June 26 – Anniversary of British Somaliland's Independence

Posted on June 26, 2017

There was a British Somaliland and an Italian Somaliland, two neighboring colonies in Africa.

But then there was a World War, and Britain and Italy were enemies. In 1940, Italy invaded British Somaliland. But the Brits not only retook their "own" territory, but all of Italian Somaliland came under British military rule. After the war ended, with Britain and the Allies having defeated fascist Italy and the Axis powers, Britain continued to rule until 1949, when Italian Somaliland became a United Nations trusteeship called the Trust Territory of Somaliland - and guess what? The Trust Territory was back under Italian administration again.

You make ask, what about the Somali people themselves? What were their wishes in all of this?

Like other peoples in the world, Somalians wanted to make their own decisions, rule themselves, enjoy independence. An agreement was reached for independence in a step-by-step process:

On this date in 1960, British Somaliland gained independence from the U.K. It was named the State of Somaliland.

Five days after that, the State of Somaliland united with the Trust Territory of Somaliland. Together, the two formed the brand-new Somali Republic. 

Only five days! Is that the shortest period of time that an independent nation with a particular name and particular borders has lasted?

Not even close! Check out this Wikipedia list of short-lived nations. The shortest life of a nation on this list is just six hours.

What makes Somalia special?


Somalia is the world leader in exporting sheep and goats. It also leads the world in number of domesticated camels. 

(By the way, the U.S.A. leads the world in the number of domesticated dogs AND in the number of domesticated cats.)

Somalia, which lies on the part of Africa called the Horn of Africa, was known to Ancient Egyptians as the Land of Punt, and Put is even mentioned in the Bible.

The ancients valued Somalia for its aromatic trees, which produce frankincense and myrrh. Ancient Romans even called this land Cape Aromatica!

These are grains of frankincense and myrrh gum, NOT
pieces of granola!

The thing that makes landscapes look beautiful to us, often, is water...

But, even though Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, drinkable water is in seriously short supply there. The current drought is making conditions in the war-torn, famine-prone country even worse.

There was worry that the camels of Somalia couldn't
survive the drought. And if CAMELS cannot survive...

Also on this date:

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June 25 – Day of the Seafarer

Posted on June 25, 2017

From humanity's earliest civilizations, we have always depended ships and boats on the ocean as a way of moving of people, food, raw materials, manufactured goods, news, and ideas. We're talking exploration, trade, transportation, fishing, and military uses...

So "seafarers" were incredibly important and varied.

These days, the communication of ideas and news is accomplished quickly and inexpensively via satellite, fiber optics, and other modern methods. Most people travel long distances across mighty oceans by flying rather than on ships. And many goods are also "shipped" in the air rather than on the water.

Still, most international trade is shipped via oceans, with more than 50,000 merchant ships of every kind, from more than 150 nations, with more than 1,000,000 seafarers - from every nation!

Two kinds of modern merchant ships include
container ships, above, and tankers, below.

The Day of the Seafarer was established by a diplomatic conference in order to encourage governments, shipping organizations, companies, and shipowners to show appreciation of the folks involved in the shipping - the seafarers themselves. 

To learn more about this day - and maybe to take part in an interactive quiz - check out this International Maritime Organization website

Also on this date:

Architect Antoni Gaudi's birthday

(Last Sunday in June)

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June 24 - Joninės in Lithuania

Posted on June 24, 2016

Midsummer in England, above,
and Romania, below.
Many European countries are celebrating Midsummer around about
now (see Jāņi in Latvia and Midsummer in Sweden, below, for example). 

Today we will check out the Midsummer festivities in the Baltic country of Lithuania.

People sing songs and dance until the sun sets. 

Then they do some storytelling while waiting for midnight - when they search to find the magic fern blossom. 

Actually, ferns do not flower.
But an old legend says that they do - just for a few
hours at Midsummer's midnight!

Next, they light bonfires - and some people jump over bonfires! 

When the sun rises, they greet it and wash their faces with morning dew. 

Young girls float flower wreaths on whatever lake or river is nearest.

All of those colorful traditions come from Pagan times, but centuries ago, Lithuanians dropped the traditions of offerings and sacrifices to Pagan gods and goddesses and instead recast the holiday as the feast of St. John. That's why it is called Joninės.

Also on this date:

Inti Raymi (Sun Festival) in Peru

Big Numbers Day

(Fourth Saturday in June)

Last weekend in June

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