In just over a week, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea will hold a referendum to ask voters whether to remain part of Ukraine or to join Russia. The current interim government of Ukraine holds that the referendum is illegal while Russia holds that they will welcome Crimea into Russia should the voters choose that option. Crimea was transferred from Russian control to Ukrainian control in 1954 by the Soviet Union. Once the Soviet Union fell and Ukraine gained independence in 1991, Crimea became part of independent Ukraine. Based on Ukraine's 2001 census, Crimea is composed primarily of 58.5% ethnic Russians, 24.4% ethnic Ukrainians, and 12.1% Crimean Tatars. The referendum on March 16 should prove to be interesting. The BBC has a thorough article on this topic. The Crimean flag, officially established in 1999, is shown to the right.
Tim Draper, a wealthy Silicon Valley venture capitalist has begun collecting signatures on a proposal to divide the state of California into six separate states. He needs to collect over 800,000 signatures by mid-July to make the November 2014 state ballot. The six states would be named Jefferson, North California, Central California, Silicon Valley, West California, and South California and can be seen in this Google Map overlay, with demographic data about each potential state. Nonetheless, even if such a proposal passed voters in November, it would still require approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the measure would have to be approved by the President of the United States. Obviously, the state of Silicon Valley would have the nation's highest per capita income and the state of Central California would have the nation's lowest per capita income, behind Mississippi. A simple outline map with great demographic data can be found on the Legislative Analyst's Office website.
This new chart from xkcd.com is a chart of global time that is dynamic and changes based on the time of day you're looking at it. It helps one visualize the time zones of the world and where and when you might be able to connect with another part of the world. Many have such difficulty conceptualizing the time zones on our planet but this graphic is a great new way to visualize time on Earth. Another of my favorite time zone resources is WorldTimeBuddy - it's not geographic but it still helps me visualize time differences, albeit in a different way. What's your favorite time zone converter?
I am often asked by geography students how they should proceed about obtaining a career in geography after graduation. Obviously, there aren't many jobs that are titled "geographer" so one usually needs to seek out opportunities in related fields. I strongly encourage geography students to obtain as many internships as possible during their time as an undergraduate geography student. This route of exploration enables one to both gain essential job experience for your resume and for better answers during your interview, but also to help one determine what sort of work to do as an initial career. Perhaps even more important, gaining experience through internships enables one to determine what sort of work one does not want to do. During my undergraduate years, I had several different internships (in planing departments and a GIS department) that helped guide my path following graduation with my undergraduate degree in geography. Some internships are paid and some are unpaid but all internships are invaluable as you seek to obtain experience in the field of geography. Good luck!
Salt flats, also called salt pans, are large and flat areas of land that were once lake beds. Salt flats are covered with salt and other minerals and they oftentimes look white because of the salt presence. These areas of land generally form in deserts and other arid places where large bodies of water have dried up over thousands of years and the salt and other minerals are the remnants.
This fascinating article from The Guardian explores how dramatically Egypt's tourism industry has suffered as of late. They report, "The industry made £3.6bn in 2013, compared with £7.7bn in its record year of 2010, before the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak and led to three years of political instability. Only 9.5 million tourists stayed in Egypt's hotels in 2013, against 14.7 million in 2010..." It's sad to read about such situation in Egypt, a center of such amazing cultural offerings, "On some days, there were only a handful of visitors to Luxor's Valley of the Kings, where Tutankhamun is buried, and where several thousand tourists would queue on a good day in 2010."
In this great piece by geographer Claire Weber, learn how and why Michigan came to be the home of a very high proportion of Finns. Michigan's Upper Peninsula is home to proportionally fifty times more Finns than the rest of the United States. You'll really enjoy this article if you're interested in history, immigration, or genealogy. Check out Finnish Culture of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
An expected 84 independent countries and four non-countries are expected to participate in the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia out of the total possible 204 National Olympic Committees.
The country most notably not participating is India. India was suspended as a National Olympic Committee in 2012 due to Indian government interference in the activities of that country's Olympic Committee. Thus, the three qualified athletes from India will be participating as "Independent Olympic Athletes." South Africa and North Korea, previous Winter Games competitors, are also not competing in the Winter Games this year.
In addition to 84 real independent countries participating in the Winter Games, there are several non-countries participating, including three non-independent territories of the United Kingdom: Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands as well as Chinese Hong Kong. "Chinese Taipei" is the official Olympic name of the team from Taiwan because China would be offended if they were called Taiwan. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is participating as always under the name "Great Britain," but this might be the last time for GBR (the three-letter code for the country) if Scotland votes for independence later this year.
Seven countries are expected to make their Winter Olympic Games debut: Dominica, East Timor, Malta, Paraguay, Togo, Tonga, and Zimbabwe. Happy 22nd Winter Games!
With each new year comes geographic changes. On January 1 five new members of the United Nations Security Council took their seats on the fifteen-member body. On that same day, Latvia began using the euro as its official currency, bringing the total number of countries in the Eurozone to twenty-four.
2014 will bring two major referenda on independence. On September 18, voters in Scotland will decide whether Scotland should become an independent country. Then, on November 9, voters in Catalonia will vote in a non-binding referendum on Catalan independence from Spain. Did I miss anything forthcoming? Share other key dates in the comments below.
Despite the cessation of hostilities in 1945, the then-Soviet Union and Japan never signed a peace treaty officially ending World War II. The cause of the continuing state of war between Russia and Japan is the island chain known as the Kuril Islands. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation from Japan to visit and discuss options for a peace treaty that could end more than seventy years of a state of "war" between the two countries. The Kuril islands were taken over by the Soviet Union in 1945. Japan claims that these islands are part of Japan, as they have always been visible with the naked eye from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and appear on centuries-old maps of Japan as being part of Japan.