Friday, April 5, 2013

A small republic: Montenegro

In Montenegrin, the local language of Montenegro, this country is called “Crna Gora.” As for the people of Montenegro, they distinguish themselves from those who made up the former Yugoslavia, calling themselves “Crnogoracs.” They do not believe that they are from the same ethnic roots as the Serbians, and despite the fact that they are, like the Serbians, Orthodox Christians, their churches are also different.

Montenegro, which separated from Serbia in 2006 -- entering onto the global stage as an independent country at that point -- is a young republic. The population, surface area and economy of Montenegro are all very small. At the same time, Montenegrins look towards the future with hope, and interestingly, they are one of the countries that began using the euro before actually entering the European Union.

Montenegro, which is located in the southeastern reaches of Europe, is a Balkan country. With a population of around just 650,000, Montenegro has shorelines that run along the Adriatic Sea. The capital of Montenegro is the city of Podgorica. Montenegro is surrounded by many neighbors; to its northeast is Serbia, to its east is Kosovo, to its south is Albania, to its northwest is Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to its west is Croatia. With a 300-kilometer-long Adriatic shoreline, Montenegro sees sunshine an average of 240 days of the year. The southern part of Montenegro enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate.

The current name of the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, is one to which some people may not be accustomed. During the era of former Yugoslavian leader Tito, this city was called “Titograd.” Later, it was changed to Podgorica. It is the largest and most developed city in Montenegro, with a population of around 190,000. Podgorica is the trading, political, and cultural center of Montenegro.

Water in the capital city

The river that runs through Podgorica is called the Moraca. One of the bridges that span this river is the famous Millenium Bridge, one of the symbols of this capital city. The waters of this river are very clear.  It looks like a great, though difficult, sport.  Hercegovacka Pedestrian Street, which is closed to traffic, and is very busy, especially in the evenings. The open markets start slowly, early in the morning, gaining tempo through the day.

Though most Montenegrins are Christian, Muslims do make up 17 percent of the population. The state is respectful of its Muslim citizens, and the importance of living as one in a multicultural society is often underscored at the state level.

Quick Facts

Capital: Podgorica
Language: Serbian 63.6%, Montenegrin (official) 22%, Bosnian 5.5%, Albanian 5.3%, unspecified (includes Croatian) 3.7% (2003 census)
Government: Republic
Chief of state: President Filip Vujanovic
Head of government: Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic
Area: 13,812 square kilometers
Population: 653,474 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic groups: Montenegrin 43 percent, Serbian 32 percent, Bosniak 8 percent, Albanian 5 percent, other (Muslims, Croats, Roma) 12 percent (2003 census)
Gross domestic product (PPP): $7.288 billion (2012 est.)
Religions: Orthodox 74.2 percent, Muslim 17.7 percent, Catholic 3.5 percent, other 0.6 percent, unspecified 3 percent, atheist 1 percent (2003 census)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

-Travel Peru- Capital of the Incas: Cusco

CUSCO -- Peru is the third largest country in South America after Brazil and Argentina with a total area of 1,285,216 square kilometers.

It is the 20th largest country in the world in terms of area. Peru is bordered by Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador. Western Peru is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, and the total length of its beaches is about 2,500 kilometers. The Andes Mountains are located towards the center of the country running from north to south. The highest peak is almost 7,000 meters. Due to its close proximity to the equator, Peru is subject to quite direct rays of the sun. You can suffer sunburn if you do not take precautions.
Argentinean José de San Martin proclaimed Peru’s independence in 1821. Peruvians do not much care about arms because they believe that the United Nations will protect them in the event of war. Peruvian people love to have fun and dance more than anything.
Although Lima is the current capital of Peru, the capital of the Inca Empire was Cusco. Cusco means ‘center of the world’ in Quechua. It is one-hour flight from Lima. Those who travel from Lima, which is at sea level, to Cusco, which is 3,450 meters above sea level, may suffer from altitude sickness
Since the country was dominated by Spaniards for 300 years, the official language is Spanish. Spanish is used in official paperwork. Moreover, along with Colombia, Peru is known as a country where the best Spanish is spoken. The local Quechua language is still alive among the people. The language is written in the Latin alphabet because Quechua had no written alphabet.
In Quechua, Peru means the “land of abundance.” Among its population of 29 million people, 45 percent are Amerindians, the indigenous people of Peru; 37 percent are mestizo, people of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry; and 15 percent are Europeans. There is also a significant minority from Africa, Japan and China, comprising 3 percent of the population. Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori is of Japanese descent. Most of the population follows Christianity. The number of Muslim believers is small. Out of the 29 million people in this country, only 600 are Muslims.

City center, Cuso
Although Lima is the current capital of Peru, the capital of the Inca Empire was Cusco. Cusco means “center of the world” in Quechua. It is one-hour flight from Lima. Those who travel from Lima, which is at sea level, to Cusco, which is 3,450 meters above sea level, may suffer from altitude sickness. The body may have difficulty in adapting to such a change in an hour. Therefore, visitors of Cusco are advised to spend some time resting once they arrive in the city.
The population of the Cusco region is about 5 million. The largest square in the city is called Wakaypata in Quechua, meaning the “crying sector.” Almost everywhere in the city is filled with tourists. Tourists get tired soon due to the city’s altitude as the breathing rate increases and the heart beats faster. This is normal for local people.
The historical features of the city have been preserved as much as possible. Traces of colonial times can still be felt in the architecture and the arrangement of the streets.
Stones, used in the construction of palaces and city walls in particular, clearly show how architecture developed in Incan times. Large, smooth stones, carefully slotted together, made quite strong structures. There are even stones with 12 corners. In a period when cement did not exist, buildings were made strong in this way.

Machu Picchu, Cusco
Some people earn a living taking photographs of people in Cusco’s square. Local people wearing traditional clothes come to the square with their dogs and goats and earn money by posing with tourists for photos. Those portraying Incan kings with their weapons and crowns attract more attention from tourists, who experience the thrill of taking a photo with an Incan king.

Cusco: A lively city

You can encounter many different activities and events as you stroll around the city. Festivals are a common sight: The streets of Cusco play host to festivals, which are held by different towns, almost all the time. Peruvians from different towns and cities keep their traditions alive with their traditional clothes and dances during these festivals. Both tourists and Peruvians are excited to witness these different cultures. Although it is known that there are many types of corn, purple corn is not well known. Purple corn is an agricultural product that can be found only in Cusco. Peruvians call it “mai morado.”
There are no legal obstacles to selling coca leaves, which is the raw material for cocaine, in Cusco. Thus, you can frequently find coca leaves in the markets of Cusco. Local people make tea out of these leaves or they chew them. Unfortunately, forests surrounding the city are destroyed to raise coca plants. Peru is the second largest cocaine producer in the world.
There are a lot of butcher’s shops where meat is sold outside. Slaughtered chickens are sold with their feet still attached. It is possible to see dozens of people waiting in the marketplace with their cell phones in their hands. These people make money by letting people who urgently need to use a telephone use their phones. People in need use their phones and pay them. This is one way to earn money here.

Capital: Lima
Official language: Spanish and Quechua
Government: Constitutional republic
President: Alan Garcia Perez
Area: 1,285,216 square kilometers
Population: 29,546,963*
Gross domestic product (PPP): $253 billion**
Main religions: Roman Catholic (81.3 percent), Evangelical (12.5 percent)

*July 2009 estimate
**2009 estimate
The most popular food is here is ceviche. In this quintessential dish of Peru, they use raw sliced fish marinated in lemon and lime. Sweet potatoes are also an essential part of Peruvian cuisine. Mai morado is the most popular beverage, which is made out of the juice of the purple corn. Sugar is added to the purple corn juice and left to sit for one day before being served. It is also served with pineapple or apple.
As the female population is greater than the male population, it is normal to see females in every business here. For example, traffic officers are mostly women.
Peru has many natural beauties. It also has a wealth in underground resources, including bronze, silver, gold, oil, natural gas and coal. Agriculture, fishing and logging have an important place in the country’s economy.
There is a Turkish Cultural Center in Lima, but there are only 20 Turks living in the country. The center holds events to bring Turkish people together with Peruvians. They gather at the center, eating desserts and chatting. There are even Peruvians who are trying to learn Turkish. As a result of the efforts of the Catarata Education Company, Turkish is taught as a foreign language at a state school in Peru.

Celebrations in Cusco

Celebrations in Cusco
06.05.2010 Travel Page

France and its world famous capital 'Paris'


France is one of the largest countries in Europe. It has a population of about 64 million, and its capital, Paris, is a three-hour, 40 minute plane ride from İstanbul..

One of the world’s five largest economies, France is not made up of European soil alone. Because of its colonial past, it still has territories in various regions of the world, including French Guiana, located in South America, Guadeloupe and Martinique, both located in the Caribbean Sea, and Réunion, located close to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
France is a Catholic country. Eighty-eight percent of the country is made up of Catholics, and the nation has, in the past, spread Catholicism. In schools they opened in various nations years ago, they taught their language, religion and culture to other peoples. Today, French is spoken in 49 countries by 160 million people; there are 15 Francophone countries in Africa alone. France is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
There are about 500,000 Turks in France, although some sources say this number may be as high as 600,000.
France is a country that has done very well promoting itself internationally. It has done an excellent job utilizing its tourism wealth. France hosts approximately 80 million tourists annually.
Home to 13 million
Paris is set on flat land and is home to 13 million people. It is one of the world’s most famous capitals. The streets of Paris are filled with tourists all year round, so much so that it becomes hard for one to run into the French on touristy streets. Paris alone hosts 30 million tourists each year.
The Eiffel Tower, which is a massive structure 324 meters high and weighing approximately 10,100 tons, was built between 1887 and 1889 by architect Gustave Eiffel. It has three levels for visitors. One can climb the first two levels; however, one must take an elevator to reach the third level. The highest level is 276 meters high, and the view of Paris from the top of the tower is quite exquisite. The long line of people waiting to visit the tower is truly a sight. On an average day, it takes about one to one-and-a-half hours to get into the tower for a fee of 13 euros. This fee changes according to the level you visit. Roughly 7 million people visit the tower each year, and the lines remain even in winter. Once up the tower, one can see the River Seine complete with tour boats full of people.
The architect who built the tower never thought the tower would have such a magnetic effect. The tower, which was initially seen as a pile of metal and said to ruin the esthetic of the city, is France’s most popular venue today and accommodates about 1,000 tourists at a time on all three levels.
The Arc de Triomphe is a monument left by French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte. The massive monument, which is 50 meters high, is located at the intersection of 12 streets. The Axe historique, where the arc is located, is home to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It costs nine euros to climb the Arc de Triomphe.
The Champs-Élysées is Paris’ most famous street. There are shopping districts, cafés and restaurants as well as nightclubs. This street, which is two kilometers long, never sleeps. It begins at the Arc de Triomphe and ends at the Place de la Concorde. Designer shops can be found on this street, and items are priced at fees that are sure to raise your eyebrows.
Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is one of Europe’s largest squares. The square, which is quiet nowadays, was once an area that witnessed very important events. Following the French Revolution, 119 people were beheaded in this square, including French King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.
There is an obelisk in the Place de la Concorde that is similar to the one found in Sultanahmet Square. It was brought from the tomb of Ramses II in Egypt. The obelisk has been there since the 19th century.
A garden called the Jardin du Luxembourg is located in the heart of Paris. It is a tranquil getaway for Parisians.
Notre Dame de Paris cathedral sits on the banks of the River Seine. This church has hosted the coronation ceremonies for many kings and queens as well as Napoleon.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a church that is located atop the summit of Montmartre. This hill is another wonderful location where one can get a great view of the city.
Paris, which has no connection to the sea, cherishes the River Seine. The Seine was so appreciated by Napoleon that he asked for his ashes to be sprinkled over it after his death. However, Napoleon’s request was not honored. Today the Seine is quite popular for boat tours. One-hour tours on the river, which divides the city into two, that cruise under the numerous bridges are another tourist must.
The Palace of Versailles is one of the largest palaces in Europe and another tourist magnet. The palace was built in 1168 by King Louis XIV and could host up to 20,000 people at once. However, this massive palace doesn’t have a single washroom, which tells us that there was no concept of indoor bathrooms in 17th-century France.
The Palace of Versailles, which was transformed from a small hunting mansion into a massive palace, is 25 kilometers from Paris. This large and glorious building is a sizeable structure. Its spacious garden contains bodies of water that would have allowed the king to take boat tours. Because the garden continues to receive a deluge of visitors, its maintenance is quite impressive. Visitors rent golf carts for the garden as it may prove to be too large to travel on foot for many.
This palace is the very location where Marie Antoinette uttered the famous sentence, “Let them eat cake,” in response to the population that was suffering from hunger and unable to find bread to eat.
Disneyland Paris, located 27 kilometers outside the capital, is another popular spot, particularly for children. It receives 13 million visitors a year.
Paris does an incredible job hosting its visitors. It’s possible to see traces of history in every corner of the city.
Jardin du Luxembourg
The Palace of Versailles
The Sacre-Cœur Basilica
The Champs-Elysees
Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral


Capital: Paris
Official language: French
Government: republic
President: Nicolas Sarkozy
Area: 643,427 square kilometers
Population: 64,057,792*
Gross domestic product (PPP): $2.11 trillion**
Main religions: Roman Catholic (83-88 percent), Protestant (2 percent), Muslim (5-10 percent), Jewish (1 percent).
*July 2009 estimate **2009 estimate
20.05.2010 Travel Page