Tag Archives: country

Books that describe the histories and the cultures of countries

2017-07-24

In many countries, a book or a set of books, like a trilogy, become so important for the nation that it is regarded as a work that defines the nation. Often, a folklore or a compilation of sagas written into a book form can become such a book. Works from the 20th century or even more recent books can also be important for a nation, although it takes time to tell if a book becomes a classic and culturally important work.

Global English Editing has collected iconic books sets from 150 countries across the world that describe the culture and history of the nations. It must have been a lot of work to identify the masterpieces for each country, so once you have viewed the infographic, take a look at individual book descriptions as well.

For many countries, choosing a classic has been a perfect choice, but in some cases, choosing a recent best-seller to represent a country may raise eyebrows in the literature circles of the country.

For instance, Leo Tolstoi’s War and Peace, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are choices most people will agree with. But how about Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as the iconic book for Sweden?

In any case, it is wonderful to see such a large selection of good reading from around the world. Read all of these books and become a person who understands much more about the world. The Most Iconic Books Set infographic by courtesy of: Global English Editing.

iconic books set infographic by  Global English Editing

Which book to read before visiting a new country that has different culture than yours?

2017-07-07

Planning a visit to a country where you haven’t been before often starts with research. Many travelers purchase a guidebook, some tourists search the Internet for tips. Usually, people are looking for reliable information to help plan the trip. Fictional books may also help because they can give insight on the culture and customs of a country.

Ambassadors of 22 countries have given their recommendations which books can give cultural tips for visitors. Based on the books ambassadors have chosen and their descriptions, the most peculiar titles are from Bhutan, Finland, Germany and New Zealand.

Here are the ambassadors’ recommended books to read before the first visit to these 22 countries.

    Austria: The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Vienna in 1937.

    Azerbaijan: Ali and Nino, by Kurban Said. Love story set in Baku in 1918 to 1920.
    book cover: portrait of bhutan
    Belgium: War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. A period in Belgium’s history.

    Bhutan: Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. A personal memoir combined with folklore, and even a portrait of the Himalayan kingdom.

    Canada: With Faith and Goodwill: 150 years of Canada-U.S. Friendship, edited by Arthur Milnes. Collection of speeches, photographs and essays.

    Chile: La Casa de Los Espíritus by Isabel Allende. Family mingled with political issues of the 1970s.
    book cover: moomin, mymble, my
    Colombia: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. A classic.

    Denmark: Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. Fictional mystery set in Copenhagen.

    Estonia: The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk. Alternative history.

    Finland: The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson. A classic.

    Germany: Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf. 14-year-old boys on a road trip.

    Greece: Freedom and Death by Nikos Kazantzakis. Cretans against the Ottoman Empire in 1889.
    book cover: tschick, germany
    Iceland: Independent People by Halldor Laxness. Sheep farmer’s struggle for independence.

    India: Freedom at Midnight (1975) by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. Indian independence process.

    Ireland: TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. History and recent events intertwined.

    Jamaica: Selected Poems by Louise Bennet. Insights into the Jamaican culture.

    Malta: In the Name of the Father (And of the Son) by Immanuel Mifsud. World War II from personal perspective.
    book cover: whale rider, new zealand
    New Zealand: The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. A story of communication with whales.

    Norway: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo. Nordic Noir crime story.

    Slovenia: I Saw Her That Night by Drago Jančar. Historical theme set in Ljubljana.

    Sweden: Nordic Ways edited by Debra Cagan. Essays that describe life in the North Europe.

    United Kingdom: Atonement by Ian McEwan. Britain’s history in the 20th century.

The book titles via CN Traveler.

Some notable, popular travel destination countries that have distinct cultures are missing from the book list, for instance, France and the US. I can understand why France’s ambassador probably didn’t suggest a book for the list. Independent of which title it would have been, a national scandal would have emerged from the choice. Perhaps the US ambassador was pondering between Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad and Donald Trump biography A Life Worth Living, but couldn’t decide?

Considering moving to, or working remotely from another country? These are the healthiest countries in the world

2017-03-11

Usually expats live and work in a country where they have been sent to for a few years, whereas digital nomads may move to a new country after a month. Nonetheless, the status of health services and the quality of the environment in the destination country are major factors when considering where to move. InterNations conducted a large survey where they asked people who have lived abroad their opinion about the health situation in countries they have lived in. Here are the results.

The ranking of the top 13 healthiest countries in the world includes 7 European countries and 6 countries from other parts of the world. Austria was ranked the number one country, followed by Taiwan and Finland.

InterNations is the world’s largest network of people who are living and working overseas. InterNations asked the members of the network to rank their health and well-being in the countries where they are living or have lived. This particular question was part of a wider survey on the quality of living abroad.

They asked 14,300 people living overseas to rate 43 aspects of life in their new country. Respondents represent 174 nationalities who are living in 191 countries or territories,

These are the 13 healthiest countries in the world according to the InterNation survey.

1. Austria.
Is it the Alps, Mozart, ski slopes, Vienna or something else that makes Austria do so well in quality of life surveys like this? All of that and good healthcare.
Austria Alps, photo by Francisco Antunes

2. Taiwan.
Taiwan and Japan were the only Asian countries ranked high in well-being in the survey. Stray dogs and beggars roam the streets of the capital Taipei, but in general expats were very happy with health services.
Taipei by Ludovic Lubeigt

3. Finland.
Finland is a country where everything works, and that concerns healthcare as well. While expats thank the reasonable cost of medical care in the country, the nation is in a process of totally renewing its healthcare system (because of high costs).

Fish market at Market Square in Helsinki, Finland.

Fish market at Market Square in Helsinki, Finland.

4. Japan.
Japan is quickly aging, and it is the reason why the country leads the world in the development of personal assistant robots. The other parts of the health system work fine as well.

5. Israel
Perhaps it is surprising to see Israel ranked so high on wellbeing, but if you forget the serious issues with personal safety and security, it has other positive things on its side.

6. Denmark
Denmark and its capital Copenhagen have been voted as the best places to live many times and it shows in this survey as well. Health services in the former Viking country are regarded excellent.

7. Germany.
On autobahns people may sometimes challenge death by driving as fast as their Porsches and BMWs go, but maybe they rely on country’s reliable health services.

8. France.
Tax rates in France are among the highest in Europe (if not in the world), but the locals say that they are so proud of their excellent welfare system that they don’t mind paying their taxes.

9. Costa Rica.
Expats are happy with Costa Rica in general and health services available in the country.

10. Spain
When an expat is sent to Spain to work in an air-conditioned office from 9:30am until 7pm, people who don’t know any better, wish him or her sunny vacation days on the beach. Nothing could be further from the truth. In any case, high quality health services are readily available both in public and private institutions. Spain’s climate probably adds points to the well-being ranking.

11. New Zealand
Not only one of the world’s most exciting vacation destinations, New Zealand has a high living standard and welcoming people.

12. Canada
Canada is the only North American country that made it to the top 13. The country’s large cities have consistently been ranked high in the best cities to live in surveys as well.

13. Sweden.
The mother of welfare states continues to welcome immigrants and refugees while maintaining its health services in top condition.

Via Independent.

Research: Literacy culture is critical to the success of individuals and nations

2016-03-13

For more than 40 years, John W. Miller at Central Connecticut State University has analyzed the reasons and consequences for literacy and illiteracy from the society’s point of view. When he decided to analyze all the countries of the world, the result was a ranking for the World’s Most Literate Nations. Nordic countries top the list.
Apple iPad, ebook, eyeglasses, books,
Top 10 literate countries in the world are:

1. Finland
2. Norway
3. Iceland
4. Denmark
5. Sweden
6. Switzerland
7. United States
8. Germany
9. Latvia
10. Netherlands

The research didn’t measure the usual yardstick – percentage how many citizens in each country are literate, but literate behaviors and supporting resources in each country. The criteria for the analysis were:

– Number of libraries and their book selection.
– Number of newspapers, their circulation and online availability.
– Education system resources.
– Education system results, especially concerning literacy.
– Number of computers at homes (not tablets or smartphones, but only computers).

Miller intended to analyze data on 200 countries, but was able to collect reliable data from 61 countries. He concludes the importance of literary culture: “The factors we examine present a complex and nuanced portrait of a nation’s cultural vitality. And what the rankings strongly suggest and world literacy demonstrates is that these kinds of literate behaviors are critical to the success of individuals and nations in the knowledge-based economies that define our global future.”

It is quite remarkable how European countries, especially Northern European nations, hold top positions in the ranking for the most literate nations.

The report World’s Most Literate Nations by Connecticut State University is available here.

Via Takepart.

Egranary Provides a Chip-Size Information Library for Regions without Internet Access

2015-05-28

In many countries, Internet access is such an elemental part of daily life and business that people couldn’t live without it anymore. Yet, more than five billion people go about their daily businesses without Internet access. Widernet organization is building an ambitious program called eGranary whose objective is to bring the wealth of information stored on the Internet to people without Internet access.

egranary pocket library

The eGranary concept has two key elements:

1. Collect relevant information from the Internet into pocket libraries. They are focused collections of documents and ebooks tailored, for instance, for education, nurse training, and agricultural information. Pocket libraries are stored on an eGranary device.

2. Make the information stored on an eGranary device (or memory card) easily shareable. For example, children at a school may have mobile phones or a nurse training class may have tablets or PCs for accessing the information on the device.

The eGranary houses 32 million documents including the entire Wikipedia website and materials from the Khan Academy. The material consists of entire web sites, ebooks, textbooks, videos, podcasts, radio shows, and applications. The goal has been to include information on practically every topic under the sun. All material has been selected and curated so that the information can be trusted and it doesn’t have unwanted side-effects of wild and free information on the Internet.

Widernet is raising money for the next step of the program: making the system work on a SD memory card.

Actualitte reported.