australia and South Australia that follows +8¾hr offset. This list does not take into account external territories that has even more time zones.

Odd Geographical Fact - 02/23/2015

The first-level divisions of many countries are generally very straightforward. Most countries have divisions that are in one piece without any enclaves or exclaves. There are some countries that have many enclaves and exclaves like Switzerland and India. Probably the most extreme example is United Arab Emirates. Only two of the Emirate is in one piece. They are the biggest Emirate, Abu Dhabi and Umm al Qawain. All of the others have at least one exclave if not more. Generally, all of the exclaves are smaller than the parent body but for Ras al Khaimah, the exclave is nearly the same size as the main area. Even Abu Dhabi has the oddity of sharing a neutral zone with Dubai.

Odd Geographical Fact - 01/23/2015

Switzerland has a lot of cantonal enclaves. There is a list on my website. However, if not for a correction asked by the federal government of Switzerland to the canton of Appenzell, there would have been many more. Appenzell is one of three cantons divided into two half-cantons that are considered first-level divisions. During the sixteenth century, the canton of Appenzell started to divide among the Catholics and Protestants occasionally leading to violence. In 1597, the canton decided to divide into the half-cantons of Appenzell Ausserrhoden which was Protestant and Appenzell Innerrhoden which was Catholic. All Catholic monasteries were in Innerrhoden even if they were surrounded by Ausserrhoden and thus there are two such enclaves, Kloster Grimmenstein and Kloster Wonnenstein, to this day. Moat communities decided to join one half-canton or other by majority of the religious population. However, In Trogen, the boundaries were determined by individual property ownership and thus there were many enclaves between the two half-cantons in the community as a Catholic or Protestant resident could be surrounded by neighbors of the other religion. Even weirder was the case of Hirschberg. The boundaries not only followed property ownership but the sale of the property from owner of one religion to other would change the cantonal affiliation. In 1870, Switzerland asked for clarification of the boundaries and the communities chose to be complete with majority population determining affiliation.

Odd Geographical Fact - 12/23/2014

During the winter holidays, lots of mail is written to Santa Claus or to his supposed home, the North Pole. The letters do find a destination. Letters to Santa Claus go to the town of Santa Claus in Indiana and the letters to North Pole goes to the town of North Pole in Alaska. Though there are other localities with those names, those are the biggest with those names and contains the only post offices that has that name. Both of the towns has many tourist spots or streets with Christmas themes like Santa's house or Santa Claus Lane. Each town also has volunteers that respond to letters written from little children that end up in the post offices there.

Odd Geographical Fact - 11/23/2014

England has had a lot of dominions through its existence. They are territories that are often self-governing with the British Royal as a leader of the country but having their own government with own leader. Many such countries become totally independent. There has been only one case where a dominion went the other way by becoming a British colony after being a self-governing British Dominion. In 1907, Newfoundland became a self-governing British dominion separate from the rest of Canada. The government of the dominion was highly corrupt and the start of the Great Depression hit the Newfoundland economy really hard. In 1932, the corrupt government of Sir Richard Squires lost the election and the new government chose to take itself out of existence in favor of direct British involvement. It still remained a separate territory until it chose to join the rest of Canada in 1949.

Odd Geographical Fact - 10/23/2014

Scotland just held an independence referendum on 18th September. The independence movement failed. There have been many referendums for independence in the history of the world. One of the earliest independence referendums was in Africa. It was in the colony of Liberia. The American Colonization Society was a private organization that settled freed British and American slaves and other free blacks in Western Africa. Slowly, their society became bigger and in 1847, there was a referendum where they declared independence and became one of the earlier African independent country as Liberia. One of the other early independence referendums also happened in what is now Liberia. Maryland State Colonization Society settled freed slaves from the US state of Maryland in what was known as Republic of Maryland in Africa. In 1854, they had their own referendums and declared independence. However, they soon realized they were not strong enough militarily or economically to survive as an independent country and merged with Liberia in 1857.

Odd Geographical Fact - 09/23/2014

The political and military situation has gotten worse in Syria in the last few months. One nation that is probably worried is Turkey and not only because the war may spill over to Turkey but also because it has already affected a tiny part of Turkey itself. Suleyman Shah was the grandfather of Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. He is suspected to have drowned in the Euphrates river and there is a tomb for him near the town of Aleppo, which is 25 miles within Syria from the Turkish border. When the Ottoman Empire was broken apart after World War I, a treaty was signed to keep the tomb a Turkish territory within a french colony and later the sovereign nation of Syria. There is a Turkish garrison of 15 to 30 soldiers permanently guarding the tomb. Turkey has been specially worried by the group Islamic State as in their misguided attempt to promote Islam, they are against the idea of tombs especially of well-known people and if they capture the tomb, a tiny piece of Turkey will be permanently destroyed.

Odd Geographical Fact - 08/23/2014

There have been many referendums in the world for independence. Quite a few countries in the world got their independence from referendums. But there have been a case which produced an independent country and a territory. In the mid 1970s, there were public support for independence on the four islands of the french island territory of Comoros. The three islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli was almost all pro-independence, but Mayotte was actually more anti-independence than pro-independence. The activists in Mayotte convinced the French that they needed to have regional autonomy if Comoros does become independent. When the referendum happened on December 22, 1974, the votes were overwhelmingly pro-independence on the other islands but on Mayotte, the votes were for continuing French occupation. When the Comoros leadership rejected the idea for regional autonomy for Mayotte, the French and the people of Mayotte did not choose to join Comoros and thus the country of Comoros and the French territory of Mayotte remains separated.

Odd Geographical Fact - 07/23/2014

Being a New Yorker, I have a few friends from the Bronx. Bronx happens to be the newest county in New York State. Bronx became a county 100 years ago in 1914 when it separated from New York County. However, it was not in New York County for that long. Three towns in Westchester County formed West Bronx which joined New York County in 1873. The boundary between West Bronx and East Bronx was not surprisingly the Bronx River. Oddly enough, East Bronx was made up mostly of the town of Westchester and this part joined New York County in 1895. In 1898 all the outer boroughs joined New York to become the City of New York and most county functions were eliminated but some like the court systems remained. In 1914, when Bronx residents decided the distance from the governmental system in New York County was too distant, Bronx decided to become an independent borough and county.

Odd Geographical Fact - 06/23/2014

I follow World Cup of soccer religiously. One of the most exciting games of the tournament was the Germany-Ghana game which ended in a tie. One of the most interesting aspect of the game was two half-brothers competing against each other. The Boatengs were both born in Berlin whose father was Ghanaian. However, when the time came for them to join the national teams, Jerome joined the squad from Germany and Kevin-Prince joined the squad from Ghana. Before Ghana citizens would come to Germany and other countries as emigrants, some part of Ghana was actually German. Most people rightly assume Ghana was a British colony. Next to Ghana is the country of Togo which was a French Colony. However, Togo was French only after the first World War. Togo became a German colony in 1884. It remained so until the start of the World War when the Germans were quickly overran with allied forces. After the war, Togo was divided into French and British parts. After World Ward II, both parts became United Nations Trust territories administered by the same nations. In 1954, United Nations decided to dissolve the trust territory and asked the British to hold a plebiscite for its future. In 9 May, 1956, British Togoland decided to join Ghana at the latter's independence. On 6 March 1957, British Togoland ceased to exist and joined Ghana.

Odd Geographical Fact - 05/23/2014

France, like many other colonial powers, still has vestiges of the colonial empire left. Except for French Guyana, all of the territories are islands or part of islands. Most of the territories of France are not disputed by other countries even when they are very far from France. The exceptions are the islands of France which are not surprisingly called Separated Islands or Iles Eparses. The islands are five different island or atolls in Atlantic Ocean around Madagascar. However, the dispute are not always with the same countries. Like the Spratly Islands in the Pacific Ocean, the disputes are with various countries for different islands. Mauritius and Seychelles claim Tromelin Island, Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles claim Glorioso Islands and Madagascar claims Europa, Bassas de India and Juan de Nova Islands. There is also Banc de Geyser reef, which is currently occupied by Madagascar but disputed by France and Comoros. Though most of the islands are not too far from either the French territories of Reunion or Mayotte, they are oddly not part of either and part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands since 2007. They used to be part of Reunion until that time.

Odd Geographical Fact - 04/23/2014

Argentina and Uruguay are two countries next to each other in South America. Looking at a map, it would seem like they share a long land boundary. But the funny thing is that the drawn line is completely in water. The boundary river of Rio Uruguay completely separates the two countries. However, there is a small place where you could walk from Argentina to Brazil and vice versa. Oddly enough it is not on the continent but on an island. Argentina is one of the rare countries in the world which has an island whose territorial waters are completely surrounded by the territorial waters of another. The island of Martin Garcia is an island which is Argentine, but completely surrounded by the territorial waters of Uruguay. This situation was finalized in an agreement between the two countries in 1973. But the situation is not even that simple anymore. The Island of Timoteo Dominguez is a small island right next to Martin Garcia. However, like many deltaic islands, the two islands change shapes all the time. At the current time, the two islands are actually connected to each other. However it is basically very swampy land between nature reserves in countries, it is still unlikely that there is still much border crossing on land between the two countries.

Odd Geographical Fact - 03/23/2014

The NCAA basketball tournament or March Madness just started this weekend. One big upset today was the University of Kentucky over Wichita State. Next Friday, University of Kentucky will be playing Louisville University, also in the state of Kentucky. If somebody thinks the state of Kentucky is one big piece of land and water like most the rest of the states, he or she will be wrong as a 17 square-mile area of Kentucky is separated from the rest of state and is a small sliver between Missouri and Tennessee. The border between Tennessee and Kentucky was agreed to be 36o30' N latitude. The border between Missouri and Kentucky was the Mississippi River. Unfortunately the Mississippi River does not always flow straight and the river, in its march down to the delta, crosses the 36o30' latitude twice. This creates a small area where the Missouri-Kentucky border interrupts the Tennessee-Kentucky border and thus a small area of Kentucky gets separated. The area is often informally known as Kentucky or New Madrid Bend. There were quite a few other areas in the history of early United States that were similar, but most of them got eliminated when disputes arose and were solved. However, most such areas were haven for smugglers, but Kentucky Bend was a marshy area and was not such a haven. Kentucky and Tennessee were wary about starting a border war and thus the small notch still remains.

Odd Geographical Fact - 02/23/2014

Czech Republic is one of many countries in Europe that are landlocked. However, Czech Republic does end up with a free port but not in their territory but in Germany. Moldauhafen is a lot in the port of Hamburg that is basically a free port of the Czech Republic. Goods over the Vltava followed by Elbe from the Czech Republic would travel without duty to Moldauhafen and thus the lot can have been considered a port of the Czech Republic. As the lot is leased and not owned by the Czech Government, it is not considered to be sovereign Czech territory. The 3-hectare property has been leased from Germany from 1929 on for a duration of 99 years. The lease terms were actually dictated in the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 but formalized in a treaty between Czechoslovakia and Germany on February 16, 1929. When Czechoslovakia dissolved in 1993, the Czech Republic gained the rights to the free port. There was also a lot in Stettin which was a free port of Czechoslovakia until the town of Stettin was transferred to Poland after World War II.

Odd Geographical Fact - 01/23/2014

When a country and colony is very small but densely populated, they often like to grow. Monaco has grown by filling their territorial water with land. Macau and Hong Kong, two former colonies and currently special administrative areas of China, also grew the same way especially when they needed to make an airport next to one of their islands. Macau grew even more just a few months ago, but this was actually a land grab from China. The only public university in Macau is the University of Macau and it is a prestigious university. However, it was a tiny campus on the island of Taipa. On June 27th of 2009, it was decided that the campus was going to be relocated. However, the relocation was to happen to Hengkin Island in mainland China. The campus formally opened on July of 2013 and the inauguration ceremony was held on November 5, 2013 at which time Macau officially grew by approximately 70 acres.

Odd Geographical Fact - 12/23/2013

The European colonial era produced some geographic oddities in that there were some European colonies that were divided into many tiny parts found in vastly distant places. French and Portuguese India are two colonies that come to mind. Another is the Straits settlements consisting of many pieces that have been divided into three different countries since the colonial era ended. Most of the Straits settlements became part of Malaysia. Two parts became separate small states of Malaysia. Penang was an island territory with a larger but less important mainland portion of Prince Wellesley. It continues as the state of Penang. Malacca was another settlement with a tiny exclave of Cape Rachado. This continues as the province of Melaka. However, the Dindings did not survive separately, but became part of Perak. For a while, another island, Labuan, did not survive separately, but as part of Sabah. In 1984, it however became s separate federal territory. Another part, Singapore, became its own separate country. The other settlements are sometimes forgotten and are currently part of Australia. Two island groups of Cocos Islands and Christmas Island are currently external territories of Australia.

Odd Geographical Fact - 11/23/2013

My friend is right now in Malaysia. One stop there was the city of Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur is interesting in a way that it is a first order division of a country totally surrounded by another. Kuala Lumpur is a federal territory which is a first order division just like a state. Not only that, Kuala Lumpur is totally surrounded by Selangor along with Putrajaya, another federal territory also totally surrounded by the same state. It is one of the few instances where two unattached first order division of a country is surrounded by the same first-order division. Another interesting case happens in Virginia. Independent cities are similar to counties in Virginia. There are two counties next to each other, Rockbridge and Augusta, that both surround two different independent cities. Buena Vista and Lexington are totally surrounded by Rockbridge county and Staunton and Waynesboro are totally surrounded by Augusta County.

Odd Geographical Fact - 10/23/2013

Earthquakes do many things to the world. Earthquakes in Japan and Chile has slowed the earth's rotation, for example. And interestingly a new island formed less than a month ago in Pakistan due to an earthquake. On September 24, there was an earthquake in a sparsely populated section of Pakistan. The magnitude of 7.7 suggests a major earthquake. Another thing that point to how big the earthquake is the fact that an island formed off the coast at Gwadar, Pakistan, around 200 miles away. Most likely, the island is formed from a mud volcano. Mud volcanoes are a release of mud from sediments underground or water that comes up when an impermeable layer between the mud and the surface fractures and allows the mud to bubble out. Japan and Indonesia are two other countries where mud volcanoes has formed after earthquakes.

Odd Geographical Fact - 09/23/2013

There are many very crowded places in the world. However, the Walled City, while it existed in Hong Kong, probably takes the cake for being the most crowded place in the world. A small fort was established near Kowloon in 1810. When Hong Kong Island was ceded to the British in 1842, the fort became important and was expanded by the Chinese a stone's throw away from the island. In 1898, when British started leasing the New Territories from Chinese, the Walled City was not handed to the British and China was allowed to keep soldiers there. However, next year the British attacked the Walled City and took it over. As China claimed it still, the British did little with it and only in 1959, after a murder there, Hong Kong gained jurisdiction over it. By this time, Walled City became known for its lawlessness. There was no construction laws and the area was a maze of connected highrises. In the 6.5 acres of the area, it was estimated 33,000 people lived there, which would come out to be 3,250,000 people per square mile. When the British and the Chinese signed the treaty to return Hong Kong to China, there however was a mutual decision to tear down the area. During 1993 and 1994, the whole area was torn down and now it is a park.

Odd Geographical Fact - 08/23/2013

The Labor Day weekend is a long weekend.  Many Americans take vacation days before or after the weekend to take a long trip somewhere.  I will be taking a vacation to Canada.  While I considered going to Newfoundland, it is just too far to drive.  Though Newfoundland has been a British territory forever, it has an interesting French history.  In 1713, under the Treaty of Utrecht, French recognized Newfoundland was British though they did leave a claim open for Cape Breton, a peninsula of the colony.  The treaty gave the French fishing rights however.  So, even though the French did not own Newfoundland, they were allowed to fish off the coast, land in Newfoundland and erect temporary structures for drying or landing purposes.  In 1763, France gave up all its claims in North America, including Quebec and Cape Breton, but kept the fishing rights along with the tiny territory of St Pierre and Miquelon.  In 1783, the coastal area of Newfoundland over which the French have rights changed but the policy remained the same.  Only at 1904 did the French lose its rights to land and erect temporary structures in Newfoundland though even at that time they were allowed to fish off the coast.

Odd Geographical Fact - 07/23/2013

Australia has land boundaries long and short.  But the shortest land boundary of all is one that not many people know of.  Tasmania is an island but the province of Tasmania has a small land border with Victoria.  The border between Tasmania and Victoria is in the water at latitude 39˚12ˊSouth.  When the islands between the provinces were first surveyed, North East Islet was erroneously measured.  When more accurate surveys were done, the latitude was found to pass through the islet.  There is currently a 85 meter boundary currently in place between the two states for that reason.  Not very surprisingly, the islet is currently called Boundary Islet.

Odd Geographical Fact - 06/23/2013

Most people know about most of the countries that colonized Africa.  There are the obvious ones like Spain, France and England.  Belgium, Germany, Portugal also got into the colonization phase.  There are some less obvious ones though.  One of such countries was Courland.  Courland was a fief of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th and 17th century.  At that time, many countries were slowly acquiring colonial outposts in Africa.  Courland decided to do the same.  They had three outposts in Africa, Fort Jakob, Fort Jillifree and Fort Bayona.  They all later came in British hands as parts of Gambia.  Fort Bayona was important as it became the site of Banjul, the capital of Gambia.  In 1661, all the Courish territories became British territories.  Courland also ended up with an outpost in Toco in Tobago in the Caribbean.

Odd Geographical Fact - 05/23/2013

In border terminology, protrusion of one place into another is called a panhandle.  There are a few state panhandles in the USA.  One of them is the Oklahoma panhandle.  An oddity about the panhandle is that the western border of the Oklahoma panhandle is significantly to the east of the Texas panhandle even though for all intents and purposes it should follow one line.  However, it is an oddity that caused the panhandle to be created.  Texas was a large territory when it broke away from Mexico.  However, it was a slave territory and wanted to become a slave state when it was joining in 1846.  The problem for Texas was that a big part of its territory was north of 36 degrees 30 minutes N latitude which was set as the boundary between slave and free states in 1920 by the Missouri Compromise.  Texas was forced to divest of all its territory north of the line.  The Missouri Compromise was later replaced by the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854.  Along with changing the rule of the latitude as the boundary between free states and slave states in favor of a vote in each state, the line was changed to 37 degrees latitude.  This caused a small area between the two latitudes north of which was Kansas and south of which was Texas.  The long, thin strip was attached to the Indian Territory as not being a part of any state.  When the state of Oklahoma was created, this thin territory became the panhandle.

Odd Geographical Fact - 04/23/2013

There are only a few exclaves of counties in the USA.  Oddly enough, two of them are parts of the same county in Massachusetts but divided by separate counties.  Both of the exclaves are of Norfolk County.  In 1793, the county of Suffolk was divided into two parts, Suffolk and Norfolk.  Two of the towns in Norfolk, Hull and Hingham, decided not to be part of Norfolk County and separated to join Plymouth County.  This left the town of Cohasset, east of the two, separated from the rest of Norfolk.  The other town that became an exclave of Norfolk is the town of Brookline.  This exclave was created because of another town that decided to join a different county.  The town of West Roxbury in 1873 decided to join Boston, the city, and consequently Suffolk County.  Brookline was asked to join Boston, but felt it in its best interest to remain a separate town and thus stayed an exclave of Norfolk.

Odd Geographical Fact - 03/23/2013

It is time for March Madness.  There are 68 teams in the NCAA basketball tournament and not a single one is from Texas.  That is very rare as the last time it happened was in 1977.  What is even more unlikely to happen is that Texas divides into five states even though it is allowed.  The act of admission for Texas to come into the country in 1845 allowed Texas to be divided into five states.  As Texas is the biggest of the contiguous 48 states, parts of Texas have always wanted to secede but the movement has never gained enough traction.  The reason is that not only the parts of Texas have to agree, but the federal government and if the secession involves any other states, those states will also have to agree on the division.  It is also allowed only once to be divided and if it divided into less state at that time, there are no second chances to create the other states to make it five. 

Odd Geographical Fact - 02/23/2013

There are two different countries totally surrounded by Italy, San Marino and Vatican City.  The latter one is the smallest country in the world at 109 acres and completely surrounded by Rome.  However, it is suggested that there is even a smaller country, which is also surrounded by Rome.  The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, generally nicknamed SMOM, is an order of knights that had sovereignty at various times over Rhodes and Malta.  In the year 1798, they were kicked out of Malta and forced to retreat to their two headquarters at Rome.  As the order has extraterritorial power over the two headquarters at Rome, it is suggested by many that those 3 acres are makes the smallest country in the world.  The order has its own stamps, currency, license plates and passports along with diplomatic relations with 104 countries.  They may have also regained part of Malta as they have extraterritorial rights over Fort St Angelo. 

Odd Geographical Fact - 01/23/2013

Barack Obama has just been inaugurated as the president of the USA for the second time.  He is the first president who was born in Hawaii.  Hawaii has two of the oddest counties in the USA.  It has the smallest county in the USA in terms of land area.  Kalawao County on the island of Molokai has only 13 square miles of land.  The other interesting county is the county of Honolulu.  The county, which is also a city administratively, takes the whole island of Oahu within it.  The odd thing is that it also includes all the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, even though the county of Kauai lies between Oahu and the other islands.  Even odder is the fact is that Kure island, which is the farthest part of Honolulu lies beyond Midway Atoll which is not part, but a separate territory.  Even though the county is only 600 square miles in terms of land area, from the Northwesternmost point to the Southeasternmost point of the county is approximately 1000 miles apart.

Odd Geographical Fact - 12/23/2012

On this day which is two days before Christmas, I am reminded of the island in the Pacific which almost was an American territory named after this holiday.  There is the island country of Kiribati, which derives from the name Gilberts as “s” sound is spelled “ti” in the country, in the Pacific.  And in the country there is the island of Kiritimati, which comes from the name Christmas.  The island is the biggest coral atoll in the world at the land area of 150 square miles.  The 150 square mile is 70% of the nation of Kiribati.  Kiritimati was one of many islands in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that were claimed by the United States as their territory based on the Guano Act.  If a source of Guano, bird droppings, was thought to be discovered by Americans, it was claimed as American territory.  Kiritimati was claimed by the United States from 1856, but formally ceded to Kiribati by the Treaty of Tarawa, which was signed on 1979 and ratified on 1983.

Odd Geographical Fact - 11/23/2012

This month the world lost an island from its maps.  Not because it joined up with a land mass nor was it because it sank in the water.  The simple reason is that it never existed.  Sable Island or Sandy Island has shown up in nautical charts, world maps and even in internet maps halfway between Australia and New Caledonia for the last 116 years.  The Times atlas stopped showing the island in its maps in 1999 and France stopped showing it in 2000, but most other maps still showed it.  An Australian boat conducting geological research on plate tectonics wanted to check the island they found on its maps though they did not find it in satellite photos.  However when they went there, the island did not exist and the boat sailed over the supposed island.  Not only doesn’t the island exist, but the water is 4620 feet deep there.

Odd Geographical Fact - 10/23/2012

The runway of Princess Juliana Airport in St Martin is very close to the tourist area and the beaches and only a few feet from the street.  However, the runway that has it beat is of the Gibraltar Airport which actually goes through a road.  Not only any road, it is the main road connecting Gibraltar with Spain and the rest of Europe, Winston Churchill Avenue.  As much of Gibraltar is dominated by the rock where making a runway is impossible, the runway was made near the border and perpendicular to the main road. For this reason the runway had to cross the avenue.  It necessitates one of the strangest reasons for closing a road.  I have had closures on the road in New York area for accidents, suicide attempts and drawbridges being up but never had to face a closure for planes landing.

Odd Geographical Fact - 09/23/2012

On my trip to St Martin, our resort was on Maho Beach.  The beach is nice for sand and surf and airplanes.  The beach is a few feet from the airport’s runway, so one can be a few feet under the plane.  What I wanted to do and what could normally be done is to lounge on the beach under the plane.  However, we were ONLY able to go walk on the rocks and water a few feet under the plane as all the sand got blown away due to Tropical Storm Isaac which later brushed by Key West and walloped Louisiana as a hurricane.  Once it went past St Martin, I was sure it was going to hit the USA as St Martin is in the Hebert box.  Paul Hebert, a National Hurricane Center forecaster, discovered in the 1970s, that most hurricanes that hit the USA and especially South Florida, tends to go through one of two 335-mile by 335-mile squares.  One of them is in the Caribbean in the northern Lesser Antilles area where St Martin is.  This is where early-season hurricanes from Cape Verde travels through if it is likely to hit the USA.  The other box is east of the Yucatan peninsula where late season hurricanes makes a right turn to hit the USA like the most powerful hurricane of all time, Wilma.

Odd Geographical Fact - 08/23/2012

In just about a week, my wife and I will be visiting the island of Saint Martin for a weekend of sun and surf.  But Saint Martin is also interesting for us because of the border.  It is an island divided by two countries of France and Netherlands and there are not too many of those.  It has often been mistakenly thought as the smallest island divided by countries.  There are many smaller islands that are divided by two countries than Saint Martin’s 34 square miles.  However, all those islands are divided when a land border between two countries go through the water, be it sea, lake or river, and then continue on two the islands.  The smallest island that has a border of its own is Saint Martin and thus it is quite interesting to us geography folks and our spouses.  The opposite scenario is Sebatik Island which is the biggest island at 175 miles that is divided between two countries as a continuation of their border in another, bigger land mass.  The island is divided between Indonesia and Malaysia as a continuation of the border in Borneo.

Odd Geographical Fact - 07/23/2012

Metric system is pretty universal in the world.  Most of the countries in the world uses metric system for distances and weights, though some commonwealth countries do use the English system of miles and feet for distances and speeds on the road.  There are only three countries that do not use the metric system right now.  Oddly enough, one of them is United States, one of the biggest and most industrialized countries.  The other two countries are both commonwealth countries.  One of them is Sierra Leone in Africa.  However, due to its union with Liberia and Guinea, it is in the process of changing to Metric system.  The other country is Burma which was isolated for a long time and the military junta did not want to change to the metric system.  However, they are also in the process of changing from the imperial system to the metric system.

Odd Geographical Fact - 06/23/2012

I am driving towards DC with my family to take in the sights today and we plan to have dinner at Arlington.  Though Arlington is the third smallest county by land area of 26 square miles as mentioned in my website, by total area Arlington happens to be the smallest county in the nation.  Both New York county and Kalawao county are on the water and has a lot of water area that makes them bigger than Arlington which has almost no water area.  Part of the reason for it adding only a negligible water area is that even though the county is on the Potomac, the border with DC is on the bank of the river on the Arlington side.  Another odd thing about Arlington is that it borders Falls Church, an independent city in Virginia.  All independent cities are separate from the counties they are in or next to, so they are actually county-level second-order areas.  Falls church happens to be the smallest independent city in the nation and thus the smallest county by overall area shares two tripoints with the smallest independent city in total area.   

Odd Geographical Fact - 05/23/2012

In general, water covers most of the world that is sea level.  In some cases in Antarctica and Greenland, it is not water but ice.  But there are a few places in the world that is below sea level but on land and exposed to the earth’s atmosphere.  Most such places are in the Eastern Hemisphere, but there are exceptions.  Oddly enough, almost all of the land that is below level in the Western Hemisphere is in two countries.  United States has four places.  Some of New Orleans is and some parts of Vallejo valley in California are below sea level.  These are due to recovery of land from the sea.  But Death Valley and Imperial Valley, the latter of which is now partially covered by Salton Sea are naturally below sea level.  The other country is Argentina which also has four places below sea level.  There are two places in Peninsula Valdes, Salino Chica and Salino Grande, which are below sea level.  Salina Del Gualicho is also below sea level.  And then there is the lowest point in land in the Western Hemisphere, Laguna Del Carbon, which can go anywhere from 400 to 440 feet below sea level depending on the water levels of the lake.

Odd Geographical Fact - 04/23/2012

After the two weddings last month, I needed to take a break which I took by driving to Cape May with my wife and spending some time at a bed and breakfast and just driving around the area.  Cape May is at the end of the Delaware-New Jersey border on the Delaware River right before the river enters Atlantic Ocean.  However, where the river border starts between the two states, there are two interesting areas.  The boundary between the two states is always on the Delaware River, mostly on the middle of the river.  However, because of the Twelve-mile Circle, there are the two areas where that does not hold true.  The 12-mile circle is a circle centering on New Castle courthouse and anywhere the Delaware River is within that circle, it is totally part of Delaware though the land will be in New Jersey.  For that reason, the border on the northern part of the Delaware-New Jersey border is on the low-tide line of the New Jersey side.  However, due to the fact that it was a dumping ground, an area next to Fort Mott and part of Kilcohook Wildlife Management Area grew in the Delaware side of the border between 1900 and 1935 when it was found to be in the Delaware area and it remains a point where you can walk from New Jersey to Delaware.  The other area is in the arc at the Southern area of the circle where it crosses the Delaware River from New Jersey to Delaware.  In the middle of the this arc, a part of Artificial Island crosses the boundary from New Jersey into Delaware and a land boundary exists between the two states there too.  There are also some piers and lighthouses that cross into Delaware from New Jersey including the pier at Fort Mott.

Odd Geographical Fact - 03/23/2012

My siblings both got married this month.  My sister got married in a hotel in New Jersey and a week later my brother got married in a country club in Long Island east of New York City.  We did hold a reception for my brother also in Long Island at a venue called Sterling.  The venue reminded me of some of the notes in United Kingdom that is rare because some of the notes are issued by private banks.  The pound sterling is the currency of United Kingdom.  In Northern Ireland and Scotland, it is common practice to call the notes pound if it is issued by the Bank of England.  However, if it is published by two banks in Scotland and five banks in Northern Ireland, the common practice is to call them sterling.  Most of the banks are private.  The sterlings are always pegged to the rest of the pound sterling notes.  There are also pound sterlings in many of the British possessions including Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man.

Odd Geographical Fact - 02/23/2012

A day that comes every four days, February 29th, will be here in six days.  Leap year is always interesting; so much so, there was a movie made with the title whose setting is Ireland.  It concerns the myths and legends of old-time Ireland, some true and some made up.  In old Ireland, there were four important provinces.  They were Ulster in the north, Leinster in the east, Munster in the south and Connaught in the west.  Each province was ruled by a king.  In modern times, they were divided into counties, with all the borders between the provinces still remaining as county boundaries.  All of the counties in Ireland and Northern Ireland are still there in some capacity.  Oddly enough, when Northern Ireland was in the process of separating from the rest of Ireland, they did not choose all of Ulster to become part of Northern Ireland.  Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan stayed in the Republic of Ireland.  Still odder is the fact that the northernmost point of the island of Ireland is in Donegal which is not in Northern Ireland, but the easternmost point of the island is in Down, which is in Northern Ireland.

Odd Geographical Fact - 01/23/2012

My beloved football team, the NY Giants, is going back to the Super Bowl, which will be played in Indianapolis.  Indianapolis is one of the few cities in the USA that is in a consolidated city-county government.  Most cities in United States occupy a small part of the county they are in and there is both a county and a city government.  However, there are 26 cities or towns that are consolidated as both a county and city and mostly have one government.  The city of Indianapolis is basically the county of Marion.  However, Marion County happens to be one of seven counties which have a consolidated government with the main city but there are small places within that do not belong to the city and retains their own government.  Oddly enough, the last game the NY Giants played was in San Francisco, which also has a consolidated city-county government where all of San Francisco County is also the city of San Francisco.  The count for the city-county consolidated government does not take into account the boroughs in Alaska and the independent cities in Maryland, Missouri, Nevada and Virginia as they are special cases.  It also does not take into account Washington, DC, a federal area and New York City which is a special case of a city made of 5 counties.

Odd Geographical Fact - 12/23/2011

Fridays like today are the holiest days of the week for us Muslims.  It is the day we have Jum’ah prayers in the mosque we go to.  Like any other countries, the Muslims in Samoa probably go to prayers on Friday.  However, that might not be possible for them next week as whole Friday will disappear from the calendar.  At the midnight of Thursday the 28th, Samoa will start Saturday the 30th totally missing the day of Friday the 29th.  The reason behind this is that they are deciding to move from the eastern side of the date line to the western side of the date line.  It totally makes sense as now they will be only about three hours in time difference from Australia and New Zealand, their chief trading partners than the twenty-one hours time difference they face now.  They will be one of the earliest nations to see the sunrise instead of one of the latest.  The tiny territory of Tokelau, nominally under New Zealand control, will do the same thing.  In 1892, Samoans actually went the other way in the date line to sync their days closer to US, one of their main trading partner then along with producing some of the businessmen who worked there.  They had two July 4ths back then.

Odd Geographical Fact - 11/23/2011

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  To many of us, it is most known for turkey.  To some of us, it is football.  The Detroit Lions always play a game and this year it is with Green Bay Packers.  Green Bay Packers’ next game is the Sunday after with the Packers.  Packers are an oddity as the team plays in the smallest city in NFL.  Green Bay actually happens to be the smallest team represented by a professional team much less an NFL team.  Green Bay had a population of 104,057 in the 2010 census.  Oddly enough, Los Angeles, the second largest American city 3,792,621, does not have an NFL team.  Green Bay Packers are the oldest team name still in the NFL.  The team was created on August 11, 1919 and uses the same nickname and stays in the same city since they started.

Odd Geographical Fact - 10/23/2011

For us geographers, an unfortunate time is coming.  There has been a treaty signed on September 6th between India and Bangladesh to exchange the enclaves between them.  The majority of the enclaves in the world were between two countries which were created due to the presence of the Cooch Behar princely state in former British Territory.  It has been a thorn between the two states for a long time.  When Bangladesh was part of Pakistan, there were negotiations in 1954 between Pakistan and India.  Later, a treaty was signed in 1974 between Bangladesh and India but not ratified.  Thus the enclaves stayed in existence.  Last month a new treaty was signed exchanging all the enclaves.  The citizens get to stay either where they were residing in a different country or move to stay in the same country.  As of now, the enclaves have not been exchanged and there have been protests, especially in Bangladesh, to speed the process up.

Odd Geographical Fact - 09/23/2011

My friend Kathy’s birthday was three days ago.  She went to college in the University of Buffalo and after graduation has lived in the area ever since.  She is an expert on the area and has shown me many sights, but one sight she has not had the chance to show was the Horseshoe Reef lighthouse.  Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse was an American Lighthouse in the Canadian side of the border, a one-acre enclave of America.  Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse was not actually on Horseshoe Reef but on Middle Reef which was near the Middle of the waterway at the entrance of Niagara River next to the city of Buffalo and on the Canadian side.  Due to the fact that the navigation route was becoming busy due to Erie Canal, a construction of a lighthouse became needed.  In 1849, the USA decided a lighthouse was needed with the ideal place being Middle Reef.  The problem was it was on the Canadian side.  However, the British Canadians decided that the need for a lighthouse also for Canadian trade was too great not to have a lighthouse.  They also felt that it was more convenient for them to let the Americans pay for the whole cost of erecting the lighthouse.  That is why a one acre portion of an underwater reef became American 1150 feet in Canadian territory in early 1851.  It stopped being an American enclave in 1913, when a treaty was signed to move the border 100 feet west of Horseshoe Reef with the lighthouse still remaining American but the water also becoming American.

Odd Geographical Fact - 08/23/2011

I am currently following the track of Hurricane Irene, which is near the Bahamas with the wind speed of 90 MPH and gaining power.  There is a small chance that the Hurricane will hit New York City, but the predicted path does take it quite near the city.  Hurricanes rarely come to New York City but there have been cases of destructive hurricanes here including the one which caused an island to disappear.  Hog Island of the near the Rockaways was a resort island for New Yorkers in the 19th century.  It was a favorite of Tammany Hall politicians.  However, a hurricane in 1893 destroyed all the buildings on the island and almost sent the whole island to oblivion.  In the early centuries, most likely around the 1820s, the island disappeared completely due to erosion and the effect of other storms.  Articles such as plates from resorts and other material still occasionally wash up on the coast to remind us the island that was.

Odd Geographical Fact - 07/23/2011

I am in Maine right now on vacation in Acadia Park.  Not too many hours east of us on the coast of Maine is one of the few places that are in dispute between the US and Canada.  Machias Seal Island is an island that is still in dispute.  Boundary treaties and negotiations by 1910 had portioned all the islands between the two countries near the border area except it.  New Brunswick set up a lighthouse on the island in 1832 and it has been continually occupied by Canada since.  Oddly enough, there are no private citizens from Canada that claim any land on the island but there are private citizens in Maine that has staked a claim.  Until 1995, Canadian Coast Guard had continuous presence on the island.  At that time, they automated all lighthouses on the coast of Canada.  The only Canadian presence in any lighthouse is in Machias Seal but by Department of Foreign Affairs for sovereignty purposes.  The dispute probably would have been solved by now except Canada and US has decided to maintain the status quo in a treaty in the year 1979.

Odd Geographical Fact - 06/23/2011

Today happens to be the 43rd birthday of my cousin Sun-Yat Rabbi.  He is oddly named after Sun-Yat Sen.  However, his name is not what I will be writing about here but the hospital he studied in.  Before he started work, he finished his residency in the Mitford Hospital of Salimullah Medical College.  It was one of the earliest and most prestigious hospital not only in Dhaka but in Bangladesh for a long time.  The construction for the hospital started in 1854.  The hospital was constructed because of the bequeathal of the property of Robert Mitford in 1836.  Oddly enough, when he died the area was not English for two long.  Unlike almost all of the rest of Bangladesh, which became English property in 1757 when the Battle of Plassey was won by England, the Area where the hospital was constructed was Dutch.  It only became English in 1825, when Netherlands gave up all the property they had in India.

Odd Geographical Fact - 05/23/2011

If the question is asked if there are any territorial disputes between Egypt and Israel, the answer would be no.  However, technically a small part of the border is still in dispute.  Israel took over the Sinai peninsula in the 1967 War.  The peninsula was returned piece by piece until 1982 when it was almost totally returned.  The small piece that was not returned was the Taba Border Strip.  The strip is a triangular area of approximately 250 acres with a beachhead of 750 yards.  The two countries argued contentiously about the area.  From the next to last undisputed point on the border, the argument was about where the next point was near the sea.  In 1988, an arbitration panel was created with one person from each country and one international person.  The judgment was for Israel to return the area to Egypt.  The boundary was extended to a point very near the shore.  However, the arbitration panel refused to judge the boundary from that point on to the shore.  As the point is only a few meters from the shore, neither country argues about it and it has been de facto extended to the shore.

Odd Geographical Fact - 04/23/2011

Two days ago, I went to see the NYC Panorama.  It’s almost a perfect scale model of the city of New York.  It is interesting as this is the only place where you can see a scale model of a UN building and the city it is on housed in a former UN building, not to mention see the model of that former UN building.  The current UN building is in the borough of Manhattan right on the East River with the address 760 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY.  The building housing the UN from 1946 to 1950 is the current Queens Museum of Art inside the Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the borough of Queens.  This was originally the NYC pavilion for 1939 World’s Fair and also the location for a skating rink at one time.  For 1964 World’s Fair, the model was made and still remains.  The building is accessible on the Grand Central Parkway, Exit 9E.  If you are on Grand Central Parkway, you can also visit the UN building before 1946.  1111 Marcus Avenue, Lake Success, NY is the address of the building that housed the UN at one time.  It is currently an office park and previously the headquarters of Sperry Gyroscope Company.  Grand Central Parkway turns into Northern State Parkway as soon as it enters Nassau County.  If exit 25, the first exit in Nassau, is taken, the first site seen in front of the ramp is the location of the building.

Odd Geographical Fact - 03/23/2011

I am the biggest fan of the game of Cricket.  The World Cup of the game is going on now and will finish on the 2nd of April.  Unlike the Olympics or even the soccer world cup, it is much more regionalized to the British colonial realm.  Only country to make the World Cup while not being a colony or protectorate of England in the colonial era is Netherlands, who has made it to the World Cup four times including the last three world cups.  The smallest nation to make the World Cup has been Bermuda who made it in 2007.  The largest nation is Canada who has made it four times also including the last three times.  To compare them to soccer, the largest country ever to make the soccer World Cup was USSR before it broke up and the smallest nation has been Jamaica, though the birthplace of my wife, Bahrain, was one game away from qualifying the 2010 World Cup.

Odd Geographical Fact - 02/23/2011

It is not too often you can attack an opposing country without sending troops whether they are from land, water or air.  One small exception was China’s attack on Taiwan.  Though Taiwan and China both claim each other as the legitimate government of all of China, effectively they are different countries.  When the republican government fled rest of China from the communists in 1949, they went to Taiwan.  While doing so, they kept a few islands between China and Taiwan in their hand.  Some of those islands are less than 10 miles off the coast of China, including the island of Quemoy.  The islands of Quemoy and the Matsu chain were bombarded in the September of 1954 by China, but not via airplanes or boats but just with powerful artillery shells fired from the mainland.  A similar attack was also carried out in 1958.  The threat of an attack by United States in its defense against Communist China stopped the attacks each time and the islands remain in Taiwanese hands.

Odd Geographical Fact - 01/23/2011

Oscar nominations are coming out this year in two days.  In 2001, one of my favorite movies came out and was nominated for the Oscars in 2002.  The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring was that movie and oddly enough it was affected by geography and politics.  The movie needed many extras to play both good and bad soldiers in the war when the shooting was taking place in New Zealand.  Not very surprisingly, the soldiers from the New Zealand army was asked to play them.  However, while the shooting was taking place, East Timor independence was taking place and soon the soldiers were asked to go on a peacekeeping mission.  At the end, the shooting of the movie used normal New Zealand citizens instead.  

Odd Geographical Fact - 12/23/2010

The winter vacation just started.  For me it starts with Christmas and ends in New Year’s Day.  Where the new year starts changed in 1995.  On the 1st of January, 1995, Kiribati moved the International Date Line, so the new year started in the eastern part of Kiribati.  Previously, the new year started in Tonga as the Date Line used to pass through the middle of Kiribati.  Most people believe the change in the position of date line was just a ploy to get the tourists to come to Kiribati to be the first people to celebrate the new millennium in 2000.  The day there went from December 30th to January 1st on that day.    

Odd Geographical Fact - 11/23/2010

Today is the fourth anniversary of my wedding.  My wife was born in Bahrain.  Bahrain is one of the few countries that has an island that is off the coast of another.  Hawar Islands are only 1 mile off the coast of Qatar but 12 miles from the nearest part of Bahrain.  This was only confirmed in 2001 when the International Court of Justice confirmed the ownership of Bahrain over the islands.  However, at that time, the court stopped a different occurrence to happen.  Bahrain asked for the town of Zubara on the coast of Qatar but they were denied.  This was another long-time dispute from the 18th century which were arbitrated by the International Court of Justice.     


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