Saturday, 27 October 2012

American Samoa

American Samoa:
History and geography are defining elements, but they are not the only elements. Ethnicity, economics, religion and other factors all shape and are shaped by a culture. This is why we are all unique. The natives and long time residents of an area can give an insider’s perspective. The information ranges from mile-high views of a nation, its society, its institutions and close-ups of communities to families and individuals. Each seeks a balance between generality and breadth, as well as detail and depth in order to create a multidimensional and realistic picture of a place and its people.
American Samoa is a wonderful example of a culture and a people that, over the years have developed into a diverse structure; the traditional and the modern. Comparing and contrasting these two can include many elements, but the economy and religion are two that affect almost every area of both groups of these people. The social, political and family issues are mere windows at forming the many facets and drawings that connect the cultures of the world.
Broadly, a culture could be said to be those beliefs, traditions and institutions that create and mediate individual, community and national identity. Nearly all American Samoans are Christian. The largest religious denomination is the Congressional Christian Church. This used to be called the London Missionary Society in honor of those who first traveled to the Pacific Islands to convert the people to Christianity. Other denominations do exists, however. The Roman Catholic Church enjoys about twenty percent participating in the Pacific Islands, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Methodists, Seventh-Day Adventists and the Baha’i Faith comprises the remainder of the population. Church activities play an important role in the American Samoan daily life. Villages in rural areas often maintain an evening curfew at dusk, when families gather to sing hymns and pray. Public meetings, including those in the legislative and executive branches of government all begin and end in prayer. Most businesses are closed on Sunday and each family sees that a day of rest is observed on Sunday. The fa’a Samoa, or the “Samoan way” still guides everyday life, emphasizing an easy-going manner and respect for tradition. Cooperation, humor and hospitality are highly valued and American Samoans see themselves and the residents of Independent Samoa as one people, united by tradition.

Women belonging to village or church societies use gatherings to converse. Sandals or shoes are removed before one enters a home and although most people sit on chairs, in traditional homes, people often sit cross-legged on floor mats. When seated in this way, pointing one’s feet at each other is avoided. The host family always presents guests with refreshments without being asked. In a formal setting, refreshments might include fresh coconut with biscuits, butter and jam. For an informal gathering, soda, cookies or other store-bought snack foods are served. As guests are not required to eat all the food and drink they are served, it is impolite not to take a small amount to show appreciation to the host for their efforts.

While the business hours begin at eight a.m. and end between four and five p.m., many business are not open during the weekend days. Some businesses and banks are open on Saturday mornings, and small markets may be open, but there are no businesses open on Sunday in American Samoa or on the island of Independent Samoa. Communally owned lands produce farming and agricultural exports. These do not, however, carry the main economic sustainment. The key units of social organization are the aiga, which is the extended family or clan, and the nu’u, which is the village. The aiga is headed by a matai and consist of people related by blood, marriage or adoption. Members of the aiga select the matai based on the service one has made to the aiga and oratory skills, knowledge of Samoan traditions, protocol and history. Other qualifications include education, business acumen and professional background. The nu’u is comprised of a number of families. Each family in the village is represented by a matai in the village council or fono. The village council is responsible for the well-being of the entire village. In most villages, there is one high chief who presides over village council meetings and represents the village at district or county levels. Traditionally, men planted and harvested taro and bananas on family plantations, fished in canoes on the open sea, prepared food in an unu, built houses and crafted their canoes. Women were skilled at raising children, weaving mats, making and designing siapo, tending gardens and fishing for shellfish on the reefs. Today, kit’s not uncommon for both the father and the mother to work for wages at an office, store or manufacturing business. When both parents work, grandparents often assume the responsibility of caring for preschool children. Despite strong western influence, children continue to be raised according to the American Samoan traditions. Discipline is generally strict and children are taught to obey adults, support their parent s and the aiga and to tak care of the elderly members of the family.


Albania is a country in South-Eastern Europe, in the West of the Balkan Peninsula, between the geographical coordinates: 39 16' latitude and 42 39' longitude. Albania is almost midway between Equator and the North Pole, and covers a surface of 28.748 km2. The overall length of the borderline of the Republic of Albania is 1094 km; out of which 657-km is land-border, 316-km sea-border, 48-km river-border and 73 km lake-border. The Republic of Albania, on the North borders with Montenegro and North-East with Kosovo, on the East with Macedonia, and in the South and South-East with Greece. On the West, Albania is washed by the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The average altitude is 708 m, i.e. two times higher than that of Europe. Albania is included in the humid sub-tropical zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and it belongs to the Mediterranean climatic zone.
Coastal areas: Central Mediterranean, mild and wet winter, hot and dry summer.
Alpine areas: Central Continental, cold and wild winter, wet summer.
Lowland – Western Albania, Plain – Eastern Albania, Alpine – Northern Albania, the Highest Peak – Korabi Mountain (2,753m)
The population of Albania numbers 3,150,886. The vast majority of inhabitants are Albanian, with ethnic minorities representing only about 2% of the population.  The minority population is comprised primarily of Greeks and Macedonians. (World Bank 2009).
Capital City 
Tirana (since 1920)
Main Cities 
Durres, Vlora, Saranda, Shkodra, Berat, Korca, Gjirokastra, Elbasani,
Official Language - Albanian
Albanian is an Indo-European language and it represents a separate branch of this family on the bases of its idiosyncrasy. The Greek geographer, Ptholemeous, has witnessed the existence of Albanians and Albanian language in the second century AD. The name "Shqipëri" (Albania) replaced the "old" name "Arberi" (or Arbani) by the end of the XVII century, due to the new historical conditions created, and aimed at giving importance to the connection between the nation notion and the use of the Albanian language, which was by that time called "Shqip". The Albanian language is also used (written & spoken) in the parts of Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, where ethnic Albanians live.
Political System 
Albania is Parliamentary Republic.
Flag description:  The national flag of the Republic of Albania represents a black bicephalous eagle with open wings situated in the middle of a red background.
Historical Background 
Territories of today's Albania have been populated before 100,000 years. 
At the beginning of the third millennium before Christ, was established population Indo - European. As a result of this blend was created a population that retained the characteristics of specific cultural and language in the Balkan peninsula (pellazgët). Based on the older population, between the II Millennium and the first century before Christ was created Illyrian population. 
The Greeks arrived in Epidamos (today Durrës) Butrint and Apoloni in 7 century before Christ to decide where colonies of them - run. As well as Greeks, the Illyrians even though under Roman domination for centuries failed to preserve their language and traditions.
The most important trade route between Rome and Kostandinopoli was Egnatia road which passed through the port of Durres. At the end of 14 century, Albania was occupied by the Roman Empire. From 1443 until 1468 national hero Scanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti) led the Albanian resistance, winning the 25 battles against Turkish. For a very short time, after the death of Scanderbeg, the Ottoman failed to Albanian resistance, taking control of the country in 1479. 
26 years later, Kostandinopoli crashed. More than 400 years, Albania has been under the Ottoman regime. Successive revolt and efforts brought the Independence in 1912. 
Since from 1912 until the end of the First World War our country was attacked by neighboring states. The country was occupied by Mussolini's forces in 1939, ending the regime of the monarchy that lasted 11 years. In 1943 the country was occupied by German forces. Resistance to foreign attacks is known as Anti-Fascist National Liberation front.
Communism took over in November 1944, when foreign forces left the country. 
Eventually, the totalitarian regime was established under the leadership of the communist leader Enver Hoxha. For 50 years, the country was in complete isolation, a result of politics (policy) that was pursued at that time. The policy of self isolation left the country in economic poverty until 1991.
From 1991 until 1997 the country was led by the Democratic Party, and later by the Socialist Party and its allies (2005-2007). After the last elections on 3 July 2005, the coalition of the Democratic Party took the power again. Albanian policy aims to integrate the country into the European Union.
Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth averaged around 6% between 2004 - 2008, but declined to about 2% in 2009. Inflation is low and stable. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and recently adopted a fiscal reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment. The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad representing about 15% of GDP, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to upgrade transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. Also, with help from EU funds, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $22.59 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.1% (2009 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 20.6%, industry: 18.8%, services: 60.6% (2009 est.)
Population below poverty line: 25% (2004 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.1% (2009 est.)
Labour force: 1.103 million (not including 352,000 emigrant workers) (2009 est.)
Industries: food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
Exports - commodities: textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Exports - partners: Italy 55.9%, Greece 11.6%, China 7.2% (2008)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Imports - partners: Italy 32.2%, Greece 13.1%, Turkey 7.2%, Germany 6.6%, China 4.5%, Russia 4.4% (2008)
Debt - external: $1.55 billion (2004 est.)
Currency: Lek (ALL)


Algerian Flag
After more than a century of rule by France, Algerians fought through much of the 1950s to achieve independence in 1962. Algeria's primary political party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), was established in 1954 as part of the struggle for independence and has largely dominated politics since. The Government of Algeria in 1988 instituted a multi-party system in response to public unrest, but the surprising first round success of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the December 1991 balloting spurred the Algerian army to intervene and postpone the second round of elections to prevent what the secular elite feared would be an extremist-led government from assuming power. The army began a crackdown on the FIS that spurred FIS supporters to begin attacking government targets, and fighting escalated into an insurgency, which saw intense violence between 1992-98 resulting in over 100,000 deaths - many attributed to indiscriminate massacres of villagers by extremists. The government gained the upper hand by the late-1990s, and FIS's armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army, disbanded in January 2000. Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, with the backing of the military, won the presidency in 1999 in an election widely viewed as fraudulent. He was reelected to a second term in 2004 and overwhelmingly won a third term in 2009 after the government amended the constitution in 2008 to remove presidential term limits. Longstanding problems continue to face BOUTEFLIKA, including large-scale unemployment, a shortage of housing, unreliable electrical and water supplies, government inefficiencies and corruption, and the continuing activities of extremist militants. The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in 2006 merged with al-Qa'ida to form al-Qa'ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, which has launched an ongoing series of kidnappings and bombings targeting the Algerian Government and Western interests. The government in 2011 introduced some political reforms in response to the Arab Spring, including lifting the 19-year-old state of emergency restrictions, ending the state's monopoly on broadcast media, increasing women's quotas for elected assemblies, and expanding the role of judges in administering elections. Political protest activity in the country remained low in 2011, but small, sometimes violent socioeconomic demonstrations by disparate groups continued to be a common occurrence. Parliamentary elections held in May 2012 resulted in an increase of seats for presidentially-aligned parties. Parliament in 2013 is expected to revise the constitution.
Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Tunisia 
Geographic coordinates: 
28 00 N, 3 00 E 
Map references: 
total: 2,381,741 sq km
country comparison to the world: 10
land: 2,381,741 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: 
slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas

Land boundaries: 
total: 6,343 km
border countries: Libya 982 km, Mali 1,376 km, Mauritania 463 km, Morocco 1,559 km, Niger 956 km, Tunisia 965 km, Western Sahara 42 km 

998 km 

Maritime claims: 
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 32-52 nm 

arid to semiarid; mild, wet winters with hot, dry summers along coast; drier with cold winters and hot summers on high plateau; sirocco is a hot, dust/sand-laden wind especially common in summer

mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain 

Elevation extremes: 
lowest point: Chott Melrhir -40 m
highest point: Tahat 3,003 m 

Natural resources: 
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead, zinc

 Land use: 
arable land: 3.17%
permanent crops: 0.28%
other: 96.55% (2005) 

Irrigated land: 
5,700 sq km (2003) 

Total renewable water resources: 
14.3 cu km (1997)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): 
total: 6.07 cu km/yr (22%/13%/65%)
per capita: 185 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards: 
mountainous areas subject to severe earthquakes; mudslides and floods in rainy season 
Environment - current issues: 
soil erosion from overgrazing and other poor farming practices; desertification; dumping of raw sewage, petroleum refining wastes, and other industrial effluents is leading to the pollution of rivers and coastal waters; Mediterranean Sea, in particular, becoming polluted from oil wastes, soil erosion, and fertilizer runoff; inadequate supplies of potable water 
Environment - international agreements: 
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements  
Geography - note: 
largest country in Africa
noun: Algerian(s)
adjective: Algerian
Ethnic groups:
Arab-Berber 99%, European less than 1%
note: although almost all Algerians are Berber in origin (not Arab), only a minority identify themselves as Berber, about 15% of the total population; these people live mostly in the mountainous region of Kabylie east of Algiers; the Berbers are also Muslim but identify with their Berber rather than Arab cultural heritage; Berbers have long agitated, sometimes violently, for autonomy; the government is unlikely to grant autonomy but has offered to begin sponsoring teaching Berber language in schools
Arabic (official), French (lingua franca), Berber dialects: Kabylie Berber (Tamazight), Chaouia Berber (Tachawit), Mzab Berber, Tuareg Berber (Tamahaq)
Sunni Muslim (state religion) 99%, Christian and Jewish 1%
37,367,226 (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.8% (male 4,297,588/ female 4,123,103)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 12,652,479/ female 12,436,658)
65 years and over: 5% (male 874,908/ female 1,021,567) (2012 est.)
Median age:
total: 28.1 years
male: 27.9 years
female: 28.4 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.165% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
Birth rate:
16.64 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
Death rate:
4.72 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 197
Net migration rate:
-0.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
urban population: 66% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 2.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities - population:
ALGIERS (capital) 2.74 million; Oran 770,000 (2009)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Maternal mortality rate:
97 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 75
Infant mortality rate:
total: 24.9 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 81
male: 27.82 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.73 years
country comparison to the world: 99
male: 72.99 years
female: 76.57 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.78 children born/woman (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
Health expenditures:
5.8% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 113
Physicians density:
1.207 physicians/1,000 population (2007)
Hospital bed density:
1.7 beds/1,000 population (2004)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1%; note - no country specific models provided (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
18,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
3.7% (2005)
country comparison to the world: 97
Education expenditures:
4.3% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 89
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 69.9%
male: 79.6%
female: 60.1% (2002 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2005)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 24.3% (2006)
country comparison to the world: 34
By far, Algeria's most significant exports today (in terms of financial value) are petroleum and natural gas. The reserves are mostly in the Eastern Sahara; the Algerian government curbed the exports in the 1980s to slow depletion; exports increased again somewhat in the 1990s. Other significant exports are sheep, oxen, and horses; animal products, such as wool and skins; wine, cereals (rye, barley, oats), vegetables, fruits (chiefly figs and grapes for the table) and seeds, esparto grass, oils and vegetable extracts (chiefly olive oil), iron ore, zinc, natural phosphates, timber, cork, crin vegetal and tobacco. The import of wool exceeds the export. Sugar, coffee, machinery, metal work of all kinds, clothing and pottery are largely imported. Of these by far the greater part comes from France. The British imports consist chiefly of coal, cotton fabrics and machinery.
Algeria trades most extensively with France and Italy, in terms of both imports and exports, but also trades with the United States and Spain. Algeria currently has only one stock exchange, the Algiers Stock Exchange.