Vanuatu (S4.07)

S04E06 Vanuatu Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcast, we’ll be talking about The Republic of Vanuatu, a Pacific island country located in the South Pacific Ocean, around 1,700 kilometres (or 1,000 miles) east of northern Australia and 540 kilometres (340 miles) northeast of New Caledonia.

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First inhabited by Melanesian people around 3,000 years ago, parts of the archipelago were settled by British and French colonists in the 1800s, and in 1906 France and the United Kingdom agreed to administer the islands jointly in a unique form of government known as the British-French Condominium. Vanuatu gained its independence in July 1980, and is today home to around 270,000 people.

Only around 65 of the archipelago’s 82 islands are inhabited, and although the country is spread across 12,200 square kilometres (4,700 sq mi) its land surface is very limited to around 4,700 square kilometres or 1,800 sq miles, a similar size to the Falkland Islands or our old friend The Gambia. The indigenous population, called ni-Vanuatu, is overwhelmingly Melanesian, and the main language is a pidgin creole known as Bislama, though English and French are both widely spoken, as are up to 113 indigenous languages. According to The NYT Magazine, “A meaningful national identity has been constructed from a common appreciation of ceremonial pig-tusk bracelets and the taking of kava, a very mild narcotic root that looks like primordial pea soup and tastes like a fine astringent dirt.”

Straddling the seismic strip called the ‘Ring of Fire’, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis have all been relatively commonplace over recent decades, earning Vanuatu the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most dangerous place when it comes to natural disasters.

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.

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A panorama of Port Vila, capital and largest city of Vanuatu

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). We’d also like to thank Professor Lamont Lindstrom for his contribution to this episode. You can find more about him here.


Some further reading:

  • Science Magazine has more on the graves of the Lapita peoples, the first settlers of the Western Pacific.
  • The DNA research by David Reich of Harvard Med School on these ancient civilisations can be found here.
  • Early Vanuatu Chief Roi Mata, discussed in this episode, is profiled by Lonely Planet.
  • His domain has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can read more about that at the UNESCO website.
  • Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, the French navigator mentioned in this episode, is profiled by Brittanica here.
  • You can read more about Peter Dillon, the sandalwood trader, at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  • The Australian National University has further reading on Erromango, the Martyr’s Isle.
  • There is also further reading from the same source on the British-French Condominium (definitely our favourite form of government).
  • Joe’s stories of planters gambling with the servitude of natives as currency were sourced from this article at The Pacific Historial Review.
  • The Wall Street Journal has an extensive article about the Allied bases that were set up on Vanuatu during World War II.
  • Some excellent photos of the same bases can be found at WW2Wrecks.
  • The obituary of Jimmy Stevens, the Coconut War revolutionary, can be found here.
  • The New International has more information on The Phoenix Foundation and the role they played in the so-called Coconut War.
  • Walter Lini, Vanuatu’s first Prime Minister, is profiled here by Brittanica.
  • Extensive info on the Flag of Vanuatu can be found on Gettysburg Flag Works.
  • The United Nations University report on Vanuatu’s vulnerability to natural disasters can be found here.
  • More info on Vanuatu’s economy can be found at The Commonwealth.
  • You can also find Vanuatu on the Happy Planet Index — it currently ranks #4 in the world.
  • If you’d like to hear more about Bislama, there is a TED Talk on it and other similar languages by Tess Walraven here.
  • The mindblowing video of Land Diving that we all enjoyed can be seen below:

Music that might interest listeners:

 

Trinidad and Tobago (S4.05)

S04E04 Trinidad and Tobago Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcast, we’ll be talking about Trinidad & Tobago, a twin island nation, located just off the northern coast of the South American mainland, around 11 kilometres or 7 miles from Venezuela. It is the southernmost of the West Indies island group, and today is home to around 1.3 million people.

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Trinidad, the southernmost and larger of the two islands, has a landmass of around 4,760 km2 (1,840 sq miles), comprising 93% of the country’s territory. Tobago, around 40km or 25 miles to the northeast, is around 300 km2 (120 sq mi) in total. The islands enjoy a warm, tropical climate, and only have two seasons – a dry season for the first five months of the year, and a wet season for the remaining seven. Occupied by Amerindian tribes up to 1498, the islands were then discovered by Christopher Columbus and later became a Spanish colony. Sovereignty over the islands was disputed throughout the 19th century, before the two were unified as one British colony in 1888. Independent since 1962, the country has benefited greatly from the discovery of oil in 1857, and is today one of the richest and most ethnically diverse countries in the region. Trinidad and Tobago is also famous for its extravagant carnival celebrations, and is known as the birthplace of limbo dancing.

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.

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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 that might interest listeners:

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

 

Uruguay (S2.05)

S02E05: Uruguay Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Uruguay, a small but prosperous country sandwiched between two massive South American powerhouses, Brazil and Argentina. Widely considered one of the most politically stable and progressive countries in Latin America, Uruguay is home to just over 3.5 Million people and almost ten times as many sheep.

By land mass, it is the second-smallest nation in the region. After a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay declared its independence in 1825. The country then stabilised until the 1950s, when political turmoil ensued.
In more recent years, Uruguay escaped the recession that spread throughout South America in the early 2000s, and has since emerged as a bastion of democracy, progressive policies and free speech.  

Your hosts 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).

Table of Contents:

[02:12] Intro – Homer Simpson and trampy birds
[08:30] Horny dirty Europeans and laissez faire gauchoing
[15:00] The inevitable British interest
[18:08] Artigas uncontemplative – not a calm guy
[27:23] If you liked Artigas you’ll love many endless wars forever
[33:46] Colorados vs Blancos – mob on mob violence
[40:39] Flores – Warlords don’t like peace, shoot your gauchos
[49:30] Jose Batlle – Mr 20th Century Uruguay
[57:54] WW2 – neutral, until it’s over and then they’re totally against Hitler
[1:06:08] Old timey radio show on Uruguay… is a bit dismissive of poor women
[1:14:46] Pacheqism – NOT to be confused with pacifism, too much torture for that
[1:16:30] Alive – plane crash and things only get worse from there
[1:23:28] South America in the 80s, how do you think it’s gonna go – “Politics is finished, I’m the leader.”
[1:30:38] Modern day – cannabis, football, music and good times

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

Some of the music we used in this episode, and other music we recommend:

Thanks this week to Nick Ison and Eoin Byrne, who backed our Kickstarter campaign. Your t-shirts should be on their way to you already. Thanks to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code “80DAYS”.