15 Surprising Facts About Countries

Posted Jun 02, by Val Liarikos

Oh, name-based irony. You never fail to amuse.

Until 1979, Greenland was part of Denmark as a colony and had limited autonomy. Since 1979, Greenland has tried to develop more autonomy and has attempted to be recognized as an actual nation. One of the ways it has tried to do this is through sports.

The Greenlandic Federation of tae kwon do, badminton, handball, volleyball, biathlon, and table tennis have gained full membership into the International Federation.

However, the same can't be said for soccer. Apparently Greenland isn't green enough to be part of FIFA. Executives claims that the lack of proper grass and the weather conditions of the country make it unsuitable to play and practice soccer in, and therefore it cannot grant Greenland entry into FIFA.


We’ve mentioned before how there were a lot of competitions in the Olympics that would seem weird to us now. One of them was an Olympic painting competition. That’s why John Butler Yeats holds the rare honor of being Irelands first ever Olympic medalist, soon after the creation of the Irish Free State.

Yeats was an artist interested in painting, theater and literature. He helped illustrate books for other authors and wrote plays for some theaters. He competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. His painting called The Liffey Swim won a silver medal in the arts and culture segments.


It’s probably no surprise to you that Japan has some of the busiest train stations in the world. You’ve probably all seen videos showing Japanese ushers pushing people onto trains so that the doors can close. In fact, Japan has 82 of the 100 busiest train stations in the world!

However, despite that congestion, Japan still has some of the most efficient and fast public transportation systems in the world. In the busiest station in the world, for example, trains stop every 2 minutes, and stop for just 40 seconds at a time.

The first country other than Japan to make the list is France. The Paris Nord station comes in at number 24! Check out the source to see the full list and check out this video of a Japanese train station below.


The United States should take a lesson from Norway! There, 99% of all energy produced is renewable and clean, due to the country’s use of hydropower. Hydropower is power derived from the energy of falling water. Other clean sources of energy that are being experimented with are wind power and wave power.

What makes hydropower renewable? Renewable energy is energy that comes from sources that are continually replenished, such as sun, wind, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Using hydropower as an energy source is “green” because it doesn’t use un-renewable resources such as oil which have potential to harm the environment.

The renewable energy movement is gaining worldwide attention, with new legislation mandating it's use. Government support and rising oil prices are also catalysts to encourage the use of renewable energy sources.


After Singapore gained independence from the British Empire in 1965, there was a surge in foreign direct investment, and the state led a strong drive for industrialization that ended up creating a modern economy.

They have the second freest economy in the world and are experts at trading. Singapore is the 14th largest exporter and 15th largest importer in the world. They also have the highest trade-to-GDP ratio at 409.7% and is the only Asian country to have a AAA rating right now.

All this success means that a lot of people became really rich. So rich, in fact, that in Singapore 1 out of every 6 households has $1 million or more in disposable income, the highest ratio in the world!


There is actually a medical term for having a unibrow called synophrys. In the West, the unibrow is considered very unattractive and becomes the brunt of the joke. In Tajikistan, a small Asian country, the unibrow is celebrated in full.

Women and girls let their unibrow grow thick. It is considered highly attractive on them. Those who can’t grow a unibrow naturally will use an herbal remedy to fake it. Usma, a leafy green herb, is sold in all Tajik markets. You can get a small bunch for about six cents.

The process is simple but effective. Take a bunch of usma and let it dry in the sun for a couple hours, and then grind up the leaves until a dark green goo seeps out. Dip a branch of usma, or a matchstick into the goo and smear it on your eyebrows, making sure, of course, to color the space in between.

Leave on for 15 minutes, and repeat the smearing process one or two more times. The result is a deep black unibrow, rich and expressive. What women do for beauty.


An amazing discovery was made at a research clinic in Nairobi in the 1980s. While scientists were studying the outbreak of HIV and AIDS among the country's citizens, they came upon a group of female prostitutes.

These women who should have been the most susceptible to HIV consistently tested negative for HIV over the years.

It turned out that this small percent of women coming into the clinic, about 5%, had somehow developed an immunity to HIV. Their immune systems were able to recognize and then kill HIV. This was a remarkable discovery.

Scientists ruled out the possibility of these women simply being extremely lucky by looking at the statistics. They found that most of the women had had between 500-2,000 unprotected sexual encounters with infected men.

In fact, the scientists found that the longer a woman had been a prostitute, the less likely that she would be infected with HIV/AIDS.


If you’re anything like me, one of the reasons the concept of marriage seems like a terrifying beast is because it entails sharing your bedroom with someone else. And for those of us who need their space with a capital N, but fear abandonment with a capital F, this is an anxiety-inducing prospect.

But fear not, because an article from Canadian Health suggests that having two different bedrooms can actually bring you two together.In Canada, 1,700 married couples (that is, one third of the country) have separate bedrooms. Surveys have shown that these couples are more satisfied with their sleep than couples who share a bed.

This is understandable- having your own bed means not listening to another person snoring, not being kicked in the face every 5 seconds, twisted and turning and your leisure, etc. If the sentiment behind the dual-bedrooms isn’t resentful, it can actually lead to better rested individuals and thus happier couples.


Do you ever have to stop and think what time it is in a certain part of the country before calling someone? (Californians, better not call Grandma in New York after 7:00 p.m.!) Add the “spring forward / fall back” stuff and it’s no wonder we’re confused all the time.

Well, if you live in China, it’s a whole lot easier for you. Although the country is so huge that it spans over 5 time zones, all of China operates on one standard time called Beijing Time.

Since 1949, all of China has officially used Beijing time, which is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. But, that’s where the simple stuff ends. The time is referred to by different names in all different parts of the world.

In mainland China it’s called Beijing Time. Internationally it’s referred to as China Standard Time. In Hong Kong it’s Hong Kong Time. In Macau it’s Macau Standard Time, and in Taiwan it’s National Standard Time.

So, if you need to call your grandma in China, it should be a bit easier for you after reading this fact. Just look at your watch and figure out what time zone you’re in. Then add or subtract to convert that time to Greenwich Mean Time. Finally, just add 8. See? (Or, you could just open up your World Clock app, but where’s the fun in that?)


The Jewish people that had escaped from Germany had nowhere to turn, because most countries were unwilling to take in so many refugees. Dominican Republic however, offered to take in 100,000 Jews, but why?

Rafael Trujillo, a Dominican Republic leader, wanted Western Nations to forget the fact that he had massacred 25,000 of his own citizens in 1937 – the year before he offered to take in so many refugees.

Rafael Trujillo is also believed to have wanted his countries inhabitants to have ‘whiter’ skin, and believed the refugees would come to his country and marry the women and produce lighter skinned children – and they did.

Only 5,000 Jews accepted visas to go to the Dominican Republic, and of those 5,000 visas that were given out, only 645 Jews actually made it to the Dominican Republic. The Jews that did make it were given 80 acres of farm land, 10 cows, a mule and a horse.

Many of the refugees that decided to stay in the Dominican Republic have become extremely wealthy! Click the source to learn this story’s happy endings.


Ladonia is a micronation located entirely inside the natural reserve Kullarberg in southern Sweden. Founded in 1996, it boasts over 15,000 citizens from over 50 countries. However, none of them live there.

Like other micronations, this one has a few quirks. Ladonia is ruled by both a Queen(who rules for life) and a President (who rules for three years). All voting is conducted through the Internet.

The tiny country has two national anthems. One sounds just like you would expect an anthem to sound. The other, however, is just the sound of a rock being thrown into the water. Why is this so quirky?

Ladonia was the result of a legal battle between the Swedish government and an artist. The artist had built some sculptures in a far to reach place inside the Kullarberg reserve. When the government found them, they said they were forbidden buildings and wanted to tear them down.

The case went to court and the government won. However, the artist declared the foundation of the tiny 1sqkm nation of Ladonia in response.

Read the source to learn more about Ladonia

In the largest state in India, Rajasthan, authorities are giving its citizens sterilization incentives. They’ve begun a lottery system. Everyone who got sterilized between certain dates was entered into a lottery to win prizes. They were falling below their wanted projections of 21,000 sterilizations per year. The country fears of the projections of future population and that they could even succeed China. So, the lottery had TVs, food processors, motorcycles, and even a car!

The grand prize was a Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car at $3,000. In the end, the lottery was open to people outside of the state of Rajasthan. They hoped to get 6,000 people sterilized through the lottery. While authorities claimed they did not receive any complaints about the campaign, family planning advocates from the non-profit Population Foundation of India were not happy with the plan, they said the lottery amounted to coercion by a different name.


Bir Tawil is a strip of land between Egypt and Sudan that is not claimed by either country. It covers an area of 2,060 square kilometers and has a quadrilateral shape. It exists because of a border misunderstanding. In 1899, when they still had power over the area, the United Kingdom set the border between Sudan and Egypt at the 22nd parallel. However, in 1902, they set a different administrative boundary, which placed a triangle of land above the 22nd parallel under Sudanese control.

Egypt claims the original border of 1899 while Sudan claims the one from 1902. As such, Bir Tawil technically belongs to neither of them because there is not basis in international law for either to claim it. And it would be nearly impossible for a third state to claim it as the only way to the land is through Egypt or Sudan. Bir Tawil, therefore, is one of only a few land areas not claimed by a country.


Britain has four Trident submarines and at least one is deployed at all times in the Atlantic lurking about. The Trident submarines are Britain’s nuclear deterrent plan. The idea is simple: if something happens to the motherland, the Trident submarine will rain hell down on the country that caused the disruption. The submarines carry more destruction on board than the entire WWII campaign combined.

In case of a nuclear attack on England, each submarine has a letter that is only to be opened in such a situation. Two men are required to carry out the contents of the letter. The information is relayed back to Whitehall where the Prime Minister’s decision to fire would take place.

The whole thing is set up and working like a well-oiled machine, ready to protect the country at all times. The submarines are sleek, quiet, and undetected under the cover of the deep Atlantic Ocean.


The name Kim Il-Sung might not ring a bell for you. Kim Il-sung was leader of North Korea from 1948 (its establishment) until his death in 1994. He was Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972, and President afterwords. Though since 1994 he’s been regarded as “Eternal President,” the leadership duties (primarily of the military) were taken over by first his son, Kim Jong-il, and more recently his grandson, Kim Jong-un.

Kim Il-Sung passed away on 8 July 1994 from a sudden heart attack. A ten day mourning period was declared by Kim Jong-il, and the body was preserved and embalmed under a glass coffin in a public mausoleum at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

After Kim Il-sung’s death, the North Korean constitution was amended to make him the country’s “Eternal President.” Officially, he is referred to as The Great Leader. His birthday is also a public holiday in North Korea.


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