An overview of Kenya for travelers

Kenya is stunningly beautiful African country that has seen its share of good and bad times. If you are traveling to Kenya, the following information will give you a head start.

An Overview of Kenya for Travelers

Kenya is a crossroads country in Africa, which means a little bit of various African countries reside there. More than 40 languages are spoken and as many as eleven different ethnic groups can be identified. The religious breakdown is also very diverse. Despite this variety, the country has a fairly harmonious existence. The national slogan is harambee which loosely translates to lets pull together. 

Compared to other sub-Saharan countries, Kenya has historically been advanced in infrastructure and general living standards. During the colonial period, England controlled the country and developed the area. Kenyans were not allowed to participate in government, much like South Africa. As you might expect, Kenyans rebelled and eventually became independent on December 12, 1963. The Kenya People’s Union then became the only political party and ruled until 2002. In October 2002, the National Rainbow Coalition dominated elections. 

Following independence, Kenya continued to grow economically and the standard of living was the envy of much of Africa. Unfortunately, corruption threw a wrench in the proceedings the country has suffered from a lurching economy for the last 15 years. In 2003, the country turned things around and things have generally improved since then. 

Kenya covers 224,960 square miles and is slightly smaller than Texas. The capital is Nairobi. Kenya rises from a low coastal plain on the Indian Ocean in a series of mountain ridges and plateaus which stand above 9,000 feet in the center of the country. The Rift Valley bisects the country above Nairobi, opening up to a broad arid plain in the north. Mountain plains cover the south before descending to the shores of Lake Victoria in the west. The climate varies from the tropical south, west, and central regions to arid and semi-arid in the north and the northeast. 

The people of Kenya are known as “Kenyans.” Total population is 30 million and growing at 1.7 percent a year. Ethnic groups break down as Kikuyu 21 percent Luhya 14 percent, Luo 13 percent, Kalenjin 11 percent, Kamba 11 percent, Kisii 6 percent, Meru 5 percent. Religious break down is Indigenous beliefs 10 percent, Protestant 40 percent, Roman Catholic 30 percent, Muslim 20 percent. Languages include English, Swahili, and more than 40 local ethnic languages. The literacy rate is 65 percent and life expectancy is 49 years of age.  

As this brief overview reveals, the country suffers the economic problems of many countries in Africa. That being said, it is beautiful place that will hopefully overcome such hurdles. It is definitely a place you will remember visiting.

An Overview of japan for travelers

For such a tiny total landmass, Japan has left an undeniable stamp on human history. If you are considering Japan as a destination, here is an overview of the country.

An Overview of Japan for Travelers

Extending along the eastern coast of Asia, Japan is a country consisting of a collection of islands. The mainland, as we think of it, is the island of Honshu. There are three other large islands, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and roughly 3,000 much smaller islands comprising what we call Japan. Put together, the total land mass is slightly smaller than California. The geography throughout the islands is mountainous, best exemplified by Mt. Fuji at 12,385 feet. As you might expect, the island country is inherently recognition of a volcanic are and Japan experiences earthquakes fairly frequently, some on a large scale. 

Japan is an extremely urbanized country with most people living in major cities. The two prominent religions are Shintoism and Buddhism. The belief systems are harmonious and often share the same temples. 

Per legend, Japan was founded by Emperor Jimmu around 600 BC. The current emperor is a descendent of the first. 

The first interaction with the West was in 1542 when a lost Portuguese ship landed in Japan. Over the next century more Westerns came, but they were not trusted. The Japan shoguns eventually banned all foreigners and the country was isolated for over 200 years. Not until 1854 did Japan open its doors to the world under the Convention of Kanagawa with the United States. Once this occurred, Japan quickly evolved from a feudal state to a more modern approach.

World War I was a boon for Japan. Fighting on the side of the victorious Allies, Japan repeated new respect as an economic and military power following the defeat of the Axis. Alas, the emperor of Japan went in a different direction after the war, seeking dominance of China and Asia in general. 

In 1937, Japan became an ally of Nazi German. This eventually led to its decision to pursue an attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Following four years of war, the loss of 3 million Japanese lives and two atomic bombings, Japan surrendered to the United States on September 2, 1945. It was stripped of most of its territorial holdings and was ruled de facto by General Douglas MacArthur, designated the Supreme Commander. 

Following World War II, Japan turned to a democratic system through reforms. The U.S. and allies returned complete control to Japan on April 28, 1952 via the Treaty of Peace. Although its days as a military power were over, Japan once again became an economic giant. Despite its relatively tiny land mass, Japan has the second biggest economy in the world. 

Modern day Japan covers 145,902 square miles. The capital is Tokyo. The terrain is best described as rugged, mountainous islands with varying temperatures. 

The people of Japan are called “Japanese.” The total population is just over 127.4 million people, but the population is decreasing slightly in size. Japanese is the primarily language spoken and literacy rates are 99 percent. Japanese males have a life expectancy of 77 years while women live to 84 on average. 

With its mountainous island landscape, Japan is a hot destination spot for travelers. It is expensive, but a visit to Mount Fuji alone makes a trip worthwhile.

An Overview Of Italy For Travelers

Rome, the Winter Olympics, Wine, Ferrari, beautiful beaches – Italy has it all. If you are considering traveling to Italy, here are some things you should know.

An Overview of Italy for Travelers

From a European perspective, there is little doubt that Italy is the foundation of modern society in the West. This is conclusion is primarily due to two facts, the reign of the Romans and the Roman Catholic Church. 

In more modern times, Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the city-states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor Emmanuel II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito Mussolini established a Fascist dictatorship. His disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. 

A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy was a charter member of the European Economic Community. It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared to the prosperous north.

If you are going to Italy, here are some basic things you need to know. 

1. Northern Italy is wealthy while the south is not. 

2. Italy is slightly larger than the state of Arizona.

3. Italy's climate is predominantly Mediterranean with Alpine in far north and hot, dry areas in the south. 

4. Vatican City in Rome is considered an independent country. 

5. You cannot get into any area of the Vatican wearing shorts. 

6. Rome had the first paved streets in the world in 170 B.C. Vehicles had to be banned because of traffic jams!

7. Roman gladiators were the first athletes to endorse products.

8. Considered one of the oddest Emperors, Caligula appointed his horse to a senate position among other more infamous actions. 

9. Roman statutes were very utilitarian. The heads could be removed and replaced to reflect the changes in political climate. 

10. When the Roman army lost a battle, they really took it hard. Commanders would kill every tenth soldier under their command. This act is the root of the word “decimate.”

11. Surprising to many is the fact there were significant time periods where ancient Rome had no Emperor. The senate would rule. In times of threat, the senate would elect a person as Emperor. He had absolute power, giving rise to the term dictator. 

12. Vast percentages of Romans died from lead poisoning. They used is as a sweetener! 

13. In the early 1900’s, Prince Piero Ginori Conti invented the geothermal pump. He is considered the father of modern geothermal power.

14. 20 Italians have won the Nobel Prize.

15. Michelangelo's real name is Michelangelo Buonarroti.

16. The population of Italy as of 2005 was 58,103,033 people.

17. The flag of Italy was inspired by the French flag brought in 1797 by Napoleon. 

18. Lehman Brothers owns seven percent of Ferrari. 

19. Italy trails only Brazil in World Cup wins. 

Italy is an amazing country with colorful, animated people. From ancient culture to a bustling modern country, a trip to Italy is hard to beat.

An Overview Of Germany For Travelers

Germany has experienced a tumultuous history: starting a World War, being divided into two countries and much more. If you are planning a trip, here is some background information you should know. 

An Overview of Germany for Travelers

The official name of the country is the Federal Republic of Germany. Germany covers a landmass of over 135,000 square miles and is about the size of the State of Montana. The capital is Berlin with over 3.5 million residents living within the city borders. Other cities of note include, but are not limited to, Hamburg with 1.7 million residents, Munich with over 1.2 million people, Cologne with just under one million residents, Frankfurt with 640,000 residents, Dortmund with 592,000 people, Stuttgart with 580,000 residents, Dusseldorf with about the same number, Bremen with 540,000 people and Hanover with a population just exceeding 500,000 residents. Put another way, Germany crams a lot of people into a relatively small area. 

From a terrain perspective, Germany has a bit of everything. The north consists mostly of plains and shoreline, while the center of the country is a fertile basin. The south of the country is primarily mountainous, sharing formations with Switzerland. With this divergent terrain, the climate varies from area to area, but is generally cool with significant periods of rain. 

Citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany are known as Germans. The most recent population study found the total population exceeded 82 million. The ethnic break down is primarily German, but Danish minorities exist in the north while Slavic minorities can be found in the south. Despite the policies promulgated by Hitler, the country has a strong influx of immigrants with over 7.3 million people qualifying as such.

From a religious perspective, Germans are split in two major camps. There are approximately 26 million Protestants and 26 million Roman Catholics. Approximately 3.3 million people consider themselves to be Muslim. 

The official language of the country is German, although English is spoken in many areas as is Russian and French. Education is compulsory for 10 years and the literacy rate is more than 99 percent. Live expectancy for a German man is 74 years while women live an additional 6 years on average. 

As this overview reveals, Germany is the home to a lot of good and bad history. As a travel destination, it is remarkable whether you are going to see history or visiting for the World Cup.

An overview Of France For Travelers

Throughout history, France has always played a pivotal role in Europe. From Art to Politics to Architecture, it is a fascinating place. Here is some background information to consider before your trip.

An Overview of France for Travelers

The official name of the country is the French Republic. The French Republic covers an area of 220,668 square miles. This makes it the largest country in Western Europe, which is about 80 percent the size of Texas for comparison purposes. The capital of France is Paris. Other major cities of note include the port city of Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nice, Rennes, Lille and Bordeaux in the famous wine region of the same name. If you have ever watched the Tour de France, you know the terrain in France varies from majestic mountain peaks to flat plains to beautiful coast line along the southern and western borders of the country. This gives the country various climatic conditions ranging from very cool in the mountain areas to downright hot in the southern beach locations such as Nice. 

Citizens of the French Republic are designated with the name French. The total population exceeds 62.4 million with a strong annual growth rate of over 2 percent. Ethnicity is broken down as Celtic and Latin for strong influences of Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Sub-Saharan African, Indochinese and Basque minorities. The strong minority base is due to two facts, a lax immigration policy and the migration of peoples from former colonies of France during its more imperial periods. 

Despite the massive immigrant influx over time, France is a largely uniform religious society. Over 90 percent of all French claim the Roman Catholic faith as their religion of choice. Strong Muslim population sectors, however, exist and are growing rapidly through immigration. The official language of the country is French and it is also the dominant language used in daily life. The literacy rate for France is over 99 percent, which makes sense given the free, compulsory education system. 

As this overview of France demonstrates, it has played a major role in European history. This makes it a great travel destination since much of the country has historical value, which you can experience by just walking down the street.