Not everyone who has walked through the beautiful pueblos of Spain knows that the country is named after rabbits. Likewise, you may have revelled in the sun-kissed beaches of Maldives, not knowing that the natives called their place a garland of islands. A beautiful name for a beautiful place, really. In an awesomely nerdy project that indulges our interest in travel, the Australian company Credit Card Compare created a map with the literal meaning of all the country names in the world.
“Learning the etymology – the origin of words – of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favourite travel destinations and the people who first lived there,” the company says. Zooming in on continents and regions, from Europe to South America and Africa, the map offers a different perspective.
Varied reactions sprung up online, ranging from pure fascination to a personal need to verify the facts and study further, but one thing is for sure: the company’s research provides us with valuable insight to see the places we have been and the places we have yet to be in a new light.
“The interest has been enormous far beyond Australia because of some of the unexpected names. People are contacting us with their positive feedback and reasons for some corrections to one or two names. We plan to release even high-def downloads suitable for big poster-sized prints.”
A while ago, I wrote about the many different ways you can maximize your weekend. It could be difficult—though definitely not impossible!—to cram an exhilarating getaway in that two-day window. But sometimes, when you cannot go out there yet and travel, relaxing at home and making discoveries about the places you dream to explore could suffice. Make yourself a hot chocolate or a mojito, cozy up, and start with this map.
Solar farms are becoming a country staple. They exist in China, in the playful shape of a panda. You’ll also find them in the Middle East. What we haven’t seen is a solar farm from one continent hooked up to another. Now, a solar farm in Africa may be lighting up Europe.
Tunisia-based TuNur filed a request in the North African country to export 4.5 gigawatts of solar energy to Europe, enough to power 5 million homes or 7 million electric cars.
If my understanding is correct, we now have the technology to import power from other countries. Way to drop a bomb, TuNur! The project is also moving at a fast pace. By 2020, it will connect solar plants in Tunisia with Italy and France.
This link will form part of the EU’s Project of Common Interest plan, which funds infrastructure developments that benefit the EU as a whole.
Vital to the success of the project is cost — reducing rates per megawatt hour. That and a number of border disputes. Despite the struggle, supporters of the project remain hopeful for energy cooperation.
Being vegan isn’t simply a fashion statement, but a lifestyle and occasional healthy pick. If you haven’t caught on to the trend, it’s taking over schools and even TGI Fridays. In light of the recent “legume boom” studies have shown an increase in meat substitutes by 451% in just four years.
“The most active region was the United Kingdom, with a share of 19 % of total new legume-inclusive product launches in Europe, followed by France (14%) and Germany (13%),”
Where quantity rose, diversity followed, with markets boasting over 27,000 new products. To be perfectly honest, I can hardly name a dozen vegetables — quite the bummer for a vegetarian such as myself. But why legumes, in particular?
Legumes are more filling than meat, better for your waist and the planet. Consuming legumes is associated with a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, while being cheaper and requiring far less energy and water than meat.
Sure, vegetarianism is healthy, but it’s also environmentally responsible. If you can’t slash bacon from your daily menu, have a carrot. It won’t kill you.
When an endangered species is lucky enough to make a comeback, it isn’t usually without the help of two-legged friends. After all, it’s Kazakh activists bringing wild tigers into jungles after a 70-year absence. But for a lone pioneering wolf, its reemergence in Belgium after a century of silence is all its own doing.
“This increase in wolves numbers and distribution area is going quite rapidly. So it is not a matter of if wolves are coming to the Netherlands, and probably Belgium, but how fast. We have seen in recent weeks how fast they can go.” [said researcher Hugh Jansman.]
Despite a number of herding casualties, the wolf, nicknamed Naya, is a good sign for suffering populations. The number of packs roaming Germany is at 74 — measly but significantly more promising.
“Agricultural areas are being abandoned by people so they are re-wilding again, leaving lots of space for carnivores. The countryside is being abandoned by young people who are moving to the cities.”
Nomadic wolves are no threat to humans — in fact, they are repulsed by our very stench. It is simply pleasing to know that if the world isn’t ending for them, it may not be for us.
Since the UN drafted its resolution to allay plastic waste, various superpowers have been succeeding its proposal. Among the campaigners is the European Union, which hopes to produce materials that are fully recyclable by 2030.
“If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans … we have all the seen the images, whether you watch [the BBC’s] Blue Planet, whether you watch the beaches in Asian countries after storms.” [said Dutch diplomat Frans Timmermans.]
Bearing in mind that plastics take 500 years to break down, making them entirely reusable is a smart move. To kick off, the EU is looking to tax single-use plastics, aiming to recycle 55% of materials within 12 years. Versatile, recyclable product designs will help keep oceans comparatively unsoiled.
“More and more it is becoming a health problem because it is degrading, going to little chips, fish are eating it and it is coming back to our dinner table,” said European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen.
As Europe produces over 25 million tons of plastic waste a year, any start is a good start. The Blue Planet waits for no one.