Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Who knew?

Fun facts I learned at work today (off the speech section of the site, thank god). I'm assuming these are accurate facts since it's a government website, but on the other hand, they still have a listing for 'Serbia and Montenegro' so you never know.

  • About a fifth of the population of Estonia has no citizenship of any kind - descendants of Russian immigrants who can't pass the compulsory Estonian-language citizenship test and aren't Russian citizens either
  • All secondary schooling in Nigeria, Eritrea and Ethiopia takes place in English
  • Fewer than 60% of Columbians go to secondary school
  • About 45% of Ethiopians are Muslim and 40% Christian - but most Ethiopians of either religion don't eat pork
  • A Hungarian invented the ballpoint pen and the Rubik's cube (not, as far as I know, the same Hungarian)
  • Even kindergartens in Iran are single-sex: co-ed schools are banned
  • The poor state of schools in Liberia meant that families were often asked to provide materials including schooldesks for their kids (past tense?)
  • They have Old Believers in Lithuania too! (It's a Russian thing...)
  • Russian troops are still in Moldova despite it becoming independent from the USSR in 1991
  • Moldova is the poorest country in Europe (hampered by its widespread reputation as a made-up country methinks ha ha)
  • Nepal is the only officially Hindu state in the world
  • Urdu is the official language of Pakistan, despite being the native tongue of only 8% of its population
  • There are about 45,000 Roma in Portugal - not just an Eastern Europe thing huh. On the other hand, there are between 1.8 and 2.5 million Roma in Romania, the largest Roma population in Europe. (Unsurprisingly, I suppose - Romania - Roma...)
  • At the end of lower secondary education, Romanian pupils get a 'certificate of capacity' - are we sure that's translated correctly? "There's room for 12 litres of learning in this one, sir"
  • The female literacy rate in Sierra Leone is just 18%, ouch!
  • Slovenians apparently speak 'Slovene' (not, as I would have guessed, Slovenian)
  • Turkish has letters like Old English 'eth' ð and 'thorn' þ cool
  • There used to be a sizeable community of Indians and Pakistanis in Uganda until they were expelled in 1972 (actually this I did already know)

And if you're thinking I'm not spending my time at work very productively, yeah you're right. On the upside though I edited about 135 pages of the site today, compared to about 60 yesterday (those speeches were hard!)


  1. Howdy.
    Actually, sad to say, Turkish does not use þ or ð. Turkish has 2 or 3 letters that often don't show up right in many browsers set to use Western European languages. Instead of the actual Turkish letters, for some reason þ and ð show up.
    It's downright sad, as I, for one, would love to see þ and ð make a comeback in English.

  2. Ah, it's Turkish's loss


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