When you’re in school, dates, details, facts, and equations fill your brain. Once you get that beloved diploma, though, most of that stuff falls out of your head like dried alphabet noodles.
I was creating a mailing list at work the other day and I had to add all the world’s countries as part of a dropdown menu. Of course, who doesn’t know where France and China are? Smaller countries like Laos and Thailand aren’t too bad either. But do you know where these countries lie?
Anguilla Belize Brunei Gabon Liechtenstein Belarus
Mauritius Micronesia Montserrat Malawi Togo
I imagine a lot of you do. I, on the other hand, barely know where Prairie du Chein, Wisconsin is (it’s in upper Wisconsin where the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers meet).
It gets worse.
I though Liechtenstein was a made up name from the movie “A Knights Tale.” And the Micronesia was an on-purpose play on the name Malaysia from the movie “Zoolander.”
I’ve spent too much time in front of the TV and not enough in an encyclopedia.
If I don’t have any idea where these countries (and more, believe me) are, I also don’t have any idea of their history, their culture, their arts and their food. Not that in the grand scheme of things I’m missing out on a whole new world of culture, but it makes me feel dumb that I AM so dumb at times.
Anguilla is a British overseas territory in the Caribbean. It is one of the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, lying east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and directly north of Saint Martin.
Belize is a country on the eastern coast of Central America. bordered on the north by Mexico, on the south and west by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea.
Brunei is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia.
Gabon is a sovereign state on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon is bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo on the east and south, and the Gulf of Guinea to the west.
Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the east and north. It has an area of just over 62 square miles.
Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest.
Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent
Micronesia – is a sub region of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a shared cultural history with two other island regions, Polynesia to the east and Melanesia to the south.
Montserrat is a Caribbean island—specifically in the Leeward Islands, which is part of the chain known as the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies.
Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west.
Togo is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea.
So there you go. Countries that watch sunrises and sunsets just as we do; people who work off the land, have families, create art, and live and die by the cosmic clock. Cultures so far away, so removed from our everyday life, that we don’t even know they exist.
At least I didn’t. Until now.
Wonder what they make for dinner in Micronesia?