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.
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.
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 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!
In this episode of season 3 of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Saint Helena, a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean, and one of the most isolated points of land in the world. Saint Helena ismore than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) from its nearest mainland neighbour. The nearest port is Namibe in Angola. It was uninhabited up until its discovery by the Portuguese in 1502, and was later taken over by the British. Used for much of its life as an island of exile, its most famous inhabitant was Napoleon Bonaparte, who was exiled there after his defeat at Waterloo. The island today has a population of just over 4500, and is roughly the size of Staten Island in New York or San Marino, at just 121 square kilometeres, or 47 square miles, and its climate is generally mild.
Its inhabitants, known locally as “Saints”, are the descendants of sailors, settlers and slaves, and are said to be fiercely loyal to the British monarchy. The island’s economy is dependent on British grants and remittances, and up until recently its only link to the outside world was by a Royal Mail Ship, the St Helena, which made a five-day journey from Cape Town in South Africa, every three weeks.
Thanks to Fran Hobbs for his insightful interview about life on the island. 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!
In the first episode of season 3 of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Tasmania, the island state of Australia, known to early European explorers as Van Dieman’s Land. This verdant island is roughly the size of Ireland but with only 8% of the population. Tasmania or ‘Tassie’ lies 240 km or 150 miles south of the Australian mainland, and the state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. Just over half a million people live in Tasmania, 40% of whom reside in the island largest city, Hobart, which is lies on the banks of the Derwent River on the south side of the island. Up until the early 1800s, the island was inhabited exclusively by Aboriginal Tasmanians, but was soon after claimed by the British and converted into a penal colony. For the next 50 years, around 75,000 convicts were sent to the island, which was viewed as a kind of ‘prison without walls.’ In 1854 its name was changed to Tasmania, and in 1901 it became a state in the newly-created federation of Australia.
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!
Merry Christmas from the 80 Days team! We hope you enjoy this Christmas themed “minisode” – this is a new, shorter and more focused format of episode we’re trying out before we launch Season 3. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this different style of storytelling (positive or negative), or indeed we’d love to hear your thoughts on anything on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @80dayspodcast or by email at email@example.com
Best wishes for 2018, wherever you are around the world.
In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about the Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland. Cutting a small sliver out of the Western coastline of Senegal, the Gambia is one of just a handful of nations on earth to share a border with just one country. The entirety of the country surrounds its namesake the Gambia River, with the border running parallel to both banks of the river inland for about 250 km. Gambia’s population of around 2 million is largely impoverished. It’s GDP is ranked at 167th out of 188 countries around the world, and like much of West Africa, it’s history has been impacted heavily by the slave trade. Having gained its independence in 1965 from the British empire, the Gambia has come to rely on its growing reputation as a tourist destination, and recently made headlines following a political power struggle between presidential candidates.
[02:01] Early exploration and the Stone Circles
[05:52] Influence of Islam and trade
[07:14] Mali and Songhai Empires
[09:43] Mandinka culture and scary masks
[18:07] Arrival of Europeans
[21:35] Start of trans-Atlantic slave trade
[26:15] First permanent European settlement
[26:55] Royal African Company founded in London
[30:26] Niall visits Nemban (clip)
[31:24] English and French vie for control
[35:01]The English liberalise the slave trade
[37:49] Pirate taking everything not nailed down
[39:20] Francis Moore’s reports
[42:32] The man who returned from slavery
[49:59] Interview with tourguide
[53:24] Decline of the Royal African Company and searching for Timbuktoo
[55:38] Abolition of the slave trade and colony formation
[58:50] A colony for free slaves
[1:02:00] The kora and storytelling
[1:03:50] Setting the boundaries
[1:06:05] 20th Century, evolving colony and the world wars
[1:14:02] After the war… voting for all!
[1:16:45] Green Revolution and the PPP
[1:20:00] An awful flag
[1:22:32] An attempted coup and Senegambia
[1:29:32] A new character enters the stage: Jammeh
[1:39:42] Jammeh’s home town
[1:44:32] The Magic Presidential Powers – “hard on AIDS, hard on witches”
[1:47:56] 2016 Election kerfuffle
[1:50:25] A new president elected
[1:55:43] Food, wildlife, tourism and sport
Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:
Music you heard was largely from field recordings by our friend Niall Ó Laoighaire (who is also responsible for most of the photos above, you may also want to listen to music from the following sources:
Music from the ‘griot’ performance with the ‘kora’ instrument was from a show of jali Alagi MBye – there are many videos of MBye on YouTube, including this one “The Kora Story“
A massive thanks to John Keating and Lorraine Mounsey, two of the backers of our recent Kickstarter Campaign – thank you for making Season 2 possible. And special thanks this week to Niall Ó Laoighaire for his research in the Gambia, providing the photos above and some audio that you heard. Thanks too 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”.
In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we return to the north of North America and explore Newfoundland, a Canadian island in the North Atlantic.At over 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 sq mi), Newfoundland is the world’s 16th-largest island, and Cape Spear, just south of the capital, St Johns, is the easternmost point of North America, excluding Greenland. Newfoundland has long been a sparsely populated and harsh land, with residents traditionally relying heavily on fishing to survive. The area has a significant Gaelic heritage, with strong connections to Ireland and Britain. Modern-day Newfoundland has a population of just under half a million, and is the most populous part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Table of Contents:
[01:57] Early history – indigenous peoples and pushy Catholics
[09:00] Eric the Red – bad egg/ass
[13:00] Soil update – no codding you
[20:10] As usual the British turn up
[25:40] 80 Days Guest Dr Philip Hiscock – with some local knowledge
[30:00] The French arrive and shrug disinterestedly
[41:54] Beothuk people try to avoid conflict… uh oh
[47:40] Census, politics and telegraphy
[54:11] World wars, & reluctant Canadification
[1:09:06] I’m here from the government and I’m here to help (resettlement, cod & seals)
[1:20:24] 9/11 “We’re diverting you to Newfoundland. All of you.”
Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:
Thanks this week to Dr Jenn Jones and Jeffrey Doker, 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 http://www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code – just listen in to the episode for exact details.
Welcome to our third episode in season 2 of 80 Days: an exploration podcast. Today we will be looking at the little island paradise of the Seychelles, a country made up of an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. This former British colony has a population of just over 90,000, the smallest of any independent African state, and lies 1,500 kilometres (or 932 miles) off East Africa.
Like neighbouring Madagascar, the islands are best known for their unique geology and diverse wildlife populations. White sand beaches and clear blue oceans abound here, in what was once a haven for pirates marauding throughout the Indian Ocean. A tropical rainforest climate ensures that the islands are hot and humid year-round. Victoria, the capital city of Seychelles, is the smallest capital in the entire world, with a population of around 27,000 and the country today is one of the most prosperous in all of Africa.
Table of Contents: [01:10] Intro – sounds pretty nice tbh [02:07] Early history – coco de mer the rudest fruit [06:28] Discovery – Seychelles can’t get no respect
[14:00] Pierre Poivre & other French colonial hijinks [19:54] As usual the British turn up and Seychelles surrenders many times [26:13] Welcome to the Empire Seychelles [29:24] Seychelles – exotic prison colony with balls, baths and Birch
[36:30] Smut(s) and WW2’s loyal aliens
[40:30] Independence – Brits start to feel bad
[45:44] Commie Coup
[53:20] Mad Mike Hoare and his bad couping
[1:00:37] Democracy, climate change and geology
[1:04:22] Food – sharks and tiny persons [1:07:13] Economy – tourism & N. Korean… friendship [1:37:07] Modern day
Hindu temple (credit: Murat Dagdeler)Key Facts
Smallest population of any independent African state (92k) mostly on Mahé
1500 km east of African mainland
115 islands in archipelago spread over 1m sq km
Interesting flag, looks like a combination of Hungary and Romania (/r/vexillology) – third flag since independence, adopted after end of single-party state
Low temp of 24 degrees, highs in the 30s…
Mix of granite islands (only examples and oldest islands in the World) and coral islands (very new)
And here’s the coco de mer that got us all so… excited. Think you can see why.
Lodoicea maldivica MHNT.BOT.2007.26.21
Thanks to Rob Curran & Krista Phillips for their generous Kickstarter support. You guys are heroes.
And a massive thank you, as always to our sponsor Hairy Baby, makers of the funniest Irish-themed clothing. Remember to get a 10% discount off anything you buy on their website (www.hairybaby.com) by using our special promo code, read out during the episode. We recommend the 80 Days official tee.
Welcome to Season 2 of 80 Days: an exploration podcast. Today we will be exploring the fascinating history and culture of Singapore , the lion city. This tiny island city-state is home to 5.5 million people and is located just off the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, one degree north of the equator. It’s a country without seasons, remaining hot and humid year-round, and gained full independence just 51 years ago, although it wasn’t a cause for celebration at the time, as we’ll see. Since then, Singapore has developed rapidly as an Asian Tiger economy, despite its lack of any natural resources and today is one of the most well-developed and successful cities in the world.
Table of Contents: [05:02] Early History and founding of the “Lion City” [14:05] Dutch and British East India Companies in the area [17:41] Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founds a British colony
[26:20] Singapore growing, with little government [31:00] Music break (traditional) [31:25] World War 1 aftermath and fortification of Singapore [35:38] World War 2, Battle of Malaya [44:43] Japanese Occupation [48:35] Post-war unrest, self-determination, the rise of Lee Kuan Yew [52:00] A Malaysia including Singapore [56:15] Involuntary Independence [58:22] Music Break (modern patriotic song) [59:00] Modern Singapore [1:05:55] Economy [1:09:15] Population planning [1:13:49] Crime and punishment [1:19:32] Languages: melting pot of speech [1:24:54] Military song in Singlish
Generally if you want to keep learning about Singapore in more depth, the following would be useful:
“History of Singpore” documentary on the Discovery Channel directed by Tim Lambert (Lion Television) 2005
The Hisory of Singapore podcast by PJ Thum (who teaches Southeast Asian history at Universoty of Oxford) – this gives very in-depth history of the city state. It is quite political and at times critical of the mainstream opinion of Singaporean history
Talk the Talk episode on Singlish, the unique ‘colloquial English’ dialect common in Singapore and its relationship to the many other languages spoken in this melting-pot country
Some things you might like to know more about:
Singapore’s early history showed the island appearing on the radar of the Greek geographer Ptolemy (as “Sabana”, c. 100 AD), in Chinese imperial records (as “Pú Luó Zhong/蒲罗中“, a transliteration of Malay name for “Island at the end”), and in Old Javanese epics (as “Temasek“, perhaps meaning “sea town”, a literal name for the fishing port that pre-existed the city inhabited by Orung Laut/”sea gypsies”). It is also widely described in the Malay Annals.
In the 14th century, legend tells of the Kingdom of Singapura being founded by Sang Nila Ultama , Srivijaya Prince from Palembang
He is the legendary source of the name “Singapore”, literally “Lion City” (in Sanskrit). It is told that upon landing on the island, he went hunting and saw a lion, which was considered an auspicious symbol. There is no historical evidence lions ever lived on the island. Accounts of the legend can be found on Remembering Singapore, from this school resource, or in the cartoon The Story of Singapore. Remembering Singapore is a very useful resource with lots of photographs of the island and further information.
Five generations later, Parameswara (alias Iskandar Shah) was an important figure, who lost Singapore to a Majapahit invasion, fled to Malacca and founded the sultanate there which became the core of the Malay world for centuries to come. The historical evidence of most details of his life are hazy, as is summarised here.
He was succeeded by William Farquhuar, who had a different vision for the settlement than Raffles and the two came into conflict over issues such as slavery and gambling, which Farquhar allowed, arguing that they were essential to the survival of the place.
The laissez-faire governmental style, as the settlement had a large influx of Chinese laborours meant that various secret societies or gangs became very powerful in Singapore as the place for the Chinese population to look for protection and support (see “The Social Life of Chinese Labor” by Adam McKeown)
The Government knows little or nothing of the Chinese, who are industrial backbone of these [Straits] Settlements; and the immense majority of them know nothing of the Government. We know that a certain number of Chinese arrive each year, and that a certain number go away; but how long they stay, how many come back a second time, what they think about and desire – as to all this we know nothing… We believe that the case majority of the Chinamen who come to work in these Settlements return to their country not knowing clearly whether there is a Government in them or not
“But they also showed a meanness and viciousness towards their enemies equal to the Huns’. Genghis Khan and his hordes could not have been more merciless. I have no doubts about whether the two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary. Without them, hundreds of thousands of civilians in Malaya and Singapore, and millions in Japan itself, would have perished” — Lee Kuan Yew’s memoirs
Post-war Singapore saw great changes, including social agitation and race riots as the British began to disengage from direct rule.
The most significant figure in the second half of the 20th Century was long-serving prime minister Lee Kuan Yew . Leader of the People’s Action Party, he became the unquestioned leader of the independent Singapore for 30 years, shaping the new country to his own vision through strict but largely fair rule.
In 1963, Lee fulfilled his ambition of seeing Singapore join into a political union with British Malaya, Borneo and Sarawak; the modern state of Malaysia – this project, however was doomed to failure because of racial and religious tensions between largely ethnic Malay/Muslim Malaya and the significant ethnic Chinese component of Singapore’s population.
Prime Minister Lee was very emotional when he announced to his people that Singapore was leaving the union and embarking on an unwished-for independence
Watch one of many Singaporean military songs in the distinctive Singlish language:
A few songs may interest you, also, some of which you will have heard:
“Dayung Sampan” – to quote it’s description on YouTube: “This video “Dayung Sampan” features Noraniza Idris, and He Yun (from China Hebei) playing the Erhu, a Chinese traditional instrument. “Dayung Sampan” is the Malay version of the famous Chinese tune “Tian Mi Mi” (甜蜜蜜). This is a fresh collaboration between the Malay and Chinese culture”