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:

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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!

Natal, 1497 (Christmas Special)

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.

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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.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to our listeners from Mark (@markboyle86), Joe (@anbeirneach) and Luke (@thelukejkelly)! We’ll see you in 2019.

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.

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 version of “Silent Night” we used was played by Kevin McLeod (Incompatech.com) and is licenced under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Market sounds from Porto (user Digitopia)Waves in Barcelona (user Mmiron), “Wind, realistic, A” (user InspectorJ), “Wind through trees, 3b” (user spoonbender),  a thunder clap recorded in Pretoria, South Africa (user SoundLover16), Bird ambience in St Lucia Forest, South Africa (user EpicWizard), the sound of glass bells (user Idalize), Trumpets (user Harbour11), “Africa Pavillion Drum Jam” (user RTB45), People laughing, while playing volleyball (user andriala) and the sound of cannons being fired over the Hudson river (user nofeedbak), are all licensed from FreeSound under a Creative Commons by Attribution Licences; while the sound of a crowd in India (by Martin.Sadoux)“Wind and rain in Iceland (user Bashrambali), and the sound of Sleighbells (user Soundstack) were released without copyright.

The following tracks were taken from Looperman: sitar loop (by jensmuse), “Darbuka Dreaming 8” (by planetjazzbass) and “One for Joe (horns)” (by doudei).

Samples of Khoisan people speaking were taken from these YouTube videos of a man in Namibia talking about the use of grass, and a number of people in Botswana speaking to tourists about medicinal plant usage in their community.

The final song is a translation into Portuguese of “Feliz Navidad” by Corrossel (2012) – it can be found here.

Suriname (S3.07)

S03E07 Suriname Audio

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.

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)

    

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:

Some nice Surinamese music we found:

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!

Kuril Islands (S3.06)

S03E06 Kuril Islands Audio

In this episode we’ll be talking about the Kuril Islands. This island chain is located in the Northern Pacific, and stretches between northern Japan and Kamchatka, Russia. The 56 islands extend for more than 750 miles across the ocean, and they total 10,500 square kilometers (4,000 square miles) of territory altogether, making their entire landmass roughly the same size as Lebanon or the island of Puerto Rico. The islands today have a population of roughly 20,000, and are controlled by Russia. However, the islands were previously administered by Japan  from the 18th century up until WWII, and have been subject to a land dispute ever since. Japan claims the southernmost islands as their ‘Northern Territories,’ and the conflict over them has led Moscow and Tokyo to avoid signing the peace treaty that would have formally ended the Second World War.

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)

Flag of the Sakhalin Oblast, where the Kuril Islands are officially administered by Russia  Map showing Kuril Island chain between Hokkaido in Japan and Kamchatka in Russia. The sea of Okhotsk and the island of Sakhalin to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east

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

Joe was recently in Honshu and Hokkaido and took some photos, including from a Jomon-era archaeological site, and the the Museum of Northern Peoples in Hakodate, which listeners might find interesting. Well worth a visit if you’re ever in the neighbourhood

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Music from these islands and the neighbouring territories, some of which you heard, can be found at the following sources:

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!

Finally, here is a picture of some of the postcards sent from Hokkaido to our Neil Armstrong-tier patrons on Patreon – they truly are out of this world!

New Caledonia (S3.05)

New Caledonia Audio

In this episode we’ll be talking about the New Caledonia, a French unique collectivity in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, about 900 miles (1,500 km) east of Australia. It includes the island of New Caledonia, where the capital, Nouméa, is located; the Loyalty Islands; the Bélep Islands; and the Isle of Pines as well as a number of far-flung uninhabited islets.

The main island is by far the largest and contains about nine-tenths of the population. It is surrounded by a coral reef, which encloses a large number of lagoons. These lagoons, with their diverse reefs and associated ecosystems, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. Sighted and named by Captain James Cook in 1774, it was later colonised by the French and turned into a penal colony.

New Caledonia has a land area of around 18,000 km2 (or 7,000 sq mi), making it just slightly smaller than Israel or the US state of New Jersey. Its population of around 270,000 consists mostly of a mix of Kanak people (the original inhabitants of New Caledonia), other Melanisians and people of European descent.

Your hosts are Luke Kelly in Hong Kong (@thelukejkelly), Joe Byrne in Bern, Switzerland (@anbeirneach), Mark Boyle in Surrey in the UK (@markboyle86) and our guest John Killeen (@johnkilleen90), who visited New Caledonia last year. Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle (@thatthomasfella)

Image result for new caledonia flag

Map of New Caledonia

Here are a few handy links for learning more about New Caledonia;

  • You can learn more about the New Caledonian upcoming independence referendum here on Wikipedia. The referendum is due to take place on November 4th, 2018, although according to a recent report by Radio New Zealand, support for independence is waning.
  • There’s a handy map of Captain Cook’s voyages around the world on Encyclopedia Britannica. He’s a man worth knowing about!
  • Here’s an image of the weird forked flagpole we described in this episode.
  • More info on the delicious-sounding New Caledonian dish Bougna can be found here.
  • The US government film used in this episode is entitled ‘Our Troops in New Caledonia’ and can be found on Archive.org
  • Find more on the ridiculously easy to hunt Kagu bird here.
  • You can view the photos that are described in this episode (courtesy of our friend John Killeen) below. None of John in the bath just yet, unfortunately.

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The music you heard in this episode was from the following sources;

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 every penny!