THE BOOK

THE STARTUP GUIDE TO THE WORLD

Increasing interconnectivity and complexity of the World triggers seismic events. Simply saying, we do Apps - Apps do havoc in the World. Congrats! Now, it looks like the World strikes back. It is good time to start worrying. It is good time to start asking Siri 'what's coming for me, sys, from the Big World?' every frisking morning.

Forget old days when we have a luxury of living inside our small heads for years. Now if we stay out of news stream we may kiss our international businesses good-by. Just like with this Brexit thing. Look at how many UK based startups became, virtually, homeless just in one night.

But who has time for reading news? you may ask. True. That's why I've created this Book. I took on myself the pain to dig out the small pearl of knowledge from mountain-high garbage pile of "information" and present it to you on a silver platter. For FREE (except for a silver platter, of course). Enjoy!

PREFACE. DO STARTUPS DREAM OF POLITICS?

"Following political news may be important for big, international corporations but not for the neat and clean technological company I'm running. Why do I need to spend my time on something I can't change anyway? I simply don't have time for this nonsense. Besides I don't like those politicians types which only goal in life seems to be to ruin lives of others. They are all liars and I do not trust official medias anyway."

Those are arguments I have heard from startups many times. In fact, I'm used to agree with lot of this. Not anymore.

Most of us have spent years building tech companies or working in them. Some, including myself, later started financing somebody else's ideas. We all have been changed in this process both professionally and personally. So did the startup industry we're working in. So did the World around us.

Many of those changes in the World were initiated by us, but majority - by others. We may or may not like the result. However, one thing we can't deny. The World has became much more dynamic, much more interdependent, much more fragile and fluid than ever before in the History.

It's like all of the Humanity has decided to joint legendary Argonauts in a quest for a Golden Fleece. There's no more stable ground under our feet - only shaky surface of the boat in the Ocean full of wonders and perils.

Yes, we can't control or influence the Ocean but we must know its character. We must study its winds and its undercurrents, we must recognize its inhabitants if we want our Argo to reach Colchis and to avoid being crashed by Cyanean rocks or to be taken by Harpies.

What else choice do we have? To let it go? To not being prepared because we were too busy to see the big wave coming our way? To count on Poceidon? Some of us may choose that. However, I believe most of us are too smart to let frivolous Olympus deities to rule our destinies. That's why I wrote this book. I want you to guide your Business in the World like Jason its Argo in the Ocean.

Many years I was closely following political events and profiling its major actors. For the investor it is part of the job description. I had been methodically going from one country to another until I knew them all. Now I present this knowledge, accumulated in many years of my travels and researches, to you in a nutshell. Do not miss on this opportunity.

USA

United States of America is the country of entrepreneurs.

Currently there are almost 30 million small business enterprises (SME) in the USA. On top of that, 30% of World's millionaires, 40% of billionaires and 28% of Fortune 500 biggest corporations are American. Additionally, regardless of the fact that in the past two decades governmental regulatory burdens for SME businesses have significantly increased America is still enjoys one of the most business friendly climates in the World.

USA steadily keeps its position as one of the world's leaders in innovations. Of around 2.8 millions patents registered annually in the World about 600 thousands are American which gives US the 2nd place after China, which currently registers almost one million patents a year. In the same ranking the third place belongs to Japan with approximately 350 thousands patents, 4th - to the Republic of Korea (200 th) and 5th - to the EU (160 th).

USA is one of World's leaders by the number of startups companies with IT entrepreneurial talents-rich areas concentrated primarily in the Silicon Valley as well as in Boston and New York. The size of USA venture capital invested each year into early-stage startups is estimated at around $30 billion. More that 25% of all those financings are going into the Bay Area based companies. 50 out of 100 World's biggest early-stage VC firms' headquarters are located either in Palo Alto or in San Fransisco.

Some negative sides of the American economy which may affect its entrepreneurial climate are the following:

  • quickly growing public debt which currently stands at almost $20 trillion (in 1980 it was around $900 billion) of which approximately 10% belongs to China, to government it already costs around $600-700 billion to service this debt;
  • high household and high corporate debts, each of which equals to $9 trillion;
  • rapidly rising income inequality which negatively affects the political stability in USA (according to some popular in USA political figures "The top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.").

Notes for startups:

  • political climate: moderately friendly;
  • economic climate: moderately encouraging;
  • regions to focus: the World;
  • industries to focus: all;
  • major limitations: extensive legal requirements and high costs;
  • opportunities: building multinational business.

USA is the recognized world champion in startups creation. However, the ease of making a startup business in here widely varies from state to state. Generally speaking crowded and prosperous coastal regions (such, for example, as California, New York or Florida), together with very large industrial States (such as Texas or Michigan), as well as important Universities centers (such as Boston, Massachusetts or Bay Area, CA) have notably more favorable investment and social climates to support fledgling tech businesses than lesser populated, industrially non-diversified northern states (such as Wyoming or Minnesota).

On the negative side, after 2016 elections USA political climate for tech business has became less favorable. The White House administration is taking firmly negative stance on many issues important to assure the further technological progress in this country (such as climate change, alternative energy, open economy, free movement of labor etc).

At the same time the economic climate remains relatively favorable as practically all major US industries continue to register a moderate growth. Even with harshening international relations climate and growing barriers for inter-countries economic and travel exchange USA remains an optimal place for launching any types of multi-national high-tech startups.

Nauru (Republic of Nauru)

Nauru island is not longer so "Pleasant".

Nauru's best times are in the past. This island (formerly known as the Pleasant) used to be one of the three other tiny land pieces situated in the midst of World's biggest ocean (another examples are Makatea in French Polynesia and Banaba in Kiribati), which were endowed with large and accessible deposits of phosphates. In 1960th and 1970th, thanks to those natural riches, hidden beneath a thin layer of salt water, Nauru became the world's most prosperous country with the record-high per-capita.

Today, after more than 50 years of the intense exploitation, those natural gold's reserves have been almost completely depleted alongside with the security fund which was established to prevent Nauru's economic downfall. However, this fund didn't work, because its managers acted not like prudent financiers but rather like drunk sailors in a Lisbon night club. All money were spent to support various expensive and nonsensical projects with high-media profiles.

Today Nauru is widely recognized for two things. First, for its financial industry, which is regularly embarrassed by various anti-laundering investigations and, second, as the country with the most obese population in the world.

Notes for startups:

  • political climate: moderately friendly;
  • economic climate: not friendly;
  • regions to focus: Australia and Oceania;
  • industries to focus: finance and natural resources extraction;
  • major limitations: geographical isolation and very small population;
  • opportunities: serving international finance.

Running a startup in Nauru isn't easy. Geographical isolation and tiny population of this island put a severe limitation on your growth in this country. Economic conditions do not allow for a notable increase in consumers' expenditures. Politics in Nauru is highly individualized which makes a potential governmental support for startup companies dependent on various personal alliances. At the same time political regime in Nauru is generally democratic and has a pro-business stance which is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. The type of startups you may find appropriate to launch in this country is in the international finance / banking industry.

South Sudan (Republic of South Sudan)

South Sudan is a newly born country balancing on the verge of self-destruction.

South Sudan - the former part of the Sudan - which obtained its independence in July 2011, is still in the state of profound political, social and economic crises. Despite all efforts of the international community to find the long-lasting solution for country's internal ethnic and religious conflicts South Sudanese military factions continue to fight the central government in central and eastern regions of the Republic.

Currently there are about seven military groups actively opposing the central Sudanese authorities which now controls roughly 70-80% of country's territory and thought to represent Kiir's Dinka ethnic population's interests. The largest among those rebel groups is the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition believed to be composed mostly from Nuer people.

At the present South Sudan came to the point where its government not only incapable to control all of its territory, but it also doesn't even know how many people are actually living in the country (with total estimates varying between 4 and 6 million people). The economic situation in South Sudan is a reflection of its constantly worsening political conditions. The majority of the country's population has not access to the basic facilities, not to mention education or health-care services.

As a result, South Sudan has currently became one of the growing black holes on the surface of the Earth.

Notes for startups:

  • political climate: hostile;
  • economic climate: hostile;
  • regions to focus: Eastern and sub-Saharan Africa;
  • industries to focus: oil;
  • major limitations: economic and political disorders;
  • opportunities: serving natural resources extraction industry and agriculture.

Running a startup in South Sudan is currently a very risky endeavor. Continuing military confrontation between rivaling political parties backed by several ethnic groups constantly threatens to overthrow country's existing and already very feeble legal and economic regimes. In this situation ownership rights may be easily undermined which prevents a great majority of potential investors from taking equity positions with local startups.

Moreover, impoverished, displaced and largely unemployed local population is currently incapable to assure any type of consumer demand growth. On the other side, South Sudan possesses substantial oil and gas reserves as well as of other minerals which are potentially capable to generate significant revenues for a limited number of extraction companies. Another traditionally important industry in the country is an agriculture.

Altogether, even under the condition of the civil war's end, future prospects for local startups are doubtful due to a very low diversification of the South Sudanese economy, outdated or destroyed infrastructure and uncertain political and economic systems.

Canada

Canada is an ironic country.

One of the most distinctive and widely appreciated traits of Canadian culture is its peoples' acute sense of irony and satire. Canadians have found their own unique way to peacefully marry two of their dominant and otherwise competing cultures - British and French.

Even Canadian geography contains some elements of irony. For example, Canada ranks second only to Russia by its total area size, but, at the same time, takes only the fourth place by the land area. This discrepancy is explained by more than 2 million lakes of all forms and shapes which cover the most part of Canadian territory converting this country into one of the world's freshwater prime reserves.

Politically Canada is a sovereign, independent country with its own, super cool Prime Minister and 443-members Parliament, however, its still remains a part of the British realm and counts Queen Elizabeth II as the official head of State. Canada is also the strong, unified nation which consists of 10 states and three territories, however, some of them supports not only their own governments, health-care and educational systems but also different languages.

Economically Canada is very prosperous and independent country. At the same time, more than 75% of its export and about 66% of its import is coming to and from United States of America and some peoples ironically call Canada the 51st State.

Regardless of all those ironies, Canada is very respected all around the world not only for its social, cultural and business achievements but also for its very strong and principled stance on the matters of human rights and personal freedoms.

With growing political uncertainties in USA Canada may gradually became a refuge for many of American startups founders. Although Canadian economy is less than 10% of that of USA its political and social climates have recently became more inductive for startups creation and growth. Strong adherence to individual liberal values as well as to modern, socially orientated and environmentally friendly economy coupled with unabashed governmental support for new innovation companies make Canada highly attractive for increasing number of high-tech startups owners all over the world.

On the other side, the total amount of venture capital available for Canadian startups is still only a fraction of that which a fast-growing company can find in USA-based major IT hubs. Additionally, the size of Canadian economy isn't enough to assure the high valuation for local startups. Consequently, the main development strategy for a Canadian based company would be to tackle USA or/ and international markets.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: encouraging;
  • economic climate: moderately friendly;
  • regions to focus: USA;
  • industries to focus: many, including petroleum extraction, gold mining, wood production, cars and machinery manufacturing;
  • major limitations: USA economic and political dependencies;
  • opportunities: lesser administrative and legal costs, running startups orientated on the USA market.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the country in a shaky state.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BaH) became one of the crisis areas on the European Continent at the mid-1990th. The Bosnia war came as a result of combination of multiple factors including the rapid dissolution of Soviet Yugoslavia in 1992 and country's historically complex ethnic composition (50% of its population is Bosniaks, 31% - Serbs and 16% - Croats). The war ended by the Dayton accord signed in the Ohio state, USA in December 1995. As a result, BaH today includes three semi-independent regions: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), Republika Srpska (RS) and Brčko District (BD).

This complicated arrangement means in practice that the political and administrative power in this country is divided between two leading ethnic groups (Bosnians and Serbs) with the third one (Croats) acting as an auxiliary force. This instable triumvirate has, however, managed to preserve internal peace and social stability for almost a decade until in February 2014 the new wave of protests (this time believed to be primary caused by the rising economic inequality and lack of opportunities for youths) hit BaH once again.

The growing uncertainty concerning the future of the European Union, the sharply increased level of cross-border tensions exacerbated by the unresolved flow of immigrants' issue plus the generally worsening international relations' climate induce us to believe that BaH's shaky internal political balance is going to be soon put under the threat again.

From prewar period Bosnia and Herzegovina inherited developed industrial complex (notably a steel production). However, it was mostly destroyed during the civic conflict and its remains require the major renovation. For example, almost all of telecommunication networks had been rebuilt with participation of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: shaky, moderately friendly;
  • economic climate: not friendly;
  • regions to focus: Eastern Europe, EU;
  • industries to focus: media, tourism, retail, agriculture;
  • major limitations: small population, destroyed or outdated infrastructure;
  • opportunities: cheap and qualified labor, building EU business.

Startup culture in Bosnia and Herzegovina is in its infancy. Uncertain domestic politics and weak economy put severe restrains on VC capital availability in this country. Small population makes it difficult to expand on consumer orientated businesses side. However, low competition from established retailers makes it possible to launch successful local Internet shops.

Unfavorable investment climate limits industrial development. At the same time, foreign direct investment growth rate continues to increase after its drastic downfall in 2008. Some opportunities for startups exist in newly formed media and more traditional tourism and agriculture markets. Additionally, in a future, with growing economy, cheap and educated labor will be instrumental in launching EU's market orientated IT companies.

Estonia (Republic of Estonia)

Estonia is the Skype country.

One of oldest and still the most popular Internet video applications - Skype - was first realized in August 2003 by two developers from Estonia. Today this apps, used by more than 400 million people around the globe everyday, belongs to the Microsoft Corporation. It was acquired by MC in May 2011 for $8.5 billion, which is roughly equal to GDPs of such countries as The Bahamas, Madagascar, Benin, Niger, Rwanda and Tajikistan. That had became the important positive confirmation of Estonia's government strategic choice at the mid-1990th, when after the collapse of USSR it introduced the large-scale government sponsored education and infrastructure developments program - Tiigrihüpe project - aimed at converting Estonia into one of the most technologically advanced countries in Europe.

The exceptionally high quality of primary and secondary education institutions (which, according to some performance rankings, puts Estonian students' on the third place after Singapore and Japan) has allowed Estonia to provide the newly emerging IT sector with highly qualified English-speaking labor-force. As the result, Estonia today is, arguably, the leading nations in the world by the number of startup per-capita (one startup on every hundred citizens). Estonia has also became one of the first European countries which endorsed the electronic government.

Among other things this extraordinary level of governmental support for emerging technologies allows Estonia to become one of the wealthiest nation in the Eastern Europe.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: very encouraging;
  • economic climate: friendly;
  • regions to focus: EU;
  • industries to focus: consumer market, food, electronics;
  • major limitations: small population, fast growing competition;
  • opportunities: EU market orientation.

Estonia is the recognized champion in startups production. However, this success also creates the issue of growing competition and shrinking profit margins in all sectors of XXIst century Estonian economy. With very high rate of broadband Internet penetration consumer orientated electronic markets still present new opportunities for local startups. At the same time, as international business qualification of local entrepreneurs continues to rapidly grow EU market provides more space for Estonia startups expansion.

Australia

Australia is the Continent.

Australia's 7,7 millions km² of deserts and wastelands coupled with the arid climate provide very little space to agricultural activities and that's mainly why the great majority of the country's 25-million-strong population is living in its five biggest cities.

Australia is the federal constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of the state and the Prime Minister - Malcolm Turnbull - as an actual's head of government. Australia political system is based on the Westminster's blueprint with its two major parties - Labor and Liberal - traditionally sharing the power in the 226-members Parliament and the 150-members House of Representatives.

The main staples of a Australia's more than one-trillion-size economy are service and mining industries. Australia is traditionally characterized by a very high level of personal income and possesses one of the best human development indexes in the World.

Australian authorities have made notable efforts on a legislative and administrative levels of government to stimulate innovations technologies implementation into local industries.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: encouraging;
  • economic climate: moderately friendly;
  • regions to focus: Asia and Oceania;
  • industries to focus: consumer market, mining;
  • major limitations: geographical isolation, relatively small population;
  • opportunities: work with local industries, refocus on external markets.

Australia is lagging behind USA (as well as developed EU and Asian countries) in startups infrastructure maturation and VC capital availability. In recent years central authorities have implemented some measures aimed at improving innovation climate by providing incentives for national corporations to work more closely with local startups.

The significance of those initiatives for startup economy is not clear yet. However, some of Australian high-tech entrepreneurs will certainly benefit from officially sponsored programs. With relatively narrow local Internet consumer market the international expansion strategy (specially to Asia and Oceania) presents itself another opportunity for local entrepreneurs to exploit.

Luxembourg (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg)

Luxembourg is a green heart of Europe which divides France and Germany.

Geographically Luxembourg lies on the border between two main European powerhouses which had been traditional political as well as cultural rivals for thousands of years. The status of historically difficult relationships between those two nations - Gallic and German - is exemplified by the unique system of fortifications of Luxembourg fortress, which has been recognized by the UNESCO as one of the World's heritage sites.

Many things have been changed in Europe since the Second World War's end. One of the most important motions of the post-war European community has been the formation of the unified EU political and economic union where Luxembourg serves both as one of Capitals and as the home ground for the mightiest EU investment banks and venture capital firms.

Luxembourg's history has been shaped for generations by almost non-stop military confrontations between its two gigantic neighbors. However, the Duchy has managed to turn its difficult and painful experiences into strategically prudent and economically practical policies. Among other preventive measures Luxembourg became one of the founding members of NATO on 4 April 1949 - an unique example among micro-states.

Economically Luxembourg is today one of the most prosperous countries in the World with its GDP's formed not only by finance, banking and investment sectors but also by steel and high-technologies industries.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: encouraging;
  • economic climate: moderately friendly;
  • regions to focus: EU;
  • industries to focus: financial industry;
  • major limitations: competition, high costs, small population;
  • opportunities: VC capital availability.

Luxembourg is VC capital of EU with most top-notch venture firms holding an office there. Although the geographical proximity to the source of capital isn't necessarily a decisive factor for startups' success in the modern open economy, it certainly helps. Specifically in the costs-intensive Fintech industry, which, for obvious reasons, serves as one of the cornerstones of local innovations. On the other hand, the microscopic size of the country, drastically increases competition for resources and almost automatically re-orientates most of local startups to the EU market.

Myanmar-Burma (Republic of the Union of Myanmar)

Burma is the country of rice, rubies and drugs.

More than 97% of total Burmese grain production is rice. The rice industry is one of the three country's economic pillars which are for almost 100% controlled by the military junta (the other two being the heavy machinery production and energy industry). Rice - one of the basic world's crops cultures - is currently feeding almost all of 52 million Burmese population. Rice's unique reproductive quality and its adaptability saved country's agriculture industry from complete devastation during the Marxist-Leninist centralized government's reign - the one, which almost completely ruined this country in the second halve of 20th century.

Today a significant part of Burma's economy is out of reach for economists and statisticians. One of the most dark areas of it are rubies and drugs productions. Most of the local rubies (which provide for 90% of world's supply) are exported (legally or not) to Thailand. However, largest jewelry companies refuse to deal on those stones due to its uncertain origin. On top of that Kokang and Wa regions of Burma are part of the famous golden triangle which is responsible for a huge bulk of World's opium supply. In fact, 25% of this drug is produced in Burma.

All of those factors have converted Burma's more than $70 billion worth economy into the one of the least transparent and most corrupt on earth. However, many international financiers are now seeing it as the last frontier for the global investors in Asia.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: not friendly;
  • economic climate: friendly;
  • regions to focus: local, Thailand;
  • industries to focus: electronic commerce, tourism, entertainment, education, mining;
  • major limitations: political uncertainties, abusive legislation, corruption, low personal income, lack of basic infrastructure, lack of investments;
  • opportunities: relatively big local market, high potential consumer demand, low competition, low costs.

Running a startups company in Myanmar has its unique flavor to it. Many traditional VCs avoid the local innovation scene due to country's violent past and its present political and economic uncertainties as well as non-transparent property rights and investment regulations (not to mention wide-spread accusations in corruption of central and regional authorities).

At the same time, Myanmar's rapid piece of economic growth and its bursting IT and e-commerce sectors are hard to ignore. Starting a high-tech company in Myanmar today is very risky but also very potentially lucrative. Even with absence of initial investments a startup, with the right market orientation, has a fair chance to bootstrap itself on a growing market with a little competition present.

However, Myanmar still remains a harsh and generally unfriendly place for a new company.

Tunisia (Republic of Tunisia)

Tunisia is the Ground Zero of the Arab Spring and one of few countries to benefit from it.

After 2011 Tunisian youth's historical uprising the local political system had undergone significant changes which transformed this country into one of the most democratic states in Africa. Slow and unsteady growth of TUNINDEX (one of the major local economic indicators) demonstrates the cautious but still notable rise of international investors' commitments to local equities.

Despite all political turmoils and military conflicts in bordering countries Tunisia has managed to remained relatively stable both economically and politically in 2010th. Country's economy was revived in 1990th by series of market orientated reforms after being under the strict governmental control for several preceding decades. Since 2007 the dramatic oil - the main economic pillar in Tunisia - prices rise on the international market led to more than 300% increase in overall Tunisian companies' capitalization.

After the sharp 25% drop in 2011, Tunisian indexes started to quickly recover due to popularly elected government's implementation of finance reforms package aimed at further increasing the capital influx into the local assets. Still, despite all of those measures current country's GDP growth rate remains sluggish and stays at barely noticeable 0.2% - 0.3%. On top of that, one of Tunisia's key economic sectors - tourism - was negatively affected in 2015 by the devastating attack on one of the major Tunisian tourist attraction sites.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: friendly;
  • economic climate: moderately friendly;
  • regions to focus: locally, Mediterranean Africa, France;
  • industries to focus: tourism, media, e-commerce, gaming;
  • major limitations: low average personal income, high unemployment rate;
  • opportunities: cheap and educated labor, newly opening market niches, young population, closeness to EU market, growing Internet penetration.

Tunisian revolution introduced a new generation of young local entrepreneurs to the startup world. High unemployment rate (more than 12%) and low wages have had a stimulus effect for the Internet commerce with its ease of access and low prices.

Political changes have opened doors for new generation of businesses in media, entertainment and game industries. At the same time, Tunisian startup founders have had a difficult time with attracting external investors in their fledgling companies. Naturally, international VCs are weary of young markets with on-going political instability and sporadic economic turns and twists

However, with Internet penetration rate continuing growth such risks can be mitigated by rapid increase in startups' value. Moreover, geographical closeness to EU presents additional growth opportunities for Tunisian entrepreneurs, most of which are fluent in French.

The Bahamas (Commonwealth of the Bahamas)

The Bahamas is the country of banks and tourists.

The Bahamas, which ranks third (after the United States and Canada) by per-capita, attracts tourists and financiers as no other islands. In 20th century the Bahamas had been one of the prime destination for Canadian and American offshore companies. Canadian business became so prominent on the Bahamas, that at some moment in history one of Canadian biggest insurance companies sponsored a local petition to the British Parliament advocating the Bahamas joining to Canada. This initiative was stopped only because English lords resented the idea to mix the white population of Canada with predominantly black population of the Bahamas.

However, today Bahamas is so firmly embedded into the fabric of both Canadian and American financial networks that long-forgotten plan of the Canadian insurer may soon be counted as the fully adopted one.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: friendly;
  • economic climate: moderately friendly;
  • regions to focus: USA, Canada;
  • industries to focus: tourism, entertainment, finance;
  • major limitations: high costs of living / travel, geographical isolation, limited population;
  • opportunities: significant concentration of high net-worth individuals, large expatriates communities.

Besides its well-deserved reputation as the tax heaven for shell companies, Bahamas isn't known for its startups friendly ecosystem or as the place to where you can physically relocate to launch a tech enterprise of your dreams. Limited population, relative geographical isolation coupled with high costs of living on this archipelago (renowned for its luxurious tourists and banking industries) do not create a nourishing ground for growing a new high-tech company.

On the other hand, there are still a number of business opportunities present for young Bahamian entrepreneurs. Thriving tourists and financial sectors are the obvious targets. Additionally, with an increasing number of wealthy residents (as well as of USA and Canadian travelers to Bahamas) some openings may be found on entertainment and high-end goods and services sales sides of the Internet commerce.

However, the long-held view on Bahamas as the prime destination for senior citizens of neighboring USA and Canada is not likely to change in the future without major investments from archipelagos central authorities or other interested parties.

Barbados

Barbados is yet another barber's island.

There are about 28 Caribbean islands' nations in the world and two of them (Barbuda being the second one) were named after the beard. Sure, there must be something 'geographical' about this prominent future of human face because otherwise it will be hard to explain such an unlikely attraction of early Portuguese explorers to this one particular word chosen from more than 300,000 or so which inhabit this entrepreneurial nation's dictionary. Other less plausible explanations include the proliferation on this 432-square-kilometers-sized coral island the specific species of fig-tree called Ficus citrifolia with long hair-like, hanging roots or the white foam formed when waves splash onto numerous island's reefs etc.

Beside its remarkably common name Barbados has some other features which make it to stand out from the rank of Caribbean family of states. Alongside with thriving tourist sector, which accounts for more than 50% of Barbados' GDP, it hosts huge data processing centers mostly employed by insurance corporations to hold their masses of statistical data. Barbados, so far, is probably a fairly unique example of Caribbean country which manage to prosper without offshore banking being the second important (after serving American tourists) constituency of its economy. Certainly, being a part of the Commonwealth, possessing well-educated English-speaking population and consistently voting for business minded governments which then introduce investments friendly legislation has something important to do with this level of success.

This prosperity, however, has gradually came under the threat of being cut to its roots while big corporations are continuing to move their operations (including data processing) into those countries outside of Barbados where the average salary is lower at the moment. Today Barbados, among other things, serves both as positive and negative illustrations of how the Globalization may quickly rise and then, as quickly, start to undermine local population living standards.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: encouraging;
  • economic climate: not friendly;
  • regions to focus: Caribbean, South America;
  • industries to focus: tourism, e-commerce;
  • major limitations: geographical isolation, limited population, absence of initial investments;
  • opportunities: low competition, highly educated work force.

A tech startup company in Barbados will quickly find itself in the situation of the dramatically shrinking local users base. Moreover, scaling to the international market won't be easy as well because of the low starting point, limited access to qualified coders and an absence of venture financing. At the same time, Barbados is known for governmental support for local tech companies and centralized investments made into developing startup ecosystem on this island.

However, the result of those efforts are mixed. On the one hand, Barbados stands out among other Caribbean states by the number of official organizations supporting innovations. On the other, the number of local startups has been increasing too slowly and, after more than 5 years of continuing official efforts, still stays almost negligible. Look likes it requires fundamental rethinking of governmental approach to this whole issue.

Chad (Republic of Chad)

Chad is the deserted heart of Africa.

Chad currently ranks fourth on a scale of the broken states. It possesses all of necessary pre-requisites for that type of "success", including the following: an highly centralized, authoritarian government, which came to being as the result of numerous civil wars and coup d'etat; an absence of rich deposits of natural resources; a poorly developed agriculture industry which is hard to maintain on the predominantly desert landscape of this country; a long lasting tribal division of the local society with multiple unresolved conflicts inherited from previous generations; a landlocked position of the country and its alienation from merchant continental land-roads, which precludes an international trade. On top of that Chad was one of French possessions which were entirely exempt by Paris from its colonies' development list due to their perceived lack of investments perspectives. As the result Chad's civic infrastructure is almost non-existing.

Although, lately Chad has started to see some increase in outside investments (which are almost exclusively going into the oil exploration and production companies) this country largely remains one of the most unsuited places in the world both for staying in and for profiting from.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: hostile;
  • economic climate: hostile;
  • regions to focus: locally;
  • industries to focus: medicine, e-commerce;
  • major limitations: crippled infrastructure, low Internet penetration, very high poverty rate, no access to initial investments, excessive taxation;
  • opportunities: young population.

Running a startup in Chad is a daunting task to say the least. Years of civil conflicts had badly damaged country's basic infrastructure. As a result Internet penetration rate there is still one of the lowest in the world (less than 3%). At the same time, mobile phone usage is growing rapidly. However, almost 80% of population is unsolvable and can't support lucrative mobile commerce businesses.

On top of that Chadian central authorities, trying to alleviate for country's chronic budget deficit exacerbated by declining oil prices, has imposed ridiculously high tax rates (including VAT) on small and medium size businesses. Absence of governmental support for fledgling enterprises reduces Chadian innovation ecosystem to a rudimentary level supported by few enthusiasts.

On the other hand, quickly growing in numbers Chadian youth, faced by sky-high unemployment rate, has started to show signs of entrepreneurial zeal. In a future it may create a more favorable business climate in this country, providing, of course, that new political ordeals won't jeopardize Chad social and economical developments once again.

Ukraine

Ukraine is a classical victim of the global geopolitics.

Historically, Ukraine has played the role of so-called 'Russian buffer zone' for centuries. Geopolitical interests of the Russian empire required to keep as large distance between the central, most military vulnerable part of the Russian heartland (primarily, Moscow and its regions) and the western countries' borders (which Russian autocratic governments has always perceived as a potential aggressor) as possible. Consequently, in all entirety of its history, one of the Russian government's prime interests has always been to keep direct or non-direct political, economical and military controls over all states bordering Russia. Of them Ukraine is one of the most important one.

Accordingly, when at the start of 2000th official Kiev began to gradually shift its political vector from the East to the West, Kremlin immediately reacted by launching numerous campaigns (open and clandestine) aimed at undermining the western connections of Ukraine. This situation become critical in late 2013 with large-scale public unrests erupting in Ukraine's capital. It soon resulted in president Janukovitch's (enthusiastically supported by Moscow at that time) fall. After annexation of Crimea in March 2014 the situation rapidly escalated into a full-scale war between the rebellious Eastern part of Ukraine (Donbass-Lugansk regions where most of 18% Russian minority lives) and the rest of the country.

Russian government (correctly or not) has always perceived the geopolitical consequences of the West-orientated Ukraine joining NATO as the existential treat. Consequently, Kremlin finds it necessary to publicly advertise its intentions to use all means possible, including the nuclear weapons, in order to stop the so-called NATO expansion to the East. That, by the Kremlin's interpretation, means Ukraine must always stay subservient to Russia or else. Of course, nobody can really tell whether this Kremlin's saber-rattling' is fake or not, however, nobody will be likely to test validity of those aggressive statements any time soon.

In the current political climate, where the disintegrating European Union has more pressing issues than Ukraine war to focus its attention on and the Trump-led USA isn't likely to confront Putin on this direction, there are not going to be NATO or USA soldiers on the Ukrainian soil in a foreseeable future. Without actual foreign military support Ukraine will not be not be able to defend its political and economic independences and sooner rather than later it will came back into the Russian sphere of influence. Providing, of course, that there are not going to be any drastic changes in the Russian internal and external politics, again.

POLITICAL CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR STARTUPS: Moderately Friendly (C).

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is a country of 365 beaches and of almost as many banks.

Those two Caribbean islands' primary economic advantages are their political and legal stabilities coupled with temperate weather and sandy shores with multiple small lagoons. Accordingly, the tourist industry provides for more than 50% of Antigua and Barbuda's more than $1 billion worth GDP. The rest is almost fully taken by financial industry which makes Antigua and Barbuda's banking sector the second largest in the Eastern Caribbean Region.

Antigua and Barbuda (AB) is a country inside of the Commonwealth realm. Queen Elizabeth is the head of state. The leading political party in AB is Antigua and Barbuda Labor Party (ABLP) which now holds 14 seats in AB Parliament. One prominent family - that of Birds - dominated the political life of AB for more than 40 years. Successive generations of this dynasty had stayed on top of ABLP, until Lester Bryan Bird was bitten in 2012 election by former banker Gaston Browne, who now occupies the post of the AB Prime Minister. The next biggest AB parliamentary party is the United Progressive Party with 3 Parliamentary seats.

Today AB is the prosperous Caribbean state serving as the prominent financial off-shore and one of prime destinations for American tourists.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: encouraging;
  • economic climate: friendly;
  • regions to focus: globally;
  • industries to focus: tourism, banking, construction, manufacturing (alcohol, clothing);
  • major limitations: small population, geographical isolation;
  • opportunities: high per-capita income.

Antigua and Barbuda is the country with successful but controversial approach to a difficult task of building the thriving startup ecosystem on a couple of small Caribbean islands. As the result, Antigua is today well known for having prolonged legal disputes with USA on questions of on-line gambling and copy-rights issues.

From the start of 2000th the government of Antigua wholeheartedly welcomed on-line casinos to its territory. However, at some point it led to the direct legal confrontation with USA the outcome of which wasn't positive at all for Antigua.

Today those types of startups are no longer the preferred options for local tech entrepreneurs. What they are now left with are a tiny although wealthy population and a short list of industries to work with, among which most prominent are tourism and banking.

There is, however, still the hope left that e-business friendly authorities of Antigua will find new (and this time less controversial) ways to revitalize the powerful startups engine of those highly promising but already left-behind sea-lands.

Botswana (Republic of Botswana)

Botswana is the member of an exclusive diamond club.

Botswana - a member of the British Commonwealth - is known to be one of the wealthiest countries on the African continent. With its per-capita exceeding 17,000 in the nominal Dollars value ($5,000 in the real one), Botswana ranks 4th on the African continent by this aggregate. Botswana's wealth is mostly derived from its prosperous mining industry, the great majority of which is in diamonds digging business (producing around $1.5 billion worth of this shiny stones per year).

Botswana's long term adherence to democratic system of governance has led to robust and relatively efficient legal system, which makes this country one of the least corrupt on the whole Black Continent and inflates Republic's investment ratings regardless country's small-size population and over-concentrated economy. Other important sectors for Botswana are agriculture, remittances and tourism.

Botswana spend more than 20% of its government's budget on education, which enhance its investment attractiveness for the Hi-Tech companies. At the same time, the geographical proximity of Botswana to the South Africa defines Botswana dependence of this leading African country's internal and external politics. It also provides a certain degree of internal security and stability. Botswana is one of few African nations which has never experienced a coup d'etat or endured a civil war.

Botswana's desert climate (the most part of country's territory consists of the Kalahari Desert) makes it over-dependent from the underground water sources. Green is almost absent from Botswana's map limiting food resources and further constraining the population growth.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: encouraging;
  • economic climate: encouraging;
  • regions to focus: South Africa;
  • industries to focus: media, e-commerce, fintech, tourism, mining, agriculture;
  • major limitations: small population;
  • opportunities: educated workforce, high per-capita income.

Botswana is one of the leading startup nations on the Black Continent. Country's major limitation is the size of its population and heavy reliance of the local economy on mining industry. However, possibilities for a startup entrepreneurship in the country are plenty and, among others, include media, fintech and tourism.

Country's strong education system provides companies with well-trained workforce. On top of that, Botswana's central government approaches the task of supporting startups ecosystem seriously enough. At the same time, due to its size and variety South African market is potentially more promising for Botswana startup founders than the local one.

Marshall Islands (Republic of Marshall Islands)

Marshall Islands is a nuclear spot on the stick chart map.

Marshall Islands were first populated by the Micronesians in the 2nd millennium BC. They were using the maps made from the wooden sticks. Utilizing this unsophisticated technology and driving their long canoes those courageous peoples gradually inhabited the area of about 180,000 square miles right in the midst of the Pacific Ocean.

In the following four thousands years the humanity has made the non-deniable progress from sticks and canoes to nuclear reactors and global wars. 1 March 1954 United States detonated the 15 megatons dry fuel hydrogen bomb in the atmosphere over the Bikini Atoll. It was one of the 67 tests produced by USA at its Pacific Providing Grounds facility located on Marshall Islands. Due to shifting winds in the area the subsequent radioactive contamination converted then some of local atolls into inhabitable zones for the next four millennium at least.

From 1956 to 1998 US (of which Marshall Islands is the Associated State) had payed to Marshall's budget more than $700 million as the retribution for destroying a chunk of its territory and partially converting islands in one of the most undesirable places for international tourists in the Pacific area.

Some efforts have been made since to restore Marshall Islands' ecological credibility including declaring the area for about 2 million square miles around islands as a shark sanctuary. However, those initiatives do not prevent specialists to question both Marshall's government capacity to enforce those decrees and Humanity's general ability to leave the self-destructive pass on which it has been set upon.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: friendly;
  • economic climate: moderately friendly;
  • regions to focus: Oceania, USA, globally;
  • industries to focus: Fintech;
  • major limitations: geographical isolation, small population, absence of seed and VC capitals, low Internet penetration;
  • opportunities: economic closeness to USA, low costs, financial industry expertise.

The Compact of Free Association with the United States which Marshallese government entered in 1986 (although now in a state of revision) provides US with an umbrella military control over those islands in an exchange for regular financial remittances to local budget (around $60 millions a year). This high degree of military and economic control which USA has over those Islands creates stable political and legal bases for local startups ecosystem.

However, Marshall Islands' economy and its population are both too tiny to support inwards startup economy. The best opportunities which tech entrepreneurs have on this Pacific Archipelago are in global Fintech industry. Banking and finance sectors are both well developed on Islands which brings a professional industry expertise into the local startups scene.

At the same time, a virtual absence of seed and VC capitals makes any startup business model, which is not based on profitable, sustainable growth and unite economic modules, a near impossibility. On the other hand, virtual currencies, crowd-equities, electronic stock exchanges, e-financial advisory are some readily available startup options which local tech entrepreneurs may exploit.

Libya

Libya is a social experiment which went terribly wrong.

After 1969 revolution, led by 27 years old communication officer Muammar Gaddafi, Libya was involved into the prolonged social experiment. Colonel Gaddafi plunged his country into several revolutions at once - political, administrative and global. The main outcome of all his ground-breaking and costly (both materially and in human lives) endeavors, reforms and performances were that Colonel and members of his family took absolute control over Libya and all of its resources for the period of more than 40 years.

The way to back his pricey experimentations for Gaddafi were to exploit Libya's rich oil deposits (during 1970th its oil production rose from $4 to $25 billion) as well as to subjugate the local population to the government induced system of internal terror and espionage. On top of all those achievements Colonel indulged himself into grandiose schemes of World domination, including the formation of the United States of Africa (from which he came out with the title of the Kings of Kings) and the promulgation of clandestine military groups and organizations involved in multiple acts of violence all across the globe.

At the beginning of 1980th Libya from Colonel's point of view presented itself the ideal direct democracy state - Jamahiriya, which foundation was rock-firm established on the Colonel's Green Book. In fact this whole system of governance, with its 2000 people's committees supposedly taking all important decisions in the country, was in fact an another version of 'gilded autocracy' where Gaddafi and his close circle of relatives and cronies were real decision makers and wielders of country's resources.

However, there was another important twist to this system of usual propaganda and subjugation which helps Gaddafi to stay in power for so long. It was the mechanism of oil revenues redistribution from upper to lower levels of society. This Colonel's well-fair machine uplifted the country's human development index to the unprecedented for African country level. However, as oil prices started to drop and Libyan population instead grew hardships for population and unemployment among the youth skyrocketed and the end of 2000th.

Those negative tendencies resulted into 2011 uprising which received the name of the Arab Spring. After Gaddafi's downfall his government disintegrated and the country came into the state of complete and utter collapse. Non of various opposition factions (most of which were formed in several days of the Spring revolution) showed itself capable to work the out long-standing power sharing agreement.

As a result, there are today two governments in Libya - one sitting in Tobruk and another in Tripoli - correspondingly represented by the newly elected and fugitive Council of Deputies and by the old and defunct General National Congress. Despites of all international community's attempts to brought them together those two rebellious bodies both claim to be the only legitimate government in Libya and with the international community now in a state of confusion itself this situation of power vacuum in Libya is here to stay

Meanwhile, third parties player like ISIS are rapidly taking under their controls different parts of Libyan territory, effectively converting Libya into the growingly apocalyptic looking stage for the global conflict. With escalating Syrian war and religious tensions spreading all across this and neighboring regions the Libyan conflict is on the rise.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: hostile;
  • economic climate: hostile;
  • regions to focus: locally;
  • industries to focus: Fintech, media, e-commerce;
  • major limitations: weak property rights, damaged infrastructure, absence of seed and VC capitals, qualified workforce fleeing the country;
  • opportunities: low costs, new market niches, low competitions.

Launching a hi-tech company at the midst of civil conflict in a country with two governments is the big challenge and a big opportunity too.

On the one hand, it's excessively difficult (if even possible) to find a seed investor in a situation where equity ownership rights are not guaranteed. Additionally, qualified coders and other personnel are fleeing if they can. Economy is stalling. Users are almost non-solvent. Sub-contractors and corporate clientele are nowhere to find.

On the other, finding widening and potentially lucrative niche on a market with weak competitions and low entry barriers is much easier when most of established companies and entrepreneurs choose to stay away from it.

Local founders must concentrate on B2C markets, specifically in sectors with potentially high saturation rates such as finance, media and e-commerce. Bootstrapping is the only game available in this town. However, finding, taking and holding to the users base on this tumultuous arena may be very advantageous in the long run.

Eritrea (State of Eritrea)

Eritrea is the country of an ongoing 'red experiment'.

Ancient Greeks called the Red Sea erythra thalassa. Today it's widely believed to be the etymology of Eritrea's name. This 120 square kilometers country, bordering Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, is also often cold the 'North Korea of Africa'. Eritrea is one of few countries in the world which still, after 25 years passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, is engaged into the 'red', socialist experimentations over its peoples.

Eritrea is one-party state, with centralized economy, an absence of independent medias and a disproportionately oversize military, where many Eritreans are obliged to stay for up to 30 years in a raw. At the mid-20th century Eritrea was in the federation alliance with Marxist-Leninist Ethiopia and became one of the central points for the proxy wars of this era.

Similar to North Korea, which still can't live trough its post-war traumas and abandon the mentality of besieged fortress, Eritrea's elite holds to power by eliminating political alternatives to its ruling party - People's Front for Democracy and Justice - and by perpetuating the state of social and economic crises blamed on external, subversive forces.

As a result Eritrea, with its six million population generating no more than six billion dollars a year, is now one of the least developed countries in the World.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: hostile;
  • economic climate: hostile;
  • regions to focus: locally;
  • industries to focus: e-commerce, advertisement;
  • major limitations: over-regulation, extremely low Internet penetration (around 1%), absence of seed and VC capitals, shortage of qualified workforce, outdated infrastructure, impoverished population;
  • opportunities: new market niches, low competitions.

Launching a tech startups in Eritrea although possible is out-of-this-world type of experience. With a record low Internet penetration and the government there executing tight control over economic activity of the population, it's difficult to imagine how a startup (even if allowed by authorities to exist) may scale without some local bureaucrat executing a "patronage" over the venture.

Impoverished population doesn't provide a sustainable financial base for a protracted business growth. Besides, the shortage of qualified personnel, outdated IT infrastructure and multiple "red-tapes" do not create a nourishing ground for even the simplest startup ecosystem. Not to mention that seed money is almost nowhere to find in Eritrea.

The most reliable niche for a tech startup on this country's rudimentary e-market is an Internet commerce and advertisement. The competition there is almost non-existent, the economy is expanding with an increasing rate and, providing, of course, that some (at least minor) economic and political reforms will be implemented, potentials for future growth of a tech company from such a low starting base are significant.

Syria (Syrian Arab Republic)

Syria is the crumbling mountain.

One of possible sources for the name Syria is the Mount Hermon (Siryon or Biblical Saphon - the summit where the palace of Baal stood). However, ongoing Syrian Civil War threatens to permanently break Syria into multiple, scattered pieces, controlled by different religious and political groups.

On the one side of this conflict stands the current Syrian regime headed by the son of the leader of socialist Ba'ath Party and the first Syrian president - Hafez al-Assad. On the other there are numerous military factions which now hold to different and mostly disintegrated slices of the Syrian territory.

Those rivaling groups are politically and military supported from the one side by USA, EU and Sunni Saudi Arabia and from the other - by Shiite Iran. Additionally, Russia and Turkey have made serious geopolitical stakes in this region. On top of that, since the start of the conflict in 2011, the third force of the Islamic State (ISIS) has appeared on this scene and now plays the independent (allegedly) and most sinister role in this growing conflict.

In such situations long-term perspectives for a stable peace in Syria are slim. Even if all major international backers of this conflict will agree to temporary put aside their ideological and political differences in order to end ISIS presence in this region it will bring only temporary tranquility to Syria. All basic religious, social, political and economic disparities will remain intact there (not to mention constantly fluctuating positions on those issues of major world's powers) and that will soon led to opening of the next chapter in this gruesome saga.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: hostile;
  • economic climate: hostile;
  • regions to focus: locally, Middle East;
  • industries to focus: e-commerce, education, advertisement;
  • major limitations: inadequate legal regulation, unsound or destroyed infrastructure, near absence of seed and VC capitals, limited workforce, low-pay capacity of population;
  • opportunities: younger population, new market niches, lower competitions.

Startup entrepreneurship in the conflict zone can't be easy, but if we talk about this in the most troubled region of the world, which is Syria, it must be almost heroic. That's, probably, why so many of Syrian startup founders today are woman. With many men fighting their causes on various battlefields, woman, often, became the sole bred-earners for their families and some of them choose e-commerce as the best mean towards that end.

At the same time, it's not the only opportunity left for Syrian founders to exploit. In the prewar period this country had had a relatively high Internet penetration rate (almost 30%) and sound although poorly diversified and over-regulated economy, which was mostly based on oil extraction (almost 60% of Syrian export revenues came from this source alone).

Central cities (primary Damascus) have kept relatively large business segments (such for example as transportation, restaurant, entertainment and hospitality industries) in a more or less functioning order. Due to the absence of competition from established corporations those areas present a promising (although very risky) niches for bold entrepreneurial individuals.

At the same time, on top of political and economical disorders, which prevent seed and VC funds from entering to Syrian market, there are other important constraints which stop startup ecosystem from growing there. Extensive governmental presence in economy, impoverished population, outdated (if not destroyed) infrastructure, inadequacy of educational system, which greatly limits the supply of coders and other qualified employees to IT startups - those are only a few of numerous obstacles which a startup founder must overcame in present-day Syria.

However, predominantly young population of this country has an excellent entrepreneurial spirit which inspires a hope into future positive developments of the local startup community, after, of course, the peace came to those lands.

Yemen (Republic of Yemen)

Yemen is the unhappily happy country.

Romans' name for the territory of the contemporary Yemen Republic was the Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia). However, almost none of Yemen's past and present had been particularly happy.

Tribal and religion divisions haunted this more than halve-of-a-million-square-kilometers sized region, stretched along the Red Sea, for centuries. In fact, prior to its unification in 1990, Yemen wasn't even the one country. One of its part - South Yemen - after obtaining its independence from British rule in 1967, took the side of the Soviet-lead block of countries and for more than thirty years after that followed the Marxism-Leninism's ideological path. That politics resulted in a slowed economy and raging civil war. South Yemen (since 1962 - the Yemen Ara Republic) obtained its statehood much earlier in 1918 but also for almost all of 20th century had been absorbed by internal conflicts. Those two country started 30-months unification process at 22 May 1990, however, the next civil war delayed the completion of this process.

The root of all past and current turmoils in Yemen lays in the complex ethnic and political composition of this country consisting of different tribes and historically divided between Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities. In 2011 it again resulted in the new episode of social unrests soon leading to military clashes between supporters of Sunni ultra conservative Salafi movement and more moderate Shiite Zaidis. Still, this war is continuing to destroy the country.

With time this conflict has became internationalized and today Yemen serves as a proxy in a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. On top of that, organizations like al-Qaeda exploits the current situation in Yemen for rapidly growing its presence there. All this chaos has already converted Yemen into one of the poorest and most dangerous regions in the world.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: hostile;
  • economic climate: hostile;
  • regions to focus: locally;
  • industries to focus: e-commerce, alternative energy, education, advertisement, fintech;
  • major limitations: damaged infrastructure, deficiency of seed and VC capitals, qualified people fleeing the country, uncertain property rights;
  • opportunities: lower competitions, new markets.

Despite all seemingly insurmountable obstacles (like the want for educated workforce, low paying capacity of the population or unavailability of seed money) running a startup in Yemen isn't a complete folly.

Opportunities are to be found where any type of deficit occurs. For example, defaced city's power grid opens a market for alternative energy sources, specifically to those which are run by a solar power. It raises another question, however, how to import deficient parts such as silicon sells into the country with breached borders and disrupted custom services.

Another example is an education sector where, with sharp drop in families earning capacities, prices for school books became unaffordable for a growing number of people. Replacing it with electronic copies served on mobile platforms may be a fresh opportunity for local startups to explore. Some other new niches include e-commerce, fintech (with alternative currencies replacing shaky local ones) and Internet/mobile ads market.

At the same time, even short-term risks of running a high-tech company in a country in a midst of civil war may outweigh potential monetary rewards. Specifically in a situation of highly uncertain political future, when a sharp turn in, say, a borders openness politic or an unexpected review of property rights may undermine years of hard work for daring local entrepreneurs.

Macedonia

Macedonia isn't Macedonia.

The present-day Macedonia is located to the north of the ancient Macedonia (that of Philip II and Alexander the Great) and corresponds to the kingdom of Paeonia. This region had been included into the old Macedonia in the later historical periods.

This issue still greatly affects the relations of the Republic of Macedonia with Greece, which still doesn't recognize Macedonia's name and harshly opposes Republic's participation in major international organizations. This case serves as an illustration of the deplorable state of the contemporary world's politics where a trivial linguistic disagreement has became the major barrier for improving lives of millions of people.

Another present issue for Macedonia is the sharp political and cultural division existing between Macedonian majority and Albanians minority groups. Currently, it's one of the major causes for the political (and potentially military) tensions, which affects Macedonia's relations with neighboring Albania. Republic's government tries to solve that issue by providing local Albanian population with the extensive regional autonomy. Still, this approach doesn't satisfy many Macedonian politicians.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: hostile with some moderations;
  • economic climate: moderately friendly;
  • regions to focus: EU;
  • industries to focus: e-commerce, gaming, fintech;
  • major limitations: small size of country's population, over-regulation, high fines, bureaucratic interferences, shortage of seed and VC capitals, qualified personnel limits, low incomes;
  • opportunities: very high Internet penetration rate (over 60%), low costs, reduced competition.

Macedonia is a new-comer to the Eastern European startup scene. However, there's already been an apparent progress made in developing tech entrepreneurship ecosystem in this country. Among other things, the government's sponsored program of seed investments has already provided a number of local young tech entrepreneurs with starting capitals. However, giving away taxpayers money isn't the answer to all of country's startups issues.

Macedonia's domestic startups ecosystem can't flourish without national founders considering the EU market to be the prime target for their business expansion programs. Local users' pool is too shallow to let even the medium size Internet company-fish to feed itself for more or less prolonged period of time. Additionally, domestic economy, largely based on mining, tourism and agriculture isn't strong at all. In fact, Macedonia is still one of the least developed European countries with its per-capita staying far under EU average for decades.

In this situation, creating the stimulating legal environment for VC and seed funds, tempering the regulatory climate, reducing red tapes as well as attracting more foreign talents (specifically from neighboring WE countries) may be important steps in establishing Macedonia's reputation as the fledgling startup nation.

Guatemala (Republic of Guatemala)

Guatemala is the broken back country.

In 1980th, when Korean entrepreneurs started to found in Guatemala now widespread maquila factories (the local type of tax-free production zones), they began to attract local female workers. In few years woman started to flee their employers in numbers claiming acute pain in their backs. Investigations revealed that besides of 12-14 hours working day those mostly textile manufacturing facilities used backless benches. This case is an allegory for the whole history of Guatemala, where either working on hard, low paid jobs in agricultural fields owned by international corporations or participating in almost endless internal civil conflicts were two major alternatives for local populations.

Coffee, bananas and raw sugar still constitute the main bulk of Guatemala's economy (if not to account for slowly developing tourism industry and international remittances). On top of that, twenty years after the end of the civil war, the violence, which had been the integral part of local political system for centuries, continues to haunt the country even after the adaption of major democratic principles for governance.

One of the most famous episodes (known today as Jueves negro) of this broken back politics occurred on 24 July 2003, when representatives of one of the leading parties during the presidential race distributed among its followers long wooden sticks and let them run alongside of the Guatemala city's streets crushing everything and everybody on their way and challenging police force to the urban warfare.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: not friendly;
  • economic climate: not friendly;
  • regions to focus: Central America;
  • industries to focus: tourism, e-commerce, fintech;
  • major limitations: more than 50% of population living in poverty, relatively low Internet penetration rate (25%), high level of centralization, lack of seed and VC capitals, shortage of qualified labor;
  • opportunities: one of the youngest countries (estimated median age 20 years old).

Liberia (Republic of Liberia)

Liberia is the land of the free and of the poor.

Liberia is an eloquent example of how progressive ideals could be corrupted by the human nature. Liberia has already been marked on the World map as an independent country for more than 170 years. It had been founded in the mid-19th century by the black USA immigrants which didn't believe that blacks can ever gain the real freedom on the American land.

In 1822, this first group of non-believers organized the American Colonization Society. That entity later comprised the core of the black political elite which tried in vain to convert Liberia into the new society based on the same republican principles, which were laid into the foundation of the United States of America in July 4, 1776. In the time period of the next hundred year this new elite, mostly composed by free minded, educated and progressive individuals, had been gradually converted into a repressive and authoritarian political force.

In 20th century Liberia followed the bitten path of many other African states going from an indigenous segregation (but this time imposed by blacks on blacks) toward a coup d'etat. Then it played a proxy role in the Cold War followed by the military dictatorship after which for almost 20 years it was plunged into two consecutive civil wars. As a result, regardless of its rich mineral base, which among others includes diamonds, gold and oil deposits, Liberia remains one of the poorest and least developed countries in the World.

Liberia is yet another practical confirmation of the fact, that being presented by the unique, historical opportunity to built a whole country from a ground zero in the economically fertile zone of the richest continent on Earth by the team of educated and high-minded enthusiasts possessed by the best and the brightest political idea of the time wouldn't be enough to grant social advancements, prosperity for population and political progressiveness for government.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: not friendly;
  • economic climate: not friendly;
  • regions to focus: Central America;
  • industries to focus: tourism, e-commerce, fintech;
  • major limitations: more than 50% of population living in poverty, relatively low Internet penetration rate (25%), high level of centralization, lack of seed and VC capitals, shortage of qualified labor;
  • opportunities: one of the youngest countries (estimated median age 20 years old).

France (French Republic)

With the upcoming April 2017 French Presidential election, the question whether or not France electorate follows the path opened by Brexit and Trump has became increasingly intriguing.

France ranks fourth in the world in terms of its cumulative household wealth (around $250,000 per family). On the other hand, Paris's arrondissements (along with the rest of the country) have became more and more segregated (with 6th, 7th, 8th and 16th far surpassing the others by their income) in the past 20 years. On top of that, the Fifth Republic has been profoundly and most spectacularly affected by the 2017 EU immigration crisis. Already those two factors make the victory of alt-right, nationalists political parties in France more than marginally probable.

Still, even if it happens, there is absolutely no certainty, that the new French President necessarily follows the mercantilist-type trade policy, which may be one of cornerstones of the Trump's administration economic strategy as well. However, if she does, then the consequences for the French economy maybe not less than serious.

France is one of the most export orientated countries in the World with more than halve-a-trillion dollars of goods and serves crossing Republic's borders each year. The bulk of it are going to its EU neighbors - Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain - closely followed by UK (7%) and USA (6%). Not to mention some of the less visible benefits which locals derive from EU open borders policies, such as, for example, the case of almost 50,000 French citizens commuting every working day to the neighboring Luxembourg, where they find salaries far exceeding those in their own country.

If France, stimulated by its well-deserved national pride as well as by newly obtained anti-globalisation sentiments, leaves the EU and starts to meddle with the current European trading mechanism, it's highly unlikely that other countries will be just-words-no-actions (regardless, whether or not EU will survive the next dramatic exodus from its ranks).

Putting all factors together we may expect no less than 5% - 10% reduction in export's volumes during only the first year when the new French government starts to barricade its markets against "alien" people, goods and services. It may, of course, first results in the short-live boost for the local producers but the price to pay would be soon-coming lay-offs in heavily export orientated industries such as aircraft, cars, and, of course, fashion. Then inflation will soon follow with increasing number of people choosing to seek employments instead of looking for business opportunities on the rapidly shrinking internal and external markets. Not to mention that the absence of the international competition will negatively affect the quality of productions and the peace of innovations in most technologically advanced sectors.

However, in the age of 'alternative facts' and emotional politics such predictions and arguments will, most probably, be neglected. Therefore, we all must brace ourselves for the next wave of the global political tsunami.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: encouraging;
  • economic climate: moderately friendly;
  • regions to focus: EU;
  • industries to focus: many;
  • major limitations: over-regulation, stringent labor laws, relatively high costs of running business;
  • opportunities: good infrastructure.

Zambia (Republic of Zambia)

Zambia is a country of the waterfall.

The celebrated British explore David Livingston became the first European to witness the glory of the 1.7 thousands meters wide and hundred meters high waterfall on the Zambezi river in 1855. He later named it after the queen Victoria. When, 24 of October 1964, the new republic was formed, it received the name of this remarkable river, which, translated from the local languages, means 'the river of God'.

However, Zambia's major natural resource isn't the widest in the world shit of a falling water, but it's copper. Large deposits of this indispensable for many world's industries metal were discovered in 1895 right in the middle of the country, alongside of the Kafue River, near its future capital city Lusaka and this event more than anything else has drastically changed the history of Zambia.

At the start of the 20th century, with its economy heavily concentrated inside of the 30-thousands-square-kilometers-sized Copperbelt Province, Zambia became increasingly attractive to international investments. Still, with more than 330,000 metric tons of copper yearly production output, Zambia's national prosperity is primary dependent on metal prices. Its sudden downturn hit the Republic hard in 2009. At the same time, Zambia's capacity to consistently increase its annual copper production has converted this country into Africa's recognized GDP growth rate champion (in 2010th it steadily exceeds 6%). However, the poverty level in the country is also extremely high with about 70% of Zambia's population living on less than $1.9 per day.

Shortly after obtaining its independence from Britain, Zambia followed the bitten path of many other African states and embraced the Marxist-Leninism, accompanied by one-party monopoly on power and authoritarian, repressive government. However, in 1990th, Zambia finally returned to the more economically sustainable capitalist's camp simultaneously introducing itself to democratic, multi-party politics.

Honduras (Republic of Honduras)

Honduras is the banana republic, literary.

After 1904, when the popular American short-story writers, the author of 'Cabbages and Kings' O.Henry put the 'banana republic' tag on Honduras, this term has became the popular definition of a small and corrupt state, dominated by the military, frequented by coup d'etat and supported by agriculturally based economy run by large international corporations.

Still, since O.Henry's time too much of Coco river's water has flown into Caribbean sea for things to stay the same. Today's Honduras has long been divorced with its classical dystopian past. However, some may argue, too many of its relics are pretty much alive.

Honduran economy remains largely dependent on agricultural production. Although the significance of bananas export is decreased (notably, after devastations caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998) with coffee mostly replacing it on top of the local exports' list, manufacturing or service industries stay underdeveloped. That has resulted in unemployment rate's hike to almost 30% and made Honduras the sixth poorest country in Latin America.

Economical structure of Honduras largely defines its political system, which, being democratic on the surface, is dominated by the wealthy elite supported by the top military rank which tries to control the large agrarian as well as slowly growing and mostly disenfranchised rural population of the country.

Besides coffee and bananas the third largest industry in Honduras is drugs. Drug gangs have for many years successfully survived various governmental initiatives aimed at the crime rate reduction in Tegucigalpa. The latest of those acts became one which introduced the joined police-military to streets' patrols.

United Kingdom (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

Post-Brexit prosperity of London - one of the major financial centers in the World besides Tokyo and New York and the ground zero for European corporations shiny offices - is now under the threat. There are more than 500 banks located in the city, on top of that, London acts as the magnet for the third World countries' elites and their capitals specifically those from Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia. However, as time goes by, the number of international banks, which have publicly announced their intends to initiate the relocation of at least part of their workforce and operations outside of the London, is growing. Besides other things it directly threatens to undermine the white-collar job market in the UK capital.

British pound has already lost more than 15% of its value since June 23 referendum, which automatically (although, not yet very substantially) increases the influx of capitals to American and Asian markets. It also stimulates the crucial shift in the long-term strategies of global companies, which will stop to consider London as the most appropriate location for their European headquarters and will redistribute their budgets in the direction of other EU capitals specially towards Berlin and Paris.

Additionally, negative expectations prevailing now in the area of London immigration policies stimulate the increase in the speed of white-collar employees' replacement by algorithms. That will further undermine London's importance as the breeding ground for the educated, English-speaking, cosmopolitan, professional elite. This wast community is also now starting to flee from London to other European and American mega-cities.

At the same time, there can be expected some positive outcomes from Brexit as well, including the easing of the outdated and excessive financial regulations introduced by Brussels bureaucrats and which have increasingly became unbearable for most of the small and middle size financial institutions.

Overall, in short 2-3 years terms, we can expect the drop in the level of financial and business activities in London. However, as Brexit will stop to be only an emotional declaration and will gradually became the official, documented and legislated reality, there exists a possibility (although not a certainty) that British authorities will use their newly acquired independence to ease the regulatory burden which have been gradually imposed onto all types of financial institutions by overzealous EU politicians.

This two stages process, however, make take at least a decade before yielding any positive results. And all this time it will, of course, be stimulated by the growing competition between emerging national states which will try to convert their re-obtained national pride and World domination ambitions into something more constructive than non-stop squabbles in the UN, expensive drones attacks and the global cyberwar.

Jamaica

Jamaica is the spiritual country.

Besides producing a mind-blowing amount of spirits and beverages (which account for more than 15% of country's export) Jamaica is hosting the large variety of religions and their denominations among which the most locally associable is, arguably, the 30,000-members-strong Rastafarian community.

Jamaica - the one of the most prolific sugar production centers in the Caribbean during XVI-XVII centuries - has now became the major tourist destination as well as an important producer of the aluminum oxide ore (corundum). Annually more than 1.5 million tourists visit the island. On the downside, Jamaica is located inside of the hurricane belt and aftermaths of the most calamitous weather events, such as 1951 'Charlie' or 1988 'Gilbert', could be reflected in the depressed economy for many years afterwards.

Politically Jamaica - the Commonwealth member - is the constitutional monarchy headed by the British Queen. As it's customary for the Westminster system, island's 63-seats House of Representative is almost equally divided between only two dominant right- and left-wing orientated political organizations (Jamaica Labor Party and People's National Party).

Nigeria (Federal Republic of Nigeria)

Nigeria is the giant of Africa.

With its almost halve-a-trillion dollars GDP Nigeria is the major economic powerhouse of the Black Continent. With sharp rise of its oil incomes it outperformed the former economic leader - South Africa - in 2014. However, despite country budget's heavy reliance on oil production, the Federation also demonstrates good level of diversification into other industries including mining, financial services and manufacturing. Also, one of the most important source of revenues for locals is 20-billion-dollars-size remittances received from almost 18 million Nigerians working abroad (notably in the United Kingdom and USA).

Nigeria has the largest population in Africa counting almost 190 million - the striking differences with 1970th when it was around 50 million. With almost halve of country's population 14 years old or younger Nigeria is projected to became one of the major contributors to the overall population growth on the planet in the nearest future. Nigerian major city - Lagos - is the most populated city in Africa with estimated number of inhabitants equals 15 million.

One of the major issue haunting this country is the political and economic divisions existing between Christian north and Muslim south. On top of that more than 500 different ethical groups coexist today in Nigeria. The conflict between Muslim and Christian groups constitutes the essence of all present political tensions in Nigeria.

For more than 10 years Nigeria follows the basic democratic rules while electing its officials and exercising major government functions. Prior to 1999 this country had been plunged into several decades of civil wars and military juntas. Recently the extremist organization Boko Haram, which is active in northeastern Nigeria, presents the biggest threat not only to country's internal peace but also to the stability of the entire region.

North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of North Korea)

North Korea makes its best to get all of us as close and as quick as possible to the Orwellian type society.

Looks like the Kim's dynasty of chairmans of the worker's party is self-charged with the mission to assist the humanity in discovering the short-cut path to the worker's paradise where everybody is content and perfectly happy with 300 rationed grams of cereal per day balanced by a non-limited supply of Kim's statutes and hymns.

During the 70 years passed since USSR ambassador to Korea Terentii Shtykov supported the candidature of Kim Il-sung to the post of the chairmen for Provisional People's Committee Kim family has managed to grow from scratch something far exceeding everybody's expectations for the standard totalitarian model. They do not only impose their personal control over political, economical and social lives of their citizens, as normally would be expected from such types of states, but they also make sure that such crucially important staff as haircuts, facial expressions and the frequency of applauses in public theaters also follow guidances of Kim-kinds and of the Juche-thing.

Because the only one nuisance in their otherwise perfect system is the existence of some deviant from Kim-types human creatures, they are firmly set on keeping the number of thinking animals, dwelling on the 120 thousands square kilometers territory of DPRK, close to a bare minimum of 10 million foot soldiers ready to bravely face the capitalists monsters in the decisive fight for the bright Juche-future of all Mankind.

Fortunately, besides malnutrition, famines, absences of basic life necessities and the generally horrific housing situation Kims have developed a perfect set of more advanced tools and methodologies for that purpose. Such scientific advancements like re-education zones "kwalliso" or the all-citizens-inclusive ranking system "songbun" have served perfectly to the noble task of timely identification and elimination of the so-called "hostile-class", which according to Kim-grand-daddy's opinion constitutes about 25% of the Korean society (according to the same source 55% is "wavering class" and only 25% is the "core", which among other privileges is allowed to live in Pyongyang-capital and fool foreigners into submission to Juche-truth).

The efficiency of such type of systems is well-known. It's wonderfully efficient in satisfying the personal needs of the Kim's family and those of the hand-picked "elite" and astonishingly inefficient in meeting the basic needs of everybody else on this planet except, probably, some rare and most hard-core types of bacterias.

Of course, in order to keep that 20-million-members chamber of horrors live and kicking, Kim-young-dude has to possess very effective means of persuasion people outside of DPRK in Kim's good and progressive intentions. Besides a growing collection of thermo-nuclear devices and a couple of USA based friendly celebrities those means include: 1) Kim's charmingly fatty persona; 2) his regiment of cyber-goblins and 3) his brotherly warmly relationships with two benevolent and like-minded neighboring states - China and Russia.

Algeria (People's Democratic Republic of Algeria)

Algeria is the past Pyrites empire, the present oil state, and the future solar energy superpower.

The territory of Algeria - the ground base of the Carthage empire, which was destroyed by Rome in 146 BC and then turned into the Hippo Regius province - starting from 7th century had been dominated by Umayyad Caliphate until it was gradually privatized by several prominent Berber families at the mid-XI century. Only in 1516 Ottomans had ended their more than four centuries long ruler-ship and established what effectively became the Turkish pirates state for the next three century until, in 1830, Charles X of France besieged and conquer the port of Algiers and then all of Algeria.

It's reported that while the Turkish privateers had controlled Algeria's harbors more than one million Europeans were captured in coastal towns raids and then sold as slaves. After Charles' conquest almost 50,000 French people came to Algeria but this time voluntary. At the start of 1960th Algerian population of European decent was already counted in millions. Major cities of Alger and Oran were predominantly European.

1962 Algerian war for independence forced almost one million of them to fled the country. However, even after its independence and after more than 50 years of predominantly nationalist, military rule, Alger still remains second biggest Francophone country on earth. The basis of Algerian economy is its waste oil and gas reserves accounting for 60% of budget's revenues, 30% of GDP and almost 100% of export. However, Alger also maintains major solar energy researches science park in Hassi R'Mel. Country's solar energy potential is immense thanks to the Sahara desert which occupies most of the country's territory.

Politically Alger is functioning as so-called "regulated democracy" where the close-tight group of people consisting mostly from military ranks (called 'le pouvoir' by locals) wields all of the behind-the-scene power in the country. However, there are also some elements of popular (some commentators name it "staged") democracy in Algeria like its 462-members Parliament - Assemblee populaire nationale - which is elected by the popular votes.

Pitcairn (Pitcairn Island)

Pitcairn is where the smallest and the most criminal nation on earth lives.

The fame of Pitcairn (currently, the independent micro-jurisdiction inside of the British Commonwealth) is absolutely not proportional to its size. The first European inhabitants of this tiny group of islets, located in the center of the Pacific ocean, were brought there by, arguably, one of the most famous mutinies in the early maritime history - that of the HMS Bounty in 1789. It had became the subject of multiple films, articles, books and scientific researches.

Many people have been thrilled by the survivalist story of nine outcasts involuntarily brought together on an exotic island, where they were forced to co-exists for five straight years in a complete isolation from the civilized world. It's became one of the best documented cases of humans' hardships and miseries (not so much physical as psychological ones), contrasted with an idealized notion of the Robinson Crusoe's style adventures, glorified in the contemporary fictional travel accounts, which many people at that time naively mistook for authentic ones.

One of the most surprising sides of this early version of the real-TV horror-style soap-opera was that many of Pitcairn inhabitants even after being provided with the opportunity to leave the place of their involuntary seclusion (the opportunity for which they pleaded the Crown on their knees) they, however, later chose to return back to their exclusive prison and then repeated this back-and-forth cycle not once, but several times.

Ironically enough, when, in the early 2000th, those lands had been brought to the World's close scrutiny a second time, it, again, happened because of the crime, but this time - really dirty one. Practically 30% of Pitcairn's 20 something members population (including the Governor himself) were charged and found guilty with multiple cases of children molestations.

No wonder, that today those islets have a really hard time attracting new inhabitants and tourists to its enchanted shores.

Nagorno-Karabakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic)

Nagorno-Karabakh is 'the black garden on the mountain'.

The political status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) isn't bright as well. It's an internationally unrecognized (by all UN members including Russia) separatists region of Azerbaijan with predominantly Armenian population which is currently led by the government headed by the President, the Prime Minister and 33-members National Assembly which denounce Baku's authority.

Starting with the 8th century the present territory of NKR had been associated with Armenia, first as the Province of Armenian Kingdom and, later, as more independent Princedomes. In the mid-18th century it had became part of the Karabah Khanate and was heavily influenced by Turks. Then, at the start of 19th century, it fell into the Russian dependency.

The first military confrontations between two rivaling ethnic groups - Armenians and Azerbaijanis - stared in 1906 but the major cause of the present time conflict is largely blamed on Djugashvili's sabotage of the Russian Communist Party Committee's decision to unite Karabakh region with the Armenian Socialist Republic taken in July 1921.

In the Soviet era NKR population was almost 80% ethnic Armenians. The military conflict with Azerbaijan government erupted at the beginning of 1990th when dissolution of USSR opened doors for active nationalists movements in the region. It soon had degraded into the full scale war with the Armenians unofficially supported by the Russian arms and volunteers and Western powers sided with Azerbaijani central authorities.

This war resulted in massive casualties and close to a million of displaced people in the region. The long-lasting antagonism between locals and Armenian population living on the territory of Azerbaijan was also aroused, specifically in Baku.

The current status of this more than a century old conflict remains unresolved with the hight probability of military clashes renewal still existing.

Northern Cyprus (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus)

Northern Cyprus is the island on the island.

Northern Cyprus is the independent part of the Cyprus State governed by the internationally unrecognized (by everybody except Turkey) government. It was formed in the 1974 as the result of Turkish militant invasion to the Cyprus following the coup d'etat staged by the anti-Turkish government and repressions against Turkish Cypriots in the south as well as evictions of Greeks on the north.

Economically Norther Cyprus relies on tourism and the agricultural (mostly citrus) production. In January 2016 the latest attempt to unify the island has led to series of demonstrative steps from moderate governments on both sides of the division line.

Chile (Republic of Chile)

Chili is the longest country on earth.

With its 4300 km, stretching from north to south trough all major climate zones, Chile is one of the most remarkable piece of unitary governmental properties in the world. It may be even more geographically glorious if not for the international regulatory institutions which do not officially recognize the 1.2 millions square kilometers piece of the Arctic territory as the Chilean property.

The Chilean history is no shorter and lesser impressive than its geography. It includes such heroic episodes as the Mapuche people stubborn resistances both to the mighty Inca Empire assault and to the Spanish Conquistadors invasion in 15th and 16th centuries. It also has encompassed much more famous and controversial recent events such as General Pinochet's era when more than 40,000 people vanished in a period between 1973 and 1990.

However, Chile, as did many other South American nations, has long changed its governmental regime from militaristic and dictatorial to democratic and capitalist. Today its 120-members Chamber of Deputies includes a wide range of political parties from moderate, pro-government Christian Democrats (20 seats) and opposite Independent Democratic Union (28 seats) to the extremist Communist Party (6 seats).

300-billion-size Chilean economy is one of the most competitive in the world, ranking 7th in the international index of the economic freedom. In recent years Chilean government has also became one of the world's champions in supporting the development of the new technological sectors, four-folds increasing the number of new startups in 10 years (from 25 thousands to 100 thousands).

Iran (Islamic Republic Of Iran)

Iran is the nation of gifted tinkers.

Translated from the ancient Persian 'Iran' means 'skillful assembler' and that totally reflects rich, colorful and prolific historical heritage of the Persian nation. This ability of Iranians to create complex, interconnected and long-lasting systems is also reflected in country's unique political mechanism which combines the elements of popular democracy with theocratic, highly centralized state.

On the top of Iran's power pyramid sits The Supreme Leader, elected by the Assembly of Experts, comprised by 88 Mujtahids or Islamic theologians. The Leader acts as the commander-in-chief of the halve-a-million-strong Armed Forces, appoints the President, assigns chief justices, selects 6 out of 12 members of Guardian Council (which, among other things, is responsible for approving candidates for Mujtahids), leads the 120-thousands-members Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (used in Iran as the internal political police), supervises the Law Enforcement Forces as well as heads the National Radio and Television Institution.

The second position in the Iranian authority structure belongs to the President, who is elected by the popular votes and responsible for day-by-day administration of the government. He appoints and, then, rules the Council of Ministers.

The unicameral, 290-members Islamic Consultative Assembly - Persian Parliament - is elected by popular vote for four-year-term. As adding an another unique twist to its political mechanism, 1979 Constitution requires the Guardian Council's approval for each of Assembly's members.

The uniqueness of Persian political arrangement is further exacerbated by the fact that the Iran is the biggest Shiite country on Earth. Also after the USA invasion of the Iraq in 2003 Iran became the Region's leading military powerhouse with its halve-a-trillion-dollars GDP and the oil export orientated economy. Consequently, all the Middle East's current affairs shall now be considerate as directly affecting the Persian strategic interests.

Taiwan (Republic of China)

Taiwan is the beautiful Chinese island.

When Portuguese travelers arrived at its shores they called it Formosa which means "the beautiful island". When in 1949 Chiang Kai-shek led his people across 180 km channel, separated China's mainland from Taiwan, and established his new government there, he proclaimed the city of Taipei to be the capital of all Chinese. Things have changed since then. Taiwan doesn't anymore claim that it represents the whole China, moreover its government formally acts on the international arena as if Beijing is, in fact, the sole "not-so-beautiful" conductor of Taiwan's political business.

This narrative has been so strongly promoted by CPC and, at the same time, so ardently denied by major political forces within Taiwan political system, that it gradually has became the reality. There are now only one political agenda in Taiwan - that of dismissal or of acceptance of Taiwanese political and economic dependences from bigger China. Accordingly, two leading political factions - Pan-Green and Pan-Blue, which are constantly jockeying for power there - base their political agendas almost exclusively on anti- or pro- CPC sentiments within Taiwanese society.

For the most part of its XX-century history Taiwan had been dominated by the authoritarian regime reminiscent of that of the Chinese mainland. However, in 1990th, some major reforms were introduced and today Taiwanese political system is more or less compliant with accepted principles of democratic governance. However, it still keeps some unique twists.

For instance, Taiwanese President directly appoints the Prime Minister without consultation with the Legislative Yuan - unicameral 113-members Parliament of Taiwan. At its turn, the Yuan may pass laws without agreement or even consultation with the President. It creates an interesting political arrangement when two opposing political forces controlling two different branches of government - executive and legislative - may implement two different policies in one political cycle.

However, all those controversies do not prevent Taiwan from being one of the leading economic powerhouses of the East - the Asian Tiger - with its GDP exceeding 0.5 trillion.

Kosovo (Republic of Kosovo)

Kosovo is yet another breakaway country.

The former part of Yugoslavia and later Serbia states - Kosovo - was declared independent in February 2008 as a result of the controversial political settlement. Kosovo is currently recognized by 110 UN member countries while 83 others either hold it illegal or reserve its opinions. Among UN Security Counsel permanent members Russia and China still count Kosovo as the integral part of Serbia.

Kosovo received its name after the famous Kosovo field where, in 1389, 40,000 soldiers-strong Ottoman forces led by Sultan Murad I faced Prince Lazar and his join Serbian-Bosnian army numbered 30,000. Prior to 2008, Kosovo had been either a dependent or the subjugated region of bigger states or empires such as Roman, Bulgarian, Serbian, Ottoman or Communist Yugoslavia state.

The Kosovo's economy - a poorest among former Yugoslavia republics - is largely dependent of remittances and heavily relies on the international assistance. However, there are significant deposits of lead, zinc, silver, nickel, cobalt and other mineral resources estimated around $15 billion worth by the World Bank.

Kosovo is the multi-party democracy headed by the President and unicameral, 120-members Assembly which is almost evenly split between two leading political parties - nationalist PDK and liberal LDK. Both of those parties declare its commitment to the pro-European politic.

Germany (Federal Republic of Germany)

Germany is one of the most economically developed countries in the world.

Germany's roughly $3.4 trillion GDP is currently one of the major cornerstones of World's $80 trillions economy. In fact, German economy, which is today 71% service based, is ranked fourth largest on Earth (by GDP) after USA's, China's and Japan's.

Germany is also recognize as one of the rare developed world countries which is officially committed to the development of the environmentally friendly alternative energies. Today more than 25% of the total German energy supply is deriving from non-fossil sources such as the atomic energy and the wind.

Germany is one of the hottest spots on the map for the high-tech industry with Berlin being on the top of the list of startup companies' preferred location in Europe. Germany unemployment rate is now around 5%. However, the rate of GDP growth has been going down there since 2008 economic crisis and currently stays within 1%.

Somaliland (Republic of Somaliland)

Somaliland is the one big non-state.

Somaliland is an unrecognized territory of Somalia. That territory is governed by its own president and the popularly elected bicameral parliament which includes 82-members House of Representatives and the House of Elders. Somaliland political system uniquely combines basic principles of democratic governance with the traditional, clan-based power-sharing political set up. Somaliland has its own 75,000-soldiers-strong army, its own remittances-based economy and more than 4.5 million people living on its lands. Although Somaliland is not recognized by the United Nations some of the western governments (including the United States of America) choose to maintain friendly relationships with Hargeisa.

The history of Somaliland is largely that of neighboring Somalia. This region is thought to be the part of the legendary Land of Punt. It was later occupied by Arab Sultanates, Ottomans and finally, in 1888, came under the British protectorate. In 1960 it gain independence as part of bigger Somalia state. After the prolonged period of civil unrests, headed by Somali National Movement, Somaliland declared independence on 27 April 1991.

Somaliland today is yet another full of humans territory on the surface of the planet, which politicians choose to ignore.

Vatican City (Vatican City State)

The Vatican City is not the Holy See.

Vatican City State was formed in 1929 by Pope Pius XI and Benito Mussolini - the leader of National Fascist Party - signing the Lateran Treaty. This accord granted to the Holy See - effectively the Catholic Church's main legal and organizational body - the full ownership and an authority over 44 hectares of walled area within Rome.

There are less than nine hundreds citizens of the Vatican city and all of them are high positioned Catholic church officials appointed by Pope personally. The Vatican City is one of the few absolute monarchies in the World, however, this monarchy is not hereditary and his ruler - the Pope and the King of Vatican - is elected by cardinals. Almost all of Vatican citizens reside outside of the Vatican City and practically all of Vatican city affairs such as policing or sewage are exercised by the Italian state. Except, of course, the famous 100-men-strong Pontifical Swiss Guard which is responsible both for Pope's security and a museums surveillance.

The main staple of the Vatican's economy is not tourism or book printing, but banking, which fact the Holy See had been long very reluctant to publicly recognize. In fact, subjects of Vatican City enjoy the highest per capita on Earth (more than $400,000). The Vatican bank acquired the unwanted notoriety after its intimate connections to the underworld of money laundering and tax evasion were discovered in 2000th. Following those scandals much more transparencies and accountability were introduced into their sacred financial matters by Popes.

Vatican City State is more like the historical theater with a sole actor prominent on its gilded arena.

Niue

Niue is a country without the debts.

In 2016 Niue official declared that they paid off all of country's external (national) debts. However, it doesn't mean that the economy of that less-than-two-thousands-people-strong nation lost in the midst of the Pacific Ocean is doing particularly well. In fact this economy is not much different from similar ones of other micro-nations located on isolated archipelagos (which makes mass-tourism a non-option for them). It mostly relies on remittances, foreign aid, offshore banking and Internet. Although lately there have been some public announcements concerning potential large deposits of uranium discovered on Niue those revelations remain largely unconfirmed.

Politically Niue is parliamentary monarchy with British Queen counted as a head of the State. However, on practice, Niue is much more dependent from New Zealand (of which it's the Area of the Realm) then of Britain.

Niue is a state with the head count of a cruiser ship which, however, is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon.

Palestine (State of Palestine)

Palestine is the state absent on a map, almost.

Palestine is recognized by 136 UN members, however, due to the fact that Israel, after the Six-Day war of 1967, initiated by its Arab neighbors, entered into the West Bank territory, Palestinians today have a government which doesn't have an integrated state to govern. Instead, patches of lands, which Palestinian authorities control, are intermingled with another ones staying under the Israeli administration.

On top of that, Palestinian government remains largely divided between two factions - Hamas, governing the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, directing the West Bank. According to the original design of 1960th, the head of the State of Palestine - the President - is not elected but rather appointed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The members of another important Palestinian governmental institution - its National Council - are also chosen by PLO. However, today there's also the Palestinian National Authority - an elected by popular votes body, established in 1994 to govern the Gaza and the West Bank, but, after the split between Hamas and Fatah, it now controls only some areas of the Bank.

The economy of Palestine is largely based on the financial assistance received from various international institutions. However, such industries as tourism, agriculture and hight-tech are also developing in seemingly prohibiting external environment.

Palestine today is one of those states which exists simultaneously at the very center of the international politics and completely outside of any types of normal political arrangements.

Cook Islands

Cook Islands are the area.

Cook Islands are recognized by only 43 states and its official title designates this country as 'an area' of New Zealand. However, neither Zealand's citizenship is accepted on the territory of islands nor all of Wellington's laws may be enforced there.

James Cook and his famous "Enterprise" visited those lonely lands, lost in the midst of Pacific Ocean, twice - in 1773 and 1777. However, the Cook's name had been linked to islands only in 1820th when it appeared on Russian maps put there by the famous Russian sea traveler Admiral Johann Krusenstern.

The contemporary economy of Cook islands is largely based on tourism. The second important source of revenues for islands' budget is its off-shore status. However, many local people still rely on fishing to provide for their basic needs.

Cook Islands is a country discovered by Polynesians, exploited by Spaniards, visited by Englishmen, named by Russians and claimed by New Zealanders.

Israel (State of Israel)

Israel is the startup state.

Beginning from the ground zero, Israel had managed to build one of the World's most developed economies in about 50 years. At the start of the 20th century, when the first Israeli settlements had been built, it were the 'pogrom' refuges fleeing from Russia who first converted desert wastelands into agricultural fields. At the end of the century it was highly educated people, who built one of the most advanced technological nations in the world. Today Israel high-tech sector is ranked second only to the Silicon Valley.

Israel, as the political entity, is also the startup. Israelis have experimented with many different forms of governance. In the mid-20th-century Israeli economy and politics were largely built upon socialists ideals. Such an specific economical entity as kibbutz was founded by several revolutionaries who fled from tsarist Russia in 1909. For almost 40 years the government had centrally controlled most of the Israeli economy. Only in 1990th Israel started to convert itself into western-like, capitalists, free-market-based society.

At the same time, Israel for all of its modern, 68-years-long history has remained in the center of one of the major political controversies on the planet. At the first halve of 20th century that region had been torn apart by the continues struggle between indigenous Arabic population, Israel military settlers and colonial British forces. All that matter was additionally complicated by the intervention of major world's power - USA and the USSR. As a result, when in 1948 the formation of Israel state had been finally announced, it resulted in an angry backlash from the majority of neighboring states. Today, after many wars, interjected by unfulfilled peace agreements, the situation in this region of the world still remains highly volatile and very explosive.

Israel is almost unique example of the country which economic growth is accelerating while bombs are continuing to fall on its cities.

Transnistria (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic)

Transnistria is an unrecognized country with the recognized symbol of a hummer and a sickle on its flag.

Transnistria is the only country in the world which still exhibits the archaic Soviet symbols on its flag. It also strove to keep USSR economy's modus operandi of central planning and resources distribution but it didn't held and after much of political deliberations country's authorities returned to a bitten pass prescribed by Adam Smith more than 200 years ago.

Transnistria is not officially recognized by any of US members states including its major supporter - Russia. However, the later still keeps Transnistria interests close to its heart and with a good reason. More than 20 thousandths tons of ammunitions and weaponry belonging to Russia are hidden in the old Soviet base on the Transnistria territory. It's more than enough to fully equip two army divisions.

Despite its illegal statute Transnistria has a fully functioning governmental, legal and financial systems including the president, which is elected by popular vote for five-years term, 43-members parliament - Verkhovny Sovet - modeled after its USSR analogue and the Central Bank which is printing rubles with portraits of Russian historical personages embedded to its surface including Katherine the Great and General Alexander Suvorov - the founder of Tiraspol.

Historically Transnistria used to be the part of Moldova with which it entered into the direct military conflict after the dissolution of USSR in 1990th. Since that time Pridnestrovian Republic has stayed in almost non-stop political confrontation with its closest neighbor which, however, doesn't result in the economic embargo. Transnistria goods, specifically the produces of Moldova Steel Works, are widely exported to EU, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and, of course, to Moldova itself.

Transnistria is also accused by many international observers of illegal weapons trafficking and some even qualified it as a criminal state. Nevertheless, no intangible evidence of such activities have been presented so far to support those allegations.

Today Transistria is one of those hidden states which exists in reality but this reality is yet to be recognized by the rest of the World.

Georgia

Georgia is a country in the panther's skin.

'The knight in the panther's skin' is, of course, the famous piece of the Georgian literature created by Shota Rustaveli in 12th century. This 6500 lines poem relates to the most prosperous times in Georgian history - those of the Queen Tamar's reign. Just like the major protagonist of that piece of poetry - knight Avtandil - Georgian people are engaged in a never-ending quest searching for the beautiful bride - Nestan-Darejan - the symbol for a peace, a prosperity and an independence.

However, for many centuries after Tamar rule's end Georgia had became a subject of countless invasions and civil wars. After devastating Mongols' conquests, from the mid-15th to the mid-18th centuries, Georgia had been reduced to a small vassal Christian kingdom placed on the outskirts of the vast Persian empire. In 1801 Georgia became part of the Russian imperium.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, Georgia had briefly obtained an independent status before being absorbed into the Soviet Union where it become one of the most prosperous Socialist Republics. In 1991 Georgia, like many other disintegrated parts of the USSR, finally got back its statehood. The following 25 years proved to be very challenging for Georgian people.

The post-independence economic crisis had been followed by civil unrests and military conflicts for most the part of 1990th. The Rose Revolution of 2003 brought the new era into Georgia. Its government embraced free market orientated, anti-bureaucratic, anti-corruption reforms. However, after the short period of the economic expansion, supported by the investments' inflow, ended, Georgia experienced the prolonged slowdown due to the worsening political and business climates inside of the country exacerbated by the military conflict with Russia in 2008.

Georgia today is a small country with big plans and the determination of an ancient knight to implement them.

Congo DR (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the country of seven names.

DRC is a country which have changed its name seven times and today presents itself the ethically controversial example of how two basic human instincts - the greed and the fear - can dramatically affect lives of tens of millions of people. Congo is one of the richest countries on Earth. It's estimated that Republic's mineral resource base combined value is about $24 trillion. That is approximately 25% of the global world's economy yearly output (estimated to be about $80 trillion).

No wonder then, that such an insanely rich country, shrouded in countless legends and superstitions, placed literally in the center of the world and historically characterized by very low-level of political and social stabilities has became the perfect playground for ruthless business corporations and self-indulgent dictators.

Illustrating this point it would be more than enough to mention only a couple of greedy bustards closely associated with Congo. First, it is a hypocritical royal scum figure of Belgium monarch Leopold, who, with active participation of his noble associates, relatives and cronies, actually halved the Congo's population at the start of 20th. Second, it's a freak of nature haphazardly named Mobutu Sese Seko, who had governed that country for more than 30 years and whose political and personal lives may easily serve as the perfect source of inspiration for numerous R-rated horror movies.

The fear is, yet, another crucial ingredient of Congo's history. DRC possesses one of the largest uranium deposits on the planet. Consequently, at the second halve of 20th century, both world's scariest powers - USA and USSR - got over their heads to bribe Congo authorities into mutually satisfactory relationships where local bureaucrats got richer and stockpiles of nuclear warheads on both sides of the ideological divide - higher.

That explosive mixture of most destructive human vices in one geographical location converted Congo in a prime stage for innumerable military conflicts starting from 1960th and culminating in 1998 by the five-years-long African World War, which officially became the most devastating bloodshed since WW2.

This political anti-utopia is persisting to our days, when, regardless the official facade of the democratic state and multi-party elections, Congo government, headed by Mr. Kabila, is an active participant and the major contributor to the country's disheveling state which, of course, is highly conductive to various shadow dealings with mineral resources extraction rights. It's, of course, very comprehensive then that Mr.Kabila is so reluctant to leave his post after loosing the elections in December 2016.

There's, paradoxically, one bright spot on this gloomy picture to mention. As long as Congo continues to be an unfriendly place for any type of legal business activities, including the mining, its unique green forests cover will remain one of few places on Earth left for a large-scale carbon dioxide absorption. However, of course, it's a development which will not make Congo's impoverished population any happier.

DRC today is the unique country where destructive forces of the unsustainable economic growth are delayed by devastating, archaic and generally insane politics of the greed and the fear.

Congo (Republic of the Congo)

The Republic of the Congo is the country of political and cryptid dinosaurs.

Lake Tele in the north-eastern part of the country (Epena District) is an habitat for the legendary creature named 'one who stops the river' or mokele-mbembe. According to non-confirmed accounts of many aborigines as well as of some western travelers it may well be a sauropod dinosaur which miraculously survived the global extinction event which had happened 65 million years ago.

Although we may question the existence of this folklore monster, it would be much harder for us to doubt survivalist capacities of another Congolese beast - its democratic one-party, one-president political system. Believe it, or not but Denis Sassou Nguesso and his ruling Parti Congolais du Travail have already stayed in power for more than 20 years.

It would be, however, hard to not recognize that this archaic political set-up, mostly inherited from the Marxist-Leninist triassic period of the Congolese history, has, nevertheless, served its purpose. As did the mbembe legend, which had attracted many wealthy European and American tourists into wet jungles of the Congo river basin, political and social stability imposed by the non-challenged Nguesso rule has created an economic climate suitable for channeling large scale investments into the oil industry of the Republic.

The price to pay for influx of tourists into pristine forests is that those forests soon became much less pristine. The wide spread corruption, red tapes for businesses, human rights violations, absence of media freedom and drastic inequality - what Congolese society is paying for its current economic progress.

In the Republic of Congo more than 80% of its population is rural, more than 80% of its export - is oil and more than 80% of mokele-mbembe story is BS.

Cuba (Republic of Cuba)

Cuba is the country of a sugar and the revolution.

In the early 1990th, because of world's market prices downturn, the sugar industry stopped to be the major provider of the revenue for the Cuban government together with the remittances from the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the dissolution of the USSR Cuba experienced so-called 'Special Period' during which central authorities suppressed several anti-government movements. More that 30% reduction of Cuban economy forced the ruling communist party to re-introduced some elements of the capitalism including opening country's border for the foreign tourists and allowing an US dollars circulation.

Cuban love life with revolutions have a long and appealing history. The stream of revolts had started in Cuba at the end of 19th century with growing pro-independence movement directed against Spanish colonizers. After Cuba obtained its independence in 1902, other revolutionary groups, which directed their dissatisfaction with the existing social order against several more or less democratic governments installed in Cuba and supported by the USA, emerged. However, the most famous revolution of the second-halve of 20th century is, of course, the Castro family's amazing and bloody journey to power in 1959.

Not long after Castro senior had established his rule in all of Cuba he declared that he will be a prime promoter of the worldwide revolution. During 1970th and 1980th Cuban government actively supported (by men and arms) more than 17 Marxist-Leninist orientated governments and liberation movements in Africa including famously those in Mozambique, Ethiopia, and, specifically, in Angola where more than 50,000 Cuban mercenaries participated in military actions against the South African army.

Of course, those days of passionate revolutionary ordeals are now the subject of the ancients history. However, even with Castro family slowly but surely leaving the Cuban political Olympus that unusual country still presents itself a very peculiar spot on the world map. Among other things Cuba today is arguably the only one country in the world which maintains the socialist economy in its most archaic, soviet style, 'classical' form.

Cuba still preserves major traits of that economy including food rationing, rigorous central planning system, severe restricting on private business (allowing only closely monitored, small-scale businesses), very limited and privileged (based on personal relations with government bureaucrats) access of foreign companies to the Cuban market etc. However, after Obama administration had started to implement its 're-approachment' strategy towards Cuba in the mid-2010th, its authorities introduced some alleviations to the doctrinal approach to politics and economics, like, for example, abandoning expensive and hard-to-get travel vouchers for its citizens.

Cuba today is like a dilapidated socialist Disney Park, which nobody really wants to abandon but very few want to experience.

Gabon (Republic of Gabon)

Gabon is the country of a cloak, a mask and an oil.

Gabon, which name was derived from the Portuguese word 'gabao' (cloak), is today widely commended for the mastery of its ritual masks artisans. However, it's not masks which make Gabon to really stand out from the rank of its African neighbors, it's something much more liquid and inflammable.

Oil constitutes almost 50% of countries GDP and its budget. On top of that, petroleum products provide for almost 70% of export revenues for Gabon. Thanks to that Gabonese Republic possesses one of the highest human development indexes in Africa. However, the income inequality in Gabon is also extreme with 30% of population receiving more than 90% of all incomes.

Gabon is also praised for significant efforts which its government invests into solving environmental issues. More than 10% of Gabonese territory is designated as the national parks area. That is pretty close to the world's record. Today Gabon is one of the prime destinations for the growing ecological tourism in Africa.

Gabon had been a subject of European colonization efforts since 15th century when first Portuguese explorers and then later, in 16th century, Dutch and English slave traders arrived in the area. France had established its protectorate over Gabon territory in 1839 and, in 1910, included it into French Equatorial Africa. After obtaining its independence in 1960 Gabon exercised different forms of authoritarian governments including being ruled by one party and then by three presidents two of which belong to one presidential family.

Gabon - the African coastal country blessed by the wast territory, a small population and significant mineral and natural riches - is today ruled by the regime which many international observers blame to be corrupt and non-democratic.

Tuvalu

Tuvalu is a country of standing together islands.

In original Tuvaluan the name 'Tuvalu' means 'eight standing together' and today this phrase signifies an economic and political union of several Pacific reefs and six atolls under the auspices of the British Crown.

However, 'standing together' doesn't necessary mean standing on the right foot at the right place. Tuvaluan economy is not prosperous at all and largely based on selling fishing right to various international fleets. Payments for the popular domain name 'tv' is another important source of government's revenue which brings to budget around $2.5 million a year.

The major source of revenues for other island's nations - tourism - is not pronounced in Tuvalu due to its isolated location, which significantly increases travel expenses. As a result, an unemployment rate there is very high (close to 17%) regardless a fairly limited Tuvaluan workforce (three-four thousands potential employees). Payments received from the US government as well as from other developed countries provides an important additional source to cover Tuvaluan budget deficit. Tuvalu is ranked as the least developed country by UN due to the absence of mineral resources and its remote geographical location.

As for many other tiny, surrounded by salt waters nations the global warming is one of Tuvaluan government's prime concerns. The highest elevation point on islands is less than five meters above the sea level which makes Tuvalu one of the first pieces of land on Earth to go underwater in the not-so-distant future.

Tuvalu is beautiful and friendly, but lonely and needy place of slowly sinking, 26 square kilometers size land in the midst of the Pacific ocean.

Belarus (Republic of Belarus)

Belarus is a country which survives.

Belarus is only one of Soviet republics which has survived the dissolution of USSR in 1990th and preserved almost intact practically all of its essential government institutions except the Communist Party apparatus. Belarus economy remains mostly center-governed. Although relatively small pockets of the private economy, which consists mostly of SME enterprises, still exist (for example, there is only one private bank in Belarus out of more than 30), they are closely monitored and restrained by the government.

As it was the case in the Soviet Union Belarus economy is suppose to develop itself based on preplanned scenarios. For example, the majority of all retail prices as well as public and private wages is regulated by federal authorities based on the so-called 'tariff system'. That regulatory power of the government is also extended to the monetary policy as well and reflected in artificially induced fluctuations of the Belarusian currency - the new ruble.

However, some important institutions of the capitalist economy are co-existing with what otherwise may be considered as a slightly improved version of the Leonid Brezhnev's style economics. One of those institutions is the Belarusian Stock Exchange where more than 60 local companies (most of which are non-private) are listed.

The history of Belarus has also been mostly about the survival. From 9th to 20th century Belarusian territory had been part of other states such as Kievan Rus, Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Polish-Lithuanian State and, finally, the USSR. On top of that, the Belarusian population had been reduced for more than 25% as a result of the World War 2 and wasn't recovered until 1970th.

In 1986 Belarus had survived the Chernobyl disaster which made more than 20% of the total Belarusian territory (more than 50,000 km²) almost unusable for agricultural and urban purposes because of radioactive fallouts. It still greatly affects Belarusian economy despite all governmental efforts to clean up and revive those areas adjacent to Ukrainian northern borders.

Currently Belarus is again in a state of survival because of the continuing shrinkage of the Russian economy (Russia is the major trading partner of Belarus) which makes Belarus suppliers of agriculture produces and machinery suffer. Moreover, the oil which constitutes more than 30% of Belarus export is oversupplied on World's markets and its price is in downfall.

Belarus today is needed its survivalist traditions to kick in, again.

Solomon Islands

Solomon islands are not islands of Solomon.

In the mid-16th century Spanish traveler Alvaro de Mendana de Neira named Solomon islands after the Biblical King Solomon because he thought that there would be plenty of gold and silver hidden on this Oceania archipelago. No gold, no silver, no bauxites, no even guano have ever been mined there. Instead, this collection of volcanic atolls and islets is associated in the Western culture with Jack London, who, in 1908, sailed in his boat 'Snark' near those lonely shores. Another person's name - this of John Kennedy - is as well linked to Solomon Islands. Kennedy and his crew were stuck on 100 yards long Plum Pudding Islet after their patrol torpedo boat PT-109 was run down by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri in August 1943.

Politically Solomon Islands belong to the British Commonwealth and, consequently, exercise free, democratic, multi-party system of governance. However, as it was the case with a mineral gold there's no political gold as well to dig on those Islands named after the King of One Thousand and One Nights. Islands' politics is characterized instead by a very high degree of instability with frequent changes of government. There are not consolidated political parties on islands and individual political operatives have replaced a politic of ideas by a politic of interests.

There's not also an economical gold to be found on Solomon Islands. More than 75% of all the people there are engaged in agriculture. The major staple of the local industry is logging which is now threatening to reduce islands' green coverage to a dangerously low level.

Solomon islands, although not poor, however, don't live up to their name.

Sudan (Republic of Sudan)

Sudan is country of black people.

The phrase "bilad as-sudan", which means "the land of the Blacks", is believed to be the origin of country's name. At the first millennium BC the present-day territory Sudan belonged to the legendary Kingdom of Kush where inventors of iron smelting technology and conquerors of the ancient Egypt lived. Later in the history many other prominent states had emerged in those ancient lands such as Nubia, Nobatia and the Christian Kingdom Alodia. Since 11th century Sudan territory had been controlled by various Muslim rulers and local Arab tribes leaders.

In 1821 Sudan was invaded and subjugated by the celebrated potentate of Egypt Muhammad Ali. In 1880th Sudan captured front pages of European press as the arena of the British colonial Mahdist War fought against militarized groups of Muslim dervishes. Those events were later famously romanticized in Mason's novel 'The Four Feathers' and then in at least six Hollywood's films under the same name.

After obtaining its independence in 1956 Sudan became a country deeply divided between Arab and non-Arab ethnicities - the place of multiple military conflicts and coups d'etat. In 2003 the confrontation between the central Sudanese government and several rebel groups in Darfur, which claimed the oppression of non-Arab population, led to the on-going war which has already lasted more than 13 years. In 2011 South Sudan formed an independent state after the referendum had been held there and more than 98% of its population voted for self-rule. At present, continuing skirmishes between Khartoum government and Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army or SPLA on the east of the country is threatening to start a new civil war in Sudan.

Technically a democratic republic Sudan today is ruled by its president, which unilaterally appoints all major officials in every branches of government, and by the sharia law. However, the stable peace and economic prosperity are still out of reach of Sundanese people today.

Palau (Republic of Palau)

Palau is a rich country which costs dear to the United States.

During the World War Two the U.S. lost more than 2,000 of their soldiers while driving out Japanese troops from this widely dispersed archipelago. In 1947 Palau had entered under the direct jurisdiction of Washington as part of the Trust Territory of Pacific Islands. This political arrangement was in 1981 changed into the Compact of Free Association ratified by Palauans only in 1994.

In 1998 a special legislation which made Palau an offshore financial center was enacted by the United States Senate. Nevertheless, major staples of Palauan economy have been agriculture and, notable, government services which employ more than one third of island's total workforce.

Palau is a democratic state, however, there are not active political parties on islands. All politics is done by individuals with high informal ranks withing Palauan society. This political discourse is rooted in local traditions which value traditional families and tribal relationships over other arrangements.

Palau is one of the wealthiest island nations in the World which holds friendship over traditional politics.

Serbia (Republic of Serbia)

Serbia is a country on a crossroad.

Serbia is located between two different geographical, ethnological and historical regions - those of the Europe and the Middle East. The history of Serbia has been shaped by continuous competition between those two parts of the World. On top of that, the division between East and West has been reflected in internal political and territorial structures of Serbia itself.

Serbian Kingdom had became prominent in Europe in early 13th century but existed for a relatively short period of time (for about 130 years). In a mid-15th century Serbia lost its sovereignty to the Ottoman Empire and stayed within its realm until late 19th century when it obtained de-jure independence (recognized by the Congress of Berlin in 1878) after Russian victories over Turks army.

It was the first country to enter the World War One after Austria-Hungry had accused Serbia in masterminding the Sarajevo episode. During that war Serbia lost more than 20% of its population.

After the Second World War Serbia became one of the most prominent republics within the newly formed socialist Yugoslavia which also included Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia. From the early 1980th Yugoslavia's regions had received an unprecedented level of political and economic independence. By the end of 1990th most of former Yugoslav commonwealth entities became independent states.

That dramatic breakup had lead to regional wars and it became the major point of contentions in Europe at the end of 20th century resulting in current political tensions existing between Russia and the EU. In 2008 the province of Kosovo became the latest region which was separated from Serbia. However, Kosovo's new political status remains a divisive issue within the international community.

Economically Serbia depends primarily on its agriculture production. Serbia is world's second producer of plums and raspberries. Serbia's industrial sector was heavily affected by UN sanctions and NATO bombing in 1990th and now is in a process of a very slow recovery.

Serbia today is going trough difficult period in its history and still undecided which political road to take.

Guinea (Republic of Guinea)

Guinea is a country with plenty of bauxites but almost without the Internet.

Guinea - the former French colony - is one of the most politically instable and underdeveloped countries in Africa. Since 1958, when Guinea obtained the independence (after the establishment of the French Fifth Republic) its internal political life has been characterized by a long chain of coups and dictatorship regimes occasionally broken by sporadic attempts to install a democratic governance. The latest of those attempts is dated back to 2013 when the present Guinea Parliament - unicameral, 114-members Assemblee nationale - was elected by popular votes. The pro-government Rally of the Guinean People led by the current president Alpha Conde won the majority of seats (53).

For more than a quoter of century, from 1958 to 1984, Guinea had been plunged by its USSR orientated ruler - Ahmed Sekou Toure - into a communist ideology inspired, central planned economy experiment. Although it had provided Guinea with a significant degree of internal stability the absence of basic business and social freedoms resulted in sharp economical downturn. In the mid-1980th and 1990th, after the end of DPG's (Democratic Party of Guinea) grip on power, Guinea returned to a free market based economy but democratic governance has never had strong roots there.

Notwithstanding country's rich mineral base (among other things Guinea is a fifth world producer of bauxites) economic situation of its population has been continuing to degrade. Guinea is not only one of the poorest countries on earth it's also on of the least educated. Reportedly country's literacy rate is less than 40%. That by itself puts a significant impediment on the way of any type of significant future economic growth. Guinea is now falling far behind other countries in implementing modern technologies specifically those of telecommunication and Internet. Country's Internet penetration rate is less than 2% which is probably one of the World's negative records.

Guinea is today economically and politically retained country.

Mauritania (Islamic Republic of Mauritania)

Mauritania is a poor country in a desert.

From outsiders point of view Mauritania is surprisingly spacious (its territory equals that of Egypt) and unexpectedly underpopulated (around 4 million). Some claims its origin from the Berber Kingdom Mauritania which around 100 century BC conquered all of Mediterranean and the good part of Europe including Spain, Italy and Greece. Many historian deny this on a basis that present day Mauritania is located far south from the ancient Berber's empire lands.

As for many other African countries which gained their independence in a mid-XX century Mauritania's history has taken contradictory twists and turns and is still undefined. Since obtaining its sovereignty in 1960 Mauritania government had been overthrown multiple times by military force in staged coop d'etat. That stream of political instability is continuing up to present time (the latest coop is dated back to 2008).

Mauritania - the country of rich national heritage - hosts on its territory three distinctly different national groups: Bidhar, Haratin and West African. Constant disagreements between various political factions representing each of those groups has always been the major cause of the instability within the country.

Economically Mauritania is one of the poorest countries on earth and relies mostly for its export outputs on exploiting large iron ore reserves. Socially Mauritania is hold back by many outdated traditions rooted in its difficult history. This country became the last place on earth where slavery was legally banished (in 1980th). Although its government claims that no more slaves exist in Mauritania presently according to reports of multiple independent observers almost 4% of Mauritania population is still enslaved today.

Mauritania today is a country which struggles to part with its past and pays too high a price for this.

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates = 2+5.

UAE consists of two big Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and five lesser ones: Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. Big Two accounts for more than 65% of UAE population and almost 95% of its territory. UAE was formed in 1971 after United Kingdom had withdrew its protectorate of Emirates' territories. This union was also facilitated by Iran's military demonstration during marine maneuvers near Tund islands.

Emirates' economy doesn't rely only on its oil fields. UAE government has been intensively investing into tourism infrastructures converting this desert country into one of the five top destinations for international tourists in the world. There are more than 10 million people visiting Emirates annually. UAE is recognized as a number one spot for the most luxurious and even extravagant hotels and resorts. Such incredible structures as Burj Khalifa or Palm Islands are capable to blew away minds of anybody who've seen them.

Emirates is governed by a Federal Supreme Council made up of seven emirs. The head of the Abu Dhabi emirate is recognized as the hereditary President of the Emirates. The emir of Dubai always serves as a prime minister. Political parties' activities are prohibited in UAE. Emirates are also noted by international observers as one of the least suitable places on Earth for a free press. Sharia law is part of country's legal system and it's widely applied to harshly punish regular people for minor crimes like an alcohol non-licensed consumption or an illicit sex.

UAE is a country which combines a top notch, modern economy with an archaic legal system.

Federated State of Micronesia (FSD)

Micronesia = 607 + 706.

Today the Federate State of Micronesia (FSM) consists of 607 islands with total land area equals 706 square kilometers.

Micronesia history is dated back four thousands of years when first inhabitants arrived to islands assigned today to the Yap State. However, due to the scarcity of historical records and archaeological artifacts Micronesian history still remains largely undiscovered to the rest of the world. Until the end of 19th century Micronesia belonged to the Spanish Empire but after the Spanish-American war at the beginning of 20th-century it became part of the United States overseas territories. After the Japanese occupation during the World War II Micronesia reconciled with the USA. In 1979 part of Micronesian islands decided to form an independent state under the name of FSM. However, this new country additionally entered into the Compact of Free Association and stayed in close relations with the American State.

Micronesia is headed by the president and its cabinet. At the same time FSM doesn't have political parties in a traditional sense. Instead Micronesia's Parliament - 14-members Congress - is made of the collection of native tribal leaders and individual non-partisan associates.

Economically FSM depends on financial assistance provided by the USA as well as on payments for fishing rights received from world's leading commercial fleets. There are about 15,000 tourists visiting FSM each year which is low compared to neighboring island's nations. Another source of revenue for the country's economy are installments for using FM domain name popular among international Internet music companies.

Today FSM is relatively underdeveloped but politically and socially settled country in the ocean.

Guinea-Bissau (Republic of Guinea-Bissau)

Guinea-Bissau is a country of cashew and narcotics.

Guinea-Bissau, one of 10th poorest countries on Earth, depends economically on fish as well as on cashews and ground nuts productions which constitute a main bulk of its export. At the same time, Guinea-Bissau serves as the major narcotics transit points in Africa.

Country's challenging historical path had started in 16th century when port of Bissau became one of the main passage spots for slave trade of Portuguese colonizers. After being a Portuguese colony for more than 300 years Guinea-Bissau obtained its independence in 1973 after the dissolution of Lisbon's Estado Novo. In 1980th Bissau became the socialist state exercising the hardened version of centralized planned economy under the leadership of Luis Cabral which was vehemently supported by USSR and Cuba regimes.

Socialists experimentations put country on the edge of the economic and social disaster. After the collapse of Soviet Union in 1990th Guinea-Bissau became an arena for multiple coup d'etat which culminated in 2012 by establishing the transitional regime of General Mamadu Ture Kuruma changed in a few months to the acting President Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo.

Today Guinea-Bissau is one of the least suited places for conducting business in the World with average time for registering a new enterprise exceeding 200 days (second only to Suriname).

After more than 50 years of independence Guinea-Bissau became a country where just too many things go south in economy, politics and social life.

Croatia (Republic of Croatia)

Croatia is a newly forgotten country.

Croatia rarely hits World's media headlines but it doesn't mean at all that there's nothing of significance to say about this culturally rich Eastern European nation. Croatia first was mentioned in history as the distinct political union far back in 8th century when Duchy of Croatia had been established on the territory of former Roman province Dalmatia. It makes Croatia one of the oldest European countries.

In 1102 Hrvatska formed a long-lasting union with Hungary and then joined Habsburg Monarchy in the first halve of 16th century. With the disruption of the old Europe after the World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungarian Empire Croatia became part of the newly formed state of Yugoslavia in 1918. Later, in 1930th, it came as the semi-independent state Banovina of Croatia. However, after the World War Two it was again re-incorporated as a single-party socialist federal unit into Tito's realm. Croatia had stayed with Yugoslavia until June 1991 when it gained back its independence after the disintegration of the Warsaw Block.

In socialist times Croatia's major industries were agriculture and tourism. Zlatni Rat beach on Adriatic Sea was one of the most prominent touristic destinations for people from Eastern Europe and USSR. However, tourist infrastructures were badly damaged by Croatian War for Independence in 1990th. Since that time Croatia had managed to recover some of its positions on the market but it was again negatively affected by 2008 financial crisis. As a result the level of unemployment in Croatia is today exceeding 20% - the third highest in Europe.

Croatia is a democratic, multi-party state with its Parliament - unicameral, 151-members Sabor - largely dominated by pro-government, pro-European, conservative Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica. However, an absence of structural reforms has made Croatian governmental institutions (decedent from the socialist era) highly inefficient and today they present significant barriers on the way of the country's economic development. Accusations of corruptions and of nepotism among Croatian elite are frequent themes in local medias.

Croatia today is a small European nation which is not doing well economically and struggles to keep its political unity and stability.

New Caledonia

New Caledonia is the land of nickel and convicts.

Discovered by James Cook in 1774 New Caledonia became a French administered territory which was used initially as a place to deport 22,000 convicts from the Republic. More than 4,000 of them were political prisoners - Communards - arrested after the Paris Commune had been overran by the French army in 1871. After large nickel deposits were found in a region of the Diahot river in 1864 Caledonia became one of the major source of this metal for the world's industry. Today Caledonia ranks sixth in the list of world's nickel suppliers.

Politically Caledonia is divided between the protagonists of the independence movement and those who argue for the old order of French dependency. The political disagreements came to the point where Caledonia has to adapt two national flags (French tricolor and Kanak cultural flag). Today Caledonia unicameral 54-members parliament - Congres de la Nouvelle-Caledonie - is made from two political blocks "anti-" and "pro-" independence headed respectfully by Caledonia Together party (15 seats) and National Union for Independence (15 seats).

New Caledonia is economically developed but politically deeply divided nation.

Kazakhstan (Republic of Kazakhstan)

Kazakhstan is a country of "wandering people".

Kazakh national identity began to form after the dissolution of the Mongol Empire in 15th century. In 1700th Kazakh Khanate was divided into three distinct wandering hordes - Great, Middle and Little. With the beginning of the Russian invasion into steppe in 19th century (the Great Game) and despite a fierce resistance from some part of Kazakh population the present territory of Kazakhstan was finally subdued to the will of Moscow Tsars at the start of 20th century. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 Kazakhstan was included into the Soviet Union as one of the USSR republics.

During the early Soviet period (1920th-1950th) Kazakhstan population suffered from hardships and different forms of persecutions promulgated by both Moscow and local based communist bureaucrats. They ranged from political dissidents exterminations and mass deportations to artificially induced famines and open air nuclear bombs tests. Part of Kazakh territory was used to house over 1 million people with German ancestry extradited from the central Russia during World War Two. At the same time, the "Virgin Land" Program initiated by Nikita Khrushchev in early 1950th and which lasted into 1960th converted Kazakhstan into one of primary sources of agricultural products (mostly grain) for the Soviet State.

After the artificial dissolution of USSR in 1990th Kazakhstan became an independent multi-party state. However, there is only one man who's ever since been in charge of this officially democratic country - Nursultan Nazarbayev. Up to date his party - Nur Otan - controls 83 out of 107 seats in the lower chamber of Kazakh Parliament Mazhilis.

Kazakhstan is highly developed industrialized nation which mostly relies on exploiting country's rich mineral as well as agricultural bases for its development. Two decades of unchallenged rule of Mr. Nazarbayev provided the Republic with high level of political stability creating an economic climate which is friendly for big scale, government supported foreign investments. At the same time, Kazakhstan is ranked low for its ease of making business for small and medium enterprises. It's also reprimanded by international observers for widespread corruption and systemic oppression of political oppositions.

Kazakhstan today is an economically advanced Asian country with limited political freedoms.

Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan)

Azerbaijan is one of the oldest industrialized countries in the region.

At the end of the 19th century large reserves of oil and gas were discovered in Caspian sea region which coincided with the start of the second technological revolution in Europe and America. In fact Azerbaijan's oil deposits discovery came shortly after famous Pennsylvania oil fields rush in USA. It makes Azerbaijan the second nation in the World to put oil into contemporary large manufacturing context.

As it was the case more than 100 years ago, today oil still constitutes nearly the totality of Azerbaijan's economic output which is more than 95% based on the mineral resources extraction. Thanks to high growth rate which provided an opportunity for rapid wealth accumulation Azerbaijan historically attracted many Europeans as well as Americans. As a result latest Western cultural and technological advances took root in Azerbaijan at a very early years of 1900th. For example, Azerbaijan became one of the first countries on Earth to adapt cinematography.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and obtaining its independence on August 1991 Azerbaijan became technically the democratic state. However, from that time until recently Azerbaijan is ruled by only one political dynasty - that of Aliyev's. Although, officially, opposition parties activities are not prohibited they are strictly regulated and, according to the international monitors, non of political alternatives to the ruling New Azerbaijan Party stands a real chance to gain the political prominence in this country anytime soon.

Today Azerbaijan is a fairly rich and culturally advanced oil state ruled by one political dynasty.

Armenia (Republic of Armenia)

Armenia is the first Christian nation on Earth.

Officially Christianity came to Armenia in 301 AD. In 12th century Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia became one of the major supporters of crusaders in the Middle East. Persian invasions effectively ended Armenian independence in 16th century by dividing the country into Western and Eastern parts. Armenia became part of Russian Empire after its conquests of the Caucasian region in early 19th century. After Russian Bolshevik Revolution and the short-lived period of independence (1917-1922) Armenia joined the USSR as an Armenian Socialist Republic. During the socialist era (1922 - 1991) Armenia had developed into an industrialized state.

After obtaining its independence in September 1991 Armenia became a democratic republic. Currently country's parliament - 131-members Azgayin Zhoghov - consists mainly of representatives from two major political parties: pro-government, nationalist Republican Party of Armenia or RPA which holds to 70 seats and opposition, pro-Russian Prosperous Armenia Party or PAP which possesses 36 seats. One of the most contentious issues of the Armenian politics is the Nagorno-Karabah conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan. This conflict still remains unresolved despite multiple internationally sponsored efforts to put it to the end.

Armenia today is a country with developing economy and acute political issues.

Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

Saudi Arabia is a country without the politics.

This country belongs to the Saudi Royal family. Consequently, politics of the Saudi Arabia is made of family's intrigues as well as of kinships with other Kingdom's dynasties, notably that of Al ash-Sheikh which is running country's legal system.

There are around seven thousands Saudi princes and they fill in major governmental and corporate posts in the Kingdom. Regional councils and business organizations may sometime serve as advisors to King.

Saudi Arabia is one of the least economically diversified countries. Its revenues depend on the oil for more than 90%. Saudi Arabia processes one-fifth of the world's proven oil reserves (260 billion barrels). Economic of Saudi Arabia is heavily regulated and based on the five-year plans reminiscence of those of the socialist countries.

Egypt (Arab Republic of Egypt)

Egypt is one of the newest democratic state and the oldest country on earth.

Egyptian history dates back to 3150 years BC when the first unified Egyptian kingdom was founded by pharaoh Narmer. Since then and until 332 BC 31 Royal dynasties had been changed on the golden throne of Egypt. Some of pharaohs names became an integral part of the world cultural heritage. Among them: the builder of the Great Pyramid Khufu (2589 - 2566 BC), the founder of Deir El-Medina Amenhotep (1525 - 1504 BC), enigmatic Hatshepsut (1498 - 1483 BC), mighty Thutmose III (1479 - 1425 BC) and the owner of the Gold Mask Tutankhamun (1334 - 1325 BC) - to name just a few.

With the end of the Ancient Period (marked by the accession of Ptolemaic dynasty) the new era in the Egyptian history started. Egypt essentially had lost its independence and was dominated by successive World's superpowers (arguably except Muhammad Ali and his family's relatively brief stay in power in 19th century) starting from Macedonians and ending with the British Empire.

Egypt had obtained its independence in 1953 and until 1970 was ruled by its second president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Among other Nassar's deeds presumably most consequential were the nationalization of Suez Canal (1956) and its association with USSR in the Cold War. Third Egyptian president - Anwar Sadat - reversed Nassar's policies, launched Infitah (politics of open doors) and started 1973 October War. Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981 and stayed there until the Arab Spring Uprising in 2011. Mubarak's politics was largely aimed at assuring Egypt's economic growth by continuation of infitah and strengthening country's ties with the West while suppressing both secular and religious oppositions within the country.

As a result of 2011 revolution the first free election in the Egyptian history had been held and former assistant professor at the California State University Mahamed Morsi was sworn to Presidential office in 2012. Despite his adherence to the principles of democratic governance (Morsi tried to re-establish the parliament and to stand against military edicts) he was largely unpopular due, partially, to the post-revolutionary economic collapse. In 2013 he was removed from power and a year later General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became 6th and the current president of independent Egypt. Since then Sisi has introduced an economic reform which emphasizes an austerity measures such as reducing government's debts (more than 14% reduction), cutting energy subsidies, introducing limits on wages growth, mounting taxi's fares by about 12% as well as rising taxes on alcohol and cigarettes (up to 40%).

Today Egypt is in a tough transition period from the revolutionary epoch of mass demonstrations and spiraling down economy to more sustainable but much lesser fun "the hard work phase".

Finland (Republic of Finland)

Finland is a country of Nordic socialism, Santa Claus and Nokia.

In 1990th more than 80% of total market capitalization of all Finish companies listed on the Helsinki Stock exchange was Nokia. Company's history is dated back to the end of 19th century when Fredrick Idestam and friends founded a paper producing company. Today it became one of the most admired venture-capital success stories in the world.

Long term adherence to innovative technologies is combined in Finland with strong sense of the national identity. Finland became an independent state after the Russian Revolution of 1917. However, up to the end of the Cold War Finland let Soviet Union to influence its internal and external politics. Reasons behind that was political as well as economical. Finnish companies have a long-lasting economic interests on Russian market.

Finland is the thriving multi-party democracy which is based on consensus politics. Finish government usually includes different parties representatives reflecting a wide variety of political views. On economic side Finland has adapted the Nordic model of socialism. Living standards in Finland is recognized as being one of the highest in EU.

Finland today is a country which combines innovative, open economical model with highly homogeneous society.

Isle of Man (Isle of Man)

Isle of Man is a country of triskelion.

Isle's symbol - three armored legs arranged in a star-like manner - represents country's ability to always stand on one of them independent of external circumstances.

At least one branch of Isle's government - its legislature body, the High Court of Tynwald - could confidently claim this ancient Lucian symbol for itself. Tynwald is purportedly the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world existing since 979. Its directly elected lower chamber - 24-members House of Keys - currently includes only one political organization Liberal Vannin Party which holds to only 3 seats, the rest belongs to independents.

Isle is a popular off-shore harbor with its corporation, capital gain, stamp duty as well as wealth taxes equal to 0%. Another important industries are banking and tourism.

Isle of Man is named after a wealthy merchant which later became the Manx King. With country's per-capita exceeding $50,000 everyone of roughly 80 thousands of Isle's inhabitants could positively maintain to be the King's sibling.

Latvia (Republic of Latvia)

Latvia is a forested country.

Almost 60% of Latvia's territory are covered by forests which makes it the fifth largest in Europe (proportionally to country's size). Some part of that terrain is still nearly inaccessible for humans which allows to preserve an unique assemblage of local fauna and flora. On the other hand, Republic's government tends to preserve Latvian national identity almost as carefully as its natural resources. Country's naturalization law is one of the most demanding in Europe.

Among others, working knowledge of local language and renunciation of other country's passports are obligatory for residents seeking to acquire the full Latvian citizenship. In 1990th that caused a massive backlash from the Russian population constituting almost 25% of Latvians. Additionally it became one of the reasons for Latvian strained relationships with some of its neighbors.

Economically Latvia is fairly well diversified with such industries as timber, processed food, agricultural machinery, fertilizers and services taking a sizable portion of country's GDP. On top of that, highly educated population provides Latvia with various options for innovations and high-tech sectors development.

Latvia today is a multi-party democracy where its nationally minded government for years has been trying to rise the level of living of country's population to EU average.

Gibraltar

Gibraltar is a military base overpopulated with civilians.

From the beginning of its history, Gibraltar, due to its unique geographical position between African and European continents, had always been an important military outpost contested by major European states. In XIX and XX centuries, when maritime forces started to play the major role in defining the international balance of powers, Gibraltar's strategic significance had only increased.

Gibraltar became the British controlled territory after the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704. Since that time Gibraltar had became a contentious issue affecting relations between Spain and England. Although in our days Gibraltar is self-governed and practically independent from the Crown, its defense is still the responsibility of UK. Periodically, Spanish authorities try to initiate the process of Gibraltar re-joining Spain. The latest of those attempts happened in 2016, just after the Brexit event. There had been two referendums (one held in 1967 and another organized in 2002) where Gibraltarian population almost unanimously voted for remaining under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom.

Gibraltar economy has been traditionally dependent on the large contingent of United Kingdom's military personnel permanently stationed on the Rock. With the end of the Cold War, however, Gibraltar's economy has became much more diverse and is now actively developing in such sectors as Internet, tourism and banking.

Today Gibraltar is a wealthy micro-nation which skillfully leverages its geographical and political advantages.

Lithuania (Republic of Lithuania)

Lithuania is a former Nordic empire and the modern technological hub.

The Duchy of Lithuania was one of the biggest medieval domains in Europe. It had started at the mid-13th century and lasted to the end of 1560th when Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was created. At that period Lithuanians played a decisive role in shaping the destiny of Western world. Such events as Battle of the Vorskla River (1399), Battle of Grunwald (1410) and Livonian War (1558 - 1583) laid the foundation of the contemporary European politics.

In the 21st century developing hi-technological sector has firmly placed Lithuania among the family of Baltic Tigers.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990th Lithuania's piece of economic development was one of the highest in Europe. However, today in the post-crisis EU reality the country's GDP growth rate is significantly lower (less than 1%). In the bold movement of committing itself to the European values and economic perspectives Lithuania joined the eurozone in the midst of the European debt crisis in 2015.

Today Lithuania is a multi-party democracy with different parties constantly forming various political alliances. Lithuanian 141-member Parliament - Seimas - includes seven major political parties: pro-government, centrist Peasant and Green Union (59 seats), Social Democrat (19); opposition, nationalist Homeland Union (31), Liberal Movement (14), Order and Justice (8); non-affiliated Electoral Actions ad Poles (8).

Today Lithuania is a country which is learning how to combine its traditional attachment to historical values and its bold aspirations for the future.

Cameroon (Republic of Cameroon)

Cameroon is the country with a good PR.

Cameroon's government has been doing extremely well on the field of communicating the positive image of their country to the rest of the world. This Republic is widely recognized as a nation of football, as Africa in miniature and as the most linguistically diverse country on earth. Of course, this type of public notion among other things serves well for the purpose of attracting tourists to residential hotels.

On the other hand, Cameroon is trying hard to live up to its own positive message. Cameroon is relatively well-do sub-Saharan African nation, which is expected to join the rank of developing countries in 2035. Cameroon is also fairly stable socially. However, country's formally multi-party political system is functioning far outside of accepted standards for democratic governorship. Since 1982 Cameroon has had only one President - famously reclusive Paul Biya. Also, Cameroon is named by international observers as one of the most corrupt countries on the Black Continent and it ranks consistently low on the freedom of opposition groups and the press lists. Another political issue for Cameroon is its division to several autonomous regions which creates the threat of a sudden political crisis.

Cameroon today is the stable, quasi-democratic country with marginally positive economic and social outlooks.

Uzbekistan (Republic of Uzbekistan)

Uzbekistan is a country of gold, cotton and regulations.

Uzbekistan had became one of the few countries of the former communist block which has preserved almost intact past era bureaucratic institutions. Reasoning behind that decision of the Uzbek elite was not to allow the processes of religious disintegration to take over the country. The example of the nearby Tajikistan served as an indication of where it could lead the nation.

In its socialist times Uzbekistan was famous for two reasons, firstly, it was one of the largest Soviet producers of cotton and, secondly, it was, allegedly, the most corrupt Republic in the USSR. The famous "cotton" criminal investigation became the largest anti-corruption crackdown campaigns in the Soviet Union. Leonid Brezhnev's son-in-law Yuri Churbanov as well as the general secretary of the communist party of Uzbekistan Sharaf Rashidov both were found guilty of bribing Moscow Ministries' officials in order to reduce government's demand on the amount of the cotton which must be produced according to the five years socialist plan of the regional economic development.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union Uzbekistan officially became a democratic country. However, essentially it still remains the one party state where its president wields practically unlimited authorities. Uzbek economy is heavily concentrated around several major industrial sectors, namely, the gold mining and cotton production. At the same time, more than 25% of Uzbekistan GDP consists of remittances from more than 4 million Uzbek citizens living and working outside of the country. In 2000th the Republic became notorious for its extremely high imports-exports tariffs making many common consumer's goods highly over-priced. Public market places have became crucial to sustain the local economy. There most of internally produced fruits and vegetables are sold and bought generating life-supporting revenues for the local farming population.

Historically, the territory of the present-days Uzbekistan had been part of the Persian empire (Bactria province) prior to its dissolution because of Alexander the Great conquests. Later it was dominated by Kushan, Parthian, Sassanid as well as by other local empires like that of Hephthalite, then conquered by Arabs. In 13th century it came under the Mongols until Timur's invasion in 1388. In early 16th century Uzbek tribes ousted Timurids and established Emirate of Bukhara and two khanates of Khiva and Kokand. In 19th-century at the period of the "Great Game" between Russia and the United Kingdom the future Uzbekistan was absorbed by the Russian Empire and, later, after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 entered into the Soviet Union as one of its socialist republic in 1924.

Uzbekistan obtained its independence in September 1991 and until September 2016 its one and the only President had been Islam Karimov.

Today Uzbekistan is a country where government is trying to keep the secular character of the governance by implementing harsh restrictions on civic activities and economic freedoms.

Sierra Leone (Republic of Sierra Leone)

Sierra Leone is a country of rough diamonds and rough rebels.

For more than a decade from the start of 1990th to the beginning of 2000th Sierra Leone was involved into the inter-sectarian conflict on its territory. It began after years of relative political stability under the dictatorship of the president Siaka Stevens. Following Stevens retirement in 1985 several consecutive military governments tried to reinstall stability in Sierra Leone until several riving rebels groups appeared in different parts of the country. After years of devastations the civil war was stopped only after an intervention of the international community, assisted by the British army.

Sierra Leone is also famous for its deposits of gem-quality diamonds. Many of those diamonds are extracted and sold illegally sparking the large underground economy. Yearly production of diamonds in the country is estimated at around $300 million. However, the major staple of Sierra Leone's economy is agriculture (primary rice production) which contributes almost 60% to its GDP.

After the end of the civil war in 2002 the Democratic government administration was reinstalled in the Republic. Today Sierra Leone's 124-members, unicameral parliament is largely dominated by two leftist political parties - All People's Congress (70 seats) and Sierra Leone People's Party (42 seats).

Sierra Leone is a country in transition where its government is trying to get rid of post-war political divisions and to streamline its economy.

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is an interesting country.

After being part of the Russian Empire (1881 - 1917) and then counted as the Soviet Union Socialist Republic (1924 - 1991) Turkmenistan became an independent state ruled by the family of Saparmurad Niyazov. This family has converted Turkmenistan into a very interesting country.

For example, family's patriarch - Mr. Niyazov senior - brought to light a very interesting book - Ruhnama - knowledge of which is required for passing the driving test. However, this book isn't about how to cross a busy crossroad and not being charged $379 for the traffic violation at all, it's more like how to navigate yourself through life and it's officially made equal to The Koran in Turkmenistan.

There is, also, a very interesting statue of Mr.Niyazov placed right in the center of Ashgabat. It's made from the gold (or it looks like made from gold) and it rotates together with the sun reflecting heavenly lights from the face of Mr.Niyazov onto the entirety of his happy nation.

Because Turkmenistan is a very interesting and happy country by itself and, therefor, it doesn't need anything which may divert the attention of its citizen from contemplating their own state of absolute joy and satisfaction, its President suggested that it doesn't need a circus or, say, an opera. Consequently, those frivolous distractions had been forbidden from the country until 2006 when the new President mercifully decided to return them into the public discourse.

Nevertheless, merry people of Tajikistan must be, of course, time to time reminded in which interesting country they actually live. Because of that all public meetings as well as all public broadcastings and any other more or less important official and semi-official meeting must be preceded by a vocal recitation of the pledge to Turkmen national values and to Mr. President personally.

In 2015 just to make their country a little bit more interesting and intriguing Turkmenistan authorities launched the satellite (the first and the last) into the Earth orbit and immediately after doing that restricted all citizens from owning satellite ditches. Right, just do not use it. You can't be more cautious while holding an expensive piece of equipment, can you?

The major staples of the Turkmenistan economy are cotton and gas. Turkmenistan possesses fourth largest reserves of natural gas in the world. What makes it even more interesting is that Turkmen gas makes not only money but also tourists. The famous Door to Hell - a 5,350 square meters artificial crater with burning methane gas inside of it - attracts up to 10,000 visitors yearly.

To be fair, the 2nd Turkemen President has made a lost to make his country a less interesting place in the past decade or so. However, Turkmenistan still remains a very special and intriguing country.

Sao Tome and Principe (Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe)

Sao Tome and Principe is one of the smallest and one of the most stable African nations.

Those Atlantic Ocean's islands situated about 300 kilometers off the West African coast had been uninhabited when Portuguese sailors discovered them in 1470th. Those empty but fertile lands served for growing sugar crops until islands were converted (around 1515) into the slave trade outpost.

Sao Tome and Principe obtained its sovereignty in 1974 after the post Estado Novo government in Portugal had negotiated the terms with Movement for Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe. The administration of West German educated economist Manuel Pinto da Costa had established one-party regime which lasted until 1990 when it was replaced by one of the first African democratic governments. Since then there has been only one coup d'etat attempt (2009) in the Republic.

Economy of Sao Tome and Principe is largely agricultural based with cocoa being the principle export items added by coffee, copra and palm kernels. In 2000th agriculture was supplemented by developing oil and banking industries.

Sao Tome and Principe's long term political stability and an uninterrupted economic development is resulted in the country's per capita income of almost $2,000 which is twice of that of sub-Saharan African's average.

Equatorial Guinea (Republic of Equatorial Guinea)

Equatorial Guinea is a cloudy country.

In the recorded history there hasn't been a single non-cloudy day in Equatorial Guinea. That is true not only in meteorological but also in economical and political senses. Equatorial Guinea is a multi-party presidential republic. However, there has been only two presidents in whole of the history of this country since 1968. The second one - Teodoro Obiang - has been staying in power for 38 years already, which makes him the longest serving head of state in Africa.

With per capita exceeding $9,000 Equatorial Guinea may be counted as the richest country in the Black Continent. However, with one of the highest inequality levels in the world most of country's population lives close to the poverty line which makes the Republic prone to social and political instabilities.

There had been twelve coup d'etat attempts in the history of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. One of the most famous ones was sponsored by Margaret Thatcher's son - Mark. It was prevented in 2004 by Zimbabwean authorities which intercepted the airplane full of mercenaries on its route to the Harare airport.

Since 1996, when large hydro-carbonate deposits were discovered in Equatorial Guinea, this country's primary source of income is oil extraction with Mobile-Exxon company being the major oil producer. Today 75% of Republic's export is crude petroleum.

Equatorial Guinea is a small country with the big oil business going on which, however, benefits only the tiny fraction of country's population.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is one of the least developed countries in Africa.

The former French colony Burkina Faso (named Upper Volta at the time) became independent in 1960. Then the prolonged period of political unrests and governmental changes followed. It ended in 1987 when Blaise Compaore came to power and overturned the Marxist policies which had been pursued by the previous president - Thomas Sankara.

Compaore stayed in power until October 2014 when the popular uprising ousted him from the office. The newly formed presidential republic lasted for less than a year and was ended in September 2015 by military coup d'etat. However, a civic government was soon restored after pressure from the international community (African Union) was applied.

Burkina Faso is a West African landlocked country with more than 40% of its population living below the poverty line. Gold and raw cotton constitute the major source of export revenue for the country. Those industries are highly concentrated and mostly government owned.

Today Burkina Faso is trying to recover from most recent political upheaval.

Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz Republic)

Kyrgyzstan is a country of 40 tribes.

Old legend tells us the story about a princess and 40 maidens which had been regularly traveling outside their city's walls for their morning pleasures and recreations. Once, when they had returned from their morning trip, they found their homes pillaged, city deserted and met the divine, red-colored dog which greeted them at the gate. The legend states, then, that each one of Kyrgyz tribes is descended from that godly dog and one of 40 maidens.

That's only the legend, of course, but it reflects the fact that Kyrgyzstan territory was inhabited by many various clans and tribes for centuries. That territory had stayed under foreign domination until 1991 when Kyrgyzstan became the independent nation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, where Kyrgyzstan was one of socialist republics.

After its independence in 1991 Kyrgyzstan had came under the rule of the Askar Akayev's government and stayed there until Tulip revolution in 2005. This period of internal interests and political conflicts culminated in the 2010 revolution which lead to the presidency of Almazbek Atambayev.

Since then Kyrgyzstan economy had been fostered by increased influx of investments as well as by cross-border trade. However, the same as it used to be the second poorest Republic inside of the Soviet Union, now Kyrgyzstan is the second poorest Republic of the Central Asia.

Today Kyrgyzstan is a country in transition from the tumultuous past to politically more stable and, hopefully, economically more prosperous future.

Mauritius (Republic of Mauritius)

Mauritius is the place of coolitude.

Mauritius is a fairly unusual African state where the rule of law, multiculturalism and political tolerance take precedent over violence, religious bigotry, provincialism and small-mindedness. With its per capita exceeding $11,000 Mauritius is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa and possesses one of the lowest levels of corruption in the world.

After its independence from UK in 1968 Mauritius adopted the Westminster system of governance and has stayed within the Commonwealth of Nations. Today unicameral, 70-members Mauritius Parliament - the National Assembly - includes six political parties with leftest, pro-government Militant Socialist Movement holding almost halve of them (34 seats). The largest parliamentary opposition party - left-wing Mauritian Militant Movement or MMM - has 7 seats.

Due to its strategic position on the route from Europe to Southeastern Asia, Mauritius had been one of the most contested islands in the epoch of colonial wars. The ownership of islands came from Netherlander to France in 1715 and then from France to Britain in 1810. It happened despite the French fleet bitting British flotilla in the Battle of Grand Port - the only one French naval victory over UK.

The core base of Mauritian economy is in tourism, textile and sugar industries. Mauritius has also became one of the international centers of banking and investments for the African continent. Mauritius is stable both economically and politically. In fact, in the modern Mauritian history the only one case of large public unrests happened in 1999 after a popular signer was imprisoned by authorities for publicly smoking marijuana on his own concert.

Today Mauritius serves as a good example of the African country where strong public commitment to non-violence, a well-balanced political system and measured approach to civic policies has resulted in the prosperous and stable inter-cultural nati[on.

Lesotho (Kingdom of Lesotho)

Lesotho is a diamond spot on the South African map.

In the past decade calls for economic subordination (if not political one) of Lesotho to South Africa have continued to grow in number. Lesotho, a constitutional monarchy, has proved to be only marginally able to provide for its population needed economic and social growth and prosperity.

As a result, the last 50 years passed since its independence in 1966 Lesotho has been one of the least developed countries on the African continent. Landlocked position of the country as well as misguided government's policies have contributed to Lesotho's slow economic progress. Today Kingdom's minerals extraction industry (primarily diamonds) and significant water resources are two major contributors to its GDP.

Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy where its monarch processes almost none of the political power. Government is run be the Prime Minister. 120-members National Assembly of Lesotho is dominated by two political parties - All Basotho Convention (46 seats) and Democratic Congress (47 seats).

Slovenia (Republic of Slovenia)

Slovenia is a wonder-kid country.

For the past two thousands years the territory of present-day Slovenia had been part of so many kingdoms, duchies, empire and states that listing all of them looks like reading the brief history of Europe: the Roman Empire, Samo Kingdom, Avar State, the Carolingian Empire, Habsburgs Realm, Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Austrian Empire, Austria-Hungary, Kingdom of Serbs and Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Socialist Yugoslavia.

Slovenia had obtained its full independence after the Then-Day War with the Yugoslav People's Army in 1991. With only 10% of Yugoslavia's population, Slovenia, however, generated more than 25% of Yugoslavia GDP. Slovenia economy is well diversified. Unlike most of its neighbors, economy of Slovenia is only 5% agriculture based. Other contributors are machinery production, pharmaceutical, financial services, tourism. Slovenia has an export orientated economy which provides this country with both benefits and downsides of the globalization.

Financial crisis of 2008 lead to significant decrease in Slovenian growth rate (-6%). However, the Republic quickly recovered from this shock and today with its per capita exceeding $21,000 (85% of the European average) Slovenia is one of the most prosperous economies in Eastern Europe.

Slovenia is a stable multi-party democracy where the Parliament - unicameral, 90-members National Assembly - includes six political parties: pro-government liberal Modern Center Party (35 seats), centrist Democratic Party of Pensioners (11 seats), Social Democrats (6 seats), opposition Slovenian Democratic Party (19 seats), United Left (6 seats) and New Slovenia (5 seats). Borut Pahor is the current President of Slovenia.

Slovenia today is a country which combines established multi-party democracy with well-balanced economy.

Uganda (Republic of Uganda)

Uganda is a rich country without money.

Bordering lake Victoria, Uganda possesses weather conditions highly favorable to agriculture. As a matter of fact, if provided with necessary infrastructure and sufficient investments Uganda, just by itself, may produce enough food to satisfy the whole African continent's demand. However, decades of social unrests, coup d'etat, external wars and dictatorial regimes have converted Uganda into one of the poorest countries on Earth.

From its independence in 1962 and to the Bush War of 1985 Uganda had been ruled by several military or semi-military regimes. The National Resistance Army had had an upper hand in the War and its leader - Yoweri Museveni - became the next President of Uganda in 1986. Musaveni government introduced a peculiar political system (called "non-party Movement") where political parties although not completely abolished were not allowed to participate in electoral process.

As a result of the constitutional referendum of 2005 the multi-party elections was returned to Uganda. Nevertheless, Museveni had kept his post and still continues to be the president of the Republic. With 293 seats his party - National Resistance Movement - controls unicameral, 426-members Parliament of Uganda.

Uganda's heavily monopolized economy (where coffee is the major export item) did not provide local population with enough jobs. On top of that Ugandan population growth rate is one of the highest in the world. Republic's population had increased from about 10 million people at the start of 1970th to almost 35 million in 2014 making Uganda one of the most densely populated countries on the planet.

Today Uganda's economic prospects are undermined by the corruption in all levels of government, an absence of long-term investments as well as by an unprecedented population growth.

Tajikistan (Republic of Tajikistan)

Tajikistan is a country of cotton and aluminum.

Tajikistan is a former Soviet Union Republic which became independent in 1991. It used to be the primary source of cotton for USSR textile industry. In fact it had been so essential for the socialist state, with its chronic deficit of consumer goods, that Tajikistan lands were overexploited and other crops were wipe out to clear areas for new cotton fields.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union the cotton industry went into recession. It happened primarily because of collapsed USSR market, which provided most of demand for cotton. Remittances from people working abroad became, instead, the most important contributor to the Republic's economy. Today remittances constitute 45% of country's GDP ($2.5 billion) - the world's absolute record. Aluminum production - second most important contributor to country's dwindling national wealth - takes more than 50% of Tajikistan export.

For almost all of its history the territory of present day Tajikistan had been part of world's mightiest Empires (including Achaemenid, Alexander the Great, Greco-Bactrian, Chinese, Persian, Mongol, Russian). Today Tajikistan is one of the youngest independent countries on Earth. with the democratic form of governance.

Tajikistan is the multi-party state, however, the President of Tajikistan - Emomali Rahmon - has stayed in power for more than 20 years in a row (since 1994) and his political party - People's Democratic Party - dominates Republic's bicameral Parliament for decades holding to 80% and more seats in it.

Tajikistan is the new country with weak economy and non-changing government.

Senegal (Republic of Senegal)

Senegal is a country in one boat.

Senegal received its name from the Senegal river which literally means 'our canoe'. Senegal is leaving for its name being a rare African country without a long standing tradition of violence and coupe d'etat.

Leopold Sedar Senghor - a poet and the first (Socialist) President of Senegal - had stayed in power from 1960, when the country received its independence from France, until 1980, when he selected his successor - Abdou Diou - from the rival (Liberal) political party. Diou kept his position for 19 years, until 1999, when Abdoulaye Wade won the elections recognized by international observers as free and fair. Macky Sall changed Wade on his post in 2012.

There are more than 70 political parties in Senegal, however, its unicameral, 150-members National Assembly is dominated by one political coalition - United in Hope with 199 seats - led by pro-democratic Alliance pour la republique.

Senegalese economy is largely based on mining (predominantly on phosphates and oil) and agricultural industries with fishing (salmon, oysters) becoming more and more important source of exports revenues. On top of that, Senegal's political and social stability is gratified by increasing number of foreign tourists visiting the country every year. Currently, one of the issues for Senegal fishing industry is illegal fishing in its territorial 14-miles wide coastal waters.

Senegalese people are gaining politically and economically by not rocking their country's ship.

Lebanon (Lebanese Republic)

Lebanon is the boiling pot of cultures.

Lebanon as a country is fairly unique. It's the ground place for one of the major Mediterranean civilization - Phoenicians - and for two distinct religious movements - Maronites and Druze. Notwithstanding its small size, Lebanon's cultural influence is recognized far beyond the North Africa. In 1960th Lebanon was called "the Paris of the Middle East".

Being the meeting point of multiple cultural, religious and political groups Lebanon has became the place where two of World's major religions - Christianity and Islam - try to work out the compromise based on an unique governmental system - confessionalism. Representatives of each of 18 recognized religious groups hold to specific positions in the Lebanese power pyramid. For example, the President must be Maronite Christian, The Prime Minister - a Sunni Muslim, the Deputy PM - Eastern Orthodox and the Speaker of Parliament - Shi'a Muslim.

Contested by major regional powers and destabilized by perpetual political clashes Lebanon became the center of one of the most bitter and prolonged military conflicts in the Middle East. Lebanese Civil War had lasted for more than 15 years (1975 - 1990) and ended by Syrian occupation of the country. After Syrian withdrawal in 2005 series of mass demonstrations, revolts and acts of violence continued to rock the Republic. In 2010th that precarious and inflammable political atmosphere has been exacerbated by the on-going Syrian Civil War.

Lebanon being one of the most culturally and economically rich and diverse countries in the Middle East still remains politically highly violent, contentious and unpredictable.

Costa Rica (Republic of Costa Rica)

Costa Rica is a country of coffee, banana and computer chips.

Coffee was the first source of Costa Rica's economic prosperity after gaining its independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821. In 20th century coffee was changed to bananas. Costa Rica became one of the largest exporters of bananas in the World with major trading partners being Russia and other developing countries. With the start of the new millennium computer ships replaced banana crops. Intel Corporation moved one of its microprocessor facilities to Costa Rica due to the highly educated and low-cost labor. Computer chips constitute around 20% of country's export and 5% of its GDP.

Costa Rica's history is one of the least violent amongst Central America's states. After two rivaling parties - Imperialists and Republicans - had fought the Civil War in 1823 Costa Rica were largely free of internal military conflicts which became a characteristic of neighboring states. However, in 20th century there were two internal armed conflicts in 1917 and 1948 initiated by unresolved political disagreements between militant and civilian factions of Costa Rican society.

Today Costa Rica is leaving up for its name the 'rich coast' given to that country by Columbus when he saw local population wearing golden and silver jewelry en mass. Costa Rica with its per capita exceeding $11 thousands is one of the most politically stable and economically developed countries of the Central America. Lately the Republic became of of the world's major centers for ecological tourism with revenue received from that sector exceeding $2.5 billion.

Costa Rica is the presidential democratic republic with its Parliament - Asamblea Legislative - consisting of three major political parties: leftist National Liberation Party (18 seats), centrist Citizen's Action Party (13 seats) and progressive, green Broad Front (9 seats).

Today Costa Rica's a country which lives up to its name - the Rich Coast.

Namibia (Republic of Namibia)

Namibia is the new country in a desert.

Namibia's economy is traditionally based on mining natural resources found in its wast desert regions. Such minerals as uranium (the world's fifth largest producer), lead, zinc, tin, silver, tungsten and, notably, diamonds (1.5 million carats a year) constitute almost 10 percentages of the national GDP. The other important industry in Namibia is agriculture, specifically, farming and fishing.

In 19th and at the start of the 20th century Namibia under the name German South-West Africa was part of the German colonial dominion on the African continent. After German's defeat in the World War One Namibia had became part of the South Africa and stayed there the most part of 20th century until obtaining its independence in 1990 after the prolonged war led by People's Liberation Party of Namibia.

In the post-independence era Namibia had made a transition from the apartheid system to parliamentary democracy. There are several registered political parties active in Namibia. However, it still remains largely the one party state where South West Africa People's Organization or SWAPO holds to 77 seats (80%) in the 104-members National Assembly and to 40 seats in the 42-members National Council.

Montenegro

Montenegro is a country on a Mountain.

Translating from the Latin Montenegro means the Black Mountain. Despite its relatively small size, Montenegro has always been visible on the political scene of Europe. It used to be a part of the Roman Dolmatia province (Greeks called it Illyria) when its warriors fought three Illyrian Wars with Romans (229 BC, 219 BC and 168 BC).

After the split of the Roman Empire in 395 Montenegro territory had came under the Byzantine's rule and then gained its independence in 1042. However, it soon had joined the Serbian realm and stayed there until Ottomans spread their influence all across the Balkan peninsula in 16th century. Under the Turk's governorship Montenegro enjoyed a high level of independence thanks again to its mountainous terrain which made it very difficult for Ottoman soldiers to completely subdue the local population most of which were very capable military.

Most of 18th, 19th and beginning of 20th centuries Montenegro had held an independent or semi-independent status (as a principality or as a kingdom) until it again joined Serbia in 1922 and later became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. During the World War II Germany and Italy invaded Macedonia and a fierce guerrilla war was fought between "Partisans" and anti-communists, pro-German "Chetniks". It ended by Yugoslavia regiments liberating Macedonia territory in 1944.

From 1944 to 1992 Montenegro had been the separate region of socialist Yugoslavia Republic. At that time it enjoyed an influx of tourists specifically from Eastern Europe and Soviet Union. It provided Montenegro population with one of the highest standards of living in the Warsaw block. Additionally, Montenegro received significant additional payments from the central federal budget of Yugoslavia for its infrastructure projects. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990th Montenegro stayed as part of Serbia until May 2006 referendum made it one of the youngest newly independent states on earth.

Montenegro today is the Presidential Republic with its unicameral, 21-members Parliament - Skupština Crne Gore - dominated by two parties: the pro-European party Demokratska Partija Socijalista Crne Gore (36 seats) and the opposition alliance Demokratski front (18 seats). Plans to joint NATO has recently became one of the most contentious issue of Montenegrin politics.

Seychelles (Republic of Seychelles)

Seychelles is a country of socialists, pirates and turtles.

Until 1971, when the first Seychelloise airport came into action, local economy was largely based on the agriculture with buttocks-like coconuts - coco de mer - being one of major crops there. However, after the first air-traveler put his foot on the Seychelles' land, the life of its inhabitants was changed dramatically. Suddenly, trying to grow love-nuts in a middle of the ocean was found to be much less profitable than entertaining rich European and American retirees on sunny beaches of the archipelago.

Seychelles' government quickly got the drift and took decisive environmental protection actions including that which saved natural habitats of An Aldabra giant tortoise on several of its 115 islands. Sure it raised the cost of living for visitors but, at same time, it converted the island into the one of most prestigious luxury resorts of 1970th.

Seychelles is also the country which has the highest incarceration rates on Earth (799 prisoners per 100,000 population) even exceeding that of the United States. It can be primary attributed to the rise of the Somalian piracy in the coastal waters of Seychelles. More than 5% of the Seychellois budget is spent on fighting piracy or on restoring damages caused by it.

The Piracy has been the thing on Seychelles for centuries. One of the most recent legendary events in the history of international piracy - the Seychelles affair - took place on the archipelago in 1980. The group of 43 mercenaries, headed by a former member of Rhodesian SAS, tried to overthrow the socialist government but were caught on the custom with their AK-47th concealed in the false-bottomed luggage. Fighting the airport guards, they, however, had managed to hijack the Indian plane (the Flight 224) and escaped to South Africa.

This culture of adventure and violence became also the characteristic of Seychellois political life with People's Progressive Front or PL coming to power in 1977. Those were times when wide-spread acceptance of the Marxist-Leninist ideology became particularly pronounced in the African region. Seychelles population (the large majority of which consisted of farm workers ready to hold a small group of coco plantations owners responsible for all their lives grievances) were seduced by promises of future equality and prosperity. As a result, the local economy became highly centralized, the majority of population stayed poor and the political scene - monopolized by the party of the former lawyer France-Albert Rene.

Seychellois version of socialist state ended in 1993, when, after a dissolution of the Soviet Union, PL finally agreed to get back to multi-party democracy system. However, PL still remains one of two predominant political parties in Seychelles holding to 14 seats in the unicameral, 33-members National Assembly.

Seychelles today is a country which combines semi-socialist government with strict environmental regulations and one of the highest levels of social inequality in the World.

Zimbabwe (Republic of Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe is a country of ancient ruins.

Zimbabwe hosts unique dry stone towers of the Great Zimbabwe - the ancient Zimbabwe Kingdom's remnants. In fact, Zimbabwe today is covered by ruins not only archaeological but also political, economic and social.

Until 1965 Zimbabwe (at that time named Rhodesia after the British mining tycoon Cecil Rhodes) had been one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. After the Unilateral Declaration of Independence was signed by a former pilot and farmer Ian Smith on 11 November 1965, the anti-colonial movement, led by two parties Zimbabwe African National Union or ZANU and Zimbabwe African People's Union or ZAPU, arose in opposition. The first rebellion faction was headed by a former teacher Robert Mugabe and the second - by a railroad trade unionist Joshua Nkomo.

The devastating civil war between Rhodesian army and ZANU/ZAPU supported by communists USSR and China had started in 1968 and continued until 1979. At the same time the United Nations imposed economical and political sanctions on Smith's government. That double pressure had cause the Lancaster House Agreement which ended the war and led to 1980 elections won by ZANU.

After assuming the Presidential post Mugabe took a classical Marxist-Leninist course on a complete nationalization of the economy and on establishing one-party state. In 2000, that politics culminated in the Fast Track Land Program which announced the forced nationalization of all lands belonging to the white minority population. This program had had a catastrophic results - economically, politically and socially.

Lacking necessary investments, experiencing a shortage of skilled labor (all professionals urgently fled the country), overwhelmed by external wars and corruption Zimbabwean economy reached the point of collapse at the start of 2000th. From 2004 for 2009 the inflation rate in Zimbabwe had became legendary. During the five years it reached the unprecedented level of 231,000,000 percentages.

Pursuing another branch of its one-sited politics Mugabe suppressed any signs of internal opposition to his regime applying as much of the brutal force as possible. He even employed the North Korean 'spetsnaz' to eradicate the political protests in one of Zimbabwean districts. As a result, absolutely atrocious incidents of genocide were widely reported all across the country.

On a social level, Zimbabwe nation, which in the colonial time was one of the most educated and advanced in Africa, was quickly reduced to a dismal conditions. The unemployment rate reached 95% - the World's absolute record. The educational system deteriorated to the point when schoolchildren, lacking papers and pens, had to write their lessons on dusty floors by fingers.

After 2009 dollarization of economy, several successive Zimbabwean governments had tried to improve the situation. However, with a corrupt legal system, absence of international investments and dilapidated educational institutions this task proved to be unsurmountable. In 2016 the budget's deficit reached 12% of GDP and massive layouts announced.

Zimbabwe - one of the most promising countries in Africa at the start of 20th century - is the country in ruins at the beginning of 21st.

Oman (Sultanate of Oman)

Oman is a family.

Since 1930th this Middle Eastern Sultanate is ruled by one royal dynasty - Al Said. Current Omani Monarch - Qaboos bin Said al Said - is the six longest-serving monarch in the World (from 1970 to present). Accordingly, most of the Omani modern history is a family story of alliances, intrigues, squabbles, inter-marriages and inheritance issues. As for any other large family ruled by a revered patriarch preserving an inner peace is at most importance for Al Said. However, it has not always been possible. For example as in a case of the previous Omani ruler - Sa'id bin Taimur - London's exile on a basis of fundamental disagreement about country's future with his own son.

As it sometimes happens in a life of other families, there are some external forces which want to melt into Al Said's internal business without being invited to do so. Such, for example, was the case of Dhofar province revolt in 1964. That belligerent event was inspired by the modernization movement within the Omani society and paradoxically supported by both Britain and Marxist parties. This revolt had been suppressed in 1976 but it caused a conflict within a royal family which, then, led to an adaption of wide varieties of social and civic infrastructure development programs.

Not so different from so many other families, Al Saids don't like when somebody else puts his/her nose in their internal affairs. Consequently, the freedom of press and civil rights are not necessarily flourishing in Omani. As an example, police can invade anybody's home without a warrant which is, of course, not surprising given that in the big, happy family there can be no secrets amongst members. The marriage is, of course, a very important part of the family's life and that's why Omani government doesn't want its peoples to take rush, emotional decisions in those matters. In case a citizen wants to marry a non-citizen then special government's approval is required.

However, unusually for a royal family from the Golf Region, Al Said doesn't 100% rely on oil and gas reserves to provide for their happiness. Two more industries are required for that - tourism and fishing.

Today Omani family is happy in its own way, contrary to what Leo Tolstoy wrote in 1873.

Kenya (Republic of Kenya)

Kenya is a country where gods are resting.

Kenyan name was derived from the Kenyan Mountain which means "the resting place for gods". However, from the historical perspective, looks like gods are never at rest in Kenya. At the end of XIX century Kenya (under the name East Africa Protectorate) had became one of the British economic development centers on the Black Continent specially with the construction of the Kenya-Uganda railway in 1890 - 1900. This railroad became famous after being widely publicized all across the world with regards to attacks on Indian workers made by a pair of ferocious lions in Tsavo region.

It caused a popular uprising among local peoples which believed that this railroad had been mentioned in the old prophecy as the Iron Snake destined to destroy the country. It turned to be almost true 50 years later except that not the railroad but the next big revolt - The Mau Mau Uprising - caused havoc in Kenya. One of the leaders of that revolt - Jomo Kenyatta became the first president of independent Kenya in 1963.

Kenyatta's party - Kenyan African National Movement or KANU- converted the country into the one party state. The government became the predominant political and economic force in Kenya for almost 40 years. On the one side it provided the Republic with sufficient degree of political stability needed to assure large-scale investments into country's infrastructure. On the other, KANU's monopoly on power had prevented formation of the civic society in Kenya which lated resulted in political turbulence after Kenya's transition to the multi-party democracy in 2002.

One of the most contentious issues of Kenya's politics has been the multi-ethnicity of Kenyan society. Kenya consists of 7 major ethnic groups (Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kalenjin, Kamba, Kisii and Meru) all of which require a certain level of independence and an adequate representation in the government. That leads to a high degree of political and social disintegration inside the country and to formation of various coalitions which are trying to shift the political balance to one or to other side.

Currently the lower chamber of the Kenyan Parliament - 349-members The National Assembly - includes three major coalitions: Jubilee Alliance with 167 seats, The Caoliiton for Reform and Democracy or CORD with 141 seats and Amani which holds to 24 seats.

Thanks to a highly developed agricultural sector, Kenya had been an economic success story in early 2000th. However, after 2008 economic crisis an economic growth has slowed down. That's adding to all political issues which the current Kenyan government are facing today.

Kenya is yet another African country which economy is now stalled and which is confronted by rising ethnic tensions.

Fiji (Republic of Fiji)

Fiji is a country of ferocious warriors.

Fiji was one of few Pacific ocean archipelagos not frequented by Europeans at the Age of Discoveries in 15th - 16th century due to brutal customs of aboriginal population. Those days are long gone but Fiji's people are still recognized for their top performances in sports requiring hand-to-hand combat skills such, for example, as rugby. Coincidentally or not, but Fijian political culture is also characterized by the level of violence which is usual for a South Pacific nation.

In 1987 a coup d'etat, organized by militants, ended Fijian Commonwealth realm membership acquired 17 years prior to that. That coup became a reaction of nationalistically minded army officers to growing economic difficulties of the country as well as to the influx of immigrants from India. The degree of anti-immigrants feelings had always been high in Fijian society to the extent that it was prohibited to call themselves "Figians" for those citizens whose ancestors were not born on Fiji. After that coup many Indians left the island in a fear of ethnic persecutions.

For following years a political peace in Fiji had remained unstable and was ended by another military takeover in 2006 and a suspension of the Constitution. As a result Fiji's participation in such organizations as the Commonwealth of Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum was interrupted which became an unprecedented decision for both of those groups.

Democratic elections were restarted on the archipelago only in 2014. At present, pro-government, liberal FijiFirst party holds an absolute majority (32 seats) in the unicameral, 50-members Parliaments of Fiji. Nationalist Social Democratic Liberal Party is in opposition with 15 seats.

Fiji is a country where political climates is still a little bit too harsh for a mild South Pacific region.

Ghana (Republic of Ghana)

Ghana is the center of the World.

Ghana is closer than any other state on earth to the intersection of two zero meridians, which makes the preceding sentence technically correct. As to emphasis that point, Ghana took the central stage in the African political history. Ghana is one of the oldest state on the African continent considering that since 9th century significant part of the Republic's territory had been already occupied by various indigenous Kingdoms (such, for example, as Ashanti, Akwamu, Bonoman, Denkyira and Mankessim).

Ghana played a key role in the European exploration and colonization of the African continent specifically on its Western cost. In 15th century Ghana was named the Gold Coast and major colonial powers including Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Germany and later the Great Britain established their military outposts on coasts of Ghana. In fact, this place soon became the point of the largest concentration of European military installations in Africa.

Since 1874 The Crown became a predominant force in Ghana. Recognizing the importance of that colony as not only the major mineral resources base for the British Empire but also as the rising center of the African political power, British authorities provided indigenous political leaders with unprecedented in Africa of that time degree of the political autonomy including forming a rudimentary national assembly and allowing participation of local elites in the colonial government (although only on low level positions). At the same time, some Ghanaians (primary from the local elite) received their universities' degrees in United Kingdom and United States. That created unique political background for the future of Ghana.

In 1957, after it became the first independent sub-saharan African state, Ghana, as many other post-colonial countries, chose Marxist-Leninist ideology as a lay-out for its new political system. However, it didn't take too long for Socialist government to discredit itself and to be overthrown by the military coup.

From 1970th to the start of 2000th Ghana had changed three constitutions and exercised various forms of military dictatorships, one-party systems, autocratic governances, which all were characterized by a combination of intrusive central authorities with elements of the "guided democracy". In 2004 Ghana launched its fourth Republic, now, under the umbrella of the multi-party democracy.

Although government controlled enterprises had played traditionally very important role in the Ghana's economy since 1960th, at the same time, privately owned, free-market businesses prevail in Ghana. Today not only large deposits of gold, diamonds and oil constitute the base for Ghana's economic development but also such industries as information technologies and science. Ghana is one of few African countries which has its own nuclear development and cosmos exploration programs.

One of the major issue for Ghana recently has became the proliferation of drug traffickers. In 2000th Ghana emerged as the major entrance point for South American drug cartels to the European market. Accordingly the level of corruption in Ghana government's central and local institutions is very high.

Despite all those challenges, Ghana today is considered by international community among those few African nations which are likely to join the rank of developed countries in the observable future.

Kuwait (State Kuwait)

Kuwait is a country of traders.

Due to its location on the World map Kuwait was always the center of international trade of some kind for the most part of its history. In a middle ages it used to be the center of the horse trade. Later it become the biggest source of pearls for Europe. After the collapse of the pearl industry in 1930th (as a result of the economic crisis and Japanese invention of artificial pearls) Kuwait, after the discovery in 1938 of large liquid fossil deposits, converted itself into one of the biggest World crude oil traders.

That gave a rise to the period in the Kuwaiti history which later became known as the Golden Age. Between 1950th and 1980th this region became the most cosmopolitan place in the Middle East. At that time Kuwait City was the center of gravity not only for business but for artists, musicians, poets, movie makers and scientists from all over the Islamic World. The State start trading not only on its mineral resources but on innovation patents, soap operas, books and movies and received the name of the Middle Eastern Hollywood. That was also the time when big infrastructure projects like speed roads, residential houses and multi-store office buildings as well as individually designed water desalination towers converted Kuwait into the moder society.

Iraqi invasion of 1990th signified the end of this era of Kuwaiti prosperity. Notwithstanding, today Kuwait remains one of the richest country on earth and with its per capita exceeding $30,000 is second only to Qatar in the Middle East.

Kuwait's unique political culture is the reflection of its unique history. It's a combination of Western parliamentarian democracy with a traditional Arab monarchy. Although the Emir is the undisputed ruler of the State and criticizing his majesty is a criminal offense in Kuwait, the Parliament still has the capacity to discharge him from the throne. Officially there are no political parties in Kuwait but at the same time numerous political groups and clubs replace them in the political life of this unusual country.

Today Kuwait is rich and unusual country.

Kiribati (Republic of Kiribati)

Kiribati is the "first-in, first-out" country.

Kiribati is one of the first points of land on Earth where one can greet an arrival of the New Year. At the same time, this country, composed of 33 islets which surface is only 1-2 centimeters above the sea level, will be the first place to be submerged in the nearest 100 years because of the global warming.

One of the newly formed islands on the Globe, Kiribati doesn't have enough of fertile soils to maintain any type of agricultural industries. In fact there are only 20 endemic plants on islands. Up to the the mid-20th century one of Kiribati's islands - Banaba had been the source of phosphates but those deposits have long been depleted since. Today Kiribati economy is mostly relying on external sources of revenues such as payments for fishery licenses, tourists proceeds and international assistance programs.

After obtaining its independence from the United Kingdom in 1979, the Republic adopted a multi-party, parliamentarian system of governance. Unicameral, 46-members local Parliament - Maneaba ni Maungatabu - has two political parties represented in it: Pillars of Truth with 26 seats and Tobwaan Kiribati Party which holds 19 seats. However, because of small size constituencies and prevalence of local traditions over rules an individual politic has there an upper hand over a competition of ideas. One of the most contentious issues of local disputes has been the intended cessation of one of the islands to Fiji.

Kiribati is just one more country which the Humanity is willing to sacrifice for the sake of an unsustainable economic development.

Nicaragua (Republic of Nicaragua)

Nicaragua is a country in between.

Nicaragua's unique geographical location in between two American continents had made this country one of the key strategic spots of 20th century (particularly during the Cold War).

After the United States Marines occupation of the country (1912 - 1923) Somoza family ruled there for the following 42 years. Revolutionary Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN, supported by the Soviet Union, ousted Somoza and took power in 1979 which lead to the protracted civil war with anti-communist guerrillas Contras. This conflict lasted for almost 30 years and ended by a coalition of anti-Sandinista parties winning the general election in 1990. However, in 2006 FSLN returned to power with Daniel Ortega winning 38% of votes.

Currently the unicameral, 92-members Asamblea Nacional is dominated by FSLN which possesses 63 seats there. The oppositions - Independent Liberal Party and Constitutionalist Liberal Party - have 27 and 2 seats respectively.

Today Nicaragua is an example of a country where fledgling multi-party democracy is threatened by government's growing authoritarianism.

Seychelles (Republic of Seychelles)

Seychelles is a country of socialists, pirates and turtles.

Until 1971, when the first Seychelloise airport came into action, local economy was largely based on the agriculture with buttocks-like coconuts - coco de mer - being one of major crops there. However, after the first air-traveler put his foot on the Seychelles' land, the life of its inhabitants was changed dramatically. Suddenly, trying to grow love-nuts in a middle of the ocean was found to be much less profitable than entertaining rich European and American retirees on sunny beaches of the archipelago.

Seychelles' government quickly got the drift and took decisive environmental protection actions including that which saved natural habitats of An Aldabra giant tortoise on several of its 115 islands. Sure it raised the cost of living for visitors but, at same time, it converted the island into the one of most prestigious luxury resorts of 1970th.

Seychelles is also the country which has the highest incarceration rates on Earth (799 prisoners per 100,000 population) even exceeding that of the United States. It can be primary attributed to the rise of the Somalian piracy in the coastal waters of Seychelles. More than 5% of the Seychellois budget is spent on fighting piracy or on restoring damages caused by it.

The Piracy has been the thing on Seychelles for centuries. One of the most recent legendary events in the history of international piracy - the Seychelles affair - took place on the archipelago in 1980. The group of 43 mercenaries, headed by a former member of Rhodesian SAS, tried to overthrow the socialist government but were caught on the custom with their AK-47th concealed in the false-bottomed luggage. Fighting the airport guards, they, however, had managed to hijack the Indian plane (the Flight 224) and escaped to South Africa.

This culture of adventure and violence became also the characteristic of Seychellois political life with People's Progressive Front or PL coming to power in 1977. Those were times when wide-spread acceptance of the Marxist-Leninist ideology became particularly pronounced in the African region. Seychelles population (the large majority of which consisted of farm workers ready to hold a small group of coco plantations owners responsible for all their lives grievances) were seduced by promises of future equality and prosperity. As a result, the local economy became highly centralized, the majority of population stayed poor and the political scene - monopolized by the party of the former lawyer France-Albert Rene.

Seychellois version of socialist state ended in 1993, when, after a dissolution of the Soviet Union, PL finally agreed to get back to multi-party democracy system. However, PL still remains one of two predominant political parties in Seychelles holding to 14 seats in the unicameral, 33-members National Assembly.

Seychelles today is a country which combines semi-socialist government with strict environmental regulations and one of the highest levels of social inequality in the World.

Zimbabwe (Republic of Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe is a country of ancient ruins.

Zimbabwe hosts unique dry stone towers of the Great Zimbabwe - the ancient Zimbabwe Kingdom's remnants. In fact, Zimbabwe today is covered by ruins not only archaeological but also political, economic and social.

Until 1965 Zimbabwe (at that time named Rhodesia after the British mining tycoon Cecil Rhodes) had been one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. After the Unilateral Declaration of Independence was signed by a former pilot and farmer Ian Smith on 11 November 1965, the anti-colonial movement, led by two parties Zimbabwe African National Union or ZANU and Zimbabwe African People's Union or ZAPU, arose in opposition. The first rebellion faction was headed by a former teacher Robert Mugabe and the second - by a railroad trade unionist Joshua Nkomo.

The devastating civil war between Rhodesian army and ZANU/ZAPU supported by communists USSR and China had started in 1968 and continued until 1979. At the same time the United Nations imposed economical and political sanctions on Smith's government. That double pressure had cause the Lancaster House Agreement which ended the war and led to 1980 elections won by ZANU.

After assuming the Presidential post Mugabe took a classical Marxist-Leninist course on a complete nationalization of the economy and on establishing one-party state. In 2000, that politics culminated in the Fast Track Land Program which announced the forced nationalization of all lands belonging to the white minority population. This program had had a catastrophic results - economically, politically and socially.

Lacking necessary investments, experiencing a shortage of skilled labor (all professionals urgently fled the country), overwhelmed by external wars and corruption Zimbabwean economy reached the point of collapse at the start of 2000th. From 2004 for 2009 the inflation rate in Zimbabwe had became legendary. During the five years it reached the unprecedented level of 231,000,000 percentages.

Pursuing another branch of its one-sited politics Mugabe suppressed any signs of internal opposition to his regime applying as much of the brutal force as possible. He even employed the North Korean 'spetsnaz' to eradicate the political protests in one of Zimbabwean districts. As a result, absolutely atrocious incidents of genocide were widely reported all across the country.

On a social level, Zimbabwe nation, which in the colonial time was one of the most educated and advanced in Africa, was quickly reduced to a dismal conditions. The unemployment rate reached 95% - the World's absolute record. The educational system deteriorated to the point when schoolchildren, lacking papers and pens, had to write their lessons on dusty floors by fingers.

After 2009 dollarization of economy, several successive Zimbabwean governments had tried to improve the situation. However, with a corrupt legal system, absence of international investments and dilapidated educational institutions this task proved to be unsurmountable. In 2016 the budget's deficit reached 12% of GDP and massive layouts announced.

Zimbabwe - one of the most promising countries in Africa at the start of 20th century - is the country in ruins at the beginning of 21st.

Oman (Sultanate of Oman)

Oman is a family.

Since 1930th this Middle Eastern Sultanate is ruled by one royal dynasty - Al Said. Current Omani Monarch - Qaboos bin Said al Said - is the six longest-serving monarch in the World (from 1970 to present). Accordingly, most of the Omani modern history is a family story of alliances, intrigues, squabbles, inter-marriages and inheritance issues. As for any other large family ruled by a revered patriarch preserving an inner peace is at most importance for Al Said. However, it has not always been possible. For example as in a case of the previous Omani ruler - Sa'id bin Taimur - London's exile on a basis of fundamental disagreement about country's future with his own son.

As it sometimes happens in a life of other families, there are some external forces which want to melt into Al Said's internal business without being invited to do so. Such, for example, was the case of Dhofar province revolt in 1964. That belligerent event was inspired by the modernization movement within the Omani society and paradoxically supported by both Britain and Marxist parties. This revolt had been suppressed in 1976 but it caused a conflict within a royal family which, then, led to an adaption of wide varieties of social and civic infrastructure development programs.

Not so different from so many other families, Al Saids don't like when somebody else puts his/her nose in their internal affairs. Consequently, the freedom of press and civil rights are not necessarily flourishing in Omani. As an example, police can invade anybody's home without a warrant which is, of course, not surprising given that in the big, happy family there can be no secrets amongst members. The marriage is, of course, a very important part of the family's life and that's why Omani government doesn't want its peoples to take rush, emotional decisions in those matters. In case a citizen wants to marry a non-citizen then special government's approval is required.

However, unusually for a royal family from the Golf Region, Al Said doesn't 100% rely on oil and gas reserves to provide for their happiness. Two more industries are required for that - tourism and fishing.

Today Omani family is happy in its own way, contrary to what Leo Tolstoy wrote in 1873.

Kenya (Republic of Kenya)

Kenya is a country where gods are resting.

Kenyan name was derived from the Kenyan Mountain which means "the resting place for gods". However, from the historical perspective, looks like gods are never at rest in Kenya. At the end of XIX century Kenya (under the name East Africa Protectorate) had became one of the British economic development centers on the Black Continent specially with the construction of the Kenya-Uganda railway in 1890 - 1900. This railroad became famous after being widely publicized all across the world with regards to attacks on Indian workers made by a pair of ferocious lions in Tsavo region.

It caused a popular uprising among local peoples which believed that this railroad had been mentioned in the old prophecy as the Iron Snake destined to destroy the country. It turned to be almost true 50 years later except that not the railroad but the next big revolt - The Mau Mau Uprising - caused havoc in Kenya. One of the leaders of that revolt - Jomo Kenyatta became the first president of independent Kenya in 1963.

Kenyatta's party - Kenyan African National Movement or KANU- converted the country into the one party state. The government became the predominant political and economic force in Kenya for almost 40 years. On the one side it provided the Republic with sufficient degree of political stability needed to assure large-scale investments into country's infrastructure. On the other, KANU's monopoly on power had prevented formation of the civic society in Kenya which lated resulted in political turbulence after Kenya's transition to the multi-party democracy in 2002.

One of the most contentious issues of Kenya's politics has been the multi-ethnicity of Kenyan society. Kenya consists of 7 major ethnic groups (Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kalenjin, Kamba, Kisii and Meru) all of which require a certain level of independence and an adequate representation in the government. That leads to a high degree of political and social disintegration inside the country and to formation of various coalitions which are trying to shift the political balance to one or to other side.

Currently the lower chamber of the Kenyan Parliament - 349-members The National Assembly - includes three major coalitions: Jubilee Alliance with 167 seats, The Caoliiton for Reform and Democracy or CORD with 141 seats and Amani which holds to 24 seats.

Thanks to a highly developed agricultural sector, Kenya had been an economic success story in early 2000th. However, after 2008 economic crisis an economic growth has slowed down. That's adding to all political issues which the current Kenyan government are facing today.

Kenya is yet another African country which economy is now stalled and which is confronted by rising ethnic tensions.

Fiji (Republic of Fiji)

Fiji is a country of ferocious warriors.

Fiji was one of few Pacific ocean archipelagos not frequented by Europeans at the Age of Discoveries in 15th - 16th century due to brutal customs of aboriginal population. Those days are long gone but Fiji's people are still recognized for their top performances in sports requiring hand-to-hand combat skills such, for example, as rugby. Coincidentally or not, but Fijian political culture is also characterized by the level of violence which is usual for a South Pacific nation.

In 1987 a coup d'etat, organized by militants, ended Fijian Commonwealth realm membership acquired 17 years prior to that. That coup became a reaction of nationalistically minded army officers to growing economic difficulties of the country as well as to the influx of immigrants from India. The degree of anti-immigrants feelings had always been high in Fijian society to the extent that it was prohibited to call themselves "Figians" for those citizens whose ancestors were not born on Fiji. After that coup many Indians left the island in a fear of ethnic persecutions.

For following years a political peace in Fiji had remained unstable and was ended by another military takeover in 2006 and a suspension of the Constitution. As a result Fiji's participation in such organizations as the Commonwealth of Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum was interrupted which became an unprecedented decision for both of those groups.

Democratic elections were restarted on the archipelago only in 2014. At present, pro-government, liberal FijiFirst party holds an absolute majority (32 seats) in the unicameral, 50-members Parliaments of Fiji. Nationalist Social Democratic Liberal Party is in opposition with 15 seats.

Fiji is a country where political climates is still a little bit too harsh for a mild South Pacific region.

Ghana (Republic of Ghana)

Ghana is the center of the World.

Ghana is closer than any other state on earth to the intersection of two zero meridians, which makes the preceding sentence technically correct. As to emphasis that point, Ghana took the central stage in the African political history. Ghana is one of the oldest state on the African continent considering that since 9th century significant part of the Republic's territory had been already occupied by various indigenous Kingdoms (such, for example, as Ashanti, Akwamu, Bonoman, Denkyira and Mankessim).

Ghana played a key role in the European exploration and colonization of the African continent specifically on its Western cost. In 15th century Ghana was named the Gold Coast and major colonial powers including Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Germany and later the Great Britain established their military outposts on coasts of Ghana. In fact, this place soon became the point of the largest concentration of European military installations in Africa.

Since 1874 The Crown became a predominant force in Ghana. Recognizing the importance of that colony as not only the major mineral resources base for the British Empire but also as the rising center of the African political power, British authorities provided indigenous political leaders with unprecedented in Africa of that time degree of the political autonomy including forming a rudimentary national assembly and allowing participation of local elites in the colonial government (although only on low level positions). At the same time, some Ghanaians (primary from the local elite) received their universities' degrees in United Kingdom and United States. That created unique political background for the future of Ghana.

In 1957, after it became the first independent sub-saharan African state, Ghana, as many other post-colonial countries, chose Marxist-Leninist ideology as a lay-out for its new political system. However, it didn't take too long for Socialist government to discredit itself and to be overthrown by the military coup.

From 1970th to the start of 2000th Ghana had changed three constitutions and exercised various forms of military dictatorships, one-party systems, autocratic governances, which all were characterized by a combination of intrusive central authorities with elements of the "guided democracy". In 2004 Ghana launched its fourth Republic, now, under the umbrella of the multi-party democracy.

Although government controlled enterprises had played traditionally very important role in the Ghana's economy since 1960th, at the same time, privately owned, free-market businesses prevail in Ghana. Today not only large deposits of gold, diamonds and oil constitute the base for Ghana's economic development but also such industries as information technologies and science. Ghana is one of few African countries which has its own nuclear development and cosmos exploration programs.

One of the major issue for Ghana recently has became the proliferation of drug traffickers. In 2000th Ghana emerged as the major entrance point for South American drug cartels to the European market. Accordingly the level of corruption in Ghana government's central and local institutions is very high.

Despite all those challenges, Ghana today is considered by international community among those few African nations which are likely to join the rank of developed countries in the observable future.

Kuwait (State Kuwait)

Kuwait is a country of traders.

Due to its location on the World map Kuwait was always the center of international trade of some kind for the most part of its history. In a middle ages it used to be the center of the horse trade. Later it become the biggest source of pearls for Europe. After the collapse of the pearl industry in 1930th (as a result of the economic crisis and Japanese invention of artificial pearls) Kuwait, after the discovery in 1938 of large liquid fossil deposits, converted itself into one of the biggest World crude oil traders.

That gave a rise to the period in the Kuwaiti history which later became known as the Golden Age. Between 1950th and 1980th this region became the most cosmopolitan place in the Middle East. At that time Kuwait City was the center of gravity not only for business but for artists, musicians, poets, movie makers and scientists from all over the Islamic World. The State start trading not only on its mineral resources but on innovation patents, soap operas, books and movies and received the name of the Middle Eastern Hollywood. That was also the time when big infrastructure projects like speed roads, residential houses and multi-store office buildings as well as individually designed water desalination towers converted Kuwait into the moder society.

Iraqi invasion of 1990th signified the end of this era of Kuwaiti prosperity. Notwithstanding, today Kuwait remains one of the richest country on earth and with its per capita exceeding $30,000 is second only to Qatar in the Middle East.

Kuwait's unique political culture is the reflection of its unique history. It's a combination of Western parliamentarian democracy with a traditional Arab monarchy. Although the Emir is the undisputed ruler of the State and criticizing his majesty is a criminal offense in Kuwait, the Parliament still has the capacity to discharge him from the throne. Officially there are no political parties in Kuwait but at the same time numerous political groups and clubs replace them in the political life of this unusual country.

Today Kuwait is rich and unusual country.

Kiribati (Republic of Kiribati)

Kiribati is the "first-in, first-out" country.

Kiribati is one of the first points of land on Earth where one can greet an arrival of the New Year. At the same time, this country, composed of 33 islets which surface is only 1-2 centimeters above the sea level, will be the first place to be submerged in the nearest 100 years because of the global warming.

One of the newly formed islands on the Globe, Kiribati doesn't have enough of fertile soils to maintain any type of agricultural industries. In fact there are only 20 endemic plants on islands. Up to the the mid-20th century one of Kiribati's islands - Banaba had been the source of phosphates but those deposits have long been depleted since. Today Kiribati economy is mostly relying on external sources of revenues such as payments for fishery licenses, tourists proceeds and international assistance programs.

After obtaining its independence from the United Kingdom in 1979, the Republic adopted a multi-party, parliamentarian system of governance. Unicameral, 46-members local Parliament - Maneaba ni Maungatabu - has two political parties represented in it: Pillars of Truth with 26 seats and Tobwaan Kiribati Party which holds 19 seats. However, because of small size constituencies and prevalence of local traditions over rules an individual politic has there an upper hand over a competition of ideas. One of the most contentious issues of local disputes has been the intended cessation of one of the islands to Fiji.

Kiribati is just one more country which the Humanity is willing to sacrifice for the sake of an unsustainable economic development.

El Salvador (El Salvador)

El Salvador is the country on a volcano.

El Salvador is unstable from both geological and political points of view. There are more than 20 volcanoes, two of which - Izalco and San Miguel - are still active. The latest large-scale earthquake occurred there in 1986. On the other hand, most of Salvadoran history, starting with the dissolution of Spanish Empire at the beginning of XIX century, has been about revolutions, civil wars, coup d'etat and civilian uprisings against dictatorship.

One of the main contributors to those turbulences is the size of the country - around 21 thousands square kilometers - the smallest in the Central America. At the same time, with the population density more than 300 people per square kilometers, it's a very crowded place too. The deficit of fertile lands has made rural peoples of the Republic of The Savior very susceptible to various types of socialist's propaganda. Consequently, Salvadoran elite, which is made largely from two groups - high ranking militants and wealthy descendants of indigo and coffee plantations owners, has had a tendency to induce the political stability by means of dictatorial governments and police batons.

20th century added one more ingredient to that inflammable mixture - the Cold War rivalry. When in October 1979 the leftist Revolutionary Government Junta came to power and started the process of land re-distribution the U.S. supported the creation of the opposing junta made partially from the anti-communist guerrillas forces. The resulted Civil War lasted from 1980 to 1992 and led to massive demographic, economic, and politic devastations .

The second half of 1990th and the beginning of XXI century have been relatively peaceful times for El Salvador. Two major Salvadoran political parties (former rivals in the civil conflict) - right-wing Alianza Republicana Nacionalistaor or ARENA and socialist Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional or FMLN - are now resolved to solve their differences in the unicameral, 84-members Asamblea Legislativa using the force of ballots rather that M-16.

However, the violence still remains the predominant political and social issue for the Republic today. There are reportedly more than 25,000 gang members in El Salvador. It's rated as one of the most dangerous places for tourists on Earth. Such type of the internal climate doesn't provide for stable development of the economy. As a result, a sizable portion of Republic's GDP (more than $2 billion a year) consists from remittances send home by several million Salvadorian working abroad.

Salvador is a country where one shall always be ready for the earthquake either volcanic or social.

Tonga (Kingdom of Tonga)

Tonga is, actually, not so "friendly island".

In 1773, when James Cook visited this group of islands in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, he was invited to join a local royal fertility festival. The Captain did attend this inasi event and kept, obviously, very pleasant memories about that day. At least those reminiscences of his proved to be good enough to earn this place the name "Friendly Islands". However, as it was later uncovered, indigenous chiefs planned to get rid of Cook on that day but didn't manage to come up with a plan they could all agree upon.

Looks like the same chameleon's pattern can be traced both in political and in economic lives of those islands in 20th century as good as in 16th. Although most part of islands' modern history had been quite and peaceful under the umbrella of an absolute monarchy, it didn't produce at the same time any significant political or economic progresses (comparing with Tonga's neighbors). Notwithstanding constitutional reforms introduced by local monarchs, Tonga still remains largely autocratic state. Officially, it's a constitutional monarchy, modeled from the Great Britain with Parliament which includes two major political parties' representatives. However, this local version of democracy is based on the Tonga's society semi-official division into three distinct social groups - royals, nobility and commons. As a result, only members of first two stratas have a real chance to be present in Fale Alea.

Although one can argue that this social order is rooted in local traditions and customs, it, certainly, does not represents the type of constitutional monarchy widely adopted in Western societies. There aren't printed versions of opposition presses available in the country. Additionally, any critics of Royals are regarded as a breach of social norms.

On the economic side, Tonga hasn't been able to develop its tourism industry to the extend which can be compared to that of other Pacific Ocean islands. Instead, Tonga royal court and nobilities are known to meddle itself in multiple adventurous financial and business schemes some of which have acquired worldwide notoriety, including building on islands the depository for radioactive wastes and launching a gigantic cigarette production facility aimed to China market. As a result, Tonga now is ranked in a five top most corrupt countries on Earth.

Tonga today is peaceful and content nation, which, however, is lagging behind most other countries in some crucial social metrics.

Gambia (Republic of Gambia)

Gambia is small but proud country.

In October 2016 its government declared that the Republic will leave the International Criminal Court. That will move Gambia one more step away from the road which had made this small nation an example of the successful African multi-party democracy more than 50 years ago.

Located in the delta of the Gambia river, from which the Republic will later get its name, it used to be one of West African centers for the slave trade. As part of the Crown's domain (since 1821) British Gambia obtained its own legislative and executive councils already in 1901. After gaining its independence (18 February 1965) Gambia had stayed inside the Commonwealth and organized two public referendums (in 1965 and in 1970) on its statehood status which were recognized by the international community as open and fair.

After the second referendum Gambia declared itself the Republic on 24 April 1970. Since then and until the coup d'etat in 1994 the former veterinary Dawda Jawara had been the first and the only President of the newly formed state. His political organization - People's Progressive Party or PPP - dominated the political life of Gambia for 24 years.

22 July 1994 as a result of the military coup 29-years old lieutenant Yahya Jammeh had assumed the Presidential office and stayed there ever since. His political party - Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction - had changed PPP on the top of Gambian political pyramid and today holds 43 out of 48 seats in the National Assembly - unicameral Gambian Parliament.

Such a dominance of one party for more than 20 years turned to be a challenge not only for Gambian politics but also for Republic's economy as well. Although Gambia stays firmly committed to principles of liberal, open market economy, growing corruption and multiplying bureaucratic red-tapes present a serious threat for its progress. Major pillars of the Gambian GDP are agriculture and tourism industry. Cashew and coconuts constitute more than 15% of Republic's export. At the same time, with its per-capita less than $400, Gambia still remains a poor country.

Today's Gambia - the small African nation with unique democratic traditions - is more and more shifting to a sectarian, autocratic style of governance.

Suriname (Republic of Suriname)

Suriname is a country which is proving that you can't be too small to fall.

The former Dutch outpost in South America Suriname, which obtained its independence in 1975, was plunged into the civil war in 1986. Prior to that, a coup d'etat, led by sergeant Desi Bouterse, overthrew the democratically elected government in 1980. The 7 years struggle between Surinamese army and Maroons - descendants of refugees slaves - led by Bouterse's former bodyguard Ronnie Brunswijk resulted in social, economic and political degradation of the country (not to mention the preceding socialists experiments in early 1980th).

A former thriving Netherlands' colony, the source of bauxite, iron ore, gold and other mineral resources, Suriname today is still trying to gain its economic ground. However, due to a variety of factors (including inadequate civil services, outdated tax system, overblown government expenses, reduced foreign aid and an inflationary monetary expansion program), the government has consistently proven itself incapable to grow business sector in the country as well as to attract foreign investments in its key industries.

Suriname today is one of the worst countries in the world by the ease of doing business. For example, it requires on average almost 700 days to register a new business there. Looks like the bureaucracy there is completely mismanaged the country. Numerous restrictions, red tapes, excessive regulations are counterproductive and prevent the Republic from reaching its full potential.

Suriname example has demonstrated, once again, that an over-centralized government, although marginally effective in maintaining internal political stability, is mostly incapable to led their countries by the road of sustainable economic development.

Ivory Coast (Republic of Cote d'Ivoire)

Ivory Coast is a recovering country.

At the end of XX century it used to be one of the most prominent economic and political success stories in Africa. Today it's no longer so. Two civil wars (that of 2002, which took 5 years, and another one of 2011, which lasted a year) were started by competing ethnic factions and nearly brought the country to the edge of complete collapse.

In a prosperous era of 1960th-1970th the Republic became a gravitation center not only for inspiring Africans from neighboring countries but also for European professionals coming to Abidjan from all over the world and, predominantly, from France. At this stage of its independence history Côte d'Ivoire became a rare example of an African state where, despite country's colonial past, the new indigenous government didn't convert its ideological anti-colonial stance into hateful and completely irrational opposition to Western technological advancements and engineering talents (as it became the case almost everywhere else in Africa).

Moreover, the administration of Felix Houphouet-Boighy - a former minister in French colonial government and first country's President after its independence granted by Paris in 1960 - managed to keep and to further develop many of positive sides of the French colonial rule including functioning system of regional administration, road infrastructure, education, telecommunication and many other traits of the Western civilization which had been implemented by French authorities since mid-19th century.

At the same time, economically savvy Houphouet-Boighy's government proved to be incapable to lay a strong foundation for a multi-party democracy in the Republic. It remained monopolized by Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire — Rassemblement Démocratique Africain or PDCI-RDA which was formed in 1946 by Houphouet-Boighy from the remnant of his trade union organization Sindicat agricole africain.

20 years long epoch of uninterrupted economic growth, during which the Cote d'Ivoire became the leading producer of cocoa in the world, came to an end at the start of 1990th with increased competition on the international market. Growing political and social discontents resulted in streets protests and were culminated by a coup d'etat in 1999. It also came as a reaction to ethnically exclusive politics of the President Henri Konan Bedie appointed to his post by Houphouet-Boighy. It, then, required from the Republic more than 10 years of devastating wars and social disturbances to learn its lessons and to take the road of representative governance and people's lawful participation in a political life.

Today Ivory Cost is the presidential republic where unicameral, 253-members Parliament - Assemblée nationale - consists of two major political party: pro-government, liberal Rassemblement des Républicains or RDR (127 seats) and nationalist PDCI-RDA (76 seats)

Republique de Cote d'Ivoire - the former regional power house - is in a state of shaky recovery from devastating consequences of debilitating political mistakes.

Panama (Republic of Panama)

Panama is a country created by the Ditch.

Since Vasco Nunez de Balboa's travel across the isthmus in 1513 Panama was used by the Spanish Empire's merchants to transport silver and gold from South American mines to the Europe. After its independence from Spain in 1821 Panama became part of the Gran Colombia. However, the unique Panamanian geographical position on a narrow strip between two great oceans had sealed country's historical and political destinies.

Panamanian separatist movement, supported by the Government of the United States, was ended by the declaration of independence on 3 November 1912. It had been closely followed by the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty which had granted to USA rights of sovereignty (until the year 1999) over the zone where the 83 kilometers long canal appeared in 1914. After that Panama became the place of utmost strategic importance. Consequently, for the rest of XX century, the Panamanian political history was influenced by its most powerful neighbor on the American Continent.

In 1968 after the militant coup d'etat Panama started its transformation into the army led dictatorship. In 1983 self-promoted general Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno - the commander of Panamanian Defense Force or PDF - became a de-facto ruler of Panama whose authority override that of an acting President. Because of his firm anti-communists stance Noriega was initially supported by CIA until he got himself involved into large scale drug trafficking schemes.

USA had imposed economic sanctions on Panama in 1987 but when this approach didn't work followed it by the full-scale military invasion on December 20, 1989. The Operation Just Cause involved more than 27,000 of USA military personnel and lasted 42 days. It ended by restoring the civilian authorities rule in Panama and capturing of Noriega (after hiding in the Holy See's embassy he gave himself up).

Today Panama is the presidential republic with unicameral 71-members Parliament which are dominated by three major political parties: pro-government, left-wing Partido Revolucionario Democratico or PRD (26 seats), populist Partido Panamenista or PP (15 seats) and anti-government, right-wing Cambio Democratico (25 seats).

The Panamanian economy is mostly services and tourism industries orientated. More than 2 million international travelers visit Panama each year. As a major world's trans-shipment hub, Panama derives a bulk of its revenues from ships transits fees and services. Thanks to large-scale infrastructure projects (major of which is the $5 billion dollars worth Panama Canal's enlargement program), Panamanian GDP's long term growth rate (6%) is far exceeding that of the world's average. Panama is also known as the tax haven destination.

Panama today is a country which lives from its geography as none other state in the world.

Swaziland (Kingdom of Swaziland)

Swaziland is a country where something went wrong.

Starting from XVIII century Swaziland's history had been closely related to that of the South African state. After the end of the Anglo-Boer War in 1903 Swaziland became a British protectorate. In 1968 the country attained the full independence status under the auspices of the democratic constitution which had been promulgated by British authorities in 1963. However, in 1973 king Sobhuza II suspended it indefinitely which lead to establishing of the monarchical regime - the only one on the African Continent today.

Notwithstanding that some political reforms were introduced in 2005 (after the mass protests erupted across Swaziland), the country still preserves its semi-feudal government system where all political parties are prohibited and the king possesses almost unlimited authorities, is immune to law and enjoys quazi-divine status. Although, according to many historical precedents, an unrestrained monarchy doesn't necessary mean a bad governance, this time looks like it does. Results of Swazi kings staying in power for more than 40 years speak for itself.

On a positive side Swaziland's per capita of almost $4000 puts this country relatively high on an average African standards of living scale. On the other side, the degree of social inequality is extremely high and the level of corruption in the country is over the top (Swaziland's ministry of finance reports more than $30 millions a month, or, approximately, 1% of GDP, of bribes related transactions). Social infrastructure is deteriorating. Specifically troublesome is the development of the nation's health state. Swazi life expectancy rate is the world's lowest and equals 45 years.

Swaziland economy remains overwhelmingly agriculture based with more than 75% of population employed in there. Sugar production is the cornerstone of the Swaziland's export (around 20%). Since late 1990th the state of Swaziland's finance significantly deteriorated with growing expenditures (primary on government employees' salaries and the royal court's spendings). At the same time revenues side experienced the sharp decline due to lowering commodities prices.

Today Swaziland, not at all the poorest country in Africa, is, at the same time, among the most poorly managed.

Uruguay (Oriental Republic of Uruguay)

Uruguay is a country of good hope.

The history of Uruguay is not much different from that of other Latin American countries and, putting it in brief, this history has been troublesome.

Uruguay was born at the end of the colonial Spanish era in South America as a result of the protracted, 18 years long struggle for independence which ended in 1828 by the Treaty of Montevideo. Country's relatively small size and population which had not exceeded 75 thousands people at the start of XIX century made it the military target of opportunity for neighboring giant states of Argentina and Brazil. On top of that, two predominant social classes in Latin America - agricultural and business - represented by two political parties - conservative Blancos and liberal Colorados - had clashed on the political and military arenas of Uruguay up to the start of 1900th.

The Colorado party had stayed in power in Uruguay for almost all of XX century, overseeing an economic boom of 1910th and the following depression in 1930th, a coup d'etat in 1933 and then again an economic uprising of 1950th (which was caused by sharp rise in the Korean War stimulated meat export), civil turmoils in 1960th led by the famous Tupamaros (the urban guerrilla movement, which one of members - Jose Mujica - later became the President of Uruguay) followed by the combined civil-military regime which lasted up to 1985.

At the start of 1990th, when the great majority of post-dictatorial countries switched to the lesser-fair capitalism model, Uruguay tried something different. While liberalizing the economy, Uruguayan governments put an emphasis on improving the electoral system and providing people with social security, education as well as strengthened the public safety.

This socially orientated, direct democracy capitalist model is reminiscent of that of Scandinavian countries or of Switzerland. As a result, people of Uruguay had had an opportunity to revoke some of the government's legal acts by their direct voting. The privatization of big, government owned enterprises (such as electricity generation, water supply or telecom) was prevented. At the same time, the freedom of speech and media, public control over government expenses, the multi-party system were fully implemented and then firmly pursued.

Although this politics didn't stop the country from plunging into the deep recession at the start of 2000th (which was caused by the financial crisis in Brazil and Argentina), it prevented large scale social disturbances and the following drastic political shift to the right-wing, populist, nationalist, authoritarian type of government which later became the predominant future of other emerging countries in 2010th.

As a result of implementation of such a model Uruguay enjoys one of the highest level of political stability coupled with one of lowest levels of corruption in the World. On the economic side, Uruguay today, driven by the influx of highly educated young people from other countries attracted by modern, open-minded social policies and the cosmopolitan culture of Montevideo, is gradually converting itself into the technological hub for the South America.

Notwithstanding its controversial historical heritage and sporadic economic difficulties, Uruguay demonstrates how thoughtful, strategic, humans orientated approach to government, economic and social politics could convert the country into one of the most prosperous states in Latin America in less than 20 years.

Vanuatu (Republic of Vanuatu)

Vanuatu is a country far, far, far away.

Vanuatu is one of those countries where few people have been to regardless all modern means of transports. Back in history even fewer people would know that those islands ever existed. It became one of the last places on earth settled by Europeans. Consequently, Vanuatu history as well as its political and social lives have some unique twists to them absent in other countries.

For starter those islands were discovered by sons of Europe not once but four times. First it had been Portuguese travelers in 1606, who had seen them but actually believed that they landed in Australia. Second time it happened more than 150 years later, in 1768, when the celebrated French explorer Louis de Bougainville positively identified those scattered pieces of land in the Ocean as one group of islands.

Third time it was Captain Cook himself, who had arrived at Tanna island in 1774 and named all of them the New Habrides. Under this name islands entered the Pacific Ocean's European exploration history. The islands were re-discovered again in 1825, this time for the commercial purposes, by captain, trader and writer Peter Dillon, who found sandalwood on the island of Erromango.

Some current traits of islanders social life are unfamiliar to most of us. Take, for example, the cult of John Frum. This cargo cult arouse in late 1930th and worships a mythical figure of an American Marine who supposed to bring wealth and prosperity to its followers. Practitioners believed to be able to apply various magic practices in order to acquire a wash machine, TV set or, say, a car. This cult had evolved with time into the Parliamentary political party one of representatives of which held the post of the Vanuatu Ambassador in Russia in 2013.

There is in Vanuatu, yet, another exotic religious movement, followers of which stipulate that Prince Philip - the spouse of Queen Elizabeth II - is actually a deity and the brother of John Frum. In late 1970th the Prince personally recognized this flattering religion by providing worshipers with his own portrait.

Another, more practical but also unique characteristic of Vanuatu is its political system which was derived from the unprecedented French-British Coalition Government - the Condominium - formed in 1906. The contention issue concerning the Vanuatu affiliation was solved between France and United Kingdom by establishing the joint Government on islands. After obtaining its independence in 1980 Vanuatu politics and laws still have two separate French and English sides.

The character of parliamentary debates in Vanuatu is also somehow specific. Islands' unicameral, 52-members Parliament acts more like the year-round budgetary committee rather than the battleground of political ideas and programs. Vanuatu parliamentarians' major responsibility towards his (her) voters is, using all means available, to get as much money into his (her) territories' coffers from the Federal Government as possible. One of the repercussions of such a straightforwardly capitalistic approach to the national politic is that Vanuatu is now characterized by the international community as one of the most corrupt countries on earth.

Those 82 islands in the midst of the South Pacific Ocean tell to us today somehow exotic but at the same time very recognizable political story about the national pride, ancients traditions, personal wealth and glory as well as different means to reach all of the above.

Somalia (Federal Republic of Somalia)

The Black Hawk of Somalia is still down.

Hundreds of years Somalia had served as the major African trading post for the Arabian Peninsula and the Southeastern Asia. It is thought to be the Land of Punt of ancient Greece - the Land of the God, the source of bitumen, copper, naptha and other rare goods for the Ancient Egypt and the Greece. At the same time, Somalia's geographical position on the Horn of Africa and its protracted coast line had made this country militarily vulnerable. It's no wonder then, that Somalia was hotly contested by different tribes and ethnic clans for centuries.

Islam warriors had came to the area in 900th. Later in history several Muslim Sultanates were established on the territory of Somalia. It was colonized by several European powers starting from the late XIX century. Between 1897 and 1920 the famous Dervish State successfully resisted European armies but finally the British Crown had taken possession of Somalia and hold on to it until 1960.

In a period from 1969 to 1991 Republic's Government, which was led by the major Mohamad Siad Barre - the leader of Somali Revolutionary Party or SRSP, had embraced the Marxist-Leninist "scientific socialism" ideology supplemented by Muslim traditions. The central government closely surveyed all aspects of social, political and economic lives of the country. Political persecutions, security's services surveillances and total control over medias became a norm. At the same time, unlike many other African Socialists States, Somalian authorities kept small business enterprises intact and allowed them to conduct their business inside country based on a principles of the free market economy.

In 1990th, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, united Somalian ethnic clans had ousted Barre from power and shortly after that launched the Civil War which lasted up to 2006. As a result of it multiple competing rebellion states were created on the territory of Somalia including those recognized as terrorist organizations by USA and EU.

General state of lawlessness and absence of an effective central government in Somalia created such a phenomena as infamous "Somalian pirates". They grow to a formidable assault marine force from small groups of Somalian fisherman who had united to resist the influx of foreign fishing ships violating country's unprotected sea borders.

Major World's powers including UN, EU and USA participated in a process of ending the war and stabilizing political situation in Somalia. The Transitional Federal Government or TFG was established in 2000. Until 2012 TFG had fought against different rebellion groups opposing the central government (Al-Shabaab being the most prominent among them).

The first permanent authority in Somalia in XX century - bicameral Federal Parliament of Somalia - was formed 20 August 2014. Major Somalian clans - Darod, Dir, Hawiye, Rahanweyn - took two-thirds of seats in it.

Today Somalia is trying to bounce back from the bottom. However, the internal political peace there is extremely fragile and Federal Republic's future is uncertain.

Trinidad and Tobago (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago)

Depending on you stance on the issue Trinidad and Tobago is the country of the Trinity and Tobacco or of the Oil and Drugs.

In 1498 Christopher Columbus named the island, he saw from the board of his ship, "La Isla de la Trinidad" (The island of the Trinity). The name's origin of the smallest of islands is less obvious. Although, tobacco was actually produced on the Tobago in XVI - XVII centuries (together with cotton) this name thought to be primely derived from the island's cigar-like shape.

However, neither tobacco nor sugarcane and cacao crops constitute the cornerstone of contemporary Trinidadian economy. The collapse of those industries in 1920th put an end to one period of islands' history just to start the other one. Oil deposits discovered on islands in 1857 came handy only in 1930th with the rise of auto industry in USA. Since 1950th Trinidad became heavily reliant on its oil and gas exports. Today petroleum products make more than 40% of islands' GDP and 80% of its export. However, hydro-carbonates production facilities employ only 5% of the population letting the rest of peoples to gain their livelihood by all means available to them.

Trinidad's geographical position in only 11 kilometers from Venezuelan coasts provided an important clue to what at least one of that means could be. Since 1990th Trinidad and Tobago had been reportedly converted to one of the major transition points for delivering cocaine into the United States from South America. Economists estimate that from 20 to 30 percentages of Trinidad's "real" GDP are now derived from drugs trafficking.

Spanish, Dutch, French and even Latvian colonizers had taken hold of islands some or other times in its history. Finally, Britain firmly established its presence there in 1802 following the Treaty of Amiens accord. 31 August 1962 Trinidad and Tobago became an independent Commonwealth state. Today island's political system is similar to that of the United Kingdom with two major political parties - right-wing People's National Movement or PNM and leftist United National Congress or UNC - competing for seats in the unicameral, 41-members Trinidad's Parliament - the House of Representatives.

After September 2015 elections pro-government party PNM has a majority of seats in Parliament - 23, while the main opposition party - UNC - holds to 17.

The rising economic prosperity is going hand to hand with expending power of criminal cartels in Trinidad and Tobago. That presents the major challenge for future of ancient islands of the Trinity and Tobacco.

Angola (Republic of Angola)

Angola is democratically nondemocratic country.

Angola gained its freedom from Portugal relatively later in time compare to most of its neighbors. It happened on 25 August 1975 but already in 1976 the independence movement had developed into the full-fledged Civil War.

Three rival groups were involved in it: Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola or FNLA, Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola – Partido do Trabalho or MPLA and União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola or UNITA. This conflict became one of the hottest spots on the Cold War map with USA backing FNLA and UNITA (trough its allies Zaire and South Africa) while MPLA was heavily relying on Soviet Union and Cuban support. That war was ended only in 2002 and had had a devastating effect on the civilian population and the economy.

Angola used to be the breadbasket of Africa but 26 years of military conflict destroyed most of its civic infrastructure and charged agricultural fields with land-mines. That made Angolan people transition to peaceful life slow and difficult. On top of that, large deposits of oil and diamonds discovered in Angola had made its economy overly concentrated. All those factors have facilitated establishing in the Republic the political system which is formally democratic but also has many authoritarian sides to it.

Officially Angola is the presidential republic and has a multi-party system. On practice, however, the Presidential post is exempt from the electoral process and is occupied by a leader of political party which holds the majority in Parliament. In absence of rigorous check-and-balance procedures (as it is the case with the Westminster system) that makes it much easier for party in charge of the current Government to hold on to power for an indefinite time.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos - current Angolan President - has stayed on this post since 1979 (38 years). After August 2012 election, 220-members, unicameral Assembleia Nacional of Angola is dominated by MPLA which holds 175 seats while UNITA has 32 members in it and FNLA - only 2.

Angolan economy is heavily oil dependent. In fact, hydro-carbonates constitute almost 90% of Republic's export. As a result, falling energy prices have hit Angola's budget very hard. Another country's crucial industry is mining of diamonds which export exceeds 10 billion carats. Angolan roads system was completely destroyed during the war. Today, regardless few highways built by Chinese companies, to drive across Angola you'll need a four wheels truck.

Angola is a country which GDP growth rate tops that of most of African states. However, it is not benefiting the majority of population due to the growing economic inequality and deteriorated infrastructure.

Paraguay (Republic of Paraguay)

Paraguay is a country of visionaries.

What later to become Paraguay was discovered by a group of young Spanish explorers in 1516. They came to the flatlands of South America driven by a vision of gold and glory but didn't find much of either. Instead, by intermarrying with local war-minded people - Guarani, those adventurous Spaniard lay down the ethnic basis for future aspiring country. No wonder that mystiques and religious zealots from other continents - such as Society of Jesus or Jesuits - later found the perfect nourishing ground for their propaganda in Paraguay.

Warriors of Jesus conquered Paraguay not by the traditional way of misusing armored horses, arquebuses and non-indigenous viruses but by the force of the persuasion. In 150 years they eventually managed to gain much more influence and power than official Spanish authorities. That finally led to Jesuits expulsion from the country in 1767.

Visions are changing as the time pass by. New visionaries, headed by the former lawyer Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, came to replace the old ones on 14 May 1811. Paraguayan independence day became the inauguration for new utopia state aimed to prosper under banners of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's outlandish theories. That social experiment had lasted 29 years until 1840 and on practice proved to be more about strengthening few selected individuals' grasps on power rather than providing the mankind with the earthly Paradise. Under the totalitarian rule of Jose Francia private lands were confiscated by the state, churches - nationalized, schools - cut off, military expenses - bolstered and political oppositions - tortured. On a positive side, because of Francia's repressive government apparatus, his reliance on the self-sufficiency of national economy and sealed country's borders Paraguay was largely untouched by local wars as well as political and economic crisis of the era.

That all destined to be changed as new visionaries came to the top of the Republic. This time it was the Lopez family, three generations of which ruled Paraguay from 1840 up to 1870. In particular visions of one representatives of this notorious family - those of Francisco Solano Lopez - played specifically disastrous role in country's history. That guy imagined that he was destined to became the Napoleon of South America and let his nation pay for this by destroying more than a halve of its population in six years war with Brazil (1864-1870). For the following decades Paraguay became the country of military revolts, social unrests and changing governments.

The situation became even worse in the first halve of 20th century when Paraguay saw the 1904 Liberal Revolution, the Civil War in 1922, the Chaco War with Bolivia (1932-35), the February Revolution in 1936 and, finally, another Civil War in 1947 culminated by artillery division commander Alfredo Stroessner's coup d'etat of 4 May 1954.

The era of this new Paraguayan visionary had lasted until 1989 and was characterized by both economic expansion ($19 billion Itaipu Dam being the most successful project) and political repressions. The Republic became the one-party state governed by Stroessner and Colorado's political apparatus. Partido Liberal Radical Autentico or PLRA was the only Paraguayan opposition party, which had emerged at the and of 1980th while Stroessner's regime continued to weaken.

In 1990th and 2000th the new league of visionaries this time driven by more or less democratic ideals came to rule the Republic. In 1992 the new Paraguayan Constitution was adapted establishing the separation of powers and strengthening the multi-party system. However, it didn't make shadows of old visions to completely vanish from political horizons of Paraguay. Up to our days coups d'etat have been still attempted, political dissidents - suppressed and militants - worshiped. On top of that, Colorado party is still the prevailing force of Paraguayan politics.

80-members Camara de Diputados of the Republican bicameral Parliament consists of five parties only two of which - Colorado with 46 seats and PLRA with 28 seats - may have their say in the harsh political world of Paraguay.

Looks like the traditional Paraguayan war of inconceivable visionaries will continue for many years to come.

Cayman Islands

Caymans are all about one thing, and one thing only - how to get your money and to make you feel good about this.

Key industries on the islands - offshore banking, companies' registration and tourism industry - are the major sources of revenues for its inhabitants. Consequently, everything on the island is directly or indirectly related to one specific objective - to attract as much tourists and to get as much dollars flowing into the Caymans accounts as possible. Indeed, they have been so successful that Islands even have their own stock exchange which is absolutely unprecedented for such a tiny piece of land.

Being part of the Commonwealth, Caymans have secured themselves from external aggressions and internal political calamities. There are only two things which can really affect islands' economic wellbeing - the World's financial crisis and the international finance overseas authorities. The later can really make islanders suffer by limiting number of clients looking for harboring their private capitals. Nevertheless, until recently Caymans' have proved themselves to be quite effective in reducing damages resulting from the avalanche of money laundering regulations coming from New York and Brussels.

International Tourism is an another crucial source of islanders current prosperity. Islands' authorities even purchased the decommissioned United States military ship and put it underwater in order to create an exotic attraction for scuba divers. The wrecks serve as an artificial reef - the home for multiple exotic marine species.

Everything goes into use to bolster the reputation of Caymans, even myths. Nobody knows who invented that one, but it's quite popular among islanders. It says that sometimes deep back in history someone of the royal blood was rescued from wrath of seas by courageous islanders. After that the grateful Crown bestowed on the island the tax exemption status for times to come. Of course, it's the legend. However it has served Caymans well for many years.

Looks like Cayman islanders are masters in combining a myth and a business into the one profitable enterprise.

Togo (Togolese Republic)

Togo is a country which sticks to its rulers.

In 16th century Togo was part of the infamous "Slave Cost" from where estimated 2 to 3 million African slaves started their gruesome voyage to both Americas. From 1905 to the end of World War II Togo territories was part of the German colony of Togoland. In 1959, part of Togoland had joined the French Union and, then, in 1960, became the independent state.

After the prolonged period of internal unrests, in 1967 Sergeant Etienne Eyadema Gnassingbe came to power in Togo as a result of military coup d'etat. Until unexpectedly leaving the country in the airplane to his final destination on 5 February 2005, the longest-serving dictator in Africa - Gnassingbe - had reigned in the Togolese Republic for 38 years. Today, after more than 11 years after his departure, Togo still unable to find the way out of self-perpetuating political and economic limbos.

Results of the Gnassingbe's Presidential longevity record are controversial at best. On the one side, under his rule Toga became one of the most politically stable countries on the African Continent with self-sufficient agricultural industry and growing phosphate mining sector. On the other, despite ambitious government sponsored investment projects undertaken in 1970th and 1980th, Toga's civic infrastructure remained largely undeveloped, its mostly rural population stayed poor and its financial system ruined. On top of that, the sudden end of the dictatorial system has left Toga absolutely unprepared for making a transition to the multi-party democracy.

After July 2013 elections Togo's unicameral 91-members Assemblee Nationale is overwhelmingly dominated by Union pour la Republic or UNIR which has 62 seats, denying opposition forces (among which the most visible is the Union des Forces du Changement which has only 3 seats) any real political power. As a result, the political situation in the country has became dangerously tense with opposition accusing the government in the wide spread corruption and election results rigging and the government cracking down on opposition with unannounced police raids.

Today Togo is gradually coming down by both economic and political slopes.

Haiti (Republic of Haiti)

Haiti is the most renowned Caribbeans state in the European history.

Hispaniola became the first Americas land discovered by Europeans. Christopher Columbus Santa Maria flagship's remains are still kept in one of the islands' museums. In XVI century it became the Caribbeans pirates' major harbor, later celebrated in the European romantic literature. The one and the only in the world successful slave revolt occurred in Haiti in 1791. It also became the unique example of the island where all three colonial powers of XVI-XIX century - Spain, France and Britain - were defeated by locals. Haiti is also notoriously recognized around the world for the number of coup d'etat as well as for hosting, arguably, the most brutal dictator of second halve of 20th-century - "Papa Doc" Duvalier - with his hideous Tonton Makouts.

Following the French settlers arrival to Haiti (as a result of the Treaty of Ryswick signed by Spain in 1697) it became one of the most populated and economically prosperous colonies at its time largely thanks to the sugar trade. More than 40,000 whites and for about halve a million black salves populated the area in 1789. With the combination of those factors in place, no wonder that Haiti became the regional center for violent revolutions, internal political disorders and external military aggressions.

Haiti is also one of the last places on Earth where Democratic transition of power was delayed up to XXI century. It first happened on the Presidential election in February 2006. However, the recent political situation in Haiti is far from being widely accepted as being primary driven by democratic governance principles.

The current Haiti bicameral, 149-members Parliament - Assemblee Nationale - has more than 20 different political parties in it most of which has only one or two seats in both chambers (the maximum number of seats belonging to one party is 13). Looks like Parliamentary life in Haiti is about the struggle between individuals rather than a clash of political ideas.

That mentality obviously affects not only politics but personal lives of Haitians as well. Their homes, with barb wired walls, back up generators and water tanks on top of the roof, seem more like survivalist strongholds, than urban habitats.

The current economical situation in Haiti is far cry from its glorious sugar past. Haiti is the poorest country in Americas with its per capita less than $900. The structure of Haitian export is absolutely unique for a country with 10 million population. 40% of it is actually T-shirts, other 30% is pullovers, plus 10% is men's suits. The economic development of Haiti has been completely undermined by two centuries long political disorders punctuated by corrupt dictatorial regimes. On top of that Haiti is one of the most hurricane and earthquake prone areas in Caribbean.

Today the Republic of Haiti, being the oldest independent Caribbean country, demonstrates the political ineptness and the inability to convert its great geographical and human potentials to economic as well as social benefits.

Tanzania (United Republic of Tanzania)

Tanzania is two countries in one.

Tanzania is the result of merger of two territories: Zanzibar Archipelago (or People's Republic of Zanzibar) and former British protectorate Tanganyika. Today the Republic unifies about 125 ethic groups where at least four (Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga and Haya) has one million members each.

In 1506 the present Tanzania's territories were colonized by Portuguese, but already in 1699 they were replaced by Arabs which controlled its until German's occupation in late XIX century. After World War II the country was designated as the British Mandate's area according to the League of Nations Charter. After obtaining its independence under the name Tanganyika in 1961 the country was joined by neighboring Zanzibar (after the revolution ended the Arab dynasty rule there) in 1964. After that the unified country is known as the United Republic of Tanzania.

Since 1977 political life in Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania is dominated by the leftist Chama Cha Mapinduzi or CCM formed by joining together the Tanganyika African National Union or TANU and Afro-Shirazi Party or ASP (represented the island of Zanzibar). After October 2015 election CCM holds 270 seats in the unicameral, 384-members National Parliament - Bunge la Tanzania. Opposing centrist Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo has 69 Parliamentarians. Another opposition party liberal Chama Cha Wananchi holds to 42 seats.

Like majority of other mono-party states in the World, the Government of Tanzania tends to regulate every aspect of country's lives - social, political and business. As a consequence, complicated bureaucratic procedures, multiple red tapes plus the widespread corruption is common characteristics of Tanzania's economy. Today the Republic with its per capita less than $1000 remains one of the poorest countries on earth. Agriculture provides for 25% of country's GDP and 86% of export. Major crops are maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, bananas and rice.

Today Tanzania, formally the multi-party state (according to 1992 Constitutional amendments), still maintains mostly autocratic political system.

Dominican Republic

República Dominicana is Dictators' playground. Is it?

Hispaniola island became one of the first piece of Western Hemisphere's terra firma where Christopher Columbus put his foot. First permanent European outposts in Americas were settled there. It became the place for oldest Spanish colonial community and the first and the only Caribbean country which voluntarily returned to the colonial statehood. It also became one of the first countries in Americas occupied by United States, twice. On top of that, Dominicana is the first country which harbored not one but two notoriously famous dictators of XX century: Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina and Joaquín Antonio Balaguer Ricardo.

Island's size and unique geographical location had made it the target for military invasions and the destination for large waves of tribal migration for centuries. All those historical commotions have created the complex mixture of Caribbean, African, American and European ethnicities on the island. It is not surprising, thought, that Dominican Republic had known so many uprisings, coup d'etat, revolutions, interventions, annexations and drastic change of governments. Probably that inherit political instability has made this country so prone for various dictatorships regimes.

After gaining its freedom from Spain in 1821 the country was annexed by Haiti in February 1822. Then, following the protracted war for independence, it fall, again, under the Spanish Crown's governorship in 1844. That ignited the War for Restoration which finally ousted colonial forces from the island in 1865. From 1916 to 1924 Dominicana was occupied by USA Marines which installed Horacio Lajara as the President for the following six years.

Former police chief Rafael Trujillo had deposed Lajara in 1930 and converted the Republic into the classical dictatorship state. After the end of Trujillo's rule in 1960 the country entered into the new civil war which was ended by the second USA military occupation in 1965.

The new authoritarian ruler - one of former government's top bureaucrats Joaquín Balaguer - had came to power in 1966 and was then reelected to the Presidential post twice. In 1996 a former lawyer - Leonel Antonio Fernandez Reyna - took reigns of the Republic's government in his tight fists and let them go only in 2012.

Today Dominican Republic is moving towards more democratic government and multi-party representation in major legislatives bodies. The lower chamber of Republic's bicameral Parliament - 190-members Cámara de Diputados - is currently dominated by pro-government, center-right Partido de la Liberación Dominicana or PLD (106 seats), followed by leftist Partido Revolucionario Moderno or PRM with 42 seats, multi-ideological Partido Reformista Social Cristiano or PRSC (18 seats) and populist Partido Revolucionario Dominicano or PRD (16).

After so many years of being under various occupational, autocratic, semi-autocratic and outright dictatorial regimes República Dominicana is trying to reconcile its politics with representative, multi-party Democratic system.

Mozambique (Republic of Mozambique)

Mozambique is the country with AK-47 in its Emblem.

Its favorable geographic position on the coast of Indian Ocean made Mozambique one of the prime targets for European colonization of African continent in XVI century. The country had been part of the Portuguese colonial empire for almost 500 years and became one of the African's major center of slaves trade in 1500th and 1600th.

Because of the Estado Novo regime refusal to joint decolonization initiatives of other European states in 1960th, it took ten years of the intense guerrilla campaign, which was part of Portuguese Colonial War of 1961 - 1974, for the Republic to gain its independence. After 1975 Mozambique became the one-party pro-communist state led by the major actor of the anti-colonial independence war - Frente de Libertação de Moçambique or FRELIMO.

One of the first legislative acts passed after proclaiming country's independence on 25 June 1975 by the new government was to expel all Portuguese ex-patriots living in Mozambique. This politically motivated decision significantly undermined the economic potential of Mozambique draining the country of engineering and other professionals needed to build post-colonial economy.

After a few years of communists rule the civil war, which then lasted from 1977 to 1992, had divided the Republic into two military camps: pro-USA and pro-USSR. First one was led by Resistência Nacional Moçambicana or RENAMO financially supported by the Rhodesian Central Intelligence Organization, second - by FRELIMO with strong Soviet Block and Cuba's backings. This 15 years long conflict resulted in 1.7 million refuges fleeing the country into neighboring states.

Notwithstanding the end of Cold War in 1990th and 2000th, traditional political rivals - RENAMO and FRELIMO - seemed to have a very hard time trying to find a peaceful way to settle their old disputes. On top of that the central government, led by FRELIMO, was accused of rigging the elections by using its administrative power. As a result, in 2013, RENAMO started the insurgency in the country's central and norther regions. Today this conflict, periodically altering between military and political phases, is still in progress.

According to latest election results (as off 15 October 2014) unicameral, 250-members Assembleia da República is dominated by FRELIMO with 144 seats, followed by RENAMO with 89 Parliamentarians and by newly formed, centrist party Movimento Democrático de Moçambique which secured 17 seats.

Regardless its relatively stable rate of annual GDP growth (averaging 2% in 2010th) Mozambique, with per capita less than $800, remains one of the poorest countries in the World. 80% of its population is employed in agriculture. The sole largest industry in Mozambique is aluminum production (30% of export).

Today Mozambique shows a picture-perfect example of dangerous political games having extremely negative consequences for economic and social lives of the country.

Peru (Republic of Peru)

Peru is the country oscillating between silver and guano politics.

Peru area served as the birthplace for one of the most famous Civilizations in the history of the World - Incas. Today ruins of that mighty Empire (notable that of the mountaintop stronghold Machu Picchu) are an important source of tourism revenues for the country. After the Spanish Conquista of South America, started in 1532 by Francisco Pizarro beating the Inca Emperor Atahualpa in the Battle of Cajamarca, Peru lands became part of the Spanish Empire for almost 300 years. In 1570th Viceroy (Governor) Francisco de Toledo established silver and gold mining industry as a major contributor to the Peruvian economic growth.

Spaniards introduced to Peru the European land tenure feudal system under which the indigenous people were made to work for white landlords. 90% of Peruvian population had remained landless and uneducated until the start of XIX century. It created the basis for future conflicts between Europeans and native population in Peru after its Independence on 28 July 1821.

After the General Jose de San Martin's proclamation of Peruvian freedom from Spanish colonial rule the long period of internal disorders and external interventions followed. In 1840th and 1850th Peru was stabilized under the presidency of a caudillo (the warlord) Ramon Castilla. In this period due to a prolonged silver prices plunge the export of guano had became one of major cornerstones of the Peruvian economy.

For the last part of XIX century Peru was involved in a series of regional conflicts most prolonged of which was War of the Pacific (1879 - 1884). That as well as expensive and sometimes ruinous social and infrastructure development projects (such as the railroads building program) led to economic downturn as well as increased political instability. As a result, in 1924, the socialist party Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana - Partido Aprista Peruano or APRA emerged and the era of 'class warfares' began.

For the rest of XX century Peru had been switching from democratic to the dictatorial form of governance and from one economic regime to another several times. At the start of 1990th it resulted in Peruvian GDP dropped 20% and per capita going under $720. On top of that indigenous insurgent movements like Sendero Luminoso (closely linked to drug traffickers) started to cause a havoc throughout the country.

Presidency of Alberto Fujimori (a former Peruvian economist of Japanese decent) which lasted a decade (from 1990 to 2000) brought Peru back to its stable economic track on the expense of democratic principles.

Today Peru is back to the basic multi-party system of government where unicameral, 130-members Congreso de la República although currently dominated by Fuerza Popular (a right-wing party led by Fujimori's daughter) has, at the same time, 5 more opposing political groups in it.

There is a rising hope that Peru will enter its silver political epoch, again.

Djibouti (Republic of Djibouti)

Djibouti is the African Hong Kong, except that it is not.

Djibouti hasn't lived to its full economical and political potentials. The Republic hasn't been able to fully capitalize on its almost perfect geographical location on the Gulf of Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb partially due to its colonial past, but mostly because of poor governance.

Djibouti has became notorious among foreign investors for its administrative loopholes which require receiving multiple licenses non of which may be obtained without first getting the other one. Although Djibouti government acknowledges a necessity to facilitate the inflow of private capital into the country there are still just too many bureaucratic barriers, red tapes and personal interests (not to mention the outright corruption) standing on the way.

Djibouti's location on the Horn of Africa is its one and the only economic competitive advantage but it is, at the same time, the crucial one. Only 10% of the Republic's lands are suited for agriculture but harsh desert climate doesn't allow any crops to be produced in an economically viable quantity. Consequently agriculture takes less than 3% of Djibouti's GDP. At the same time service sector constitutes almost 80% of it. The rest is taken by manufacturing of trucks and other machinery. There are no significant mineral resources in Djibouti. On top of that almost 30% of Republic's population is illiterate.

Djibouti's political scene is dominated by Rassemblement populaire pour le Progrès or RPP which (trough pro-government coalition) currently controls 43 out of 65 seats in the National Assembly - Republic's unicameral Parliament. Such mono-party system, although effective in maintaining superficial political and social stabilities in the country, in the long run, leads to economic mismanagement, public funds misappropriation, administrative stagnation and widespread corruption.

Djibouti's unique strategic position has attracted attention of World's powers since XIX century. From 1896 to 1967 the Republic was, first, the colony and, then, a part of French overseas territories under the name of French Somaliland. In 1889 Russians attempted to establish their presence on the Horn but were rebuked by French fleet bombardment.

However, today Djibouti serves as an example of the country which unique geographic and economic potentials have remained largely unexplored.

Mexico (United Mexican States)

Mexico is a melting pot of political systems.

Mexico has had so many historical periods and changed so many political orders that we may call it the World's political laboratory.

All five major Mesoamerican Civilizations - Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Toltec and Aztec - had their roots in Mexico. Starting from Hernan Cortes landing on Veracruz shores (22 April 1519 ) for the following three centuries Mexico remained a part of the Spanish empire which stretched for almost a halve of the Globe on territories of two Americas.

After obtaining its independence on September 16, 1810 Mexico successively got trough periods of internal disorders, a dictatorship, a civil war, the liberal La Reforma (followed by the Reform Was in 1857), the French occupation, a 30 years long autocratic government of Porfirio Diaz ('Porfiriato') culminated by the 1910 Mexican Revolution which started a 19 years period of revolutionary anarchy and violence.

There is no surprise then that such a prolonged and dramatic historical experience led Mexican population to embrace the one-party rule of Partido Revolucionario Institucional or PRI for the next 71 years of XX century. However, this historically compensative and obviously excessive level of political stability resulted in economic as well as social downturns and in the 2000 election Partido Acción Nacional or PAN led by former Coca-Cola executive Vicente Fox replaced PRI in the government.

Today the upper chamber - Senado de la República - of bicameral, 628-members Congreso de la Unión along with PRI (54 seats) and PAN (38) has another three Mexican major political parties in it: socialist Partido de la Revolución Democrática or PRD (18), green Partido Verde Ecologista de México or PVEM/PVE (7) and Marxist-Maoist Partido del Trabajo or PT (7). Obviously a political tide in Mexico has changed its direction moving Mexico towards increasingly chaotic and adversarial political system, again.

This type of complicated, 'experimental' historical politics would perhaps makes much more sense if we take into account Mexico's central geographical location as well as its wast and easily accessible territories where so many various ethnic groups lived and intermingled for thousands of years. When so many different social and political orders came into the direct confrontation, without any of the groups having decisive competitive advantage, it's very difficult (if possible at all) to determine which political system would finally prevail.

Meanwhile it looks like Mexico will, probably, remain the testing ground of competing social and economical orders for many years to come.

Malawi (Republic of Malawi)

Malawi used to be African North Korea, today it's African Colombia, nearly.

In 1980th all Malawian governmental buildings was required to have a portrait of Kamuzu Banda - President for life of the Malawi Congress Party or MCP - with no other picture or even clock be placed higher on the wall. At any of Banda's arrivals in airport a band of female dancer must be present. When the presidential cartage rode trough Malawian cities street all citizens were ordered to keep their windows shot and everybody must be out on streets to cheer for Banda's passing car. Men's hair wasn't allowed to hang over his collar. All male foreigners arrived into Malawi were checked on the compliance with that rule. An obligatory haircut on the spot was prescribed for violators. Government issued approvals were required for publishing a book, making a movie or practicing a religion.

At the same time, contrary to other totalitarian states, Malawi acquired the nickname of "heavens" for African refugees because of its open door policies and the internal political stability. On top of that, Banda became one of the few dictators in the World who actually allowed the relatively peaceful transition from dictatorship to multi-party democracy. In 1993 Malawian people held a referendum voting 'yes' to abolish the one-party system. In 1994 Banda lost the election and the leader of newly formed, liberal, pro-Western party the United Democratic Front or UDF - Bakili Muluzi - became the next President.

Today Malawi is the presidential republic with 193-members National Assembly where Democratic Progressive Party or DPP (maintains all-inclusive or so called "big tent" ideology) holds the majority with 50 seats. Second largest Parliamentary party is MCP (48 seats) with its "ubuntu" (human centric) slogans. Two other major Malawian party represented in the Assembly are conservative, center-right People's Party with 26 seats and UDF with 14 seats.

Dr. Banda had not brought the economic prosperity for its country neither did its successors. Malawi with its per capita less than $350 remains one of the poorest countries in the World. 85% of Malawian population is rural. Agriculture products' share in country's GDP exceeds 35% with tobacco being the major item of Malawian export (around 40%).

However, another (illicit) cornerstone of country's economy is so-called 'Malawi Gold' - one of the finest species of cannabis. Estimated production of 'chamba' is for about 70 tons a year or 0.2% of total Malawi's GDP. Not surprisingly, thought, that corruption, specifically those among police force, is today among the most serious political as well as economic issues for the Country. International help organization even suspended their funds transfers to country's budget because of those concerns.

Malawi today is a country which is parted with its totalitarian history but still needs much help to move forward with its semi-functioning democratic system, population's disastrous health issues, struggling economy, a flourishing drug trade and the growing corruption.

Ecuador (Republic of Ecuador)

Ecuador is a country on the Equator in all senses.

Notwithstanding its relatively small size República del Ecuador has always been in the center of important political events in South America. Its central position on the Continent has also been the cause for its eventful but not particularly happy internal political history.

From around 9000 BC to 1400 AD the territory of present day Ecuador was populated by the whole collection of Civilizations and regional Cultures (Las Vegas, Machalilla, Valdivia, Chorrera, Cotocollao to name just a few). In 1463 Inca began their conquest of Ecuador lands. It lasted almost to the arrival of Francisco Pizarro and his Conquistadors in 1532 which signified the beginning of the new era for Ecuador.

Ecuador stayed under the Spanish governorship until the end of Napoleonic war after which it became the part of newly formed state Grand Colombia. After a lot of internal political skirmishes the first Republic of Ecuador was formed in 1830. However, even more of violent disturbances followed. 1859 known as the Terrible Year because the nation came to the brink of complete anarchy.

Second halve of XIX century till 1925 included two eras of Ecuadorian history: conservative and liberal. During the first one the Republic's economy experienced the unprecedented grow (for example, Ecuadorean export increased from $1 million to $10 million in four decades). During the second era Ecuador was plunged into the financial crisis.

XX century brought to Ecuador all kinds of governments from dictatorial and militant to ultra liberal ones. It also was characterized by the growing role of the army in the Ecuadorean political life, specially with regards of unrolling territorial conflict with Peru. At the end of 1990th the new economic crisis had hit the Republic hard and in 2000 coup d'etat 'epidemic' started which again brought militants to power.

Although today Ecuador is far from being a military dictatorship, it can't be branded as stable, competitive, multi-party democracy as well. Republic's unicameral, 137-members Parliament - Asamblea Nacional - is fully dominated by only one pro-government party - Alianza PAIS (Patria Altiva y Soberana) (socialist) - which holds 100 seats (73%). The largest opposition party - Creando Oportunidades or CREO (centrist) - has only 11 seats.

Ecuador is the dynamic country which has been one of centerpieces of South American politics for generations but which is still unable to reach the internal political stability.

Cabo Verde (Republic of Cabo Verde)

Cabo Verde is the place from where revolutionaries and Gorgons came from.

Parents of Cabral brothers - Amilcar and Luis, leaders of independence movements in Cabo (Cape) Verde and Guinea-Bissauan - were born on one of those ten islands located 570 kilometers from the African coast in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1970th Amílcar Lopes da Costa Cabral became the hero of the 'proletariat struggle against the exploratory Capitalism regime in Africa'.

Under the guidance of Luis Cabral and the one party rule of Partido Africano da Independência de Cabo Verde (PAICV) islands were plunged into the socialist experiment from 1975 to 1990. In resulted, as it was the case with many other African post-colonial countries, in economic and social downturns.

Starting from 1990th series of democratic reforms were implemented. In 2007 the Republic joined the WTO. A year after that the United Nation recognized Cape Verde as the Middle Income Country.

Permanent settlements on Cabo Verde appeared in 1456 with the arrival of the first Portuguese caravel. Later, in XVI century, islands were used as an important harbor for ships (including those transporting African slaves) crossing the Ocean.

However, in XX century gigantic sea liners and tankers no longer needed to rest on Cape Verde for re-feeling during their cross-Atlantic voyages. The technological progress had undermined Cape Verde economically and islands made tourism the major pillar of its economy.

Agriculture industry on islands is not feasible because of climate conditions. Hot air currents blowing from the biggest African desert - Sahara - cause periodic droughts. As a result more than 70% of all food must be exported to the islands. Cape Verde GDP is added by remittances from Cabo Verdean immigrants as well as by international organizations financial assistance.

Cape Verde is the politically stable semi-presidential republic. Cabo Verdean Parliament - 72-members Assembleia Nacional - is dominated by two parties: pro-government Movimento para Democracia or MpD (center-right) with 32 seats and opposing PAICV (left) with 38 seats.

According to Pliny the Elder Gorgons - sisters who had their hair made of living snakes - once lived on those islands until Perseus took care about them.

Today Cabo Verde is neither the home of dreadful harpies nor the darling of socialist camp. In a relatively short time period this small island nation manged to built the functioning democratic government and a relatively sustainable economy.

Colombia (Republic of Colombia)

Colombia is the country which exists in a permanent state of conflict with itself.

It has six distinctly different geographical regions. It also possesses one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse populations in the World. On top of that Colombia has served as the gatekeeper for North and South Americas as well as for Atlantic and Pacific Ocean costs. Those extreme geographical and demographic diversities as well as its strategic location predefined disagreeable and hostile character of internal and external political lives for Columbia.

Columbia gained its independence from Spain more than 200 years ago in 1812. Since then different political factions with their distinct ideologies representing different population groups had been in almost permanent state of conflict which sometimes took an extremely violent, military character.

On its first year of independence, proclaimed on 20 July 1820, the United Provinces of New Granada (territory which included future Colombia) saw two clashing political currents rising withing the liberators movement, those of federalist and centralist. Soon, in 1830, internal conflicts lead to disintegration of this state and to formation of the new ones: New Granada, Ecuador and Venezuela.

However, it didn't pacified the region. In 1863 the Civil War erupted in New Granada. It had lasted two years and led to foundation of the United States of Colombia, later, in 1866 renamed to the Republic of Colombia.

The beginning of the 20th century only brought new, more severe conflicts to Colombia. In 1903 USA took the newly formed state of Panama out of Colombian territory paying $25 million to the government. In 1932 7-months Leticia War with Peru was fought for the piece of Amazon's jungle. Finally, year 1948 signified the start of bloody internal war (called La Violencia) between two leading political parties in Colombia - Conservative and Liberal. It lasted ten bloody years to 1958, and, as its name suggested, led to massive losses for its participants as well as for the civilian population. On top of that, in 1950, Colombia entered into the Korean War on the side of USA.

Against such historical background it had been of no surprise that in 1960th more of new militarized political groups were formed and among them one which soon would take the front line of non-stop guerrilla war in Colombia - Marxists-Leninist Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo, FARC–EP. That war (fought mostly in rural regions of the country) has lasted for more than 50 years and still continues in our days (from 2000th with far less intensity) despites all efforts to bring it to the end. The latest void attempt was made on the Referendum held on 3 October 2016 when voters by narrow margin rejected the FARC peace deal.

1960th, 1970th and early 1980th were not only periods in World's history when ideological struggle between socialism and capitalism reached its climax but also when Colombia Cocaine monopoly emerged, grew and proliferated. As neighboring countries, pushed by USA, tightened their anti-drug legislation and strengthened their police forces Colombia government was not able to control part of its territory covered by jungles and ideal for coca crops. This situation was exploited by dealers from both USA and Colombia to build one of the most profitable illicit enterprises in the history of capitalism. It is suggested that in 1990th - 2000th revenues of Colombia cartels from drug trade have reached more than $10 billion per year.

Its mineral base and unique geographical position have made Colombia very attractive for international investors. However, the on-going military conflict has posed severe restrains on business activities in the Republic. Periodically, when the intensity of war diminishes Colombia starts to experience the economic boom which puts it on a hot list for World's biggest Investment Funds. Since the beginning of 2000th Colombia's GDP growth rate averages 4% per year. Most of this growth is due to large scale mineral resources extraction projects (primary of oil). Colombia was also named "the Silicon Valley of South America" for its support of innovative technologies specifically those with potential military applications.

Columbia today is the country where government is struggling to eradicate the national sport of waging perpetual internal warfares.

Morocco (Kingdom of Morocco)

Morocco is a meeting place for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Politically and economically Morocco is closer to Europe than any other Greater Maghreb Etas. Country's unique geographical position, bordering both Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, has defined Moroccan historical destiny.

Morocco was amalgamated into the European history since its dawn. Phoenicians in 600 BC, later Carthaginians and then Romans from 100 BC to 500 AD controlled this region. Vandals and Visigoths, then Byzantines counted it as their lands. Warriors of Islam conquered Morocco's territory in 670 AD but in 710 indigenous tribes founded the first independent from Umayyads state - the Kingdom of Nekor. In 739 after the Great Berber Revolt more such kingdoms appeared in the area of modern Morocco.

Until 1549, when Morocco was again brought under the Arab dynasties, it had been ruled by series of Berber lineages. The most prominent among them was the House of Almohad which realm, at the start of XIII century, included all of the Western Mediterranean region and extended for much of coastal Spain. In XV century the Reconquista ended Muslim presence in Spain and signified the decline of Berbers kings. The Alaouite Dynasty after a century of wars against Ottoman Empire, England, Spain and local tribes had united Morocco under their command in 1666 and stayed in power ever since.

In 1800th both Spain and France had showed their growing strategic interests in Morocco territory. At the start of XX century those rivaling European powerhouses formed 'zones of influences' there. In 1912, France declared 'the protectorate' over all of Morocco's territory. Spain did the same with regards to northern and southern Sahara regions.

Morocco regained its independence in March 1956 and became the Kingdom of Morocco. After modernization reforms implemented by king Mohammed VI in early 2000th (and then in 2011) Morocco's political system was brought closer to the European constitutional monarchy model than that of any other African or Middle Eastern kingdoms. Thanks to those reforms Morocco is, today, one of the most politically stable country in the region. At the same time, Western Sahara conflict still remains one of the most contentious issue of Morocco internal and external politics.

Lower chamber of Morocco Parliament Majlis an-Nuwwâb (The Assembly of Representatives of Morocco) has 325 members and is ruled by government coalition with Justice and Development Party or PJD (Islamism, nationalism) on top of it with 107 seats. The biggest opposition party - Ḥizb Al-Istiqlāl or PI - possesses 60 seats. The Sanate of Morocco Majlis al-Mustasharin (The Assembly of Councilors) has 270 seats, 55 of which belongs to PI.

Morocco has the second biggest economy in Africa (after the Egypt) without the reliance on oil revenues and with large tourism, agriculture, mining, construction, textile and telecoms industries. However, due to a large and growing population Morocco's per capita remains low (around $3000).

Morocco is one of the largest center in the world for cannabis production. More than 1% of all agricultural lands in Morocco are under pot cultures. On top of that, because of its geographical position Morocco serves as a bridge for transporting drugs from North America trough Africa to Europe.

Morocco is no longer the center of European presence on the African continent but it still preserves its unique multiculturalism which attracts tourists as well as investors from around the World.

Guyana (Co-operative Republic of Guyana)

Guyana is the Lost World literary but not politically speaking.

Guyanese Mount Roraima - one of World's highest table-top mountains (tepuis) - served as an inspiration for Conan Doyle's fiction novel The Lost World. However, politically Guyana is far from being a pristine, unperturbed, seclusive retreat for Professor Challenger's and his companions' types. Most of Guyana's political history in 20th and 21st centuries is about the vehement rivalry between two ethnic groups - Blacks (Africans) and East Indians - represented by two political parties PNC and PPP.

In 1950 former dentist, Cheddi Jagan founded the People's Progressive Party or PPP. The party's ideological base had been Marxism-Leninism until former member of PPP, lawyer Linden Forbes Burnham founded People's National Congress or PNC and by doing so split PPP to two ethnic factions - Blacks and Indians. From that moment the Guyana's major political intrigue has been about the race - not ideology.

PNC, with its pronounced 'anti-capitalist' agenda, stayed in charge of Guyana's government for most of XX century. In 1970 Guyana was even declared a "cooperative republic" following communist doctrine of people's 'commune' ownership of 'means for production'. In several decades PNC 'kadry' converted Guyana into highly centralized and economically dependent society. Political and market liberalization programs had began in the country only at the mid 1990th and stayed unfinished to our days. On top of that Venezuela claims ownership of more than 150,000 square kilometers (70%) of Guyana's territory adding one more uncertain factor to the country's unstable political climate.

Both political factions in Guyana have used international relations for strengthening their political positions inside of the country. As a result, Guyana became an active participant of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Its headquarter is located in the Guyana capital Jamestown.

Guyana is the country with very rich and diverse flora and fauna but tourism presents only the minor fraction of Guyana's GDP. Sugar and rice production, bauxite and gold mining as well as aluminum ore export are the major pillars of country's economy. However, decades of socialist experiments converted Guyana into one of the least developed country in the Central America with per capita less than $4,000.

Today Guyana is no longer the Lost World but the House Divided.

Madagascar (Republic of Madagascar)

Madagascar is the place where lemurs proliferate but people strive.

Madagascar is an island with the distinct ecosystem which supports unique species of plants and animals. At the same time, it's geographical isolation has undermined this island both economically and politically.

Madagascar became one of the last places on Earth inhabited by humans. They settled on the island at around 350 BC. First Europeans anchored to Madagascar shores in 1500. At early 17th century French established a trading post there. Later in 17th and 18th centuries Madagascar served as a basis for pirates and slave traders. The small isle Nosy Boroha on the northeastern coast of Madagascar supposed to be the location for legendary Libertalia - the pirates' utopia state.

For more than three centuries (1540 - 1897) Madagascar was ruled by indigenous queens and kings. One of the most prominent among them - King Andrianampoinimerina (seriously) - finally achieved the unification of Madagascar under his sole ruler-ship. In 1883 French troops invaded Madagascar and defeated its army after bombardment of the Kings' Palace in September 1895.

The island got back its independence only in 1960. 15 years after that the coup d'etat changed the capitalist's First Madagascar Republic to Marxists' Second one. Admiral Didier Ratsiraka run the government for almost 20 years after that (from 1975 to 1993) with devastating economic and social consequences.

Until recently the political situation on the island remains instable. The government of Madagascar has been trying to implement series of economic and administrative reforms aimed at reviving Madagascar's economy. Despite all of those efforts Madagascar economy remains predominantly agricultural with per capita less than $500. It makes Madagascar one of the poorest countries on Earth.

Today Madagascar possesses both uniquely rich flora and fauna as well as an extremely underdeveloped economy.

Aruba

Aruba is a small island of Giants.

When, in 1499, Amerigo Vespucci visited Aruba, he reported that it was inhabited by giants, because aborigines (Caquetio people, natives of Venezuela) far exceeded in stature an average Spaniard. It's no longer the case but Aruba is still stands out from other Caribbean islands.

For starter, its vegetation cover is not made all over from palm threes or wet rain forests, which is a main trait of other islands' flora, but a lot of desert cactus and of aloe vera grew there as well. The later even became one of Aruba's national symbols.

Secondly, because of its relative isolation from other Caribbean islands, as well as thanks to dominant ocean currents which prevent inadvertent travels in and from the island, Aruba has its own endemic fauna such as a blue whiptail lizard, a small long-legged owl, a brown-throated parakeet as well as a 90 centimeters rattlesnake (only 230 of which survive in the wild) and which is the other of national symbols for Aruba.

Thirdly, Aruba is located outside of the hurricane corridor. That makes the island very attractive to tourists from all over the World. In fact tourism and hotel industries have been proliferating on the island for more than 50 years. As a result, Aruban per capita is now one of the highest for the region (for about $30,000).

Fourth. Aruba is a rare Caribbean island with developed oil refinery industry. For that reason it was targeted by the German submarine during the Second World War. However, Nazi commanding officer had made a mistake by identifying the wrong target and a torpedo hit empty cisterns keeping the Aruba refinery complex largely intact.

Since 1636 Aruba has been a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and still depends on it in all of its external affairs. Aruban Parliament - unicameral, 21-member Staten van Aruba - currently has three political parties represented in it: Aruban People's Party (center-right) with 13 seats, People's Electoral Movement (center-left) with 8 seats and Real Democracy with 1 seat.

With Aruban budget receiving a development aid from the Netherlands on top of its major revenues coming from booming tourist industry the most contentious issue of Aruba's politics is an overspending. Because of that, Aruba, contrary to so many other Caribbean islands, doesn't rely on offshore banking or on citizenship trading.

Aruba is no longer the habitat of giants but it's people are still the object of envies for its neighbors.

Ethiopia (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia)

Ethiopia is the paradoxical country.

It's one of the oldest states on the Black Continent and it's only one which has remained independent for almost all of its history (except for a brief period 1936 - 1941). At the same time Ethiopia has came under the influence of different cultures, religions and ideologies. It is the largest Christian country on the African continent. However, it became one of the staunches allies of atheist USSR in Africa.

It's the fastest growing economy in the world. On the other hand, it's one of the poorest countries on Earth. From almost 100 million people in Ethiopia more than 25 million leave under the poverty line. Agriculture is the major source of income for almost 80% of countries population with coffee beans being the main crop. Frequent droughts have caused major famines several times in the past.

Ethiopian history goes back to the dawn of human civilization. Name 'Ethiopia' (which means 'burned face' in ancient Greek language) is mentioned in 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey'. Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut organized the expedition to the Land of Punt (Egyptian name for Ethiopia) in XIV century B.C. Generations of indigenous kings and queens ruled Ethiopian for hundreds of years. Ethiopian army defeated Italy in the Battle of Adwa on 1 March 1896 but in 1936 fascist dictator Benito Mussolini occupied the country which became the part of Italian Empire until its liberation by British forces during the East African Campaign in 1941.

From 1970th to the beginning of 1990th, Ethiopia came under the influence of USSR and joined socialists camp. Ethiopian Marxist-Leninist experiment led to economic collapse followed by social unrests. After the break down of the Soviet Union at the beginning of XX century the democratic political system was implemented in Ethiopia for a brief period of time. However, soon after that only one party - Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front or EPRDF - began to dominate the political scene in Ethiopia. Currently there is no opposition members in the country's parliament - the House of People's Representatives. All 547 seats in it belong to EPRDF or its allies.

All of key Ethiopian industries such as telecommunications, transport and finance remain under the strict central government's control. The fastest developing industry in the country is gold mining.

Today Ethiopia is a country were the government tries to control all major aspects of political, business and social lives of its citizens. However, despite the record GDP growth rate (around 10% in past 10 years) Ethiopia is falling behind most of countries in the World.

Dominica (Commonwealth of Dominica)

Dominica is the Caribbean island which was discovered twice - first by Columbus and second by Hollywood.

On Sunday, 3 November 1493 Christopher Columbus saw the island from the desk of his ship and without further ado named it 'Dominica' which means 'Sunday' on Latin. Much later in history Hollywood filmmakers staged two out of five 'Pirates of Caribbeans' series on Dominica, effectively rediscovering the island for the World.

However, it would be unfair to say that Dominica has stayed completely invisible for the most part of humanity for all of past five hundreds years. There were at least two political events which made headlines at their times.

In 1838 ethnic African majority controlled the Dominica legislature. That happened first time in the British Caribbean colony. The growing wealth of indigenous farmers increased their political power as well. However, white landlords had spent the next 27 years trying to erode the growing influence of ethnic African population. In 1865 the new election assembly where 50% of all members were appointed replaced the old one and in 1896 Crown Colony government was re-introduced. That sealed the faith of ethnic population political independence until 3 November 1978 when Dominica became a Commonwealth state.

Second time, when Dominica made a splash in a World's events pool, was in 1981 when North American mercenaries (non of which has any type of military training) led by two guys - one from Houston, another one from Toronto - attempted to overthrow the Dominica government headed at that time by first Caribbean female Prime Minister. Somebody tipped off US authorities, and FBI prevented the group to board the ship which supposed to bring them right to Dominica shores.

The history of Dominica is not much different from that of most of small Caribbean islands. Before Europeans the island was inhabited by Kalinago people. In 1632 French established their presence there. Then, in 1763, the island was ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Paris. In 1778 France get it back but lost it again to British Crown in 1783.

After Dominica obtained its independent status in 1970th the period of political instability followed. On top of that, economic and social conditions on the island were negatively affected by hurricanes of 1979 and 1980.

Dominica political structure has been established within the framework of two-party system similar to that of the United Kingdom. Dominica Labor Party (left) and United Worker's Party (center) have been in control of the unicameral House of Assembly for most of the past time.

Economically Dominica depends on its offshore banking sector as well as on banana plantations. The Government is trying to diversified island's economic base by encouraging the production of alternative crops such as coffee and citruses. Additionally, citizenship for money program is currently enacted in Dominica. Tourism is the growing economic sector there. However, due to a scarcity of sand beaches on the volcanic, mountainous island, the tourism industry is mostly represented by tropical forests hiking.

Today Dominica is trying to bolster its stance within Caribbean islands' highly competitive family.

Mali (Republic of Mali)

Mali is a big, desert country with the rich history and an uncertain future.

Mali ka Fasojamana is built on remnants of three African Empires - that of Ghana, of Mali and of Songhai. Ghana Empire was the oldest and the most prominent among them. Some historian claimed that its kings could put more than 200,000 soldiers into the battlefield at once. It lasted from around 300 AD to 1200 AD and was finally subjugated by Mali Empire. The later reached its pick of prosperity in the 14th century when it became one of major African centers for trade and science. In XV century Songhai Empire replaced it as a regional power due to series of internal conflicts which had weakened Mali. Moroccan invasion in 1591 ended one a halve centuries of Songhai dominance in the area and signified the beginning of dusk for indigenous states in this part of the African Continent.

At the end of XIX century the present day Mali area fell under the French control as part of the French Sudan and soon became one of the main exporters of cotton to other part of Africa and to France. Mali gained independence from the Fifth Republic on 20 June 1960 together with Senegal under the name of Mali Federation. In two months Senegal withdrew from the union and Mali became the Republic on 22 September 1960.

As many other African countries Mali government, headed by former teacher Modibo Keita, espoused the Socialism. In eight years of Keita regime most of Mali's commercial resources were nationalized. It lead to rapid economic and social declines and on 19 November 1968 lieutenant Moussa Traore organized a bloodless coup d'etat which put Modibo's government out of business.

In the following two decades Traore practiced oligopolistic, corrupt form of dictatorship capitalism which led to mass protests and culminated in Mali's March Revolution of 1991. Soldiers refused to fire into the crowd and joined the unrest. Traore was arrested and democratic government with nationally elected President and Parliament was established.

Until Tuareg Rebellion in 2012 (organized by religious extremists) Mali was regarded as one of the most stable countries in Africa. Notwithstanding the France military assistance Mali government failed to suppress the rebellion which led to two consequent coups d'etat in March and December of 2012. Since then Mali is under the direct military rule.

République du Mali has a rich mineral resources base with significant deposits of gold, phosphates, kaolin (widely used in paper production) and salt. However, traditional source of livelihood for the majority of Mali's population is the livestock production. Mali with its per capita less than $1000 belongs to the group of least develop countries in Africa.

At the same time, Mali's GDP growth rate stays among the highest in the region averaging 5% in the past two decades. It's largely due to the liberalization of mining legislation at the beginning of 1990th. That liberalization allowed international Corporations to start early exploitation of Mali's natural mineral reserves. However, it only led to forming the super-rich class without benefiting the majority of Mali's society.

Mali, once an exemplary African democracy, is today the country in a political stalemate with deteriorating economic and security environments.

Grenada

La Grenade is a small country which played the big role in the Cold War.

Grenada was first inhabited by Kalinago people in the early 17th century. French colonizers took over the island in 1649 and drove indigenous population off their lands in 1654. Seven Years' War put an end to the French presence on the Island of Spice and British troops took over it as an aftermath of the Treaty of Paris signed in 1763.

1950th and 1960th became the period of civic unrests and of gradual diminishing of British power in Grenada. It culminated on 7 February 1974 by the independence granted to the island by the Crown. In March 1979 Marxist-Leninist New Jewel Movement organized the coup d'etat and Maurice Bishop - graduate of King's College in London - became the new prime minister of Le Grenade. The main page in the history of the island was about to be turned over.

Bishop firmly took the political course towards the Socialism and embraced Cuba leader Fidel Castro's as well as USSR Politburo's friendships. Ronald Reagan didn't find too many reasons to sympathize with all of that. However, it is only after Bishop was overthrown by its own much more radical 'comrades' that White House decided to act.

One of Bishop's civic infrastructure development initiatives was to build 3000 meters airstrip on Grenada. Reagan's analytics assumed that this strip could have dual application by allowing heavy military plains to land on it. Game was on and Operation Urgent Fury commenced at 05:00 on 25 October 1983. Around 8,000 USA troops supported by AC-130 gunships and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters fought against 1,500 Grenadian and 700 Cuban soldiers. Actions lasted about six days and ended on November 1 by 22nd Marine Amphibious Unite capturing the island of Carriacou 27 kilometers northeast of Grenada. Democratic government was reinstalled in capital city St.George's but United Nations firmly condemned this intervention by voting 108 to 9 against USA.

Today Granada is a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth realm. Its bicameral, 28-members Parliament is dominated by New National Party (center-right) with 22 seats. Opposing National Democratic Congress (left) has only 3 seats. This two-party, left-wing-right-wing political combination is common for many countries with the Westminster system of governance.

Tourism and spice production are two major sources of revenue for Grenada's population. Since the beginning of 2000th island's GDP more than doubled and reached $1 billion. Grenada's per capita is around $9,000 which is comparable with other Caribbean countries.

Today's Grenada long lost its visibility on international political arena for the better of country's economic and social interests.

Burundi (Republic of Burundi)

Burundi is one of the most troubled lands on the Black Continent.

At the end of XVII century Kingdom of Burundi was one of the many indigenous sovereignties founded in the center of the African continent. By the mid 20th-century it became one of the most dangerous places on Earth.

After being first German and then Belgian colony Burundi gained its independence 1 July 1962. Historically, two ethnic groups - Tutsi and Hutu - had lived together in this area for centuries without achieving political and social cohesions. Racial tensions were exacerbated during colonial administrations and in mid 1970th this situation escalated to the military conflict which lasted almost 40 years with terrifying consequences for the civilian population. The Cold War, where major state actors including USSR, China and United States, used proxy warfares to secure their presence in the region, made the situation even worser.

The cease-fire agreement was signed and the last insurgent group disarmed only in 2008. However, in a short period of time past after the end of hostilities political stability has never been reached in Burundi. In 2015 new unrests erupted and coup d'etat attempted bringing the situation in the country closer to a new war. On top of that, since 2008 more than 450,000 refuges returned to their former homes causing multiple proprietary and social conflicts all across the country.

Leading political forces in the country are now trying to improve political conditions by centralizing government authorities under the quasi-mono-party system. The leading political party of Burundi - Conseil National Pour la Défense de la Démocratie–Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie, CNDD–FDD made up from representatives of the opposing political forces - holds an absolute majority in the both chambers of Parliament (43-members Senate and 121-members National Assemble).

Burundi is one of the poorest country in the World with per capita less than $900. More than 80% of its population are living below the poverty line. Only 17% of population is rural. Literacy rate is at 67% only. That undermines chances for Burundi to find the pass out of its difficult economical situation. Country's economy is almost 90% agriculture based with major crops being coffee and tea.

Burundi is now trying to normalize its political and social lives but with an economy in a such dire straits that normality will be very difficult to achieve.

Belize

Belize is the jaguar country.

Its wildlife reserve is the biggest sanctuary for jaguars in the World. This beautiful and dangerous animal served as one of the most sacred symbols for Maya Civilization which spread across the area of present-day Belize around 1500 BC. Mayan had appeared more than 3000 years ago and reached the pinnacle of their Culture around 250 A.D. Then, at around 900 - 1000 AD, for reasons still unknown, their society suddenly got into the decay. Today Maya people still constitute more than 11% of Belizean population but there stayed only ruins of their legendary Cities.

In following centuries several ethnic groups such as Mestizo (currently 53% of population), Kriol (26%) and Garifuna (6%) had found their new home on former Maya's lands. Spanish conquistadors appeared there in the XVI century but didn't find what they came for - the gold. In 1638 first European settlers (so-called Baymen) appeared along the Bay of Honduras. Soon Belize became one of prime destinations for logwood trade - the major source of colorants for rising European textile manufacturers.

In 1786 the British nominated the first superintendent to Belize. For the long period of time British Crown was reluctant to recognize the settlement as a colony fearing to provoke Spanish military intervention. Only in 1862 Belize became part of British Empire under the name of British Honduras. It kept its colonial status trough 1950th, 1960th and 1970th despite the growing political pressure caused by anti-colonial movement inside and outside the country. In 1973 it was renamed Belize and gained the independence on September 12, 1981.

Belize today is the constitutional monarchy within the British Commonwealth. National parliament - bicameral, 43-members National Assembly - is dominated by two political parties: United Democratic Party or UDP (center-right, which holds 25 seats in both houses) and People's United Party or PUP (left, which has 15 seats). This two-party left-right political system is similar to that of UK.

Trees logging is no longer constitutes the foundation of Belizean economy. Bananas, sugar canes and citruses plantations, plus oil production and tourism dominate in Belize's GDP. Another important pillar of Belize economy is an offshore banking business. In 2016 Belize GDP growth rate stagnates around 0% mirroring the general state of World's economy.

Looks like Jaguar is now came to rest inside its civilized cage.

Benin (Republic of Benin)

Benin isn't Benin, really.

This name was first used in 1975 by country's Marxist government from ideological reasons. The goal was to erase from people's memories the inglorious past of that finger like stretch of land on the African Continent. In fact the ancient Kingdom of Benin existed on the coastal territory of present-day Nigeria for more than 700 years (from 1180 to 1897) and has almost nothing to do with Benin as we know it today.

Similar to so many other African states what then became République du Bénin had been artificially established inside its current borders by European colonizers without any regards to African political and social heritages. In 1899 France assigned the name French Dahomey to it. In 1958 France allowed self-rule to the Republic of Dahomey and, then, 100% independence on 1 August 1960.

In pre-colonial period the coastal part of present-day Benin belonged to the Kingdom of Dahomey. Attracted by its strategic location alongside Atlantic Ocean shores and by deep water fjords which gave refuge for ocean ships Portugal adventurers came to Dahomey region looking for business as early as in XV century. Portuguese slave traders found in local kings very accommodating business partners and, in 1472 reached with them mutually satisfactory agreement.

Local customs dictated that prisoners of war must be sacrificed on the Royal Court's parties. Sage Kings, advised by shrewd and humane European gentlemen, realized that this ceremony was not only barbaric but also the waste of very valuable resources. For the next 300 years the Slave Cost - the name under which this region soon became known Worldwide - delivered up to 10,000 black slaves per annum to both of American continents.

After-independence period (from 1960th to the mid 1970th) was a chain of coups and counter-coups for Dahomey. The graduate of French military school - Mathieu Kerekou - seized power in 1972 coup d'etat and for the next 34 years the history of Dahomey-Benin became closely linked to this colorful personage.

In 1974 he introduced Dahomey to Marxism and changed country's name to People's Republic of Benin in 1975. Soon after, probably, as a result of Marxist-Leninist theoretical insights, Benin took a first load of nuclear waste from the USSR and later from France. Colonial rule and socialists' genus had made Benin one of the least developed countries on the African continent in 1970th.

Mr. Kerekou converted to Islam in 1980 and then to born-again Christian. In 1989 banking crisis erupted and Benin's army revolted. That was the sigh and Mr. Kerekou heard it load and clear. He renounced Marxism and embraced Capitalism. The new Constitution came to force and presidential elections were called in 1991 but Mr. Kerekou lost it. Here we should gave a credit to him because those elections became the first case of blood-less transition of power in the African post-colonial history.

Obviously, people of Benin appreciated this gesture very much because they re-elected charming and unpredictable Mr. Kerekou back to its post in 1996 where he stayed till 6 April 2006. In 1999 he apologized for Africans participation in slave trade which came as an unprecedented step for an African leader at this time.

Today République du Bénin is the presidential state with Parliament - Assemblée nationale - comprised of 12 political parties. Most of them are formed by leading political operatives of Benin and do not have clearly expressed ideological and political orientation.

Forces Cauris pour un Bénin Emergent with 32 seats (jointly with Alliance Amana - AA), the opposition party - L'Union fait la Nation - with 15 seats and the party comprised from exiled Beninese - Parti du renouveau démocratique - with 10 seats have a major representation in Assemblée. Today Benin is viewed by EU and USA Governments as a glaring example of successful transition from dictatorship to democracy in Africa.

Regardless its success as an emerging Democracy Benin remains one of the poorest countries in the World with per capita less than $800 and literacy rate under 30%. On top of that the latest reports from the country on corruption, nepotism and secret political deals led many observers to question the viability of Benin's government system.

Benin people are doing their best to get rid of their colonial, socialist and totalitarian heritages but it looks like this process is now stalled for a wile.

Maldives (Republic of Maldives)

Maldives is the new Atlantis.

Is it? According to the former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed his country can be underwater in 7 years if the current growth rate of carbon emission stays as it is. Islands highest elevation point is 2.4 meters and the average ground level is 1.5 meters. If Mr. Nasheed's statement is true the rate of sea level rise must be something like centimeters per annum. However, the observed rate is 1.7 - 1.8 millimeters per year. It gives Maldives more years until it will be water mostly. However, some other studies predicted that most of Republic's islands must be abandoned by 2100.

In other words, the drowning of Maldives is a tricky business. Some people may not trust Mr. Nasheed or think that nothing really can be done about that and the best thing to do is simply follow the crowd. It includes Republic's current Government which gave a green light to oil exploration projects on the islands' territorial shelf. Well, they may be right about that even if they are wrong. Maldives oil reserves isn't that of Saudis, after all.

However, the point is, slowly or not, the sea is rising and Maldives will be one of the first states on Earth to go aquatic. That, probably, makes it Atlantis, or something.

The history of Maldive is more or less typical for a small Southeastern Asian country. Islam replaced Buddhism there at around 1150th-1190th when a local king adapted the religion of Arabs traders and with this imposed the title of Sultan on himself. In 1558 Portuguese came to the area but were soon thrown out by a local uprising. In 17th century Dutch tried to rule Maldives from their base on Ceylon. In 1796, after they were expelled from the region by British fleet, islands came under the Crown's protectorate and stayed there until 1953 declaration of the First Maldive Republic.

Today Dhivehi Raa'jeyge Jumhooriyya is a presidential Republic with fairly unique legal code which combines a common law of the former British colony with Islamic sharia. After March 2014 elections there are 5 political parties in Maldives Parliament - unicameral 85-members Rayyithunge Majilis. Major among them are: The Progressive Party of Maldives or PPM (Islamism) has 33 seats, Maldivian Democratic Party or MDP (centrists, party of human rights) with 26 seats, Republican Party or Jumhooree party - JP (party of political elite) holds 15 seats.

Current political climate in Maldives is characterized by international observers as 'partly free'. Violent street protests, followed by police armed interventions became a frequent scenery in the capital city Male. Opposition requires from current Government to get rid of corruption, as well as to re-launch a democratic reform process which had been started in 2009 but then stalled.

Back in the history the basis of the Maldive economy was a cowry shell. Those mobile homes of marine gastropod molluscs served as coins in Africa. Now, however, as a sea level continues to rise and political situation to worsen, it looks like the most important currency for Maldive is the time.

Slovakia (Slovak Republic)

Slovakia is the third chance Country.

History of Slovaks is closely related to that of other ethnic groups such as Czechs and Hungarians. They came to present-day's Slovensko lands at around V century with other slavs tribes. In 623 BC Slovaks had joined the short-lived Samo's Empire and later, at the start of IX century, instituted the Duchy of Nitra annexed by Principality of Moravia around 870 BC (disputed by some historians). It became the first historical chance for Slovaks to get their own country.

For more than nine hundred years (from X century to 1940th) Slovensko territories were part of Habsburg and Austro-Hungarian Empires, then, after the end of World War One, of Czechoslovakia.

Slovaks received their second 'independent' Country in 1939 after Nazi Germany split Czechoslovakia into two client states. The first Slovak Republic existed till 1945 when the Red Army took it under the control. Later Jozef Djugashvili joined Slovak and Czech states together recreating Czechoslovakia this time under the red banner of Communists Revolution.

Slovakia stayed within the Socialist state 48 years until 1 January 1993 when it received its third independence status as a result of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

Slovenská republika used to be the least developed, remote part of Czechoslovakia. All attempts of socialist 'kadry' to industrialized this region came largely short of target. However starting with the middle of 1990th GDP growth rate of Slovakia exceeded that of the Czech Republic and of the most other Eastern European countries thanks to series of bold market reforms.

Slovakia is the parliamentary republic where 150-members Parliament - Národná rada Slovenskej republiky - has now two leading political parties in it: pro-government Smer–sociálna demokracia, Smer-SD (leftist, 49 seats) and opposing Sloboda a Solidarita, SaS (right-wing, 21 seats).

Slovakia is a small country of Eastern Europe with eager to make its third chance for independence to work just right.

Hong Kong (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China)

Hong Kong's time is running out.

In 2047 China's special authority over Fragrant Harbor will expire and Hong Kong will be just another big city of Communist China. One small but unique and prosperous political entity will be less on Earth but what was Chinese we'll be Chinese again.

The story of the Incense Harbor up to XVI century is mostly that of a provincial, coastal, underdeveloped area of the Imperial China. Its local masters kept transforming this handy piece of land near the river delta into a tiny stronghold, or into a regional trading post, or into a salt production center, or into something else of the sort depending on economical or political drifts of a current epoch.

Portuguese arrival in 1513 reveled the real destiny of this one thousand one hundred six square kilometers of hilly lands, grassy islets and deep marinas ideal for harboring big ocean ships. However, even after the Treaty of Nanking was signed on 29 August 1842 Hong Kong area long remained a tiny door into the Great Asia for the Western traders (predominantly that of opium) guarded by the British Crown, no more, no less.

The real changes came to the Pearl River Delta only after the end of the World War One (during which HK was under the Japanese occupation). Two factors came into play for the City of Flower in 1950th. First was the influx of skilled and educated refuges flying from tender embraces of the CPC. Second was the start of the global industrialization era.

Both of those aspects allowed Hong Kong to became the major exporter of Asia produced textile goods to the West. On top of that HK's unique political status entitled local authorities to promptly introduce any types of economic incentives, tax rates and cross-borders regimes they can think of in order to boost the local development. So they did and HK soon became the major gate for re-exporting goods to Chinese mainland.

However, it was just the beginning. 25th Governor of Hong Kong Murray MacLehose had a much bigger vision for the City to work on. In 1970th he launched series of social and urban development initiatives aimed to convert the former opium paradise into the major International trading and finance hub. New railways, highways, airports, glassy living complexes and world-class schools were built, the stock exchange opened and the environment taken care of. Regulatory strains were cut off and police was used not only to en-prison pickpockets, shoplifters and traffic violates but also to catch corrupt state bureaucrats. All those measures, unthinkable for most other countries, produced an economic miracle and the First Asian Tiger was born.

In 1970th and 1980th the rising Kung-Fu film industry had made Hong Kong's unique city outlines familiar for millions spectators worldwide. Tourists from all over the world made the City of Bruce Lee their prime destination in Asia.

1 July 1997 Hong Kong destiny was changed again by forces out of control and the one-country-two-systems litany became the political reality. Today HK politics work, basically, like a car where two guys are in charge - one for a gas and one for a brake.

A committee of 1200 preselected (by PRC mostly) members elects the Chief Executive (CE, like a Prime Minister), who must be approved by PRC. Then CE chooses 30 members of the Executive Counsel (the Cabinet). 70-members Legislative Council (the Parliament) passes laws. Since latest elections (4 September 2016) LC has three active political factions inside: 'pro-Beijing' (40 members), 'pan-democratic' (23 members) and 'localists' (6 members) (those concerned primary with defending city's autonomy from RPC).

Largest parties inside of those groups are, correspondingly: Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - DAB (right, nationalists, 12 members), Democratic Party (left, liberals, 7 members) and Youngspiration (founded after the 2014 "Umbrella Revolution", 2 members).

Who flies high then fells deep? Not that it directly relates to HK, or something. Times are changing that's all. Just that competition from other Tigers became a bit steeper, 2008 financial crisis hit the City a bit too hard, plus, yes, the Flower fell out of the Crown into hands of Marxists-Leninist 'apparatchik' and there are growing number of young people who don't like their manners to handle it very much.

From the Pearl and the Tiger it was transformed to a place where two incompatible political systems crossed each others road to the future. What would be the end of that new Hong Kong's movie is anybody guess to make.

Czech Republic (Česká republika)

Česká republika is the new country with a long story behind it.

Three regions which constitute the České země - Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia have been unified, brought apart and integrated with other lands several times in the History.

In 623 the Frankish merchant with the Finnish name Samo had joined together several Slavs tribe dwelt in the Moravia region and ruled them for 35 reportedly happy years. His followers had stripped down his realm to pieces, but, in 830s, Prince Mojmir I joined them back into the Great Moravia (included also Bohemia, Wislania, Silesia and a couple of other adjacent territories). Hungarians repeated attacks destroyed this Empire around 900 AD.

In 1198 the Duchy of Bohemia - a spin-off from the Great Moravia - which territorially more or less approximated the České země, became the Kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire as a result of Ottokar I signing the agreement with the Emperor Henry VI, a son of mighty Frederick Barbarossa.

For the following seven centuries the Kingdom of Bohemia had been within the realm of Roman (German) Emperors. In 1804, one of them, Francis II from house of Habsburg-Lorraine, trying to dodge the accession of Napoleon I to the German Throne, proclaimed Kaiserthum Oesterreich and magically transformed himself into Francis I the Austrian Emperor. Königreich Böhmen was an important piece of this brilliant geopolitical chess-play.

This new Empire had survived up to 1867 when, weakened by Austro-Prussia War of 1866 Emperor France Joseph I entered into the so-called Austro-Hungarian Compromise. According to it Hungary became the independent state with its own Parliament, but, nevertheless, remained within the King's realm, forming something like the British Commonwealth.

First World War destroyed Austro-Hungarian Empire and the First Czechoslovak Republic had appeared in October 1918. Later it became the successor to Kaiserthum Oesterreich as it was signified in the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye signed on 10 September 1919.

Second World War made Czechoslovakia, victimized by the notorious Munich Agreement, first, the puppet state Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia subjugated to Nazis, second, from 1945 to 1993, Československo - the socialist state and a part of the Warsaw Block.

In November 1989 the Velvet Revolution brought the liberal democracy back to the country. 1 January 1993 Československo ceased to exist and two new states - Czech Republic and Slovakia - appeared as the result of the Act 541 peacefully passed by the Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia.

Kingdom of Bohemia was one of the most industrialized countries of Europe at the end of XIX century. Although partially destroyed by two wars, the resurrected machinery production complex and highly educated engineering "kadry" made Czechoslovakia one of the most prosperous state within the Soviet Block.

After 1993 Czech Republic became a rare story of a successful transition from the planned, state economy to free markets. Its privatization program, which almost overnight transformed millions of people to private businesses shareholders, served as a model for similar programs implemented in other post-communist countries (mostly without success). Republic's per capita reached $20 thousands - the highest among its former socialists neighbors.

Today Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy where Parlament České republiky has two chambers - 200-members Poslanecká sněmovna and Senát with 81 members.

Czech political spectrum is a classical European one where left, center and right wing political parties have almost equal representations in Parliament. Currently Česká strana sociálně demokratická, ČSSD (leftist, socialist) is one of strongest in Parliament with 33 seats in the Senate and 50 in the Chamber of Deputies. Some other influential parliamentary parties are Občanská demokratická strana, ODS (right wing) with 30 seats in both chambers and Křesťanská a demokratická unie – Československá strana lidová, KDU–ČSL (centrist) with 25 seats. Today there are more than 10 different parties which were voted to Parlament České republiky on the latest election (October 2014).

With such a broad distribution of opinions and without a strong, consolidated, dominant party Czech politic is a mess full of colorful figures (for example, President Milos Zeman became the real star of YouTube), but, judging by the end results it has been working for Czechs people just fine so far.

The Czech Republic is a country with a very diverse history which, today, is following the pass to the better future with sometimes a little shaky pace.

Jordan (The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan)

Jordan means business, almost.

Jordan's economic base consists of banking, tourism and oil industries. Due to desert climate conditions Jordan agriculture sector is limited. Inclusive, cosmopolitan culture of Jordan's Capital city Amman attracts not only tourists but also high-skilled professionals from around the Arab Peninsula. On top of that, Jordan is currently ranked as one of the most secured countries in the Middle East. Many renowned hardware and software Corporations have opened their representative offices there. Some even call Jordan "Arabs' Silicon Valley".

However, the structure of Jordan's economy has made it particularly vulnerable to consequences of 2008 World financial crisis and to the oil prices plunge. Jordan's GDP growth rate plummeted from more than 10% in 2007 to under 1% in 2016. At the same time, unemployment rate has risen from around 11% in 2012 to almost 15% in 2016.

Jordan has a very rich cultural background. The city Petra, which is notorious for its exquisite beauty among Hollywood movie makers, was a home ground for an ancient Nabataeans people (1 BC) - masters in constructing amazing water collecting methods in the desert like Al-Khazneh complex.

After almost four hundred years of Ottoman dominance, ended by Arab Revolt in 1916 and followed by several years of local conflicts, Jordan (at that time called Transjordan) came under the British Mandate for Palestine on September 1922. The country obtained its independence in 1946. Jordan became a monarchy where king effectively controls all branches of government.

Kingdom's major legislative body - 150-members Majlis al-Umma - consists primary from independents (104 seats). Only one political party has members in Majlis - Islamic Action Front with 6 seats. It demonstrates a specific character of Jordan's political system, where the executive power presided by the king himself is far more significant than any political parties.

Jordan is the Middle Eastern Kingdom which tries to nurture Western Culture's green sprouts in a harsh desert environment.

Bulgaria (Republic of Bulgaria)

Bulgaria has been the Empire three times, almost.

First time it happened in 681 when Bulgar tribes moved across the Danube and settled in the Balkan region after making a treaty with Byzantines. In 1018 Emperor Basil II defeated Bulgarian army at Klyuch, suppressed revolts and subjugated most of the Bulgarian population by that effectively destroying the Bulgarian Empire number one.

After 167 years of being in thrall to Constantinople, Bulgaria, led by the Asen dynasty, had revolted and the Empire number two lasted from 1185 to 1396. Then Battle of Nicopolis happened and Ottomans took over Bulgaria for the next almost five hundred years, until the Army of Russian Czar Alexander II (supported by Bulgarian volunteers) defeated Turks and forced them to sign the Treaty of San Stefano on 3 March 1878.

Such an historical roller coaster is easy to handle for no country. After the Russo-Turkish war, when Bulgaria obtained its statehood for the third time in a less than a thousand years, Tsar Boris III tried to build the Empire number three. However, it proved to be impossible because of the grown up competitions from the part of Austria-Hungary, Montenegro, Greece, Serbia and Romania (to name just a few). As a result, from 1912 to 1918 Bulgaria fought three consecutive wars - two Balkans and WWI.

Those conflicts gave rise to strong nationalistic and military political factions inside Bulgaria and under their influence czar Boris made a pact with the Third Reich trying to leverage Nazi's growing military strength against neighbors. It came out sideways for Bulgaria and, after left-wing uprising of 9 September 1944 had overthrew the monarchy, Bulgaria fall into the Soviet sphere of influence.

Stalinist 'kadry' occupied leading positions in Bulgarian government and purged all oppositions inside the country. In 1949, according to some historian, they, finally, dealt with the Head of the Communist Party of Bulgaria Georgi Dimitrov himself. For more than 40 years Bulgaria lived under the Sickle and Hammer Symbol then.

Marxists-Leninist Bulgaria, shielded from the competition of IBM and Microsoft by the Warsaw pact, managed to became the "silicon valley of the Communist East". Many computers (including home PCs) sold in USSR were manufactured in Bulgaria. On top of that, Bulgarian developed agricultural sector provided the Eastern block (notably, the largest of USSR republic - RSFSR - Russian Soviet Federal Socialist State) with canned fruits and vegetables which were highly regarded by the striving population there.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union Bulgaria find itself in a very tight spot. Standards of living for the majority population dropped dramatically and haven't significantly improved since then.

There are many reasons behind that. One is that Bulgaria with its highly educated population used to be the center of science and technology during the Soviet times. In a period of 1990th many qualified specialists with engineering degrees left Bulgaria for the West draining the country of the brainpower. Since then Bulgaria hasn't had enough time and resources to gain back its competitive edge. Time of hardships and neglects destroyed its educational system and took away its markets.

The popularity of the Communists party in Bulgaria, after the period of decline at in 1991 - 1995, grow rapidly and they returned to power in 1995 Elections. In 1997 Democrats defeated them again and led the government until 2001 when Simeon II - the heir of Bulgarian czar - became a Prime Minister. After his defeat on 2005 elections Bulgaria has been governed by various coalitions of pro-western and nationalist forces opposed by socialist and lefties parties.

Bulgaria has an unitary parliamentary system of government without Presidential post. According to the results of October 2014 elections, 240-members National Assembly is currently divided between pro-government (mostly center and right-wing parties, led by GERB) and opposition (socialists and leftist parties, led by BSP-Left Bulgaria) blocks. The split is 118 members on the right against 110 members on the left.

Bulgaria is the country with the proud history of the Empire and the uncertain future of the underdeveloped European State.

Bahrain (Kingdom of Bahrain)

Bahrain is legendary.

Island's history goes back in time for more than 5000 years to Dilum country - presumed location of Biblical Garden of Eden. Sumerians described the island in the Gilgamesh epic. Persian Empire (600-300 BC) and Sassanids (from 300 BC) claimed it as their own. Strabo (an ancient Greek historian) asserted that Tylos (Greeks' name for Bahrain) was the mother country of Phoenicians.

Nearchus - the celebrated naval commander of Alexander the Great - was the top Macedonian general to visit the island. The Qarmatian Republic - the first documented attempt to create an Utopian society in the Middle East - took over two of Bahrain's cities around 900 AC. In 930 AC Quarmatians became notorious in history for stealing and breaking into 7 pieces The Black Stone of Mecca. From 1076 to 1521 (when Bahrain come under the Portuguese governorship), Arab Sheikhs' Uyunid, Usfurid and Jabrid dynasties had ruled the island.

Persian Safavid dynasty ousted Portuguese from the island in 1602 and owned it until, in 1717, Omani invaded Bahrain and plunged it into the havoc of almost 50 years long warfares. It said that from 360 towns that had existed at the beginning of that period on the island only 60 still stayed after it ended.

Finally, trying to save Bahrain from politically and economically disastrous calamities Al Khalifa - one of island tribes' leaders - signed a treaty with the British Crown in 1820. It stared the era of very specific relationships established between Bahrain ruling family and the Crown.

According to this treaty (and to a number of others which then followed it) Britain, basically, swore to protect Bahrain militarily and in exchange received an almost complete control over the island's foreign policy.

The era of economic prosperity for the island followed. Pearls - Bahrain's major article of trade in ancient times - were no longer essential to provide the livelihood for island's population. Strategically posted in the Persian Gulf and shielded by the British Navy from external threats, Bahrain became the main trading hub for the Gulf region. Later in XX century Bahrain gained the reputation of the main center for Islamic finance on the Middle East.

Oil, discovered in 1932 by Bahrain Petroleum Company, boosted the infrastructure development on the island but hadn't became the cornerstone of Bahrain's economy as in neighboring states because of relative scarcity of its deposits.

After several attempts to create the union of Arab states Bahrain gained its independence from UK on 16 December 1971 as a result of UN passing the Resolution 278.

After February 2001 referendum, organized by the emir, Bahrain became a constitutional monarchy with the bicameral National Assembly where from its 80 members 40 are elected by popular votes and the rest are appointed by the monarch. Prime Minister is elected by the Assembly and since 1971 this post belongs to the uncle of the reigning king (he's now the longest serving minister in the Middle East).

Traditionally Bahrain has been one of the most cosmopolitan place in the Gulf. Because of that there are many political and religious societies (political parties are not legal on the island) with polar ideologies active in Bahrain. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the majority population on the island are Shia whilst the ruling dynasty is Sunni. Since February 2011 political tensions in Bahrain mounted and massive street protests erupted. Social medias showed multiple scenes of violence.

Bahrain people live today in a challenging environment on the island which supposed to be the legendary Garden of Paradise.

Moldova (Republic of Moldova)

Moldova is a country in a permanent existential crisis. It's the poorest country in Europe and one which political and ethnic identities have been challenged multiple times in its history.

In 1343 nobleman Dragos of Bedeu by the order of the Hungarian King established a defense post against advancing Tatars. The legend says he named it Moldavia after his hound Molda (well, technically it was, first, a river, which was named after the dog and only then, when Dragos rejected King's authority in 1359, this name was extended to his brand new Principality).

Prince Stephen the Great presided over the most renowned era in Moldavia history - this between 1457 and 1504 - which all consisted from battles against Hungarian and Polish invaders (battles of Baia, Vaslui, Valea Alba, Cosmin Forest to name just a few). However, Moldavian remained independent but for a short historical period and, as many other Eastern European countries at this time, became serfs of Ottomans in 1538. They stayed under Turks until Catherine I victory against Pashas in a 1768-1774 war after which Russian became protectors of Moldavia (funny way to say that Ottomans formally still owned it but can't really rule it). Habsburg Empire annexed part of Principality's territory in 1775, followed by Russian declared Moldavia their own (after yet another war with Turks in 1806-1812) and naming it Bessarabia. Moldova stayed within the realm of Moscow Czars until it was claimed by Romanians in 1918.

It became the point of tension between the Kremlin and Bucharest for the next 22 years. SSSR never recognized Romanian jurisdiction over former Russian territory. 23 August 1939 when Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov signed their infamous Pact one of its article mentioned Bessarabia as part of USSR. After Red Army invasion to Bessarabia Moscow proclaimed Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic - MSSR on August 2, 1940.

Romanian armed divisions, fighting on the side of Wehrmacht, entered MSSR in 1941. Nazi occupation lasted until April 1944 when advanced Red Army forced Axis troops out of the country. Stalinist regime took over Moldova again.

Soviets, specially during Leonid Brezhnev's (USSR's future ruler) term as the 1st Secretary of the regional Communist Party in 1950-1952, suppressed Moldavian would be opposition (for example, in the Operation North when up to 3,000 people were deported) and the national identity. Moscow apparatchik gave practically all leading posts in the government and in other important institutions (such as Academia of Science) to non-Romanian ethnic groups.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union Moldova declared itself the Republic in May 1991. Years of economic hardships followed. After a short period of a democratic leadership Moldova Communists (this time under the new brand name and freshly redesigned slogans) returned to power in January 1997 and stayed there (with only brief interruptions) until 2009. As it was the case in many other Eastern European countries as well as in some former SSSR's republics, people voted communists back to power out of a pure frustration and disillusion with harsh economic realities of the new capitalist order.

The political situation in Moldova became even more complicated in July 1992 after Transnistria region (the territory bordering Ukraine) rebellion (supported by pro-Russian militants) erupted. That strengthened nationalistic, conservative voices inside Moldova and, paradoxically, helped to the Communist party (pro-Russian) to stay in power for so long (on promises 'to set it straight' with the 'friendly' Moscow).

With the start of the economic crisis in 2008, Moldova major source of income - international remittances (specially those generated by Moldavian diaspora in Russia) - dropped significantly. The situation become even worse in 2012 when oil prices plunged and part of immigrants returned home. Communists lost their popularity and Liberal Democrats came back to power in Moldova.

Moldova is the parliamentary republic which means that the Parlamentul (unicameral 101-members Parliament), not the people, elects the President. Pro-government Partidul Democrat din Moldova (left, pro-European) and Partidul Liberal (right, pro-Romanian) hold the minority of seats (20 and 13 respectfully). Partidul Socialistilor din Republica Moldova, PSRM (left, pro-Russia) with other two parties (another Liberals and Communists) possess together 43 seats.

With Parliament being effectively in opposition to Government and the largest corruption scandal evolving (more than $1 billion just disappeared from states accounts) the current political situation in Moldova is instable at best.

Agriculture is the traditional mainstream of the Moldova economy. Closeness to the Black Sea defines Moldova worm and humid climate suitable for vineyards. Moldova was the major producer of vines in USSR. Today Russia is still one of the major trading partner for Moldova. More than 40% of population in Moldova live in villages or in small farms outside of big cities. An agriculture production and international remittances are not sufficient to rise the level of living in the Republic. Moldova stays the least developed country in Europe for decades. Many of its citizens leave the country in a search for jobs elsewhere.

Moldova is historically and geographically disadvantaged country which is now striving to recover from economic downturn and to find the pass to a moderate prosperity.

Brunei (Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace)

Brunei is one, big, happy oil company.

Old legend (cited in Simawn poem) claims that the first Sultan of Brunei (Dewa Emas Kayangan) ascended to Earth from Heaven in the egg. Obviously, it's just the poetic way to emphases the divinity of Brunei monarchs' ancestry . However, maybe this legend intends to allude that even thousand years back in history Brunei's Sultans were wealthy enough to buy themselves a cosmic ship.

Brunei economy is for more than 90% oil. It provides less than half million Brunei citizens with one of the highest standard of living in Southeast Asia (second only to Singapore). However, due to the latest oil price plunge Brunei monarchy starts to look for alternative sources of income and Sultans have got creative on this. For example, since 2009 Brunei is known as the major owner of Halal products international brand names.

Brunei kingdoms' early history is a little short on details derived from reliable sources. It's known that prior to Ferdinand Magellan's arrival to Brunei's port in 1521, the country was explored by Chinese and Portuguese traders and had been under the influence of the Muslim kingdom of Malacca. Preceding to Magellan's visit 36 years (that of Sultan Bolkiah rule) is known as the 'golden ages' of Brunei when Sultanate territory expanded all over the adjacent coastal region of Po-ni (Borneo).

In the following three centuries Brunei entered into the epoch of its gradual decline, first, as the result of the military conflict with Spain (1578), then due to prolonged civil war (1660 - 1673), and it all ended by British intervention to Brunei in 1846.

This period in Brunei's history is closely linked to the legendary adventurer James Brook who, after serving as a junior officer in the British East India Company, sailed for Borneo in his own 142-ton schooner in 1833. There he met Sultan's uncle who asked him for help to suppress the rebellion going on at that time in Brunei. Brook had obliged and was appointed by grateful Sultan the Governor and later the first "White Rajah" of Sarawak province. In 1843 Brook used the opportunity to spin off his province from Brunei as an independent Sultanate becoming the founder of the Brook Royal Dynasty as well as the subject of multiple legends and books (including Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King) published later in Europe.

Brunei had kept its independence until 1888 when it became the British protectorate territory. Brunei became independent aging only in 1959.

Oil was discovered in Brunei in 1929 when it was literally smelled by two European wanderers near Seria river. Since then oil has served as a single engine of Brunei's economy. Brunei Shell Petroleum (owned 50/50 by the Brunei Government and Royal Dutch/Shell) produces 170,000 barrels of 'black gold' every single day.

Relying almost 100% on its mono-economy to meet basic needs of its population Brunei imports practically all of other products including food from all over the World. For example, Brunei government runs one of the largest animal (mostly chickens) farms in Australia (its land area exceeds that of Brunei itself).

Brunei is the monarchy state with the Constitution. The Sultan is the head of State and of the Government which consists of four Councils - Privy (constitutional matters), Succession (determines the Sultan if asked), Religious (matters of Islam administration) and Ministers (the Cabinet). The role of those Councils are mostly advisory (except the Cabinet which perform administrative functions of government). Brunei has a legal system based on English common law although in some cases sharia law prevails.

Brunei doesn't like to be on a front page of World's press. Sultans choose to keep Brunei's public profile low and its living standards high.

Hungary (Magyarorszag)

Hungary is a durable country.

For generations Magyarorszag served as a barrier between Asian steppe and the civilized Europe. In 1241 it was devastated by the Tatar onslaught. However, due to the prudent policy of King Bela IV country rebuilt its ruined castles and introduced armored cavalry which could resist penetrating force of Mongols' arrows. As a result when, starting in 1285, next waves of Mongols-Tatars had invaded Hungarian flat lands they were successfully repelled this time.

In XVI-XVII centuries Hungary was again on a front line in the conflict between the East and the West. Turks conquered Buda in 1541 and divided the country into three parts. Nevertheless, in 1718 Hungary was again free from Ottoman's rule ending a long liberation journey which started in 1686 by Holy Leagues' army (an alliance organized by Pope Innocent XI to oppose Turks) reconquering Buda.

In XXth century Hungary took the wrong side of both World's Wars. As a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire it got defeated by Entente forces but not militarily. Romanian attack into Transylvania and Russian (Brusilov's) Offensive came largely in fault and the Empire ended the war by Karl Franz Joseph Ludwig Hubert Georg Otto Marie (Charles IV) signing Padua armistice on November 1918 after uprising in the army and factories' strikes made it futile to resist. Years of revolutions, civil wars, economic hardships and Hungarian national uprising followed. As a result, populist figures such as Ferenc Szalasi rose to power. Not learning its historical lesson, Hungary entered the Second World War on the side of the Third Reich on 26 June 1941.

After the defeat of the Nazis, Hungary was devastated by the Red Army and later subdued to Stalinist government sponsored by the Soviet Union. However, Hungarian people didn't like the totalitarian regime too much, and, on October 1956, most of the country revolted against Moscow appointed rulers. After some deliberation, Nikita Khrushchev (USSR leader) had sent 150,000 soldiers and 2,500 tanks to crush the uprising and later installed in Hungary Moscow appointed Janos Kadar to lead the new government. However, Hungary could not longer be ruled by red dictators. Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt, MSzMP introduced a number of free-market reforms in 1968 (named the New Economic Mechanism) which converted Hungary to the most prosperous country in the socialist Warsaw Block. Ironically, Hungary was then called "the happiest barrack" in the Socialists camp.

After Soviet Union collapsed the capitalist economy came into full force in Hungary as it did in other former Pact's states. As in other East European countries the level of living for majority of population dropped sharply after that. It led to the Magyar Szocialista Párt - MSZP rise to power. Socialist party dominated Hungarian political scene until 2010 when Viktor Orban's nationalists Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség got 114 seats (more than two-third) in the Országgyűlés (199-members Parliament). The largest opposition party - MSZP - has now 29 seats in it.

Hungary has a well diversified economy with such industries as food processing, electrical goods, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and tourism leading in its GDP structure. GDP growth rate is currently under 1%. However, unemployment rate dropped from 11% in 2008 to 6% in 2016.

Hungary became a member of the European Union in 2004 and today it attracts criticism from other EU members for its nondemocratic style of governments. It's stated that Orban has sacrificed basic civic freedoms (that of speech and popular protests) to achieve political stability and to improve economical indicators of the country.

There are now different projections concerning the political future of Hungary but we can be certain that this country which profession is to survive will endure through that historical phase as well as it did through all previous ones.

East Timor (Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste)

Timor-Leste was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

In 1970th and 1980th Timor was the front line of the Cold War in South East Asia. In 1975 Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente, Fretilin (socialist political party) declared Timor's independence interrupting 60 years of the Portuguese colonial rule. In a few month Indonesia (secretly supported by US which feared to see another communist state forming in Asia) organized a military intervention and converted East Timor into its 27th province.

In 1990th, with the collapse of Soviet Union, USA and Australia withdrew their military and political support for Timor's occupation and the pro-independence movement grow its popularity in Portugal and in other Western countries. Political pressure and a change in Indonesian leadership led to Timore-Leste's first elections and then to the new independent State Constitution adapted in 2002. Several years of civil war between pro-Indonesia militants and independence supporters followed. That led to massive destruction of human lives and properties. United Nations had committed troops to East Timor and withdraw them only in 2012.

East Timore is the semi-presidential republic. It's government structure is largely copied from that of Portugal. Timor's President (elected by popular vote) appoints Prime Minister which then leads the Cabinet. 65-members Parlamento Nacional consists mainly from two political parties - Congresso Nacional de Reconstrução de Timor, CNRT (center) which holds 30 seats and Fretilin with 25 seats.

In the past the basis of Timor's economy were sandalwood and coffee beans export. After the discovery of large oil deposits at the bottom of the channel separating Timor and Australia, Timore-Leste became the most dependent from its oil revenues country on Earth. 57% of East Timor's export is oil and 22% - coffee (Starbucks being one of the major recipients of it).

Republic of Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries on earth with its per capita slightly exceeding $1000, with no railroads, where majority of population is illiterate and 70% of it are employed in agriculture.

East Timor was victimized by the proxy war between USA and USSR. Today Timorese people still continue to pay high price for that.

Monaco (Principality Monaco)

For some Principaute de Monaco represents all what is wrong with this world. For others it's the pinnacle of Glory and Success.

History of Monaco is the history of one family - that of Grimaldi. In 1191 a big rock on the border of Mediterranean had came to the possession of the Republic of Genoa by a capricious will of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI and became a property of Rainier I of Grimaldi almost a hundred years later in 1297. Grimaldies spent all that time intriguing, prying, bribing and outright eliminating everything which stood on their way to that piece of wet basalt. Some may say that they, certainly, knew some secret about it which is worth of all that efforts. Some may argue that it all was serendipitous.

All others micro-neighbors surrounding Monaco had long vanished, loosing, giving up or selling their small royaumes. Only descendants of the Victor at Zierikzee continued to fight "tooths-and-nails" for their 2 km² of the pocket Imperium. They repelled Genoveses and Sardinians, then Napoleon I himself and even Charle de Gaull.

Monaco Casino started pumping money from the bare rock in 1850th and already in 1869 Monaco's citizens needed not to pay taxes anymore. Here some may ask why should one family and a few thousand people around it must be so damn good in everything and for such a long period of time. Others may say that it's just the matter of continuing fighting for what you praise more than anything else.

Politically Monaco is one of the most authoritarian monarchies in the world. The prince possesses the power of vetoing all pieces of legislation coming out of 24-members unicameral Conseil National. The Council has two major political parties in it - the ruling Horizon Monaco which has 20 seats and the opposing Union Monegasque with 3 seats and 500 members in total. Both of those groups are monarchists and it looks like there is nothing to threaten the Grimaldi family's property rights anymore. Even if there is some, the Family has 515 policemen plus their personal guard corp on the qui vive (not to mention the whole French Army swore to protect them as a part of French sole).

It goes without saying that a good shank of Monaco's revenue derives from casinos, however, most importantly, that is its tax exemption status. Additionally, the Rock is one of the biggest touristic centers on the Mediterranean Sea. Bottom line, the Principality is the richest country on Earth with a median income of $150 thousands and the GDP growth rate of 7% a year.

Monaco is a country which shouldn't exist because the great majority of people on Earth wouldn't want it. However, it does and it continues to inspire some rare individuals to dare and to reach for their wildest dreams.

SOME MORE FACTS:

Monaco is the second smallest country on earth but it's first by the density of population.

It is practically impossible to became a citizen of Monaco from outside that's why immigration issues of the bigger Europe is unknown here.

"Monaco" means "lone inhabitant".

Monaco is said to be founded by Hercules while concluding one of its 12 famous quests. He built the Hercules Cathedral on the rock. However, none of archaeological evidences exist on any such an ancient building ever existed in Monaco. Nevertheless, the Bay of Monaco holds the name of this Greeks Hero.

Monaco hosts the famous F1 Rally which counts to be one of the most challenging for drivers because it goes through narrow city streets alongside the sea border.

As for so many other EU micro-states Monaco's biggest historical issue is their questionable relations with the Third Reich. Monaco's Prince expelled 90 Jews at the request of Gestapo. Albert II (current prince) apologized for that incident in 2015.

Nepal (Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal)

Nepal is a country of Supermen.

More than $70 million are going into country's coffins each year as remittances for employing its renowned Gurkha soldiers with foreign armies (mostly Indian and UK). High altitude, scarcity of roads, harsh climate, even harsher living conditions and a long history of guerrilla warfares have created an ideal environment to produce perfect warriors. However, what have made this place an ideal training ground for testing human stamina also made mere surviving a very tricky business for more than 26 million people living there.

Colonizing forces were never able to subdue Nepal in all of its history. Virtual inaccessibility of many regions in the country not only prevented foreign powers (including mighty British Empire) from taking hold of the country but also delayed its economical and political developments.

First 2300 years Nepal had been the collection of small kingdoms and what we now know as Nepal's historical records are found mostly in Kathmandu Valley. Only in 1768 king Prithvi Narayan Shah brought together all those scattered micro-states under one rule. Until 2008 Nepal had been a monarchy headed by several royal dynasties.

From 1951 its sovereigns (urged by India which wanted to counterbalance Chinese influence) started to experiment with more inclusive forms of governance. In 1959 King Mahendra adapted Panchayat system popular at that time in Asia. This system basically functioned as an electoral "partyless" pyramid where people on the ground elect their representatives in local village assemblies which at their turn send members to sit in higher-level assemblies and so on.

In 1989 King Birenda (under heavy pressure of growing public insurgency) dismantled Panchayat and established multiparty Parliament. However, not everybody were satisfied. In 1996 Communist Party of Nepal guided by Marxist-Leninist rule book started a civil war in order to bring people of Nepal into the workers-peasants' paradise ASAP.

As usual, communists run out of ammunitions earlier than a promised paradise materialized and they declared a ceasefire in 2005. In 2008 Nepal was declared a federal republic in a bill passed by the Parliament. On April, 2008 election Communist party won the majority of seats and soon after that blocked the new Nepalese democratic Constitution from coming to force. Only in 2015 the republican Constitution of Nepal was finally announced.

Nepal became a parliamentary democracy. However it didn't solve its economical problems. Besides remittances other major source of income for Nepalese population are agriculture, tourism (mainly mountaineering) and hydroelectricity. Lacking natural resources Nepal is struggling to attract international investments. It's GDP growth rate is under 1% today.

Nepal - the country of super humans - has now only regular people to count on for its future development.

Republic of Ireland (Eire)

The flag of Ireland is green, orange and white in the middle. White signifies the peace between orange Protestants and green Catholics. However, the peace has came to Eire neither easy nor soon enough.

The history of Ireland is that of internal fights. Not much is known about Ireland prior to St. Patrick's arrival (432 AD). Some historian even call the period 100 BC - 300 AD the Irish Dark Age. However, archaeological evidences (underground galleries - souterrains and artificial islands - crannogs) suggest that there were lot of hiding from external or internal threats going on for Irish population at that period. No wonder that later (V - VII centuries) island's people flocked to the banners of the Catholic Rome in a search for solace and unity. Since that time the religion has played extremely important role in both political and social lives of Ireland serving as a great unifier and as an ultimate divisor.

The relatively peaceful period of the Christians enlightenment was not destined to last. Starting from 795 AD Vikings (floating mostly from Norway's costs) had roamed over the island and continued to do so until Normans - conquers of the Brits - came to the scene in 1166. It started 844 years of French-English supremacy.

Normans became the local nobility and had held their rights against English kings for more than 300 years but they finally succumbed to local Gaelic lords by the end of 15th century. Henry VIII didn't like that too much (probably, even less than his seven wives) and, in 1536, he had launched the reconquest of the island which ended by complete submission of Ireland to the Crown in 1603. However, Irish people didn't capitulate their religion and stayed Catholics against Protestant settlers arriving from England.

Next one hundred years were not good at all to Ireland. Waves of wars, revolutions and rebellions swept across the country. It culminated at the beginning of XVIII century by what was later called the Protestant Ascendancy - a regime of minority Protestants elite's political, cultural and economic domination. It lasted for almost two hundred years and, coupled with famines and economic mismanagements, resulted in one of the biggest waves of migration in the recent human history. For example, there are, today, more Irish people living in US than in Ireland.

At the beginning of the XX century the British Empire, exhausted both politically and economically by its overreach, started to disintegrate. Acting pro-actively, UK Parliament passed the piece of law allowing for Canada-like self-governance for Ireland. Although that ruling satisfied many Irish (mostly Protestants) it was unacceptable for many others (mostly Catholic). That led to Easter Rising in 1916, then to the civil war and concluded in 1922 by 26 Northern counties forming Irish Free State (renamed in 1937 into Ireland) and 6 Northern counties remaining as a part of UK but gaining the Home Rule for themselves.

Since that time one country became two and their histories parted. Norther Ireland had lived through prolonged period of internal political conflicts between unionists (willing to stay with UK) and nationalists (aspiring to join Ireland) factions punctuated by multiple acts of violence until in April 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was reached. It gave both factions a degree of power in government and led to disarmament of militant nationalists in 2005.

For Eire the years after the Independence were less violent but not less challenging. New nationalist Government, first, had tried to built 'self-sufficient' state by cutting off all trade links with "imperial" UK which quickly led to the mass unemployment and to strikes. Then they turned to socialist, centralized economy, nationalizing practically all big private enterprises in the country. It resulted in an inflation spike, total corruption, drop in the living standards and in the next wave of migrants leaving the island.

Then, at the beginning of 1990th, new Government came and created what is, today, known as the Celtic Miracle. Unprecedentedly low income tax (12%), absence of red tapes, open borders, highly educated, hard working population coupled with high-skilled immigration from Eastern Europe created an ideal environment for the high tech firms boom (specially, in the pharmaceutical sector). Agriculture and real estate industries also experienced the sharp uplift. As a result, 2008 World's debts crisis hit Ireland's relatively tiny and under-capitalized banking sector much harder than anywhere else in EU. Country's GDP plummeted and Ireland government's debts level rose to an absolute record hight.

Nevertheless, since 2012 Eire's debts to GDP dropped from 120% to 93% and GDP growth rate rose from -2% to 2%. That positive shift may be attributed to comparably small size of Irish economy (which is much easy to jump-start) as well as to a support provided by Irish policymakers to new, growing innovative industries.

Constitutional Republic of Ireland, currently headed by the President-poet Michael D.Higgins, has two Houses of the Oireachtas (Parliament): Seanad Éireann (60-members Senate) and Dáil Éireann (158-members House of Representatives). Eire has multi-party system, however, two oldest right-wing Irish parties - Fine Gael (more centric) and Fianna Fail (more populist) - have created what many call 'Irish two-party system'. After most recent elections (April 2016) pro-government Fine Gael has 19 seats in the Seanad and 50 seats in the Dáil. Opposing Fianna Fail has, respectively, 14 and 43 seats.

There are three most recognizable symbols of Ireland - Celtic Cross, Guinness and Shamrock. Perhaps, we may add to that the Tiogar Ceilteach as a token of Ireland's hopes for the future if we know how it (the Celtic Tiger) actually looks like.

Cyprus (Republic of Cyprus)

Republic of Cyprus is the house divided.

Cyprus is the third biggest island in the Mediterranean (after Cecelia and Sardinia) with an adorable climate and a perfect strategic location. Island's more than 640 km of coastline is hard to defend and practically all Western and Eastern civilizations tried to lay their hands on Cipros one time or another.

Greeks (~1400 BC), Phoenicians (~800 BC), Assyrians (from 708 BC), then Egyptians, Persians (from 545 BC), Macedonian (333 BC), Romans (since 58 BC), Byzantines (from 395 AC) - to name just a few. Richard the Lion Heart conquered the island in 1191 on his way to the Holy Land and sold it to Knights Templar, who immediately resold it to the French King (o tempora o mores). In 1473 island went under Venetians governance and more or less stayed there until, in 1570, large Turkish forces (60,000 troops) brought Cyprus under the Ottoman control. In 1878, following the Russo-Turkish War, which went terribly wrong for Pashas, the island came under the British administrative control and in 1925 became the Crown's colony.

16 August 1960 Cyprus had declared the independence and then everything got really complicated and stays like that up to now. Shortly after the end of the freedom day's festivities Greek and Turkish Cypriots went into the direct confrontation which had lasted almost 15 years and resulted in unrecoverable losses for both parts.

In 1974 in response to Greece's coup d'etat (15 July) Turkey send its militants to the island and started the full fledge international crisis which led to Cyprus division into two administrative area - one on the North (administrated by Turkish Army) and another on the South (controlled by Cyprus Government and recognized by UN).

The latest comprehensive reunification plan, put forward by United Nations in 2004, was defeated on a referendum (largely by the South voters). Multiple factional interests, social biases, cultural traditions and business considerations have made the Cyprus question one of the most controversial in the contemporary politics.

Official government of Cyprus consists of its President and the House of Representatives (unicameral 80-members Parliament) both elected by popular votes. The House major pro-government party - Dimokratikos Sinagermos, DISY (right, conservative) - holds to 18 seats out of 56 actually occupied now. Second largest parliamentary opposition party - Anorthotikó Kómma Ergazómenou Laoú, AKEL (left, socialist) - has 16 seats. However, Cyprus Government doesn't have a complete control over all of the Cyprus territory. Rules of European Union, where Cyprus became a member in May 2004, do not apply to the northern part of the island. There are as well two other territories where Cyprus laws do not apply - one belongs to United Kingdom and another (the buffer zone between North and South) is under the control of the United Nations.

Economy of Cyprus is based on the offshore banking and tourist industries. In 2012 infamous Cyprus banking crisis led to widespread clients' outrage with harsh treatments implemented by Cyprus authorities. However, since then the island has again gained popularity as an important financial hub for Europeans and Americans investing into Southeastern Asia equities. Island's GDP growth rate is slowly recovering from 2013 low of -2% and is now reaching 1%.

Cyprus's example proves that political disagreements while really dramatic do not suppress the economic activity in the country if they go without military conflicts.

Mongolia (Mongol Uls)

Mongol Uls used to be the ruler of the World but it is now the forgotten land.

Its glorious past nearly destroyed this country squeezed between Russia and China. Up to the end of 12th century, Mongolians were just another nomadic tribe living among wasteness of 'steppe', fighting other tribes and subsiding from their horses. Then in 13th century under the leadership of infamous Genghis Khan they built the biggest empire in the human history. It covered the area of 13 million square kilometers. More than 100 million people lived on that territory - one quarter of the Earth's population at that time.

Internal conflicts between different factions of Genghis family led the Mongol Empire to its gradual decline in 14th and 15th century. Repeating invasions of Chinese armies finally dismantled the Pax Mongolica in 16th and 17th century. Since the beginning of 18th century Inner and Outer Mongolia came under the rule of the Chinese Qing Dynasty. Mongolia became independent only after Xinhai Revolution in 1911.

In 1924, after another Revolution, Mongolia became a socialist state under political and military umbrellas of the Soviet Russia. Up to 1992 the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) - the replica of the Soviet Communist Party - unilaterally ruled the country. It used the classical communists approach to solve political and social issues. In 1937 Stalin's appointed administrators purged more than hundred thousand people from the total of 700,000 people living at that time in Mongolia.

With the start of perestroika in USSR (1989) Mongolian communists lost their command position in the political life of the country. That gave rise to the multi-party political system with Parliamentary and Presidential ballots providing more alternatives for voters. However, after June 2016 elections to 76-members unicameral Ulsyn Ikh hural members of MPP still dominate the Parliament with 65 seats. Opposing Ardchilsan Nam (Democratic Party, right, liberal) received 9 seats.

Mongolia had paid a high price for its imperial past not only politically but also economically. In Middle Ages, when most of countries around the World started to develop cities, Mongolians continued to pursue nomadic way of life robbing subjugated territories. Because of that Mongolia missed on very important period in the human history when World economies started the transition from hand labors to machineries.

Furthermore, being a remote Chinese province for 220 years made Mongolia even more industrially inept country. Only in a Soviet time it started to built large mining and manufacturing (mostly meat and diary production) facilities. Today some of those old soviet machines are still operational making the environmental situation in Mongolia even worser.

Since the middle of 2000th new mining boom had started in Mongolia. Mongolia's GDP growth rate exceeded 16%. Large mining corporations from China, Russia and South Korea became dominant on the Mongolian market. With that corruption and inflation rose dramatically in the country.

Animal farming has always been the traditional cornerstone of the Mongolian economy. Mongolia is a second largest country in the world in a Cashmere production.

Today Mongolia is a country with the past which amazes, the present which inspires and the future which worries.

Malta (Repubblika ta'Malta)

Malta is the small island with the big history.

Its strategic location in the eastern Mediterranean has always been archipelagos' most important natural resource. Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Muslims, Normans - all of them had tried to take Malta under their control at some time in the past. Most famously in 1565 when Ottoman Empire sent 70,000 of its troops to invade the island. Less than 500th Maltese knights supported by about 5000th of other foot-soldiers (including Maltese, Spaniards, Greeks and Sicilians) withstood fourth months of Turkish onslaught.

In 1798 Napoleon had invaded Malta on his way to Egypt and established French governance over archipelago. In 1815, after Waterloo, Malta became part of the British Empire. In our days Repubblika, still, stays within the British Commonwealth realm. However, the Crown isn't recognized as the head of state on the island. Instead, people of Malta directly elect their President, who then appoints Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet.

For several decades two major political parties - Partit Laburista, PL (left, socialists) and Partit Nazzjonalista, PN (right, nationalists) - have been playing intermediately the role of government and opposition in the Kamra tad-Deputati (69-members unicameral Parliament). On the latest elections in March 2013 PL received the majority of popular votes and currently possesses 39 seats in Kamra (NP has 30).

Past economic prosperity of the archipelago fully relied on intensity of cargo traffic across Mediterranean. Until supertankers, capable to cross the sea without refueling, had prevailed Malta served as a main harbor for all ships coming from the Gibraltar to the Red Sea. Additionally, the island was an important military post in the Cold War era. However, this economic model is no longer working.

Today Malta makes a strategic bet on developing tourist and off-shore banking industries. Island's picturesque cliffs and old dungeons have served as a background for more than 100 Hollywood blockbusters. Nevertheless, following recent all-European economic trend island's GDP growth rate has stayed under 2% for the past 10 years.

Malta had long lost the fortune of Templar Knights and its strategic importance for NATO fleet but still keeps its glorious name and important position in both European history and economy.

Macao (Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China)

Macau is a dwarf sleeping with a giant. China's government appoints city's Chief Executive and considers Macau to be a part of Chinese territory. At the same time Macau's Parliament - 33-members Legislative Assembly - issues and amends all laws related the city's internal life and its finance. There are two opposing political groups in Assembly: pan-establishment (supports Communist Party of China) which has 29 seats and pan-democracy (stands for democratic freedoms) with 4 seats.

Macau is a barometer of the well-being of the Chinese economy. At the pick of the China's economic boom in 2000th city's GDP growth rate reached 25%. Currently it stands at -7% (up from -23% in 2015). Macau's core gambling and tourist industries were dramatically affected by sharp fall in a number of Chinese tourists coming to spend their hard earned money in city's casinos.

In the past the basis of city's economy was a garment industry. However, after Macau had been transformed into the World's largest gaming club in 1990th, the cost of labor increased and city lost its competitive edge to China.

Macau started as a small port located 60 km West of Hong Kong and harbored Portuguese traders' ships. Later in history Portugal took full ownership of that port and defended it against Dutch invaders. Under the Portuguese governance Macau came through periods of development and decline (including being a center for salves trade in a middle of 19th century). In 1949 Chinese Communists declared the treaty with Portugal invalid but refused to take Macau under Beijing's administrative control, effectively leaving Portuguese in charge of the city's affairs for 50 more year. Only in 1999 China became de jure owner of Macau, granting, however, its special administrative status for the next 50 years.

Today Macau has the highest density of population on Earth (more than 20 thousands people per square kilometers) and per-capita of 80 thousands dollars (130% that of US). May be this city shows us how our World will look like in the not-so-distant future when there will be much more of all of us living under the watchful eyes of the Big Brother and finding the way to pass our free time will be our biggest worry.

Iceland (Republic of Iceland)

Iceland is one of youngest places on Earth and one of the oldest and prosperous parliamentary democracies. Iceland is also one of the few countries which origin had been documented so well, that its founders can be traced literally to the first man (seamen Nattfari).

A red magma, bursting from the Earth's crust (now called 'Iceland hotspot'), gradually formed those dry, flat rocks in the midst of the ocean more than 20 million years ago. Since then volcanic eruptions have played important role not only in the geology but also in the history of Island (as it happened in 1783 when volcano Laki caused a mass land devastation and depopulation of the island).

Only 0.5% of Iceland's territory can be used in agriculture. Those lands, mostly covered by lava and rocks, are not capable to sustain big farms and large rural communities. Two thirds out of three hundred thousands inhabitants of the island live in the capital city Reykjavik. Prior to 1990th, when tourism, banking and aluminum smelting became an important contributors to Island's GDP, the major source of Icelanders' income had been fishing (namely cod fishing). Feeling the fragility of their own lands, Icelanders have developed very sensitive approach to the World's climate issues. Today Iceland is one of most environmentally friendly countries on Earth.

Because Iceland seats far from the European mainland (in fact, Iceland is closer to America than to the European continent), World's Wars didn't touched it. Germany was too busy on Eastern and Western fronts to care about those remote icy lands. On top of that, in 1940, UK launched an invasion to Iceland, limiting Kriegsmarine's chances to expand into the north part of the Atlantic Ocean. Only lonely U-boats made an occasional and limited damage to Iceland's fishing fleet. However, island's economy, closely linked to that of Europe, was almost destroyed.

In 1915, by signing Danish-Icelandic Act of Union Iceland converted itself to a sovereign state with the Danish King placed nominally on top of it. Since 1944, after a referendum showed voters' desire to part with the post-war Europe, Iceland became an independent parliamentarian republic.

Unicameral Althing (63-members Iceland Parliament) has seven political parties in it. Pro-government Progressive (right, agrarian) and Independence (right, Eurosceptics) Parties together holds to 38 seats. Main opposition party - Social Democratic Alliance (left) has 9 seats (25 together with other anti-government parties). Island's geographical remoteness has helped to keep the homogeneity of its society and to avoid ethical tensions which now become an integral part of everyday life in most of European countries.

In eleven hundred years Icelanders have managed to convert remote and cold rocks in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean into one of the most prosperous countries in the World.

Cambodia

Preah Reacheanachak Kampuchea has continuously been in a center of multiple and prolonged fights between local powerhouses.

From the collapse of the mighty Khmer Empire and the devastation of its famous capital Angkor in 15th century until King Norodom signing the protectorate treaty with France in 1867 Kampuchea's low-lands had served as an easy target for Chinese, Vietnamese and Siamese (Thailandese) invaders. However, the most challenging times for Cambodia came after it gained independence from the French Republic in 1953 and proclaimed itself the Monarchy.

King Sihanouk proved to be incapable to properly maneuver between USA and Vietnam in a starting war. Vietnam communists were infuriated by the King's camouflaged support for Americans led bombardments of the Vietnamese guerrillas forces on Cambodia's territory. At the same time US Government didn't consider the King to be a trustworthy ally. As a result, his own Prime Minister Lon Nol overthrow Sihanouk and declared the Khmer Republic in 1970.

Ho Chi Minh didn't want to tolerate the hostile regime in a neighboring country and embraced rising militants of Khmer Rouge. General Nol relied mostly on US Air Force to combat Pol Pot's insurgency. In April 1975, after five years of devastating civil war, Vietnamese-Cambodian regiments led by Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) stormed Phnom Penh and established one of the most atrocious totalitarian regimes in the history of humanity. More than 3 million people perished as a result of the grandiose social experiment led by the graduate of École d'ingénieur généraliste en informatique et technologies du numérique.

In 1978 the new three-sides war started among two rival groups within Khmer Rouge (one of which was supported by USSR and another, covertly, by CIA) added by Sihanouk's royalist faction (recognized by UN). It culminated in 1993 by King's brief return to power, interrupted by Hun Sen (former co-Prime Minister) led coup d'etat in 1997.

Since that time the Kingdom has got itself parliamentarian, juridical and administrative governances which are blamed to be highly ineffective and corrupt by international observers . Cambodia's King isn't immune and his post is not hereditary. He can be ousted from the throne by the special bureaucratic committee. Prime Minister Hun Sen has stayed in power for more than 32 years now.

Officially Cambodia is the constitutional monarchy with multiparty system. However, the reign of Kanakpak Pracheachon Kâmpuchéa (dropped communist ideology in 1990th; now the socialist, leftist party) had been unchallenged until 2013 elections (marked by acts of violence) when Cambodia National Rescue Party (center, nationalism, populism) won 11 out of 61 seats in Protsaphea (the Senate) and 55 out of 123 seats in Rotsaphea (the National Assembly).

Regardless its political irregularities, the economic and social progress of Kampuchea is extremely impressive. After country's return to the market economy at the beginning of the 1990th Cambodia's GDP growth rate has averaged 8-9% reaching 16% at some years. Major drivers of this economic miracle are garment and tourism industries. Cambodia has an amazing historical heritage which has long been shielded from international travelers by fog of wars and political excesses. Tourists contributes more than $2 billion into country's GDP. Cheap labor in Cambodia is a secrete behind the rise of the local garment industry which now constitutes more than 1.5 billion dollars and accounts for 80% of country's export. However, agriculture (mostly rice production) still contributes more than 90% to Kingdom's GDP and employs 80% of workforce.

Regardless its obvious economic progress achieved in the last 20 years Cambodia stays one of the least developed countries in the World with unpredictable political future.

Denmark (Kingdom of Denmark)

Kongeriget Danmark is the consensus l'Etat. A long and bloody history of internal disorders and external wars has taught this North Kingdom a lesson or two. However, not like so many other proud and democratic countries, Denmark has actually learned its lessons.

Denmark has never been a pussy state. After 793 AD Dutch Vikings' invasions into the central Europe made Gothic tribes tremble of horror but, surprisingly, didn't convert Denmark into the prosperous land. Those North Pirates' crusades had only made Europe stronger by creating in Normandy a new state where many vikings settled. Those domiciled raiders later served as a human shield against their own compatriots and, in 1066, as British Isle's new Hosts.

Harsh persecution of Catholics during the Reformation period of 16th century didn't also bring neither peace nor prosperity into the Kingdom. Properties were destroyed, talented people fled, but wealth didn't materialized as sure as was promised by nonsensical leaders of religious purges.

Torstenson War as well as both the Second and the Great Northern Wars fought by Denmark Kings in 17th century didn't also bring too much to account for all those expenses in people and money. Only after Napoleonic wars in 1815 when the Kingdom happily avoided its dissolution did Denmark, finally, find its true way of trade, science, business and social consensus.

Kingdom's main lesson learned from those hardships was that glorious wars, big colonies or talented leaders could not make the realm plentiful and its residents happy in the long run. The real mystery of successful governance is in taking into account interests of all even the smallest groups of citizens and in maintaining political as well as social consensuses.

The role of government is not to guide or to guard people but to provide those who got a talent with opportunities and those who got a need with resources.

Today Denmark is the constitutional monarchy with Folketing (179-members, unicameral Parliament) choosing the Prime Minister and passing all laws of the Land. The threshold to enter into Folketing is set for political parties on 2%, which is low compared to the rest of Europe. That's why many small social groups have a fair chance to pass it.

After June 2015 elections there are 13 parties present in Folketing with the following three of them in an absolute majority: Venstre - Liberale Parti (government party, right-wing, presents agrarian population interests, holds to 34 seats); Dansk Folkeparty (pro-government, far-rights, anti-immigration stance, takes 37 seats); Socialdemokraterne (opposition, left, pro-European, possesses 47 seats).

Another Danish lesson is that government's executives responsible for key social programs must be isolated from politicians. Cabinet of Denmark consists of around 25 ministers (this number may always be changed to include opposition candidates) with the majority of Cabinet's members holding on to their post even after change in the political leadership occurs.

Denmark's economy is one of the most developed on Earth and not only significant oil and gas reserves (32nd place, production equals 260,000 barrels per day) discovered in the North sea can be held accountable for that. Danish economy is well diversified. Although, oil contributes 26% to Kingdom's export, machinery and agricultural products make up more than 40% of it. Such companies as Lego and Carlsberg Groups have acquired wide international recognition. Unemployment level is currently under 5% with GDP growth rate fluctuating between 1% and -1% since the start of 2008 crisis.

Denmark is famous for its high level of social security as well as for an excellent quality of government's services. With the highest in the World position on the happiness index's ladder, the Kingdom, obviously, has manage to find the right balance between two polarities: excessive government patronage and the reign of private capital.

On the one hand, the labor law allows for maximum ease of business registration as well as for quick hiring and firing of employees. On the other, there exists the supporting net of government's sponsored unemployment benefits. A very hight level of taxation (over 45%, which is, currently, the highest in the World) serves as a barrier against fast accumulation of an excessive personal wealth.

Obviously, Danish model of all-inclusive government's care and hight taxation doesn't go well with the theory of competitive politics and economy, practiced in the majority of developed countries. Looking at the final results, both political and social, it's hard to judge who is right or wrong on an universal scale. However, it is hard to deny, that every Danish citizen is giving a choice, whether to stay home and to enjoy a very quite, very fair and prosperous way of life of Denmark's market socialism or to leave and to pursue abroad more ambitious but more dangerous ventures promising an unlimited wealth and inbounded opportunities.

Danish society tries an unbeaten political paths and succeeds in building the Society of social compromises and wealth equality which evokes envy and frustration in some people as well as enthusiasm and desire to learn in others.

Bhutan (Kingdom of Bhutan)

Bhutan is the hermit country which has been guarded by Dragons for more than 2000 years. Bhutan is one of few countries on Earth which has have never been conquered by external invaders. Regardless its closeness to the Indians and Chinese borders, Bhutan has kept its independence both from Ming Emperors, Rajas and, later, from British colonizers.

Bhutan's geographical position on almost unaccessible South slopes of Eastern Himalayas has played major role in that remarkable geopolitical achievement. Bhutan has preserved not only its political independence and national identity but also its natural resources. Bhutan's carbon dioxide footprint is absent from Earth's atmosphere. Bhutan emits around 2 billion tons of CO2. At the same time its forests consume more than twice of than amount.

However, seclusion and an absence of polluting facilities do not go without the price tag attached to it. Bhutan is one of the least developed countries in the world. Dragon country's less than 1 million people find their employment mostly in agriculture industry. Kingdom's major export product is the hydroelectricity. Thanks to its glaciers and mountains Bhutan generates 5,000 megawatts a year (with untapped potential of 30 thousands MW) which are going, primary, to neighboring India and Bangladesh.

Bhutan's political system is created by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk's decree at the end of 1990th. King brought to existence the National Council (the 25-members strong upper house of Parliament) and the National Assembly (the lower house of Parliament which consists of 47 elected politicians) converting an absolute monarchy to the constitutional one.

There are two major party in Bhutan - the ruling Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party (DPT) and People's Democratic Party (PDP). DPT currently holds 45 seats in the Assembly. The opposing PDP has 2 seats. However, because both of those two parties are royalists Bhutan's current political system is far from being competitive.

Bhutan's official religion is Buddhism and it's official ideology is Happiness. Bhutan has became the first country in the world which measures its Gross Happiness alongside with its GDP.

When the young King came to the throne of the Dragon in 2008, Bhutan made a second step out of its self-isolation. Today Druk Gyalpo wants his lands to be known to the World as not only friendly to environment but also as technologically advanced.

The central television was introduced to Bhutan only in 1999. Now Bhutan's Dragons learned their lessons. They do not longer want to be left behind of the rapidly changing World even if it means sacrificing internal harmony and peace for the Dragons of Capitalism.

San Marino (Republic of San Marino)

Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino is the Time Machine stuck in the 21st-century.

Dating back to 301 AD, Most Serene Republic of San Marino claims to be the oldest Republic on Earth. It's Army still includes the crossbow regiment. As a hundred years ago, one of the major pillars of Marino's economy (contributing 10% to GDP) is trading postage stamps to international collectors. Most importantly, all seventeen hundreds years of its history this 61 square kilometers' Country has preserved the type of governments which is reminiscent that of the Ancient Rome.

Romans elected two Consuls to reign over The City on Eight Hills since 509 BC. Sun Marino's Chiefs of the State and of the Government also are two persons, named Captains Regent. Consiglio Grande e Generale (unicameral 60-members Parliament) elects both Captains as well as the Congress of State (Cabinet of Ministers) from its own ranks.

At the same time, a list of San Marino's political parties is more or less similar to one which can be found elsewhere in Europe. There are two major political alliances in San Marino: right-wing Pact for San Marino with San Marinese Christian Democratic Party in charge of it and left-wing Reforms and Freedom headed by the Party of Socialists and Democrats.

In unison with the Italian Republic, which surrounds San Marino in both geographical and political senses, lefties politicians have always been strong with local electorate. In fact, San Marino became the first country in the World where communists gained power by peaceful means of popular votes.

San Marino's founder is stonemason Saint Marinus, who fled Emperor's Diocletian purge on Christians to the Monte Titano, where he build the church. Later in its history "Titanic Republic" (another name for San Marino) called for all of its original founders ingenuity to survive. Networking with Kings and Emperors became Republic's secret weapon.

Thanks to personal relationships which one of its Regents established with Napoleon I, the Republic preserved its independence while the rest of Europe lost it. Bonaparte even send four cannons and a load of supply to the City as a sign of his friendship.

In XIX century Monte Titano served as a hiding place for Giuseppe Garibaldi. Then, in gratitude, he granted the Republic independence from Italian state.

When WWI and WWII, one after another, had devastated the European continent, Repubblica's legates reached to Wilhelm II (successfully), and, later, to Benito Mussolini (also successfully) and to Adolf Schicklgruber (unsuccessfully) asking to keep German soldiers away from its borders. Wehrmacht violated Marino's sovereignty several times, happily without causing serious damage to people and to property.

San Marino's major economical pillar is tourism contributing more than 50% to GDP. Around 2-3 million visitors came each year to climb Monte Titano. With per capita income exceeding $44 thousands, citizens of San Marino enjoy low taxes coupled with one of the highest standard of living in Europe.

Serenissima Repubblica may seem to be lost in time, but, sure, has already found its unique place in the new World.

Sri Lanka (Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka is a land of Serendipity. In antiquity Arabs referred to this 66 square kilometers' hilly country, discovered by them in the Bay of Bengal, as "Sarandib" derived from Old-Tamil "Cerentivu" or "Island of Hills".

In fact, Lanka (Sri Lanka's name in Mahabharata) is the country of multiple unexpected and legendary events. Buddha left his foot mark on one of Lanka's mountains (Siripada). King Ravana (the prime antagonist of Rama in Ramayana) built there Dandu Monara - the first flying sci-fi machine known to humanity. Wariyapola (the city where this fantastic King resided) became the first airport mentioned in literature. No wonder that Arthur C. Clarke lived in Sri Lanka for more than 50 years.

Strategically positioned on one of the busiest sea-lines, endowed with the mild climate which is perfect for agriculture, Tambapanni (Sri Lanka's name in old Indian chronicles), however, kept its independence for more than thirteen hundreds years. In 1594 King Vimaladharmasuriya even repelled mighty Portuguese, gaining 221 years for his dynasty (Kandyan period). Totally, 189 native sovereigns had been changed in Ceylon until, in 1815, it became a colony of the expanding British Empire.

Sri Lanka became one of the first Southeastern democracies proclaiming its independence in 1948. However, Lanka, historically divided into three ethnic groups (Sinhalese, Tamils and Moors), had then went through several turbulent decades, punctuated by Socialist's experiments and political insurgencies, culminated by 35 years of a war between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and the central Government.

Today, pacified Island has more than 67 registered parties but only two among them - United People's Freedom Alliance, UPFA (left) and United National Party, UNP (right) - jointly holding 201 (unicameral Parliament), have major say in the political affairs of Sri Lanka. UPFA is, currently, divided to two factions one of which supports while another opposes the current Sri Lanka's President Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa, criticized by many for his authoritarian style of governance.

Sri Lanka is one of the most prosperous country in Southeast Asia. With GDP nearing $90 billion Sri Lanka's per capita exceeds that of most of its neighbors. The historic base of Ceylon's economy had been coffee plantations built by British at the beginning of the 19th century until, in 1869, coffee was replaced by tea, which together with cinnamon and rubber became the brand name of Sri Lanka on the European market in XIX and beginning of XX centuries.

Today tea takes only 12% of Island's export, while more than 40% is textile goods. Sri Lanka's service sector (including tourism) contributes 60% into GDP, while agricultural sector makes up only 12%. Ceylon is no longer the land of tea and rubies. However, precious stones adds 21 millions to Lanka's 0.70 billion export. Current Sri Lanka's GDP growth rate (6%) is one of the highest in Southeast region.

Today Sri Lanka is one of the most developed Southeast Asian countries with diversified exports, modern infrastructure and growing high-tech industry (estimated $720 million). Lanka, legendary Ceylon, is the country with gradually bettering life's realities.

Liechtenstein (Principality of Liechtenstein)

Liechtenstein is the business. As any other business this one has its own market competency which is to provide tax heavens for people and corporations dissatisfied with financial burdens forced on them by their native countries. There have been more than 70,000 registered companies in Liechtenstein, two per each one of its inhabitants.

In business everything has its price. Liechtenstein became one of the first casualties of World War Three declared by EU and US on the money laundering in 2000th. Enraged European authorities included the Principality into the black list, forcing Lichtenstein to join an anti-evasion convention. It, certainly, made a vent into Principalities' treasure chest.

However, as any other business, Lichtenstein had prudently diversified its investments. Many people don't have a clue about their bodily connection to Liechtenstein. Across the World more than 30% of implanted teeth's supply came from Liechtenstein. This country of Noble Princes is number one World's producer of artificial fangs. In fact, the first ceramic factory was opened in Liechtenstein in 1836.

Besides banking and incisors manufacturing there are also agriculture, power tools, electronics, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and anchor bolts production facilities placed in the Principality. The diverse business model of Liechtenstein has proved to be very lucrative. It accounts to almost $150,000 per every citizens of Principality a year, which sums up to more than 5 billion dollars overall. Alps' country GDP growth rate is fluctuating depending on influx and outburst of money in its clients' coffers which depends on two factors - economic conditions across the Europe and market crises. Today it stands below 1%.

As any other business on Earth, one-hundred-sixty square kilometers country has its own CEO. This role belongs to the prince of Liechtenstein who is absolutely not like others, fake monarchs of Old Europe. As any other CEO, the Prince had to fight hard for its post. In 2003 he had put forward an amendment to the current Liechtenstein's Constitution which provided him with Executives authorities including dissolution of parliament, hiring Prime Minister and derailing any piece of legislation in Principality.

This monarch's insinuated counter revolution at first met strong resistance from within and outside of Luxembourg. EU bureaucrats said that would this plan of His Highness be implemented democratic principles of the Union are to be breached. People within the country tended to agree with that assessment. However, unperturbed legatee of Napoleons threatened to leave the country and to lease all of its properties to international businesses.

Petrified by the perspective of being left face to face with Fortune 500 Corporate Monsters citizens of Liechtenstein gave up and gave in more than 60% of their voices to the stubborn Prince Hans-Adam. To prevent the structure of democratic institutions from complete collapse it was also added into the same Act that citizens may introduce or revoke any law by the way of public referendum.

Principality in the Swiss Alps has several political parties, and something like two-party system is in place there. In Liechtenstein Parliament - unicameral Landtag (25 members) - two parties prevails: Fortschrittliche Bürgerpartei, FBP (Progressive Citizen's Party, right) holds 10 seats and Vaterländische Union, VU (The Patriotic Union, center) possesses 8 seats.

Military was dissolved in Liechtenstein in 1866 and now the honor to defend this proud, double landlocked Country lays on Switzerland.

Liechtenstein is a Princes' country posted in the Rhine valley, citizens of which have less democratic freedoms but more personal wealth than do the rest of EU.

Bangladesh (People's Republic of Bangladesh)

Bangladesh economy is on a rise but its politics is in troubles. Since 1971, when the Country of Bengal had became an independent state (as a result of a popular uprising against Pakistan authorities followed by the self-declaration), Bangladesh's political landscape has been torn apart by cycles of mass disorders and military coups. Early Republic's years of experimenting with the Socialist, authoritarian, monopolistic economy coupled with the one-party political system institutionalized both corruption and inefficiency of government's institutions.

Trying to restore private businesses in the country and to recuperate losses from reckless political decisions Bangladesh's elite introduced a mixed system of governance where a capitalist economy is combined with an unitary party system. To ensure the continuation of one Party rule the rig electoral system was used. That led to growing social unrests and strikes. After decades of social wars and military revolts followed by dictatorships the new Caretaker Government system (CTG) was introduced in 1996.

For the entire election period CTG (composed from the representatives of independent civic institutions and led by Chief Advisor) was responsible for running Bangladesh. The major goal of Caretakers was the oversight of election processes in order to ensure their fairness.

CTG was dismantled in 2011 by the Bangladesh Awami League - BAL (right) - the Government's party. The argument behind this ruling (it came as an amendment to the Constitution) was that CTG is to be hold accountable for a number of violent episodes during preceding elections. However, that decision met a strong resistance from the largest opposition force in the country - Bangladesh Nationalist Party - BNP (center). Later in 2014 BNP boycotted the national elections stating that in an absence of CTG they became a farce.

Bangladesh's newly created, after-independence Government was strongly influenced by the Westminster system. The president of Bangladesh is a nominal figure which ceremonially approves the Prime Minister, who then appoints members of the Cabinet. Unicameral Jatiyo Sangshad (350-members Parliament) is, today, dominated by BAL which holds 271 seats. Second biggest parliamentary faction Jatiya Party - JP (represents interests of military forces) has 40 seats, Workers Party of Bangladesh - WPB (left) is on a third place with 7 seats.

Economically Bangladesh has been able to make a significant progress by decreasing the level of poverty in the Country from 60% to 30% since 1990th. Bangladesh has a large natural gas deposits and is one of the biggest World's export of clothings. GDP growth rate of the Country has been rising since middle 1990th and today reached 6.5%, which is an excellent result in current sluggish economic climate.

However, due to the 170 million strong, fast growing population and series of famines People Republic's per capita is one of the lowest in the region. The great majority of Bangladesh people are still relying on agriculture (specially on rice production) as on a prime source for living. Natural disasters (heavy floods), frequency of which is increasing with the climate change, are taking a disproportionately heavy toll on the Country of Bengal due to its geographic location in lowlands of the Indian peninsula.

Bangladesh is a newly created country with extremely volatile political and natural climates. From both economical and social points of view Bangladesh today is still the work in progress.

Andorra (Principality of Andorra)

Andorra is a forgotten country. According to a legend, the statehood was bestowed on Andorra in 988 by Charles the Great as a reword for withstanding the onslaught of Moors (Muslim inhabitants of the North Africa). That deed, fictitious or not, had been destined to became the first and the only of Andorra's contributions to the European Grand Politics.

Squeezed between France and Spain, hidden in Pyrenees forests, the Principality (established in 1278) had been virtually absent from historical records for almost 700 years. Only in 1993 Andorra, under the pressure of EU (of which it became a member state at the same year) changed its Medieval governance code to the democratic constitution.

However, Andorra's type of democracy had came with a twist. This halve-a-thousand square kilometers country is ruled by two Princes none of whom is actually a Prince. First is the Bishop of Urgell (the Roman Catholic Church's administrative district in Catalonia to which Andorra belongs). Second is the President of France himself. None of those noble figures has, of course, any serious relations with the actual business of governance in Andorra.

The real power there belongs to the Cap de Govern (the Prime Minister), who is the head of the Executive Council (the Cabinet) with its seven ministers. Cap de Govern is elected by the General Council (28-members Parliament). The dominant party in Andorra's Parliament is Democrates per Andorra, DA (right) which holds 15 seats (54%). Partit Liberal d'Andorra, PLA (center) comes second with 8 seats (29%)%). Partit Socialdemocrata, PS (left) is the third with 3 seats (11%).

As in the rest of EU, the most contentious issue of current Andorra's politic is the immigration. In the Principality only one-third of its 85 thousands people strong population has the Andorran nationality and a right to vote. That makes 66% of the country the second-class citizens.

History goes so slow in Andorra that it became the last European country which made a peace with Germany. It was concluded in 1956, while Andorra had declared war on Germany during World War One.

Jealously guarded by its two great European Cousins from any sort of internal and external threats for hundreds of years, Andorra enjoys a level of political stability which is more like an anabiosis. That is why when in 1934 a solitary adventurer Boris Skossyreff (former translator from Japanese Mission) had proclaimed himself Boris I, the King of Andorra with no military of public support whatsoever, this anecdote, nevertheless, was treated by Spain as a coup d'etat. Boris had 'ruled' for 8 days after which he was apprehended by Spanish Army and expelled from the country.

More than 80% of Andorra's 4.5 billion strong GDP is extracted from 10 million tourists visiting seven Principality's counties each year. There are two major attractions in Andorra: tax-free goodies and skies resorts. However, with European Union dropping more and more of its regulations tax-heaven part of Andorra's budget is under the direct and imminent threat.

Andorra's military forces have became the subject of another anecdote. In 1962 Principality spent on all of its yearly defense budget four dollars and fifty cents (some say $4.9 or even $5.0) to purchase blank cartridges for a firework. Today Andorra's Army consist of twelve men whose major duty is to attend to the flag rising ceremonies. Andorran citizens are obliged to keep a rifle at home in order to be able to stand against all types of enemy's onslaught if required.

Hidden in the central mountainous region of Europe and protected from both sides by two friendly States, Andorra enjoys non exiting, prosperous life of a politics-free micro-country.

Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic)

Muang Lao is one of the oldest and poorest countries on Earth. Land locked, roughly size of England, with population far below that which is needed to insure effective border security, Lao had served as a buffer between major regional powers involved in the multiple military conflicts for hundreds of years.

In 8th century Laos became a stumble barrier for an expanding Han Chinese Empire. Later in 13th century Tai people migration into Laos had been started and kingdom of Lanna was founded by them on a territory of Lao. Then in 1470s the invasion came from the Dai Viet (name of Vietnam in XI-XVII centuries). In 16th century Toungoo Dynasty (from Burma, currently Myanmar) had began an expansion into Lao lands. 17th century didn't bring a relief to Pa Thet Lao at all. Siam (recent Thailand) general Taksin forced a serfdom onto Lao kingdoms which lasted until the French Republic took Laos under its colonial umbrella in 1893.

In 1953, after the Second World War, France had made Laos an independent state and the monarchy was re-established all across the borders of Mekong River. During the Vietnam War (1955 - 1975) Laos came under one of the heaviest air bombardment campaign in the human history. Trying to destroy the "Ho Shi Minh Way" going alongside of the Vietnamese borders, American warplanes dropped an estimated 2.5 million tons of bombs on Laos, which is 74% of number of bombs (3.4 million tons) spent by allies during all of World War II. At the same time, the Laotian Civil War, fought between royalist army and communists regiments (supported by Vietnam and USSR), was in progress. It culminated by monarchist loosing their cause (after USA withdrew from Vietnam in 1975) and communists declaring Lao the Republic in December of the same year. Since then Lao became an independent socialist state heavily influenced by Vietnam both in its internal and external politics.

Lao PDR is run by Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) which is a communist organization headed by the Politburo, Secretariat and the Central Committee. The President of Laos is, at the same time, the head of LPRP. Another important Governmental organ of the Republic is the National Assembly of Laos where from 149 seats 144 are held by the members of LPRP (5 seats belong to non-partisans). LPDR is de facto one-party state. However, one can find in western medias vague reports about Lao opposition parties which, allegedly, came to existence somewhere in 2000th.

Due to changes introduced to its economic policies (basically, private entrepreneurship was allowed) at the end of XX century, LPDR managed to increase its agricultural production outputs (primarily that of sticky rice) by 5% a year between 1990 and 2000. Additionally, such industries as hydroelectricity production, international tourism and mining have been growing fast since the beginning of XXI century. The level of international investments in Lao has also drastically increased with majority of capitals flowing from neighboring Vietnam. Starting with very low base, LPDR's GDP growth rate has been about the highest in the region (6-8%) for more than two decades. Even today it still exceeds 7%.

Regardless its impressive GDP growth rate, maintained since 1990th, Lao is still economically very weak and, with its GDP equals to nearly $12 billion, struggles to maintain 8 million people strong population (more than 80% of which are employed in agricultural sector).

Laos is a country which open geographical position, absence of natural resources and low density of population have made it vulnerable military, economically and politically. Trying to change the course of its history, LPDR, led by communist party, has introduced some market reforms which being partially successful are undermined today by corruption, low technological efficiency and outdated infrastructure.

Switzerland (Swiss Confederation)

Switzerland is the Brand. 'Swiss watch', 'Swiss army knife', 'Swiss bank', 'Swiss cheese' - all of those marketing slogans have been part of our vocabulary for past two generations. They emphasize quality, longevity and reliability of traded goods. However, a much more important information about Switzerland is missing from commercials. Confoederatio Helvetica is the only example of functioning direct democracy system on Earth. For more than 700 years this Swiss political mechanism had been securing the unprecedented level of political stability and economic prosperity for Country in the Alps.

Switzerland is governed by the Federal Council, which is composed from 7 representatives of four major parties:

  • Christlichdemokratische Volkspartei der Schweiz, CVP (Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland, center, 1 seat)
  • Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei, FDP (Free Democratic Party, right-liberal, 2 seats)
  • Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz, SP (Swiss Socialist Party, left, 2 seats)
  • Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP (Swiss People's Party, right-nationalist, 2 seats)
  • Since 1959 the "magic formula" of Swiss democracy had been: 2 CVP, 2 SPS, 2 FDP and 1 SVP. Many parties left outside of "formula", like GPS ("greens") or BDP (Conservative Democratic Party), had disputed its validity and today the magic is gone. Formula is no longer sacred and may be altered as in 2015 elections when Christian Democrats lost one seat in the Council to right-wing, anti-immigrants People's Party.

    Federal Council members are elected for four consecutive years. Although each of them has a specific ministry to supervise, all of them together are responsible for properly functioning Government. This arrangement avoids departmentalization but slows down decision making process. That's why the President may take unilateral actions in extraordinary cases when there's no time to call the Council and to work out consensus decision. Beside those exceptional circumstances, the President in Switzerland is like a hole in Swiss cheese - one just goes with another. In fact, each Swiss citizen can play a President, providing he or she is able to amass 50,000 signatures and then challenge any piece of legislation in the State.

    Another crucial pillar of Swiss democracy is Bundesversammlung - bicameral Parliament composed of Standerat (Council of States with 46 seats) and Nationalrat (National Council, 200 seats). Current distribution of seats in Nationalrat reflects the rising political star of nationalists with SPV holding 65 seats (33%). All of government parties together got 169 seats (85%). The rest (31 seats) belongs to the opposition with GPS (greens) possesses 11 (6%). Today Nationalrat is polarized as never before in its contemporary history. What will came from that new political distribution for reliability of the clock-like mechanism of Swiss democracy is not clear but chances are it will persist as usual.

    One of the most stable country in European history Switzerland has developed sizable presence in a number of key World's industries including watches and rails making, military and food equipments production, as well as in agriculture, banking and tourism sectors.

    Sciences and technologies have been in the center of Helvetica's economic policy for more than 100 years. Switzerland takes credit for 113 Nobel laureates' success stories. Confederation's love to science had climaxed in Cold War's nuclear bomb project which was abandoned for economic reasons in 1988, soon after 'Perestroika' initiative had been announced by Soviet Leader Mikhail Sergeevitch Gorbachev in 1987.

    Economic perspectives for Switzerland today look as dismal as those for the neighboring countries with which Confederation maintains long-standing trade relationships (more than 20% of Swiss export goes to Germany). Swiss GDP growth rate has been frozen between 0% and 1% last 10 years (except once, in 2009, when it gets under -2%). However, unemployment rate in the Country stays as low as 4% for the last 15 years or so. It's explained by the long-term stability of big corporations' as well as government's and international organizations' jobs which take a big slice of Swiss employment market. At the same time, the dominance of big corporations is probably one of the major economic hurdles of Switzerland today. It reduces the level of competition inside of the country and curtails innovation processes.

    Switzerland is the unique Country were seemingly nobody stays in charge and practically all laws may be challenged by the hap-hazard public referendum. Paradoxically, this highest level of political system's uncertainty has created one of the oldest, stable and reliable Governments on Earth. May be it's time for other proud but rigid Democracies to have a closer look at each of 26 cantons of the Confederation Suisse.

    Republic of Korea

    The Miracle on the Han River is one of the most fascinating politic and economic sagas of XX century. Devastated, first, by Japan's occupation and then by the Korean War, the Republic of Korea (ROK) had managed to rise its GDP per capita rate from $2000 to almost $30,000 in less than 30 years.

    As any other miracle the Korean one cannot be easily explained. The right words here are, probably, "being in the right place at the right time".

    Without natural resources available on its territory for industrial exploitation, Republic of Korea had made an early bet on developing the high technology sector right at the beginning of the computer revolution in 1960-70th. Large population of hard working people, historically adapted to subsist on low income and eager to acquire new skills and knowledge, plus Government investments in universally available SMET education have allowed the Republic to obtain a formidable work force to build World class electronic components and equipments production facilities.

    In 1970th and 1980th large International Corporations (primary North American and European) had been actively conquering international markets. ROK was able to compete with them by unleashing chaebols - traditional Korean family based diversified business conglomerates. If China and other Southeastern countries had emphasized small and medium individual or large government managed businesses, North Korea, instead, have made an accent on private oligopolies.

    Being much more adaptable and innovative than Government's Concerns and, at the same time, much bigger than SME business, chaebols had not only resisted the competitive pressure of international giants but beat them on some strategic markets including large screen TVs and smart phones. The role played by chaebols in ROK's economic phenomenon can't be underestimated. At some period of time, one of the most prominent Korean champion - Samsung - was reportedly responsible for 15% of national GDP.

    Like other Southeastern countries ROK had passed through series of military dictatorships and coup d'etat. That had came to the end when Korean middle class with its fast growing incomes made its voice very audible for South Korean elite. In 1990th ROK had began the process of converting itself into the representative Democracy.

    Today the Six Republic of South Korea is headed by its President and the unicameral National Assembly (300 seats) elected by popular votes. The role of the President is very important in ROK. He (she) appoints the Prime Minister and presides over the State Council of chief ministers.

    Major political parties of South Korea are: Saenuri (the New Frontier, right, holds 129 seats), Minjoo (Together Party, left, 121 seats) and Gungminui Dang (People's Party, center, 38 seats). They present the traditional Democratic pallet of right-wing, left-wing and centrist parties.

    Export orientated economy of South Korea had been hit hard by two financial crises in 1998 and 2008. Both times ROK's GDP growth rate dropped to -4%. Current GDP of South Korea is growing at the rate less than 1% a year, which is to say not growing at all.

    On top of economic hardships there has always been the North Korean factor present. Highly instable situation on the borders often makes international investors nervous which puts a downward pressure to South Korean stock and bond markets.

    South Korea today is not the economical miracle in making anymore. It is, in fact, the stable democratic country with World class economy, highly educated population and with one of the most developed technological infrastructures on Earth.

    Netherlands (Nederlands)

    Netherlands is the country of political consensus. It's, also, the country which is unlikely to exist but it does.

    Starting from its birth as the Kingdom in 1815, Nederlands had always been split to four political quadrants by two lines: religious and ideological. On ordinate line - Catholics versus Protestants. On abscissa line - Liberals against Socialists. In the modern history, starting from 1970s, new movements like feminists, greens, nationalists and anti-immigrants had been added to the Kingdom's political pot. Accordingly, the political pallet of the Netherlands' bicameral Parliament (States General, 150 members) is diverse and is subject to frequent alterations (dependent on various coalitions) reflecting the fluid situation inside and outside of the Country.

    There are two leading Parliamentary parties - Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie - VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, right) and Partij van de Arbeid - PvdA (Labour Party, left) with 40 and 36 seats respectively. Third biggest Parliamentary party Socialistische Partij - SP (Socialist Party, left) holds 15 seats. That reflects a historic shift in Nederlands politics which has been in progress since 2000s when traditional prevalence of centrists' and lefties' union of Christian Democrats and Socialists in the States General is moving towards polarizing right-left counter-position.

    Despite all of those political controversies, Netherlands, however, had managed to keep its State's unity for more than 200 years. Moreover, it did so without any of its political parties forming non-coalition, unipolar Cabinets or trying to force their religious or ideological beliefs on population in an attempt to win more votes on incoming elections, as it had been the case almost universally with Democracies across the World.

    The geographical spot, occupied by Nederlands isn't particularly suited for placing there long-term human habitats. The majority of Kingdom's land is only 1 centimeter above the sea level. Several devastating floods had hit the Country in a last 800 years (latest in 1953). With its border unprotected by natural obstacles, Netherlands had been the subject of multiple military aggressions and involved in almost all of the European armed conflicts in the last 500 years.

    Nevertheless, the Kingdom had managed to match that extreme level of political and geographical challenges with highest degree of economical diversification and prosperity. Nederlands had became the first truly capitalist Country on Earth. It gave birth to the first Stock Exchange and the first Market Bubble. It has became the World's leader in many industries as various as agriculture, transport and high-tech. Brabant region alone holds first place in Europe by the number of registered patents. The Kingdom is number one exporter of tomato and flowers. Netherlands has on its territory largest ports in EU - Rotterdam and fifth biggest airport - Schiphol.

    However, as it is recently the case with other European countries, there's been a shadow brought onto the white tissue of Netherlands' multiculturalism and inclusiveness. 2000s gave birth to a number of nationalists parties all across Europe. Nederlands has not been an exception from this tendency. Growing number of immigrants arriving and settling on Kingdom's sole unnerves and frightens more and more people inside the country. Those fears and frustrations serve as a nurturing ground for the rise of the anti-immigrants parties in Netherlands such as PVV.

    After being a republic for almost two-and-a-halve centuries (since its independence from Spain in 1564) Netherlands converted itself into a constitutional monarchy. Unlike the most of European sovereigns, the Ruler of Netherlands has more important responsibilities than presiding over charity events or assigning fancy medieval titles to businessman and rock-stars. Among other things, the King of Netherlands selects and appoints the Prime Minister along with members of its cabinet.

    However, a longstanding culture of political compromises prevents King from taking unilateral actions without consent of the bicameral Parliament as well as of other state institutions. The unique consensus culture of Netherlands is responsible for existence of Council of State. The Council includes academics as well as former ministers and members of Parliament. However, unlike similar bodies in other countries, which are only allowed to express their opinions without any possibility to force them, The Council may actually stop all of laws proposed by Cabinets.

    This fact underlines the particularity of Netherlands political system, which set it apart from the adversary, confrontational politics of other Democratic countries. In Netherlands the golden rule of contemporary politicians - The Winner Gets It All - is simply non applicable (not yet).

    Historically highly relied on the economy of EU for its development, Netherlands today is plunged into the same post-crisis, slow-recovery, low-rates and low-profits quagmire as all other European countries. Sluggish Netherlands GDP growth rate has been spaced between 2% and -1% for more than a decade now.

    Netherlands - the country with long-standing traditions of political compromises - stands out as an example to follow for many European politicians which aggressive, populist and tribal style serves today only to the purpose of frustrating and radicalizing the people.

    Vietnam (Socialist Republic of Vietnam)

    Vietnam is the socialist country with a mixed economy. Devastated by Indochina and then by Vietnam Wars (1946 - 1975), after going through the decades of post-war hardships, SRV has, finally, achieved substantial progress both in economical and social spheres. Since 2000s Vietnam's GDP growth rate has been fluctuating between 4% and 8% and today is second only to China.

    Starting from scratch, during recent decade SRV has became the net exporter of petroleum products and exceeded the level of 300,000 barrels per day of oil output. Vietnam is also one of the biggest exporters of sea products (specifically, catfish), world's largest producer of cashew nuts and black pepper (holding more than 30% of World's market share for each of those products) and second only to Thailand in rice export. At the same time, Vietnam remains a net importer of machinery, equipments and electronics.

    Politically Vietnam is controlled by the Politburo and Secretariat of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and by its General Secretary, who's holding also the title of the President of SRV. Another officially important source of political power in Socialist Vietnam is CPV's National Congress which, formally, elects the Central Committee. The Government controls all aspects of political and social lives in Vietnam on provincials', towns', districts' and villages' levels. However, some of them are, formally, accountable to locally elected people's Councils as well. Official ideology of SRV is the Marxism-Leninism adapted by Ho Chi Minh (first leader of SRV) and listed in Ho Chi Minh Thought.

    With an exception of so-called socio-political organizations, dominated by Vietnamese Fatherland Front (pro-government mass movement created in 1977 to promote CPV's agenda into masses), there are not other political groups in the Socialist Republic.

    Vietnam's geographical position on the Indochina Peninsula amidst hilly and densely forested terrains had made it very difficult for foreign invaders to occupy and hold control over the country. For more than two millennial (from 2879 AD to 111 AD) Vietnam had remained independent and stayed under the rule of local royal dynasties until falling under Chinese domination.

    In 1858 Vietnam became the manufacturing outpost of France. France split Vietnam into two parts - industrial North and agricultural South. In 1945 Japanese army divided the territory of Vietnam again, but this time between Japan and the Vichy Government of France calling this unity Empire of Vietnam.

    Division to two industrial and agricultural countries was one of the reasons behind Vietnam's slow social development after 1975. Today there are two distinct regions in SRV: industrialized Hanoi on the North and Ho Chi Minh City - the capital of agricultural South. Most of the country still relies for its livelihood on homegrown agricultural crops (primarily on rice).

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of 1990s, Vietnam, which had been highly dependent from USSR in its trade and politics, implemented series of market reforms. Small entrepreneurship were allowed and stock exchanges were established in two capital cities later in 2000s. Those reforms opened SRV to the influx of international investments. However, compare to its Southeastern neighbors, Vietnam still maintains very high level of administrative control over the market. Paradoxically, it childed CRV from the devastation caused by 1998 Asian Financial crisis.

    One of the distinctive features of the SRV's economy is the widening gap between big, government owned corporations and a growing number of small privately held enterprises. Middle and big size private companies are virtually nonexistent in Vietnam.

    Today Vietnam is still capable to maintain high GDP growth rate of almost 6% per annum regardless recent market uncertainty in Asia and Worldwide. This resilience of SRV economy may be attributed, first, to the low base from which it started and, second, to very low average salary of Vietnamese workers ($145 monthly, compared to $239 in neighboring countries).

    CPR, still holding its ideological grip over the Vietnam, faces challenges of Technological Ages and demonstrates its readiness to implement centralized reforms in order to keep CRV's competitiveness in the Brave New World.

    Sweden (Kingdom of Sweden)

    The Sweden model has been widely admired by economists as well as politicians. For many years, starting with 1970s, a prevailing opinion among many observers had been that Konungariket Sverige had, finally, forged a Magnum Opus of governance and has learned to balance economic prosperity with social equality almost perfectly. With the tax rate exceeding 80% of personal income (the highest in the World), the Kingdom has managed, nevertheless, to built a competitive economy which gave birth to an impressive array of celebrated brands including Electrolux, Ericsson and IKEA.

    For the most part, that astonishing result may be attributed to a favorable geographical position, traditionally communal political culture as well as to small and cohesive population of this Nordic Country. Sverige had been able to keep neutrality (recently questioned by some historians) during two successive World Wars - events which were absolutely devastating for the rest of European businesses. Keeping mostly intact its industrial and human bases, Sweden had taken a full economic advantage from absence of serious competitors on a postwar market and, in very a short time frame, managed to take leading positions in a number of key industries across Europe.

    However, as waves of the Globalization had started to swept across the World, the Kingdom has gradually lost its competitive edge. To the end of 1990s the growing pressure from international Corporations and emerging tech companies coupled with consequences of the real estate market bust in Stockholm (the following banking debt crisis induced Swedish financial authorities to bailout some of banks), finally forced the Swedish government to review its long-standing social policies. Taxations were decreased and some of regulations abandoned.

    After being for hundreds of years (specifically in XVII - XVIII century) a country with large military force and huge imperialistic ambitions, Sweden at the start of the 20th century, after series of military and political upsets, had wisely reversed its course and became one of the most peaceful and prosperous nation in the World.

    Swedish traditions of communal politics go far back into the history, to times when Swedish warlords were roaming defenseless Baltic's shores and large rivers of Russia with their small but fierce regimens. Today, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with its Crown's genealogy going back to famous Napoleon's General Bernadotte, who took the possession of the Swedish throne in 1818. Unicameral Swedish parliament - Riksdag - possesses an authority to appoint and to dissolve the Cabinet of ministers.

    Uniquely, ministers in Sweden do not hold a responsibility for the effectiveness of their ministries. On one hand, of course, it makes an administrative organ much less dependent on the current political situation and, hence, much more willing to engage in long term projects. On the other, it makes ministries less transparent and it converts ministers into a politically ridiculous figures.

    Since 1917 the major political party in Sweden has been Social Democratic Party (left). For almost all of that time it has hold enough seats in Riksdag to form a government. However, there are five more parties which lately start to periodically challenge SDP's leadership: Moderate Party, Center Party, Liberal People's Party, Left Party and Green Party. Their ideologies varies from moderate left to moderate right with lefties traditionally more prevalent in such socially orientated state as Sweden.

    Sweden's GDP growth rate has been under 2% for almost ten years. Its unemployment rate, which had been fallen to under 5% on top of the economic boom in the middle of 1990s, now has risen to almost 10% (8% in 2016). Swedish market reforms of 2000s have helped the government to keep its debt to under 50% of GDP which is in a sharp contrast with almost 80% in 1990s. Export orientation of Sweden economy is now a burden because it makes the Kingdom too dependent of the stagnant European market.

    Although Konungariket Sverige has long lost its reputation of an Utopian Society, it still remains politically stable and economically sound Country.

    Singapore (Republic of Singapore)

    Singapore means Lion City. You can or not believe whether there have ever been lions leaving on one of 63 Singapore's islands. You might also argue whether or not there is a true democratic system present in the Republik Singapura. What is not arguable, however, is the fact that Singapore's people have built, literally from scratch, one of the most exciting and successful Country in the World.

    The Garden City's modern history is not only exiting but paradoxical as well. Firstly, Singapore obtained its independence (9 August 1965) not as a result of revolutionary war, a military coup or, at best, as a gift from a dissolute foreign power (as it had been the case with all other former colonies elsewhere), but as the punishment. Secondly, Singapore has possessed none mineral resources whatsoever. Thirdly, Singapore didn't have an unifying ideology, religion or a sense of national identity to lay into the foundation of the new society.

    Moreover, at a time it appeared that the national identity was completely taken away by Malaysian Parliament voting 126-0 to expel Singapore from its realm. The reason for that decision was rising suspicions that People's Action Party (PAP, the major political party of Singapore) has a powerful communist lobby inside it. Lee Kuan Yew (an architect of Singapore's miracle) even stated on the television conference: "For me, it is a moment of anguish.". In only 50 years the Red Dot became one of the wealthiest country on Earth.

    Singapore today is a darling of economists and a contentious point in discussions between proponents of classical democratic principles and supporters of "guided democracies".

    Officially the city-state is a parliamentary democracy with the Prime Minister and its Cabinet members appointed by the President which is elected by popular vote. Singapore Parliament has 84 members which are also selected on general elections. There is a multi-party system in Singapore with such parties as Parti Pekerja Singapura (Workers' Party, left) or Singapore People's Party (SPP, center) competing on general election with PAP. However, on each elections since 1966 PAP came as an absolute winner with 60 or more percents of the votes and 80 or more seats in the Parliament.

    International human rights organizations including Amnesty International or Reporters Sans Frontieres often point to an absence of basics freedoms in Singapore including freedom of press or freedom of associations. At the same time, Singapore consistently ranks highest as the least corrupt and the most suitable for business country in the World.

    Instead of pumping oil, gold, diamond or exploiting offshore bankings as do other small but prosperous countries, The Red Dot used its strategic position near Southeast Asian's trade lines to convert itself into giant finance, technology and commodity hub. The rule of law, comprehensive business regulations, political stability and openness to innovations has made the Garden City World's leader by the number of millionaires (every six of Singaporean reported to possess more than $1 million of disposable assets).

    On the downside, being highly dependent on the state of international trade and finance, Singapore remains sensitive to the World's economic cycles. Reflecting the recent Worldwide economic slowdown, city-state's GDP growth rate has been sliding from almost 40% in 2010 to almost 0% today. At the same time, low unemployment rate (2%) and rising deflationary pressure (from 6% in 2012 to -2% in 2016) suppress investments into Singapore future developments.

    The Lion City - the wonder of World's economy in 80s, 90s and 2000s - is today in a growing jeopardy. However, it still presents itself a wonderful illustration of unprecedented social and economic progresses achieved in a life time of one generation.

    Norway (Kingdom of Norway)

    Norway became the first country to convert itself into the constitutional monarchy (May 17, 1814). From the Age of the Vikings (VIII century) Norway people had been taking all important decisions on communities meet ups - things. Today, of course, it is no longer done by that archaic manner.

    Norway's Unicameral Parliament (Stortinget, 169 members) is the major legislative body in the Kingdom. Stortinget nominates the Prime Minister (a leader of the majority party) which then must be approved by the monarch. Probably, because Norway is one of the oldest living kingdom on Earth (founded in 872 AD) its luminaries wield more of the real power if compared to other European sovereigns. For example, Norway's ruler is the head of Armed Forces and represents the country in international affairs as the chief Ambassador.

    Norway is subdivided to 430 municipalities (kommunar), each of which has its own mayor and an executive cabinet. However, kommunars don't have a big say in the national politics, which has long been the realm of Norway's (and the World's) two oldest political organizations - the Labor Party (Arbeiderpartied; A/Ap; left; founded in 1887) and Conservative Party (Hoyre; H; center; founded in 1884). Currently they hold 30% and 27% of seats in Stortinget, respectively, and must use coalitions with minor parties to form a Cabinet but prior to 2000s Arbeiderpartied together with Hoyre had been strong enough to run a Government without too much of interference from outsiders.

    Kingdom's geographical position on outskirts of Europe, far away from traditional migrations and invasions roads, has preserved Norway's national sovereignty and political stability for a millennium. At the same time, its closeness to important sea lines on Baltic and North Sea had made Norway the prosperous Country as early as the beginning of the 12th century. Already in XIV century the Kingdom was World famous for its richness and political influence.

    Later in history, in 1850s, at the beginning of the industrial era, Norway had put to use its abundant water resources (specifically, waterfalls) for running factories' machinery. Meanwhile, Norway's growing trade fleet and fishing industries had continued to promote Norway's growing economy right to the 20th century.

    However, it was just the beginning. Norway hit its jackpot at 21 August 1969, when drilling platform Ocean Viking found Ekofisk which became the first big oil field (more than 400,000 barrels) found in North Sea. Norway is one of biggest oil and natural gas exporters in the World and possesses largest coal reserve on Earth. Norway's export is 33% crude petroleum and 24% natural gas. In a very short time it's made Norway the leader of UN's comparison matrices including HDI (4th, Human Development Index) and Gini (1st, low inequality index).

    Norway is a picture perfect example, admired by economists, of how a favorable geography, an abundance of easily accessible mineral base and wise management could not destroy a small country's economy (like Dutch) but, instead, make it reach and happy.

    Papua New Guinea (Independent State of Papua New Guinea)

    Papua New Guinea (PNG) with few built roads, covered by dense rain-forests and with more than 750 distinct languages is one of the most unexplored and diverse countries in the World. PNG had been under three colonial powers - UK, Germany and Australia - and became independent from the latter in 1975. PNG is part of the Commonwealth unity and recognizes the Queen as the head of the state. However, unlike most other Commonwealth countries, Papua New Guinea elects its own Governor rather than accept the one appointed by the British Crown.

    As it's the usual case with many of fledgling democracies, PNG's political life is remarkably volatile, with many recorded instances, when elected officials were sabotaged by other branches of the Government including the unicameral National Parliament (111 seats), Governor and Prime Minister. Adding to that instability, some of PNG's communities have periodically tried to break out from the unity by means of arms. Some of the most atrocious incident of the sort is the Bougainville Island revolt, which had started in 1988 and was ended only in 1997 causing massive devastation of properties and population.

    On a surface New Guinea's economy is thriving, thanks, primary, to rich mineral deposits (gold, copper, oil and gas). GDP's growth rate has been exceeding 6% for almost 10 years. Significant portion of this growth in recent years may be attributed to ExxonMobil's giants exploratory projects of liquefied gas fields. It also, no doubts, helps that PNG had started from a very low GDP base. However, PNG population remains predominantly rural (less than 25% of people lives in cities) and poor relying on a small scale agriculture production for survival. Palm oil and cocoa beans constitute important ingredient of PNG export (about 10%). By a virtue of geographical and historical closeness, the major PNG trading partner is Australia.

    The list of leading political parties in New Guinea includes People's National Congress Party (ruling, holds more than 24% of seats in Parliament), Triumph Heritage Empowerment Rural Party (10%) and Papua New Guinea Party (7%). Ideologies of those parties can be loosely described as "nationalism", although, of course, due to an almost permanent state of political conflict in PNG, it looks like they are simply doing and saying all it takes to win the best place under the hot, tropical sun of Papua.

    PNG today is the country with economy which grows and with politics which doesn't really work.

    Greece (Hellenic Republic)

    Greece is the oldest civilization on the European continent. However, the start of contemporary Greece's political history is dated only to 1821 (Greece's declared independence from Ottomans was internationally recognized in 1830). Hellenic Republic's political life has been greatly influenced by its geographical position between European landmass and Minor Asia. Ancient Greek's lands, placed on the tip of Balkan Peninsula, had long stayed under the control of neighboring countries from Persia and Imperial Rome to the Ottoman Empire and 3rd Reich. As a result, Greeks obtained very strong sense of national identity.

    Greece's proximity to the Mediterranean Sea - the most important transportation route in Europe - had helped Republic to develop its formidable sea fleet, fourth largest in the World, and, at the same time, made Greece closely linked to the European market. Another two important contributors to Greece's GDP - agriculture and tourism - are also reliant on EU economy. That has made the Hellenic Republic's political situation susceptible to EU's economic booms and busts.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, when cities' and villages' labor had constituted the majority of Greece's population, Kommounistiko Komma Elladas - KKE (Communist Party of Greece, founded in 1918) became the leading political force in the country. KKE had been defeated in the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) by the Greek government's army backed by USA and the pro-West dictatorship regime was then established.

    Greece's postwar prosperity, supported by the Marshall Plan's loans, was abruptly reversed in 1970s by World's economic crisis. It led to a series of regime changes in Greece, ended by the referendum of 1975 which adapted the new Constitution. It converted Greece to a parliamentary democracy where President's role is nominal and Prime Minister (majority party's leader) appoints members of the Cabinet. At that time Greece's two major political behemoths had emerged - Panhellenic Socialist Movement or PASOK (left) and New Democracy (center)- which stayed on top of the Greece's political food-chain until 2014.

    World debt market's calamities, which culminated in a 2008 economic avalanche, hit Greece the hardest. Social programs' expenditures weighed heavily on Greek's budget. Those costs were covered with large credits camouflaged by Greece financiers as spot contracts to bypass Maastricht Treaty's restrictions. In result, Greece's public debts rose to 130% making it the highest in EU. On top of that, post 2008 economic downfall negatively affected maritime shipments and tourists industry. Greece's unemployment rate started to accelerate exceeding 25% in 2013.

    Economic crisis was followed by political one. On May 2012 parliamentary elections both PASOK and New Democracy saw their popularity plummeted from 43% to 13% and from 33% to 18% respectively. They advocated pro-EU policies including cutting government social programs. Opposition party - SYRIZA (left) which promised to exit EU and to keep social welfares - with 16% became the second major party in Greece and it's chief Alexis Tsipras took the post of Prime Minister. Then, in a dramatic 180 degree turn, Tsipras accepted EU's harsh austerity measures. However, today, with more than two years already passed, the economic state of Hellenic Republic is hardly improved. GDP growth rate stays negative, unemployment registers at 24% and debt level has risen to 176% which is close to the World's record.

    Greece market's downfall is followed by political turbulence and vice versa. It causes economy to slide deeper and deeper into recession. Trying to reverse that spiral Greece's Government gets submerged into debts. At the same time, rising unemployment undermines people's trust in political leaders and that makes Greece's future very difficult to foresee.

    New Zealand (Aotearoa)

    New Zealand's strategic post, far outside World's powers' traditional battlefields, has insured isles' long term political and social peace. Even the colonization of indigenous tribes (Maori) by Great Britain in 1840 went not by a casual way of Enfield rifles' diplomacy but by applying ink to paper. In fact, for many Maori signing the Treaty with GB became the way out of the tribal Musket War which had raged through Aotearoa for almost 40 years. Since then Maori had gained significant political influence in NZ specifically with regards of land rights.

    Today, still, New Zealand is under the British Crown, but, of course, now as the Commonwealth State. Accordingly, NZ political system is Westminster's one. Isles' Prime Minister is chosen by the members from the members of House of Representatives (unicameral NZ's Parliament). He or she, formally, must be approved by the governor appointed by the monarch.

    After the development of refrigerated shipping (1880s) the cornerstone of New Zealand's economy was meet and wool production. Until 1973 when United Kingdom joined the European Union and New Zealand lost all of its trade privileges isles' population had enjoyed the status of one of the wealthiest community on Earth.

    At this time economic stability was accompanied by political duopoly. Since 1940s one of two political parties - National (right) and Labor (left) - was holding the ruling majority in the House.

    Successive oil prices' plunges in 1973 and 1979 further undermined isles' economic stance. As a remedy Rogernomic was introduced by NZ's Minister of Finance Roger Douglas in 1984. Douglas' reforms, basically, followed the rule book of Reaganomics in USA and Thatcherism in UK. Regulations were loosened and credits were made widely available. It resulted in stock market's boom and bust of 1987 followed by crisis which led to almost 10% unemployment in 1992. As a matter of rule, this type of economic doesn't make electorate any happier with their politicians.

    In 1996 new electoral system - Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) - was introduced to NZ. With MMP votes are casted for a party and for an individual candidate simultaneously. It gave more chances for smaller political organizations and such niche parties as ACT (pro free-market), Maori (indigenous rights) and Green (left, ecology) got a shot at few Parliament's seats (121 total). However, using multiple alliances National is currently controlling the House (63 seats with allies) and, accordingly, the Cabinet. Labor is, still, the major opposition force in NZ with 32 Parliamentary seats. The nearest competitors - Green party - has 14 seats.

    Although far cry from 1990s crisis, todays NZ's state of economy is not as good as it might be. Undermined by 2007 World's financial calamity and challenged by increasing brain-drain (an outflow of educated youth) to Australia and GB, New Zealand GDP growth rate is sliding under 1% in 2016 from almost 4% in 2007 (6.4% in 1993). At the same time unemployment rate is, currently, at 5.7%, down from 7% in 2009 but up from 3.4% in 2007. However, unemployment for youth (15 to 21) is much higher (13.6% in 2012). No wonder that new generation prefers to take their chances outside of native lands' borders. On a bright side, NZ government's debt, although sharply higher than in 2007, when it was around 15% of GDP, stays on a comparably low level of 30% today.

    The government of New Zealand is highly centralized and NZ's 16 regions possess a small degree of self autonomy. This country has been built from the top to the bottom, unlike the majority of World's liberal states. New Zealand with its detached geographical position and centralized government is one of the most stable democracies on Earth.

    Belgium (Kingdom of Belgium)

    Belgian is called "the Battleground of Europe". It's true in both military and political senses. Located in the European lowland, with no natural barriers on its borders, throughout the history Belgium found itself in a middle of many armed conflicts including both World Wars. By the beginning of XXI century Belgium is still a conflict zone but this time there are political arguments flying over it rather than bullets.

    Already, in its early independence years, when Low Countries, partly French partly Dutch, had been annexed by French First Republic and then rejoined United Kingdom of Netherlands (1815) (from which 'Gallia Belgica' emerged as a Kingdom in 1831), Belgium was a divided country. This ethnic rupture hasn't been healed since. Moreover, looks like it has grown even wider.

    At the beginning of the 20th century there had been three major political parties in Belgium, which ideologies were based mostly on economical status of their members: the Catholic Party (right, elite), the Liberal Party (center, middle-class) and Socialist Party (left, labor). In 1960s and 1970s, however, the political divide between two linguistic communities, French and Dutch, started to expand and so called linguistic parties emerged, among them: Volksuie - VU (Flemish), FDF (French) and Rassemblement Wallon (federalists). Later in 1980s and 1990s they were joined by Groen! and Ecolo (greens) and Vlaams Belang (right, Flemish nationalists).

    This process of political diversion culminated in 1993 when Belgium became a Federation. As a result three regions of Belgium - Dutch-speaking Flemish, French-speaking Walloon and Brussels - received an unprecedented level of administrative and political independence. Belgium Parliament cannot longer passes major acts without regional parliaments consent. Today each Belgium region has its own political scenery and, consequently, its own right, left and center parties. Federal parties are extinct in the Kingdom.

    Belgium is a constitutional monarchy. It has a bicameral parliament which includes Senate (90 seats) and Chamber of Representatives (150 seats). Parliament chooses Prime Minister which is the head of the Cabinet and can appoints 15 ministers with the approbation of the King.

    The state of political division in Belgium is exacerbated by the economical inequality. Historically, heavily industrialized South region had had an economical advantage over the agricultural North. However, while the leading Walloon industries such as steel and coal had been declining, new industries - chemical, service and technologies - expanded in Flanders. As a result unemployment rate in South is almost 3 times higher than that in North today. Belgium GDP growth rate has barely stayed in a positive zone for more than a decade (0.5% in 2016). With rising unemployment rate (reaching 8% nationally) and growing government debt (106% of GDP) Kingdom of Belgium's economic future is not rosy.

    Belgium is running 3 governments (Walloon, Flemish and Brussels) instead of one. On top of that Brussels is, famously, the capital of the European Union and hosts multiple EU institutions. As a product, more than 11% of Belgium's work force find employment with the government. Under one bureaucratic umbrella there exist four different countries with distinct national identities, languages, economies and politics.

    Malaysia

    Politically, Malaysia is a very specific country. Deeply immersed in its historical heritage, Malaysia uniquely combines Islamic laws, Westminster system and nationalism. Located on strategic sea-lane (the Strait of Malacca), being continental and, at the same time , island state, Malaysia has been the subject of multinational influences from early kingdoms of Gangga Negara and Langkasuka (2nd century), through rise of Muslim states (12th century), to colonial epoch (16th century).

    After declaring its independence from UK (31 August 1957) Malaysia became an elective monarchy. Yang di-Pertuan Agong (king) of Malaysia is elected from nine kings of Malaysian Sultanates. The head of government in Malaysia is the Prime Minister. All of Prime Ministers have came from United Malays National Organization (UMNO) - the dominant force of Malaysian politics.

    Historically, Malaysian nation has been forged from three major ethnic groups: indigenous Malays (bumiputera), Chinese and Indian immigrants. On top of that, after Malaysia became a colony of the Grand Britain, many Europeans came to Malaysia forming a distinct group of the Malaysian population.

    Malaysian internal political scene reflects that fact. Practically all opposition parties of Malaysia have been formed based on the ethnicity of its members. The three largest opposition groups in Malaysia are Parti Keadilan Rakyat - PKR (People's Justice Party), Parti Islam se-Malaysia - PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party) and the Democratic Action Party.

    Malaysia has rich natural resources base. It is the biggest world exporter of palm oil. It used to be the biggest exporter of tin until the market collapse in the 2008. On top of that Malaysia possesses fourth largest reserve of the natural gas in the region after China, India and Vietnam.

    Malaysian economy had became the leading actor of the Asian economic miracle of 1980s and 1990s. Since its independence in 1957 Malaysia's per annum GDP growth rate has been not less than 6%. Using cheap labor force as its major international competitor advantage Malaysia has been able to create large electronic production industry in the country. Malaysian energy and telecom industries are also thriving. Malaysia is one of the Southeast Asian largest holder of mobile phones.

    Malaysian economy is built around several powerful manufacturing and finance conglomerates. As the result Malaysia has extremely centralized government system. Malaysian Constitution and legal system recognize predominant role of bumiputera in the society which creates tensions with other large ethnic groups.

    Malaysia is a country which puts GDP growth and nationality on top of all other political issues. That doesn't satisfy all of Malaysians, however, as Malaysian government often points out, economically, this policy has worked very well.

    Spain (Kingdom of Spain)

    The politic of Spain has always been that of the World. Serving as the bridge between Akebu-Lan (or "Garden of Eden" as Africans themselves named their Continent) and the European Heartland, Spain had been conquered and re-conquered many times by different tribes and religions. Iberians were replaced by Romans. Romans - by Visigoths. Visigoths - by Byzantines led by the Emperor Justinian. Then desert warriors of Tariq ibn Ziyad (Muslim commander in VII century) established the ruling of Umayyads over Hispania for almost 800 years. In the reign of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand (1474 - 1504) Spain became the Empire over which the sun never sets. Imperio Espanol had had to pay hight price in Napoleonic Wars after which it disintegrated. Independence of Spanish America had dramatically changed economical conditions of Spain. It lead, first, to Carlist civic wars, then to la Gloriosa ("Glorious Revolution" of 1868) and First Republic, then, again, to monarchy. This political back-and-forth was repeated once again when Spain, devastated by the lost of Cuba and Puerto Rico to USA in Guerra hispano-americano of 1898, briefly returned to Republica Espanola (1931-1939) followed by 39 years of Francisco Franco's regime which ended in 1975 by the accession of Juan Carlos to the throne of Spain.

    Changing so many political orders in its history, Spain remains nationally and regionally divided Country in our days. That fact is reflected in Spanish Constitution of 1978 which allowed creation in Spain of 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities each of which has its own constitution, president and government. Communities are independent from Madrid in practically all of their policies with exception of finance, military and external affairs. However, that high level of autonomy doesn't satisfy all of them. Notably, Basque and Catalonia independence movements periodically challenge national unity of Spain in referendums and sometimes violent protests.

    Spain is the constitutional monarchy. Spanish Monarch role is mostly ceremonial, however, some of those ceremonies are of significant importance. For instance, only the monarch can declare the war (after the Cortes Generales - Spanish Parliament - approves it). The executive power stays with the Presidente del Gobierno which is both the Prime-Minister and the President of Spain. Presidente designates Consejo de Ministros members for monarch's approval.

    Bicameral Cortes consists from Congreso do los Diputados (350 seats) and Senado (259 seats). In contrast with most of World's Senates Senado members are directly elected by popular vote in regions which serves as an acknowledgment of political importance of each of Spain's communities.

    For decades Spain had remained effectively a two-party state with Partido Popular (PP, center) and Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol (PSOE, left) holding majority in Cortes. It was all changed on December 20, 2015 elections when two parties - newborn Podemos (left, founded 16 January 2014 by 36 year old political scientist Pablo Iglesias Turrion) and Cidadans - C's (left, regional Catalonian party) - became 3rd and 4th biggest groups in Parliament, effectively ending the ruling majority of PP and PSOE. That development didn't add to the political stability in Spain.

    The economy of Spain had been in a bad shape since the end of the real estate boom of 1990s. It became even worse after 2008 World financial crisis which severely affected both an overspent government's budget and over-credited banking system of Spain. Its GDP growth rate doesn't exceed that of population growth and stays under 1%. In fact this rate has been out from the negative zone only since 2014. Spanish unemployment rate is currently 20% (down from its pick of 27% in 2013) which is nearly highest in Europe. Spain is in the deflation zone since 2014 with the rate fluctuating around -0.5% which depresses investments. As a result of crisis' alleviation measures Country's debt has shapely risen from 40% of GDP in 2008 to 100% in 2016. Looks like Spain's economic crisis won't be going away in 2017.

    Spain today is mature and still wealthy democratic Country which, however, balances on the edge of its disintegration.

    Indonesia (Republic of Indonesia)

    Comprised of 13,466 islands (largest of which are Java, Sumatra and Borneo), with more than 300 distinct ethnic groups spread across the area of 5,120 km long to 1,760 km wide, with its quoter a billion population, largest Muslim country on Earth Indonesia is, to put it mildly, diverse. Not surprisingly, the internal unity has always been Indonesian most daring political issue.

    Since the epoch of early Buddhist Kingdoms (2nd century) to the age of four Islamic Sultanates (13th century) the major political objective of local rulers had been the unification of Indonesia. When the Dutch East India Company (VOC) established its outposts in Indonesia (at the start of 17th century) the great part of the country had been already brought together in Mataram Sultanate. For nearly three hundreds years (1526-1813) Indonesia, formally independent, had been explored by Portuguese, French, British and, finally, by Dutch traders. It had lasted to 1813 when Indonesia was, finally, brought under the Dutch colonial rule. It ended in July 1942 when Sukarno and his Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI) party allied with Imperial Japan. Shortly after U.S.A. dropped 15 kilotons' Little Boy and 21 kilotons' Fat Man on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (6 and 9 August 1945) Indonesia declared its Independence (17 August 1945).

    Inspired by Pancasila (Indonesia State's philosophy which emphasizes 5 principles: God, Humanity, Unity, Democracy and Justice), after briefly experimenting with free elections, disillusioned Sukarno tried to bring together the Patriarchate, Westminster system and Marxism-Leninism. The result he named 'the guided democracy'. Basically, it supposed to work as the giant bureaucratic pyramid where orders and reports oscillated between micro rural communes (often made from 2-3 family homes) and Jakarta's based Ministries. It didn't turn well neither for Indonesia nor for Sukarno. In 1966 he was replaced by Major General Suharto. The time of General's staying in power (1966 - 1998) is now known as the 'New Order'. It is characterized by unprecedented economic growth, demolition of democratic principles and government's corruption on the epic scale. Indonesia's poverty rate was reduced from 45% to 11%, GDP growth rate averaged 5% for 30 years in a row resulting in GDP's surge from $800 billion to $4 trillion. 1998 Asian Financial crisis brought Major General's rule to the end. It also resulted in several years of political turmoils after which basic democratic institutions were reestablished and mass elections were brought back to Indonesia political life.

    Revived Indonesian Parliament (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat, MPR) includes the Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah, DPD) and 560 elected members strong People's Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR). The President of Indonesia (currently, Joko Widodo, former Mayor of Surakarta and a furniture business owner) is elected by popular vote for a period of 5 years. He's the head of state, cabinet of ministers and of 500,000 people strong Indonesian army forces.

    Major political parties of Indonesia are Partai Demokrat (Pancasila, centrist), Partai Golongan Karya (Party of the Functional Group, elites, Suharto's party) and Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Parjuangan (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, left, Widodo's party).

    Indonesia's economy looks stable and is growing even under current markets' uncertainty conditions. For 2016 Country's GDP growth rate is projected to be in 4%-5% range, with unemployment under 6% and the inflation keeping just above 3%. With growing Consumer Confidence (from 95 in 2015 to 115 in 2016) and lowering corruption rank (from 118 in 2012 to 88 in 2016) Indonesia today is looking forward for slighter better future than most of the World.

    Indonesia is the country with the dictatorship in its past, democracy in its present and good promises for its future.

    Italy (Italian Republic)

    Italy is the cradle of Western Civilization and it is where all of Europe's basic political tools and strategies have essentially been invented. Starting with Etruscans in bronze age (1200 B.C.), to the Roman Empire, through Byzantine and Lombard dominations, to Carolingian Empire, surviving Islam and Norman invasions, building legendary city-states of Florencia and Venice, to Renaissance, struggling through civic wars and foreign occupations, reviving during Risorgimento, building monarchy, getting trough fascism and two World Wars, and now into the First and Second Republics - it can't possibly be more politically complicated than that.

    Serving as the bridge between modern and ancient epochs of European history, between Western and Eastern civilizations, between Eurasian and African continents, Italy has always been in the epicenter of virtually every major political conflict in Europe.

    20th century has not relived Italy from its destiny.After going from the monarchy to republican form of governance on 2 June 1946, Italy became the front-line of the Cold War. With its large labor population Italy was the stronghold of the socialists and communists movements of Europe. Italy had the biggest Communist Party in Europe led by Palmiro Togliatti. Notwithstanding, the Christian Democratic Party (center) dominated Italian politics up to the end of 1950s. Rising social movements in 60th allowed the inclusion of Socialists in the government. The decade passed since 1969 was named The Years of Lead after a growing number of politically motivated terrorist attacks threatened to undermine the basis of Italian democracy. As the influence of Soviet Union had gradually diminished in Europe, Italian socialists moved to more moderate political ideology in 1980th.

    Dissolution of USSR at the start of 1990th coincided in Italy with the period of economic and political turmoils. Following growing public discontent with the Government the Italian electoral system was changed from proportional (voting for parties) to plurality based (voting for individual candidates). As the result the number of political parties and alliances have been multiplying in Italy ever since. It, certainly, doesn't make the Italian politic less exiting.

    The Italian Parliament (Senate and Chamber of Deputies) elects the President which then appoints the Prime Minister and approves all members of the Cabinet. This system isn't unique but only in Italy it creates the ever going political drama. Since 1946 there have been more than 50 different governments in Italy. Looks like the way it goes suits perfectly both Italian interests as well as the Italian character.

    Thailand (Kingdom of Thailand)

    Thailand is special. On the one side, it's a unique Southeast Asian country which has never been colonized. On the other, Thailand compensates its high level of external rigidity with an extreme level of internal political ambivalence. After converting from the absolute to constitutional monarchy at 24 June 1932 Thailand has had 19 coup d'etat. It has resulted in 20th different constitutions latest of which was adapted 7 August 2016. Today Thailand is under the military rule yet again (headed by the National Council for Peace and Order).

    Another paradox is that Thailand's political instability goes in line with a relatively high level of the economic prosperity. It is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia with its GDP exceeding $400 billion. At the same time Thailand's economy is sufficiently diverse. Using its advantage in low labor costs and influx of direct investments from China, in the past 20 years Thailand has been able to develop competitive electronics manufacturing industry. Thailand is the second biggest producer of HDD disks in the World. On the other hand, historically, Thailand has had very sound agricultural exports. Thailand had long been number one World's exporter of rice. Country's tourism and service industries are also extremely well developed. Thailand became a major beneficiary of international travelers' boom of 1990th when the collapse of communistic block had brought to Thai beach resorts millions of Eastern European and Russian tourists. Thailand unemployment rate is uniquely low (less than 1%). It's explained by the fact that Thai population (specifically in rural areas) are massively involved into the non-formal economy such as home works or seasoned agriculture jobs.

    In 1998 Thailand became the first victim of Asian financial crisis. In 2004 major tsunami devastated broad coastal regions of the Country hammering tourism industry. This chain of event coupled with 2007-2008 World's financial crisis has significantly slowed Thailand's economic progress. It's GDP growth rate plummeted from 5-7% in 1990th to 1-2% in 2016 . Currently, one of the most daring economic problem of Thai economy is the high level of corruption in federal and local governments.

    Perhaps, one of the most important contributors to the political instability inside Thailand is high level of income separation and over-concentration of economic and political power in hands of Thai elite. Notwithstanding Thailand's impressive progress in poverty reduction (the poverty rate has dropped from 32% in 2003 to 13% in 2011) country's per capita is not currently exceeds $6000. Obviously, this progress is not enough to satisfy the majority of Thai population.

    Today's Thailand presents itself a paradoxical picture of the thriving economy presided by the military government. Although, militants in Thailand have traditionally played a very important role in internal affairs of the Country (as Royal Throne's guardians), Thai educated middle class ('yellow shirts') as well as the growing mass of disenfranchised citizens ("red shirts") do not fully agree with restrictions imposed on their freedoms. That may only lead to more destabilizing events on the internal political front of the Thailand Kingdom.

    Austria (Republic of Austria)

    Austrian politics and economy have always been closely connected with those of other European countries specially with German's ones. However, Austria has its own political singularities. One of its being the proliferation of right-wing political parties. While most of the European countries has one prominent right wing movement, Austria has two: The Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs - FPÖ, founded in 1955) and Alliance for the Future of Austria (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich - BZÖ, founded in 2005). There can be many explanations for this phenomena.

    Austria, landlocked country in the middle of the Europe, placed between Eastern and Western parts of it, has always been a focal point for World's power games. As a consequence, preservation of the national identity is an important political issue for Austrian people. Secondly, Austria is a typical European country with a population not exceeding 8 million. Disenfranchised blue-color labor and rebellious youth both constitute usual social base for right-wing movements. Those relatively tiny groups of general population may expect to achieve much wider political recognition in smaller countries rather than in bigger ones where their voices would be less audible due to a stronger competition.

    Austria is the Republic with a reduced role of the President and where Federal Chancellor (Prime Minister) is the head of the Government. Bicameral national Parliament has two chamber: National and Federal Councils. The National Council (lower house, Nationalrat) has 183 members and plays a crucial role in shaping Austrian internal politic. The Federal Council (upper house, Bundesrat) with its 62 members is less significant.

    Since after 1950s two major political parties - Austrian People's Party (Österreichische Volkspartei - ÖVP, centrist, founded in 1945) and Social Democratic Party of Austria (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs - SPÖ, left, founded in 1888) had played the predominant role in Austria until 1990s when right-wings (primary, FPÖ) and, later, greens (Die Grünen) movement entered the political scene.

    Being a Center-European Country, Austria, in its own political life, reflects all of Europe's social trends. In 1950s and 1960s, when the majority of population in Europe was predominantly labor, SPÖ dominated Austria's politics. Later in time, with the rise of European middle-class, ÖVP came to the front line of it. At the end of the 1990th, when globalization processes and influx of immigrants from Wester Europe started to change political landscape on the Continent, Austrian's political life became more radicalized. Most recently those tendencies lead to the rise of Norbert Gerwald Hofer (a member of FPÖ, a former President of the National Council) on Austrian Presidential elections in April of 2016 (its third round will take place 2 October 2016).

    Comoros (Union of Comoros)

    Article. Comoros is one of World's largest producers of vanilla. However, Comoros politics isn't vanilla at all. If there exists Coup D'etat Olympics, the gold medal is guaranteed for Comoros' team. Since its independence from France in 1975 there have been more than 20 attempts (successful or not) of forceful power takeovers in Comoros.

    For one of the poorest (per capita is less that $750) and smallest country on Earth placed on a major maritime line between Cape of Good Hope and India the political history can not be, probably, much different. With population spread between 3 islands each of which has its own President Comoros is notoriously difficult to govern. It suffices to say that 80% of Comoros' annual budget is spent on state's bureaucracy. On top of that, an agriculture, which, usually, supports other island states' economies, isn't efficient on Comoros due to soil's poor productivity. Comoros export revenues largely depends on ylang-ylang (a tree with leaves used in perfumes) and vanilla production. Changing weather patters makes it unpredictable. As a result more than 10% of Comoros budget is subsidized by international organizations.

    Comoros Parliament (Assembly) has 33 seats. Major ruling party of Comoros is Camp of the Autonomous Islands. Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros and Representatives of the regional assemblies are in opposition. Almost 98% of island's population are Muslims and all political parties' ideologies are greatly influenced by Islamic traditions. President of Comoros (elected by popular vote) is both head of government and of the state.

    Latest elections (21 February 2016) on Comoros were peaceful. However, given the precarious economic conditions exiting on this island a future political development of Comoros is difficult to foresee.

    China (People's Republic of China)

    People's Republic of China (PRC) is complicated. On the one hand, PRC is the World's emerging superpower. On the other hand, it's a country with growing number of economical, social and ecological issues. China's GDP exceeds $11 trillions dollars (2nd biggest in the World after US) but its rate of the economic growth has dropped sharply (to 6% in 2016 from 9% in 2013). PRC has highly centralized, government's managed economy and strictly regulated political life. At the same time, some of Chinese provinces pursue independent economic policies.

    China officially has a multi-party political system. In practice, however, there is only one party which does matter - CPC or Communist Party of China (founded 1 July 1921). CPC's ideology is based on the Marxist-Leninist doctrine that had been introduced by Karl Marx (Prussian economist) and Frederic Engels (German philosopher and businessman) in 1880s and later supplemented by the theory of the Socialism of Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin (Russian politician and revolutionary). This doctrine, basically, postulates that our Society is made of two major economic classes - working people (exploited) and bourgeoisie (exploiters). After the Revolution (which will be caused by global economic crisis) working class will take hold of the World and bourgeoisie would be exterminated. Later on, the Capitalism will be fully extinct and the Communism (basically, nobody works and all goods are for free) will conquer the Humanity. This theory was adapted to Chinese realities by Mao Zedong (founder of CPC), who added Chinese farmers to the working class definition.

    PRC Government plays central role in PRC political and economic lives. CPC rules China through the administrative pyramid on top of which is the Central Committee (Politburo) and the National Congress (consists of more than 2000 delegates elected from local CPC committees members mostly). National Congress holds two weeks session in Beijing once a year. Regional governors appointed by the Central Committee manage 22 Chinese provinces on the basis of five years plans. Their major incentive is to meet the CPC's goal of the GDP growth.

    The list of other Chinese political parties includes:

  • Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang (53,000 members, Taiwan's representatives living in China);
  • China Democratic League (130,000 members, middle-class);
  • China Democratic National Construction Association (69,000, entrepreneurs);
  • China Association for Promoting Democracy (64,000 members, intellectuals);
  • Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party (65,000 members, government employees);
  • Zhigongdang of China (15,000 members, overseas Chinese);
  • Jiusan Society (68,000 members, individual professionals);
  • Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (1,600 members, Chinese celebrities);
  • All of them support CPC in its major initiatives and politics. Opposition to CPC is not tolerated.

    China has a History dated back to 2100 BC. It is the oldest living civilization on Earth. In all historical epochs China has adapted its political and economical system to the external environment in order to maximize its prosperity and power. PRC is still following this path.

    South Africa (Republic of South Africa)

    South Africa (SA) is a country which has 11 officially recognized languages and one dominant political party - African National Congress (ANC, left). That was changed four days ago. On August 3, 2016 ANC lost Nelson Mandella Bay Municipality (one of eight Metropolitan municipalities in SA with more that one million inhabitants) to the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA, centrist) in the municipal elections.

    ANC - the leading force behind resistance to the apartheid (in a period of 1948 - 1994 it was an official policy of racial segregation in SA) - has been a dominant political party in South Africa for more than 20 years. ANC was founded in 1912 and is one of the oldest living political parties on Earth. ANC currently holds 249 seats out of 400 in the National Assembly (lower house of SA Parliament) and 50 out of 90 seats in the National Council of Provinces (lower house).

    South Africa, as many other African states, is an artificially created country. It's happened step by step. In 1652 Dutch settlers put their feet on the Cape of Good Hope and later founded Cape Town there. Then Great Britain overtook it in 1795 and effectively imposed the Crown dominance over this land until in 1880 First Boer War happened. Finally, in 1931 South Africa became independent from the UK. In 1994 SA had it first universal elections, ANC came to power and restored South Africa as a member of Commonwealth of Nations, closing the construction circle.

    Naturally, South Africa adopted the Westminster political system with a slight twist to it, however. SA Parliament elects not Prime Minister but the President - both the head of the government and of the state. Like so many other Commonwealth States South Africa consists of provinces (nine in total) governed by their own parliaments (elected) with large degree of autonomy.

    The crime rate in SA is one of the highest in the world. However, this country is one of few on the African continent where peaceful transition of political power has became a norm. It is also a rare African country without a history of coup d'etat.

    This high level of political stability in SA can be explained by a number of economical, social and geographical factors. SA economy is ranked second in Africa after oil producing Nigeria. Located on a cross road of important maritime lines it's been a focus of foreign investments since the beginning of eighteen century. SA economy is well diversified. Besides large and profitable mining (platinum, kyanite, chromium, palladium, gold, diamonds etc.) South Africa has agricultural (grapefruits, cereals, maize), manufacturing (cars), finance, telecommunication and transportation industries. South Africa was one of few countries in the world which had developed a homegrown nuclear program (get rid of it in 1994). At the same time world's economic slowdown has already impacted SA. South African GDP growth rate in 2016 is projected to be less than 1%.

    Besides slowing economy one of the most daunting political issue in South Africa today is an inflict of immigrants from neighboring countries. The unemployment rate in south Africa remains very high, specifically among younger generation (up to 20%). On top of that corruption and street crimes are on a rise in SA. Naturally, it creates political tensions. As a result past couple of years in South Africa were characterized by large scale protests and demonstrations.

    Regardless of its long standing issues, South African political system demonstrates stability and adherence to the basics of the democratic process.

    Central African Republic (CAR)

    Central African Republic is one of the poorest country on earth where the combination of negative historical, sociological and economic factors including colonial heritage, ethnic and religious division (over 80 ethnic groups; 80% of population is Christians and 15% Muslims), landlocked geographical position, scarcity of roads, mono-economy (diamonds constitute 57% of export) led to multiple rounds of internal military conflicts, coup d'etats and brutal dictatorships (most notably that of Jean-Bedel Bokassa in 1965-1979). The situation is exacerbated by endemic corruption, deteriorating infrastructure and periodic foreign interventions.

    Democratic elections were first introduced into CAR just after the colonial era had ended but functioning democratic procedures have proved to be impossibly to implement there. In 57 years passed since its independence from France (13 August 1960) CAR hasn't been able to form stable government, potent civic institutions, properly functioning parliamentary system and non militarized political parties.

    Latest political settlement was reached in January 2014 after almost two years of the civic war between Seleka rebel coalition of several (predominantly Muslim) groups (including UFDR - the Union of Democratic Forces) and anti-balaka (means "anti AK-47 amulet") movement (mostly animists and Christian) supporting the former president Francois Bozize. According to those agreements former capital city Bangui mayor - Catherine Samba-Panza - became the Interim President and former vice president of the Development Bank of Central African State - Andre Nzapayeke - became the Interim Prime Minister. This political arrangement had been temporary until new peace accord between two rival factions was signed in July 2014. On the latest election in the February 2016 Faustin-Archange Touadera - a former University rector - was elected the President of CAR. However, both Seleka group and "anti-balaka" militants have not been included into the present Government.

    CAR is divided into 16 prefectures (Bangui is the most populous with more than 0.5 million inhabitants) and subdivided to 71 sub-prefectures. CAR is a semi-presidential republic which, theoretically, means that executive power is divided between the president (head of the state) and the prime minister (PM, head of government). On practice, this political construction, more often than not, leads to situation where the President (who's elected by popular vote) may claim to be more legitimate that PM and ask for more executive authorities either from legislative bodies or on the referendum. Assemblee Nationale (National Assembly) - unicameral Parliament of CAR - has 105 members elected for a five-years term.

    Economy of CAR is dominated by industrial diamonds mining and by agriculture (major export culture is cassava used primarily in alcoholic beverages and culinary). CAD is one of 10 poorest countries on Earth. Per capita income in the country is less than $400 but it is supplemented by non registered (black market) economic activities of the population (mostly, illegal diamonds trade and alcohol production and sale). GDP yearly growth rate do not exceed 3%. Due to constant wars and corruptions CAR's finance is in a dire conditions. More than 10% of the country's budget is supplemented from external sources (international assistance).

    Central African Republic is a country where historical, geographical and ethnic factors brought together have created self-perpetuating political crisis which would be very difficult to alleviate in a foreseeable future.

    Argentina ( Argentine Republic )

    Argentina is the country of immigrants. Named 'crisol de razas' (a melting pot), it's rivaled in that notion by United States only. Several immigration waves flowed into La Argentina in years between 1870 and 1914 coming from all across of the European continent. The largest being the one which had landed on the Argentinian Sea cost at the beginning of 20th century coming from Spain and Italy. Different groups of immigrants driven by a competition for land and for trade settled in different country's regions. Hence, the other specific characteristic of the Argentinian political landscape emerged - its explicit federalism. Argentina has 23 provinces and the Autonomous city (Buenos Aires, the most populous) with each of provinces wielding an unprecedented level of autonomy. Basically, they are framed only by the State's Constitution (the later version of which was adapted in 1994) in their legislative and administrative acts.

    With this super-high level of flexibility built into the political structure several seismic periods of Argentinian history came into life: notably, Argentine Civic Wars (1810 - 1880), Peronismo (1955 - 1976, over-powering of the central government's authority lead by Juan Domingo Peron) and Guerra Sucia (1974 - 1983), government's sponsored crackdowns on political oppositions - mostly, lefts - resulting in tens of thousands victims. Arguably, those incidents can be viewed as chained events - intervals of political destabilizations followed by attempts to bring together overstretched pieces by applying brutal and excessive force of the Government.

    The same pattern can be observed on the level of Argentinian political parties. Following the historical period in which there were only two unified civic forces in Argentina - Union Civica Radical (UCR, Radical Civic Union, roughly centrist) and Partido Justicialista (PJ, Peronist Party, basically lefties) - hundreds of smaller parties have been spun off from those two since then. Moreover, both UCR and PJ have developed opposing factions within themselves. At the same time, many political parties in Argentina function exclusively on a local, provincial level never trying to raise themselves to federal altitudes.

    After 2015 election the Front for Victory (FPV, the left wing faction of PJ) dominates the Senate (the upper chamber of the Argentinian National Congress) keeping 39 out of 72 seats, while the second strongest deputies' group - UCR - occupies 8 seats. In the Chamber of Deputies (a lower house of the Congress) the positioning of powers is reversed. Cambiemos ("Let's Change") - the alliance of right wing forces which among others groups includes UCR - holds 87 out of 257 seats. Existing political balance in Argentina is precarious at best, once again.

    The state of economy has always been a prime topic of political wars in Argentina. For the last century Argentina had tried and failed to become a 'comeback kid'. At the beginning of 1900s Argentina was ranked the seventh biggest economy on the planet with its per capita exceeding those of Spain and Portugal. However, the sharp drop of silver prices and a growing competition on livestock and grain markets - the major Argentine commodities at this time - exacerbated by the Great Depression in USA (1929 - 1932) resulted in Argentinian economy gradually falling behind the developed countries. Today Argentine ranks 21st in the list of countries by GDP.Since the middle of 19th many left and right wing politicians have tried to implement drastic economical initiatives and reforms (from the Soviet's central planning to the Adam Smith's "laissez faire") in order to recover Argentinian economic stance in the World. None of those attempts has proved to be successful so far. Argentinian GDP growth in 2015 was 2.4% which is very modest even compare to neighboring countries. The forecast for Argentinian GDP growth in 2016 is negative.

    Argentum means silver in Latin. However, silver is out of the favor on global markets today. Staying with the trend, Argentinian leaders are trying to find the philosopher's stone to turn darkened Argentinian silver into the shining gold.

    Pakistan (Islamic Republic of Pakistan)

    Pakistan is the Country of geographical, social and political contrasts. From the Indus River plain to Pamir mountain ranges, with one of World's highest peaks (notably, this named K2 which height exceeds 8.6 kilometers), Pakistan offers extreme varieties of terrains, vegetations and animals. Political life of this country is polarized as much. Two major political parties of Pakistan - Pakistan People Party (PPP, left) and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N, right) - represent, accordingly, socialist and religious movements.

    Pakistan constitution adopted in 1973 proclaims Pakistan the Islamic Republic. At the same time, Pakistan is a parliamentary federal democracy with much of its political system blueprint derived from the UK's Westminster system according to which Pakistani Senate (100 seats) and National Assembly (342 seats) choose the Prime Minister. This contradiction is deeply rooted into the history of Pakistan. While Indian independence movement led by Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi had been mounting its protests against British colonial authorities, Muslim League headed by Muhammad Ali Jinnah supported UK's war efforts. After Indian exited from British Empire in 1947 Pakistan became an independent state with strong political links to Western powers. Since then Islamic, Nationalist and Leftist, Socialist Governments had been periodically replacing each other in Pakistan. On top of that three coups d'etat had established a military rule of the Country for the periods of 1958 - 1971, 1977 - 1988 and 1999 - 2008.

    As a result of reforms, started by the Pervez Musharraf government in the middle of 2000s, present conditions of Pakistan's economy, with its emphasis on agriculture products (specially, wheat), manufacturing (textile) and service industries, remain more or less stable, with GDP grows up to 4.5% in 2016. At the same time, an inflation rate lowers to 5% in 2015-2016 (compare to 9% in 2014 and to 25% in 2008). However, low inflation rate signifies decreased investments and cooling of a business climate. With its population exceeding 200 million and with per capita equals $1500 Pakistan must claim much stronger economic advances to provide for basic needs of its people.

    Pakistan has four major provinces (Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan) and four territories (FATA - Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, Gilgit–Baltistan, Islamabad and Kashmir - which is disputed by India). In that it presents an unique political design where regional Governments lead by provincial Assemblies and Chief Ministers (Governors) play crucial role for maintaining social stability in Pakistan.

    Pakistan is a nuclear power and has the eight largest military force on earth. Pakistani proverb says "Sabar ka phal meetha hota hai" (The fruit of patience is sweet). It looks like Pakistani people will need all of their patience to find their unique way to prosperity in our contradictory World.

    Brazil ( Federative Republic of Brazil )

    Brazil is the 5th biggest country on Earth (by the area) with attributes of the World's major power house including the Peace Corps, a nuclear submarine (work in progress) and the Cosmic Program. Like the majority of big continental states Brazil in its historical evolution has progressed through several political constructs. Since 1822, when an Empire was declared by Pedro I, Brazil, then, transformed itself into a republic (1889), into a totalitarian state (1930), into a socialist country (1946) and into a military dictatorship (1964), until, in 1985, it became the parliamentary democracy. Brazil has adopted seven constitutions on the way (latest in 1988).

    Hopefully learning a lesson or two from its diverse political experience, Brazil today is the Federal Republic. All of Brazilian 27 states (largest - So Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais) enjoy a large autonomy in both governance and legislative areas. Each federal state has its own Governador (governor) and an unicameral Parliament in addition to a representation in the Federal Senate (an upper house of the National Congress; the lower house being the Chamber of Deputies).

    Out of more than 15 parliamentarian parties in the Congress the leading two are PMDB - Partido do Movimento Democratico Brasiliero (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party; 82 seats out of 594 in both chambers of Congress) and PP - Partido des Trabalhadores (Worker's Party; 73 seats out of 594). However, it is a wide spread practice among Brazilian deputies to frequently change their party's affiliation. Because of that practice the power balance inside of the Congress is the subject of hectic fluctuations which certainly doesn't add predictability to the Brazilian political system.

    Brazilian economy is diversified enough to avoid large-scale economical crisis in recent times. Although the country's production of oil and of other natural resources (primary of iron ores) is responsible for a significant portion of Brazilian budget revenues and of its exports (23%), the downing oil and other commodities prices haven't affected Brazil as much as its South American neighbors. However, while the world's leading economies are gradually cooling, the external demand for Brazilian machineries (cars) and agricultural products (soybeans and sugar cane) is starting to go down the hill as well. As the result Country's GDP is projected to grow negatively for more than 3% in 2016.

    Most recently, according to reports of World's medias, large scale bribes scandals have became major landmarks of Brazilian political life. Although Brazil is positioned by the Transparency International only in the middle of the corruption scale (76 out of 168), the size of the Country's economy (9th biggest in the World) makes it unprecedented. Even the highest post in the Land, this of the President, isn't immune to accusations. Dilma Rousseff is now in the process of impeachment launched by the Congress on May 12, 2016 because of her alleged involvement in the Petrobras (Brazilian oil producing monopolist) kickbacks affairs.

    Those negative events do not add too much of a green color to Brazil's forecasts. However, taking into account the resilience of Brazilian people, there is a good hope that Brazil will find its way out from all of its political and economical debacles, again.

    Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela)

    Venezuela is the country of a constant stream of revolutions and counter-revolutions latest of which ('Bolivarian Revolution') was unleashed in 1999. Today it's the country with heavily centralized government and a political system dominated by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV, left). Venezuela started with multi-party democratic system in the middle of 20th century, then gradually moved to the two-party setup in 60th and 70th and later dissipated into one party dominated political arrangement where the significance of unicameral Venezuelan Parliament (Asamblea Nacional with 165 diputados) is undermined by legal and administrative powers of the President and its Government.

    Although Asamblea is, by law, able to oppose executives authorities' initiatives, on practice, with PSUV holding more than two-third of seats since 2005 elections, this opposition has been made virtually impossible. That was changed in 2015 elections when Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (the Democratic Unity Roundtable, the centrist coalition of opposition parties) gained 112 out of 167 seats. However, this shift of powers in Asamblea doesn't prevent people of Venezuela from violent protests. Clashes of angry demonstrators with police on streets of the capital city Caracas have only intensified recently. The reasons for those events seemed to be economical rather than political.

    Past five years have been extremely challenging for the Venezuelan state budget which for more than 50% depends on prices of oil. Venezuela, the founding member of OPEC, famously, has one of the largest oil deposits on Earth. Oil and its products consist almost 80% of its export. This extreme dependence of Venezuela economical stability from World's commodities market is exacerbated by the fact that the majority of population either relies on government for jobs or depends of centralized supplies of basic life necessities (notoriously including the toilet paper). As the result, the sum of all factors (over-centralization of the government, excessive control exercised over the economy, reliance on one industry, falling prices for crude oil, high dependence of population from the state budget) have created an almost perfect economical storm in Venezuela.

    The Country name was chosen by Amerigo Vespucci because it reminded him of the Venice - one of the most harmonious, diverse and beautiful city on the European cost of the Adriatic Sea. Today's situation in Venezuela remains far from being balanced. Instead, it is one of the most hazardous and dangerously tense political environment in the World.

    Samoa ( Independent State of Samoa )

    Political structure of Samoa uniquely combines ancestral traditions with Westminster based parliamentary democracy. Historically different parts of Samoa islands used to be administrated by four different countries: Britain, United States, Germany and New Zealand. However, all of those powers made sure to preserve Fa'amatai (Samoa indigenous political structure based on prevailing authority of matai - family chiefs) almost intact. In fact, even after officially adapting the Constitution in 1960 and converting to the Parliamentary Republic with 49 seats strong National Legislative Assembly (Fono Aoao Faitulafono) Samoa people kept intact the exclusive rights of matai (25,000 in total) to be elected to the Fono. The Prime Minister elected by Fono members is expected to be one of four Samoa royal chiefs (Tama-a-Aiga). Another two cornerstones of Samoa exclusive political arrangement are chief councils (360 in total, responsible for governing local affairs in 11 Samoa districts) and Germany installed Land and Titles Court which tackles excruciatingly complex Samoa families' land disputes.

    Samoa managed to run its version of the Parliamentary democracy without any political party whatsoever almost 20 years (since its independence in 1962 until 1979). Even after Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) was founded to reflect the growing role of farmers class in Samoa society, the classic competitive two party system has not really emerged as the result of this. Although in 1982 the second Samoa party - Democratic United Party (SDUP)- took the role of opposition force in the Fono, HRPP has held the majority in the Fono for essentially all of the time (35 seats out of 49 at present). This high level of political stability doesn't come without some price to pay. For instance, one of the hottest political topic in Samoa has been the establishment of the Media Council by the Prime Minister (Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegoai). Oppositions suggested that it was the crucial infringement of free press rights in the country.

    Samoa is a country which sticks to its traditional ways and at the same time do not want to be brought behind the rest of the World. Samoa football players are very prominent in the National Football League (NFL) of USA. In fact, citizen of Samoa is 20 times more likely to become NFL player than US citizens. Samoa people say "Fale-taeao e le afiafi" ('Who sits at home in the morning will not eat in the evening'). In Samoa people clearly know how to use their natural talents and ancestral traditions in order to excel in the contemporary fast-moving World.

    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

    The fame has came late in life for those beautiful Caribbean Isles. Inhabited by Island Caribs, later joined by former African slaves (called Garifuna) after they escaped from Barbados, Saint Lucia or Grenada, claimed by English settlers in 1627, those tiny islands came to the World's attention only in 2003 after the Pirates of Caribbean movie release. None surprisingly for the Pirates' Homeland Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) have had a very eventful political history. Hotly contested by French and English colonial powers during the next 200 years those 400 square kilometers of land came under more or less stable (if not to account for Black Caribs' numerous revolts in 18th century) British jurisdiction in 1783 after the Treaty of Versailles was signed in Paris. Islands had stayed under the direct British Crown's rule almost 200 years until the independence was proclaimed at 27 October 1979.

    Today SVG exists within the Commonwealth Unity under the umbrella of the traditional British-like parliamentary two-party system. Unicameral House of Assembly has 21 seats, 6th of which belong to appointed senators and the rest to elected delegates. The Unity Labor Party (left) currently enjoys 51.11% majority in the Assembly (8 seats). The opposition - centrist New Democratic Party - has 7 seats. The Prime Minister (the chief of the majority party) must be formally approved by the Governor representing the UK Crown.

    Leftists parties (under different names) hold the majority in the Assembly until mid 80th when the improving economical conditions (rising demand for bananas) moved the growing middle-class with its centrist ideology to the political front. Later when banana export declined tourism and related industries (such as inflatable pleasure crafts production) has gradually became the vital part of SVG's economy.

    One of the most contested political issue of later years is restoring citizenships rights of indigenous population - Garifuna - which are actively immigrating to SVG. As Captain Jack Sparrow once famously said "Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate". Today preserving a political unity is as good as gold for the Government of SVG.

    Albania (Republic of Albania)

    Albania is a former socialist country which paid steep social and economic price for years of isolationist politics. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 90th and founding of the Republic of Albania (1992) it became notorious for the gigantic Ponzi scheme led by its own government. Almost 30% of the Albanian's nearly three million strong population was involved in it. Large public unrests followed. UN peacekeeping forces entered the country (Operation Alba). The situation was calmed in 1997 when the government of President Sali Berisha (the head of the right-wing Democratic Party) came to power. He stayed in the office (later as the Prime Minister) till 2013 when Edi Rama, former artist and the chief of the left-wing Socialist Party, replaced him on the Presidential post, following January 21 events in Tirana (basically, the public revolt against the wide spread government corruption).

    Mostly rural with an aging infrastructure Albania has made some economic progress in the past 20 years (with GDP annum growth rate not exceeding 1-2%). Cornerstones of Albania's economy are crude oil, agriculture, textile, footwear and tourism industries. The later had been expanding very rapidly (almost 50% per year from 2008 till 2014), however, all others are not doing so well.

    Albania is a country with the republican form of government which means that its President is voted by the qualified majority in 140-seats unicameral Assembly. President appoints the Prime Minister and nominates cabinet's ministers.

    Besides Albanians there are many other nationalities living on the Albanian territory, among them Greeks, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Roma, Vlachs/Aromanians and others. Taking into the account sporadic military conflicts which have been the characteristic of the Balkan Region for hundreds of years, balanced ethnic and religions politic (56% of Albanian population is Muslim) plays very important role for Albania's stability (most recent violent political protests in Albania happened in June 2015).

    The state symbol of Albania is the two-headed eagle and the golden helmet of Skanderbeg (15th century military man, led the war against the Ottoman Sultan, was recognized as the "Lord of Albania"). The Gold signifies the prosperity. However, Albania's elite is yet to provide the majority of the population with political stability and fortune which the Country's Symbol implies.

    Saint Lucia

    Saint Lucia being one of the smallest country on Earth can also pretend to be one of the smartest. There is one Nobel Laureate per 100,000 individuals on the Island. Lucia's people are better to be smart. The political history of this Island, strategically positioned on ocean's lanes between Europe and South America, has been complicated. In fact St. Lucia's citizenship was changed at least a dozen times in 300 years while two great World's Empires - French and English - were competing for dominance there. Today it is reflected in St. Lucia's political system which combines both English common and French statutory laws. Basically, the Government there functions as in UK but courts - as in France.

    Arguably, this political fusion is responsible for the long-term political stability in Santa Lucia. For almost 50 years since its independence from UK (1 March 1967) the political arena on this island is dominated either by United Workers Party (center) or Saint Lucia Labor Party (left-wing). As a member of the Commonwealth realm (nominally ruled by the British Crown) St. Lucia has not only a traditional Tory-Whigs two party system and the Prime Minister (elected by a majority party) but also a bicameral Parliament with the Senate (11 appointed members) and the House of Assembly (17 seats).

    Today the major public issue of the Island is economical rather than political one. St. Lucia relies heavily on three key industries - tourism, oil products and banana. The later is in decline since 2011 due to increased competition from other Caribbean countries. Proceeds from petroleum products are dropping as well due to low oil prices. Tourism industry alone is not capable to support the economical growth of St. Lucia. Consequently, political elite of the country is looking for alternative economic strategies. Lately they introduced the Passport Program (citizenship in exchange for investments), which, due to some management irregularities, has became one of the most heated political issues on the Island. In summary, St. Lucia today is a tiny country with two big mountains (The Pitons), two-party system and one growing economical issue.

    Bolivia (Plurinational State of Bolivia)

    Bolivia is seen from the outside as a country of cocoa leaves and "al Socialismo" both melted into one political unity. It is, mostly, an oversimplification. What certain is that Bolivia remains the country with difficult political history and large government presence in practically all aspects of societal life. Among many political issues, which hound Bolivia today, the social inequality of different country's regions (9 in total) stays as one of the most discernible. To put it mildly, the Santa Cruz 'departamento' on a East (modern and wealthy) is perceived to be too distant form the Western part of the country. It also raises another issue, that of rural and indigenous people's fair participation in the political decisions making process. That split has became specifically apparent with growing Bolivian dependency of its single export commodity - the natural gaz. All of that, of course, doesn't make Bolivian political life more predictable. For instance, in its history Bolivia has adapted seventeen Constitutions (number 17th was passed in February 7, 2009). The remedy to this instability many Bolivians seek in the strong Presidential power. The acting Bolivian President is, famously, Evo Morales Ayma, former Cocaleros (coca leafs growers) leader, elected into office December 18, 2005. His Party - "Movimiento al Socialismo" (MAS, Movement Towards Socialism, the left-wing organization), currently holds 88 out of 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of Bolivian Parliament - Plurinational Legislative Assembly) and 26 out of 36 seats in Senate (the upper house). The major opposing party - a coalition of right-wing forces Plana Progreso para Bolivia-Convergencia Nacional (PPB-CN, Plan Progress for Bolivia - National Convergence) - possess 37 deputies in the lower house and 10 senators. Regardless of this left-side concentration of political power, Bolivia remains politically instable and this unlikely to change in the nearest future.

    Afghanistan (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan)

    Afghanistan is a country which is in a state of permanent political turmoil. Afghanistan has always been in the center of the strategic interests of World's dominant Empires. Throughout its history Afghanistan was the subject of multiple invasions. Last 50 years were especially eventful: 1978 - Saur Revolution (basically - a socialist revolt); 1979 - the Soviet Union invaded; 1989 - the Soviets Union withdraw; 1992 -Islamic State of Afghanistan created, mujahideens (guerrilla militant forces which fought against USSR) came to power; 1996 - the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan created, Taliban came to power; 2001 - US lead Operation Enduring Freedom starts; 2003 - new constitution is voted, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is created.

    Today Afghanistan has adapted a form of governance where political power is split between the central Government (headed by the President) and multiple regional groups. Afghan President (currently - Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, former World Bank's official, belongs to Ahmadzai Pashtun tribe) is the head of state and chief of the Army. He appoints ministers which must be approved by the National Assembly (bicameral Parliament, elected by popular vote). Afghanistan Parliament consists of two chambers: House of the People ("Meshrano Jirga", 249 seats) and House of Elders ("Wolesi Jirga", 102 seats, where equal number of members are appointed by President, provincial and district councils). There are 34 provinces ('wilayats') in Afghanistan where each province has its own capital and administration. Provincial politics plays very important role in defining country's political climate.

    There are around 50 active political parties in Afghanistan. Many of them are formed based on the ethnicity of their members There are four major ethnic group in the Country: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek. On top of that there exists distinct political and economical division between South (dominated by Pashtun tribes) and North (dominated by other ethnicities) of the country. None of those groups has a decisive majority in the Parliament. There are three political parties in Meshrano Jirga holding more than 10 seats: the Jamayat-E-Islami (believed to present Afghan Tajik interests), PIUPA or People's Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan (Hazara), Junbish or National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (Uzbek).

    Such different political forces are trying to work together in Afghanistan to bring peace for their Country. However, the results are not so obvious. Until long-term political agreements are reached and a stable ground for economical development is found, the future of Afghanistan may be unpredictable.

    Saint Kitts and Nevis (Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis)

    Saint Kitts and Nevis (the former British colony, achieved independence in 1983) is famous for its picturesque beaches and for the Passport Program (provides foreign nationals with local citizenship in exchange for investments in sugar and real estate's industries) but not for the intensity of its political life. It was all briefly changed in a period 2013 - 2015 when an alliance formed by the People's Action (center) and Concerned Citizens (right-wing) Movements as well as by the People's Labor Party (center) challenged the Saint Kitts and Nevis Labor Party (left-wing) on both islands to its majority in the National Assembly (the unicameral body which includes 14 members, 11 of which are elected, the rest - appointed). After February 2015 elections Denzil Douglas (occupied the post of Prime Minister for last 20 years) was replaced by Timothy Harris (the head of People's Labor Party). Since then the political life in this smallest and youngest Caribbean state (part of the Commonwealth realm with its non-governing Governor and its not-reigning Queen from House of Windsor) is pretty much returned to a normal parliamentary democracy's routine punctuated, time to time, by Nevis Island secessionists' tumults and occasional hurricanes (worst of which was "Georges" in 1998 causing severe economic crisis in both islands and largely affecting political climate in the Country). The close link existing between weather and politics remains, arguably, one of the most important characteristics of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

    Rwanda (Republic of Rwanda)

    The Land of Thousand Hills used to be the land of thousand political problems which are culminated in the horrific incident of April's 1994 Genocide of Tutsi. Fortunately, much has been changed since that time. The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) - by large the dominant political force in the Country - claims credit for those changes. RPF is headed by Rwanda's current President Paul Kagame (stayed in power since 2003). RPF was consistently voted into the office by astonishing majority of more than 70% of the population (some, even, say that it's 90% in reality but those numbers were altered to avoid the wrong impression which they can produce on Western public). One of the country's most celebrated achievement is the sharp drop in corruption level (Rwanda ranks 5th out of 47 Sub-Saharan Region Countries) and the rise of an average life expectancy from 30 to 59 years. The Constitution of 2003 established the bicameral Parliament. Its lower chamber - the Chamber of Deputies - holds the World's record for the majority of female deputies. The President plays a dominated role in Rwanda's highly centralized political system. He appoints a Prime Minister and he's the Chief of the Army. Rwanda still keeps provincial system of governance. There are now 5 provinces (changed from 12 in 1994) each headed by a Governor appointed, again, by the President. Arguably, this political system has its roots in Rwanda's historical tradition of Mwami (King) overseeing Country's multiple 'intara' (regions). Rwanda - the Country deeply damaged by its horrific past - is now gradually moving toward the brighter future under the umbrella of the political system which is reminiscent more of the ancient tradition of Mwami than of typical Western democracy.

    Romania

    Romania is yet another post-communist country with troubled political history and an uncertain future.

    Romania's political scene is everything but peaceful. Anti-corruption demonstrations in Bucharest have became a familiar scene. Accusations of massive frauds and public funds misappropriation is a political banality in Romania today.

    In 1991, when post-communist Constitution was adopted and more than 200 political parties emerged, Romania became a Petri dish of ideologies. At the beginning of 2000 the West-orientated politic was changed to a nationalistic U-turn. After 2007, when Romania became the member of European Union, this deep political division became even more pronounced.

    The President may appoint Prime Minister but may be suspended by the Parliament and then impeached by popular vote. The Parliament (consists from Senate and Chamber of Deputies) is divided between five major Romanian political parties which struggle to maintain the majority by constantly forming countless alliances and counter-alliances.

    However, those political maneuvers haven't been able to bring peace into the tumultuous political life of Romania. Current majority in Parliament includes Social Democratic Party (left) plus Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (right). The National Liberty party (center) remains in opposition.

    Qatar (State of Qatar)

    Qatar is one of the smallest and at the same time one of the most politically influential Country in the World. There are two reasons for its success: gas reserves and wise rulers. Even after the British protectorate had effectively ended in 1971, the members of the House of Thani (Qatar's overlords since 1825) have consistently taken the side of Western powers in regional disputes. The 3rd largest gas reserve in the World (over 800 trillion cubic feet) permitted Qatar to make an astonishing transition from being the regional center of camels and horses trading at the beginning of the century to the World's wealthiest country (in terms of per capita). Qatar's political system is a mixture between an absolute and constitutional monarchies. On the one hand, in 2003 Qatar's population voted for the Constitution which allows for a direct election of 30 out of 45 Legislative Council's members. On the other, real administrative power in Qatar belongs to an Emir only. A Supreme Chancellor appoints the Prime Minister and Cabinet Members but the Emir has a final say in all of those decisions. The legal system of Qatar is based on the Sharia law mixed with some elements of Civic Code. For instance, flogging is used as a punishment for alcohol consumption (no more than 20 people - most of which are foreigners - were sentenced so far). At the same time, Qatar's authority are famous for their progressive agenda. As an example, Al Jazeera - the only independent media in the Region - was created by Qatar's Government in 1996. Today Qatar can be viewed as an unique political Pearl forging in its political system the remnants of ancient Traditions with courageous inspirations of the modern Era.

    Turkey (Republic of Turkey)

    Turkey has an incredibly long and complicated political history. From Byzantine period, trough Seljuks and Ottoman Empire to present times of the Republic, Turkey's politics has always been in World's spotlights. Since 1923, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the Turkish Republic, country's political landscape has been defined by two competing powers: secular (left-wing) and religious (right-wing). On the surface, Turkey's governmental structure is fairly standard for a democratic state with a predominantly parliamentary form of governance. The Grand National Assembly (unicameral body, elected by popular vote) is in center of it. The President (must be voted to the office by the majority of population) plays important but subordinate role. He may choose but he can't appoint the Prime Minister (appointed by Assembly). The Prime Minister, who's leading the Cabinet, is the most powerful figure in Government. However, the real significance of those political institutions is constantly defined and redefined depending on which one of the two opposing forces prevails. Currently Recep Tayyip Erdogan (The President of Turkey) and his right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP) are indisputably on the top. Arguably, it's happened largely due to a powerful persona of Recep Erdogan himself. He stayed in power an unprecedentedly (for Turkey's politics) long time - from 2003 to 2014 as the Prime Minister and then, from 2014, as the President. Erdogan's political adversaries - the Republican People's Party (CHP, presenting interests of Turkey's newly born middle class) and the Democratic Party (occupies left, socialist political flange) - are today in retreat. Even the omni-powerful National Security Council (the main bastion of Turkey's militants, which swore to protect the "unchangeable characteristic of the Republic of Turkey") hasn't been able to slow Erdogan's progress so far. Turkey today is, again, in the state of transition, this time from a parliamentary republic to an unitarian (some say 'authoritarian'), presidential form of governance.

    Portugal (Portuguese Republic)

    Portugal is fairly small European country with very rich and unique political heritage. In nearly 200 years Portugal has moved from being one of the World's biggest Empires to a low-key semi-socialist State. Portugal's prolonged and difficult experience of being governed by far-right politicians in the middle of the last century (1933-1974) didn't leave too much of space for centrist politics. As a result, since the Carnation Revolution (April 1974) Portuguese political scene is dominated by the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party. The President of Portugal Republic has very broad executive potentials including appointing and dismissing of the Prime Minister, being Commander-in-Chief of the Army and dissolving the Assembly (230 members strong, it has only one Chamber members of which are elected by direct popular vote). No surprise here, since Country's political culture traditionally emphasizes strong centralized power. At the same time, Lisbon's (the Capital City) authorities are trying their best not to be too tough on people. Arguable, one of the most publicized steps in this direction is decriminalizing personal possession of all types of drugs in the State.

    Poland (Republic of Poland)

    Poland political culture is famous for two things: "Solidarnost" and hand-kissing. But if hand-kissing is fading from customs the same can't be said about right-wing, catholic statecraft traditions. After the collapse of communist regime new Polish democratic constitution was adapted in 1997. It established post of the President together with a Parliament consisting of Sejm (lower house) and Senate (upper house). People of Poland directly elect not only their President but also representatives in both Houses. This is unusual even for profoundly democratic Europe. Since 1990 to 2005 major intrigue in Poland was a political struggle between communists and nationalists. After 2005 role of Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) - the last remnant of a communist movement - was gradually diminished. Today main political parties of Poland (together holding majority of sits in Parliament) - "Law and Justice" (PiS) and "Civic Platform" (PO) - are both firmly established on a right-wing, nationalist, religiously conservative platform. As a result Poland is slowly migrating from Pro-European, common Market positions towards EuroSkepticism and closed National Economy.

    Philippines (Republic of Philippines)

    With GDP equals nearly $370 billions (2016 estimates) and per capita (GDP per one person) around $3,600 Philippines economy isn't big enough for the country with more than 100 million people. It's GDP annual growth rate projected (in 2016) to be 6.9% (stable) with unemployment rate 6.1% (falling) and inflation 1.9% (falling). It's impressive in our tough times even for an Asian Tigers family's member. A bulk of GDP (close to 50%) comes from manufacturing. A lot of international companies held their production facilities in Philippines. Not surprising given an average wage in the country equal to 180 $/month there. However, Philippines has been running large annual trade deficit (around 2 billion monthly) thanks in part to extensive import of rough materials from Taiwan, oil from Saudi Arabia and electronic products from China. As a whole the Philippines economy looks relatively healthy and dynamic, although over-dependent of foreign export and very traditional (not high tech orientated) in its structure.

    Japan (State of Japan)

    Japan political system was designed after the Word War Two with active participation of Western powers. As a result it comes as a combination between UK (with monarch - Emperor - formally on top) and French (with very strong central bureaucracy) systems build on top of the prewar legal code (called the Six Codes and originated in Germany). Japan parliament - National Diet - functions very much like in UK (electing Prime Minister) and consists of a House of Representatives and a House of Councilors both elected by direct voting. The cool staff about Japan politics - you can't miss betting on its elections. Since 1955 LDP - conservative Liberal Democratic Party - has always ripped the prise from the social liberal Democratic Party of Japan (in Japan they, obviously, do not like to be fancy with parties names). Japan is a country blessed with politically influential corporations. Nearly all of Japan's post-war Prime Ministers (more than 20) have emerged to this post from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In short, Samurais are ruling Japan by visible hand of Big Business covered in velvet glove - soft, western and democratic.

    France (The French Republic)

    The essence of the French political system can be encapsulated in one word - the Bureaucracy, and in one name - Charles de Gaulle. The bureaucracy (ministers, senators, prefects, CEOs of governmental corporations etc) is running the Country while de Gaulle is running the bureaucracy. De Gaulle was the first French president after the second World War and according to his layouts the Fifth Republic (acting French constitution) was created in 1958. Since then Gaulle's simple and beautiful political construction has been disfigured by such democratic amenities as privatization, regional councils and worker-friendly labor law. Socialist Party is currently in charge of the Country. The second major party is Les Republicains - former UM. The French parliament includes National Assembly (directly elected) and Senate (non directly elected). French parliament enjoys much lesser political power than its US or UK analogues. Basically, France today is a bit like Ancient Rome when the State governs but Populaces decides.

    Australia (Commonwealth of Australia)

    Australia is a Monarchy just like U.K. but not quite like it. In Australia each state on top of the one, big, bicameral Parliament sited in Canberra has its own, small, unicameral Parliament sited somewhere else. Australia is the Federal State just like U.S.A. with the Senate and House of Representatives but not quite like it. Australia has only 6 states and 2 territories and it is governed not by President but by the Prime-Minister - the leader of Parliament's majority (the Coalition). Politically speaking the Coalition (made of Liberal and National Parties) is on the right and Labor Party is on the left. All those dualities make Australia looks like a political Centaur with the human upper body (Constitutional Monarchy) and the lower body of a horse (Federal Parliamentary). A Centaur is a mighty creature exceeding an average human in all of its attributes. Probably that's why the Australian political system is thought to be one of the most efficient in the World ... and, yes, voting is mandatory there.

    India (Republic of India)

    India is a former British Empire member and socialist country practicing Westminster system. Which (as you may remember from our previous posts) means that Prime Minister (PM) is in charge of Country's business and one above him/her (in India it's the President) is in charge of nothing at all except of formally appointing PM. Prime Minister is chosen by the political party (currently it's the right-wing, nationalistic party BJP - Bharatiya Janata Party) holding the majority in lower house of parliament (the Lok Sabha - "House of the People"). Members of Lok Sabha are elected by population as opposed to the upper house (Rajya Sabha -"Council of States") members of which are appointed by states bureaucrats. Thanks to its legislations initiation rights the upper house in India wields much more power than U.K. House of Lords. Also India is the Federation with all of its 29 states and 7 union territories constantly jockeying for independence from central authorities in New Delhi. Those authorities are traditionally over-centralized and all-intrusive according to Socialist System's standards of governance. Add to this turbulent co-existence in India of more than 1800 registered political parties (among them only 6 are national) and of a dozen of World's biggest Religions and you may see that India today isn't exactly a land of spirituality and philosophy (at least from the political point of view).

    United Kingdom (UK)

    UK is a Constitutional Monarchy which means that the Prime Minister is a Boss and the Queen is more like a PR agent. PM leads a Cabinet which is the Board of Directors of the Country. House of Commons (politically significant) and House of Lords (insignificant) are two legislative bodies which are, basically, a bench of politicians running all the show. There are three major rival political parties: Conservative Party (capitalists, in power now), Labor Party (socialists, in opposition) and Liberal Democrats (in between). Cabinet must resign if it doesn't have support of legislatures (House of Commons). That makes UK politics a team sport (some would say for Oxford's and Cambridge's boys only), where it's difficult for an individual player to stand out from the crowd with a different message (far cry from USA). It supposes to make this system (called 'Westminster') more stable than others (Brexit notwithstanding). The Westminster system has been adopted by more that dozen countries around the World. We can call UK state the prototype of the parliamentary democracy.

    Germany (Federal Republic of Germany)

    German people have a devastating experience of living both under fascist and communist totalitarian governance. Germany also was a monarchy and an Empire some time back in its history. Traditions of strong central power are deeply rooted into Germany's political tissue. Today the powerful, appointed figure of Chancellor (Prime Minister) reminds about this inheritance. Also, German people do not vote for the President (elected by special body - the Convention). On the other side, Germany has predominantly the Federal system of governance. Bundesrag (a very influential upper chamber of a parliament) represents 16 states and consists of local bureaucrats. Bundestag (lower chamber) is elected directly by people and his head is officially 2nd in command (after the President) in German State. If it were not enough, German political landscape has even more twists. For example, the leading Party (Christian Democratic Union - CDU) combines both Catholic and Socialist ideologies in one platform. Second strong political force in country (Social Democratic Party - SDP) was first established in 1875 as the Marxist party. Obviously, this highly complicated political mechanism may be properly held only by the Nation which is famous for its accuracy, punctuality and technical ingenuity.

    Philippines (The Republic of Philippines)

    Old legend says that Philippines was born from the battle between sky an sea. May be so. At least from political point of view. Wars for independence, revolutions, dictatorships, coups d'etat - Philippines has had it all. This battles prone history together with complicated geography (the Country consists from more than 7,500 islands) and diverse ethnography (there are more than 100 tribal groups and 186 languages there) make the Country's unity one of its most important political issue. Philippines exercises strong form of presidential, unitary (highly centralized) system of governance. The President (elected by population for 6 years) is the head of the state, government, cabinet and the army. Country's Congress includes the Senate and House of Representatives (exactly as in USA). This is not surprising, providing that Philippines was the USA's Commonwealth State for a good part of the 20th century. Major political parties are Philippine Democratic Party (in power), Liberal Party, Independent and United Nationalist Alliance. Additionally there are something like 100 or more political parties in Philippines always looking for their chance to rise.

    According to the same old legend a bird said to sky that the sea wants to rise and to engulf the sky. In response the sky threw rocks into the sea where they stayed allowing a sneaky bird to rest and to make her nest. Looks like Philippines politics was and will always stay traditionally complicated.