4/i mmxv


North Dakota is the least-visited state in the United States. Curiously, it also has more churches per capita than any other state and the highest percentage of church-going population in the country.

Peer is Dutch for ‘pear’ and ‘light bulb’.

John I of Portugal (1385–1433) defended his kingdom against Castile. In Portugal he is known as John the Good or John the Great; in Spain he is known as John the Bastard.

Jane Austen shared a bedroom with her sister Cassandra her whole life.

Karl Marx viewed prostitutes as victims of the capitalist system. In his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, he described sex work as being “only a specific expression of the general prostitution of the labourer,” and viewed the abolition of prostitution as a necessary part of ending capitalism. Similarly, in The Communist Manifesto, he called prostitution the “complement” of the bourgeois family, and predicted that both institutions would one day vanish.

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7/v mmxiv


97% of Portugal’s territory is water.

Charlie Chaplin once entered a Charlie Chaplin Lookalike Contest and failed to make the finals, let alone win.

The British word for the toilet, loo, derives from the French guardez l’eau, meaning ‘watch out for the water’. This comes from the fact that, in medieval Europe, people simply threw the contents of their chamber pots out the window onto the streets. Before throwing the waste out the window, they would yell Guardez l’eau!  The term guardez l’eau first came to English as gardy-loo and then shortened to loo, which eventually came to mean the lavatory itself.

The United States has paved enough roads to circle the Earth over 150 times.

Venezuelans spend a fifth of their income on personal grooming and beauty products. Over the past 24 years, the country has produced four Miss Universes, five Miss Worlds, and three Miss Internationals.

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21/viii mmxiii


To abacinate means ‘to blind by placing hot irons close to the eyes’.

English: Samurai on horseback, wearing armor a...

A samurai on horseback, wearing armour and horned helmet, carrying bow and arrows

The word aa is the first in the Dictionary of Official Scrabble Words. It is a kind of lava emitted by Hawaiian volcanoes.

Guns were introduced into Japan by the Portuguese in 1543, but banned by the government 100 years later. The only weapon a samurai was allowed to carry was a sword, and no one else was allowed a weapon of any kind.

In 1999, the total number of people killed by guns in the USA was 28.874 out of a population of 279.040.000, which equalled 1 in 966. In Britain, the figure was 207 out of a population of 58.579.000, which equalled 1 in 282.990.

Sixteen and a half million Yemenis between them own 50 million guns.

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29/v mmxiii


The fastest growing plant in the world is Bambusa Oldhamii, a species of Chinese bamboo also known as Giant Timber. It grows at almost 5 feet (1.5m) per day.

Bambusa oldhamii joint

Close-up of a Bambusa Oldhamii

While their owners are alive, the noses and ears of human beings, the teeth of rodents, the antlers of deer and the skulls of giraffes never stop growing.

There are approximately 9,500 Greek islands, of which only 227 are inhabited and only 70 have more than 100 inhabitants.

The Treaty of Windsor (1386) is the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world which is still in force. It guarantees mutual support between England and Portugal.

Cleveland Abbe (1836-1916) was the first official weather forecaster in America and also the man who divided the USA into time zones.

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7/ix mmxii


Aulophobia is the fear of flutes.

English: photograph of King Ludwig II of Bavaria

King Ludwig II of Bavaria

J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, was under 5ft. tall and didn’t shave till he was 24.

Zeus had five wives. One of them was his aunt, another was his elder sister and a third one he ate.

Princess Alexandra, the aunt of Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-86), suffered from the delusion that she had swallowed a glass piano.

When the Portuguese first landed in Japan in 1543, the Japanese had never seen guns before. Or buttons. They were also astonished by the size of Portuguese noses, which according to them were the largest they had ever seen.

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António de Oliveira Salazar


António de Oliveira Salazar (28 April 1889 – 27 July 1970) served as the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1932 to 1968. He also served as acting President of the Republic briefly in 1951.

Português: Antonio de Oliveira Salazar

António de Oliveira Salazar

He founded and led the Estado Novo ‘New State’, the authoritarian, right-wing government that presided over and controlled Portugal from 1932 to 1974.

The Estado Novo has been described as a far-right leaning regime of para-fascist inspiration. He never declared his government as officially fascist, but he did give three days national morning after Adolf Hitler died.

As de jure dictator of Portugal, he suffered a stroke in 1968. He was replaced as ruler, but was never told. Ironically, he went to the grave thinking that he was still ruling the country.

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14/v mmx


Which Portuguese islands are located in the mid-Atlantic?
– The Azures

Which country sold Alaska to the USA?
– Russia

Which country is home of the Olduvai Gorge?
– Tanzania

Which Scottish mountain has a ruined observatory at its summit?
– Ben Nevis

What is the capital city of Pakistan?
– Islamabad