Category: Territories

The United Nations has its headquarter in New York. It has extraterritoriality status, meaning it is not ruled by the laws of the United States. In a smart move, the famously rich Rockefeller Family had gifted the building site. Proximity is influence. The headquarters is a joint design of a group of architects based on two competing proposals by the French architect Le Corbusier and the Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer. […]

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Easter Island is small. Shaped like a triangle it is about 25 kilometres long and 13 kilometres wide at a maximum. At 163,6 square kilometres it is about the same size as the country of Liechtenstein. But unlike Liechtenstein, which sits right in the middle of Europe with connections in all directions, Easter Island is one of the most remote places on earth. The nearest inhabited land with around 50 residents is Pitcairn Island, 2,075 kilometres away; the nearest town with a population over 500 is Rikitea in French Polynesia that is 2,606 kilometres away; The nearest point in Chile, to which Easter Island belongs, is 3,512 kilometres away. […]

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Fully integrated into France, Guiana is also part of the European Union (we stretch far!). French Guiana is the richest corner of South America and one driver of the economy is the Guiana Space Centre. The earth rotates around its axis within 24 hours. The speed at which we move is determined by the distance we have to earth’s rotational axis. At the poles this distance is non-existent but gradually rises until the equator. In southern Germany earth rotates at a speed of 1,125 km per hour, at the equator that speed rises to 1,670 km/h (40,000 km circumference divided by 24 hours). We do not realize this movement as our atmosphere moves at the same speed. But for a rocket, that leaves our atmosphere, that makes a difference. […]

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It is easy to recognize Curaçao from the air. A flat island with a massive harbour, basically an inland sea called Schottegat. It does not look beautiful as this inland sea is home to a big refinery of Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA. Curaçao is considered as a part of the Caribbean but geologically it is already part of South America. Politically, it gets a bit complicated, Curaçao is in fact one of the four constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The other constituents are nearby Aruba, still-Caribbean Sint Maarten and the Netherlands proper. On paper, the four parts are equal but in real life the Netherlands (98% of the population and area) seems to be more equal than others. […]

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I take a shared taxi to Saint-Pierre, formerly the biggest and most important city on the island. In 1902, the people thought a valley would save them from the lava flows of the erupting Mount Pelée. They didn’t know the concept of a pyroclastic flow that would just traverse the valley. When the flow came, nearly 30.000 people died and the sole survivor (at least this is how the story goes) was the prisoner Ludger Sylbaris. He had to spend the night in an underground dungeon that proved to be the only secure place in town. […]

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I arrive on Montserrat with the small boat from Saint John’s in Antigua. It is dark when we arrive but my bed is ready, I had made a reservation. Montserrat is an internally self-governing British Overseas Territory and in this way a remnant of the British Empire. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and appoints a Governor as her representative. Executive power though, rests with the Montserrat government. The links to Britain are more important if it comes to foreign relations and defence, or in case of Montserrat being struck by a natural disaster. […]

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I visited Nagorno-Karabakh in May 2010 together with my friend Julia on a short visit coming from Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory that is disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, in fact the power of government is exercised by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (today the Republic of Artsakh), a de facto independent state with a population of Armenian ethnicity. This is the outcome of a bloody war fought from 1992 to 1994. No UN member state recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh. […]

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