Tag Archives: Countries

Why doesn’t the United States have a high speed rail system?

When it comes to rail in the U.S., there’s basically two places: The Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington corridor, and the rest of the country.

Rail used to be the main way to get between cities in the U.S., but the Interstate offered faster and more convenient travel for those with a car, and really long distances like going from one coast to the other can only be done quickly by air. (For instance, even the fastest high-speed trains wouldn’t be competitive for the New York to Los Angeles route.)

Amtrak, the national rail company, doesn’t own its tracks in most of the country, so its trains often have to wait for freight trains to go first. Coverage and routes are limited. If you live in Memphis, you can go to Chicago fine, but getting to St. Louis might take days even though it’s only four hours by car.

For the big cities between Boston and Washington, rail is still ideal. Traffic is bad, many people don’t use cars, and airports are far from the city center. Traditional rail still does pretty well, and high-speed rail would be incredible. There’s still two problems. One is crash-test regulations, which force trains to be heavier and slower than foreign counterparts. (Other countries don’t have such strict regulations; rail collisions are quite rare, and traveling by train is much safer than by automobile anyway.) The other is simply the cost of building rail lines in that area which can handle high-speed rail. Amtrak’s proposal for true high-speed rail in that corridor is projected to cost over $100 billion.

What is meant by Third World Country?

The phrase Third World is one that is frequently used in the political arena. It has almost become a cliché from recurrent using, in and out of places.
The term Third World is used to collectively denote most of the nations of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Many of these nations share a similar past of colonialism. These countries are what the financial world call developing or undeveloped countries. The term gained prominence during the Cold War, to especially denote the nations not aligned to the two geopolitical blocs that time, the US-led NATO and the Soviet Union-led Communist bloc. Later it became almost synonymous with the Non-Aligned Movement, though some countries aligned to the two blocs also were called Third World Countries.
The phrase Third World was first coined by French anthropologist and historian Alfred Sauvy, in an article published in the French magazine L’Observateur on August 14, 1952. He used the term to compare the corresponding world to Third Estate, the French commoners who opposed the noblemen and clergy in pre-democratic France. Then the term earned popularity during cold war, especially through use by former French president Charles de Gaulle.
During the cold war, the USA, UK and their allies with capitalist economies were called First World and the Socialist nations led by Soviet Union were known as Second World. It was in this context the birth of the phrase Third World.
The third world countries house the 75 percent of the world’s population but donate a very small portion to world economy. Many of the countries, except the oil-rich Arab nations, share similar socio-economic conditions like high rate of population growth low per capita income, low literacy, low lifetime expectancy, slow industrialization, low technological advancement, poor infrastructure etc. These countries heavily depend on developed countries and usually tend to have large foreign debts.
Now it has become a stereotype to call poor countries Third World countries but the term’s use broadly encompasses the rapidly developing countries like China, Brazil and India as well. The economic sector is undergoing rapid changes and the term also is facing question about its relevance.
There is also the phrase ‘Fourth World’ in use, first appeared in 1974 in the book The Fourth World: an Indian Reality by Shuswap Chief George Manuel. The term is used to represent the nations of indigenous people living within or across state borders.

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Which country’s people have the highest IQ (Intelligence Quotient) level in the world?

Japanese are on number one. (Japan also spends the highest amount per person on education.) While average IQ of the country is 105 as shown in the map, 10% of the Japanese have an IQ of 130 or more, and the people born in 1960-61 in Japan have minimum IQ of 115. Compared to this in America (US) the people having an IQ of 130 or more are not even 2% of the population!

Additional reading:
Intelligence quotient (Wikipedia)

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Why is British national flag called the Union Jack?

The Union Jack, the official flag of Britain since 1801, is actually three separate flags in one, for it combines the English cross of St. George, the Scottish cross of St. Andrew and Irish cross of St. Patrick. England, Scotland and Ireland were originally separate countries, and the Union Jack symbolizes the fact that they now form the United Kingdom, which is another name for Britain.
Although generally known as the Union Jack, this is incorrect because it is the term for a flag flown only from the jack-staff on the bow of the ship to indicate it is a warship. Besides, the correct name of this flag is Union Flag. Through popular use, however, the Union Jack has become the accepted name for the flag. There are no official specifications for the length and width of this flag, but usually an aspect ratio of 1:2 is followed. The colors can be any shades of red and blue.

More reading:
Union Flag (Wikipedia)

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Which are the ten smallest countries in the world measured in terms of area?

By latest count, there are 195 sovereign countries in the world, the largest being Russia with an area of 1,70,75,400 square kilometers. The accompanying list of world’s 10 smallest countries shows the Vatican City having the least geographical area, but its status of ‘country’ is questionable. It became a part of unified Italy in the 19th century and was give identity as sovereign state because of its religious status. But the fact is that its government and other aspects of administration are intricately linked with those of Italy.

Which country has the oldest army still in active service?

Of all countries, the Vatican City’s army, known as the Pontifical Swiss Guard, is the oldest. This 0.44 square kilometer country, of which the Pope is the absolute ruler, hardly needs to defend itself because it is only the spiritual center of the Roman Catholic Church and not a political entity. The Swiss Guard, therefore, is just a ceremonial army. It was founded on February 22, 1506 when about 150 Swiss Mercenaries marched to Rome to serve under Pope Julius II, known as the warrior Pope.
Today the army has 110 guards, clad in flamboyant stripe uniforms. Most of the soldiers are still armed with a medieval weapon which looks like a combination of spear and battle axe.

Additional reading:
Swiss Guard (Wikipedia)
Vatican City (Wikipedia)

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