On What Defines a People


“What defines a people is not race, not tradition, not geography, but the free choice of a group of human beings to live together as fellow citizens.”

– Thomas G. West

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The Grammar of Demonyms


Demonyms, previously gentilics, are used to describe the inhabitants of a particular country or place. In English, they come in many forms; some bear a close relation to a country’s name (e.g. Germany = German), others appear completely irregular (Isle of Man = Manx). To make matters even more confusing, some countries even have multiple demonyms.

  • -(a)n Australia = Australian
  • -anian Guam = Guamanian
  • -ard Spain = Spaniard (archaic)
  • -asque Basque Country = Basque
  • -be Burkina Faso = Burkinabe
  • -ene Greece = Hellene (archaic)
  • -ensian Micronesia = Micronesian
  • -ese Japan = Japanese
  • -gian Belgium = Belgian
  • -i(e) Bangladesh = Bangladeshi
  • -ian Hungary = Hungarian
  • -ic Iceland = Icelandic
  • -ien Niger = Nigerien
  • -in(e) Montenegro = Montenegrin
  • -iot(e) Cyprus = Cypriot
  • -ish England = English
  • -lese Togo = Togolese
  • -nese San Marino = Sammarinese
  • -nian Panama = Panamanian
  • -onian Tobago = Tobagonian (Trinidad and Tobago = Trinidadians)
  • -(en)(in)o Philippines = Philippino
  • -(e)r Luxembourg = Luxembourger
  • -vian Peru = Peruvian
  • Irregulars Netherlands = Dutch

Indian Stream


In 1832, a border area between Canadian Vermont and New Hampshire was claimed by both British Canada and the United States.

Even though the United States had secured its independence from Britain through the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the borders were often defined vaguely or based on inaccurate maps.

The treaty established that the border between New Hampshire and Canada would be “the northwesternmost Head of the Connecticut River.” Unfortunately, no-one agreed on which body of water precisely that should be. It was in this geographic confusion that the short-lived nation of the Indian Stream Republic was born.

“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.” ― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

In 1832, local settlers converted the disputed lands between Hall’s Stream, Indian Stream and the lakes of the Connecticut River into an independent republic known as Indian Stream. It existed briefly from July 9, 1832 to 1835 when it voluntarily yielded to New Hampshire. American jurisdiction was fully acknowledged in 1836.

See other: Posts on Micronations

The Global Village


Small numbers are easier to comprehend for our feeble brains than enormous ones. Consider, it is easier to comprehend how a society of a few dozen people would look like, than to review a society of billions.

With that in mind, if we pretend humanity consists of 100 individuals living in a single village, how would that village look like? In other words, what kind of world are we living in? Using global data from 2009 and onwards, the following results emerge:

If the world were a village of 100 people,

  • (Age) There are 70 adults and 30 children.
  • (Air) There are 68 people who breathe clean air, the other 32 breathe polluted air.
  • (Computer) There are 7 people who own a computer and 93 who do not.
  • (Education) There is one person with a higher education, the other 99 never studied.
  • (Electricity) There are 76 people with access to electricity, the other 24 do without it.
  • (Energy) There are 20 people who consume 80% of all the energy, the other 80 consume the remaining 20%.
  • (Food) There is one person dying of starvation; 20 are undernourished; 50 do not have a reliable source of food and are hungry most of the time; 30 always have enough to eat; 15 are overweight.
  • (Gender) There are 52 women and 48 men.
  • (HIV) There are 99 people without HIV, one with.
  • (Language) There are 17 people who speak Chinese, 9 who speak English, 8 Hindi, 6 Russian, 6 Spanish and 4 who speak Arabic; the other 50 speak different languages.

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • (Literacy) There are 86 people who are literate and 14 who are illiterate.
  • (Money) There are 6 people who own 59% of all the money; 74 people own 39%; and the remaining 20 people own a mere 2%.
  • (Nationality) There are 61 Asians, 13 Africans, 13 North/South Americans, 12 Europeans and 1 person from Oceania.
  • (Population) There are 2 births a year; one death.
  • (Race) There are 70 people who are not ‘white’, and 30 who are.[1]
  • (Religion) There are 33 Christians, 24 non-believers, 19 Muslims, 13 Hindus, 6 Buddhists and 5 people who believe there are spirits in all natures.
  • (Safety) There are 52 people who can speak and act according to their conscience; the other 48 – due to harassment, imprisonment, torture or death – cannot.
  • (Sexuality) There are 90 heterosexuals and 10 homosexuals.
  • (War) There are 80 people who do not live in fear of death by bombardment, armed attack, landmines, or of rape or kidnappings by armed groups; the other 20 do.
  • (Water) There are 83 people with access to clean water, the other 17 people have no clean water.

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” – Jane Addams


[1] The authors would like to distance themselves from any racial bias. In doing so, we like to stress that we do not recognise the term ‘race’ as a concept in any way. That is to say, we hold that all people are people: equally beautiful, complex, flawed, fragile and amazing.

We have deliberately published this statistic in a ‘Caucasian-centric’ manner (i.e. There are 70 people who are not ‘white’…) not to emphasise or lend support to some prejudiced preference or point of view, but rather to show that humanity is incredibly diverse – in fact, we suspect that humanity is more diverse than many ‘Caucasian westerners’ realise. And it is our conviction that it is important to be aware of the wonderful intricacies and diversities of our species.

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Anthropologies believe that man has known how to use fire for 500,000 years, but only learned how to make it himself 12,000 years ago.

Prior to 1962, sodomy was illegal in every US State.

The flag of Paraguay is the only current national flag whose obverse and reverse sides are neither identical nor mirrored.

Legendary Cuban Communist revolutionary Che Guevara was born in Argentina.

Until 1857, in the UK, a husband wishing to end an unhappy marriage could sell his wife. The cost was about £3,000 – roughly £223,000 in today’s money.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

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Horseshoe crabs have blue blood, marine worms have green blood and cockroaches’ blood is colourless.

The James Bond movie Goldfinger was once banned in Israel.

Typically less than a half of one percent of Romans were eligible to vote in Rome’s ‘democratic’ elections.

The reverse side of the flag of Oregon features a gold beaver.

Before becoming Queen of England, Mary Tudor would spend one third of her income gambling.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Exonym


Exonyms are names used in a particular language to refer to a foreign nation or country; they can be completely different from the name that country uses (in its particular language) to qualify itself. Quite often, they can be of interest from a historical point of view because they can be surprisingly conservative. The exonym is sometimes preserved for hundreds of years after the political or ethnic entity it originally referred to ceased to be.

One of the best-known cases is Germany. Many nations share their linguistic origin with the German term Deutschland, even though they have sometimes assumed a quite different form i.e. Duitsland, Tedesco or Tyskland – from the Proto-Germanic Þeudiskaz. The Slavic peoples call the Germans Niemcy or similar which means ‘a mute’, someone who does not speak Slavic. The French and Spanish, among others, employ the name of the Alamanni tribe. The English, Italians and Russians, to name a few, use a derivative of the Latin Germania or Greek Γερμανία. And the Finns and Baltic states either refer to the name of the Saxon tribe or employ a word of unknown origin, like the Latvian Vacija or the Lithuanian Vokietija.

Consider these other cases:

  • The Latvians call Russia Krievija, referring to an ancient Slavic tribal union, the Krivichi;
  • The Turks call Greece Yunanistan and the Greeks Yunan, another very old exonym which probably has for origin the word ‘Ionia’, that is the Greek region on the coast of Asia Minor;
  • In a kind of an opposite logic, Russia was called Muscovy by the Poles, and then by other Europeans as a way to deny the claim of the Moscow-based government on the totality of Russian lands;
  • The Japanese used to call China Tang even hundreds of years after the end of that dynasty. In the late 19th- and early 20th century they resorted to an even older and more obscure word Shina, which had the advantage of being similar to the equivalent Western terms.

Also, there is something particularly curious about Roman exonyms; it seems the Romans gave completely random names to any people they encountered. A people that called itself Rasenna received the name Tuscans or Etruscans. The inhabitants of Carthage became Punics, and the Hellenes or Achaeans were Greeks. Celts became Galli or the Gauls.

“Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it.”
– George Bernard Shaw

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The flags of Afghanistan and Ecuador display their flag on their flag; creating the so-called Droste effect, i.e. the image of the image in the image ad infinitum.

The asteroid 13681 is called Monty Python.

Jon Brower Minnoch was an American man who, at his peak weight, was the heaviest human being ever recorded, weighing approximately 1,400 lb (634 kg, 100 stone). This figure was only a close estimation, however, because of his extreme size, poor health, and lack of mobility prevented use of a scale. He died in 1983, aged 41.

In Latin, the verb vireo means ‘I am green’.

When all four members of The Beatles received MBEs in 1965, John Lennon defended this honour as follows: “Lots of people who complained about us receiving the MBE received theirs for heroism in the war – for killing people. We received ours for entertaining other people. I’d say we deserve ours more.”

See other: Quite Interesting Facts