Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Thursday Quiz XIX

No matter where you live, it's

The Thursday Quiz!

The Thursday Quiz is, as always, a "Is It or Isn't It" game. From the list of twelve items, your job is to determine whether each IS or ISN'T a true example of the week's category.

Remember always the law of the land:
No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. The Thursday
Quiz is a POP quiz. Violators will owe a pound of flesh.
This Week's Category will put your internal atlas to the test:

Small Countries

Some of the following are bona fide independent countries, and the information presented about them is true. The others are NOT countries, and the information presented about this is a delicious brew of plausible untruth and devious misdirection. Your task is to identify which are honest-to-goodness, generally recognized sovereign countries.

Sorry there's so much text this week.

1. Benin. Independent since 1960. It's kind of sad that Benin is remarkable as a "model democracy" in Africa. It had the distinction among the sub-Saharan African countries (excepting South Africa) of having the first president to actually step down after losing an election – and this happened as recently as 1991. In 2006, the sitting president did not change the constitution to allow himself to run for another term; this was considered another triumph for the rule of law. Benin's 5%/year rate of economic growth sounds great! Unfortunately, since the population growth rate is also about 5%/year, progress is pretty limited.

2. Bermuda. Independent since 1892. Famous for the cheesy "Bermuda Triangle" mythology, Bermuda's position in the mid-Atlantic made it a important shipping point in the age of sail. The thriving warehousing and transportation sector boomed again in the early days of flight, when the country's international airport served as a stopover and refueling point for planes traveling between Europe and the Americas. The long economic decline resulting from the loss of this traffic after direct transatlantic flight became the norm has led to depopulation, a decline in standards of living, and chronic political instability.

3. Brunei. Independent since 1984. This sultanate no longer controls all of Borneo and half of the Philippine Islands, like it did in the 15th Century, but it still remains a good old-fashioned absolute monarchy. The royal line remains unbroken for over five centuries, a hundred years as a British protectorate notwithstanding. Oil and gas reserves give Brunei a very high GDP, and this has actually translated into a pretty good quality of life for most citizens. Best to keep your opinion of the Sultan tightly under wraps, though. Oh, and alcohol is illegal.

4. Equatorial Guinea. Independent since 1959. It's the smallest country in continental Africa in both size and population, and one of the few places on that continent where Spanish is the dominant language. Enormous oil reserves give Equatorial Guinea the second highest level of wealth per capita in the world by some measures, but with a vast portion of this money flowing directly to the spooky president and his pals, most citizens live in relative squalor.

5. Fiji. Independent since 1970. This Pacific island state may sound like paradise, but it has regularly been destabilized by military coups over the last two decades. This is perhaps a hazard that comes with having a powerful, active military. Stop snickering; Fiji's military expenditures are on a par with, say, Nicaragua and Tajikistan, countries with ten times its population.

6. French Guyana. Independent since 1989. Poor French Guyana. Despite having been independent for almost two decades, and despite perennially hostile relations with its former imperial power, it has not been possible for it to drop the "French" from its name – there is already a country named Guyana! Though most adults still speak French, new ties to Brazil and the United States are shown by the large numbers of children who are now being educated in Portuguese and English. Significantly, French Guyana has no currency of its own; it uses the U.S. dollar.

7. Greenland. Independent since 1963. After centuries as the much larger but much less populous colony of Iceland, Greenland petitioned successfully for independence during the wave of decolonization that followed World War II. In this case, though, sovereignty had more to do with economics than nationalism; full independence allowed Greenland fishermen rights to a larger swath of the great Grand Banks fisheries of the North Atlantic. Today, even with fishing in decline, Greenland prospers from a surprisingly robust tourist trade. Due to global warming, it has recently become agriculturally self-sufficient for the first time since the early Middle Ages.

8. Macedonia. Independent since 1991. One of the countries to emerge from the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia's biggest controversy has been its very name. Many ethnic Macedonians live in northern Greece, and the Greek state protested vehemently that having a country named "Macedonia" on its borders was both an insult to Greek Macedonians and a provocation to radical Greek Macedonian nationalists. Due to these protests, the country is recognized by the United Nations as "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." Greece would not allow the Macedonian delegation to be seated by "M" in the General Assembly (which is arranged alphabetically), and they themselves refused to be seated by "F" for "Former." The compromise? They are seated by "T," for "The." Next to Thailand.

9. Nauru. Independent since 1980. The smallest independent country on Earth, Nauru's economy was historically based on the mining of rich phosphate deposits from guano, or in other words seagull poop. This very lucrative source of income led to radical government and personal overspending and a near-total destruction of not only the island's 21 square kilometer land environment, but also much of the offshore marine ecology. With phosphate nearly tapped out, the future appears grim for Nauru. Unemployment already stands at 90%, as does another unhealthy product of the binge years: adult obesity.

10. Razjistan. Independent since 1991. When Razjistan was the first Central Asian province of the Soviet Union to declare its independence, western media heaped praise on the scrappy new country's national aspirations. Seventeen years later, this mountainous, semi-arid country is mired in a nightmarish totalitarian dictatorship. Officially, its level of wealth per capita is among the world's lowest, but off the record Razjistan is widely suspected of being the main source of uranium for Iran, its neighbor to the southwest. Some of the money from this illicit trade likely pays for the many heroic statues of the president-for-life that grace the boulevards of the capital.

11. Saint Pierre and Miquelon. Independent since 1947. The small island nation of Saint Pierre and Miquelon is not even shown on most American maps, which is surprising considering it is a North American country but understandable considering that its population is about 6000. Tucked just to the south of Newfoundland, this former French colony prospered after World War II due to its location on the North Atlantic fisheries. Modern "SPM" thrives by sale of geothermal electric power; it is also a leader (it its inevitably small way) in the development of wind energy technology.

12. St. Kitts and Nevis. Independent since 1983. The smallest of the many small Caribbean countries, St. Kitts and Nevis was until recently a British colony. Life there is by all accounts quite pleasant. The main economic base? Tourism. The biggest problem? Hurricanes.

Submit your answers by diplomatic pouch, or in the comments.

29 comments:

karmasartre said...

Hmm, I seem to remember getting boring postcards from ALL these places. I have never gotten one from Boring, Oregon, though. This will be difficult as they all seem plausible. Here goes nada...

1) Yes
2) No
3) Yes
4) Yes
5) Yes
6) No
7) Yes
8) No
9) No
10) No
11) No
12) Yes

Is Jack a country? I suddenly feel that I don't know it. However poor my score is, I will still be gratified with the results providing they include the fact that three of these countries have completed the application process to join the Axis of Evil, and all 12 are scheduled for future Survivor locations.

fingerstothebone said...

You ever notice what pops up when you click on the lock thing the upper right corner there? Yeah, look up there...I wonder what it all means?

1. OK, yes.
2. No, I don't think so.
3. Yes.
4. Yes, might as well.
5. Yes, see above.
6. Yes, see above too.
7. OK, yes, too.
8. Yes, except it seems like it just happened yesterday, and you're saying it happened in 1991...
9. Hmmm...no.
10. No.
11. Mmmm...no.
12. OK...yes.

As always, I wish I could say something witty about my inability to win punctuation marks, but pity, I'm just NOT THAT WAY.

Karin said...

1. Benin is
2. Bermuda isn't
3. Brunei is, but oil and a high
GDP, really? hmm...
4. Equatorial Guinea is
5. Fiji is
6. French Guyana is, but the US$,
really? hmm...
7. Greenland is, well, I thought
it was, but...maybe not.
8. Macedonia is
9. Nauru is...I swear I saw a
special on this.
10. Razjistan isn't
11. SPM isn't?
12. St. Kitts and Nevis is

fingerstothebone said...

Oops, I know there are no punctuation marks on Thursdays...

d said...

1y
2n
3y
4y
5y
6n
7y!
8n
9y
10n
11n
12y

ugh

Phineas said...

Note to self: don’t inadvertently offend Blythe this week.

Here goes:
1. Yes
2. Nope – Nice try, but they bow to the Queen
3. Yes.
4. Yes
5. Yes – Vijay Singh accounts for 13% of their GNP.
6. No – Vive la France. French Guyana – unfortunate coincidence that James “Jim-Bob” Jones established a utopian settlement for disenfranchised rednecks here in the “other Guyana”. Though frequent gunplay is the norm, they have yet to murder any US congressmen. To avoid confusion with the other Jonestown, the settlement was recently renamed to the French Guyana Beer and Gun Club.
7. Well dang. There’s always one really tough one thrown in. Iceland info wrong. But are they independent? Not sure. Because the Iceland part is wrong, gotta go with No.
8. Yes. Gotta love staunch national pride.
9. Yes. To quote Rex Parker: “Learned it from crosswords”.
10. No. But there’d be a killer flag if it were real.
11. Nope. “Remote French territories for $300 please, Alex.”
12. Yep. Been there. Nice place.

We OK Blythe?

missy said...

I am really loving being able to see the quiz and the comment box at the same time...

1. is
2. is not
3. is
4. is
5. is
6. is
7. is
8. is not
9. is
10. is not
11. is (are?) not
12. is (are?)

Rebel said...

You know... when you said "wordy" I thought you meant this would be a vocabulary quiz. I'm boycotting this quiz to protest your intentional misdirection! (Well... that and I really really really don't know the answers. =P)

Sandy said...

1. Benin Yes
2. Bermuda No (sure, it's there, but I'm claiming it isn't independent, because I need more "no"s, which is how one should always answer quizzes).
3. Brunei. Yes
4. Equatorial Guinea. No (again, I need another no)
5. Fiji. yes
6. French Guyana. Yes
7. Greenland. No
8. Macedonia. Yes
9. Nauru. Yes (watch, it'll turn out still to be a colony of some formerly powerful nation)
10. Razjistan. No, only because I've never heard of it. (another great test taking strategy)
11. St Pierre and Mignelon. No.
12. St Kitts and Nevis. Yes, lets says it's independent. And don't tell me it's actually two nations.

The [Cherry] Ride said...

OK, I'll bite:
1. No
2. Yes
3. Yes
4. Yes
5. Yes
6. Yes
7. No
8. No
9. No.
10. No
11. No
12. Yes

The [Cherry] Ride said...

OK, I'll bite:
1. No
2. Yes
3. Yes
4. Yes
5. Yes
6. Yes
7. No
8. No
9. No.
10. No
11. No
12. Yes

Kadonkadonk said...

Does anyone else hate quizzes? I'm such a dumb American, I've never even heard of some of those places...

mrs.5000 said...

All right. Here goes.
1 Benin, yes.
2 Bermuda? hmmm. No?
3 Brunei, yes.
4 Equatorial Guinea, yes.
5 Fiji? Sounds highly implausible. Yes.
6 French Guyana, yes.
7 Greenland. Still a Danish colony, I think. No.
8 Macedonia. Damn. 1991 sounds too early. And is it really independent? I love the UN story, though. No.
9 Nauru. I think we've visited this on some list of Smallest and Most Miserable Countries. Yes.
10 Razjistan. Completely plausible, except I've never heard of it. No.
11 St. Pierre and Miquelon. OK, good movie, The Widow of St. Pierre, but that doesn't make it the fourth country in North America. No.
12 St. Kitts and Nevis. Independent? What the hell. Yes.

Kadonkadonk said...

Ok, that's a lie. I like quizzes when I can show off how much I know about random and pointless topics. Are you going to have a quiz on sports teams or beer any time soon?

Rex Parker said...

I have no clue, but the following seems like Not Countries:

4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11

Mr. Shain said...

1. Y
2. N
3. Y
4. Y
5. Y
6. N
7. N (uhm, hello, it's totes danish)
8. Y
9. Y (i have no idea if this is even a country)
10. N
11. N
12. Y

Rebel said...

Beer Quiz! Beer Quiz!!

boo said...

1. Isn't
2. Is
3. Is
4. Isn't
5. Isn't
6. Is
7. Is
8. Is
9. Isn't
10. Isn't
11. Isn't
12. Is

Most were guesses. Eventually, I hope to remember all the answers and be ridiculously prepared for that travel pod game and the geography pie in Trivial Pursuit.

Michael5000 said...

Stop. Put down your pencil.

1. Benin -- Sure.
2. Bermuda -- Nope. British colony.
3. Brunei -- You betcha.
4. Equatorial Guinea -- Yep.
5. Fiji -- Yep.
6. French Guyana -- No way. It is not even a colony of France, technically, just a PART of France. Think Alaska.
7. Greenland -- A kinda-sorta self-governing territory of Denmark.
8. The FYR Macedonia. Yep. Crazy Greeks.
9. Nauru. 'Fraid so. Depressing as a death announcement on a tourist postcard, in my book.
10. Razjistan. Nope. There is a reason so few of you have heard of Razjistan, and that is that I made it up.
11. Saint Pierre and Miquelon. No, but the truth is equally odd: it is a tiny territory of France, population 6000, right up there by Newfoundland.
12. St. Kitts and Nevis. Yep.

The results were pretty surprising for me this week. I thought that Greenland and French Guyana were the gimmes, and many of you really struggled with them. Whereas, St. Kitts and Nevis? Brunei? I thought those were killers, but nobody even blinked at 'em.

Michael5000 said...


Our two top medalists from TQXVIII switch places this week.

Phineas takes top honors with the Gold Star, with a perfect 12/12. It is his second Gold, and his third star overall.

Mr. Shain, also with 12/12, takes the TQXIX Silver Star to join a Gold and a Blue already in his trophy case.

Karin returns to form with 10/12 to take the Blue Star, her third and her fifth star overall.

Three Green Stars this week, to d, Sandy, and the Queen of Green, Mrs.5000.

You can ponder over the triumphs and tribulations on the new L&TM5K Quiz Leaderboard!

marsha said...

I'm going to say that 9, 10 and 11 are not. But I'm not betting money on #9. It sounds just crazy enough to be true...

fingerstothebone said...

Oh yes, I blinked at St. Kitts and Nevis...but I blinked correctly, I guess.

d said...

isn't self-governing the same thing as independent? yes? no? i don't know. greenland is a confusing, messed up place.

Michael5000 said...



@karma: Oh, Razjistan would be a total shoo-in for the Axis o' Evil. If it only existed.

@fingers: "the lock thing"?

@Phineas: Don't blame yourself for Blythe sitting this one out. She comes and goes. She is like the wind.

@missy: Enabling the pop-up windows on this thing is turning out to be the single most popular thing I have ever done in my life. I'm a hero! Except, it was Rex's idea.

@Rebel: Fair enough. I should have said "long-winded."

@Sandy: Your dodgey quiz-taking strategies have served you well, Little Grasshopper....

@[Cherry]: Twice bitten, once shy, [Cherry] Ride.

@Kadonkadonk: You haven't heard of Razjistan? Dummy. By the way, I keep wondering if you know my sister and/or nieces, who live in Juneau. Do you remember anybody named 5000?

Also@Kadonkadonk: Tragically, I pre-empted a sports-themed category for the MQ when I got the Flags idea last week. And look how popular THAT turned out to be. But yes, there will be a sports topic eventually. I'll see what I can do on the beer front.

@marsha: If you are, like, my dear friend Marsha, let me just say that I am FLOORED that you would take a shot at the quiz. Even if you were an hour late.

@d: "isn't self-governing the same thing as independent? yes? no?" Oi, dangerous to ask those questions of someone who used to teach Political Geography. Here goes: questions of autonomy resist exact definition; like plumbing, this kind of thing is a practical science. To be "self-governing" implies basic authority over day-to-day internal affairs, but under the protection, sponsorship, final authority, and/or thumb of a larger entity. The State of Colorado could be (although it wouldn't ordinarily be) described as "self-governing"; the U.S. answers (in theory) to no greater power and is thus independent/sovereign/autonomous. The government of Greenland likely (I don't know the details) takes care of administering justice, land policy, roads, that sort of thing, but probably doesn't get too involved in defense, international relations, or monetary policy. All of that fancy stuff will get handled by Copenhagen. When you hear "self-governing," think "on a long leash." But the leash is still there.

Oh, and I still haven't figured out how I dissed you in the Monday Quiz....

Mr. Shain said...

silver?!?! i'm outraged.

Michael5000 said...

To the swift, Mr. Shain.

Phineas said...

Much oblaahhged, Mistuh 5000, suh.

Drink are on the house at the French Guyana Beer and Gun Club until next week's TQ.

karmasartre said...

Is it OK to whine? I think I got nine / twelve correct, surely that must be good for a cent-sign or something...or can I not count?

fingerstothebone said...

About the lock thing, I just realized that it must be a safari thing...yup, just checked on Explorer and there ain't no little lock there. So never mind.