East Germany Kind of Still Exists…….

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Introduction

Ernst Thällmann Island is a tiny, uninhabited and inaccessible island off the coast of Cuba. It is less than 30 km and has no significance, except for its unique indigenous species, and its odd history.  

Erich Honecker, a socialist German politician,  visited Communist Cuba in 1972. Castro welcomed Erich by renaming Cayo Blanco del Sur to Ernst Thällmann Island, after Ernst Thällmann, a notable communist German politician who led the Communist Party of Germany. Many things had already been named after Ernst, including a republican battalion, streets,  and a city in Ukraine*. His legacy lived on through many things, including a two-part film, a school in Vietnam, and a musical number. His politics were very influential. Not only was the island named after an East German politician, but a beach on its southern coast was named the German Democratic Republic Beach.

On the 18th of August, 1972, a ceremony, which was attended by Cuban and East German representatives, the island was transferred over to East Germany.

Later, in 1975, Frank Schöbel shot footage of the island and used it in a music video** and the footage was later used in a documentary as a symbol of the friendship between East Germany and Cuba.

Complications

In 1990, when Germany reunified, the island was never mentioned in the German Reunification Treaty. After that, Germany never made any formal claims to the island.

In 2001, a German newspaper brought to attention Ernst Thällmann Island. Cuba was embarrassed, to say the least, as Germany was now capitalist. Cuba denied German journalists from entering the island, saying the 1972 transfer of land was symbolic and that the ceremony was only a name change, not a transfer of land.

It seems that Hurricane Mitch predicted this in 1998 when strong winds toppled over the statue of Ernst Thällmann. The statue has yet to be replaced.

WAR!

Molossia is well known for being a micronation centered in Nevada. It is not recognized by any government. In 1983, Kevin Baugh, the founder of Molossia, declared war on East Germany, mainly focusing on Ernst Thällmann Island. He failed to end the war when Germany reunified, so he claims that the war is ongoing. The micronation is even commissioning war bonds to support the war. Since the island is uninhabited, there is no one there to negotiate peace with, except for, according to Keven Baugh, “covertly trained attack iguanas.” Still, Molossia is looking to end this war soon

*Telmanove, Ukraine is named after Ernst Thällmann

**Insel im Golf von Cazones” in Spanish or “Island in the Gulf of Cazones” in English

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The Story of Three-Made-Up Countries: an Illegal Immigrant, a British Newspaper, and a Polish Politician

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Formosa – 1703

George Psalmanazar was an illegal immigrant hoping to arrive in France without being sent back. After his “Irish Pilgrim” disguise failed, he turned to a different idea. He became a heathen, and was the first “native” of Formosa, now called Taiwan, to come to Europe. He traveled through continental Europe as he followed fake Formosan customs, such as eating raw meat. Soon, he moved toward London, escorted by a Scottish priest. He said he’d been kidnapped and taken to France from Formosa. National interest in George grew. He put together facts about ancient civilizations and was inspired by Thomas More’s Utopia as he made his book explaining all there was to know about Formosa, which described eccentric traditions and everyday life. He made up excuses for things, like why he was light-skinned. He continued to fool Europe and ended up being regarded as one of the greatest essayists of all time. He even befriended Samuel Johnson.

San Serriffe – 1977

“The Financial Times was always doing special reports on little countries I’d never heard of. I was thinking about April Fool’s Day 1977 and I thought: why don’t we just make a country up?” Those words started the idea for San Seriffe, a fictional country thought up by the British newspaper, the Guardian. The producers loved the idea and found a location, made up a map, based off New Zealand’s iconic semicolon shape, made up some other stuff, and finally, added a name, which itself, was a parody of the font Sans Serif. A seven-page report was made, celebrating the “country’s” 10th anniversary of independence. It became a marketing scheme as The Guardian collaborated with many companies to spread the word of the tourist paradise. Airlines saw people trying to book flights to the country. Books were made and a phenomenon was born. Now, the tradition of San Seriffe is carried out annually. Still, to this day, Wikitravel* has a very real-sounding page commending the island nation on its unique culture and history.

San Escobar – 2017

“We get the chance to meet the prime ministers of almost 20 countries, some of them for the first time in our diplomatic history; countries such as Belize or San Escobar, for example,” Witold Waszczykowski, the former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs,  stated, misnomering** Saint Kitts and Nevis as San Escobar. Immediately, this triggered people to create fake media accounts and a flag (pictured above). The Facebook page itself was created by a left-wing Polish politician. For a while, the country even had a real-sounding Wikipedia page. Polish enthusiasts kept the joke going by making newspapers and actually trying to establish relations between Poland and San Escobar. It quickly became an internet phenomenon and meme, much to the chagrin of Witold Waszczykowski.

*Seriously, read this – https://wikitravel.org/en/San_Serriffe

**He abbreviated the Spanish name for the country

The EU of South America

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Dark Green: Current Members, Light Green: Former Members

Introduction

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) currently consists of 12 countries, 6 of which have suspended their membership. The 6 countries still in the union are Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The 6 countries that suspended their membership are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, and Peru. The two observer states are Mexico and Panama.

Founding

The Spanish American Wars of Independence saw Simon Bolivar of Venezuelan descent lead many countries under a united front against colonists. Simon tried to unite South American countries into one federation, (twice, kind of) but failed, as the entire area was Balkanized. Bolivarianism is seen as a South-American version of continentalism, but to a lesser extent than the United States’ Manifest Destiny.  

As Brazil rose economically and geopolitically in South America, they tried to reinstate the Bolivarianist principles and succeeded. This was in 2004. It was a unification of two former trade blocs: Mercosur and the Andean Community. Those economic trade unions had been established for political and economic gain. Once the trade blocs united, the South American Free Trade Area was made, which allowed for beneficial economic cooperation. Throughout the process, Brazil modeled the structure after the European Union.

Current Crisis

With the disorganization within Venezuela and within the Union of South American Nations as a whole, 6 countries have suspended their membership until the union is more organized.

This started in 2017 when the uncertainty of the union’s future leadership caused 3 countries (Venezuela, Bolivia, and Suriname) to block the nomination of a possible leader from Argentina.

Later in 2017, the Lima Group was formed by many countries in the Americas as a way to end the Venezuelan presidential crisis. Not all countries supported the Lima Group’s stance, causing them to ask the UNASUR to protect Venezuela from intervention.

As the leadership of both Venezuela and the union in whole is questioned, 6 countries have suspended their membership until the union gets into better shape, as they all disagreed with the very pro-Bolivian ideology that leads the UNASUR.

The Attempts at a Pan-Arab State

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Arab Federation

The Arab Federation was a de-facto confederation that lasted less than a year in 1958. It was made as a Hashemite and a Pan-Arab nationalist state. Attempts had been made twice before at a similar state. Because the ideals of the Arab Federation and the United Arab Republic differed drastically, it became an influence war between the confederations. In 1958, with the help of the UAR, the Arab Federation was overthrown.

United Arab Republic

The United Arab Republic was a political union from 1958 to 1961 and a sovereign state from 1961 to 1971. This was during the Nasser period of Egypt when political and military leaders in Syria proposed a larger Pan-Arab state between Egypt and Syria. As international pressure grew over Syria’s rising communist threat, intensified relations with Egypt, and Egypt, also fearing revolution made a political union between Syria and Egypt in 1958. Some considered the rather hasty decision a military coup. From 1961 onwards, the United Arab Republic turned into the United Arab States as North Yemen was added and the confederation grew looser. Through time, a federation between Egypt and North Yemen arose. Syria slowly lost political influence, and opposition to the union began with the support of Saudi Arabia. Also, the union was seen as a threat to Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries. As the Arab Federation collapsed, instability grew. Soon, through coups and intervention, both states collapsed.

Federation of Arab Republics

In 1969, when Egypt ideologically and militarily overthrew Libya, Pan-Arabism spread and a union between Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Sudan was proposed. The countries disagreed on the exact details, but, in 1972, the federation was unofficially implemented. The four countries of Sudan, Egypt, Syria, and Libya were all in and out of tight and strict federations within the larger unified confederation. In 1971, Sudan was unable to actually be a part of the union. In 1972, Iraq was invited to join. Then, through its existence more failed unions came and went. The confederation fully collapsed by 1977.

The Arab Kingdom

In 1972, Jordan officially proposed a plan to implement parts of Israel and Palestine within a kingdom. All countries involved opposed this, as it went against their interests. The opposition was so strong that it was the base for many accusations against Jordan to come.

Arab Islamic Republic (An Ideologically Related Union)

In 1974, the Arab Islamic republic was an attempted union between Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Because of Algeria and Morocco’s influence and power in the region, the confederation couldn’t exist without them, so they declined. This didn’t stop Libya and Tunisia from unifying. Originally, Tunisia was excited for the deal because of economic benefits, but losing sovereignty wasn’t so popular in the Tunisian government. Some say it lasted only a few days because Tunisia immediately reconsidered the treaty. This short-lived state led to the creation of the nowadays-useless Arab Maghreb Union between Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, and kind-of Western Sahara.

Sweden’s Forgotten Past

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World War Two, 1942

Introduction

Sweden and Russia have quite the history. Not only in the pre-WW1 world, where they were two superpowers that could take on anything (except each other), but also in WW2 and even somewhat today.

World War Two

Throughout World War Two, Sweden was indirectly attacked by the USSR and allies, such as in the Winter War, when Swedish ships were attacked by Russian and Finnish forces. Fighting and conflict in Fennoscandia and also allies and partners of Sweden caused indirect damage to the country. Many times, Sweden or Swedish peoples were targetted accidentally or as a way to show strength in a region.

The first incident was the killing of an innocent Swedish person by accident by Germany. Then, in December of 1939, naval disputes with Finland arose as 190 ships were found close to or in Swedish waters. In 1940 as a result of the Winter War, Russia overused areas near Finland navally to gain an advantageous position, and, in the process, took down two Swedish ships. This could’ve also been a warning against Swedish support of Finland. In 1940, the town of Pajala Kyrkby was bombed by the USSR on “accident.” This was the only one of Russia’s WW2 bombings of Sweden that the Soviets recognized.

Accidents continued as Swedes were killed by mistake because they were surrounded by allies of the enemies of the USSR. In 1940, weaponized balloons fell into Sweden from Russia, but caused little damage. An important naval standoff occurred in 1942. This saw Soviet Russia invading Swedish waters, and Sweden retaliating with moving out their navy towards the area. The standoff continued for a long time, and the USSR eventually tried to even include nuclear weapons! Sweden and the Soviets both claimed it was the other’s fault.

Naval disputes continued, mostly with Germany’s waters and trading claims. In 1943, when axis powers blocked off the Baltic, this affected Sweden. Germany continued to assault Sweden, not expecting any retaliation. They were right. More “misunderstandings” occurred between Sweden, the USSR, Nazi Germany, and even Britain once!

In 1944, Stockholm and Strängnäs were bombed by the USSR because of Russian navigation errors. At the same time, Finnish cities were bombed. This too could’ve also been a warning against Swedish support of Finland. Many bombs were dropped, but no one was killed. This time, it had an impact, as Sweden stopped supporting Finland.

More blockades and attacks ensued on Sweden by “accident” by Axis powers. The continued blockade of the Baltic Sea hurt Sweden’s trade opportunities.

Overall, Sweden was targetted a lot in World War Two, but it was never proclaimed to be on purpose. Perhaps Sweden WASN’T so neutral after all, as they not only sometimes retaliated, but also supported Finland against the USSR.

The Cinderella State

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A Map of Australia’s States and Territories

Introduction

The term “Cinderella State” is used in Australian politics when one believes their state is of a disadvantage to other Australian states in regards to its relation to the federal government pertaining to their economic and political needs. It comes from the character Cinderella, who herself was neglected and abused by her family. The term has been used to describe every state of Australia.

Tasmania – 1926 and 2005

Tasmania is referred to as the Cinderella State because of not only its small size but also Australia’s abuse of Tasmania’s economic abilities. Tasmania has also been called this because of their lack of political support or organization provided by Australia.

South Australia – 2005 and 2011

More recently than Tasmania, South Australia has been called the Cinderella State. This has been for two reasons: their inability to create jobs to heal their declining economy and their economic troubles after focusing on mining exports.

Western Australia – 1920s and 1930s and 1969

Western Australia had a secessionist movement in the 1930s because of the lack of attention and finance from other states. In 1969, Western Australia felt they were discriminated against politically because of their low population and said they may as well still be the Cinderella State. As a secessionist movement arises again, it can be said Western Australia is again the Cinderella State because of its overpopulated coast.

Queensland – 1948

The Lord Mayor of Kingaroy, Queensland called Queensland the Cinderella State because of their disproportionately small amount of federal funding compared to other states.

New South Wales – 1978

New South Wales was called the Cinderella State because of its high population and disproportionately low federal funding and distribution.

Victoria – 1949

Victoria has been called the Cinderella State because of the Australian government’s apparent favor of New South Wales regarding the distribution of resources.

Everyone Wants to be the Next Dubai: The Story of Two Soon-to-be Competing Megacities

neom-map.jpgSaudi Arabia’s NEOM Project

Neom, meaning “New Future,” is a Sudi-born project to build a city next to the Red Sea that will be larger than Rwanda and will cost about 500-billion dollars. Neom will operate as a semi-autonomous city-state. Neom will follow the lead of cities like Dubai and Singapore. This project has HUGE geopolitical and socioeconomic impacts.

First off, the project itself was started in order to move closer to Egypt and Jordan through trade. Also, the proximity of the planned city to Israel may lead to Saudi Arabia’s recognition of Israel. Finally, this project is meant to help Saudi Arabia prepare for a post-oil centric economy and will help Saudi Arabia reform its economy. Another reason for building this city is the ability to integrate disruptive technologies to innovate the area with actually disrupting anything. The Neom project is very ambitious, for it promises not only autonomous vehicles replacing regular vehicles but also lots of solar and wind energy as well as a large reliance on robots. With all of this economic and innovative reform, social reform will come too, with this city opening up opportunities for better human rights.

Neom’s placement is also strategic, for it is in an area with a high amount of maritime trade. This project’s placement will also allow Saudi Arabia to connect Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia not only politically but also physically with a 10 km bridge and it will open up obligations for Saudi-Israeli diplomatic relations.

The project is set to be finished in 2025, but previous endeavors of similar intent by Saudi Arabia have all failed.

Egypt’s New Capital

An unnamed project sets out to make a new capital for Egypt that will draw it closer to nearby countries. Unlike Saudi Arabia’s enormous city concept, Egypt’s new capital will only be 700 sq km, bt will still be twice as large as Cairo. The project will cost 45 billion dollars, but it is most likely that more costs will be added on as production continues. Funding for the project will come from many foreign investments, including some from Saudi Arabia.

Also unlike Saudi Arabia’s Neom project, Egypt’s new capital will be a way to move the government to a more developed area. This project is very ambitious and promises a government building 8 times the size of the White House among many other things. Not only will this project move the government, but it also seeks to move people around, as 96% of Egypt inhabits only 4% of the land. Myriad of new job opportunities in the new city would attract people to move away from already too crowded areas. Finally, this new project will not only help move the government but also reform it. The government will reform its political relations with nearby countries and try to reestablish themselves as a geopolitical influence in the region.

The project is set to be finished in 2022, but previous endeavors of similar intents by Egypt have all failed.

Together, Egypt’s new capital and Saudi Arabia’s Neom will both complement each other and compete with each other.