15 Crazy Facts About Some Of The World’s Lesser-Known Countries
Wait, which country uses giant carved stones as a form of currency? Thanks to this Quora thread.
1. Kiribati is the world’s only country to fall within all four hemispheres.
Because the nation of Kiribati is comprised of numerous small islands spread throughout the Pacific Ocean, it just so happens to have territory located in all of the earth’s four hemispheres (Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western).
2. The island nation of Niue has coins featuring Disney characters, Star Wars characters, and more.
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and with only about 1,200 residents, the small island nation of Niue is one of the most remote in the world. Although Niue is largely self-governing, it does maintain ties with New Zealand; Niue’s ties to New Zealand include having that country’s mint create Niue’s coins. The Disney coins were released in 2014, and although they are technically worth $25 in Niue’s currency, the actual value of the coins is much higher — the rarest of which is a gold coin worth $40,000.
3. Ethiopia still follows a traditional calendar that is seven years behind the rest of the world.
Because of the strong presence of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the country, the traditional calendar of that church is still influential in Ethiopia. The calendar came about in the 16th century when most of Christianity changed the date Jesus is believed to have been born on, but those in Ethiopia decided to maintain the original date. Because of the time discrepancy, Ethiopia held celebrations for the new millennium in 2007, seven years after the rest of the world.
4. Greenland is unable to join FIFA because the ground there can’t grow a grass field.
Because of the country’s climate, the ground is generally covered in ice or permafrost, making it nearly impossible to grow enough grass to form a regulation-size soccer field. Most games are simply played on dirt/gravel.
(And yes, Greenland is technically not an independent country. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ )
5. The country of Nauru does not have a capital city.
Although many consider the Yaren District, which houses most of the government offices, to be the de facto capital of the island.
6. Speaking of Nauru, it also holds the distinction of being the fattest nation in the world.
Due to the popularity of Western-style fast food that was brought to the country following the island’s financial success in phosphate mining, the average citizen of Nauru has a BMI of between 34 and 35. For reference, a normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.
7. Tuvalu received $50 million in exchange for the rights to the nation’s lucrative internet domain, .tv.
And although that might seem like a lot of money, in recent years the government of Tuvalu has argued that it is not receiving as much money in royalties as it deserves, as the country faces increasing financial hardships.
8. The most isolated tree in the world was located in the middle of the Sahara Desert in Niger.
Known as the Tree of Ténéré (or L’Arbre du Ténéré to locals, as Niger’s official language is French), this small acacia tree was separated from any other trees by a distance of 250 miles. The tree was used for years as a landmark for anyone traveling through the desert until it was knocked down (allegedly) by a drunk driver in 1973. Because of course, the driver just had to hit the only thing around for miles.
9. One of the islands in the Federated States of Micronesia uses giant carved stones as a form of currency.
The Federated States of Micronesia is a country made up of numerous islands spread across the Pacific Ocean, including the island state of Yap. And on Yap, instead of paper currency, the traditional form of money has been giant limestone discs (rai stones), which are considered rare and important because the limestone originated on another island far away. Of course, the sheer size of these stones makes it difficult for them to actually be moved, so most times, payment with the stones is simply based on oral agreement rather than any physical exchange. But just FYI, in modern times, these stones are generally only used for traditional purposes and most money exchanges occur with dollar bills.
10. There are 23 native languages recognized by the government in Guatemala.
Overall, about 40% of the population speaks one of these languages, including Quiche, Kekchi, and Mam.
11. In 1973, Bhutan instituted a policy to measure the nation’s Gross National Happiness (as opposed to the more typical Gross Domestic Product).
Although the policy didn’t take away from working on the economy, it did help to think about that sort of government work on the same level as protecting cultural traditions and ensuring a fair life for all citizens. In recent years, though, leaders have begun to move away from this rhetoric of happiness in favor of a more traditionally political discussion.
12. A 2007–2008 Gallup poll found Estonia to be the least religious country in the world.
The poll asked respondents from around the world, “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” Only 14% of Estonians answered in the affirmative, the lowest of all nations. In contrast, in that same poll, Egypt had a 100% “yes” rate.
13. San Marino has the highest amount of automobiles per people in the world.
14. Papua New Guinea, with only 6.5 million residents, contains about 12% of the world’s spoken languages.
Although most are spoken by fewer than 1,000 people, there are more than 800 indigenous languages used in Papua New Guinea.