Category: Asia

Attractions in Magadan, Russia

Attractions in Magadan, Russia

According to THENAILMYTHOLOGY, the largest number of attractions of the Magadan region is located in the Olsky district. The village of Ola is one of the oldest settlements on the Okhotsk coast. It is located 35 km northeast of Magadan. The Olsky Museum of Local Loreoperates in the village. The museum was opened in 1976 and is now located in the building of the House of Pioneers. Its funds contain items on the history, ethnography and archeology of the region, interesting documents and photographic materials.

At 4 km from the village of Ola, on the banks of the Nyuklya River, there is a stele marking the landing site of the First Kolyma geological expedition led by Yu.A. Bilibin.

The main attraction of the Olsky district is the Magadan Reserve.. It was created in 1982 on the territory of the Olsky and Srednekansky regions to protect the natural objects of the region and the reference biological complexes of the Far East region. Its total area is 884,000 hectares. The information center of the reserve is located in Magadan. The reserve includes 4 sections: Kava-Chelomdzhinsky, Olsky, Yamskoy and Seimchansky. On its territory there are swampy plains with lakes, hills, ridges and mountain ranges, 1200-1500 m high with mountain rivers and lakes of volcanic origin. Most of the reserve is occupied by light coniferous forests with a predominance of larch and dwarf pine, and the mainland of the Yamsky site includes a center of Siberian spruce, which is considered a relic of the Magadan region.

608 species of plants, 41 species of mammals, 210 species of birds, 2 species of amphibians and 32 species of fish are registered in the reserve. Of the mammals, there are bank voles, chipmunk, pika, mountain hare, elk, brown bear, fox, sable, ermine and American mink. The reserve is inhabited by such birds as whooper swan, taiga bean goose, teal, wigeon, pintail, shoveler, mallard, medium and large merganser, killer whale, American blueberry and kale. In the river valleys, the white partridge, stone capercaillie, hazel grouse, tundra partridge, mountain pipit, brown dipper and mountain wagtail are common. Kittiwakes, slaty-backed gulls, Bering cormorants, spectacled guillemots and ipatki nest on the rocks of the sea coast. The Yamsky Islands, located in the southern part of Shelikhov Bay, are home to the largest bird colonies in the Sea of Okhotsk. Guillemots nest here auklets, white belly, spectacled guillemot, puffin, gulls and Bering cormorant. The vast open spaces of the Tauy lowland, in which the Kava-Chelomdzhinsky site is located, with numerous lakes, are one of the main waterfowl reserves in the northern Okhotsk region. Whooper swan, taiga bean goose, teal (whistle and cracker), wigeon, pintail, shoveler, mallard, middle and large merganser are common in this area. Of particular interest is the isolated nesting center of the white-fronted goose in the middle reaches of the Kava. This is the southernmost relict population of the species in Eurasia. Of the marine mammals in the reserve, the seal, ringed seal (akiba), sea hare (beared seal) live. In addition, there is the largest rookery of sea lions (about 900 individuals). In the coastal waters of the reserve, you can see killer whales, minke whales and gray whales. In the rivers of the reserve there are char, Dolly Varden, Siberian trout and grayling. The largest natural spawning grounds for anadromous salmon in the Sea of Okhotsk region are located on the Yama and Chelomdzha rivers.

In addition, Talan Island in the northwestern part of the Tauyskaya Bay, where seabirds and their nesting sites are protected, the Kavinskaya Valley on the Kava River and the Malkachanskaya Tundra with colonies of migratory waterfowl, and the Odyan Wildlife Sanctuary on the Koni Peninsula – place of protection of the brown bear. An interesting natural monument is Mayakan Volcano, which is an outcrop of a volcanic vent about 2 km long with three picturesque lakes. On the shore of the Motykleisky Bay at the mouth of the Motykleyka River, there are Motykleysky springs.. These sources of mineral waters have begun to be explored recently. Their temperature ranges from +26 to +41 degrees. In the composition of the waters, ions of potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, strontium, rubidium, chlorine, silicon and boron, neutral salts of calcium and magnesium, hydrates of oxides of lead, copper, zinc, nickel and cobalt and carbon dioxide were identified. Scientists believe that such water will be effective in the treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, biliary tract, metabolism, joints, bones, muscles, tendons, peripheral nervous system and urological diseases. In the vicinity of the Motyklei springs there is a protected area where unique plant groups of thermophilic relics are protected.

Khasynsky district is best known for its source of healing thermal waters Talsky. It is located 300 km northeast of Magadan. The spring was discovered at the end of the 19th century by the merchant Afanasy Bushuev. The waters of the Talsky spring are characterized as nitrogenous, siliceous alkaline (chloride-hydrocarbonate-sodium). Their temperature is +91 degrees. On the basis of a spring in the Talaya River basin at an altitude of 720 m above sea level, a balneotherapeutic resort “Talaya” was created.. At the resort, with the help of thermal mineral waters and silt mud with a low content of hydrogen sulfide from the freshwater lake Shuchie, diseases of the musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal tract, liver, peripheral nervous system, skin and gynecological diseases are treated. Patients are offered treatments such as various types of baths, irrigations, inhalations, drinking cures, mud baths, mud packs, balneotherapy, mud therapy, electrotherapy, physiotherapy, exercise therapy and massage.

In the Khasynsky district there is the Atkinsky zoological reserve, where the bighorn sheep is protected, the natural monument Khasynsky with a relic bird cherry grove and floodplain forests growing along the Khasyn River, rock outcrops of the natural monument Bazaltovy, where you can see black basalts, light gray and cream liparites, rock crystal druse, amethysts and agates, and outcrops of the Peschany geological monument, which contain fossilized remains of Late Permian Jurassic fauna.

In the Yagodninsky district, near the village of Yagodnoye, Orotukan and Sinegorye, there are small ski resorts. In the village of Yagodnoye there is also a museum in memory of the victims of political repressions “Kolyma camps”. It was opened in 1994 in memory of the terrible times. In the 30s of the 20th century, near the village of Khatynnakh, near Yagodnoye, in a place that the people called “Serpantinka”, mass executions of prisoners were carried out. A few meters away stood a barracks for those sentenced to death. In 1991, on the site of the barracks, a monument was erected to all those who died in the Kolyma during the years of terror. The Museum “Kolyma camps” has 4,000 photographs of former prisoners, their personal belongings, tools and camp household items, original cases, camp newspapers, letters, drawings and paintings of prisoners, an extensive library with books about repression, war and the history of the Magadan region.

From the village of Sinegorye, hiking trails begin in the mountains of the Bolshoy Angachak massif, which is part of the Kolyma Highlands. Here is the highest point of the Kolyma Highlands – Mount Snezhnaya (2293 m). This mountain and lake region with picturesque waterfalls is very popular among tourists. The main attractions of the massif are the peaks of Aborigine, Aspirations, Vlastny, Festivalny and Challenger, the valleys of the Unknown, Sibiktelyakh, Eight-lake and Lake Jack London, Dancing Graylings, Elgennya and Lebedinoye. Jack London Lake is located at an altitude of 800 m above sea level. It is of glacial origin. The lake is 10 km long, 2 km wide and 75 m deep. There are several islands on the lake.

It should be noted that the Kolyma Highlands, which occupies most of the territory of the Magadan region, is one of the most popular tourist areas, where routes of varying degrees of difficulty are laid.

In the Severo-Evensky district, the Taigonos reserve on the peninsula of the same name, where the bighorn sheep is protected, the ancient Ust-Erebchan site, which is about 5 thousand years old, Shirokaya thermal springs with a water temperature of up to +56 degrees and Tavatum springs, are of interest.

In the Magadan region, hunting for such animals and birds as brown bear, mountain sheep, duck, goose and capercaillie is allowed. To do this, many reserves and hunting bases were created on the territory of Khasynsky, Srednekansky, Susumansky, Olsky and Severo-Evensky districts. Also in the area you can go fishing or go along the Kolyma River in kayaks or inflatable boats.

Attractions in Magadan, Russia

Lebanon Cinema and Literature

Lebanon Cinema and Literature

Cinema. – According to SPORTSQNA, Lebanese cinematography was marked from the very beginning by enormous difficulties. In fact, only in 1931 a production company, the Lumnar films, appeared on the horizon, being able to produce the first feature, Muġāmarāt Abu Ubayd (“The adventures of Abu Ubayd”), moreover made by a filmmaker of Italian origin, G. Pidutti. For a long time, foreign filmmakers and technicians have formed the backbone of Lebanese cinema, helping the development of the nascent art and helping to raise the technical level of studies. It is since the 1950s that cinematography acquires its own national character, sometimes reflecting the different cultural and political factions of the country. Most of the production is however directly inspired by melodramas and sung films produced in neighboring Egypt. Proof of this are the films of Salmān, author among other things of the musical comedy al-Lahn al-Awwal (“The first melody”, 1957). The sixties and seventies saw the flourishing of the industry especially from the point of view of technologies, so much so that the studios in Beirut are used by Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian directors. The political events of the early 1980s prevented the emergence of new talents, but among the Lebanese documentary makers who left some mark there are Burhān ῾Alawiyya (Kafr Qāsim, 1974, on the massacre of an Arab village by the Israelis) and Mārūn Baġdādī (al-Ḥurūb al-ṣaġīra, “Little Wars”, 1983). The latter was also noted for al-Raǧul al-maḥǧūb (“The Veiled Man”, 1987, about a French doctor involved in the fratricidal violence in Beirut),(La vita suspended, 1991, awarded at the Cannes Film Festival, also inspired by an episode of the civil war).

Literature. – Lebanese writers, who emigrated to Egypt and America at the beginning of the century, gave a great impetus to the development of contemporary Arabic fiction and poetry. The Lebanese Ǧurǧī Zaydān (1861-1914) was one of the most significant exponents of Egyptian culture, bringing the vogue of the historical novel to the Arab world; while another emigrated to Egypt, H̱alīl Muṭrān (1872-1940), was one of the architects of the new Arabic poetry. The Lebanese emigration to the United States and Brazil favored contact between Arab writers and the Western world. Thus was born the school of mahǧar (“emigration”) which reached its maximum expression with Ǧubrān H̱alīl Ǧubrān (1883-1931), writer and poet in Arabic and English, author of the famous The profet (1923), and founder in New York (1920) of the al-Rābiṭa al-Qalamiyya cultural circle. Amīn al-Rīḥānī (1876-1940) and Mīẖā᾽īl Nu῾aymah (1889-1988) should still be mentioned among the founders of this circle.

For the narrative, the important date is 1939, when the journalist and diplomat Tawfīq Yūsuf ῾Awwād (1911-1989) published al-Raġīf (“The loaf”), which is normally considered the first Lebanese novel of some importance. A fruitful writer, ῾Awwād has left us several collections of short stories, including Qamīṣ al-ṣūf (“The Wool Shirt”) from 1937, and the novel Ṭ awāḥīn Bayrūt (1972, “The Mills of Beirut”) on the consequences of the war of 1967 in Lebanon. In 1953 the writer Suhayl Idrīs (b. 1923), author of the novel set in Paris al-Ḥayy al-lātīnī (“The Latin Quarter”), founded the prestigious literary magazine al-Ādāb, which collects the works of the best prose writers and poets from all over the Arab world, from Morocco to ῾Irāq.

The Arab-Israeli conflict of 1967, the Lebanese civil war, the Israeli occupation of the South of the Lebanon will be recurring themes in the works of many Lebanese writers, such as Ḥalīm Barakāt, Syrian by birth, author of a novel with the prophetic title Sittat Ayyām ( 1961 “Six days”) and Awdat Ṭā’ir al-Ila al-Bahr (1969, “The bird returned to the sea”). Among the writers, the names of Amīlī Naṣr Allāh (b. 1931), who wrote a novel on the problem of Lebanese emigration to Canada, Ṭuyūr aylūl (1962, “Birds of September”), and Tilka al-ḏikrayāt (1980, “Those memories”), in which she describes the abduction of her husband during the civil war; by Ḥanān al-Šayḥ (b.1945),(1980) and the collection of short stories Ward al-Ṣaḥrā ‘ (1982, “The desert rose”) among the Shiites of southern Lebanon; and Laylā Ba῾albakkī (b. 1938) who attracted attention very young for his novel on women, Anā Aḥyā (1961, “I am alive”).

In the field of contemporary poetry, the name of Adonis (Adūnīs) stands out, pseudonym of ῾Alī Aḥmad Sa῾īd (b. 1930), Syrian by birth, naturalized Lebanese since 1956: author of numerous collections of lyrics – some translated into different languages ​​-, is certainly one of the major architects of the renewal of Arabic poetry; he collaborated in 1957 with Yūsuf al-H̱āl on the foundation of the magazine Ši῾r (“Poetry”), and in 1969 he founded the magazine Mawāqif.

Lebanon Cinema

Science and Culture of South Korea

Science and Culture of South Korea

South Korea government and business circles are aware that South Korea’s economic prospects will largely depend on how successful the development of science and education will be. The education system consists of six years of primary education, three years of secondary education, three years of secondary education in advanced schools. Higher education can be obtained at colleges and universities (ca. 230 in 2001), which also run master’s and postgraduate programs that provide an opportunity to obtain a scientific degree.

According to Andyeducation, school education is paid for by central and local authorities (in the proportion of 78%: 22%), so it is practically universally accessible: only a small part of the cost of purchasing teaching aids is covered by parents. Although higher education institutions are 80% private, the government provides financial support to both the universities themselves and the parents of students, providing preferential loans to pay for the education of children. Officials are encouraged to improve their educational level in the country and abroad. The number of college and university students in 2001 was 1.73 million. Leading universities in the country: Seoul State University, Korea University, Kyung Hee University, Korea University of Education. Tens of thousands of South Korean students receive or continue their education in higher education institutions in the US, Europe and Japan.

The development of a strategy for the development of science in the Republic of Kazakhstan is determined by the Council for Science and Technology, headed by the President of the country. The committees of the Council coordinate the activities of government departments and the private sector in the scientific field. Particular attention is paid to the balance of power in the triangle “scientific laboratories – universities – private business”.

The Ministry of Science and Technology is responsible for the specific financing and implementation of scientific and technical programs, their distribution among scientific centers. The Ministry of Economy, Industry and Energy is responsible for the implementation of priority areas for the development of high-tech industries. The Ministry of Informatics and Communications supports the development of information infrastructure.

A modern scientific base has been created in the country, the financing of which in 2001 reached 12 billion dollars, or 2.7% of GDP (1/3 – budget expenditures, 2/3 – private). The annual increase in spending on science in 1998-2001 was 14%. Among the leading industries are medicine and precision instrumentation, electronics. In these industries, R&D spending accounted for 5% and 4.2% of sales, respectively. However, the share of spending by the largest South Korean companies on R&D is lower than that of the leading Western corporations. Government spending will increase on nuclear research, biotechnology, and so on. Meanwhile, the 20 largest private companies account for 40% of all employed in science and 47% of scientists with a doctorate degree, 55% of all investment in R&D.

Institutional transformations become an acute problem, since the hierarchical and complex structure of large business, its concentration on solving tactical problems at the expense of strategic goals hinders innovation. Reforming the innovation sector implies its commercialization by encouraging the restructuring of large conglomerates, supporting the development of small venture businesses and stimulating the expansion of domestic demand for high-tech products. Only during 2001, declared by the government “the year of biotechnology”, and until the end. 2002 up to 600 venture companies specializing in biotechnology are created with the help of the government.

Since 2001, the Ministry of Science and Technology has sharply increased spending on financial support for scientific personnel. To this end, the practice of awarding prizes, grants, and scientific scholarships is expanding. The goal of modern state policy is to significantly improve the financial situation of those employed in science and strengthen the prestige of scientific work, to raise the status of South Korean scientists in society, who for a long time were in the shadow of the bureaucracy, military and businessmen, and also suffered significant material losses as a result of the crisis of 1997–98.

There are 233 museums in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Among the largest are the National Museum of Korea and the National Museum of Folk Art (Seoul). The museum complexes located in the ancient cities and former capitals of Gyeongju and Buyeo are famous. In addition to state, municipal and university museums, there are more than 80 museums in the country created by individuals and corporations.

In the development of contemporary fine arts in the South of the Korean Peninsula, an important role was played by the activities of the 1950s. The National Exhibition, supported by the state and giving priority to the realistic direction of painting and sculpture. In the subsequent period, other artistic directions developed in the country. Of great importance for the modern cultural life of the Republic of Kazakhstan was the holding in 1995 in Gwangju of the international festival of arts “Kwangju Biennale”, which reflected the diversity of artistic trends in the art of the Republic of Kazakhstan, its growing ties with world cultural centers.

Modern Korean literature (including modern prose and poetry) is developing under the significant influence of Western literature.

Korean musical and theatrical art is rooted in primitive religious rites. Traditional colorful theatrical performances that combine dance, songs and oral narration are presented on the stage of the Cheongdong Theater (Seoul). The first Western-style theater opened in Seoul in 1908. There are several theaters and stages in the Republic of Kazakhstan that stage performances of various genres. A number of them are located on Daehanno Street in the center of Seoul.

South Korean cinema after rapid growth in the 2nd half. 1950s experienced a long decline. Since the 1980s the film industry in Kazakhstan is on the rise again. The popularity of South Korean films is growing, many of which have received recognition at international film festivals in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, and Moscow.

Opera, symphonic music, classical and modern ballet are becoming increasingly popular in the country. Currently, 30 symphony orchestras operate in Seoul and other cities of the country. Korean singers and musicians, many of whom were educated in the best educational institutions of the Republic of Kazakhstan and other countries, regularly perform on the stages of famous theaters and at the world’s leading concert venues.

Education of South Korea

Attractions in Boracay Island, Philippines

Attractions in Boracay Island, Philippines


Villages in Boracay – Yapak in the north, Balabag in the center of the island and Manok-Manok in the south – are not only the best place to get acquainted with the life of the locals, but also convenient starting points for excursions in the surrounding area.

Nature miracle. To the west of the village of Yapak is a primeval relict forest, the only one preserved on the island. This remote jungle is home to various primates, reptiles, amphibians and one of the most amazing mammals on earth.
planet – fruit bat, or flying dog. Weighing more than a kilogram and with a wingspan of 1.5 to 1.7 meters, this fantastic beast is one of the largest representatives of the order of bats on the planet. Outside the jungle, nature is no less rich in wonders: exotic trees – guava, mango and papaya – bring crops throughout the island next to blooming orchids and various types of palm trees.

Visiting the caves. The north of the island is famous for its bizarre caves and grottoes. Most of these dungeons are on the rocky east coast. On the west coast, between the beaches of Baling Hai and Punta Bunga, is the equally intriguing Calicugan Cave.

Dead forest. Unusual photo motifs are offered by the Dead Forest, once a freshwater pond at the southern end of Bugabog Beach, into which sea water has penetrated, killing the mangrove trees growing there, whose skeletons still stick out of the water.

Sports and active recreation

Boracay is a great place for sports enthusiasts. Whether your element is water or earth, the possibilities here seem endless. The undoubted leader in popularity is diving: the dive sites of Boracay are equally interesting for any level of training, from beginner to pro. In just 30 minutes by boat, you can reach 20 different sites. It also organizes multi-day excursions to more remote underwater gardens. Golf lovers will not be bored here either: in the north of the island, Fairways & Bluewater Resort has been offering world-class golf courses (18 holes, par 72) since 1997. Sports enthusiasts can explore the island either on foot or on a mountain bike, or on horseback. The last option is undoubtedly the most tempting. Of course, everything things to do on the beach and in coastal waters is one of the favorite ways to spend time in Boracay. Windsurfing and kitesurfing are best practiced in the noisy waters off Bulabog Beach. On the White Beach, a fast ride on a “banana” boat is organized, you can rent a sailing boat or go on an excursion on a boat, through the transparent bottom of which you can see the local underwater kingdom.

More than a spa

Fragrant flower petal baths, hot oil massages, beauty treatments with rare plant essences – Boracay’s spas pamper body and soul and are among the best in the world, as evidenced by their awards, such as the prestigious Spa Asia Cristal Award.. Experienced masseurs and therapists provide spa treatments, reiki massages and other activities to harmonize mind and body in luxurious rooms overlooking the paradise or the turquoise sea.



Gateway to Boracay is a special gangway for boats in Caticlan, on the northern tip of Panay Island. From there, thanks to a newly developed transfer system, you will reach Boracay itself in a 20-minute boat trip. Planes fly regularly to Panay and land at Caticlan Airport or at Kalibo, located 70 kilometers away.


Boracay has offers for every price range: White Beach and nearby bays offer everything from simple cottages and apartments to luxury hotels. During high season (New Year and May holidays) it is recommended to book in advance.


The weather in Boracay is dominated by the northeast and southwest monsoon. The northeast monsoon, Amihan, dominates from late November to March and brings cool, clear weather. At this time, there is a light breeze, calm seas and temperatures from 25 to 32 degrees. From March to June, summer is on the island: warm, sometimes very hot days and from time to time strong monsoon winds. The rainy season begins in July and lasts until November, when the southwest monsoon Habagat reigns here. However, even the rainy season very rarely means that it rains all day long, mostly in showers in the morning and in the evening.

Annual holidays

You can plan a trip based not only on the weather, but also on annual events on Boracay itself and on the nearby island of Panay. Most of them are held during the high season, from December to May. Particularly spectacular are the January Ati-Atihan festival in Panay, the international Funboard Cup in Boracay in the second half of January, and the international beach volleyball tournament held on White Beach in the first two weeks of May.

Moving around the island

Boracay is small, most of the routes can easily be overcome on foot. As public transport for long journeys
, you can use a tricycle, a motorcycle with a side trailer. In addition, in many places you can rent a bicycle or scooter.

Attractions in Boracay Island, Philippines

Tours to India

Tours to India

The tour operator in India makes this mysterious and distant country as close and understandable as possible for all travelers from Moscow and other regions. Why is India attractive to tourists from all over the world? Its unique combination of historical sights and a high level of service in hotels and restaurants, the uniqueness of fauna and flora, landscape color (the country has deserts and mountains, the ocean and many lakes and rivers), non-standard neighborhood of luxurious villas and thatched shacks. Holidays in India cannot be monotonous and ordinary!

Tours to India attract, first of all, connoisseurs of sights that this country very generously shares with travelers from all over the world: Ajanta and Taj Mahal caves, Jaisalmer Fort and Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), Virupaksha Temple and Itemad-ud-Daula (mausoleum), the palace on Lake Pikola and the Temple of the divine Lakshmi Narayana, Qutub Minar and the Red Fort. This is only a small fraction of the wealth of great India!

This vibrant country has the most affordable prices for luxury hotels, a rich menu of local cuisine in many restaurants and street cafes, the cleanest white sand beaches and azure-turquoise water in the bays and lagoons of the Indian Ocean. And if you add to all this the magic of the famous and loved by all Indian films, then it immediately becomes clear why this country deservedly takes the place of the favorite in the ranking of the most attractive places for tourists!

Currency: Indian rupee

Language: English, Hindi

Capital: Delhi

India is located in South Asia. The country ranks seventh in the world in terms of area and second in terms of population. India borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, as well as maritime borders with the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Climate: in the south of India closer to the equatorial, in the north – to the mountainous subtropical. The change of seasons is determined by the monsoons. The hot and dry season lasts from April to June, the average temperature at this time is +38..+46°C, and from mid-June to early October the rainy season lasts (+35..+38°C).
The “high” tourist season in mainland and southern India lasts from early October to late March. The sky during this period is almost cloudless, and the air temperature during the day is +25..+30°C, at night +20..+25°C. In Delhi and to the north, it is cool in December-January, at which time the average temperature is about +13 ° C. In April, when it becomes too hot in the south and in the center of the country, favorable weather is established in the Himalayan states.

Air travel
Aeroflot, together with Air India, flies daily to Delhi. Qatar Airways flies several times a week via Doha to Cochin, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore and Dabolim (Goa). Emirates Airlines operates daily flights to Mumbai, Delhi, Cochin, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai (via Dubai), as well as 4 flights a week to Trivandrum and Kolkata (via Dubai). Etihad Airways flies daily to Delhi, Mumbai and Cochin (via Abu Dhabi) and three times a week to Trivandrum and Madras (via Abu Dhabi). Thai Airways flies to Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai via Bangkok.

Citizens of Russia, as well as citizens of most other countries in the world, require a visa to enter India. A single entry visa is issued for a period of validity from one to three months. A multiple-entry tourist visa is issued for a period of 180 days, at least 2 months must elapse between trips. The validity of a visa starts from the date of issue, not from the date of first entry.

Since January 2015, citizens of the Russian Federation can obtain a visa online by registering on the relevant site, the stamp itself is placed upon arrival.

Customs The
import of foreign currency (and the export of previously imported) is not limited, national – is prohibited. More than 10,000 USD in cash (or the equivalent in another currency), as well as personal computers and laptops must be declared. Duty-free importation of 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 g of tobacco, alcoholic beverages – up to 0.95 liters, jewelry, food, household items and items – within the limits of personal needs is allowed.
It is prohibited to import drugs and preparations containing narcotic substances, weapons and ammunition without appropriate permits. It is forbidden to export skins of tigers, wild animals and plumage of birds, skins and skin products of rare reptiles and ivory, live plants, gold and silver bars, jewelry worth more than 2000 INR (except those bought in duty free), antiques made over a hundred years ago.

India’s coastline, with a total length of nearly 6,000 kilometers, boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The most “developed” and popular beach resorts are located in the states of Goa and Kerala.

Goa – the main resort of the country, as it often happens, is completely different from the rest of India. The coast stretches here for 110 km, forming 40 beautiful beaches. The state is divided into Northern and Southern parts, the “border” between which is Fort Aguada. Hotels and guesthouses located in South Goa are considered expensive, and not only by Indian standards. They are popular among wealthy Europeans and wealthy Indians. The complete opposite is North Goa, relatively inexpensive, noisy and democratic. There, in numerous villages, mainly advanced youth from America and Europe settle, thanks to which this place has become famous throughout the world.

Kerala is the most idyllic state of India. Rest on the beaches there is combined with effective Ayurvedic treatment, rich cultural traditions are happy to “season” with exotic cuisine.

Tours to India

Russia Population in the Early 1990’s

Russia Population in the Early 1990’s

Maximum heir and successor of the USSR, leader of the Commonwealth of Independent States ( CIS , see in this Appendix), the Russia, formed in 1991, also took on the name of the Russian Federation with the Federal Treaty of 1992. It is the largest country in the world by surface area (over 17.1 million km ²) and one of the most significant for the population (147. 963 500 residents In 1999). The Constitution of the Russian Federation, which has a clearly presidential imprint and which reduced the prerogatives initially accorded to the member states (right of secession, prevalence of local legislation over federal law), was approved in1993.

In the CIS, which groups 12 states (all the components already federated in the ancient USSR, except Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the Russia is undoubtedly the leading state, even if the institutional ties with the other members are overall tenuous.. De facto ties, on the other hand, vary from a certain tendency towards political re-aggregation (a closer and more specific Community of Independent Republics was established with Belarus in 1996 – 97 and a significant ‘friendship treaty’ was signed with Ukraine in 1997.) to more frequent military cooperation and economic integration (in particular with some Central Asian countries: 1996 agreements of Russia and Belarus with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan); however, they are made complex by the massive presence in these states of Russian minorities (especially, in order, in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan).

The internal structure of the Russian Federation is complex, involving not only 22 federated republics, but also a certain number of autonomous territorial units (10 districts or okrugi, a province, two cities and 6 territories or krai), all located within that which is by far the largest of the republics, the Russia in the strict sense: this, adding to the autonomous units the 49 ordinary provinces (oblasts), occupies over 70 % of the surface and includes almost 85% of the population of the entire Federation. Among the other federated republics, the largest by far is that of the Jacuti (over 3.1 million km ², with just one million residents), followed at a distance by the Republic of Comi (415,900 km ²) and the Republic Buryat (351. 300 km ²); the most populous is from the Republic of Bashkortostan and Bashkortostan (over 4,1 million pop.), followed by the Tatars, or Tatarstan (3, 8 million pop.).

While the two possible ‘external’ Russian claims on Crimea (see Ukraine, in this Appendix) and South Ossetia (see Georgia, in this Appendix) are not raised for the moment, and even more so that on Northern Kazakhstan in which a strong Russian-speaking minority is concentrated (see Kazakhstan, in this Appendix), within the Federation independentist movements have bloodied Chechnya for a long time in the Ciscaucasian area. This federated republic, separated from Ingushetia with which it once constituted an autonomous republic of the USSR, had already declared itself independent in 1991 (with the autochthonous name of Ičkeria since 1994), provoking in the long run a hard and bloody Russian military intervention (1994 – 96); with the 1996 agreements, the definition of the status of Chechnya was postponed to a referendum to be held in 2001, but the conflict flared up again in 1999 (see below: History). Strong aspirations for greater autonomy – if not independence – characterize not only other federated republics (Tatarstan in the middle Volga basin, which was granted special autonomy in 1994 ; Baškortostan; Karelia on the border with Finland ; Tuva in Siberia), but also remote kraiSiberians like those of Khabarovsk and Primor´e, very far from Moscow, and even simple oblasts like that of Sverdlovsk (‘Ural Republic’, proclaimed in 1993 and then fallen into thin air). All within the framework of a widespread aspiration to self-government motivated by ethnic reasons, by great distances, and above all by the aspiration of local communities to control their own resources: eg. oil in Chechnya, and even more so the positive position enjoyed by this republic, as it is crossed by the oil pipeline (damaged and blocked several times during the recent civil war) that leads from Baku and the Caspian to Novorossiysk, a Russian export port on the Black Sea.

In this complicated intertwining of claims of belonging and independence, of tendencies to re-aggregation and threats of secession, it is hardly necessary to note that, while the western borders of the Russia are no longer contested by anyone, a strip of Russian territory is, quietly but continuously, claimed by Japan to the east: the Kuril Islands.


The population of the Russian Federation is practically zero growth, if not a slight decrease: in fact the demographic vitality of some of the ethnic minorities and the return flows of Russians from some of the former Soviet republics (Central Asian and Caucasian in particular) are more than balanced by the senile demographic behavior of the great majority of the population: the birth rate has dropped below 10% and the death rate is close to 14% (1997).

About ten cities are located between one million and one and a half million residents (values ​​substantially stationary in recent decades): they are mostly capitals of large oblasts of the Russia in the strict sense, except Ufa and Kazan ‘which perform capital functions of the two main among the minor federated republics (those of the Bashkirs and the Tatars). The two peaks of the Russian urban network stand on these cities: St. Petersburg, the northernmost metropolis on Earth, with 4.7 million residents (it is under the protection of UNESCO with the 2001 Heritage project), and Moscow, spread like wildfire around the Kremlin (deeply renewed in its face, at least in the center, in the last years of the millennium, in particular with the reopening and revaluation of the splendid Orthodox churches), with over 8.5 millions of residents: these two urban centers are the only ones to have the status of ‘autonomous city’ within the Russian Federation. The toponymic revisionism, which had led, starting from 1990, to the restoration of many of the ancient names of cities of the pre-Soviet era, abruptly came to a halt: thus Caricyn was once again called Volgograd, and Togliatti kept its name after the specific referendum of 1996.

From an ethnic point of view, 83 % of the population of the Federation is made up of real Russians (1994): they represent the great majority of the residents of Russia in the strict sense, but also the majority or at least a strong minority in the other federated republics.: from 74 % in Karelia to 27 % in the Chuvash Republic. In the Federation as a whole, the main internal ethnic minority is constituted by the Tatars (almost 4 % of the total population and 49 % of that of their specific republic) and the external one by the Ukrainians (over 2% of the total population). The other minorities, both internal (Chuvas, Bashkirs, Mordvini, Chechens – all organized into their own federated republics – and others, mostly owners of autonomous territories within Russia in the strict sense), and external (Belarusians, etc..). It should be remembered that outside Russia, in the other republics of the former USSR (including the Baltic ones that are not part of the CIS), there are still almost 25 million Russians. On the religious level, ethnic Russians – the believing ones – are mostly Orthodox Christians (35 ÷ 40 million practitioners according to a 1996 assessment), and the Orthodox Church enjoys a certain position of privilege also at the political level; moreover, Tatars, Chechens and other groups are Muslims, the Buryats are Buddhists and there is no shortage of Jewish groups (which have their own autonomous province within the Russian Republic). Orthodox, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish cults are to some extent protected by the state, as they are considered “traditional cults of Russia” according to a law of 1997, which in a certain sense discriminates against minority religious confessions, including the Catholic one (tabb. 2a and 2b ).

Russia Population in the Early 1990's

Turkey Recent History

Turkey Recent History

1980 coup

Between 1979 and 1980, the government of Süleymán Demirel decided to stop the alliance with Western countries, and with it, the hope of development of the private sector of the economy, which was supported by foreign aid. The Republican Party requested state control of the elementary means of production and the establishment of new alliances with the Third World and the communist bloc.

Extremist groups on the left and right again carried out the assassinations of political figures and carried out terrorist actions. The December of September of 1980, the army took control of the government and suspended the constitution. The new rulers imposed martial law, banned political activity, limited the right to the press and imprisoned thousands of citizens, accused of terrorists.
The Army ruled through the National Security Council, which appointed General Kenan Evren head of state, while Admiral Bülent Ulusu became Prime Minister.

Return to democracy

According to, the greatest advance towards the establishment of a civil government took place in 1982, when a new Constitution was promulgated, by which Evren was appointed President of the Republic. The parliamentary elections of November 1983 were an overwhelming victory for the Party of the Motherland (which had the support of the Army for its conservative right-wing character), whose top leader, Turgut Ozal, was appointed prime minister.

In 1989, Ozal was elected as the first civil head of state since 1960, and Yilidirim Akbulut replaced him as prime minister. Akbulut was replaced by Mesut Yilmaz in 1991, in turn replaced by economist Tansu Çiller in 1993, leader of the Straight Path Party. Turkey collaborated with international forces in the Iraqi expulsion from Kuwait between 1990 and 1991, although the Turkish troops did not participate in the Persian Gulf War. Following the war, and following an unfortunate uprising by the Iraqi Kurds, hundreds of thousands of refugees crossed the border into Turkey, although refugee camps were established under Allied administration in the vicinity of the Turkish border.

Since 1984, an undeclared war has been going on between successive Turkish governments and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Marxist-Leninist group that is trying to achieve the autonomy of the lands of 15 million Kurds by methods. terrorists.

The conflict is mainly located in the southeast of the country where the largest concentration of Kurdish population meets. In March 1995, the government of Tansu Çiller showed its intention to destroy the separatist movement, invading 40 kilometers of the Kurdish region located northwest of Iraq and which was a protected area of the United Nations. At the same time, the government passed more liberal laws allowing for the legalization of moderate Kurdish nationalist groups and the reopening of Kurdish schools.

2016 coup

In the evening hours of the 15 of July of 2016 they began circulating in Ankara dozens of military vehicles and aircraft. Moments later, an official statement confirmed that a faction of the Turkish Army was attempting to seize power and overthrow the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the midst of these actions, a total of 265 people died, including 161 government and civilian forces and 104 of the conspirators, 1,440 were injured and 2,839 soldiers were arrested after the failure of the coup [1] [2] .

The country’s Superior Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK for its acronym in Turkish) dismissed 2,745 judges for their alleged links to the cleric Fetulá Gulen, an exile in the United States who defends the creation of a parallel state in Turkey.

2017 Constitutional Reform Plebiscite

In 2017, the Turks go to the polls to vote on a constitutional reform Plebiscite that proposes the transition from a parliamentary model to the presidential one, having an acceptance of 51.32 percent of support, compared to 48.68 percent of those who They are against.

With this modification, all the executive power will be concentrated in the hands of the president and the figure of prime minister will be eliminated. In addition, the head of state may appoint vice presidents, ministers and senior officials and presidential decrees will influence decisions on the creation, dissolution, functions and structure of the ministries.

The president also obtains the right to announce the state of emergency with the approval of Parliament, appoint various members of the highest judicial body of the country and may issue decrees without the approval of legislators. These changes to the constitution will take effect from 2019.

Many international observers who accompanied this process contested the result since the legal framework was inadequate for the realization of a genuinely democratic process. This was stated by the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Cezar Florin who also assured that the state of emergency should never be used to undermine the rule of law.

For many of the international observers, the regulations and instructions adopted by the Higher Electoral Council (YSK) are insufficient for the holding of a democratic referendum.

Turkey Recent History

History of Seoul, South Korea

History of Seoul, South Korea

Seoul’s history dates back to 18 BCE. However, humans have occupied the area that now constitutes Seoul since the Paleolithic. Seoul has been a great settlement for over 2,000 years. It has been the capital of numerous kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula since it was established.

Baekje and the early prehistoric era

Humans are believed to have lived in the area that is now Seoul on the lower reaches of the Han River during the Paleolithic and archaeological research programs show that people began to lead determined lives beginning in the Neolithic Age. With the introduction of bronze objects around 700 BCE, the settlements gradually began to spread from the river basin to the inland areas.

In 18 BCE, the Baekje kingdom founded its capital city, Wiryeseong, which is now the interior of Seoul. Baekje subsequently developed from a member state of the Mahan confederation into one of the three kingdoms of Korea. There are several remains of city walls in the Seoul area dating from this time. Among them, Pungnap Toseong, a wall of earth in the southeastern part of present-day Seoul, (in Pungnap-dong, just near the Jamsil area) that is widely regarded as the main Wiryeseong site. However, another earthen wall, Toseong Mongchon, nearby, also dates from the early Baekje era.

All of these sites are in the south of the Han River, and do not belong to the Seoul Historic District (centered on what is now Jongno), which is well in the north of the river.

Era of the Three Kingdoms

As the three kingdoms competed for this strategic region of the Korean Peninsula, control passed from Baekje to Goguryeo in 392 and from Goguryeo to the Silla- Baekje alliance in 551.

Silla soon gained complete control of the city and the peninsula, and during the Unified Silla period, Hanyang was first considered a district of the city, and later the city itself.

It was Goryeo

It was thought that the kingdom that controlled the Han River Valley would also have strategic control of the entire peninsula, as it was a transportation hub. In 1104, King Sukjong of the Goryeo Dynasty built a palace in Seoul, which was then known as Namgyeong or “Capital of the South”. Seoul developed into a large-scale city with political significance during this time.

It was Joseon and the Korean Empire

At the beginning of the Joseon dynasty in 1394, the capital was moved to Seoul, also known as Hanyang and later as Hanseong, where it remained until the fall of the dynasty.

Originally completely surrounded by an imposing circular wall to provide its citizens with safety from wild animals such as the tiger, thieves and attacks. The city has grown beyond the walls and although the walls are gone (except in the mountains north of the downtown area), the gates remain near the central area of Seoul, among which Sungnyemun (commonly known as Namdaemun, or South Gate) and Heunginjimun (commonly known as Dongdaemun, or East Gate), as well as Sukjeongmun (commonly known as Bukdaemun, or North Gate) and four smaller gates which include Changuimun and Hyehwamun. During the Joseon Dynasty, doors opened and closed every day, accompanied by the tolling of large bells.

In the 19th century, after hundreds of years of isolation, Seoul opened its doors to foreigners and began to modernize. Seoul became the first city in East Asia to have electricity, trams, water, telephone, and telegraph systems all at once. Much of this was due to trade with the United States. For example, the Seoul Electric Company, Seoul Electric Trolley, and Seoul Fresh Spring Water Company were US-owned companies. In 1904, an American by the name of Angus Hamilton visited the city and said: “The streets of Seoul are magnificent, wide, clean, admirably done and well drained. The narrow, dirty alleys have been widened, the canals have been covered, roads widened Seoul is within measurable distance of becoming the tallest, most interesting and cleanest city in the East. ”

Colonial korea

When the Japanese empire annexed Korea, it made Seoul its colonial capital. While under colonial rule (1910 – 1945), the city was called Gyeongseong. Gyeongseong was an urban prefecture like present-day Kyoto or Osaka with two districts: Gyeongseong itself and Yongsan-gu. The Japanese General Government Building was the seat of colonial government during colonial Korea and was torn down in 1995.


After World War II and the liberation of Korea, the city took its current name from Seoul. When the Republic of Korea (South Korea) declared itself as a state, it adopted the city as its capital.

In 1950, the Korean War broke out and Seoul changed hands between North Korean forces and South Korean forces four times, leaving the city largely destroyed at the end of the war. An estimate of the damage indicates that at least 191,000 buildings, 55,000 houses and 1,000 factories were left in ruins. In addition, there was an avalanche of refugees from the north, increasing the population of the city, to about 2.5 million people. More than half of them were left homeless.

After the war, Seoul became the focus of an immense reconstruction and modernization effort. The rapid economic growth achieved during the industrialization of the 1960s and 1970s increased the living standards of residents considerably. The outbreak of tall office and apartment buildings began in the city during the construction boom of the 1980s. Pollution and traffic jams became major issues due to accelerated urbanization in the country and large numbers of people began to move to and around Seoul. Despite a green belt around the city to prevent urban sprawl, the Seoul metropolitan area soon became the third largest in the world in terms of population and one of the busiest.

According to Youremailverifier, Seoul was the host city of the Olympic Games of 1988, as well as one of the venues of the World Cup FIFA 2002.

During the 1990s, the city began to attract many workers from other countries, producing demographic changes. Previously, almost all of Seoul’s residents were from Korea, with the exception of a small Chinese minority. At present, there are an estimated 200,000 foreign nationals living in Seoul. These include workers from Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

In addition, there are many language teachers from countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom. As a large business and financial center, Seoul also has many executives and analysts from North America, Europe, and Japan. Seoul is ranked seventh in the world on the Fortune 500 list for the number of multinational companies headquartered there. It is also the second most expensive city, ahead of Tokyo and Hong Kong(ranked 3 and 4, respectively).

Transfer of the capital

The November of August of 2004, the Korean government of the South announced that the capital would be located in the Gongju area from 2007 to relieve pressure on the population in Seoul and government at a safe distance from Korea to the North. Gongju is approximately 120 kilometers south of Seoul. The government estimates that the measure will probably not be completed before 2012. Although part of it is part of the electoral program, this plan has sparked controversy throughout the country. On 21 October as as 2004, the Constitutional Court declared on the basis of customary law that the special law for the transfer of the capital is unconstitutional since relocation is a serious matter that requires a national referendum or revision of the Constitution, thereby ending the dispute.

At the end of 2004, however, the Government of South Korea announced its plans to pass most of the powers of the national state, with the exception of the Executive Branch, to Gongju, thus evading the violation of the Constitutional Court ruling and remaining Seoul as the national capital. Starting in 2011, preliminary construction of new government buildings has started in Gonju area. Naturally, no government body wants to get away from the center of power in Seoul, for which agencies will be forced to move is the subject of intense behind-the-scenes debate.

History of Seoul, South Korea

Syria Economy

Syria Economy


The cautious economic reform program begun under H. al-Assad in the 1990s was significantly accelerated after his son Bashar came to power. Against the background of declining oil revenues, the aim was to transform the former planned economy into a market economy. The increase in the pace of reform with the aim of encouraging private capital to invest more was due to the country’s foreign trade situation, which had become much more difficult since the 3rd Gulf War. With the Syrian Civil War and the i.a. Sanctions imposed by the USA and the EU collapsed and the supply situation for large parts of the population became precarious. With a gross national income (GNI) per resident of US $ 2,750, Syria was one of the middle-income developing countries in 2010.

Foreign trade: Syria’s foreign trade volume is heavily dependent on the price of crude oil, with crude oil and petroleum products accounting for more than a third of exports. Foreign trade is severely restricted by war and international sanctions (from 2011/12). In addition to oil, Syria exported textiles and cotton, food, and metals and metal products. On the import side, there were fuels, chemical products and metals, as well as food. The most important trading partners were Arab states.


According to youremailverifier, agriculture (including forestry and fisheries) remains an important factor in the Syrian economy despite accelerated industrialization. It generates (2016) around 19.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs around 17% of the workforce. The ownership structure has been fundamentally changed by agricultural reforms that have been carried out in the meantime; private and cooperative ownership are predominant. The main crops are wheat, barley, fruit (especially grapes) and vegetables (especially tomatoes), olives and sugar beets. The main cultivation areas extend over the coastal strip, the arable plains in the north and northeast (new development in the Djesire) and the irrigation areas on the Euphrates and Khabur. The irrigated area covers about 1.34 million hectares, which is about a third of the arable land. The entire central and eastern part of Syria can only be used for grazing purposes. Livestock breeding, especially extensive sheep farming, has a share of around 30% in agricultural production.

Natural resources

The heavy, sulfur-rich crude oil, which was discovered in northeast Syria in 1966, has been extracted since 1968 and has been exported since the mid-1970s. New oil deposits (including the largest oil deposits in Syria to date) have been developed and exploited since 1984 near Deir ez-Zor in the east of the country; the oil extracted here is light and low in sulfur and can therefore also be processed in the local refineries (Homs and Banias). The – declining – oil production reached 1.1 million t in 2016. The secured reserves are only 300 million t. The production of natural gas could be increased after the turn of the millennium. However, the delivery volume has fallen sharply again since 2011 (2016: 3.6 billion m 3); it is mainly used for the operation of power plants and for further processing. The most important raw material after crude oil and natural gas is phosphate, which has been mined at Palmyra since 1973 and around 80% exported. The mining volume is 750,000 t (2015) (2011: 3.5 million t). There are also natural asphalt deposits as well as rock salt and gypsum deposits.


In the manufacturing industry, which generated around 19% of GDP in 2016, the oil and gas sector dominates. The most important areas of the manufacturing industry are the food, textile and clothing industries. Younger sectors are the chemical industry, machine and vehicle construction as well as the cement and production of fertilizers from natural phosphate. The industry is mainly concentrated in Aleppo, Damascus, Hama and Homs. The handicraft has a long tradition.


In 2010, 8.5 million foreign guests, mostly from Arab countries, visited Syria. The income amounted to US $ 3.8 billion and was thus an important economic factor. With the civil war (from 2011) tourism came to a standstill. In addition to natural landscape attractions, the old towns of Damascus and Aleppo, the ancient sites of Palmyra, Bosra and in the northern Syrian limestone massif (Christian “Dead Cities” and Simeon’s monasteries) as well as the fortresses of Arabs and crusaders were the main attractions.


The traffic routes are relatively well developed in the more densely populated western Syrian region. The railway network connects the industrial areas in the north with the port cities and Damascus. It is connected to the Turkish and Iraqi networks. The most important mode of transport, however, is the approximately 70,000 km long road network, on which around 95% of goods are transported. The main traffic axis runs as a north-south highway from the Turkish border via Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus to Jordan. The largest sea ports are those of Latakia, Banias (petroleum terminal) and Tartus (Phosphate export, grain import). International air traffic is maintained by the national airline Syrian Arab Airlines and the private Cham Wings Airlines, founded in 2007. The main airport is Damascus International Airport.

Syria Economy

Trekking Adventure in The Faroe Islands

Trekking Adventure in The Faroe Islands

Put on your hiking boots and take a few deep breaths of the refreshing Atlantic wind as you now experience the Faroe Islands in the absolute best way – step by step.

The Faroe Islands are a real paradise for nature lovers and can you experience nature in a better way than on foot? We have tailored a trip where you maximize beautiful hikes by having a rental car and in this way can easily take you between different hiking trails. The Faroe Islands have both a well-functioning road network that connects the different islands with bridges, ferries and tunnels as well as lots of hiking trails.

You will have fantastic hiking experiences on the bird island of Mykines, the northern islands around Kalsoy and Svínoy, on top of the country’s highest mountain Slættaratindur and along old hiking trails.

Day 1: Departure from Scandinavia and arrival in the Faroe Islands

You land in the Faroe Islands and pick up the rental car at the airport. You continue towards Gásadalur on the island of Vágar, which was the last of the Faroese settlements to be connected by road. An isolated place where it sometimes feels as if time has stood still for centuries. Behind the village the mountains rise and in front is the iconic waterfall where the water rushes directly over the cliffs into the sea. Here you enjoy the tranquility and the magnificent view of Tindhólm. Now magnificent hikes are in front of you!

Day 2: Hiking among puffins on Mykines

Today’s trek you do on Mykines, the westernmost point of the Faroe Islands and a paradise for the beautiful puffins that live here. Mykines is completely car-free and there are only a dozen residents here. The excursion begins with a boat trip along the steep and magnificent rock walls before you reach Mykines itself. You have a guided tour here on Mykines, the hike is about 7-8 kilometers in uneven terrain and can be graded anywhere between moderate to hard. After an exciting day, you go back to Vágar and then continue towards. Klaksvík where you rest your legs at your B&B. ( F )

Day 3: Hiking on Svínoy

After breakfast, hop on the ferry from Viðoy to Svínoy. Here awaits a hike at Dragin where the British had a station during World War II. Today, Dragin is a favorite haunt for many of the Faroe Islands’ different bird species. During hiking, you have the opportunity to both see and hear bird species such as heather, antarctic lab, antarctic star, meadow beetle, greylag goose and several gull species. The hike today is slightly easier with its 4-5 kilometers but you walk in uneven terrain and the hike takes about 4 hours. ( F )

Day 4: Panoramic views on Kalsoy

Today you go out to Kalsoy. A 12-kilometer road through the island’s four tunnels connects the island’s four communities. In Trøllanes you meet up with your guide who you will hike with today. You walk towards the lighthouse which is located on the crest of a mountain. During the hike, your guide will tell you about life on Kalsoy – about local traditions and legends. After an hour of hiking you are at the lighthouse and the reward is a wonderful view. Take lots of pictures, both with camera, eyes and heart when you stand and enjoy the sounds of nature and beautiful views. In total, you walk today between 6-10 kilometers in uneven terrain. You walk back to Trøllanes where you can breathe a little before the ferry returns to Klaksvík. From here you drive to the larger island of Eysturoy where you spend the night. ( F )

Day 5: At the top of the Faroe Islands’ highest mountain

You drive to the northern part of Eysturoy where you meet your guide. The hike starts at Eiðisskarð – the mountain pass south of Slættaratindur. A pretty tough hike to the top – but it’s worth it – the view from the highest mountains in the Faroe Islands is absolutely phenomenal with views out over mountains and rolling, green valleys. You walk 5-6 hours in very hilly terrain. After a hard but satisfying day of hiking, you return to Eysturoy for a well-deserved rest. ( F )

Day 6: Walking between giants and witches

Now you leave Eysturoy and drive to Saksun and from here you travel on to Tjørnuvík together with your guide. This area is surrounded by steep mountain sides – most famous is the impressive rock formation such as ‘Kæmpen og Heksen’. During the hike you will see Slættaratindur and Gráfelli, the Faroe Islands’ two highest mountains. On the way from Tjørnuvíksskarð to the village Saksun you have a nice view of the beautiful lagoon and the fjord. The hike today is moderate in relatively uneven terrain, you walk for a total of 5 hours. After the hike, take the car and drive to the capital Tórshavn, for an overnight stay. ( F )

Day 7: The world’s smallest capital or hiking on bus trails

Today you can choose between either going on a discovery trip in Tórshavn or embarking on a final hiking trip. If you stay in the capital, it is a must-see old town where you wander around amidst a maze of streets and alleys, stairs and tarred houses with green grass roofs. A feeling of having stepped back to the Middle Ages that is broken when you see that modern people live and work here. If you choose to hike, we recommend the old bustle trail to Kirkjubøur. The road offers beautiful views of the islands Sandoy, Hestur, Koltur and Vágar. In Kirkjubøur you can see Roykstovan, a 900 year old building. You can also visit the ruins of St. St. Magnus Cathedral and Ólavskyrkan from the year 1111. The hike can be adapted as needed and you can choose to hike between 7-14 kilometers and is on your own without a guide. In the evening, we recommend that you finish at one of Tórshavn’s restaurants, the city is known for its range of restaurants and good food. (F )

Day 8: Departure back to Scandinavia

After fantastic hikes and experiences in the Faroe Islands, you drive back to the airport, return your rental car and take the flight back home again. ( F )

Overnight stays

One night at Vágar at B&B
Two nights at Klaksvik at B&B
Two nights at Eysturoy at B&B
Two nights at Tórshavn at B&B

Trekking Adventure in The Faroe Islands

Backpacking on Borneo, Malaysia

Backpacking on Borneo, Malaysia

A travel suggestion for those who have a limited budget but still want to experience Borneo’s highlights, such as orangutans, jungle trekking through lush rainforest, and sun holidays on a tropical island.

Experience Sabah backpackerstyle. You visit the famous Sepilok rehabilitation center for orangutans. Further on a river safari along the Kinabatangan River and to the Danum Valley with lots of wonderful nature experiences. The adventure ends with a few days of relaxation on the beautiful tropical island of Sepanggar Island.

Day 1: Departure from Scandinavia

Your backpacking adventure – whether you travel as a backpacker or glam packer – begins today with a flight to Kota Kinabalu. There are usually two stopovers on the way, depending on which airline you are traveling with.

Day 2: Arrival in Kota Kinabalu

You will be picked up at the airport and driven to your hostel located in central Kota Kinabalu. The rest of the day is spent on your own, so you can unpack and rest.

Day 3: Kota Kinabalu on your own

You can relax and explore the city today. If you want to go on an excursion, we recommend that you book a day trip to Coral Island, where you can relax, swim and enjoy snorkeling in the crystal clear water. ( F )

Day 4: Transfer to Sepilok

Today you will take the bus to Sandakan and from here on to your lodge in Sepilok’s jungle. (Transportation to the bus station in Kota Kinabalu and from Sandakan to Sepilok is at your own expense.) The afternoon is spent on your own, so you can rent a bike, stroll around, or just relax. ( F )

Day 5: Kinabatangan River

You can spend the morning at the Sepilok Orangutan Center, located a few kilometers from your hostel. Take part in the admirable project, which is about rehabilitating the monkeys. Footbridges have been built so that you can see the orangutans in their natural environment. In the middle of the day, transfer to your lodge in Kinabatangan departs. Upon arrival, a cruise awaits on the river, among exciting birds and wildlife. You are back at your lodge just before dusk, when dinner is served. In the evening, a jungle hike is arranged, so you can see nocturnal animals, birds and insects. ( F , M )

Day 6: Cruise on the Kinabatangan River

The day begins early with a morning cruise on the Kinabatangan River, where you can keep an eye out for exciting animals and birds. Once back in your lodge, breakfast is served and then a jungle walk awaits along with a professional guide. You have the chance to see different kinds of monkeys and can see a glimpse of Borneo’s dwarf elephants. After lunch, an extra trip on the river is arranged. ( F , L , M )

Day 7: Transfer to Danum Valley

Wake up to the sound of gibbon monkeys and the song of the rhinoceros birds. At 06.00 it is time for the morning cruise and you can see even more animals. Back in your lodge, have a good breakfast before heading to the Danum Valley. You are welcomed by a representative from the Danum Valley Field Center (DVFC), which is basically a research center, but where you also receive visitors. After you have been accommodated and eaten lunch, you should meet your guide and plan your days here. In the afternoon, there is a walk in the rainforest that is completely buzzing with life. Maybe you get to see a rhinoceros bird or an orangutan that lives in the area. Back at the center, dinner is served before you go on a night hike with your guide. ( F , L , M )

Day 8: Danum Valley

You need to get up early so that you and your guide can experience when the jungle awakens, from the lookout platforms in the trees. If you prefer to see the sunrise during a trip in a car with four-wheel drive, this can also be arranged in advance (you are responsible for the payment). When you get back to the center, it’s time for breakfast and maybe a walk in the local area, or it’s appropriate with a little relaxation. After lunch, take a dip in the Ulu Segama River, before going on a hike that you plan with your guide. You will return in the late afternoon and enjoy a beautiful sunset. After dinner, it is possible to go on a night hike with a guide. ( F , L , M )

Day 9: Danum Valley

You spend a whole day exploring the area with your guide. Go up to the lookout points in the trees and keep an eye out for gibbon monkeys and orangutans. Depending on your physical condition, a longer hike is also offered, but it is up to the local guide to judge. After dinner there is again the opportunity to go on an evening hike. Accommodation at DVFC in dormitory rooms. ( F , L , M )

Day 10: Transfer to Lahad Datu and flight to Kota Kinabalu

After an early morning walk, breakfast is served and you can finish packing before it’s time to check out and drive to the airport. You fly to Kota Kinabalu where you spend the night. ( F )

Day 11-13: Sepanggar Island

You go by boat to Sepanggar Island and can enjoy the next few days on the beach next to the sea. Relax on the wonderful island with white beaches, turquoise waters and snorkeling among the reefs. You can also rent a kayak or go fishing. Two guided snorkeling trips are included. ( F , L , M )

Day 14: Transfer to the airport

The trip ends today with a transfer to the airport and a flight back to Scandinavia. ( F )

Day 15: Arrival in Scandinavia

Overnight stays

Two nights in Kota Kinabalu in a hostel
One night in a hostel in Sepilok in a dormitory room
Two nights in a lodge on the river Kinabatangan n
Three nights in a hostel in Danum Valley
One night in a hostel in Kota Kinabalu
Two nights in a cottage on Sepanggar Island

Backpacking on Borneo

Go to Bangkok, Angkor Wat, Phuket and Koh Yao

Go to Bangkok, Angkor Wat, Phuket and Koh Yao

Experience the contrast between the metropolitan pulse of Bangkok and the tranquility of the unique temples around Angkor Wat. Cycle around the rural surroundings of Siem Reap before flying south to beautiful Koh Yao and Phuket.

On this trip you can combine one of Asia’s most exciting cities, Bangkok, Angkor Wat – one of the most impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites and then end your holiday with sun and swimming on both a quiet tropical island and an island with a little more activities. We believe that this is a journey that combines the best of all worlds.

Day 1: Departure from Scandinavia

Today, the journey to Bangkok is with scheduled flights.

Day 2: Arrival in Bangkok

When you arrive in Bangkok, a driver is ready to drive you to your guesthouse. New Road Guest House is very centrally located and has a nice and homely atmosphere. In the lobby there is a service center that is happy to assist with travel tips and practical questions. The rest of the day you can rest after the trip or discover Bangkok. We have lots of suggestions for great experiences if you need inspiration. If you want to eat near your guesthouse, we recommend the restaurant next door, Harmonique.

Day 3-4: On your own in Bangkok:

You have all day to explore Bangkok on your own. Go on a journey of discovery in the exciting city where lots of experiences await. If you need suggestions for activities, we recommend, among other things, a bike ride behind the city’s facade or exciting trainspotting in Mahachai. The day offers an exciting excursion from the hectic city life in Bangkok to the lively and green countryside where you can experience the local everyday life. ( F )

Day 5: By plane to Siem Reap

You take yourself out to the airport and your flight to Cambodia. You will be picked up at the airport in Siem Reap and driven to your cozy hotel, where you can spend the day relaxing by the pool or taking a stroll to the local market. ( F )

Day 6: Angkor Wat

The trip departs by tuk tuk early in the morning, so you can watch the sunrise at the temples. The first stop is at Srah Sarong or “Kings Bath”, where you can watch the sun rise over the water and the temples. Then you can walk across the road and be one of the first to visit the jungle temple of Ta Phrom just as they open for the day. The archeological park around Angkor is one of the most important sights in Southeast Asia. It stretches over 400 km2 and contains ruins from the various capitals of the Khmer Empire from the 800s to the 14th century. Today you get to see the area highlights. After Ta Phrom you will visit the southern part of Angkor Thom where you can follow a path through the jungle to a hidden temple. If you have brought breakfast, it is perfect to eat it (ask the hotel staff to pack a lunch box for you). You will also visit Bayon, Baphoun, Terrace of Elephants and Leper King temples. When it suits you, you can take a break for lunch and maybe rest for a while, before moving on to Angkor Wat – the most famous building from the Khmer era. The day ends with an unforgettable sunset over the temple area. (F )

Day 7: Experience everyday life around Siem Reap by bike

Today you will cycle through the area around Siem Reap and take part in preparing a meal that you can donate to the local monks. The Buddhist monks live far from their families and are not allowed to have regular jobs. Therefore, they are completely dependent on the generosity of the local population. You prepare the food together with a local chef and pack it so that it is ready to donate to the monks. Once you have given the food to the monks, you can talk to them about Buddhism and their way of life. After lunch, cycle back to the hotel. ( F , L )

Day 8: Flight to Phuket

You can ask the hotel to book a taxi for you that will take you to the airport. When you arrive, you will be picked up at the airport and given a ride to the beautiful island of Koh Yao Yai, where you can enjoy life on a real paradise island for the next few days. ( F )

Day 9-11: Koh Yao Yai

If you feel like a bit of speed and fan during the days on Koh Yao Yai, you can snorkel in one of the most beautiful places in the area, rent a kayak and explore the mangroves or maybe take a mountain bike ride. You can also enjoy the tranquility and relax with a good book, pamper yourself in the hotel’s spa or take a dip in the hotel’s beautiful infinity pool. NOTE: due to low tide outside the hotel, the beach is not the best for swimming. ( F )

Day 12: By boat to Phuket

After a couple of days of peace and quiet, the journey continues towards the pulse of Phuket. Here you live on the quiet Bantao Beach, where there are plenty of small cozy restaurants and bars. ( F )

Day 13-14: On your own on Phuket

You can go for a walk on the beach, test your talents on a paddleboard or go to one of the more visited beaches and do some shopping. We recommend that you have dinner at Bliss Beach Club or that you rent a scooter / take a taxi and enjoy a drink at sunset in the beautiful Sri Panwas bar Baba Nest which is located on the roof. ( F )

Day 15: Return from Phuket

Today is the last day of the holiday, but you still have time for one last dip in the sea before you are picked up at the hotel and go to the flight that will take you home to Scandinavia again. ( F )

Day 16: Arrival in Scandinavia

Overnight stays

Three nights at guesthouse in Bangkok
Three nights at boutique hotel in Siem Reap
Four nights in villa on Koh Yao
Three nights at resort in Phuket

Go to Bangkok, Angkor Wat, Phuket and Koh Yao

Nepal Arts and Traditions

Nepal Arts and Traditions


According to campingship, Nepal is a country located in Asia. The most notable expression of the custom in Nepal can be found in the spirit that characterizes the participation of the residents in popular festivals. The scanning of the recurrences is structured on the Nepalese calendar, whose starting point is the Indian calendar Bikram Sambat, and which begins with the month of Baishakh (New Year roughly corresponds to April 13-14 on the Gregorian calendar). In these celebrations, which, adding up the religious, historical-legendary, agricultural, seasonal or regional ones, come to form a number almost equal to the days of an entire calendar, everything is homage to tradition: classic cuisine is found here, more typical clothing, the music and dances of the origins, the secular rites that have remained intact. Among the many we remember the Nawabarsha (the Nepalese New Year), the Buddha Jayanty (the birth of Buddha), the Dashain (the longest, 15 days, and choreographic of the appointments, dedicated to Durga, the universal mother goddess), the Tihar (5 days dedicated to Yama, the god of death). To these parties are added the private or family anniversaries, with their set of practices and peculiarities with more or less colorful and folkloric tones, weddings, births, funerals. The cultural heterogeneity of Nepal also characterizes other areas of lifestyle, such as nutrition: in fact, only some dishes are the same throughout the country (dal, lentil soup, bhat, rice, tarkari, curry vegetables). Finally, a distinctive trait of Nepalese history and culture is the great importance attributed to the care of the mind, concretized in the wide variety of meditative arts, also of religious origin, developed here. From yoga to meditation to ayurveda, the “science of life”, these attitudes, rather than practical, still mark the real difference between the East and the West of the world.


Appendix of Indian civilization, the Nepalese artistic culture assimilated from this stylistic components (Maurya, Gupta and Pāla art) to feed its own traditions and to develop an irradiation activity towards the Tibetan area that configures it as a link between Indian art , the Tibetan one and the Chinese one from the Yüan period (XIII-XIV century). Fundamental vehicles of these complex encounters were Hinduism and above all Tantric Buddhism, which was introduced in Tibet around the century. VII-VIII, from which the most singular manifestations of genuine Nepalese art derive. Beyond the most striking and immediate figurative achievements of plastic and pictorial art originating from the iconographic suggestion of the pantheon Tantric with its crowded repertoire of terrifying images of multi-headed and multi-armed divinities, the originality of Nepalese art is documented above all by the architecture of its religious monuments and by the wooden sculpture that embellishes and integrates their structures through decoration of architraves, pediments and cornices inspired by stylized shapes and motifs from the Indian ornamental repertoire. The Nepalese plastic tradition was formed on the contributions of the classical art of India Gupta (5th-6th century), then fed by that of the Pāla-Sena tradition, which increased the development of bronzework, which sometimes exceeds the same stone sculpture, so much so that Nepalese bronzers are documented active in the century. XIII both in Mongolia and in China, as well as in Tibet. Nepalese painters were also active here, Moghūl and rājpūt (17th-18th centuries). The two most ancient, important and historically documented epochs of Nepalese art are those of the Licchavi dynasty (c. IV-VII century), during which a typically indigenous art and architecture originated and developed, and of the Malla dynasty, whose history and artistic documentation cover, after a parenthesis of over five centuries, the period from the century. XI to the century. XIV, according to the genealogy of the Malla kings handed down to us by the inscriptions of the time found by G. Tucci in Dullu in the western part of Nepal, rich in monuments and works of art of this dynasty. The civil architecture of ancient Nepal adopted the building typology of the sanctuaries and monastic complexes of Buddhism, with large proportions and a harmonious compositional scheme consisting of the main temple and a constellation of minor temples, stūpa and other small buildings (chapels, various monuments), as well as buildings intended for housing the monastic community. War destruction and natural disasters caused serious destruction of the Nepalese artistic heritage, especially in the century. XIV. Much of it was rebuilt in the following century after the period of great artistic flourishing that took place under the reign of the seventh ruler Malla Jayastithi (1382-95). Today the major existing artistic monuments are found in the cities that were the seat of distinct Nepalese kingdoms, namely those of Bhadgaon, Lalita-Pāttana (Lalitpur) and Kathmandu, in addition to the numerous shrines and reliquaries that arise in various other locations. The most characteristic (in Svayambhūnātha, Bodhinātha, Lalitpur, Kīrtipur) reproduce the ancient mound shapes of the examples of the Maurya periodand they show paintings on the cubic area, the so-called harmikā, four pairs of stylized eyes, oriented towards the four cardinal points, protective image of the Vairocana Buddha.

Nepal Arts

Koguryŏ Tombs (World Heritage)

Koguryŏ Tombs (World Heritage)

The Koguryŏ dynasty ruled from 37 BC. BC to 688 AD large areas of northern China and the northern half of the Korean peninsula. In the middle of the 5th century, Pyongyang became the capital of this empire, which was subjugated by the Silla Empire in 688. The tomb complex near Pyongyang is of great importance for research into the Koguryŏ culture, as it contains wall paintings.

Koguryŏ Tombs: Facts

Official title: Koguryŏ tombs
Cultural monument: Tombs near Pyongyang and Namp’o with wall paintings depicting everyday scenes from the Koguryŏ culture, one of the “Three Kingdoms” of early Korean times; The climax of their reign from 277 BC. Until 688 in parts of northern China and in the northern half of the Korean peninsula; only 90 of the 10,000 Koguryŏ tombs with wall paintings discovered so far in China and Korea; almost half at this site
Continent: Asia
Country: North Korea
Location: Pyongyang and the surrounding area
Appointment: 2004
Meaning: Unique evidence of an Asian culture

The cradle of Korean culture

From 37 BC From BC to AD 668, the kingdom of Koguryŏ was one of the most important powers in East Asia. In its heyday, it stretched from Manchuria to what is now North Korea and northern South Korea. The only relics of this culture are numerous burial mounds over 1500 years old in which kings, members of the royal family and nobles were buried. In total, around 10,000 of these graves are known in North Korea and China, and new grave sites are still being discovered. In 90 of them there are often excellently preserved murals, which give a unique insight into the culture of Koguryŏ. For this reason, UNESCO has included 30 graves on North Korean soil – group and individual graves – in its list of world cultural heritage.

The legendary forefather of Koguryŏ is King Dongmyeong (58 BC – 19 BC), the son of heaven and the goddess of water – as the Korean chronicle Samguk Sagi from 1145 writes. He founded an empire that would last for 700 years. According to youremailverifier, North Korea still sees itself today in the tradition of Koguryŏ: as a fighting empire with strong armed forces that solves its problems itself and takes its fate into its own hands. Communist leaders like the “Eternal President” Kim Il Sung (1912–1994) like to portray themselves as the legitimate successors and heirs of Dongmyeong.

The Koguryŏ empire was tightly organized. The king was at the head of a feudal society in which the military held an important position. The people were aggressive and were often attacked – by the Chinese in the north and the kingdoms of the Silla and Baekje in the south. 145 disputes are historically documented. Fortified fortifications existed at the strategically important points, a total of around 200 in number. 50,000 soldiers were permanently available to the king, but if necessary the army could be increased to up to 200,000 men. The fighting was done with bows and arrows, spears and catapults.

In ancient Korea, belief in the afterlife was an integral part of the culture. The soul was considered immortal and lived on even after death. For this reason, the tombs were furnished like houses. Frescoes and paintings adorned the walls of the graves and showed the souls what their future life looked like. These colorful grave frescoes depict scenes from everyday life and from mythology. They provide information on what architecture, food culture and clothing, indeed everyday life, looked like in ancient Korea, which was shaped by Confucianism and Buddhism. They show that even then there was a lively trade and cultural exchange with southern China, Japan, Central Asia and Siberia, for which the Taedong-gang river was used as a traffic artery. And the frescoes testify to the numerous battles

Two graves stand out from the large number of barrows: In 1949 the largest barrow to date, the tomb of Anak, was discovered. The murals show a man and a woman dressed in Chinese style – presumably the people who were buried there. This grave is one of the few that bears an inscription that dates it to the year 357. The name of its owner is given as Dong Shou. The Kangso tomb is located near Pyongyang. The 12 meter high hill is one of the best preserved graves of the Koguryŏ era. Many of the mysterious religious frescoes, which were applied directly to the polished stone wall, appear as if freshly painted. Four mythological deities – dragon, phoenix, turtle and snake – guard the deceased and are supposed to ensure that he can enjoy his life in peace in the hereafter. The deceased also received rich grave goods with them on their way, but the graves were plundered over time, so that today only the paintings and a few old writings give an insight into life in the Koguryŏ empire. A true-to-scale reconstruction of a barrow from the region can be seen in the Pyongyang Historical Museum – but who was buried there is unclear.

Typical barrows of the Koguryŏ empire have also been found in China. In fact, parts of the former Koguryŏ empire are now Chinese territory. Since the early 1990s, the Koguryŏ culture has therefore also been claimed by China as part of its history. In 2004 a corresponding World Heritage Site was named: The “capitals and tombs of the Koguryŏ era” include the remains of the three Chinese cities of Wunu, Guonei and Wandu as well as 40 tumuli.

Koguryŏ Tombs (World Heritage)

Beijing Festivals and Events

Beijing Festivals and Events

Beijing: Known People

You can find numerous people from Beijing, including all the emperors who ruled the empire, at Goruma under the heading “Personalities of China” under the following link.
In order to avoid double entries, only relatively few people are shown at this point

Aisin Gioro Pu Yi (1906-1967)
Born in Beijing, he was the last emperor of the Chinese Empire. He ruled from 1908 to 1912. Under communist rule he was subjected to intensive re-education.

Cíxí (1835-1908)
The Dowager Empress Cíxí was one of Xianfeng’s concubines, the Manchu Emperor, who ruled from 1851-1861. This made her one of the most influential women of the imperial era.

Faye Wong (born 1969)
Faye Wong is a Chinese actress and singer, also known as Wang Fei, who has appeared in various film productions. Born in Beijing, she is considered one of the most popular Asian artists.

Ivan Desny (1922-2002)
The French-German actor was born as Ivan Nikolai Desnitzky in Beijing. He made various films, including “Touch me not” from 1974. Desny died in Switzerland at the age of 79.

Jet Li (born 1963)
Jet Li was born in Beijing in 1963 and gained fame as a martial arts master and as an actor.

Lao She (1899-1966)
This famous Chinese writer was born on February 3, 1899 as Shu Quìngchun in Beijing.

Shan Sa (born 1972)
This Sino-French writer was born in Beijing and was awarded first prize in the national Chinese poetry competition very early on. But after the bloody events of 1989 on Tiananmen Square, she emigrated to France.

Qiánlóng (1711-1799)
The fourth Chinese emperor (Quing dynasty), actually named Aisin Gioro Hóngli, was born in Beijing and died there. His reign was from 1735 to 1796, but actually until 1799.

Xie Jun (born 1970) Xie Jun was born
in Beijing in 1970 and is a Chinese chess player and world champion. In addition to the world champion title, she also won several other titles (national champion etc.) and was listed as the third best chess player on the international world rankings in 2005.

Zhang Ziyi (born 1979)
Born in Beijing, Zhang Ziyi, who is considered one of the most famous young talents in China, is one of the most famous Chinese actresses.

Beijing: special features, festivals and events

Peculiarities of the city

Beijing Opera (Jingju)
The famous Beijing opera (Jingju), a particular branch of Chinese opera, in which various artistic styles (dance, martial arts, singing, pantomime, acrobatics, etc.) are mixed, taken up in the form of historical themes and linked with mythology, is considered a great specialty of Beijing become. The frugal equipment and the deep symbolism in the representation are characteristic. The language in which it is performed is difficult to understand today because it is an old dialect that is no longer spoken today. Performances are therefore mostly given with English or subtitles in Mandarin. The performances last about 90 minutes. Considered the highest form of Chinese culture, the Beijing Opera is not limited to the capital, but is performed throughout the country.

Beijing Festivals and Events

Culinary diversity
According to relationshipsplus, the second specialty of Beijing is the enormous culinary diversity of the city. All the world’s kitchens are represented here. But Beijing itself also has a long and distinct tradition of cooking, the best-known representatives of which are Beijing duck (Beijing Kaoya), a delicacy made from pieces of chicken and onions wrapped in pancakes and previously pickled in plum sauce, and the Mongolian hot pot (huoguo). The latter is a broth made with sliced ​​mutton, cabbage, and noodles.

Chinese New Year
or Spring Festival
(between Jan 20 and Feb 21)

This is one of the most important and popular family celebrations in all of China and is based on the Chinese traditional peasant calendar. The festival is between January 20th and February 21st. It will be rung in with the new moon in the first month of the new year. Although the Gregorian calendar is now officially used in China, the New Year is still celebrated according to the lunar calendar and in the traditional way. For the people of Beijing (and of course all of China) there are three days off and the celebrations last until the 15th day of the New Year. There are also fireworks in the city, gongs and drums are struck, lion dances are performed, and people walk on stilts. There are also traditional temple markets where you can enjoy various performances.

International Women’s Day (March 8th)

On March 8th, Beijing celebrates International Women’s Day. In general, women get half a day off on this day, but this is regulated differently from province to province and is not required by law.

International Children’s Day (June 1st)

This holiday is especially loved by the young Chinese because all children under the age of thirteen have no school on this day. Parents apply for vacation and do something with their children. Many also officially have a day off. Alternatively, the schools organize visits to the cinema on this day, and families and children can be seen in the parks and cafes all over the city.

Youth Day (May 4th)

This day is celebrated in memory of the May 4th Movement in 1919. This movement were student protest marches that broke out because of the decision of the Versailles Conference after the First World War, as a result of which the rights of the German Empire in China were transferred to Japan.

Chinese Communist Party

Founding Day (July 1st) July 1st is not an official holiday. However, on that day, numerous television programs commemorate the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

Establishment of the People’s Republic of China (October 1st)

Since there are 5 days of vacation on October 1st, the public holidays for the founding of the People’s Republic are also days with very heavy travel activity. On these days, many Chinese are out to visit their families. The city’s means of transport are then even more crowded than ever and should be avoided on this day.

Beijing: Tourist Offices

Tourist offices

Beijing Tourist Information Center
Capital Airport
Email: [email protected]

Tourist Information Center
Beijing Luyou Zixun Fuwu Zhongxin
City: Chaoyang
Email: [email protected]

China International Travel Service (CITS

103 Fuxingmennei Dajie <
Tel: 6601 1122
Tourist hotline: 6513 0828, 6831 4971

Tibet Recent History

Tibet Recent History

Tibet in the 18th and 19th centuries

In 1717 the Dzungar Mongols invaded Tibet, but were quickly driven from Tibet by the Tibetan army.

Due to the unrest in Tibet, the Manchu Emperor K’ang-Hsi managed to gain a foothold in Tibet. In order to secure Manchu influence in Tibet, the Manchu Emperor Yung-Cheng first appointed two civilian representatives of the emperor – known as Ambane – with a garrison under a military commander in Lhasa in 1728. The task of the two ambans was initially to advise the Tibetan government as an observer. Over time, however, the Manchus began to expand their influence in the Tibetan government. Tibet became a protectorate of the Manchu emperors under Tibetan administration.

In view of the increasingly weaker position of China as a semi-colony after the first opium war (1840/1842), the Mongolian Manchu emperors were no longer able to maintain their obligation to protect Tibet in the second half of the 19th century.

20th century until today

The political situation in Tibet changed in the 20th century. The British government in India showed a growing interest in Tibet around 1850. Tibet’s isolated position due to its geographical and religious location was exploited by the Manchus in the 19th century to claim rule over Tibet. In terms of foreign policy, they pretended that China represented Tibet in political matters. In order to determine the real status of Tibet, Great Britain asked the Manchu government in 1878 for permission to send a British research expedition to Tibet.

The Manchu government agreed, but the Tibetan government forbade the expedition to step on Tibetan soil. In 1890 Great Britain negotiated with the Manchu government of China over the border between Tibet and Sikkim, which was then a British protectorate. The Tibetan government refused to recognize this agreement on the grounds that treaties with China over Tibet were not binding.

To contact the Tibetan government, Great Britain sent a military expedition to Tibet in 1903. The British Army defeated the Tibetan Army and invaded Lhasa. In 1904, Tibet and Great Britain signed the so-called “Lhasa Convention of 1904”, in which Tibet undertook not to make any concessions of a territorial or political nature to foreign powers without the prior consent of the British government.

This convention between Tibet and Great Britain without the participation of the Manchu government of China meant the sovereignty of Tibet. However, it was revised by two other treaties signed by Great Britain in 1906 with China and 1907 with Russia without Tibetan involvement in favor of a recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.

The Manchu government took Lhasa by Chinese troops in 1910, which led to the flight of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso (1876-1933), to India. However, with the fall of the Manchu Dynasty and the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912, the political situation in Tibet changed radically. In 1911 the Tibetans drove the Chinese soldiers out of Tibet.

With this the supremacy of the Manchus over Tibet finally fell. In 1912, the Chinese president claimed that Tibet as a Chinese province was part of China.

After his return to Lhasa from exile in India, the 13th Dalai Lama proclaimed the independence of Tibet in 1913. In 1914 the Simla tripartite conference took place between the equal plenipotentiaries of Great Britain, Tibet and China.

The “Simla Conference” was the first real attempt to resolve the Sino-Tibetan differences and to define the border of Tibet. However, no concrete solution to this question could be found. In 1918 another border war broke out between Tibet and China.

From 1912 to 1949/50, Tibet was completely independent. Immediately after the founding of the People’s Republic of China under Mao Tsetung’s leadership in 1949, however, Tibet was forcibly occupied by troops of the People’s Liberation Army. Tibet protested to the United Nations against the Chinese occupation in vain. The People’s Republic of China appropriated Tibet during the reign of the current 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

In order to avoid a bloodbath, the Dalai Lama tried in vain to find a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict between his people and the invading Chinese troops.

Without consulting the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in Lhasa, the Tibetan delegation in Beijing had to sign the so-called “17-point agreement for the peaceful liberation of Tibet” in 1951 under Chinese dictates. This unequal treaty was based on the premise that Tibet was part of China.

Tibet was officially annexed by the People’s Republic of China. The Tibetan resistance movement reached its tragic climax in the open popular uprising on March 10, 1959 in Lhasa. According to official Chinese information, around 87,000 Tibetans were killed. On March 28, 1959, the Tibetan government was dissolved and the “Tibet Autonomous Region Preparatory Committee” was established. At the same time, the Tibetan currency was declared invalid.

At the urging of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama had to leave the Tibetan capital on March 17, 1959 under strict secrecy and flee to India. More than 85,000 Tibetans followed the Dalai Lama into exile.

The Dalai Lama made several requests for help from India to the world public and to the United Nations. The International Commission of Jurists accused the People’s Republic of China of committing acts of genocide in Tibet with the aim of eliminating the Tibetan population as a religious group.

The General Assembly of the United Nations then adopted a non-binding resolution in the fall of 1959 condemning the actions of the Chinese occupying forces in Tibet and calling on the Chinese government to respect the fundamental human rights and the right to self-determination of the Tibetan people. However, this resolution brought no results for the Tibetan people.

In 1981, for example, only around 300 visitors came to Tibet, while in 2005, according to official reports, there were already around 100,000. And still over 80% of the population are farmers or shepherds.

Before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, there were liberation campaigns in Tibet, particularly by Buddhist monks. China put down the uprising, leaving well over 100 dead and thousands sent to re-education camps.

Tibet Recent History

Before the trip to Iran

Before the trip to Iran

Alcoholic beverages and drugs are strictly forbidden to bring into the country; importation and trafficking in narcotics may result in the death penalty. Bringing in pork, printed matter, videos, cassettes, CDs, shortwave devices and religious material can be considered culturally sensitive and such goods can be seized by the police. There are some restrictions on the export of carpets.

Before the trip to Iran 2

Vaccinations and health
In good time before your trip to Iran, you need to contact their vaccination center for updated information. In general, you should review your basic protection against polio, diphtheria and tetanus. In addition, a vaccine against hepatitis A is needed and any vaccine against cholera may be considered. The air in Tehran is extremely dry and, in combination with the extensive air pollution, can cause airway problems. This can also cause discomfort for people with cardiovascular disease. Dental care and medical care, as well as maternity care, are considered to be of a high standard. Doctors and dentists are often trained abroad. A certificate of yellow fever vaccine is required if you have recently stayed in certain countries in Africa or South America.

Weather and clothes
Iran is a large country and you can therefore expect large differences in temperatures during your trip depending on the season and altitude. During the summer it gets very hot and during the winter it can be extremely cold. Iran is a Shia Muslim country where sharia law is applied. Women must cover their hair and wear clothes that do not reveal the shapes of the body, such as a foot side or ankle-length coat or knee-length coat / jacket and long trousers. However, one does not have to wear black even if many Iranian women, especially outside the capital, do so. In mosques and bazaars, you should be extra careful with your attire so as not to provoke. Men should also dress coveringly, for example. long trousers and long-sleeved shirt.

Customs and traditions
All types of tenderness between men and women should be avoided in public places. Man and woman who are not married are not allowed to sleep in the same hotel room. It should be possible to present proof of marriage. You have to be careful with what you photograph. It is not allowed to photograph anything at the airport, nor military installations, demonstrations or police. Homosexuality is banned and punishable in Iran. The Iranians are incredibly hospitable, helpful and caring about us tourists. Taroof is a complex system of courtesy for us tourists that is deeply rooted in Iranian culture. You can make it a habit to always refuse at least once before accepting to receive something.

Currency and exchange rate
The currency in Iran is called the Rial. When traveling to Iran, cash payment applies. Visa and Mastercard are not accepted. Currency exchange bank branches are located on the street level at Tehran International Airport IKIA. Bring cash in EUR or USD that can be exchanged at banks and exchange offices in the cities. The banknotes should not be damaged. Exchanging money on the street is illegal.

Transport and communications
When traveling from Iran, check-in for international flights from IKIA is recommended at least two hours before departure. Taxis in Iran are sometimes unmarked. In addition, taxis are often poorly maintained and sometimes lack seat belts. There is a functioning metro in the southern and central parts of Tehran. There is also bus traffic here, but it runs without a timetable. In the larger cities there is free Wifi at the airport, some cafes, restaurants and hotels. If you are going to call home, it is cheapest to buy a calling card for international calls. Your mobile phone is unlikely to work in Iran. You can buy an Iranian SIM card.

The personal security of Tehran is relatively good compared to many other capitals in the world. The traffic is different and the risk of having an accident is significantly greater than in Sweden. Pedestrians do not have priority at pedestrian crossings. Passports, money, tickets and other valuables should be stored in a safe place.

Food & beverage
We recommend that you only drink bottled water during your trip to Iran. Drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden. The food in Iran is traditionally mildly spiced. They use fine ingredients and a lot of herbs such as parsley, saffron and mint. Rice and stews with, for example, beans, lentils, squash, nuts and lamb or beef are usually included in a meal. Always politely leave some food on the plate when you are done.

Shopping and gifts
In Iran, the colorful bazaars are full of shopping opportunities. Nice gifts to take home can be Iranian caviar, saffron, dried fruit or nuts. You can find gold, silver and precious stones if you know what you are doing. Iran is also world famous for its fine hand-knotted rugs and there are lots of beautiful fabrics, shawls, teacups, ceramics and glassware as well as regular tourist items and souvenirs.

General and mixed
Local time: Iran is 2.5 hours ahead of us during our winter time.
Electricity: 220 V / 50Hz and usually European sockets.
Baggage: It sometimes happens that the checked baggage gets lost. Therefore, pack important medicines with a certificate from your doctor in your hand luggage. The same goes for valuables.
Language: Persian (Farsi)

Before the trip to Iran

Sightseeing in Bali

Sightseeing in Bali

The dreamy Indonesian island of Bali is blessed with great beaches, lush green jungle, breathtaking volcanic areas and impressive temples. The grandiose nature, the sea and all the magical stretches of land are equally suitable for a beach holiday and an active holiday.

There is so much to explore on the island of the gods. Culture and religion are practically omnipresent on a Bali trip. It would therefore be more than a shame to only spend your vacation in your own hotel resort. Even if you are not planning a big round trip, you should still take a few trips into the hinterland.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, most beautiful attractions and best sights in Bali.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple Bali

1. Monkey forests in a vacation paradise

On Bali there are several small monkey forests and three large forests where tourists can watch the animals strolling. This is an attraction for the whole family. Caution is always advised, however, because many species of monkeys are used to visitors and try all sorts of things to get hold of one or two delicacies.

The Monkey Forest in Ubud is the most famous monkey forest on the Emerald Isle. A real attraction in the monkey forest is a small, idyllic river. As a visitor, you should follow the central path through the forest. This path then leads the visitors over a small narrow bridge directly to the holy spring. Here the guests of the Monkey Forest can fully enjoy nature. Because the tranquility in this place has a heavenly touch.

2. Bali Botanical Garden

More than 2,000 plant species thrive and bloom on an area of ​​around 157 hectares. As a visitor, you have the opportunity to explore the park on foot. The Botanical Garden is also easy to cross with a moped or a car. The park offers the guests meadow and hill landscapes, deciduous and rainforests, small temples and palm groves as well as wonderful viewpoints.

Flower lovers will experience an abundance and splendor of countless flowering and leafy plants in the Botanical Garden. You can marvel at around 10,000 different specimens in the orchid garden, in the cactus greenhouse, in the aquatic garden and in the fern and cyathea garden. In 1959 the famous Eka Karya Botanical Garden was created. The park in the center of Bali achieved world fame through the diligently pursued botanical collection.

3. Lake Bratan and Temple

The well-known Bratansee is always a well-chosen destination. It is one of four crater lakes on the island. The lake is located in a very old volcanic crater at an altitude of around 1,200 meters. The water is deep and cloudy and it is not uncommon for the surrounding mountain slopes to be covered in mysterious mist. You can use the beautiful scenery at the lake very well as a photographic motif. It is one of the natural sights that is second to none.

In the 17th century a temple was built on the west bank of the lake. The two shrines of the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple seem to literally float in the lake. A picturesque picture, pure romance. Sports fans can practice water sports such as water skiing or parasailing. Romantic boat trips are also ideal for immersing yourself in the landscape with all your senses.

4. Gunung Agung – the highest mountain on the island

The active volcano is clearly visible from many points on the island. The high mountain has a permanent place in the Hindu world of gods. On the Agung you can visit holy shrines and several temples.

For the people of Bali, the 3,142 meter high volcano is a sacred mountain. The ascent is impressive and sometimes strenuous, but the sunrise high above the clouds is a stunner.

5. The magical bat temple

Goa Lawah, a Hindu temple, is located on the east coast of Bali. There is a bat cave behind the temple altar. Several thousand bats leave their inns every day at sunset. For the inhabitants of the Indonesian island, the animals that live in or near a temple are sacred.

This attraction attracts many guests from near and far every year. The bat temple was once dedicated to the god Maheswara. A trip here is always worthwhile for you. The idea that the cave is a direct connection to the underworld fascinates young and old alike.

Indonesia - Bali (Marc Veraart)

6. Museum of Balinese Culture

The famous Negeri Propinsi Bali museum gives visitors an excellent insight into the millennia-old culture of the island in a crash course mode. Ancient stone sculptures are exhibited in the main building. On the first floor, culture-savvy island visitors can marvel at traditional household items and original woodcut art.

In the south pavilion of the museum you will get an ideal insight into the Balinese dyeing methods and weaving techniques. The north pavilion houses theatrical and dance masks as well as traditional dance costumes. The central pavilion contains priestly clothing and religious exhibits such as ceremonial objects. For culture lovers, this is definitely a worthwhile visit, especially since the museum is one of the top sights in Bali.

7. Unforgettable sunsets in Kuta

Bali’s beaches are perfect for sunbathing, all kinds of water sports, swimming, snorkeling and diving. Kuta Beach is one of the most international and lively beaches in Bali. If you are looking for deserted beaches, you will find it, but on Kuta Beach young and older people romp around with great joy in life.

The famous Kuta Beach with its restaurants, hotels, shops, cafes and clubs is considered the most legendary party center in Bali. Tours to all major sights can be started from here. Due to the reliable but moderate surf, Kuta Beach is particularly suitable for surfing beginners. Every evening the beach fills up for the dramatic play of colors at sunset.

8. Tegalalang & Jatiluwih rice terraces

The rice terraces in Tegalalang are one of the well-known sights of Bali. In terms of landscape, the island has a lot to offer, in addition to temples and the fantastic beaches, cultural landscapes in the interior are also among the natural attractions worth seeing.

The Jatiluwih equestrian breeds are also popular. You can take part in guided tours, so you can better see how much painstaking detailed work the Balinese use to cultivate and harvest their vital rice. The impressive rice terraces lie in the timeless beauty of the jungle.

9. Temple city of Pura Besakih

The largest and at the same time most important Hindu temple has become a real tourist attraction as a holy place for some time. You don’t need a guide to walk through the temple. With the background information, however, you will learn a lot more about the history and purpose of this temple city. This is not a single temple.

The site, built in the 8th century AD, consists of several temples and over 200 other associated structures. The temple complex is arranged in terraces, the buildings on the slope are connected by paths and stairs. When visiting the temple city, you should put on a sarong and a long shirt before entering, in order to pay the necessary respect to the devout Hindus.

10. Blahmantung waterfall

There are many great and admirable waterfalls in the holiday paradise. On the Indonesian island there are also sights that are not overcrowded with tourists from all directions. In the northeast center of Bali you will find the Blahmantung waterfall. At first glance it looks rather inconspicuous and suddenly appears on the way out of nowhere.

However, this natural attraction can be heard from afar. Once you have reached the entrance to the waterfall, you will see how big it actually is. The water literally flows out of the jungle roof and the plants. A spectacle that is sure to impress you. The vegetation at the waterfall is very strong, bamboo plants can sometimes tower up to 20 meters.

Rice paddies at Ceking (kayugee)

Karon Beach Travel Guide

Karon Beach Travel Guide

Karon Beach is a family-friendly destination in Phuket. Phuket’s Karon Beach is one of the most popular beach resorts on the holiday island. Versatile services and a long sandy beach guarantee a successful holiday.


Many tourists traveling to Phuket Island just end up at Karon Beach. The resort has all the prerequisites for a successful beach holiday.

Karon Beach is a family favorite

Karon Beach is located in Thailand , on Phuket island’s west coast. To the north is the island’s busiest beach Patong and to the south is the slightly calmer Kata Beach.

The long fine sandy beach of Karon Beach is washed away by the waves of the Andaman Sea. The wide beach is especially popular with families with children, but couples also enjoy it. The water sports opportunities in the Karon area, the rich offer of restaurants and shopping opportunities guarantee a successful beach holiday.

The actual attractions on Karon Beach are few. The most important places to visit are Karon Lookout and Wat Suwan Khiri Khet, or Karon Temple. Its central location makes it easy to explore day trips around Phuket and visit nearby islands from Karon Beach.

Karon Beach continues for a mile. There is no congestion everywhere despite the number of tourists.

Climate of Phuket

From a Finnish point of view, Thailand is always warm.

Due to the climate, the best time to travel to Karon Beach is from November to March, when there is little rainfall and the temperature does not rise too high. This is also the busiest season when the beaches are filled with vacationers.

The hottest time begins towards the end of the season in February and continues through May. The average temperatures are then 35-40 degrees. For many, the heat is too much, so the beaches are also less congested.

In May and September-October, Karon Beach receives the most rainfall. The deaf are plentiful and usually take place in the afternoons as well as at night. In rainy weather, some places close their doors and prices are at their lowest.

A classic beach holiday

The beaches of Phuket are said to be even the best in Thailand. Karon Beach is one of the three most popular beaches in Phuket. The approximately five-kilometer-long fine sandy beach attracts sun worshipers from all over Europe. In addition to Finns, it is especially popular with Russian tourists.

When lying on a sun lounger on the beach and swimming in the turquoise sea waves, time passes as if unnoticed. The long beach is also nice for a walk. Those looking for more activity can go on a snorkeling or diving trip or try paragliding.

There is a highway next to Karon beach with quite busy traffic. Buses and songthaew platform taxis to the airport and Phuket Town also run along this road. The road is lined with restaurants, shops and market stalls.

Karon Beach continues for a mile

Pampering treatments and shopping

In addition to lounging on the beach, you can treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure or massage. Prices are quite affordable in Finnish, although Phuket is slightly more expensive than other Thai resorts.

At Karon Beach, you should also fill your stomach well. The wide range of restaurants offers local specialties as well as international cuisine.

Shopping opportunities at Karon Beach are concentrated near the Karon roundabout. From there you can buy almost everything you need on holiday. You can also shop at Karon Plaza, where you can buy spices, clothes, handicrafts and ornaments as gifts. When shopping, compromising is important.

For those looking for branded products, take a shopping trip to Phuket Town or Patong, where the selections are better. There is a large shopping mall in both locations.

Excursions and things to do for all ages

If lying on the beach starts to get bored, a day trip will liven up your vacation. In addition to Phuket Town and the nearby beaches, it is worth heading inland. There it is possible to get acquainted with rubber tree plantations, attend a cooking course and learn more about culture.

For avid golfers, Phuket has several beautiful and well-maintained courses. It’s a good idea to head to the putting green right in the morning before the midday sun makes gaming a hassle.

In Phuket, you should avoid places where elephant riding is organized. Elephants are often mistreated, and when you participate in excursions, you support unethical activities.

From Phuket you can go on a day trip to the nearby islands. A favorite of many is the white sand beaches of Koh Phi Phi , where you can spend the day relaxing or snorkelling and diving.

Good to know about Karon Beach

During the busiest winter season, there are plenty of tourists on Karon Beach and it can be difficult to find your own peace on the beach. If you are vacationing at Karon Beach during the rainy season, it is good to note that the sea currents can be strong.

In Thailand, left-hand traffic and traffic culture are different than in Finland. Take special care when driving yourself. When riding a motorcycle, it is always advisable to wear a helmet, even if many locals ride in the air. In traffic accidents, the tourist is often held liable, even if not the culprit.

Large numbers of tourists always attract scammers and traders as well. You shouldn’t be too blue-eyed, but taking normal caution is enough.

Trips to Sumatra

Trips to Sumatra

Why travel to Sumatra?

Sumatra is the largest island in Indonesia, known especially for its unique nature and fauna.

The trip to Sumatra offers adventures that take you from tropical rainforests to lush volcanic landscapes and unique animals. One such is the beautiful sumatran ranch that lives on the island in the wild and is unlikely to be seen anywhere else.

Our tour in Sumatra

On the way to Sumatra, you will experience all the highlights of the island. You can also combine a tour with a wonderful holiday in Bali, where you can relax on the beautiful beaches of Sanur, explore the artistic life of Ubud or go hiking in Munduki. Click on a trip and explore the different possibilities.

Read more about the highlights of the trip below.

Bukit Lawang

The small village of Bukit Lawang is located north of Sumatra. Right next to the village is the Gunugn Leuser National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Sumatra’s main attractions.

The national park is known for its dense rainforests and diverse ecosystems, including rivers, volcanoes and lakes. The national park is home to more than 700 different species of animals, including an elephant, a rare Sumatran tiger and a highly endangered Sumatran tern.

“Oranki” means “forest man,” and the Sumatra jungle is one of the few places in the world where you can see these fascinating animals.

On the hiking trip you can see the entire fauna and flora of the lush rainforest. Under Ranger’s guidance, you can also get close to oranges.

Lake Toba and Samosir

Toba is the largest crater lake in the world north of Sumatra.

The island of Samosir is like a gem in the middle of a lake. Attractions on the island include the tomb of the ancient king Sidabutar in Tomok and the village of Ambarita, known for its local stone tables and chairs.

The trip will also include the Huta Bolon Simanindo Museum, which was once the home of King Rajah Simalungun of Batak and his 14 wives.

A visit to the traditional villages of Batak Karo

In Batak Karo villages, you can see traditional siwaluh Jabo long houses, which can accommodate up to 12 families.

The roofs of the houses are in the shape of a boat, and at each end is hung a buffalo horn, which serves as a status symbol and has traditionally been believed to protect the inhabitants from evil spirits.

Want to know more about our trips to Sumatra?

Sumatra offers countless experiences. You can read more about them on the travel-specific pages. Click on “Read more” next to the trip at the top of the page and check out the highlights, daily schedule and prices of the trip.

Trips to Sumatra

Yemen Defense and Foreign Policy

Yemen Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Yemen is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Sanaa. Following the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, Yemen joined the Americans’ war on terrorism. Cooperation to fight militant groups in Yemen is a sensitive issue among Yemenis. The United States has also been critical of what the Yemeni government’s reluctance towards extremist groups is. Neighbors’ incursions into Yemen’s civil war can also be viewed in the light of concerns that Yemen’s internal problems will spread.

yemen military spending and defense budget

Yemen lacks functioning state power and the country is in several parallel civil wars. There are a number of armed groups in the country in addition to the regular army. Some are affiliated with the “government army”, others fight it.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Yemen for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

One reason for the widespread violence is that Yemen is one of the world’s most densely armed countries. Most adult residents have access to modern handguns. Some groups, including clan militia, also carry heavier weapons such as anti-tank robots, anti-aircraft guns and lighter artillery. Even when Yemen has been at its most stable, it has been possible for the government to govern without, in various ways, appeasing and negotiating with clan leaders and other local rulers. This has made it easy for foreign states to interfere, by financing or concluding agreements with local leaders themselves. This is particularly true of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran, which are fighting each other for influence in Yemen, and the United States, which is both involved in the Yemeni power struggles and has attacked al-Qaeda-linked groups inside Yemen.

Following al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, Yemen joined the US “war on terrorism”. The two countries’ cooperation to fight militant groups has been a sensitive issue for many Yemenis, who are critical of US influence in the Middle East. Since 2011, the United States has been a regular supporter of suspected supporters of terrorism. Hundreds of people have been killed by cruise robots and drones and the attacks have sparked protests in Yemen. The government had secretly approved them, even though it did not openly admit it.

Relations with Saudi Arabia have often been tense. The conflicts partly go back to the civil war in North Yemen in the 1960s, when Saudi Arabia actively supported the royalists. Yemen’s unification in 1990 meant that the new country gained almost as much population as Saudi Arabia, which was seen with the disapproval of Saudi rulers. Saudi Arabia also reacted negatively to Yemen’s support for Iraq in the Kuwait War 1990-1991 and the neighboring country attempted to weaken the Saleh regime, among other things, by supporting the south side in the 1994 civil war.

Clear boundaries between Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the al-Rub al-Khali desert area have been a constant source of conflict. A border agreement was concluded in 1934 and the countries agreed on another agreement in 1995, but new border conflicts were flared up. In 2000, an agreement was made that established how the border goes in the northwest. The settlement resulted in a political thunderstorm. Saudi Arabia increased its financial assistance and opened its labor market for Yemeni guest workers.

The difficulties in guarding the border have continued to create contradictions. From Saudi Arabia, consumer goods are smuggled into Yemen while weapons and refugees go the opposite way. The Saudis are also worried about militant groups coming in. In 2004, the Saudis started building a wall along the border. The building was halted, following protests from Yemen, but Saudi Arabia quietly continued to construct barriers and surveillance systems. The work gained momentum when the Shiite riots revolted in the border areas in 2004. Saudi Arabia supported the Yemeni government’s attempt to defeat the rebels, including through direct military intervention around the turn of the year 2009/2010. In 2011, Saudi Arabia decided to resume building the wall. Saudi unrest escalated from the rise of the Hutians in 2014–2015 as it was considered to strengthen Iran’s influence.

Iran probably played no major role in the skin movement in its earliest years, other than as an ideological source of inspiration. Over time, Iranian support seems to have grown. Since 2011, the conflict between the Houthis and Saudi-backed groups (such as the clan militia of the Islamist Party and the Ahmar family) has largely evolved into a war through agents – at least it seems to be perceived by both Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Hutians’ advancement prompted the Saudis and a number of neighboring countries to form an alliance that has carried out air strikes against the rebels since 2015. The warring countries have received sharp criticism for not caring about the suffering of civilian Yemenites. Therefore, after several years of devastating wars, Saudi Arabia 2018 launched a development program for Yemen to try to counter popular bitterness. Investments in schools, health centers and desalination have been announced.

In November 2017, Yemeni rebels fired a robot that reached far into Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis increasingly accused Iran of arming the Shiites. The conflict between the region’s great powers had also intensified by supporting opposite sides in the Syrian war, where Iran’s allies gradually strengthened their positions. In Yemen, the bombings and blockades continued to areas held by the huhirebells and sale hangers. From that point, Saleh came to the negotiating stage for the country’s internationally recognized government and its Saudi backers, but Saleh was instead killed in mutual fighting between the opposition forces. After Saleh’s death, the power play in and around Yemen has increasingly developed into a power metric between Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia and Shi’a forces with Iran in the back.

Yemen has not been allowed to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but since 2001, the country has been a member of GCC institutions that handle issues such as health care and education. Yemen wants to join in order to be able to receive financial support and investment from the rich oil states, but the GCC countries have been afraid of being drawn into Yemen’s crises.

Increasing violence in Somalia from 2006 has led to increased refugee flows to Yemen. Traffic over the Red Sea also includes smuggling, including weapons, and the Aden Bay has become notorious for pirate acts emanating from ports in Somalia. There are also fears that Somali militant groups will associate with Yemen’s Islamist phalanxes.


The military service is voluntary, but those who join must serve for at least two years. The defense forces are relatively large when it comes to manpower, but the equipment is outdated and maintenance is neglected. In 2011, the military was divided between supporters of various political leaders, including then President Saleh and his son Ahmed, Vice President Hadi and General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar. The government also recruited militias to strengthen the army in the fight against al-Qaeda’s Aqap depositor in southern Yemen. Throughout Hadi’s time as president (2012–2015; he has subsequently led an exile government), attempts to seek control over military units that were not loyal to him became an ongoing sequel.

After Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to resign, Ahmed Saleh sought to secure continued influence for his father via the Republic Guard. In 2012, therefore, newly-incumbent President Hadi reorganized the military’s military structure to marginalize the influence of Saleh and his family. Since then, the armed forces consist of five branches: the army, the air force, the navy (including the coastal defense), the border troops and the strategic reserve forces. At the heart of the reform was the transformation of the Republic Guard into strategic reserve forces, which were divided into special forces, missile defenses and the President’s protection corps.

Both military units and – to a greater extent – irregular militias and clan groups have recruited child soldiers. In 2011, a Yemeni children’s rights organization claimed that about half of those who took part in the fighting between the government army and the Houthi rebels in Saada province that year were under 18 (this included both government soldiers and rebels). A 2014 UN report accused all investigated parties (the Houthis, Aqap, government forces, Islah and government-friendly militia) of using children as soldiers.

In 2017 alone, 842 children were recruited as soldiers, according to a UN report 2018 which stated that there was documentation showing that 76 of the children had participated in combat.


Army: 60,000 men (2015)

The air Force: 3,000 men (2015)

The fleet: 1 700 men (2015)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 5.0 percent (2014)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 14.3 percent (2014)

Vietnam Defense and Foreign Policy

Vietnam Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

According to abbreviationfinder, Vietnam is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Hanoi. Vietnam has relatively relaxed relations with the vast majority of countries, including the United States with which the country was at war with the 1960s and 1970s. An exception is China, which is a competitor for the right to territorial waters in the South China Sea. The relationship with Cambodia is also periodically strained.

vietnam military spending and defense budget

Vietnam’s relationship with the outside world has changed radically since the early 1990s. At that time, the country was internationally isolated, financially punished for its occupation of Cambodia and still ousted by the United States after the war. The only strong support came from the socialist countries with the Soviet Union at the forefront.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Vietnam for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

After taking back his Cambodian soldiers in 1989 and signing the United Nations Peace Plan for the neighboring country in 1991, Vietnam was able to re-integrate into the regional community. Trade with the countries of Southeast Asia increased, and in 1995 Vietnam joined Asean. The entry was an irony of history, since Asean was partially founded in 1967 as protection against what was then perceived as the threat of communist North Vietnam.

Complex relationship with China

Until the 1980s, relations with China were extremely tense, partly because of Beijing’s support for the Cambodian Red Khmer, and partly because of the harassment of the Chinese minority in Vietnam after the end of the war in 1975. It went as far as the 1979 war (see Modern history).

An approach began in 1989 when Vietnam acknowledged that the country’s Chinese had been treated poorly. In November 1991, the relationship was formally normalized at a Beijing summit. The need for better relations was reinforced by the uncertainty both countries felt after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. The two countries have also chosen the same ideological path, with market economy in a communist state.

In May 2017, Vietnam undoubtedly supported China’s infrastructure project BRI (the Belt and Road Initiative, or the New Silk Road), which will culminate in a network of roads, train lines and ports from eastern Asia to Europe. Some construction projects have yet to start in Vietnam.

The conflict over the Spratly and Paracel Islands

Despite normalization, relations with China remain sensitive. Both countries claim the largely uninhabited island groups Spratly and Paracel in the oil and gas-rich South China Sea. Screen savers have been involved with fishing and patrol boats involved, while politicians have often tried to dampen the contradictions.

When China placed an oil drilling platform in the Paracel Islands in May 2014, relations reached a bottom level. Popular anger led to riots and attacks on Chinese-owned factories in mainly southern Vietnam (although it was found that many affected facilities were owned by Taiwanese or South Koreans). The authorities initially seemed to tolerate the outbreak of violence but put a stop to it after a while. Several people were killed during the unrest and China evacuated thousands of citizens from the country. The enemy noises were sharp even at high level. The platform was later shipped off, but China has placed oil drilling platforms on the islands even at later times.

In early 2015, satellite images revealed that China had filled in reefs around the Sprat Islands to build a runway for flights. The intervention was condemned by Vietnam, USA with several countries. In January 2016, a Chinese aircraft lifted off the runway and a month later, China fired anti-aircraft missiles from the Paracel Islands.

The conflict has subsequently escalated, with more land fillings and military armaments on both sides. In 2017, China began cruising traffic in disputed waters. When Vietnam began to look for oil in the area, China threatened to attack with its fleet.

United States – from arch enemy to weapons supplier

The first approach to the United States came in 1986, when Vietnam offered to help find the remains of 2,600 fallen American soldiers who were still missing after the war in the 1960s and 1970s. In return, the United States promised humanitarian aid. After a few years of gradual approaching, the United States in 1994 abolished the economic boycott that has been in effect since the days of the Vietnam War. The decision was motivated by the willingness of the Vietnamese to cooperate in the search for the missing Americans. But behind the renewed economic ties also lay pressure from American companies that looked to be overshadowed by foreign competitors in the burgeoning Vietnamese market.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1995, the United States has become one of the largest investors in the country. In November 2000, US President Bill Clinton made a symbolically important state visit to Vietnam and in 2007 President Nguyen Minh Triet visited as the first Vietnamese head of state since the end of the Vietnam War White House in Washington. Relations have gradually strengthened with the rest of the Western world, although recent criticism has increased against violations of human rights.

The United States imposed a ban on all arms exports to Vietnam in 1984. Thirty years later, the US government partially repealed the arms embargo, enabling Vietnam to buy US marine security equipment. The United States denied that the easing of the embargo was a result of China’s advanced positions in the South China Sea.

At a visit to Vietnam in May 2016, US President Barack Obama announced that the United States had decided to lift the remaining embargo on arms sales to Vietnam. Obama said that the last lingering traces of the Vietnam War were thus gone. The US decision made it easier for Vietnam to gear up its defense. However, the United States emphasized that the decision was not related to the tense situation between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea, but that it was part of the normalization of relations with Vietnam after the war in the 1960s and 1970s.

Other important relationships

Vietnam’s relationship with Communist Laos is close, with close cooperation on both political and security issues. For Cambodia, relations are more complicated for historical reasons, although they are basically now relatively safe. However, the boundary between the two countries is not fully established, which has led to recurring inequality.

Vietnam has maintained good relations with Russia even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The countries cooperate primarily in the areas of trade, defense and energy.

From the end of the 1990s, Vietnam and India have been approaching each other, in line with China’s growing influence in Asia. In March 2000, the two countries signed a cooperation agreement in the field of defense: Vietnam trains Indian soldiers in the fight against insurgency and in warfare in jungle environments, while India assists Vietnam in the upgrading and modernization of the defense. The countries are also fighting piracy in the South China Sea together. In 2013, Vietnam gave India the right to look for oil in the South China Sea. In May 2018, India and Vietnam completed their first joint naval exercise, including that of the South China Sea.

With the EU (then EC; European Community), Vietnam established diplomatic relations in October 1990. A comprehensive cooperation agreement was signed in June 2012.


Vietnam has drastically shrunk its army since the early 1990s, when it consisted of just over a million men. The army has maintained its strong political position and is an important recruitment base for top positions within the party and the state. The equipment of the armed forces is being modernized. In addition to the regular armed forces with army, navy and aviation, Vietnam has a special air defense as well as semi-military forces, militia, in cities and in rural areas. There is a general duty of military service for at least two years for men between the ages of 18 and 35.


Army: 412 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 30,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 40,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.3 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 7.9 percent (2017)

Uzbekistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Uzbekistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

According to abbreviationfinder, Uzbekistan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Tashkent. Uzbekistan’s foreign policy is characterized by a desire to maintain stability and not become unilaterally dependent on a single partner. The country is claiming a leadership role in Central Asia, but the quest to develop regional cooperation has not always been so successful.

uzbekistan military spending and defense budget

The countries that cooperated with the Karimov regime (1991–2016) in Uzbekistan often ignored its lack of respect for democracy and human rights as long as stability could be maintained in an otherwise troubled region. Uzbekistan’s strategic location and the country’s assets in the form of natural gas, cotton and gold also contributed to this attitude.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Uzbekistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

When the Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were formed in the 1920s, the Fergana Valley was cut into a maze of complicated borders. The area is politically charged with ethnic enclaves, unresolved border disputes and conflicts over water and energy between the countries. The Karimov regime opposed Kyrgyzstan’s and Tajikistan’s plans to build hydroelectric power stations in the Amu and Syrian Darja rivers – plants that would curtail the flow of water to Uzbekistan.

Following President Mirzijojev’s accession in 2016, a gradual approach has taken place between Uzbekistan and the other former Soviet republics in Central Asia. In 2017, air travel between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan resumed, and in January 2018, ten border crossings opened, closed since 2001. When Mirzijev visited Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon in neighboring capital Dushanbe in March 2018, the two leaders agreed to abolish the visa requirement since 2000 travel between countries.

Unlike Karimov, Mirziajev and Tajikistan’s and Kyrgyzstan’s plans not to expand hydropower upstream from Uzbekistan do not oppose.

Border disputes with Kazakhstan were partially resolved in an agreement of 2001. However, problems remained and in 2005 Uzbekistan accused the neighboring country of hosting Uzbek armed hostile groups. Through an agreement in 2013, relations were strengthened in both trade and security matters. When Mirzijoev visited Kazakhstan in 2017, further cooperation agreements were signed.

There is disagreement with Turkmenistan about the water resources in the Amu-Darja border.

Fight against militant Islamism

The threat from the Islamic guerrilla Uzbekistan’s Islamic movement (IMU; see also Political system) played a central role in foreign policy for several years. During the 1990s, the regime sought help from Russia to guard its border with Afghanistan. The IMU had bases in neighboring countries and received support from the Taliban and terrorist leader Usama bin Laden to make raids into Uzbekistan and its neighboring countries. The guerrillas financed their activities through, among other things, drug smuggling and aimed to overthrow the Uzbek regime and establish an Islamic state in the Fergana Valley.

Around the turn of the millennium, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan joined forces militarily to stop the IMU. Russia, China, the United States and the EU supported military cooperation. Also, unrest in connection with the US-led war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001 forced Uzbekistan and Tajikistan closer cooperation. In addition, Uzbek and Kyrgyz security forces have made joint raids against radical Islamists in the Fergana Valley.

In 2001, Uzbekistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a counter-terrorism cooperation organization, which also includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Relations with Russia and China

Uzbekistan’s relations with Russia have at times been strained, but Russia has remained the most important defense and trade partner. After Uzbekistan was criticized by the western countries for the Andizyan massacre in 2005 (see Modern History), President Karimov and his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin came closer. In 2017, the first joint military exercise was held with Russia since 2005, in southeastern Uzbekistan. In March 2018, an agreement was also reached on the purchase of new Russian-made combat helicopters.

China has also shown a growing interest in Uzbekistan in recent years. Both Russia and China have increased cooperation with Uzbekistan through trade, investment and a joint fight against radical Islamism. In May 2017, Mirzijojev visited Beijing and the same month began a Sino-Uzbek collaboration to develop gas fields in Uzbek Karakul.

Relations with the western world

Uzbekistan’s relations with the United States were strengthened when the countries signed an agreement on defense cooperation in 1995. Uzbekistan joined the NATO Partnership for Peace (PFF) in 1994. Military exercises with American participation were organized in the Fergana Valley, where armed Islamists were active. The EU also tried to develop relations with Uzbekistan and in 1996 signed a so-called partnership and cooperation agreement. However, both EU and US enthusiasm cooled as the lack of democracy and respect for human rights in Uzbekistan became increasingly evident.

Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Uzbekistan abandoned its territory for the US-led military alliance that expelled the Taliban regime from Afghanistan. Many of the IMU guerrillas are believed to have been killed in the fighting there. The US had to deploy combat aircraft and military personnel at the former Soviet air base Karshi-Khanabad. As a thank you, more than $ 150 million in financial and military aid was paid to Uzbekistan.

Relations with the United States deteriorated markedly in 2005, when the US, like the EU, criticized the massacre of the Uzbek military of about 500 unarmed protesters in Andizan. Karimov’s regime then terminated the agreement on the Karshi-Khanabad air base.

However, the US need for allies in the region was so great that criticism of the Karimov regime soon faded. In 2008, the United States was granted the right to use an air base in southern Uzbekistan with certain restrictions and the following year the US was allowed to transport non-military supplies through Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.

At a meeting between President Mirzijoev and US President Donald Trump in May 2018, Uzbekistan gave its “full support” to the US strategy in Afghanistan. The US government said that Uzbekistan has made “tremendous progress” in social, economic and political reforms since President Mirzijojev took office in 2016.

The EU imposed some trade and travel sanctions on Uzbekistan in 2005 because of the regime’s refusal to allow an international investigation into the shooting deaths in Andhizan. But even for the EU, Uzbekistan’s strategic importance is too great for the country to be isolated. Although political repression had rapidly increased, the EU gradually lifted all sanctions until 2009. Karimov visited Brussels in 2011 and met the EU and NATO leaders for the first time in almost six years. Among other things, an agreement was signed on energy cooperation with the EU.


At independence in 1991, Uzbekistan took over Soviet military facilities in the country. Citizens in military service abroad were called home and Uzbekistan built its own defense with army and air force. One year of military service applies.

There are also semi-military forces in the country of 20,000 men: 1,000 men are included in the National Guard, who are under the Ministry of Defense and 19,000 are under the Ministry of the Interior. The oversized police force was named during the Karimov regime as one of the world’s most corrupt and its brutality was a witness. Reforms of security forces and police are reported to be ongoing, but corruption and abuse are still widespread.


Army: 24 500 men (2017)

The air Force: 7,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 0.5 percent (2003)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 1.6 percent (2003)

United Arab Emirates Defense and Foreign Policy

United Arab Emirates Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

According to abbreviationfinder, United Arab Emirates is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Abu Dhabi. Arab unity is an important element of the United Arab Emirates’ foreign policy. In the Arab world, the country is usually on the side of conservative states. Long ago, the emirate has had close relations with Iran – but a territorial dispute is hampering contacts. In Yemen’s civil war, the emirate has participated in the Saudi-backed government’s military efforts against the Shiite Muslim Huthirbels.

uae military spending and defense budget

The United Arab Emirates’ most serious foreign policy dispute concerns the two Tunisians and the island of Abu Musa. These have been controlled by Iran since 1970, but the Emirate of Sharjah claims them. The conflict was exacerbated in 1996 when Iran opened an airport at Abu Musa and a power plant in Tunisia, and it has flared up at regular intervals, no later than 2012. Despite the dispute, the countries maintain strong trade relations.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in United Arab Emirates for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The United Arab Emirates has a defense treaty with Saudi Arabia. In recent years, however, the state leadership has tried to limit the neighboring country’s great influence over several of the emirates. For a long time, the countries also have a dispute about the border line north of the large oil field Shayba in the al-Rub al-Khali desert.

In 1981, the United Arab Emirates joined and formed a cooperative organization for the Gulf States, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), together with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The countries have a mutual defense pact and in 2008 the region became a common market with free movement. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, sent forces under the GCC to Bahrain to help the regime against Shiite protests in 2011. Disagreements between Qatar and the other GCC countries have later put the cooperation to the test, with trade boycotts included.

The United Arab Emirates was one of the countries that maintained diplomatic relations with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996–2001. Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, carried out by, among other two emirates, the Emirates broke off its contacts with the Taliban. Between 2003 and 2014, Emirati elite soldiers assisted the United States during the war in Afghanistan. The state, on the other hand, was awaiting US plans to attack Iraq to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein. US airbases in the Emirates played a marginal role when the invasion began in 2003.

The United Arab Emirates has purchased combat aircraft and other military equipment from the United States to a large extent. US military personnel are stationed in the emirate, and during the 2010s, cooperation has been strengthened by both countries wanting to counter both militant Islamism and Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities. A defense agreement between the countries entered into force in May 2019.

Following a 2008 agreement between France and the emirate, a French military base was opened in Abu Dhabi in 2009.

In 2013, the Emirate supported the military coup that deposed Egypt’s President Muhammad Mursi from the Muslim Brotherhood, then assisted the new Egyptian military government with $ 3 billion. In 2014, according to US sources, the United Arab Emirates has carried out a bomb attack with Egypt against Islamist militia in Libya. From 2014, the emirate also participated in air strikes against the jihadist extremist group Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria. After a Jordanian pilot was captured by IS when his plane was shot down that year, the Emirates stopped the bombing, citing that the United States must be better at rescue operations. But when the pilot was brutally killed by IS in early 2015, the attacks resumed.

In recent years, at the same time as the Emirate’s participation in the civil war in Yemen, the United Arab Emirates has also sought to expand the dialogue with other major religions. The head of the Catholic Church Franciscus was able to conduct the first pope visit in the Arabian Peninsula in early 2019 and meetings with Sunni Muslim leaders were followed by a large mass. Most of the Christians in the emirate are native to Asia, not least the Philippines, so the Pope’s visit also has symbolic value as a gesture towards the guest workers’ homelands.

In the Yemen war, the emirate has participated with ground troops, while Saudi Arabia has, above all, carried out air strikes and attracted sharper international criticism. However, it has emerged that the United Arab Emirates is responsible for prisons on Yemeni land, where, according to human rights organizations, there have been severe abuses. In the summer of 2019, the emirate announced that fighting alliances would be withdrawn, although it could create friction with Saudi Arabia, which was hired from the south by Yemeni Shi’ite belligerents.

In the civil war in Libya, the emirate has taken a clearer position, for warlord Khalifa Haftar, who from the east is fighting the government headquartered in Tripoli. For a major offensive against Tripoli that Haftar initiated in 2019 and continued in 2020, the emirate is reported to have recruited soldiers in Sudan, with the withdrawal of financial support as a means of pressure.

Since 1976, the seven emirates have a joint, federal defense with almost a third of foreign nationals. However, Dubai still has its own smaller force. Military service is mandatory for all men between the ages of 18 and 30. The defense is funded almost entirely by Abu Dhabi.


Army: 44,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 4,500 men (2017)

The fleet: 2,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 5.6 percent (2014)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 17.0 percent (2014)

Turkmenistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Turkmenistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Turkmenistan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Ashgabat. A constitutional principle in Turkmenistan’s foreign policy is that of “permanent neutrality”. The large oil and natural gas resources make the country interesting for both Russia and the US as well as the EU and China. Relations with Russia and the western countries are often strained and Turkmenistan has been in conflict with the Caspian Sea countries regarding the right to oil and natural gas.

turkmenistan military spending and defense budget

The foreign policy line on permanent neutrality was introduced after the independence of the Soviet Union in 1991 and meant that Turkmenistan was in fact long internationally isolated.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Turkmenistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The country was one of the founders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which gathers former Soviet republics, but since 2005 is only an associate member and, for example, stands outside the organization’s security cooperation and free trade union.

The relationship with Russia is complicated, mainly because of Turkmenistan’s export of natural gas. Turkmenistan was long dependent on the Russian gas export market and the country often accused Russia of taking advantage of its geographical position to buy Turkmen gas at underpriced prices and exporting it further west with good profits. Discussions about the price of natural gas often occurred. Turkmenistan has therefore strived to reach the world market through new lines, which do not go through Russian territory, to China, Iran and the EU, among others.

Turkmenistan chose not to condemn Russia for the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 (see Ukraine, current policy). The economic crisis that hit Russia in 2014 led to a sharp decline in imports of Turkmen. In 2016, it ceased altogether after the Russian gas company Gazprom accused Turkmen Turkmazaz of breach of contract. After a visit by Gazprom’s head in Turkmenistan in March 2019, gas exports to Russia resumed.

Iran and China are important

Nowadays, China is by far the largest buyer of Turkmen gas (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment). In December 2009, a gas pipeline was opened from Turkmenistan to China. During the 2010s, cooperation with China has increased significantly, not least because China has increased its investments in infrastructure in Turkmenistan.

In 1997, a gas pipeline was opened between southwest Turkmenistan and the Iranian city of Kord Kuy. It was the first pipeline for the export of Turkmen gas outside the former Soviet Union and marked an important departure from the dependence on Russia. In 2010, the second gas pipeline was inaugurated to Iran. However, in early 2017, Turkmenistan ceased gas flow to Iran due to unpaid gas delivery bills. With the dispute still unresolved, in January 2018, Iran turned to the International Arbitration Court in The Hague for an opinion, whereupon Turkmenistan soon also filed a complaint. The verdict is expected to take a couple of years.

Tight contacts with the vest

Turkmenistan became the first Central Asian country in 1994 to join NATO’s Alliance for Peace Partnership Program for Peace (PFF). However, US and EU countries’ relations with the authoritarian Turkmen regime are strained.

The EU’s interest in natural gas is great, at the same time as it criticizes the lack of democracy in Turkmenistan and the violations of citizens’ human rights (see Democracy and Rights). A partnership and cooperation agreement was signed in 1998, but it did not come into force because of the above criticism.

For the same reason, relations with the United States are complicated. Relations with Washington were also weakened by the fact that Turkmenistan maintained diplomatic contacts with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996–2001 and that the country did not lend its support to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. During the ensuing war, however, Turkmenistan became an important transit country for aid transports to Afghanistan. Around one million Turkmen live on the Afghan side of the border.

In the spring of 2015, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan announced a collaboration that will bring gas from Turkmenistan via Turkey to Europe. In March 2019, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the EU agreed to build a transport corridor linking the port city of Türkmenbaşy with the Romanian Black Sea city of Constanta.

The Caspian Sea conflict

Turkmenistan has long had strained relations with all the countries around the Caspian Sea, ie Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. In August 2018, however, the five countries signed an agreement regulating the legal status of the water. The agreement was signed by the country’s leaders in the port city of Aktau, Kazakhstan.

The status of the Caspian Sea has been unclear since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The conflict has affected whether it is a lake or an inland sea. An inland sea would be subject to UN maritime law, while the right to a lake must be negotiated between the countries. The ambiguity has led to uncertainty about who has the right to extract the rich oil and natural gas resources.

The 2018 agreement stipulates that the Caspian Sea is neither a lake nor an inland sea, but has “special legal status”. This means that the surface water will be used jointly by the five states, while the seabed and its assets will be divided. How these boundaries are to be drawn does not say anything about (however, the interference fishing that produces caviar is regulated by means of quotas). The agreement also states that no other country may establish military bases on the Caspian Sea alongside the five states.

The years after the turn of the millennium, Turkmenistan’s relations with Uzbekistan were bottom frozen as a result of an alleged coup attempt in Ashgabat in 2002. The Uzbek embassy in Ashgabat was searched by police in search of evidence of Uzbek involvement in the coup attempt. Uzbekistan reacted strongly to the accusations and soon troops were assembled on both sides of the border. Through bilateral cooperation agreements and other confidence-building measures, relations between neighboring countries have gradually improved and are now normalized.


Turkmenistan’s defense is still under construction. Plans exist for a naval force in the Caspian Sea. Turkish military is training parts of the country’s armed forces. With Russia, Turkmenistan has entered into an agreement on defense cooperation; the two countries are jointly responsible for Russian forces deployed along the border with Iran and Afghanistan. The defense is based on general military duty for two years. President Berdimuhamedow has his own militia of about 2,000 men and other security units. There are around 5,000 semi-military soldiers in the country.


Army: 33,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 3,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.9 percent (1999)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 15.0 percent (1999)

Turkey Defense and Foreign Policy

Turkey Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

According to abbreviationfinder, Turkey is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Ankara. In two rounds since the beginning of the 2000s, Turkey’s position in the world has changed dramatically. During the first decade of the century, a greatly improved economy coincided with an increased activity of Turkish companies abroad and an intense diplomatic activity characterized by great self-confidence and an ambition for “zero problems with the neighbors”. From the beginning of the 2010s, things started to go down. Conflicts arose with almost every country in the region and an increasingly authoritarian policy within the country created some anxiety in the western world.

turkey military spending and defense budget

For a long time, membership in the NATO military alliance has been the basis of Turkey’s foreign policy. For many years, the hopes of a future membership of the EU also got the country to emphasize its opportunity to build a bridge between west and east. Membership in NATO is not directly questioned, but not without problems.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Turkey for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The United States has two air bases in Turkey and, at least until Donald Trump’s term as president, has placed great emphasis on relations with NATO’s only Muslim member state. But although Turkey has mostly been loyal to NATO, there are fairly widespread anti-American sentiments and often an annoyance to the United States within the Turkish leadership. In recent years, disagreements have risen in view of the war in Syria, where the United States has supported the Syrian-Kurdish guerrilla YPG, which has been one of the most effective opponents of the Islamic extremist Islamic State (IS) movement. Turkey, on the other hand, has fought the YPG, which is considered a branch of the Turkish-Kurdish guerrilla PKK. Following the attempted coup d’état in Turkey in 2016, the United States was accused of failing to distance itself quickly from the coup attempt. It has also been suggested that the United States was somehow involved in the coup by letting pastor Fethullah Gülen, of Turkey designated as the brains behind the conspiracy, live in the United States. There has been strong irritation in Turkey that the United States has not extradited him.

Disappointment to the EU

Turkey’s disappointment with the EU is evident. After long wishing to become a member of the EU, Turkey was recognized as a candidate country in 1999, albeit with reservations. To negotiate membership, the Turks must first improve respect for human rights and correct political abuses. This was precisely what progress-friendly forces in Turkey wanted to do, with the support of the EU. Soon there was a demand that Turkey’s Customs Union must include all EU members including Cyprus. Despite opposition from several EU countries, Turkey was allowed to negotiate membership in 2005, but negotiations were slow. EU adaptation in Turkey lost momentum, while Germany and France, in particular, raised new barriers to the prospect of entering a large, Muslim country in what some considered a kind of Christian community.

The EU has also been criticized for opposing Turkey while it was in a phase of democratization, but relied on Turkish support to resolve the acute crisis that arose with the great wave of refugees to Europe 2015, even though Turkey was then perceived as the next next to a dictatorship. At that time, Turkey was promised billions of euros to take care of refugees that the EU did not want, as well as increased pace in member negotiations. The support to the refugees comes in several forms, including smaller cash grants, but mainly as humanitarian aid through large, international organizations.

The schism between the EU and Turkey deepened after the coup attempt in 2016, when the EU was also accused of dragging its legs by standing on the government’s side. Turkey complained that promised refugee support was not paid and threatened to terminate the agreement. At the same time, Turkey demanded visa freedom for its citizens to the EU, while the EU demanded that Turkey first change the broad definition of “terrorism” which, among other things, led to mass arrests of tens of thousands of people after the coup attempt.

Especially with Germany, which has a large population group originating in Turkey, relations have been put to the test. 900 mosques in Germany are run by the Turkish Religious Authority, which pays the parish leaders’ salaries. In several German states, legislative changes are discussed that could make parishes less dependent on outside financial support (there is a voluntary church tax for Christians proposed as a model).

While the EU has for several years already acted in a way that Turkey perceived as patronizing and ruthless, and the negotiations virtually stopped, the Ankara government was aiming for other alliances. The AKP government began to pursue active diplomacy and trade in virtually all countries that were once part of the old Ottoman Empire. Even with Turkish-speaking former Soviet states in Central Asia, close contacts were made.

Support for Islamist parties

During the “Arab Spring” of 2011, tens of thousands of regime opponents in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries saw the Turkish AKP as an example of the party’s ability to combine basic Islamic values ​​with democratic and secular politics and liberal economic principles. But when a short-lived Islamic government in the most important country, Egypt, was overthrown by a new military regime, Turkey suddenly faced an enemy in Cairo instead of a friend. Turkey has insisted on considering the deposed Islamist President Muhammad Mursi as the legal leader of Egypt.

The attempts to gain influence in Tunisia and Libya since the dictatorship of the countries were overthrown were also unsuccessful, at least in the short term.

In 1949, Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel. For decades, the countries had good relations, but in 2009 it happened when then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan resigned to Israeli President Shimon Peres for Israel’s actions in Gaza. In 2010, the crisis deepened when ten Turks were killed in an Israeli command raid against the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was part of an international convoy that would try to break the blockade of Gaza. Israel refused to apologize, which ended with Turkey canceling the military cooperation agreement and downgrading diplomatic relations. Following a new Israeli shooting of Gaza in 2012, Erdoğan described Israel as a “terrorist state”. Only in 2016 were relations normalized, since Israel agreed to pay damages to the ten killed Turks’ relatives. The relations were put to the test again in 2017 when the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. At the head of Sunni Muslim countries, Turkey then called for international recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

The settlement with Israel following the offshore events around the Gaza convoy was interpreted in the outside world as an attempt by Turkey to break the relative isolation the country has endured. This also applied to the reconciliation with Russia that happened at about the same time.

Relations with Russia had been relatively tense following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but when Turkey in 2015 cut down a Russian fighter aircraft in the border regions against Syria, the countries turned into enemies. Russia restricted trade with Turkey and stopped all charter tourism, which hit hard on the Turkish economy. The conflict also involved the most serious confrontation between NATO and Russia since the end of the Cold War. In 2016, President Erdoğan Russia apologized and met his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin. They agreed to try to restore normal relationships. The approach was facilitated by the fact that Russia had fared more quickly than the EU and the US from the coup attempt and that Putin did not criticize the mass arrests in Turkey. Normalization was considered to benefit both countries financially.

Worried leaders in the West feared that a new alliance between authoritarian leaders could be created and disrupt the balance of power in Europe. In the conflicts in Syria and Libya, Turkish-Russian relations have continued to arouse interest. Ankara and Moscow have supported opposite sides in both countries, but at the same time have tried to tie the grip on negotiations between warring parties in a way that has placed the Western powers and the UN alongside the development of events.

Hunting for Kurdish guerrillas

Turkey’s relationship with Syria has long been poor due to Syria’s support for the Kurdish guerrilla PKK and major Turkish irrigation projects that reduced the flow of water to Syria. Relations improved since Syria broke with the PKK in 1998, and Turkey saw itself as the only Western-friendly state that could talk to Syria. But when it failed to stop the bloody persecution of the Assad regime by the spring 2011 opposition, Turkey instead became one of the driving forces for power change in Syria. The disintegration of the Syrian state aroused strong concern in Turkey that Kurdish groups in Syria could establish some form of self-government along the Turkish border, similar to the conditions in northern Iraq. The Turkish government threatened to intervene if the PKK was allowed to establish new bases on Syrian land.

The civil war in Syria also affected Turkey in a concrete way through a strong current of refugees. The Turkish government estimated that the country would not be able to handle more than 100,000 refugees and proposed that the UN establish a protected zone for refugees on Syrian soil along the border. This rejected the Security Council as unrealistic. Turkey appealed to the EU for greater efforts. In 2013, the crisis in Syria worsened rapidly and the number of Syrians seeking protection in Turkey skyrocketed. In 2019, Turkey hosted more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, one-tenth of which were in the established refugee camps.

Turkey’s attempt to contribute to overthrowing the Syrian regime at all costs is believed to have long left the country’s border with the southern neighbor country open to Sunni Muslim extremists, among them jihadists who would later call themselves Islamic State (IS). Turkey was criticized internationally for devoting more force to fighting Syrian-Kurdish guerrillas than IS. Only in late summer 2016 did Turkey pledge to seriously join the fight against IS and until then accept a continued role for the regime in Damascus. When IS was defeated (in 2019 battles were fought in desert areas that knocked out IS’s last real mounts), it was Kurdish-dominated forces that accounted for the largest efforts, with assistance from the US and other countries. But Turkey has not let go of its focus on Kurdish state-building efforts on Syrian soil. Three Turkish military offensive between 2016 and 2019 have focused on the Kurdish forces that Turkey describes as terrorists. The 2019 invasion, when the president also declared his intention to set up a zone where refugees from Syria would be sent back, took place in the face of deteriorating economy in Turkey and reduced voter support for Erdoğan and his party.

Turkey’s hostile attitude to the Syrian regime has strained relations with one of its most important partners, Iran. The fact that since 2011 NATO has a radar station on Turkish soil as a link in its defense shield against Iranian robots has also deteriorated the relationship. Iran has also criticized Turkey’s support for Sunni groups during the “Arab Spring”, as well as in the civil war in Yemen. However, an agreement in 2014 on increased economic cooperation and trade exchange is considered to have thawed relations. In 2017, Turkey, Iran and Russia rallied behind joint initiatives to end the civil war in Syria, with the condition of leaving Bashar al-Assad as head of state.

Although hundreds of Turkish companies operate in Iraq, the political relations between the countries are cool. By contrast, the AKP government has established relations with the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq and has great trade exchanges with the Iraqi Kurds, but without supporting the idea that they should form an independent Kurdish state. The export of oil directly from Kurdistan to Turkey for a time was condemned by the Iraqi government as illegal.

The Iraqi government is also opposed to the Turkish army’s repeated raids against the PKK on Iraqi soil. At the end of 2015, Iraq turned to the UN Security Council to remove a larger Turkish force. Since 2014, each year the Turkish parliament has extended a scheme that allows Turkish troops to be sent into Iraq and Syria to fight organizations that in Turkey are perceived as terrorist groups.

Cyprus sensitive issue

For historical reasons, Turkey-Greece relations have long been strained, but mutual aid following earthquakes in 1999 near Istanbul and Athens created a rapprochement and was followed by Greece’s veto of Turkish membership negotiations with the EU. Relations have been improving ever since, although it angered the Turkish leadership that the coup attempt in 2016 resulted in opponents of President Erdoğan seeking asylum in Greece. Erdoğan visited Greece in 2017, as the first Turkish President in 65 years. But he astonished his hosts by advocating a review of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, in which modern Turkey’s borders were established after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (see Ancient History).

The most serious conflict with Greece concerns Cyprus. The island, located near the Turkish coast, is divided between Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north. The split was completed in 1974, when Turkey invaded northern Cyprus to prevent a military junta in Athens from uniting Cyprus with Greece. Only the Greek Cypriot government is internationally recognized, though not by Turkey. However, the republic proclaimed by the Turkish Cypriots is recognized only by Turkey, which has troops in northern Cyprus.

For many tour nationalists, the Cyprus issue is emotionally charged. Turkey has in the past sometimes threatened to incorporate northern Cyprus, but AKP has taken a softer stance in office. It was probably behind a crucial turn in Cyprus in 2003, when the Turkish Cypriots opened the border between both parts of the island. Among other things, following pressure from the Turkish government, a majority of Turkish Cypriots in 2004 voted in favor of the plan for the reunification of Cyprus presented by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. However, the Greek Cypriots rejected the proposal and thus the Greek Cypriot government came to represent Cyprus when it joined the EU in 2004. Subsequently, Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Greek Cypriot government, and the entry of Cypriot vessels into Turkish ports, has been a major obstacle to the Turkish EU. -membership. Turkey also protests that the Greek Cypriot government has entered into an agreement on the country’s economic zone in the Mediterranean with, among others, Israel, without consulting Turkey or the Turkish Cypriots. Talks about reunification of the island have been held occasionally but not led to agreements.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, new states emerged in Central Asia, inhabited by Turkmen. Turkey’s attempts to approach these peoples have had the greatest success in Azerbaijan, whose language is close to what is spoken in Turkey. Turkish companies are very active in Azerbaijan and Turkey supports the country in its conflict with Armenia.

History casts its shadow over the Turks’ relationship with the Armenians (see Population and Languages) and the Armenian issue also disturbs Turkey’s relations with other countries. A number of countries’ official recognition of the expulsion of the Armenians in 1915 as a genocide has always led Turkey to cool down diplomatic relations for a period of time. For example, this happened to Sweden in 2010.

Against China, the Turkish leadership has made sharp markings after reports of mounting repression against the Uighur people in Xinjiang.

In conjunction with the corona pandemic, Turkey 2020, despite the spread of infection in its own country, has contributed protective equipment to, for example, Italy, Spain and Palestine. And besides, sold drugs to Armenia.

Great defense and military exports

Turkey has one of NATO’s largest military alliances in NATO. It consists of around 600,000 men, including 500,000 conscripts. Since 2014, the general military duty for most people has been going on for twelve months.

Turkey has its own production of tanks, military aircraft, satellites and warships. Drones (unmanned vehicles) have been used by the Turkish military both against Kurdish guerrillas in the country and in warfare on the Syrian side of the border, both for reconnaissance and for assault against, for example, armored vehicles. Both state-run Turkish Aerospace and the company Baykar, run by the president’s US-trained sister-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar, are developing drones.


Army: 260,200 people (2017)

The air Force: 50,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 45,600 Men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.2 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 6.4 percent (2017)

Thailand Defense and Foreign Policy

Thailand Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

According to abbreviationfinder, Thailand is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Bangkok. Thailand has always pursued a pragmatic foreign policy and adapted to new situations. The country can also be described as nationalist with a skepticism about foreign involvement in politics.

thailand military spending and defense budget

After World War II, foreign policy has been markedly Western-friendly, but Thailand is also striving to expand its cooperation with other countries in Southeast Asia. Asean is the most important regional cooperation organization, while Apec is rather aimed at dialogue with the outside world.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Thailand for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Under the military rule in Thailand after the coup in May 2014, contacts with China increased. The Beijing government was quick to express its support for the military junta, and as early as February 2015, an agreement on enhanced defense cooperation was signed. Trade relations have also been strengthened. However, Thailand’s leaders have been hesitant about China’s infrastructure efforts in the region.

Myanmar and Laos

Relations with Myanmar (formerly Burma) have long been strained. Several Myanmar guerrilla groups, not least rebels from minority people shan, operate near the border with Thailand. From time to time, they attack military sites and often reach the Myanmar military’s fire of fire into Thai territory. The Myanmar military junta, in particular, in the 1980s and 1990s accused Thailand of supporting the rebels, which are largely made up of various ethnic minorities. The many Myanmar refugees in Thailand as well as drug trafficking across the border help make the situation problematic.

The democratization process that began in 2011 in Myanmar has facilitated a rapprochement between the two countries, but Myanmar’s tough handling of the minority Rohingy population and the refugee flow to Thailand that has created this has caused new irritation. When Myanmar’s then-president Thein Sein visited Thailand in July 2012, the two countries signed a cooperation agreement. In October 2014, Thai dome leader Prayuth Chan-ocha visited Myanmar as the first country since he became head of government. The leaders of the two countries discussed cooperation in port development, the energy sector and border surveillance. In April 2018, more than 100,000 Myanmar refugees were in nine camps along the border between the two countries.

Relations with Laos have been greatly influenced by the fate of the Hmong refugees. Tens of thousands of members of the hmong folk group, who have experienced harassment and persecution in their homeland of Laos since the 1970s (see Laos, Modern History), have over the years moved to Thailand where they lived as stateless in large refugee camps. In 2006, Thailand and Laos agreed to work together to find a solution to the refugee issue. While thousands of hmong have been granted refugee status in the United States, Thai authorities have been trying to identify the refugees to find out where they come from. However, this work has been slow and the Doctors Without Borders organization has reported bad conditions in the camps. In 2009, Thailand deported about 4,000 hmong refugees to Laos, which received sharp criticism from the US and human rights organizations, among others.

Thailand invests in hydropower development in Laos and most of the electricity generated will be exported to Thailand.


The relationship with Cambodia is also strained. In the 1990s, the Phnom Penh government accused Thai security forces of indirectly supporting the guerrilla movement of the Red Khmer smuggling of timber and gemstones to less prominent Thai buyers. Thousands of Cambodians also fled across the border to Thailand as fighting erupted in the homeland between the military and guerrillas.

After the turn of the millennium, relations improved. In 2001, the countries decided to jointly raise security at the border to curb the smuggling of people, drugs and objects stolen from temples in the Cambodian city of Angkor.

The positive trend reversed when an old conflict over the Preah Vihear temple, located in the border region between countries, flared up in 2008. The triggering factor was the UN body UNESCO’s decision to place the temple on its list of World Heritage Sites in Cambodia. In 1962, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the temple is located in Cambodia, but Thai nationalists have found it difficult to accept. In addition, the boundary line is unclear in parts of the area around the temple.

In connection with the 2008 riots, Thailand and Cambodia mobilized troops at the temple. Soon there were around a thousand soldiers posted on each side. Through negotiations, the forces could be gradually reduced.

Relations deteriorated again in the fall of 2009 when Cambodia offered Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a post as economic government adviser. Thailand’s Abhisit government saw the play as a provocation. In August 2010, Thaksin resigned from the disputed post and full diplomatic relations were restored.

In February 2011, Cambodia turned to the UN with a plea that the World Organization would intervene to end the temple conflict by creating a buffer zone in the area. Following mediation by Asean the same month, an Indonesian observer group was placed on both sides of the border.

Still, new battles flared up in April. It was not until December of that year that the countries agreed on mutual troop retreat, under the supervision of the Indonesian observers. In April 2012, the two countries decided to jointly clear mines at Preah Vihear, and in July a gradual troop retreat was initiated.

In November 2013, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the disputed land areas around Preah Vihear belong to Cambodia. The court urged Thailand to withdraw all its soldiers, police and border guards from the areas.

Relations with Cambodia were strained once again in connection with the coup against Yingluck Shinawatra in May 2014, but strengthened again after Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha in Bangkok again.

Other Southeast Asian countries

The revolt among Muslim residents of southern Thailand (read more here) has periodically caused tension in relations with Malaysia, which has been accused by Thailand of supporting the separatists. Relations improved when Malaysia in 1998 promised to cease its support and a number of rebel leaders could be arrested. When the uprising escalated in 2004 and was met with harsh methods by the Thaksin government, relations with Malaysia again deteriorated.

The contacts gradually grew warmer during the military-led transitional government in 2007-2008 and during the Abhisit government in 2008–2011. The Yingluck government in 2011–2014 made new attempts to reduce tensions in the conflict area, but the results were slim. Relations with Malaysia were relatively unproblematic under military rule after spring 2014.

Thailand’s relationship with Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore is good. With Indonesia, Thailand collaborates primarily on agricultural development, energy and fisheries.

USA and Russia

Thailand has long cultivated good contacts with the United States and annually the two countries hold joint military exercises. Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Thailand pushed for a regional anti-terrorism policy within ASEAN. When the US-led invasion of Iraq began in 2003, Thailand declared itself “neutral” but still sent 400 soldiers to Iraq.

More recently, Thailand’s relations with the United States have cooled down, partly as a result of other countries, such as China, increasing in importance to Thailand and partly because of the military coups in Thailand in 2006 and 2014. The coup against the Thaksin government in 2006 was condemned by the Western countries and the US withdrew its military support to Thailand for two years. The 2014 military coup was also criticized by the US and other western countries. The US again froze its military support for the country and EU foreign ministers canceled official visits to and from Thailand. In October 2017, Prime Minister Prayuth was invited to the White House by US President Donald Trump. In December of that year, the Union resumed political contacts with Thailand “at all levels”.

After the 2014 military coup, Thailand sought closer contacts with Russia, whose relations with the Western world as well as Thailand had deteriorated in recent times. As the first Russian head of government in a quarter of a century, Dimitri Medvedev visited Thailand in April 2015. The countries agreed to expand cooperation in a number of areas, including drug fight, tourism, trade and investment. The two countries also decided that Russia should help Thailand develop its energy sector.


The military is a political power factor and has intervened on a number of occasions in the political process through coups, most recently against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government in May 2014. Until then, the defense underwent a long-term reform aimed at creating a professional and unpolitical military power, to a slightly smaller size. than the previous one. Large sums are invested in modernizing the defense equipment through the purchase of new tanks, artillery and frigates. The equipment is mainly purchased from the US but in recent years arms imports from China have increased. The general military duty is two years.

In 2015, China and Thailand agreed to increase military cooperation through more joint exercises, increased technological exchange and cheaper arms exports from China to Thailand. China also promised not to interfere in Thailand’s internal affairs, something Thailand thought the US had done recently by demanding that the state of emergency be lifted.


Army: 245 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 46,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 69 850 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.4 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 1.0 percent (2017)



Military-led government takes over power

Retired General Surayud Chulanont is appointed acting prime minister for a military-led transitional government.


Thaksin is deposed in a military coup

The military deposes Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his government in a bloody coup. Thaksin is currently attending a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Tajikistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Tajikistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

According to abbreviationfinder, Tajikistan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Dushanbe. The world’s great powers have all interests in the security-unstable region in which Tajikistan is located. Russia and China belong to the immediate area, and the United States has an extensive military presence in the region. With the Central Asian neighbors, Tajikistan has a partially strained relationship.

tajikistan military spending and defense budget

Across the border with Afghanistan, much of the heroin that eventually reaches Europe is smuggled in, and the drug trade largely funds extremists active in the area.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Tajikistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Following the terrorist attacks against the United States in September 2001, the US military was allowed to use air bases in Tajikistan for the ensuing war in Afghanistan. That cooperation brought economic benefits to Tajikistan.

Relations with Russia

The collaboration also disrupted relations with Russia, which opposed the US presence. It contributed to the withdrawal of the Russian border border against Afghanistan in 2005. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia had left a large border force to prevent drug smuggling and the infiltration of militant Islamists. Now, the Tajiks themselves took over the assignment, albeit with contributions from both Russia and elsewhere to accomplish the task.

Russia was also given the right to set up its first permanent military base in Tajikistan. With its 7,000 men, the military base in Dushanbe is one of Russia’s largest abroad. The Russians also regained control of a former Soviet space surveillance center in Nurek. Moscow also agreed to write off most of Tajikistan’s debt.

The countries agreed in 2012 that the Russian military may stay in the country until 2042. Russia will also help modernize Tajikistan’s defense. In 2017, cooperation with Russia strengthened again in guarding the border with Afghanistan. The backdrop was the Taliban’s success there.

The difficult situation of the Tajik guest workers in Russia creates some tension in relation to Moscow.

Relations with Uzbekistan

Tajikistan has cooperated politically and militarily with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to fight extremists. The efforts have been directed, among other things, at the Taliban-allied Uzbek Islamist movement (IMU), which has waged guerrilla war against several regimes in the region. Another extremist movement moving across borders is Hizb ut-Tahrir. The extensive troop retreat from Afghanistan launched by the United States and its NATO allies in 2014 raised concerns that Islamists in the region would be given new leeway and in the long term threaten not only the Kabul government but also the neighboring countries. However, a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan slowed the troop retreat and in 2017, US President Donald Trump pledged more troops to Afghanistan.

Relations with Uzbekistan were very strained until the death of Uzbek President Karimov in 2016. Uzbekistan saw Tajikistan as a weak link in the fight against terrorism. The neighboring country also protested against Tajik’s plans to build hydroelectric power stations that it believed would threaten downstream water supply, in Uzbekistan. It led from 2009 to recurring blockades of rail transport to Tajikistan across the border, to prevent equipment from reaching the dam project Rogun (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment). From 2012, Uzbekistan also stopped the important supply of natural gas to Tajikistan, which protested against high gas prices. The countries have accused each other of espionage and environmental destruction across the border.

Following the change of president in Uzbekistan, a gradual approach has taken place between the two states. One of President Mirzijoyev’s main election promises when he was elected Uzbekistan’s president in 2016 was to improve relations with neighboring countries. In 2017, flights between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan resumed after a 25-year hiatus. In March 2018, a number of border crossings were opened which have been closed since 2001. When Mirzijoev visited President Rahmon in Dushanbe the same month, the two leaders agreed to scrap the visa requirement that has existed since 2000 for travel between the two neighboring countries. Uzbek and Tajiks should be able to spend 30 days in each other’s countries without a visa.

Unlike Karimov, Mirziojev does not oppose Tajikistan’s construction of the dam project Rogun. As a result, Tajikistan began to re-export electricity to Uzbekistan after an interruption since 2009, while Uzbekistan resumed gas supplies to Tajikistan. In September 2018, for the first time, the two neighboring countries conducted a joint counterterrorism exercise, in Tajikistan.

Other important relationships

Also with Kyrgyzstan there are tensions regarding water and land use along the largely unmarked border in the Fergana Valley and in two Tajik exclaves located in Kyrgyzstan. Smaller screen savers occur regularly.

With China, there has been a protracted dispute over the border crossing in the Pamir Mountains. It was reported to have been resolved in 2011, through an agreement that means that Tajikistan will relinquish more than 1,000 square kilometers or close to 0.8 percent of its territory to its neighbor. China has become Tajikistan’s largest bilateral lender. The neighboring giant has provided favorable loans for major road construction and expansion of the electricity grid, and has invested mainly in Tajik gold mining. During the 2010s, China has shown increasing interest in the security situation in Central Asia due to fears that militant Islamism will spread to the Uighur minority in the Chinese Xinjiang region.

Relations with Afghanistan improved significantly after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. To Iran, Tajikistan has strong ethnic and linguistic ties and the countries cooperate on economic and military issues. However, relations with Iran were strained from 2015 when the Iranian government received a notorious militant Islamist leader.

Tajikistan participates in several regional cooperation bodies, in addition to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which consists of the majority of former Soviet republics. The country was part of the Eurasec Economic Community (Eurasec), which was formed in 2000 between Russia, Belarus and four Central Asian states (Turkmenistan stood outside). Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed in 2014 to move forward and form the Euro-Asian Economic Union (EEU) from January 1, 2015. Tajikistan does not belong to the countries that are in turn to join the EEU. China (but not Belarus) also participates in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) security cooperation. However, the various attempts to increase integration in the region have so far not yielded a major dividend.


Tajikistan’s defense is poorly equipped. Two years of general military duty prevails, but those who can afford can often buy themselves free, which is why most of the soldiers are from poor families. It is reported that students who are really excluded and men who have passed military service are kidnapped and forced to join the army. Systematic violence against conscripts is also a problem. The military is often accused of involvement in the extensive drug smuggling operation.


Army: 7,300 men (2017)

The air Force: 1,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.2 percent (2015)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 3.8 percent (2015)



Russian military base

Russia opens a military base and takes control of the former Soviet space center in Nurek.



Rachmonov can remain until 2020

A constitutional amendment is approved in a referendum, which means that President Rachmonov can remain in power for two more seven-year terms from the 2006 election.



The United States is offered support

Tajikistan provides support for the alliance against terrorism created by the United States following the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11.



Rachmonov’s party wins elections

Elections for a new two-chamber parliament are held. Rachmonov’s party The People’s Democratic Party wins big.

Taiwan Defense and Foreign Policy

Taiwan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

According to abbreviationfinder, Taiwan is a nation in Eastern Asia. Its capital city is Taipei. Taiwan’s situation is unique in the world. The Republic of China, as it is officially called, is recognized by only a few small states in the Pacific, Latin America and Africa. They thereby receive extensive assistance from Taiwan, and refrain from having relations with the People’s Republic of China. No country can simultaneously recognize and maintain official relations with both Beijing and Taipei.

Taiwan Defense and Foreign Policy

In practice, Taiwan acts as an independent country, with its own territory, its own government and its own unofficial foreign relations. Dozens of countries have representation in Taiwan, despite the lack of diplomatic recognition.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Taiwan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The Taiwan government – which until 2000 was constituted by the Nationalist Party Kuomintang – considered, like Beijing, that there was only one China, which includes Taiwan. But from Taiwanese point of view this China was the Republic of China with its 1947 Constitution and not the Communist-led People’s Republic.

However, the Democratic Party (DPP) has wanted to see Taiwan as independent and independent from the mainland. DPP President Chen Shui-bian’s distinctive independence policy (2000-2008) caused Taipei and Beijing to collide.

When Kuomintang returned to power, then President Ma Ying-jeou’s goal was to maintain the status quo in relation to China based on the promise “no independence, no reunification, no war”. However, the increased cooperation across the Taiwan Strait was based on continued agreement between the parties that there is only “one China” – but understood that there are different interpretations of what this means in Beijing and Taipei respectively. Beijing’s hope was that economic cooperation would lead to political rapprochement, which in turn would make the Taiwanese more positive to a reunification.

Diplomatic truce

In 2008, China and Taiwan agreed on a “diplomatic cease-fire” which meant that they would not try to steal each other’s diplomatic allies. When China allowed Taiwan to participate with observer status at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual meeting in 2009, it was a sign that new winds were blowing. Taiwan had long been completely excluded from the UN and its many sub-bodies. Since the early 1990s, Taiwan has repeatedly sought membership in the UN alongside China, with no results.

In the spring of 2017, however, the wind had returned. For the first time since 2009, Taiwan was not invited to attend the WHO Annual Meeting, which was because relations had deteriorated with Beijing since Tsai Ing-wen took over the 2016 presidential post (see below). In 2018, too, Taiwan was left outside the WHO meeting, despite intensive lobbying by the Tsai government.

Most Taiwanese are aware that neither reunification nor formal international recognition of Taiwan as an independent state is realistic or even desirable in a short-term perspective. If Taiwan were to declare independence, there is a clear risk that China would attack militarily. And if Taiwan were to agree to the form of reunification with the People’s Republic of China that applies to Hong Kong and that Beijing also advocates for Taiwan – under the formula “one country, two systems” – sooner or later it would mean a loss of actual sovereignty, and probably also the democratic freedoms.

The development of relations with Beijing

For close to 40 years everything connected with the mainland was forbidden. From the late 1980s, family visits as well as business, science and journalism trips were first allowed. Then direct mail and telephone connections were established. In 1990, the locks for mass tourism from Taiwan to the mainland were opened, and the following year the plan to formally recapture China was withdrawn. The trade, which was for a long time forbidden, but which was still conducted through middlemen mainly Hong Kong, was now completely open. In 1992, the governments established contact with each other through special semi-official organizations with high status that maintained relations over the Taiwan Strait.

The cautious opening was temporarily interrupted between 1995 and 1996, when a serious crisis in the Taiwan Strait reminded the outside world of the fundamental contradictions between China and Taiwan. The trigger was President Lee Teng-ho’s private visit to the United States in June 1995. Lee was considered too independent of Beijing. China conducted a series of demonstrative military exercises in the mainland-Taiwan strait.

The crisis gradually faded and when China returned to Hong Kong in 1997, Beijing reiterated its offer to apply the Hong Kong formula “one country, two systems” even in the case of Taiwan. However, the Taipei government emphasized that a reunion required a stable democracy with a functioning market economy on the mainland.

When Chen Shui-bian and DPP took power in 2000, relations with the mainland became more strained (see Modern History). In 2005, China passed a law that formally gave the country the right to take military means if Taiwan tried to declare its independence.

The approach to China

But despite the confrontations, cooperation was expanded across the strait. In 2005, the parties agreed to allow direct flights between China and Taiwan, for the first time since the end of the war in 1949.

The change of government in 2008, when Kuomintang returned to power, marked the beginning of a fast approach between Taiwan and China. A large number of agreements were entered into, among other things, airline connections were greatly expanded and investments across the strait grew. China sent panda bears to a zoo in Taipei, in a gesture of deep symbolic value, and in 2010, China and Taiwan signed a trade agreement, which in media was described as “historic” (see Foreign Trade).

In early 2014, the first official government-level talks between China and Taiwan were held since 1949 and in the fall of 2015, the presidents of China and Taiwan met for the first time in Singapore.

Tense position after change of power

After the change of power in Taiwan in January 2016, the climate between China and Taiwan became immediately cooler. DPP party leader Tsai Ing-wen said when she took office as president in May 2016 that she wanted a “positive dialogue” with the Chinese government. But she also stressed the importance of preserving Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, which was hardly appreciated by the Chinese leadership. Beijing highlighted its dissatisfaction with the new Taiwanese leadership by suspending official contacts with Taipei from the summer of 2016, while also beginning to counter Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and conferences. The main reason for Beijing’s dissatisfaction with Tsai Ing-wen has been her refusal to express her support for the one-China agreement.

Subsequently, the tension between Beijing and Taipei has increased. Beijing for a diplomatic war to isolate Taiwan, not least with the help of the wallet, which has led countries, which previously had official relations with Taiwan, terminated contact with Taipei to cultivate relations with the People’s Republic instead. In addition, Beijing has demanded that other countries send suspected Taiwanese to the People’s Republic instead of Taiwan and airlines, hotels, international clothing companies and others have been pressured not to list Taiwan as their own country outside China.

The security situation has also deteriorated and some observers again warn of the risk of a military conflict. China has conducted several military exercises near Taiwan and the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning has traveled in the Taiwan Strait. Beijing’s military demonstrations of power have, in turn, been met by military exercises from Taiwan and planned defense efforts.

Assessors have wondered how long Beijing is prepared to wait to achieve its reunification goal. The threat of military action remains. China has around 1,200 robots targeting Taiwan and has focused on extensive military armaments throughout the 2000s.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned Taiwan to act for independence, which would face a penalty “of historical proportions” and said it will not leave it to future generations to solve the Taiwan problem.

Relations with the United States

Until 1971, Taiwan was represented in the UN but was then forced to give up its place in the World Organization for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China. Most countries broke ties with the Taipei government at the same time, but its most important friend and ally, the United States, remained on Taiwan’s side for a few more years. However, in 1978, Washington also ended the diplomatic relations with Taipei and recognized the following year the People’s Republic of China. Despite this, ties between Taiwan and the United States remained strong. The US Embassy in Taiwan was replaced by the “American Institute”, which essentially functions in the same way, but lacks official status. Washington has been careful to highlight that hostile actions against Taiwan would be “a matter of concern” for the United States – without directly saying what that would mean. The United States has called on both Taipei and Beijing not to jeopardize the relative stability that currently exists. However, as China-US relations are strained by trade conflicts, China’s growing regional power and territorial claims in the South China Sea, concerns have increased in Taiwan for it to become a chip in a diplomatic game between the major powers.

Since the reciprocal security pact with the United States expired in 1979, Taiwan has been outside all military alliances but maintained close contact with the United States. The US Congress passed a special “Taiwan law” in 1979 that guarantees Taiwan’s security and continued arms supplies. The protests from China have been loud as the US conducted arms sales to Taiwan. The reactions in Beijing are considered by analysts to be one of the reasons why the US did not want to sell over-advanced weapons to Taiwan.

In connection with the US taking a more confrontational line with China under President Donald Trump towards the end of the 2010, Washington quickly approved two sales of military equipment – summer 2017 and autumn 2018 – to Taiwan. The business was heavily criticized by China.

Relations with Asian neighbors

Taiwan has a network of trade offices, cultural institutes, aviation and shipping offices and similar establishments abroad and is active in various forms of economic cooperation around the Pacific, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the economic cooperation body Apec.

Taiwan, like China, is involved in border disputes in the South and East China Sea with other countries in the region. However, in the spring of 2013, Taiwan and Japan found a way to deal with tensions around the Senkaku archipelago (called Diaoyutai in Taiwan) when an agreement was reached that Taiwanese fishing boats would be allowed to fish near the archipelago controlled by Japan. The initiative could be interpreted as a way for the Taipei government to assert Taiwan’s position as an independent, separate actor. The fisheries agreement was sharply criticized by Beijing.

Taiwan wants a modern defense with a smaller, efficient military and well-functioning weapons technology. But the weak economic development in the 2010s has meant that the government has not reached the goal that defense spending should amount to 3 percent of GDP.

The goal is to withstand attacks from the militarily significantly stronger China long enough for the US to come to the rescue and for an invasion to have a high enough price to deter it.


Army: 130 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 45,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 40,000 men (2017)

Syria Defense and Foreign Policy

Syria Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

According to abbreviationfinder, Syria is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city Damascus. Syria has long had conflicting relations with the outside world, but the Assad regime has also skillfully exploited Syria’s influence in neighboring countries, in order to gain support and financial assistance. Relations with Lebanon and the conflict with Israel have long characterized the government’s foreign policy. Since 2011, however, the focus has been entirely on finding allies in the ongoing civil war.

syria military spending and defense budget

Syria has fought three wars against Israel, 1948-1949, 1967 and 1973, and also fought against Israel inside Lebanon during the 1980s. Formally, wars still exist between them. Many Palestinian refugees from today’s Israel live in Syria. President Hafiz al-Assad strongly opposed Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and Syria has continued to support Palestinian organizations that do not recognize Israel’s existence and refuse to participate in peace talks.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Syria for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The major dispute between Syria and Israel concerns the Golan Heights that Israel conquered in 1967. A total Israeli retreat from occupied territories is Syria’s basic requirement. There is also conflict between Lebanon, Syria and Israel about the so-called Sheba farms, which are at the intersection of southeastern Lebanon, southwestern Syria and northern Israel. The 25-square-kilometer area was occupied by Israel during the six-day war in 1967. Israel claims that the area belongs to the Golan Heights while the UN believes its maps show that Shebaa is Syrian territory, which Lebanon in turn questions.

During the 2011 civil war in Syria, Israel first pursued a cautiously neutral policy. Later, targets began to be bombed inside Syria, suspected of being Syrian and Iranian weapons deliveries to Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah, which occasionally conflicts with Israel and has also been actively involved in the civil war in Syria (see Calendar). Israel has also repeatedly opened fire on Syrian army forces following fires in the Golan area.

Long presence in Lebanon

Syria had long been unwilling to accept that Lebanon became a separate area of ​​mandate in 1920 (see Older History) and refused to diplomatically recognize the independent state of Lebanon in 1943. Not all parts of the common border are formally regulated either. In 1976, Syria intervened in Lebanon’s civil war and gradually strengthened the Syrian influence. In practice, no political decisions were made in Beirut that had not been approved by Syria. The Syrian security service persecuted and silenced oppositionists.

According to the 1989 Taif Agreement in Saudi Arabia, which ended the civil war, the Syrian army would withdraw within two years to the Bekaa Valley in the east, but Syria did not follow the agreement. The government justified this with Israel occupying the disputed area of ​​the Sheba farms.

Following the assassination of Lebanese politician Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005, the demands of the UN and many states were tightened on a Syrian retreat from Lebanon (see Lebanon: Modern History). From several directions, Syria and pro-Syrian forces in Lebanon were accused of being behind the murder. Following Arab pressure, Syria accepted UN demands and in late April, the last soldiers left Lebanon after 29 years of presence. However, the UN continued to criticize Syria, which was accused of sending arms to Hezbollah.

Only after a multi-year political crisis in Lebanon had been resolved and a new unifying government formed could relations between Syria and Lebanon be improved, in principle by Syria’s opponents giving up and accepting continued influence for Bashar al-Assad in Lebanon. In October 2008, for the first time, full diplomatic relations were established between the countries. Syria has liaised with various groups in Lebanon for different periods, but since the beginning of the 21st century, it has relied primarily on Hezbollah and other Shiite groups, as well as on certain Christian groups. About half of Lebanon’s population supports Assad-friendly parties, while the other half supports Assad-hostile parties, including most Sunni Muslims. Hezbollah is actively involved in the Syrian civil war.

Relations with the great powers

Syria worked closely with Eastern Europe, not least militarily, until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Contacts with Russia have been maintained since 1991 and during the civil war of 2011, Russia has served as an important ally to the Syrian regime. In early autumn 2015, at the request of the Syrian government, Russia launched anti-rebel forces. For Russia, it was about guarding Syria as Moscow’s oldest ally in the Middle East (Russia’s only foreign war base is located in the Syrian port city of Tartus), but also about building up its own superpower role in the region. The Russian efforts have intensified during the war and helped the government side recover land from rebels.

Damascus has also sought better relations with the western countries, not least the former colonial power of France and the United States, but Syria is on the US list of states that support terrorism and was thus excluded from US aid even before the civil war. In 2004, the United States resumed sanctions on Syria for the Assad regime hosting Palestinian terror groups, but above all for Syrian “volunteers” crossing the border into Iraq and helping to fight the US occupation forces there after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Syria’s close friendship with Iran was also a red blanket for the United States.

However, Washington has not been able to completely ignore Syria. For the United States, cooperation with Syria was a key to initiating the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s and to stabilize the situation in Lebanon. After taking office as US President in early 2009, Barack Obama attempted to initiate a dialogue with Syria. In 2010, he decided to send a new ambassador to Damascus, the first in almost six years. When the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, the United States first tried to call for a compromise solution, but Obama demanded in August 2011 Assad’s departure. Subsequently, the United States was drawn step by step into the conflict, but Obama resisted all demands for military intervention against Assad and tried to get the parties to conclude a unity government agreement. Since 2013, the United States has been openly supporting certain rebel groups to pressure Assad and try to increase its own influence over the rebels. In the fall of 2014, a US-led alliance began to bomb the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. IS has since been driven away from most of its holdings, prompting Obama’s successor Donald Trump to make a decision to take home the US squad (despite opposition from both the US Defense Headquarters and Trump’s own party). In both spring 2017 and spring 2018, the United States initiated the bombing of places where the Assad regime was supposed to store nuclear weapons or substances that could be used for combat gas. which prompted Obama’s successor Donald Trump to make a decision to take home the US troops (despite opposition both from the US Defense Headquarters and from Trump’s own party). In both spring 2017 and spring 2018, the United States initiated the bombing of places where the Assad regime was supposed to store nuclear weapons or substances that could be used for combat gas. which prompted Obama’s successor Donald Trump to make a decision to take home the US troops (despite opposition both from the US Defense Headquarters and from Trump’s own party). In both spring 2017 and spring 2018, the United States initiated the bombing of places where the Assad regime was supposed to store nuclear weapons or substances that could be used for combat gas.

The EU was previously Syria’s most important trading partner and an association agreement had been negotiated but not signed by Syria when the war broke out. In 2011, the EU imposed sanctions on Syria and from August that year demanded Assad’s departure. Britain and France have been pushing for support for Syria’s rebels, while the majority of EU states, including Sweden, have been pushing a more cautious line. Germany, which has received a large number of refugees from Syria, has become the arena for some of the judicial trials that are taking place. This applies to both crimes committed by the Assad regime and atrocities staged by the Islamic State (IS), see Calendar.

Disputes with neighboring states

Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has been Syria’s closest ally in the region, mainly because they have shared interests in the view of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Israel and Lebanon, among others. Both countries have also been subject to US sanctions. In the civil war, Iran supports the government side with money, weapons and soldiers. For the Iranian government, it is also important that Syria acts as a willing transit country for deliveries to Iran’s key allied Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Relations with Iraq have swung back and forth. Until 2003, Syria and Iraq were ruled by competing branches of the Baath Party and there was fierce rivalry between the countries. During the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, Damascus stood on Iran’s side. Syria also participated in the UN-backed alliance that drove Iraq’s occupation forces out of Kuwait in 1991.

For financial reasons, however, some trade with Iraq was resumed in 1998, including those that violated UN sanctions on Iraq. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Syria received more than one million Iraqi refugees, including Saddam followers and Iraqi Christians. At the end of 2006, the states resumed diplomatic relations, which had been interrupted since 1982. Since 2011, Iraq’s Shiite-led and Iran-friendly government has kept a low profile on the Syrian issue, although over time its support for the Assad government has escalated. The two governments have been allied in the fight against the Sunni Muslim extremist group Islamic State (IS), which, having subjugated large areas in both Iraq and Syria, has now been displaced and lost most of its influence, although the group is still seen as a potentially threatening.

Relations with Turkey have long been strained for several reasons: Turkish irrigation projects that jeopardize the flow of water to Syria, the Kurdish issue and the role of Israel. Turkey’s military cooperation with Israel has been considered a threat in Syria. Turkey’s accusations against Syria for supporting the Kurdish guerrilla PKK, which operates in Turkey, threatened in 1998 to lead to armed conflict. Following pressure from the United States, Syria decided to stop PKK’s operations in the country and expel leader Abdullah Öcalan. Thereafter, relations between the countries improved significantly and Turkey sought to mediate between Syria and Israel. In 2011, however, Turkey swung and began to support the Syrian opposition. The divide between Turkey and the Syrian government increased when the Assad regime in 2012 allowed the Kurds to establish a zone in northern Syria where PKK-loyal Kurdish groups could operate (see Political system). The Turkish government has also aired claims on Assad’s case and the countries have been involved in several military incidents. Since Turkey began to engage militarily in the conflict on Syrian soil in 2014, including through air strikes, the country has focused primarily on fighting the PKK-loyal groups in Syria and the regions, called Rojava, where a form of Kurdish state building has been underway.. In 2019, Turkey’s defense force launched its third military offensive in northern Syria since 2016. However, the peace initiative with Russia and Iran that Turkey is involved in is in practice a support for the Assad government. Turkey’s efforts against Kurdish forces also benefit Assad, which has clearly stated its intention to reclaim the entire territory of Syria, including Rojava.

Jordan and Syria have historically often had tense relationships, as they have had different allies and belonged to different power blocks. Jordan has stood close to the United States, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the Sunni states of the Persian Gulf, and has pursued a cautious policy against Israel. During the 2011 civil war, Jordan has taken on a less prominent role than most of Syria’s neighboring countries, worrying about the large influx of refugees. However, the Jordanian leadership has accepted that the United States, Saudi Arabia and other countries finance and train rebels from Jordanian soil.


Before 2011, Syria’s defense force was one of the largest in the Arab world. Its leadership is closely linked to the political elite. From 1956 the defense was equipped almost entirely with weapons from the Soviet bloc and after the defeat of Israel in the October 1973 war, thousands of Soviet military advisers were stationed in Syria. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Syria no longer has access to the most modern equipment but still buys weapons from Russia and to a certain extent also from Belarus, China and North Korea.

Tens of thousands of soldiers have been killed, wounded or deserted by the Syrian army since 2011. Conscription soldiers are still used, but Assad is increasingly forced to rely on loyal special forces and militia, not least those recruited among Alawites, the religious group he himself belongs to. Russia has continued to support the Syrian army following the outbreak of the war in 2011, not least through aerial bombings against both IS and the rebel strongholds. Iran has contributed weapons, military training and financing of Syrian weapons purchases, and by mobilizing Shiite Muslim militia forces from Iraq and Lebanon in support of Assad.

For decades, Syria had built up a large stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the form of nerve gases. Following reports that nerve gas was used against the rebels in 2013, the United States threatened to intervene, which led Syria to abandon chemical weapons in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014. However, the government has been accused of using both sarin and improvised chlorine gas bombs even after this. Syria has also been accused of wanting to develop nuclear weapons. In 2007, Israel bombed what was claimed to be a nuclear reactor under construction in eastern Syria.

During the Civil War, a large number of militia forces have also emerged on the government side, many but far from all recruited from the religious minorities. The largest umbrella group that gathers such forces is called the National Defense Forces and consists of a variety of regional groups, which in many cases appear to have been funded and trained with the help of Iran. Other groups include, for example, the Baath Battalions, which fall under the ruling Baath Party. Foreign Shiite Muslim militias from Iraq and Iraq, such as Hezbollah, are also fighting the Syrian government, as well as some small Christians and other groups. Together, these militia forces now constitute a very significant part of the troops that Assad relies on.

Mandatory military service applies to all men from 18 years. The length of military service has been gradually reduced since the 1990s and in 2011 it was reduced to one and a half years.

For the rebel forces, see Political system.


Army: 105,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 15,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 2,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 4.1 percent (2010)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 13.6 percent (2010)