CultureNotes

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One of the most popular cheeses in Norway is brown.

  • Capital Oslo
  • Population 4,870,900
  • Area 148,726 sq. mi. (about the size of New Mexico)
  • Language Bokmål Norwegian and Nynorsk Norwegian
  • Nationality Norwegian(s)
  • Climate Temperate along the coast, colder inland
  • Fun Fact One of the most popular cheeses in Norway is brown.

Finland is often called the “land of the midnight sun” because in the months of June and July, the north does not see the sun set. It shines all day and all night.

  • Capital Helsinki
  • Population 5,262,930
  • Area 338,145 sq. km. (slightly smaller than Montana)
  • Language Finnish, Swedish
  • Nationality Finn(s) (noun); Finnish (adjective)
  • Climate Cold temperate; potentially subarctic but comparatively mild because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic Current, Baltic Sea, and more than 60,000 lakes.
  • Fun Fact Finland is often called the “land of the midnight sun” because in the months of June and July, the north does not see the sun set. It shines all day and all night.

On average, Swedish women have their first child around the age of 30.

  • Capital Stockholm
  • Population 9,103,788
  • Area 450,295 sq. km. (slightly larger than California)
  • Language Swedish
  • Nationality Swede(s) (noun); Swedish (adjective)
  • Climate Temperate in the south with cold, cloudy winters and cool, partly-cloudy summers;subarctic in the north
  • Fun Fact On average, Swedish women have their first child around the age of 30.

The president of Latvia lives in Riga Castle, which was built in 1330.

  • Capital Riga
  • Population 2,248,000
  • Area 24,938 sq. mi. (slightly larger than West Virginia)
  • Language Latvian is the state language, but Russian is also spoken by most people in Latvia.
  • Nationality Latvian(s)
  • Climate Temperate, maritime, with four seasons of almost equal length
  • Fun Fact The president of Latvia lives in Riga Castle, which was built in 1330.

According to multiple scientific studies and polls, Danes are the happiest people in the world.

  • Capital Copenhagen
  • Population 5.5 million
  • Area 16,562 sq. mi. (slightly larger than the state of Maryland)
  • Language Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic (an Inuit dialect), German (small minority)
  • Nationality Dane (noun); Danish (adjective)
  • Climate Mild winters and cool summers; precipitation about one in three days
  • Fun Fact According to multiple scientific studies and polls, Danes are the happiest people in the world.

In Lithuania, Easter eggs come from Granny Easter, not the Easter bunny. Bunnies just help paint the eggs.

  • Capital Vilnius
  • Population 3,525,761
  • Area 65,300 sq. km. (slightly larger than West Virginia)
  • Language Lithuanian
  • Nationality Lithuanian(s)
  • Climate Transitional (wet, moderate winters and summers)
  • Fun Fact In Lithuania, Easter eggs come from Granny Easter, not the Easter bunny. Bunnies just help paint the eggs.

The most popular name for a dog in Poland is Burek, which translates to “brownish-gray color.”

  • Capital Warsaw
  • Population 38.1 million
  • Area 120,725 sq. mi. (about the size of New Mexico)
  • Language Polish
  • Nationality Pole(s) (noun); Polish (adjective)
  • Climate Temperate continental
  • Fun Fact The most popular name for a dog in Poland is Burek, which translates to “brownish-gray color.”

Dutch people, on average, are the tallest in the world.

  • Capital Amsterdam
  • Population 16.6 million
  • Area 16,485 sq. mi. (about half the size of South Carolina)
  • Language Dutch
  • Nationality Dutchmen/Dutchwomen (noun); Dutch (adjective)
  • Climate Northern maritime
  • Fun Fact Dutch people, on average, are the tallest in the world.

The average Belgian eats 16 kg of chocolate a year.

  • Capital Brussels
  • Population 10,666,866
  • Area 12,566 sq. mi. (about the size of Maryland)
  • Language Dutch, French, German
  • Nationality Belgian(s)
  • Climate Cool, temperate, rainy
  • Fun Fact The average Belgian eats 16 kg of chocolate a year.

Prague castle is the largest castle in the world by area at over 18 acres.

  • Capital Prague
  • Population 10,162,921
  • Area 78,867 sq. km. (slightly smaller than South Carolina)
  • Language Czech, Slovak
  • Nationality Czech(s)
  • Climate Temperate (cool summers; cold, cloudy, humid winters)
  • Fun Fact Prague castle is the largest castle in the world by area at over 18 acres.

Germany has more than 300 kinds of bread.

  • Capital Berlin
  • Population 81,767,600
  • Area 137,846 sq. mi. (about the size of Montana)
  • Language German
  • Nationality German
  • Climate Temperate
  • Fun Fact Germany has more than 300 kinds of bread.

The noiseless match, Rubik’s cube, ballpoint pen, theory of the hydrogen bomb, and BASIC programming language were invented by Hungarians.

  • Capital Budapest
  • Population 10,011,000
  • Area 35,910 sq. mi. (about the size of Indiana)
  • Language Magyar
  • Nationality Hungarian(s)
  • Climate Temperate
  • Fun Fact The noiseless match, Rubik’s cube, ballpoint pen, theory of the hydrogen bomb, and BASIC programming language were invented by Hungarians.

There are 560,000 dogs in Austria.

  • Capital Vienna
  • Population 8,332,000
  • Area 32,377 sq. mi. (slightly smaller than Maine)
  • Language German
  • Nationality Austrian(s)
  • Climate Continental temperate
  • Fun Fact There are 560,000 dogs in Austria.

Very few Slovaks actually lived in the capital, Bratislava, until the mid-20th century. Most residents were Czechs, Hungarians, Germans, or Austrians

  • Capital Bratislava
  • Population 5,488,399
  • Area 49,000 sq. km. (18,919 sq. mi.)
  • Language Slovak
  • Nationality Slovak(s)
  • Climate Temperate: cool summers; cold. cloudy, humid winters
  • Fun Fact Very few Slovaks actually lived in the capital, Bratislava, until the mid-20th century. Most residents were Czechs, Hungarians, Germans, or Austrians

the oldest known map, as well as the most ancient settlement of Homo sapiens, were found in Ukraine. They are almost 15,000 years old.

  • Capital Kyiv
  • Population 44,573,205
  • Area 603,550 sq. km. (233,032 sq. mi.)
  • Language Ukrainian
  • Nationality Ukrainian
  • Climate temperate continental; mediterranean on ly on the southern Crimean coast; winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland
  • Fun Fact the oldest known map, as well as the most ancient settlement of Homo sapiens, were found in Ukraine. They are almost 15,000 years old.

Nearly 20% of the territory of France lies outside of Europe.

  • Capital Paris
  • Population 62.8 million
  • Area 220,668 sq. mi. (about 4/5 the size of Texas)
  • Language French
  • Nationality French (adjective)
  • Climate Temperate
  • Fun Fact Nearly 20% of the territory of France lies outside of Europe.

Nearly 95 percent of the world’s highest-quality raspberries come from Serbia.

  • Capital Belgrade
  • Population 7,478,820
  • Area 77,474 sq. km. (slightly smaller than Maine)
  • Language Serbian (88%)
  • Nationality Serb(s) (noun); Serbian (adjective)
  • Climate Generally continental and Mediterranean climate
  • Fun Fact Nearly 95 percent of the world’s highest-quality raspberries come from Serbia.

Rather than watching for a groundhog to see its shadow, Romanians watch for brown bears to take a break from hibernation to determine whether spring is near or winter will continue.

  • Capital Bucharest
  • Population 21,790,479
  • Area 238,391 sq. km. (92,043.28 sq. mi.)
  • Language Romanian
  • Nationality Romanian(s)
  • Climate Temperate; cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow and fog; sunny summers with frequent showers and thunderstorms
  • Fun Fact Rather than watching for a groundhog to see its shadow, Romanians watch for brown bears to take a break from hibernation to determine whether spring is near or winter will continue.

In Switzerland, a child’s name must come from an approved list of names provided by the government.

  • Capital Bern
  • Population 7,996,026
  • Area 41,277 sq. km. (slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey)
  • Language German, French, Italian, Romansch
  • Nationality Swiss (singular and plural)
  • Climate temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
  • Fun Fact In Switzerland, a child’s name must come from an approved list of names provided by the government.

Mongolia is the only country in which horses outnumber people.

  • Capital Ulaanbaatar
  • Population 2.735 million
  • Area 604,103 sq. mi. (slightly larger than Alaska)
  • Language Mongolian
  • Nationality Mongolian(s)
  • Climate Continental, with little precipitation and sharp seasonal fluctuations
  • Fun Fact Mongolia is the only country in which horses outnumber people.

Skulls of early man dating back 1.7 million years have been found in Georgia.

  • Capital Tbilisi
  • Population 4.4 million
  • Area 69,700 sq. mi. (slightly smaller than South Carolina)
  • Language Georgian 71% (official); Abkhaz is the official language of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia.
  • Nationality Georgian(s)
  • Climate Generally moderate.
  • Fun Fact Skulls of early man dating back 1.7 million years have been found in Georgia.

Italy is said to have more masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world.

  • Capital Rome
  • Population 61,261,254
  • Area 301,340 sq. km. (slightly larger than Arizona)
  • Language Italian
  • Nationality Italian(s)
  • Climate Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
  • Fun Fact Italy is said to have more masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world.

Montenegro is almost impossible to write all the letters of its name into the space it takes up on the map

  • Capital Podgorica
  • Population 653,474
  • Area 13,812 sq. km. (slightly smaller than Connecticut)
  • Language Serbian
  • Nationality Montenegrin(s)
  • Climate Mediterranean climate; hot, dry summers and autumns are relatively cold winters with heavy snowfalls inland.
  • Fun Fact Montenegro is almost impossible to write all the letters of its name into the space it takes up on the map

There is no tooth fairy in Spain. Instead, they have a tooth mouse named Ratoncito Perez.

  • Capital Madrid
  • Population 46,951,500
  • Area 194,884 sq. mi. (about the size of Arizona and Utah combined)
  • Language Spanish
  • Nationality Spaniard(s) (noun); Spanish (adjective)
  • Climate Temperate
  • Fun Fact There is no tooth fairy in Spain. Instead, they have a tooth mouse named Ratoncito Perez.

A popular beverage in Kyrgyzstan is horse milk, or “kumyz.”

  • Capital Bishkek
  • Population 5,496,737
  • Area 199,951 sq. km. (slightly smaller than South Dakota)
  • Language Kyrgyz, Russian
  • Nationality Kyrgyzstani(s)
  • Climate Dry continental to polar in high Tien Shan Mountains; subtropical in southwest; temperate in northern foothill zone
  • Fun Fact A popular beverage in Kyrgyzstan is horse milk, or “kumyz.”

Mother Theresa was born in Skopje, Macedonia.

  • Capital Skopje
  • Population 2,087,171
  • Area 25,713 sq. km. (slightly larger than Vermont)
  • Language Macedonian, Albanian
  • Nationality Macedonian(s)
  • Climate Warm, dry summers and autumns; relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall
  • Fun Fact Mother Theresa was born in Skopje, Macedonia.

Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries.

  • Capital Lisbon
  • Population 10.6 million
  • Area 57,409 sq. mi. (slightly smaller than Indiana)
  • Language Portuguese
  • Nationality Portuguese (singular & plural)
  • Climate Maritime temperate, with an average annual temperature of about 61°F.
  • Fun Fact Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries.

Turkey’s most populous city, Istanbul, is the only city in the world built on two continents – Asia and Europe.

  • Capital Ankara
  • Population 75.627.384
  • Area 783,562 sq. km. (slightly larger than Texas)
  • Language Turkish
  • Nationality Turk(s) (noun); Turkish (adjective)
  • Climate Temperate (hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters)
  • Fun Fact Turkey’s most populous city, Istanbul, is the only city in the world built on two continents – Asia and Europe.

Some men in Japan shave their heads to apologize.

  • Capital Tokyo
  • Population 127.08 million
  • Area 145,902 sq. mi. (slightly smaller than California)
  • Language Japanese
  • Nationality Japanese
  • Climate Varies from subtropical to temperate
  • Fun Fact Some men in Japan shave their heads to apologize.

South Korea has 63 daily newspapers.

  • Capital Seoul
  • Population 48,636,068
  • Area 38,023 sq. mi. (slightly larger than Indiana)
  • Language Korean
  • Nationality Korean(s)
  • Climate Temperate
  • Fun Fact South Korea has 63 daily newspapers.

Afghanistan's national game is called Buzkashi, or goat-grabbing. Two teams try to catch a goat while riding horses.

  • Capital Kabul
  • Population 29,082,000
  • Area 650 sq. km. (251,825 sq. mi.)
  • Language Afghan Persian or Dari, Pashto Turkic
  • Nationality Afghan(s)
  • Climate Arid to semi arid (cold winters and hot summers)
  • Fun Fact Afghanistan's national game is called Buzkashi, or goat-grabbing. Two teams try to catch a goat while riding horses.

Ice cream was invented in China around 2000 B.C.

  • Capital Beijing
  • Population 1,330,141,295
  • Area About 3.7 million sq. mi.
  • Language Mandarin, plus many local dialects
  • Nationality Chinese
  • Climate Tropical in the south to subarctic in the north
  • Fun Fact Ice cream was invented in China around 2000 B.C.

Pakistan has the world's largest irrigation system.

  • Capital Islamabad
  • Population 193.2 million
  • Area 800 sq. km. (308.9 sq. mi.)
  • Language Urdu (official), Punjabi, English
  • Nationality Pakistani(s)
  • Climate Mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in the northwest; arctic in the north
  • Fun Fact Pakistan has the world's largest irrigation system.

The poinsettia is indigenous to Mexico and is named for the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinset

  • Capital Mexico City
  • Population 111,211,789
  • Area 761,600 sq. mi. (about 3x the size of Texas)
  • Language Spanish
  • Nationality Mexican(s)
  • Climate Tropical to desert
  • Fun Fact The poinsettia is indigenous to Mexico and is named for the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinset

The Thai greeting “sawatdee” originated during WWII. Before that, the usual greeting was to ask people whether they had eaten yet.

  • Capital Bangkok
  • Population 67 million
  • Area 198,114 sq. mi. (slightly smaller than Texas)
  • Language Thai
  • Nationality Thai
  • Climate Tropical monsoon
  • Fun Fact The Thai greeting “sawatdee” originated during WWII. Before that, the usual greeting was to ask people whether they had eaten yet.

There are 175 languages and dialects in the Philippines, and 171 of these are actively used in the country

  • Capital Manila
  • Population 105,720,644
  • Area 300,000 sq. km. (186,411 sq. mi.)
  • Language Filipino and English
  • Nationality Filipino (noun); Philippine (adj.)
  • Climate Tropical Marine; Northeast Monsoon (Nov. - April) Southwest Monsoon (May-Oct.)
  • Fun Fact There are 175 languages and dialects in the Philippines, and 171 of these are actively used in the country

Venezuela is home to the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, which drops from 3,212 ft.

  • Capital Caracas
  • Population 28,385,627
  • Area 352,143 sq. mi. (slightly more than 2x the size of California)
  • Language Spanish; numerous indigenous dialects are also present
  • Nationality Venezuelan(s)
  • Climate Varies from tropical to temperate, depending on elevation
  • Fun Fact Venezuela is home to the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, which drops from 3,212 ft.

95% of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia.

  • Capital Bogotá
  • Population 44.91 million
  • Area 440,000 sq. mi. (about the size of California and Texas combined)
  • Language Spanish
  • Nationality Colombian(s)
  • Climate Tropical on coast and eastern grasslands, cooler in highlands
  • Fun Fact 95% of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia.

In 2008, Ecuador became the first nation to declare that nature has constitutional rights.

  • Capital Quito
  • Population 15.2 million
  • Area 283,562 sq. km (109,484 sq.mi.)
  • Language Spanish (official), Kichwa, and Shuar (recognized)
  • Nationality Ecuadorian
  • Climate Tropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands.
  • Fun Fact In 2008, Ecuador became the first nation to declare that nature has constitutional rights.

Indonesia is made up of 17,508 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited.

  • Capital Jakarta
  • Population 240.3 million
  • Area 736,000 sq. mi. (about 3x the size of Texas)
  • Language Indonesian (official) and local languages (most prevalent is Javanese)
  • Nationality Indonesian(s)
  • Climate Equatorial, but cooler in the highlands
  • Fun Fact Indonesia is made up of 17,508 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited.

The 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th largest sports stadiums on Earth are located in Brazil.

  • Capital Brasilia
  • Population 201 million
  • Area 3,290,000 sq. mi. (slightly smaller than the U.S.)
  • Language Portuguese
  • Nationality Brazilian
  • Climate Mostly tropical or semi-tropical with temperate zone in the south
  • Fun Fact The 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th largest sports stadiums on Earth are located in Brazil.

Bolivia contains 40% of all animal and plant life in the world.

  • Capital La Paz
  • Population 10,227,299
  • Area 425,000 sq. mi. (about the size of Texas and California combined)
  • Language Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, Guarani
  • Nationality Bolivian(s)
  • Climate Varies with altitude – from humid and tropical to semi-arid and cold
  • Fun Fact Bolivia contains 40% of all animal and plant life in the world.

The sugarcane industry dominates the economy of Reunion Island

  • Capital Saint-Denis
  • Population 840,974
  • Area 970 sq. mi.
  • Language French, Reunion Creole
  • Nationality French Region - multiple nationalities
  • Climate Tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation
  • Fun Fact The sugarcane industry dominates the economy of Reunion Island

More than 80% of Australians live within about 62 miles of the coast.

  • Capital Canberra
  • Population 22,262,501
  • Area 7,741,220 sq. km. (slightly smaller than the U.S. contiguous 48 states)
  • Language English
  • Nationality Australian(s) (noun); Australian (adjective)
  • Climate generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north
  • Fun Fact More than 80% of Australians live within about 62 miles of the coast.

Argentina's beef consuption per capita is 70kg/year.

  • Capital Buenos Aires
  • Population 41,029,000
  • Area 1.1 million sq. mi. (about the size of the Mississippi River)
  • Language Spanish
  • Nationality Argentine(s)
  • Climate Mostly temperate; extremes ranging from subtropical in the north to arid/sub-Antarctic in the south
  • Fun Fact Argentina's beef consuption per capita is 70kg/year.

The oldest mummies in the world, the Chinchorro mummies, are located in Chile.

  • Capital Santiago
  • Population 17,067,369
  • Area 756,102 sq. km. (slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana)
  • Language Spanish
  • Nationality Chilean(s)
  • Climate Temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool & damp in south
  • Fun Fact The oldest mummies in the world, the Chinchorro mummies, are located in Chile.

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