Welcome to 80 Days: an exploration podcast, brought to you by three history and geography nerds in an internet-powered balloon. Every episode we take you to a little-known country, territory, settlement or city and explore the history, culture and people of each place over approximately an hour and a half. Click on the links below to find an episode you like, scroll down to see episode show notes, news and announcements and if you like what you hear, subscribe or sign up to support us on Patreon!

Season 4 (2019-20, first Monday of the month) 
FO-Faroe-Islands-Flag-icon Faroe Islands new-star

 Minisode: Swiss Exclaves   |

Season 3 (2018-19) 
Flag of Tasmania - State badge of a red lion passant on white disk, on a defaced British Blue Ensign Tasmania sm San Marino us Wyoming sthel St. Helena  newcal New Caledonia
krl Kuril Islands sr Suriname LS Lesotho Turkmenistan-icon Turkmenistan ws-icon Western Sahara

za Minisode: Natal, 1497   | england Minisode: Runnymede, 1215   |    HK flag Minisode: Hong Kong Invasion, 1941

Season 2 (2017) 
sg Singapore Rapa Nui/Easter Island Easter Island  Seychelles nl Newfoundland Uruguay  Uruguay
cu Cuba (pt1); (pt2) gm The Gambia ge Georgia li Liechtenstein  jao Jewish AO

 2020px-sami_flag-svg Lapland (Christmas Special)

Season 1 (2016-17)
na Namibia nr Nauru pa Panama bt Bhutan us Alaska
lr Liberia isle-of-man-icon Isle of Man gi Gibraltar bn Brunei  hk Kowloon Walled City
Advertisements

Djibouti (S4.03)

S04E03 Djibouti Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcast, we’ll be talking about Djibouti, a small nation located on the Northeast Coast of the Horn of Africa. Bordered by Eritrea to the North, Ethiopia to the West and Somalia to the south, Djibouti lies on the west side of the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, the narrowest point of Gulf of Aden.

djcolor

Around 30km across the strait lies Yemen. This chokepoint into the Red Sea, which overlooks the approaches to the Suez Canal, has long made Djibouti a desirable location for naval bases. Dominated by two main groups – the Afar and Issa Somali people, Djibouti today is balanced between these two factions, having endured a protracted civil war in the wake of winning its independence from France in 1977. Occupying a total area of around 23,000 km2 (9,000 sq mi), Djibouti is the third smallest country in continental Africa, and today has a population of around 880,000, the vast majority of whom live in the captial city of Djibouti City. Nearly 94% of the population is Muslim while the remaining 6% are Christian, and official languages are French and Arabic. Djibouti today attracts plenty of foreign investment, and aims to become “Africa’s Dubai.”

This episode, just like all of our recent ones, is supported by our Patreon backers. If you want to help out the show, you can help out by joining us over on www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast to give us whatever you can in terms of financial support and avail of all the lovely awards and extras that entitles you to. If you’re unable to support us financially, you can always leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts from.

Djibouti

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Ireland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)


Some further reading:

  • Peter Tyson, writing for PBS Nova, attempts to tackle the “Where Is Punt” question here.
  • Brittanica has loads of additional info on Adal and the Adal Sultanate, discussed by Joe in this episode.
  • You can find additional info on the Ifat Sultanate which succeeded it at openedition.org.
  • The New World Encyclopedia has a wonderful, long form post on the Scramble for Africa, which Djibouti was caught up in.
  • For more info on our old friend Ferdinand de Lesseps and his ill-fated other canal project, you can listen to our season one episode on Panama.
  • We also touch on old friend Vasco Da Gama in this episode. The Christmas special minisode referenced is here.
  • The disastrous Cossack invasion of Sagallo in what was then French Somaliland is profiled in an excellent blog by towardsthegreatocean.com, which Luke quotes from in this episode.
  • Bruno Macaes profiles modern Djibouti in a recent article for Politico, entitled “The most valuable military real estate in the world.”
  • The LSE has a long-form article on Somali regiments during WW1.
  • The Guardian also profiles the “forgotten Muslim heroes who fought for Britain in the trenches” in WW1.
  • You can read the New York Time report on Djibouti’s declaration of independence in 1977 in the paper’s archives here.
  • To learn more about the Djiboutian Civil War, which broke out in 1991, see New World Encyclopedia’s lengthy article on the conflict here.
  • The plans to turn modern Djibouti into “Africa’s Dubai” are detailed by The Culture Trip here.
  • The SCMP journalist James Jeffrey details his experiences with the new Chinese-backed railway revitalisation project here.

 

Pitcairn Island (S4.02)

S04E02 Pitcairn Island Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Pitcairn Island, a tiny volcanic island in the South Pacific, most famous for its mutineer inhabitants, who fled there after the famous Mutiny on the Bounty in 1789.

wwpitcairn

Pitcairn forms part of a four-island group known as the Pitcairn Islands, but is the only island in the group to be inhabited. Its nearest inhabited neighbours are Easter Island to the East and French Polynesia to the West. Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world, and by far the smallest place we’ve ever talked about in terms of population, boasting only around 50 residents as of 2018, all descended from the 9 Bounty mutineers and the few Tahitians they brought with them to the island. The island itself is rocky, and experiences warm weather year-round thanks to its location just south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Today, Pitcairn is the only remaining British Overseas Territory in the South Pacific. Its economy relies heavily on tourism, as well as the highly-prized honey produced by the bees on the island. While all islanders speak English, their first language is Pitkern, a creole language that has derived from 18-century English dialects and Tahitian.

This episode, just like all of our recent ones, is supported by our Patreon backers. If you want to help out the show, you can help out by joining us over on www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast to give us whatever you can in terms of financial support and avail of all the lovely awards and extras that entitles you to. If you’re unable to support us financially, you can always leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts from.

slide_image_8083

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Ireland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)


Some further reading:

 

Faroe Islands (S4.01)

S04E01 Faroe Islands Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Faroe Islands, an autonomous group of islands in the North East Atlantic. Home to almost 50,000 people and with historical links to Denmark, Faroe Islands is a country within the Kingdom of Denmark, but has a distinct culture all of its own, in part due to their isolation and remoteness from the Danish mainland (and pretty much everywhere else also.)

The Faroe Islands have probably been inhabited since approximately 300 AD onwards according to archaeological evidence, but the first full settlement was established by legendary figure Grimur Kamban. The Faroe Althing, may be the oldest parliament in the world if, as thought, it was established in approximately 900AD. Faroe Islands were occupied by the British during World War 2 in order to prevent invasion by Nazi Germany. Fishing has always been a mainstay of the economy and advances in technology versus depleted fishing stocks have had opposing impacts on the fragile fortunes of the archipelago.

We also had the pleasure of speaking to Arni Zachariassen, a local Faroese who was able to give us plenty of interesting insights into the local culture and mindset. Big thanks to him for his time! (Listen to Arni on The Faroe Islands Podcast many years ago here)

This episode, is the first of Season 4, and while many things in life change, (Joe has just taken to wearing jaunty hats for example) our need for your support has not. If you like the show, and want to support, you can do us a major service by joining us over on www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast to give us whatever you can in terms of financial support and avail of all the lovely awards and extras that entitles you to.

If you do not have a ha’penny of course, firstly God bless you, but also you can help us for free by giving us an ole five star review on Apple Podcasts.

Waterfall at Gásadalur. Photo by Ævar Guðmundsson on Flickr | Creative Commons 2.0 By Attribution License

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Ireland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)


Some further reading:

Music:

  • Tróndur’s curse on the Christians was the subject of a poem by Janus Djurhuus (1881-1948)  set to music by successful folk metal group Týr (1998-now)! https://youtu.be/E9AwVjRbhto?t=144
  • Flanders and Swann’s satirical song “Rockall
  • An extract of “Lívsmynd” by Xperiment
  • The text of the poem “The Death of St Brendan” by JRR Tolkien, which you heard, can be found here
  • Watch: Sigmuds kvaedi – ring dance

 

Exclaves in Switzerland (Minisode)

In this minisode, Joe explores, literally, the idea of an exclave after wandering into one a couple of years ago. Although we’ve covered a couple of enclaves in the past (including San Marino and The Gambia), this episode is the first time we’ve examined the opposite concept – a tiny piece of a country marooned inside another’s borders.

This is also something of a personal episode for Joe (@anbeirneach), as it marks an end to his time living in Switzerland. Luke (@thelukejkelly) and Mark (@markboyle86) also feature, and we discuss briefly our upcoming fourth season, which is due in a couple of weeks.

For the curious, you can find more on the German enclave of Büsingen am Hochrhein  here on Atlas Obscura, or read this article on BigThink. The New York Times article quoted in the episode can be found here, and further reading on Campione d’Italia can be found here and here. Photo’s from Joe’s trips to the exclaves can be found here.

Here is a summary of some data and statistics:

Name: Büsingen am Hochrhein Campione d’Italia
Population: 1,350 pop 2,190
Currency: €, official (CHF, de facto; DM, formerly) CHF, official (€, accepted)
Area: 7.62 square kilometres 1.6 square kilometres
Border 17.141 km
Country: Germany Italy
Meaning: Settlement of the People of Boso Campilonum – a Roman fort
Separation from country: Cut off by 500m Cut off by 1 km

In addition to our theme music by the talented Thomas O’Boyle, this episode featured a lot of music and sound effects, graciously made available for free by contributors at FreeSound.org, Free Music Archive and Incompatech, for use under a Creative Commons license, by attribution.

The pieces of music you heard under the text were “Swiftwind” and “How I Used to See the Stars” by Lee Rosevere, licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0. The Overture of Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” was performed by the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra (musical director Barbara Schubert), used under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.

Alphorn music and yodelling clips (from the Eidgenössisches Jodlerfest in Brig), as well as the Uileann pipes from the Uileann Pipers Club Schaffhausen Festival were recorded on location by Joe.

 

The side-by-side Swiss and German phone boxes in Buesingen

The side-by-side Swiss and German phone boxes in Buesingen

A beautifully Germanic house in Buesingen

A beautifully Germanic house in Buesingen

 

The shorefront at Campione d'Italia, complete with Italian flag

The shorefront at Campione d’Italia, complete with Italian flag

Italian police car passing in front of the now-shuttered casino in Campione d'Italia

Italian police car passing in front of the now-shuttered casino in Campione d’Italia

 

Western Sahara (S3.10)

S03E10 – Western Sahara Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Western Sahara, a disputed territory in North-West Africa. Home to roughly 550,000 people and bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the east, Mauritania to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara is partially controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and partially Moroccan-occupied, and is often called ‘Africa’s last colony.’

Map of Western Sahara's position on the west coast of Africa, between Morocco and Mauritania

Map of Western Sahara’s position on the west coast of Africa, between Morocco and Mauritania

First colonised by Spain in 1885, the territory’s sovereignty has been fiercely disputed for decades, particularly since 1975, when Spain officially relinquished its claim over the region. Today it is alternately known as Morocco’s Southern Provinces or the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, however, we’ll be referring to the region as Western Sahara throughout most of this episode. At roughly 260,000 square kilometers or 100,000 square miles, Western Sahara is about the size of the US state of Colorado or just slightly larger than the UK. The territory consists mostly of uninhabitable desert, and nearly 40% of its inhabitants live in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara, while up to 100,000 people from the region are currently living in refugee camps in neighbouring Algeria.

This episode, the Finale of Season 3, is our first Patreon-nominated and voted-on episode. Thanks to Erik Tastepe, in particular, for suggesting this interesting location and to all of you who voted. Join us over on www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast to have a say in the direction of future seasons or get access to various awards.

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)


In this episode, we carried out an extensive interview with Nick Brooks (@WSaharaProject), a climate scientist, who has worked over many years in Western Sahara, co-directing a project with archaeologist Jo Clarke. This “Western Sahara Project” has led to a recently-published book on the topic (see here). Nick also has a very interesting blog about his time spent there, the politics of the situation and related topics called “Sand and Dust”. Beautiful photo galleries of all the archaeological discoveries from the research project in the desert have been shared on Flickr.

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

Turkmenistan (S3.09)

S03E09 – Turkmenistan Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Turkmenistan, formerly known as Turkmenia, an independent nation in Central Asia. Bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west, Turkmenistan forms part of the historic Silk Road between East and West.

 

Today, it has a population of around 5.5 million, the lowest of the Central Asian republics. With around 490,000 square km or 190,000 square miles of territory, Turkmenistan is the world’s 52nd-largest country, making it slightly smaller than Spain and somewhat larger than the US state of California.

Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1881, it later became a part of the USSR, gaining independence again in 1991. Dominated by plains and deserts, temperatures here are extreme to say the least. The height of summer can see highs of 50 degrees celsius (120 fahrenheit) which is the highest temperature ever recorded in the whole former Soviet Union, while in winter, temperatures plunge below freezing in many places. Although it’s a very dry country, Turkmenistan is rich in natural resources- beneath the Kara Kum desert, which dominates the middle of the country, lie massive deposits of oil, natural gss and coal. This is the only place we’ve talked about that has a flag with a carpet on it.

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)

tx-map

Above is the location of Turkmenistan.

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

  • An extensive resource for early history in this region can be found here at weavingartmuseum.org.
  • The Battle of Gaugamela, in which Alexander the Great completed his conquest of Darius III’s Persian Empire is extensively explained on Brittanica here.
  • More information on the earthquake that destroyed Nisa can be found here.
  • Joe’s excellent quote from Abu Muslim on the unrighteosness of making war on fellow Muslims was sourced from here.
  • The ruined city of Merv is profiled in this Guardian article, which we quoted in this episode.
  • The ‘blood of the mighty’ quote on the sack of Merv comes from this book.
  • The Russian conquest of this region, the key engagement of which was the Battle of Geok Tepe, is explained in detail by RadioFreeEurope here.
  • Extensive information on the Trans-Caspian railway can be found at Railway Wonders of the World.
  • The Diplomat has an excellent in-depth article on the Panjdeh Incident between the British and Russians that almost led to war in 1885.
  • Further reading on the Central Asian revolt of 1916, also known as the Urkun, can be found here or here.
  • More info on the ‘Malleson Mission’ and the topic of British military involvement in Transcaspia can be found in this Conflict Studies Research Centre report.
  • Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan by Adrienne Lynn Edgar, which was quoted in the episode, can be found online here.
  • Some additional information on the Turkestan Legion, which fought with the Wehrmacht during WWII can be found on Wikipedia.
  • The country profile from the U.S. Library of Congress, which Joe mentioned during this episode, can be found here.
  • TIME magazine has a short section on the devastating and earthquake that hit Ashgabat in 1948 in its ‘Top 10 Deadliest Earthquakes’ article.
  • The Evolution of Authoritarianism in Turkmenistan by Kareem Al-Bassam profiles much of the misdeeds of Saparmurad Niyazov, also known as Turkmenbashi.
  • Below is a short video of the Darvaza gas crater or ‘Gates to Hell’, that has become a strange Turkmenistan tourist attraction.
  • The many varied flags of Turkmenistan throughout history can be seen here and here.
  • Some further reading on the choice of script in modern Turkmenistan is available here.
  • The music from this episode was sourced from here.

Thank you once again to all of our patrons on Patreon who are supporting season 3. If you’d like to join them and see what rewards are available for supporters, and get a peek behind the curtain check out our Patreon page. We really appreciate the support and input!

Lesotho (S3.08)

S03E08 Lesotho Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcast, we’ll be talking about the Kingdom of Lesotho, previously the British Crown Colony of Basutoland. This small African country is entirely surrounded by South Africa, making it one of only three nations to be contained entirely within another country’s borders. Lesotho is also one of the highest countries in the world, standing an average of 1500 metres above sea level, making it the fifth highest nation in the world by average elevation. Lesotho has a population of around 2 million, and its capital and largest city is Maseru.

 

 

At around 30,000 square kilometres, the country is roughly the size of Belgium or the US state of Hawaii. Its combination of high altitude and a relatively cool climate results in it being free of tropical diseases. Rainfall is highly variable, farming is difficult and the country has few natural resources. Sesotho is the national language, but English is the language of business, government and education. 

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)

LocationLesotho.svg

Above is the location of Lesotho, contained entirely within South Africa.

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

King_Moshoeshoe_of_the_Basotho_with_his_ministers

Some nice  music (and characteristic dancing, in some cases) we found:

Thanks to Seán Lyons for his interview about his time working in Lesotho with Irish NGO Action Lesotho. A massive thanks too to all of our patrons on Patreon who are supporting season 3. If you’d like to join them and see what rewards are available for supporters, and get a peek behind the curtain check out www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast. We really appreciate the support and input!