Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Wednesday Quiz II:2 -- Asian Independence!


The Wednesday Quiz -- Season II -- Quiz 2

How the Asian Countries Got Their Independence Back

The Wednesday Quiz is a "closed-book" test of knowledge and intuition; please do not look up answers, ask others for help, or answer as a team.

Questions about the rules and the ~Fabulous Prizes~ are answered here.

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This week's Quiz is an is-it-or-isn't-it game. For each story of how an Asian country came to be,

Is It or Isn't It more or less the real story?

NOTE: Yes, difficult. The Isn'ts, for what it's worth, are pretty comprensively wrong.

1. Bhutan -- No one really knows much about the origins of this mountain kingdom, because most of its records were destroyed in a fire in 1827. There seems to have been some sort of local autonomy under the Mongol empires, and something approaching the current nation had evolved by the 16th Century.

2. Brunei -- The division of the island of Borneo into Dutch and French territories in the 18th Centuries left a small pocket on the north coast as a neutral zone. The Islamic community from the more densely populated south migrated to the area and declared an independent sultanate in 1851. Although a British protectorate from 1876 to 1897, Brunei has remained basically independent ever since, its export economy sustained by a territory that is almost entirely comprised of highly fertile agricultural land.

3. Hong Kong -- A former British trading outpost, this small island country became independent in 1958. Special diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, its neighbor to the north, has allowed it to thrive first as an industrial nation -- at one time, almost everything was "made in Hong Kong" -- and today as a financial and trading center.

4. Laos -- "Laos" is, significantly, the Vietnamese word for "West." When the French occupied "Indochina" in the Nineteenth Century, they drew a convenient colonial border down the Mekong River, the traditional heart of the Vietnamese nation. Although differences in language, culture, and history across that border were and are trivial, the line and the political entities it created have proven sadly durable. Laos gained its independence separately from Vietnam when French Indochina dissolved in 1962.

5. Malaysia -- Nothing like modern Malaysia existed until well after World War II. What had traditionally been a bunch of local kingdoms became, during the colonial era, a bunch of local colonies under the British Empire. The peninsular part of the country merged as the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and then merged with the various island bits in 1963 to form Malaysia.

6. Mongolia -- Long having been a poor and exploited area under Chinese control, Mongolia -- or at least some ambitious Mongolian leaders -- took advantage of instability in China to declare independence in 1911. The Chinese marched back in in 1919, but then, after White Russians began using Mongolia as a base in 1920, the Soviet Union re-established an independent Mongolia as a nice, cozy communist client state in 1921.

7. North Korea -- In the 20th Century, Korea was occupied as a virtual slave state by Imperial Japan. It was liberated after World War II by the Allied powers, who split the country into temporary administrative zones. Due to philosophical differences regarding the role of the state in a country's economy, however, the administrative zones hardened into separate countries which then endured a devastating war followed by a half century of mutual antagonism.

8. The Philippines -- Although the Philippines declared independence in 1898, the islands were simultaneously being sold by Spain to the United States for $20 million dollars after the Spanish-American War. The Philippine-American War ended with American control over the islands. During the 1930s, plans were made for a transition to independence, but these were disrupted, as were so many things, by the armies of Imperial Japan. After the war, the Philippines finally attained independence on July 4, 1946.

9. Singapore -- When Malaysia became a country in 1963, the island city of Singapore was part of it. But since the federal government of the new country was dominated by Malay nationalists, and Singapore's population is mostly ethnic Chinese, there were serious tensions from the get-go. Less than two years later, the Malaysian parliament voted to kick Singapore out of the country. Singapore set up a government and declared itself a country on August 9, 1965, one of the few instances in history of a country achieving independence involuntarily.

10. Thailand -- Originally the northern, mainland portion of the Dutch colony of Indonesia, the area that is now Thailand was largely ignored by a colonial administration centered in faraway "Batvia" (Jakarta). This created a power vacuum in which a coalition of regional leaders -- or warlords, depending on who you ask -- could eke out a more or less functional administration by the beginning of the 19th Century. After the obligatory Nineteenth Century period spent as a British protectorate, full independence was granted in 1881.

Submit your answers in the comments!

30 comments:

Elaine said...

1. Is
2. Isn't
3. Isn't
4. Is.
5. Is
6. Isn't
7. Isn't
8. Isn't
9. Is
10. Isn't (and I think you meant Batavia, although 'Batvia' sounds interestingly vampire-ish)

I haven't a clue about any of those items

The Calico Cat said...

They are all lies!

AKA - I know nothing about this subject - NOTHING. (Well I could probably place most of them on a map...)

Cartophiliac said...

1. isn't
2. isn't
3. isn't
4. isn't
5. is
6. is
7. is
8. is
9. isn't
10. isn't

La Gringissima said...

1. isn't
2. isn't
3. isn't
4. isn't
5. is
6. is
7. is
8. is
9. isn't
10. isn't

Elaine said...

A notable lack of agreement amongst respondents so far. Should have taken Calico Cat's route!

d said...

1 no
2 no
3 no
4 sure
5 sure
6 sure
7 sure
8 sure
9 no
10 no

Tom McGuffey said...

1. Yep
2. Yep
3. Nope
4. Nope
5. Yep
6. Yep
7. Nope
8. Yep
9. Nope
10. Nope

Elizabeth said...

1. Yes
2. No
3. No
4. Yes
5. Yes
6. No
7. Yes
8. Yes
9. No
10. No

Melissa said...

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

Total guesses all around. I got excited when I saw the title because I've been reading up on Indonesia to prepare for a business trip there, but it wasn't a question. :(

Rebel said...

10- ISN'T ... through some political wheeling & dealing, and a fair amount of good luck they were never colonized!

Score one factoid for a year & a half of living with cockroaches!

lamanyana said...

1 isn't
2 isn't? (no clue)
3 isn't
4 is
5 is
6 is
7 is
8 is
9 isn't
10 isn't

I'm only sure about a couple f those, though.

Rebel said...

1. no idea - is
2. no idea - isn't
3. Is. Although I thought it was a lot more recent than 1958.
4. Is? Although from the Thai perspective, the French drew a line through the side of the Thai nation.
5. Sure
6. sure
7. the second part sounds right but the first part sounds wrong - isn't
8. hmm... all the right players - Is
9. Isn't?

Aviatrix said...

This is awesome. I have almost no idea of any of it, but agree I should. My reasoning is included to amuse Michael, and to aid him in creating evenmore deceptive future stories.

1. ISN'T I know they are extremely isolationist, sell a lot of postage stamps, and that their national costume includes argyle socks, suggesting some cordial relations with the British. My gut says that this country has a long literary tradition, perhaps using the amazing Tibetan writing system, but it would have low overall literacy and it's history would be preserved in traditional poems and stories, not in paper records. No one loses their national history in a fire!

2. ISN'T I don't think Brunei is on Borneo.

3. IS As a former commonwealth country it has good relations with Canada.

4. IS Believable.

5. IS Believable.

6. ISN'T White Russians? Belorus is nowhere near Mongolia. How could you write a history of Mongolia without a reference to their history of conquest?

7. IS That's what happened in Berlin, so you've convinced me it happened in Korea, too.

8. IS I've never heard of the Philippine-American War, but the Americans have a lot of wars, too many for me to remember. They seem to have made up now.

9. IS I want to believe, because it's so funny.

10. ISN'T Thailand is an ancient kingdom, and I've never met citizens of a monarchy who were prouder of their king.

Aviatrix said...

A version of Balderdash where one asserts "facts" about countries instead of word definitions would be fun.

mrs.5000 said...

hoo boy.
1 yes
2 no
3 no
4 yes
5 yes
6 no
7 yes
8 no
9 no
10 no

Kadonkadonk said...

Unlike flags, I know I am not going to know any of these so I didn't even read past #1! Suckahs! These are all purely guesses based on absolutely nothing so let's see how well I do!
1 is
2 isn't
3 is
4 is
5 is
6 isn't
7 is
8 isn't
9 isn't
10 isn't

DrSchnell said...

1. is (mainly because M5K would have come up with a much more comprehensive line of BS if it were false!)
2. ain't
3. ain't (it's part of China since 1999, before that a British colony)
4. is
5. is
6. mmmm... White Russians.... I mean, is
7. is
8. ain't
9. is
10. ain't

Ben said...

Oh what the hell...

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

Nichim said...

1. Isn't
2. Is
3. Isn't
4. Isn't
5. Is
6. Isn't
7. Is. Or at least there's some reason the Koreans and the Japanese don't get along.
8. Isn't
9. Isn't
10. Isn't. Or at least that's not what I remember from the introduction to my Thai cookbook.

UnwiseOwl said...

Oh man...you'd think Australia's closeness to these nations would give me a head start..but I think I'm guesssing just as much as the yanks. Man, you guys are GOOD.
1. If any country was going to have all its records lost in a fire, it'd have to be a little one like Bhutan. True.
2. Hrmm...I wasn't aware that it was on Borneo...that name just means warfare to me, but the rest seems good. True.
3. I thought that it was now part of China, rather than being independent. The Brits leased it for 100 years. False.
4. Argh...not sure, but I'd always pegged Laos as more Thai than Vietnamese. False.
5. No idea. True.
6. The White Russian thing...I'm not convinced. False.
7. Argh, they were occupied, but I have no idea if it was a slave state. I'll say True.
8. Philippine-American War? I wish I could be confident that that didn't exist. False.
9. I dunno, man, only in Asia. True.
10. Nah...Siam changed into Thailand, didn't it? False.

Confidence...zero. Now to read what the clever people have said...

Michael5000 said...

Well, lessee...

1. Bhutan -- IS. If you are small and remote enough, you can apparently lose all your records in a fire.

2. Brunei -- NAH. Made it all up.

3. Hong Kong -- NO WAY. Remember, Britain lost its lease on Hong Kong in 1999? It became part of China? But so far, China has played nice with it?

4. Laos -- NO. Completely made it up.

5. Malaysia -- YES INDEED.

6. Mongolia -- YES. "White Russians" as in Belurussians are not necessarily the same as "White Russians" who fought the "Reds" in the Russian Civil War.

7. North Korea -- YES. That's not the way the Korean War is usually described, but it's accurate enough.

8. The Philippines -- TRUE. Isn't it funny how you never hear about the Philippine-American War? It sure seemed like a big deal to the Philippine freedom fighters, at the time.

9. Singapore -- IS. I couldn't have made up anything that weird.

10. Thailand -- ISN'T, right down to the spelling of Batavia.

Michael5000 said...

...which means that Carto, DrSchnell* and la gringa tie for first, with Elizabeth, d, the Unwise Owl, and Phineas close upon their heels. Well done!

Michael5000 said...

*I think the good Doctor might be on to something with his reasoning on question 1.

UnwiseOwl said...

Oh dear...two good weeks in a row.
You're sure to stuff it up with post-impressionist painters or something. I'll have you know that I bought a cheap "History of Wastern Art" the other day and am going to educate myself just to beat you and your quizzes. Just as soon as I get around to it.

Aviatrix said...

That's ridiculous. Even if every single scrap of paper and electronic record every created or passed through in Canada and ever exported from Canada were destroyed in a fire and then the ashes lost in an earthquake, we'd still know our frigging history! I'm sure Bhutan knows their history. They just aren't TELLING. They're isolationist that way.

UnwiseOwl said...

Possibly the fire didn't even happen, they're just using it as an excuse.
Chances are the Bhutanese are the modern-day descendants of the Atlanteans, living amongst us.

Michael5000 said...

Canada has a history?!?

{ducks}

La Gringissima said...

Aren't White Russians a tasty adult beverage?

Michael5000 said...

Is

UnwiseOwl said...

There are other things in Canadian history than ducks. It's just that the ducks are the most interesting bits. ;)