Turkey is truly the meeting place of Europe and the Middle East. Although, generally, Turkey is considered a middle eastern country, its main hub Istanbul has a European feel with old world charm. This bustling city is a doorway into a country that has two distinct sides.
When the British withdrew from the Gulf in 1971, a group of seven shaikhdoms from the area united to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE has been growing as trading and travel destination, with its mountains, beaches, and deserts, and its welcoming attitude toward Westerners, as well as Easterners. The UAE is known for its dichotomous lifestyle: on the one hand, there are soaring skyscapers with all of the world’s biggest banks represented and bustling shopping malls around every corner, on the other hand there’s plenty of shopping to be done in traditional Bedouin markets (or souks) and traditional cultural activities such as camel racing–legacies of the days before the boom. But while the UAE is considered one of the safest places to travel in the region, it is advised that you steer clear of political gatherings or demonstrations.
Much of early history centers itself around an area known as the “Fertile Crescent,” referring to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in present-day Iraq. Many ancient kingdoms were borne out of this region, including the Assyrians, Sumerians, and Babylonians–whose legendary King Hammurabi penned the enormously important Code of Hammurabi, one of the most significant legal doctrines of all time.
The sultanate of Oman is a land of friendly people and magnificent landscapes–so the world is finding out as this corner of the Middle East emerges from a long period of isolation. Oman is one of the most traditional countries in the Middle East, but as it slowly comes out of its shell, it’s beginning … Continue reading Oman
Ireland is more than just the land of Guinness and Shamrocks, it is a land of mythic beauty that is hard to forget. From the ancient Celts to the early European Christians, Vikings, and finally the Normans, Ireland has seen more history than many other places on earth. But the country has emerged from tumultuous … Continue reading Ireland
Switzerland, sometimes referred to as the “island inside Europe,” is a land with many identies. From its busy banking centers in the cities to the lovely mountains and Alpine villages, Switzerland is also a land of many contrasts. The robust culture of this country is exemplified by the four different languages spoken by its population: German, French, Italian, and the native Romansch.
The islands that make up the United Kingdom probably broke off of the mainland of Europe about 8 millennia ago. Orginally occupied by little-known tribal cultures, some of whom are thought to have built Stonehenge, the island region was invaded by the Celts around 500 BC.
The newly independent nation of Georgia is hard to describe in terms of one particular region. Some consider it part of the Middle East, others Europe, and still others Asia. The reason for this may be because it is so closely related, both geographically and culturally, with all of these places. Once it broke from the former USSR, Georgia suffered some civil unrest, but as the situation stablizes, Georgia is becoming a major player in world affairs.
The 9th-century founding of Novgorod by the Viking Rurik initiated a more than thousand-year history of wealth and war, trial and loss, conquest, Communism, and tyranny. The monarchic splendor and seething peasant ideology of old Russia, coupled with the complex social, economic, and political changes brought about during the Soviet era, survive today in one form or another in what is possibly the most enigmatic yet of this country’s many incarnations.
Ancient history melds with cutting-edge technology; long, rainy, or freezing winters contrast against vibrant, endless days of summer. Such are the complexities of Scotland, a land where the gloomy weather very often belies the sunny dispostion of her people.