Friday, August 27, 2004

Afghanistan

Afghanistan. Frederick Engels' view of the country in 1857. Includes a map and commentary. This is an interesting read.

From the site:

Afghanistan, an extensive country of Asia, north-west of India. It lies between Persia and the Indies, and in the other direction between the Hindu Kush and the Indian Ocean. It formerly included the Persian provinces of Khorassan and Kohistan, together with Herat, Beluchistan, Cashmere, and Sinde, and a considerable part of the Punjab. In its present limits there are probably not more than 4,000,000 inhabitants. The surface of Afghanistan is very irregular, — lofty table lands, vast mountains, deep valleys, and ravines. Like all mountainous tropical countries it presents every variety of climate. In the Hindu Kush, the snow lies all the year on the lofty summits, while in the valleys the thermometer ranges up to 130°. The heat is greater in the eastern than in the western parts, but the climate is generally cooler than that of India; and although the alternations of temperature between summer and winter, or day and night, are very great, the country is generally healthy. The principal diseases are fevers, catarrhs, and ophthalmia. Occasionally the small-pox is destructive. The soil is of exuberant fertility. Date palms flourish in the oases of the sandy wastes; the sugar cane and cotton in the warm valleys; and European fruits and vegetables grow luxuriantly on the hill-side terraces up to a level of 6,000 or 7,000 feet. The mountains are clothed with noble forests, which are frequented by bears, wolves, and foxes, while the lion, the leopard, and the tiger, are found in districts congenial to their habits. The animals useful to mankind are not wanting. There is a fine variety of sheep of the Persian or large-tailed breed. The horses are of good size and blood. The camel and ass are used as beasts of burthen, and goats, dogs, and cats, are to be found in great numbers. Beside the Hindu Kush, which is a continuation of the Himalayas, there is a mountain chain called the Solyman mountain, on the south-west; and between Afghanistan and Balkh, there is a chain known as the Paropamisan range, very little information concerning which has, however, reached Europe. The rivers are few in number; the Helmund and the Kabul are the most important. These take their rise in the Hindu Kush, the Kabul flowing cast and falling into the Indus near Attock; the Helmund flowing west through the district of Seiestan and falling into the lake of Zurrah. The Helmund has the peculiarity of overflowing its banks annually like the Nile, bringing fertility to the soil, which, beyond the limit of the inundation, is sandy desert. The principal cities of Afghanistan are Kabul, the capital, Ghuznee, Peshawer, and Kandahar. Kabul is a fine town, lat. 34° 10’ N. long. 60° 43’ E., on the river of the same name. The buildings are of wood, neat and commodious, and the town being surrounded with fine gardens, has a very pleasing aspect. It is environed with villages, and is in the midst of a large plain encircled with low hills. The tomb of the emperor Baber is its chief monument. Peshawer is a large city, with a population estimated at 100,000. Ghuznee, a city of ancient renown, once the capital of the great sultan Mahmoud, has fallen from its great estate and is now a poor place. Near it is Mahmoud’s tomb. Kandahar was founded as recently as 1754. It is on the site of an ancient city. It was for a few years the -capital; but in 1774 the seat of government was removed to Kabul. It is believed to contain 100,000 inhabitants. Near the city is the tomb of Shah Ahmed, the founder of the city, an asylum so sacred that even the king may not remove a criminal who has taken refuge within its walls.

The geographical position of Afghanistan, and the peculiar character of the people, invest the country with a political importance that can scarcely be over-estimated in the affairs of Central Asia. The government is a monarchy, but the king’s authority over his high-spirited and turbulent subjects, is personal and very uncertain. The kingdom is divided into provinces, each superintended by a representative of the sovereign, who collects the revenue and remits it to the capital.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

History of Bolivia

History of Bolivia. This is a short history of Bolivia. It includes information from the Tiwanakan culture to President Carlos Mesa.

From the site:

The Andean region probably has been inhabited for some 20,000 years. Beginning about the 2d century B.C., the Tiwanakan culture developed at the southern end of Lake Titicaca. This culture, centered around and named for the great city of Tiwanaku, developed advanced architectural and agricultural techniques before it disappeared around 1200 A.D., probably because of extended drought. Roughly contemporaneous with the Tiwanakan culture, the Moxos in the eastern lowlands and the Mollos north of present-day La Paz also developed advanced agricultural societies that had dissipated by the 13th century of our era. In about 1450, the Quechua-speaking Incas entered the area of modern highland Bolivia and added it to their empire. They controlled the area until the Spanish conquest in 1525.

During most of the Spanish colonial period, this territory was called "Upper Peru" or "Charcas" and was under the authority of the Viceroy of Lima. Local government came from the Audiencia de Charcas located in Chuquisaca (La Plata--modern Sucre). Bolivian silver mines produced much of the Spanish empire's wealth, and Potosi, site of the famed Cerro Rico--"Rich Mountain"--was, for many years, the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. As Spanish royal authority weakened during the Napoleonic wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew. Independence was proclaimed in 1809, but 16 years of struggle followed before the establishment of the republic, named for Simon Bolivar, on August 6, 1825.

Independence did not bring stability. For nearly 60 years, coups and short-lived constitutions dominated Bolivian politics. Bolivia's weakness was demonstrated during the War of the Pacific (1879-83), when it lost its seacoast and the adjoining rich nitrate fields to Chile.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Teaching about the Pacific Rim

Teaching about the Pacific Rim. This is an essay which explores ways that teachers can instruct American students about the Pacific Rim. This includes advice on teaching Pacific history.

From the site:

Emphasize the realities of social change. Jiro Tokuyama points out in the WHOLE PACIFIC CATALOG that, "History's biggest changes are generally hardest to perceive. The Egyptians in the ancient times were not aware of the emerging Phoenicians, who, engrossed in commerce and trade, paid little attention to the rise of the Greeks and Romans, who in turn were ignorant of the Portuguese and the Spanish on the Iberian Peninsula." Tokuyama continues: "The Spanish did not realize the potential power of Great Britain, which was not far-sighted enough to see the United States taking shape in the tobacco and cotton fields on the new continent. This lesson of history teaches us to open our eyes to the changes taking place right before us in the Pacific."

The study of ethics can provide clues to Asian cultures. Too often a discussion of the Pacific Rim revolves around economic issues rather than societal values. Frank Givney, President of the Pacific Basin Institute, argues that it is a mistake to cast the whole relationship in terms of business. For example, he urges us not to simply copy Japanese styles of management but to understand the Confucian and Buddhist cultures that have been the foundation of these skills. Comparing these values, and their relationship to the work force, provides an opportunity for American students to question their own patterns of behavior and examine societies that are organized quite differently.

Use studies of modernization and change in Pacific societies to provide insights into global change. Today there are historical as well as temporal time zones in the Pacific, with nations in various stages of technological development. According to Gibney, the hallmarks of the Pacific Basin that have evolved over the past 25 years are the transistor, semiconductors, television, and the jet aircraft. These changes have propelled some countries on a course of modernization and in some cases, Westernization, that few could have predicted. Studying these changes is especially critical for American students facing a future with high-level technology and fast-paced change.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

James Garfield

James Garfield. This is a short and well written biography of American President Garfield.

From the site:

James Abram Garfield ( November 19 , 1831 - September 19 , 1881 ) was the 20th ( 1881 ) President of the United States , the first left-handed President, and the second U.S. President to be assassinated .

He was born in Orange , Cuyahoga County, Ohio , southeast of Cleveland . He was named for his older brother James Ballou Garfield, who died in infancy, and his father, Abram Garfield. His father died in 1833 , when James Abram was 18 months old, and he grew up cared for by his mother and an uncle.

From 1851 - 1854 he attended the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later named Hiram College ) in Hiram, Ohio . He then transferred to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts , from which he graduated in 1856 , as an outstanding student who enjoyed all subjects except chemistry . He then taught at the Eclectic Institute. He was an instructor in classical languages for the 1856 - 1857 year, and was made president of the Institute from 1857 to 1860 .

On November 11 , 1858 , he married Lucretia Randolph. They had five children. A son, James Rudolph Garfield, followed him into politics and became Secretary of the Interior under Theodore Roosevelt .

Monday, August 23, 2004

Wikinfo - Louisiana Purchase

Wikinfo - Louisiana Purchase. This is the Wikinfo entry for the Louisiana Purchase.

From the site:

In the Louisiana Purchase the United States acquired more than 2,000,000 km2 (800,000 square miles) of territory from France in 1803 for less than $20 million. The French territory of Louisiana included far more land than just the current US State of Louisiana; the lands purchased contained parts or all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota west of the Mississippi River, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, nearly all of Kansas, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Rocky Mountains, and Louisiana on both sides of the Mississippi River including the city of New Orleans.

History

In 1802, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson wanted to purchase New Orleans. The city of New Orleans controlled the Mississippi River, which was already important for shipping goods to and from the parts of the USA west of the Appalachian Mountains. Through a treaty with Spain, American merchants had "right of deposit" in New Orleans, meaning they could use the port for their goods. Napoleon Bonaparte returned Louisiana to French control from Spain (Louisiana had been a colony of Spain since 1762). Americans were fearful that they would lose their rights of use to New Orleans. The Jefferson administration decided that the best way to assure long term access to the Mississippi would be to purchase the city of New Orleans and the nearby portions of Louisiana east of the Mississippi. Jefferson sent James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston to Paris to negotiate such a purchase.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

History of Fiji

History of Fiji. This is a brief history of Fiji.

From the site:

Melanesian and Polynesian peoples settled the Fijian islands some 3,500 years ago. European traders and missionaries arrived in the first half of the 19th century, and the resulting disruption led to increasingly serious wars among the native Fijian confederacies. One Ratu (chief), Cakobau, gained limited control over the western islands by the 1850s, but the continuing unrest led him and a convention of chiefs to cede Fiji unconditionally to the British in 1874.

The pattern of colonialism in Fiji during the following century was similar to that in many other British possessions: the pacification of the countryside, the spread of plantation agriculture, and the introduction of Indian indentured labor. Many traditional institutions, including the system of communal land ownership, were maintained.

Fiji soldiers fought alongside the Allies in the Second World War, gaining a fine reputation in the tough Solomon Islands campaign. The United States and other Allied countries maintained military installations in Fiji during the war, but Fiji itself never came under attack.