A Worldly View

Apart from a geographical categorisation, one can view the contemporary world in distinct cultural groups.    Increasing forces supersede national boundaries.  Particular nations are no longer held by common shared values as much as is ideal, but were shaped by historical decisions, political power plays and parameters that may no longer apply.   Nations have formed alliances and groups like airlines - and the viability and tenacity of such groups may no longer hold, without a prospect for effective change.

There have been countries that were first colonised by an European power one or two centuries ago but still find themselves in a  loose or actual association with the so called Mother Country.   There are independent states gripped by the negativity of personal corruption and excessive military control after successfully winning the war with colonialism.   There are nations bound by a common religion, culture or outlook.  Yet sizeable ethnic groups like the Kurds and Armenians find themselves displaced under the contemporary national structure.

Some states are so small they could obviously join a larger neighbouring territory.  Some have large territories but have been sidelined by giant neighbours.  Some political entities have so much natural resources that belie their geographical size.   Others control strategic routes, people movements and significant traffic.    Some countries are remnants of former powerful empires in the past.  Some nations are small isles whilst others are located so remote from the main focus of the world.  Yet others have seen constantly changing borders, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries.

A nation like the USA claim as their own territory places like Alaska and Hawaii which are significantly distant form the mainland States.    Greenland is under Denmark but many times larger than its European mainland sovereign.

The Antarctica is carved up amongst several nations with designated areas of stake and control, much like in the spirit of colonial days.

The Antarctica may not have held indigenous populations, but many modern day nations are ruled by peoples who have displaced the original long time occupants in such countries. The Incas, Australian Aboriginal nations, native North Americans, Eskimos, various African peoples, the Mayas, the Malayan Peninsular Sakais and the tribal peoples of Vietnam and Thailand, for example, have had more glorious days in past history.

Argentina and Chile in the southern hemisphere form a Latin American hub that extends all the way north past Brazil and the Equator to Central American nations like Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. Latino populations in the USA continue this influence north of the Mexican border.    They are strongly Catholic but many are descendants of both native, Spanish and Portuguese inter-marriages in the past.

Orthodox Christian countries surround Russia like Serbia, Romania, Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Bulgaria. 

Catholic Europe evoke of nations like Spain, Italy, France, Malta,  Ireland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Belgium, Luxembourg and Croatia.

Germany, Switzerland, Iceland and the Scandinavian countries are Protestant Europe.
They are perhaps on the forefront of new thinking, socialist innovation and human equity implementation.

The Islamic nations are not just south of Europe and in the Middle East but include Indonesia and Malaysia in south-east Asia, whilst Buddhist Thailand and Catholic Philippines have sizeable Muslim minority populations.

Central Africa has had a rich civilisation centring on Lake Chad with important native kingdoms like the Congo, Lurnda, Bornu, Wadai, Baguirmi, Sao, Shilluk and Kanem.  Then came the European colonists - Belgians, Brits, Portuguese, Germans, Italians and more.

Southern Africa in this modern age is defined only by five countries - Lesotho, Naimbia, Botswana, Republic of South Africa and Swaziland.  The rich natural resources, not just in minerals and ores, but also in wildlife, have helped shaped the native culture.  And then came the European settlers -   French Huguenots, Dutch, Brits and more.   Some came to escape religious persecution and others fro trade, adventure and exploitation.

The Indian sub continent has Muslim traditions in Bangladesh and Pakistan , whilst India and Nepal are primarily Hindu and Sri Lanka has a majority of Buddhists.    The past British colonial policy of "divide and rule" had created divisions and anarchy for the various different peoples of this sub-continent.

East Asia can be viewed as Confucian.  China can be said to be the historical source of civilisation in this region, greatly influencing the Japanese, Korean and Mongolian tenets of culture.  This area of the world had witnessed tumultuous events especially in the 20th century, the effects of which still colour relationships amongst neighbours in this century.

Confucian values have even shaped the island nation of Singapore in a south-east Asia that once was the centre of several important Hindu kingdoms and now an important Muslim region from Acheh in Sumatra to Mindanao Island in the Phillipines.

Six countries from the British Commonwealth -  Jamaica, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland and the UK - plus the USA see themselves as primarily English speaking.   Governments and citizens in Canada, New Zealand and Australia still pay allegiance to the British Queen.   Not counting the UK, only Australia and New Zealand still bear the British flag emblem. 

Britain still controls the tiny hamlet of Gilbratar, south of Spain, like those isles in the English Channel -  under the administrations of Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey.     Anguilla, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos islands and Bermuda are all British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean.   There is also a British Indian Ocean Territory, small it may be but sufficiently strategic to UK interests.

In the Atlantic, Britain controls the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich islands, Cristan da Cunha, Ascension and St. Helena.   There are also British territories but essentially military bases on the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean  - Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

The South Pacific has a unique culture but several islands are still controlled by France
 ( Austral, Marquesas, Leeward, Windward and Tuamotu-Gambier) and Britain ( Pitcairn Island).

Only six countries in the world still profess to be Communist - Albania, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea and China.  The people of Vietnam and China can be said to think more in capitalistic terms and emphasise material accumulation more than perhaps in Australia and the UK, which have extensive and entrenched social security support systems better than in the Communist states.

Perhaps it is not so simplistic.   More nations increasingly host migrants from diverse religions, cultures and backgrounds in a rather mobile world. What is perceived as a unique national culture can be diminished or diluted or diversified - it depends on what spectrum of political views you hold - by people on the so-called fringe of the main stream.   The many ethnic groups can confuse or blur a national identity.  Perhaps national identity has to be in the future measured by a strong set of common values, like human dignity, human equity and other parameters, rather than be constrained by Old World factors like religion, heritage culture, history and political leanings.


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