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!
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.
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.
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:
Büsingen am Hochrhein
€, official (CHF, de facto; DM, formerly)
CHF, official (€, accepted)
7.62 square kilometres
1.6 square kilometres
Border 17.141 km
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.
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
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.
Coat of arms of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which claims sovereignty over the territory
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Morocco, which claims Western Sahara as its “Southern Provinces”
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
We spoke a lot about coups toward the end of this month’s episode. You can find the Wikipedia page we mentioned here.
Did you know that Lesotho was the inspiration for Black Panther‘s fictional nation of Wakanda? Director Ryan Coogler has spoken about how he took inspiration from the tiny mountain nation that resisted Boers and Zulus in an interview with Vulture.
Toward the end of the episode we spoke about South Africa’s reliance on water from Lesotho. In fact, it Lesotho’s water has earned the nickname ‘white gold’ due to its importance to the economy. The BBC has written a piece about this ‘white gold’ and the crucial role it plays in Lesotho’s development.
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!
In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, we’re asking our listeners to fill out a quick survey to help up improve in 2019. It should only take a minute or two. If you have the time, please click the link below to help out.
In this minisode, Mark takes the lead to tell the story of the discovery of Natal by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama on Christmas Day 1497, a story that has intrigued him since he first heard it as a child. The story has a festive aspect to it, and introduces a special guest.
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, Looperman, Free Music Archive and Incompatech, for use under a Creative Commons license, by attribution.
In this episode of season 3 of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about the Republic of Suriname, previously known as Dutch Guiana. Located on the northern coast of South America, this roughly square shaped nation borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the West and Brazil to the South. Modern Suriname is both one of the smallest and most ethnically diverse countries in South America, with up to 9 recognised languages and many different ethnic groups.
At just under 165,000 square kilometers (or 64,000 square miles), Suriname is roughly the size of the US state of Washington, or Tunisia. The country’s population is around 560,000, most of whom live in the capital city of Paramaribo, near the mouth of the river Suriname. The climate here is hot and humid year-round, as the country lies just a few degrees north of the equator. As a result, its southern portion is dominated by lush, dense rainforest.
Originally established as a British colony, Suriname was eventually traded to the Dutch in 1667 for a little island in on the east coast of North America, then known as New Amsterdam. Since gaining its independence in 1975, Suriname has maintained close ties to The Netherlands, and is today the only sovereign nation outside Europe where Dutch is spoken by a majority of the population.
Above is the current flag, the location of Suriname in South America, and the terrible old flag with five stars on a white background. Ethnic/linguistic diversity also needs to be mentioned up top. In Suriname, there are no fewer than twenty languages spoken. Most Surinamese are multilingual. In terms of numbers of speakers are the main languages in Suriname, successively the Dutch language, Sranan Tongo (Surinamese Creole), Sarnami (Surinamese Hindi), Javanese, and different Maroon languages (especially Saramaccan and Ndyuka) and Carriban languages. In recent years, English is being spoken more and more by the majority of the younger populace.
Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:
A massive thanks 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!