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UNITED STATES POPULATION: 313,847,465

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 Background
Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65), in which a northern Union of states defeated a secessionist Confederacy of 11 southern slave states, and the Great Depression of the 1930s, an economic downturn during which about a quarter of the labor force lost its jobs. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation state. Since the end of World War II, the economy has achieved relatively steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.


 Geography
World's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India); Mt. McKinley is highest point in North America and Death Valley the lowest point on the continent
Location:North America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico
Geographic coordinates:38 00 N, 97 00 W
Area:total: 9,826,675 sq km land: 9,161,966 sq km water: 664,709 sq km note: includes only the 50 states and District of Columbia

Size comparison: about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; more than twice the size of the European Union
Land Boundaries:total: 12,034 km border countries: Canada 8,893 km (including 2,477 km with Alaska), Mexico 3,141 km note: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is leased by the US and is part of Cuba; the base boundary is 28 km
Coastline:19,924 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm continental shelf: not specified
Climate:mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains
Terrain:vast central plain, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east; rugged mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska; rugged, volcanic topography in Hawaii
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Death Valley -86 m highest point: Mount McKinley 6,194 m note: the peak of Mauna Kea (4,207 m above sea level) on the island of Hawaii rises about 10,200 m above the Pacific Ocean floor; by this measurement, it is the world's tallest mountain - higher than Mount Everest, which is recognized as the tallest mountain above sea level
Natural resources:coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, rare earth elements, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber note: the US has the world's largest coal reserves with 491 billion short tons accounting for 27% of the world's total
Land use:arable land: 18.01% permanent crops: 0.21% other: 81.78% (2005)
Irrigated land:230,000 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:tsunamis; volcanoes; earthquake activity around Pacific Basin; hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts; tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast; mud slides in California; forest fires in the west; flooding; permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development volcanism: volcanic activity in the Hawaiian Islands, Western Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and in the Northern Mariana Islands; both Mauna Loa (elev. 4,170 m) in Hawaii and Mount Rainier (elev. 4,392 m) in Washington have been deemed "Decade Volcanoes" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to their explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Pavlof (elev. 2,519 m) is the most active volcano in Alaska's Aleutian Arc and poses a significant threat to air travel since the area constitutes a major flight path between North America and East Asia; St. Helens (elev. 2,549 m, famous for the devastating 1980 eruption, remains active today; numerous other historically active volcanoes exist, mostly concentrated in the Aleutian arc and Hawaii; they include: in Alaska: Aniakchak, Augustine, Chiginagak, Fourpeaked, Iliamna, Katmai, Kupreanof, Martin, Novarupta, Redoubt, Spurr, Wrangell; in Hawaii: Trident, Ugashik-Peulik, Ukinrek Maars, Veniaminof; in the Northern Mariana Islands: Anatahan; and in the Pacific Northwest: Mount Baker, Mount Hood
Current Environment Issues:air pollution resulting in acid rain in both the US and Canada; the US is the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; limited natural freshwater resources in much of the western part of the country require careful management; desertification
International Environment Agreements:party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Hazardous Wastes
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 People
Population:313,847,465 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 20.1% (male 32,107,900/female 30,781,823) 15-64 years: 66.8% (male 104,411,352/female 104,808,064) 65 years and over: 13.1% (male 17,745,363/female 23,377,542) (2011 est.)
Median age:total: 37.1 years male: 35.8 years female: 38.5 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:0.899% (2012 est.)
Birth rate:13.68 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate:8.39 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate:3.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 5.98 deaths/1,000 live births male: 6.64 deaths/1,000 live births female: 5.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 78.49 years male: 76.05 years female: 81.05 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:2.06 children born/woman (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.6% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:1.2 million (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:17,000 (2009 est.)
Nationality:noun: American(s) adjective: American
Ethnic groups:white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate) note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean persons of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin including those of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic, Spanish, and Central or South American origin living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15.1% of the total US population is Hispanic
Religions:Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)
Languages:English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census) note: Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99% male: 99% female: 99% (2003 est.)
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 Government
Country name:conventional long form: United States of America conventional short form: United States abbreviation: US or USA
Government type:Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition
Capital:name: Washington, DC geographic coordinates: 38 53 N, 77 02 W time difference: UTC-5 (during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November note: the 50 United States cover six time zones
Administrative divisions:50 states and 1 district*; Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Dependent areas:American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, the US administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; it entered into a political relationship with all four political entities: the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the US (effective 3 November 1986); the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 21 October 1986); the Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 1 October 1994)
Independence:4 July 1776 (declared); 3 September 1783 (recognized by Great Britain)
National holiday:
Constitution:17 September 1787, effective 4 March 1789
Legal system:common law system based on English common law at the federal level; state legal systems based on common law except Louisiana, which is based on Napoleonic civil code; judicial review of legislative acts
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government head of government: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with Senate approval (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by a college of representatives who are elected directly from each state; president and vice president serve four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held on 6 November 2012) election results: Barack H. OBAMA elected president; percent of popular vote - Barack H. OBAMA 52.4%, John MCCAIN 46.3%, other 1.3%;
Legislative branch:bicameral Congress consists of the Senate (100 seats, 2 members elected from each state by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third elected every two years) and the House of Representatives (435 seats; members directly elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms) elections: Senate - last held on 2 November 2010 (next to be held in November 2012); House of Representatives - last held on 2 November 2010 (next to be held in November 2012) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 51, Republican Party 47, independent 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 192, Republican Party 243
Judicial branch:Supreme Court (nine justices; nominated by the president and confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate; appointed to serve for life); United States Courts of Appeal; United States District Courts; State and County Courts
Political parties and leaders:Democratic Party [Debbie Wasserman SCHULTZ]; Green Party; Libertarian Party [Mark HINKLE]; Republican Party [Reince PRIEBUS]
Political pressure groups and leaders:environmentalists; business groups; labor unions; churches; ethnic groups; political action committees or PAC; health groups; education groups; civic groups; youth groups; transportation groups; agricultural groups; veterans groups; women's groups; reform lobbies
International organization participation:ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), ANZUS, APEC, Arctic Council, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CD, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CICA (observer), CP, EAPC, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NAFTA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SELEC (observer), SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNRWA, UNSC (permanent), UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
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 Economy



BELGIUM POPULATION: 10,438,353

1 VISITOR FROM HERE!


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 Background
Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; it was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.


 Geography
Crossroads of Western Europe; most West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO
Location:Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands
Geographic coordinates:50 50 N, 4 00 E
Area:total: 30,528 sq km land: 30,278 sq km water: 250 sq km

Size comparison: about the size of Maryland
Land Boundaries:total: 1,385 km border countries: France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km
Coastline:66.5 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit continental shelf: median line with neighbors
Climate:temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy
Terrain:flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast
Elevation extremes:lowest point: North Sea 0 m highest point: Botrange 694 m
Natural resources:construction materials, silica sand, carbonates
Land use:arable land: 27.42% permanent crops: 0.69% other: 71.89% note: includes Luxembourg (2005)
Irrigated land:230 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:flooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes
Current Environment Issues:the environment is exposed to intense pressures from human activities: urbanization, dense transportation network, industry, extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation; air and water pollution also have repercussions for neighboring countries; uncertainties regarding federal and regional responsibilities (now resolved) had slowed progress in tackling environmental challenges
International Environment Agreements:party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 People
Population:10,438,353 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 15.9% (male 846,706/female 812,486) 15-64 years: 66.1% (male 3,475,404/female 3,416,060) 65 years and over: 18% (male 783,895/female 1,096,926) (2011 est.)
Median age:total: 42.6 years male: 41.2 years female: 43.9 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:0.061% (2012 est.)
Birth rate:10.03 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate:10.63 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate:1.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 4.28 deaths/1,000 live births male: 4.79 deaths/1,000 live births female: 3.74 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 79.65 years male: 76.49 years female: 82.95 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:1.65 children born/woman (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.2% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:14,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
Nationality:noun: Belgian(s) adjective: Belgian
Ethnic groups:Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%
Religions:Roman Catholic 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%
Languages:Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99% male: 99% female: 99% (2003 est.)
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 Government
Country name:conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium conventional short form: Belgium local long form: Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie local short form: Belgique/Belgie
Government type:federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy
Capital:name: Brussels geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 20 E time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions:3 regions (French: regions, singular - region; Dutch: gewesten, singular - gewest); Brussels-Capital Region, also known as Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (Dutch), Region de Bruxelles-Capitale (French long form), Bruxelles-Capitale (French short form); Flemish Region (Flanders), also known as Vlaams Gewest (Dutch long form), Vlaanderen (Dutch short form), Region Flamande (French long form), Flandre (French short form); Walloon Region (Wallonia), also known as Region Wallone (French long form), Wallonie (French short form), Waals Gewest (Dutch long form), Wallonie (Dutch short form) note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities
Independence:4 October 1830 (a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne)
National holiday:21 July (1831) ascension to the Throne of King LEOPOLD I
Constitution:drafted 25 November 1830; approved by a Belgium National Congress 7 February 1831; entered into force 26 July 1831; amended many times; revised 14 July 1993 to create a federal state; in 1967 an official Dutch version of the constitution was adopted; in 1991 an official German version of the constitution was adopted; in 1993 an official consolidated version of the constitution was adopted
Legal system:civil law system based on the French Civil Code; note - Belgian law continues to be modified in conformance with the legislative norms mandated by the European Union; judicial review of legislative acts
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:chief of state: King ALBERT II (since 9 August 1993); Heir Apparent Prince PHILIPPE, son of the monarch head of government: Prime Minister Elio DI RUPO (since 6 December 2011); cabinet: Council of Ministers are formally appointed by the monarch (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: the monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and then approved by parliament
Legislative branch:bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat in Dutch, Senat in French (71 seats; 40 members directly elected by popular vote, 31 indirectly elected; members serve four-year terms) and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers in Dutch, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members directly elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms) elections: Senate and Chamber of Deputies - last held on 13 June 2010 (next to be held no later than June 2014) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - N-VA 19.6%, PS 13.6%, CD&V 10%, sp.a 9.5%, MR 9.3%, Open VLD 8.2%, VB 7.6%, Ecolo 5.5%, CDH 5.1% Groen! 3.9%, other 7.7%; seats by party - N-VA 9, PS 7, CD&V 4, sp.a 4, MR 4, Open VLD 4, VB 3, Ecolo 2, CDH 2, Groen! 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - N-VA 17.4%, PS 13.7%, CD&V 10.9%, MR 9.3%, sp.a 9.2%, Open VLD 8.6%, VB 7.8%, CDH 5.5%, Ecolo 4.8%, Groen! 4.4%, List Dedecker 2.3%, the Popular Party 1.3%, other 4.8%; seats by party - N-VA 27, PS 26, CD&V 17, MR 18, sp.a 13, Open VLD 13, VB 12, CDH 9, Ecolo 8, Groen! 5, List Dedecker 1, the Popular Party 1 note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; this reality leaves six governments, each with its own legislative assembly
Judicial branch:Constitutional Court (12 judges, 6 Dutch-speaking and 6 French-speaking, appointed by the King); Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) or Cour de Cassation (in French) (judges are appointed for life by the government; candidacies have to be submitted by the High Justice Council)
Political parties and leaders:Flemish parties: Christian Democratic and Flemish or CDV [Wouter BEKE]; Flemish Liberals and Democrats or Open VLD [Alexander DE CROO]; Groen! [Wouter VAN BESIEN] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens); Libertarian, Direct, Democratic or LDD (formerly Dedecker's List) [Jean-Marie DEDECKER]; New Flemish Alliance or N-VA [Bart DE WEVER]; Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A [Bruno TOBBACK]; Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Bruno VALKENIERS] Francophone parties: Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Jean-Michel JAVAUX, Sarah TURINE]; Humanist and Democratic Center or CDH [Benoit LUTGEN]; Popular Party or PP [ Mischael MODRIKAMEN]; Reform Movement or MR [Charles MICHEL]; Socialist Party or PS [Thierry GIET]; other minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:Federation of Belgian Industries other: trade unions; numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; various organizations represent the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia; various peace groups such as Pax Christi and groups representing immigrants
International organization participation:ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, G-9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Jan MATTHYSEN chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900 FAX: [1] (202) 333-3079 consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Howard W. GUTMAN embassy: 27 Boulevard du Regent [Regentlaan], B-1000 Brussels mailing address: PSC 82, Box 002, APO AE 09710 telephone: [32] (2) 508-2111 FAX: [32] (2) 511-2725
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BULGARIA POPULATION: 7,037,935



2 VISITORS FROM HERE!


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 Background
The Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic tribe, merged with the local Slavic inhabitants in the late 7th century to form the first Bulgarian state. In succeeding centuries, Bulgaria struggled with the Byzantine Empire to assert its place in the Balkans, but by the end of the 14th century the country was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Northern Bulgaria attained autonomy in 1878 and all of Bulgaria became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1908. Having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946. Communist domination ended in 1990, when Bulgaria held its first multiparty election since World War II and began the contentious process of moving toward political democracy and a market economy while combating inflation, unemployment, corruption, and crime. The country joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.


 Geography
Strategic location near Turkish Straits; controls key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia
Location:Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey
Geographic coordinates:43 00 N, 25 00 E
Area:total: 110,879 sq km land: 108,489 sq km water: 2,390 sq km

Size comparison: slightly larger than Tennessee
Land Boundaries:total: 1,808 km border countries: Greece 494 km, Macedonia 148 km, Romania 608 km, Serbia 318 km, Turkey 240 km
Coastline:354 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate:temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers
Terrain:mostly mountains with lowlands in north and southeast
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Black Sea 0 m highest point: Musala 2,925 m
Natural resources:bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, timber, arable land
Land use:arable land: 29.94% permanent crops: 1.9% other: 68.16% (2005)
Irrigated land:1,020 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:earthquakes; landslides
Current Environment Issues:air pollution from industrial emissions; rivers polluted from raw sewage, heavy metals, detergents; deforestation; forest damage from air pollution and resulting acid rain; soil contamination from heavy metals from metallurgical plants and industrial wastes
International Environment Agreements:party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 People
Population:7,037,935 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 13.9% (male 506,403/female 480,935) 15-64 years: 67.9% (male 2,367,680/female 2,446,799) 65 years and over: 18.2% (male 522,343/female 769,475) (2011 est.)
Median age:total: 42 years male: 39.8 years female: 44.2 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:-0.796% (2012 est.)
Birth rate:9.2 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate:14.32 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate:-2.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 16.13 deaths/1,000 live births male: 19.29 deaths/1,000 live births female: 12.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 73.84 years male: 70.24 years female: 77.65 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:1.43 children born/woman (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.1% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:3,800 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:fewer than 200 (2009 est.)
Nationality:noun: Bulgarian(s) adjective: Bulgarian
Ethnic groups:Bulgarian 76.9%, Turk 8%, Roma 4.4%, other 0.7% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian), other (unknown) 10% (2011 census)
Religions:Eastern Orthodox 59.4%, Muslim (Sunni) 7.4%, Muslim (Shia) 0.4%, other (including Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, and Judaism) 1.7%, other (unknown) 27.4%, none 3.7% (2011 census)
Languages:Bulgarian (official) 76.8%, Turkish 8.2%, Roma 3.8%, other 0.7%, other (unknown) 10.5% (2011 census)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 98.4% male: 98.7% female: 98% (2011)
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 Government
Country name:conventional long form: Republic of Bulgaria conventional short form: Bulgaria local long form: Republika Balgariya local short form: Balgariya
Government type:parliamentary democracy
Capital:name: Sofia geographic coordinates: 42 41 N, 23 19 E time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions:28 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast); Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Khaskovo, Kurdzhali, Kyustendil, Lovech, Montana, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Ruse, Shumen, Silistra, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofiya (Sofia), Sofiya-Grad (Sofia City), Stara Zagora, Turgovishte, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Vidin, Vratsa, Yambol
Independence:3 March 1878 (as an autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire); 22 September 1908 (complete independence from the Ottoman Empire)
National holiday:Liberation Day, 3 March (1878)
Constitution:adopted 12 July 1991
Legal system:civil law
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Rosen PLEVNELIEV (since 22 January 2012); Vice President Margarita POPOVA (since 22 January 2012) head of government: Prime Minister Boyko BORISSOV (since 27 July 2009); Deputy Prime Ministers Simeon DJANKOV and Tsvetan TSVETANOV (since 27 July 2009) cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 23 and 30 October 2011 (next to be held in 2016); chairman of the Council of Ministers (prime minister) elected by the National Assembly; deputy prime ministers nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly election results: Rosen PLEVNELIEV elected president in a runoff election; percent of vote - Rosen PLEVNELIEV 52.6%, Ivailo KALFIN 47.4%; Boyko BORISSOV elected prime minister; result of legislative vote - 162 to 77 with 1 abstention
Legislative branch:unicameral National Assembly or Narodno Sabranie (240 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: last held on 5 July 2009 (next to be held in mid-2013) election results: percent of vote by party - GERB 39.7%, BSP 17.7%, MRF 14.4%, ATAKA 9.4%, Blue Coalition 6.8%, RZS 4.1%, other 7.9%; seats by party - GERB 117, BSP 40, MRF 37, ATAKA 21, Blue Coalition 15, RZS 8, independents 2
Judicial branch:independent judiciary comprised of judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates who are appointed, promoted, demoted, and dismissed by a 25-member Supreme Judicial Council (consists of the chairmen of the two Supreme Courts, the Chief Prosecutor, and 22 members, half of whom are elected by the National Assembly and the other half by the bodies of the judiciary for a 5-year term in office); three levels of case review; 182 courts of which two Supreme Courts act as the last instance on civil and criminal cases (the Supreme Court of Cassation) and appeals of government decisions (the Supreme Administrative Court)
Political parties and leaders:Agrarian National Union or ANU [Stefan LICHEV]; National Union Attack (Ataka) [Volen SIDEROV]; Blue Coalition [Ivan KOSTOV and Martin DIMITROV] (a coalition of center-right parties dominated by UDF and DSB); Bulgarian New Democracy [Borislav RALCHEV]; Bulgarian Socialist Party or BSP [Sergei STANISHEV]; Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria or GERB [Boyko BORISSOV]; Coalition for Bulgaria or CfB [Sergei STANISHEV] (coalition of parties dominated by BSP); Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria or DSB [Ivan KOSTOV]; Gergyovden [Petar STOYANOVICH]; Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization or IMRO [Krasimir KARAKACHANOV]; Liberal Initiative for Democratic European Development or LIDER [Khristo KOVACHKI]; Movement for Rights and Freedoms or MRF [Ahmed DOGAN]; National Movement for Stability and Progress or NDSV [Hristina HRISTOVA] (formerly National Movement Simeon II or NMS2); New Time [Emil KOSHLUKOV]; Order, Law, Justice or RZS [Yane YANEV]; Union of Democratic Forces or UDF [Martin DIMITROV]; Union of Free Democrats or UFD [Stefan SOFIYANSKI]; United Agrarians [Anastasia MOZER]
Political pressure groups and leaders:Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria or CITUB; Podkrepa Labor Confederation other: numerous regional, ethnic, and national interest groups with various agendas
International organization participation:Australia Group, BIS, BSEC, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EU, FAO, G- 9, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NSG, OAS (observer), OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Elena POPTODOROVA chancery: 1621 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone: [1] (202) 387-0174 FAX: [1] (202) 234-7973 consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador James B. WARLICK, Jr. embassy: 16 Kozyak Street, Sofia 1407 mailing address: American Embassy Sofia, US Department of State, 5740 Sofia Place, Washington, DC 20521-5740 telephone: [359] (2) 937-5100 FAX: [359] (2) 937-5320





ROMANIA POPULATION: 21,848,504

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 Background
The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia - for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire - secured their autonomy in 1856; they were de facto linked in 1859 and formally united in 1862 under the new name of Romania. The country gained recognition of its independence in 1878. It joined the Allied Powers in World War I and acquired new territories - most notably Transylvania - following the conflict. In 1940, Romania allied with the Axis powers and participated in the 1941 German invasion of the USSR. Three years later, overrun by the Soviets, Romania signed an armistice. The post-war Soviet occupation led to the formation of a Communist "people's republic" in 1947 and the abdication of the king. The decades-long rule of dictator Nicolae CEAUSESCU, who took power in 1965, and his Securitate police state became increasingly oppressive and draconian through the 1980s. CEAUSESCU was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former Communists dominated the government until 1996 when they were swept from power. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.


 Geography
Controls most easily traversable land route between the Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine
Location:Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Ukraine
Geographic coordinates:46 00 N, 25 00 E
Area:total: 238,391 sq km land: 229,891 sq km water: 8,500 sq km

Size comparison: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land Boundaries:total: 2,508 km border countries: Bulgaria 608 km, Hungary 443 km, Moldova 450 km, Serbia 476 km, Ukraine (north) 362 km, Ukraine (east) 169 km
Coastline:225 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate:temperate; cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow and fog; sunny summers with frequent showers and thunderstorms
Terrain:central Transylvanian Basin is separated from the Moldavian Plateau on the east by the Eastern Carpathian Mountains and separated from the Walachian Plain on the south by the Transylvanian Alps
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Black Sea 0 m highest point: Moldoveanu 2,544 m
Natural resources:petroleum (reserves declining), timber, natural gas, coal, iron ore, salt, arable land, hydropower
Land use:arable land: 39.49% permanent crops: 1.92% other: 58.59% (2005)
Irrigated land:31,570 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:earthquakes, most severe in south and southwest; geologic structure and climate promote landslides
Current Environment Issues:soil erosion and degradation; water pollution; air pollution in south from industrial effluents; contamination of Danube delta wetlands
International Environment Agreements:party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 People
Population:21,848,504 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 14.8% (male 1,667,894/female 1,579,458) 15-64 years: 70.4% (male 7,684,514/female 7,725,957) 65 years and over: 14.8% (male 1,314,132/female 1,932,596) (2011 est.)
Median age:total: 39.1 years male: 37.7 years female: 40.6 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:-0.26% (2012 est.)
Birth rate:9.49 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate:11.84 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate:-0.26 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 10.73 deaths/1,000 live births male: 12.12 deaths/1,000 live births female: 9.24 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 74.22 years male: 70.75 years female: 77.89 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:1.3 children born/woman (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.1% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:16,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.)
Nationality:noun: Romanian(s) adjective: Romanian
Ethnic groups:Romanian 89.5%, Hungarian 6.6%, Roma 2.5%, Ukrainian 0.3%, German 0.3%, Russian 0.2%, Turkish 0.2%, other 0.4% (2002 census)
Religions:Eastern Orthodox (including all sub-denominations) 86.8%, Protestant (various denominations including Reformate and Pentecostal) 7.5%, Roman Catholic 4.7%, other (mostly Muslim) and unspecified 0.9%, none 0.1% (2002 census)
Languages:Romanian (official) 91%, Hungarian 6.7%, Romany (Gypsy) 1.1%, other 1.2%
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 97.7% male: 98.3% female: 97.1% (2010 est.)
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 Government
Country name:conventional long form: none conventional short form: Romania local long form: none local short form: Romania
Government type:republic
Capital:name: Bucharest geographic coordinates: 44 26 N, 26 06 E time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions:41 counties (judete, singular - judet) and 1 municipality* (municipiu); Alba, Arad, Arges, Bacau, Bihor, Bistrita-Nasaud, Botosani, Braila, Brasov, Bucuresti (Bucharest)*, Buzau, Calarasi, Caras-Severin, Cluj, Constanta, Covasna, Dimbovita, Dolj, Galati, Gorj, Giurgiu, Harghita, Hunedoara, Ialomita, Iasi, Ilfov, Maramures, Mehedinti, Mures, Neamt, Olt, Prahova, Salaj, Satu Mare, Sibiu, Suceava, Teleorman, Timis, Tulcea, Vaslui, Vilcea, Vrancea
Independence:9 May 1877 (independence proclaimed from the Ottoman Empire; independence recognized on 13 July 1878 by the Treaty of Berlin); 26 March 1881 (kingdom proclaimed); 30 December 1947 (republic proclaimed)
National holiday:Unification Day (of Romania and Transylvania), 1 December (1918)
Constitution:8 December 1991; revised 29 October 2003
Legal system:civil law system
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: Acting President Crin ANTONESCU (since 6 July 2012); note - former President Traian BASESCU was suspended 6 July 2012; a referendum on his removal will a take place on 29 July 2012 head of government: Prime Minister Victor-Viorel PONTA (since 7 May 2012); Deputy Prime Minister Florin GEORGESCU (since 7 May 2012) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 22 November 2009 with runoff on 6 December 2009 (next to be held in November-December 2014); prime minister appointed by the president with the consent of the Parliament election results: Traian BASESCU reelected president; percent of vote - Traian BASESCU 50.3%, Mircea GEOANA 49.7%
Legislative branch:bicameral Parliament or Parlament consists of the Senate or Senat (137 seats; members elected by popular vote in a mixed electoral system to serve four-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camera Deputatilor (334 seats; members elected by popular vote in a mixed electoral system to serve four-year terms) elections: Senate - last held on 30 November 2008 (next by November 2012); Chamber of Deputies - last held on 30 November 2008 (next by November 2012) election results: Senate - percent of vote by alliance/party - PSD-PC 34.2%, PDL 33.6%, PNL 18.7%, UDMR 6.4%, other 7.1%; seats by alliance/party - PSD-PC 49, PDL 51, PNL 28, UDMR 9; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by alliance/party - PSD-PC 33.1%, PDL 32.4%, PNL 18.6%, UDMR 6.2%, ethnic minorities 3.6%, other 6.1%; seats by alliance/party - PDL 115, PSD-PC 114, PNL 65, UDMR 22, ethnic minorities 18
Judicial branch:Supreme Court of Justice (comprised of 11 judges appointed for three-year terms by the president in consultation with the Superior Council of Magistrates, which is comprised of the minister of justice, the prosecutor general, two civil society representatives appointed by the Senate, and 14 judges and prosecutors elected by their peers); a separate body, the Constitutional Court, validates elections and makes decisions regarding the constitutionality of laws, treaties, ordinances, and internal rules of the Parliament; it is comprised of nine members serving nine-year terms, with three members each appointed by the president, the Senate, and the Chamber of Deputies
Political parties and leaders:Conservative Party or PC [Daniel CONSTANTIN] (formerly Humanist Party or PUR); Democratic Liberal Party or PDL [Emil BOC]; Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania or UDMR [Hunor KELEMEN]; National Liberal Party or PNL [Crin ANTONESCU]; National Union for Romania's Progress or UNPR [Gabriel OPREA]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Victor PONTA] (formerly Party of Social Democracy in Romania or PDSR)
Political pressure groups and leaders:other: various human rights and professional associations
International organization participation:Australia Group, BIS, BSEC, CBSS (observer), CD, CE, CEI, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA (cooperating state), EU, FAO, G-9, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NSG, OAS (observer), OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Adrian Cosmin VIERITA chancery: 1607 23rd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone: [1] (202) 332-4846, 4848, 4851, 4852 FAX: [1] (202) 232-4748 consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Mark GITENSTEIN embassy: Bulevardul Dr. Liviu Librescu 4-6, Bucharest, 015118 mailing address: pouch: American Embassy Bucharest, US Department of State, 5260 Bucharest Place, Washington, DC 20521-5260 (pouch) telephone: [40] (21) 200-3300 FAX: [40] (21) 200-3442



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AUSTRALIA POPULATION: 22,015,576

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 Background
Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James COOK took possession of the east coast in the name of Great Britain (all of Australia was claimed as British territory in 1829 with the creation of the colony of Western Australia). Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy. It boasted one of the OECD's fastest growing economies during the 1990s, a performance due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s. Long-term concerns include ageing of the population, pressure on infrastructure, and environmental issues such as frequent droughts.


 Geography
World's smallest continent but sixth-largest country; the only continent without glaciers; population concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts; the invigorating sea breeze known as the "Fremantle Doctor" affects the city of Perth on the west coast and is one of the most consistent winds in the world
Location:Oceania, continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean
Geographic coordinates:27 00 S, 133 00 E
Area:total: 7,741,220 sq km land: 7,682,300 sq km water: 58,920 sq km note: includes Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island

Size comparison: slightly smaller than the US contiguous 48 states
Land Boundaries:0 km
Coastline:25,760 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate:generally arid to semiarid; temperate in south and east; tropical in north
Terrain:mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Lake Eyre -15 m highest point: Mount Kosciuszko 2,229 m
Natural resources:bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, rare earth elements, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum note: Australia is the world's largest net exporter of coal accounting for 29% of global coal exports
Land use:arable land: 6.15% (includes about 27 million hectares of cultivated grassland) permanent crops: 0.04% other: 93.81% (2005)
Irrigated land:25,500 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:cyclones along the coast; severe droughts; forest fires volcanism: volcanic activity on Heard and McDonald Islands
Current Environment Issues:soil erosion from overgrazing, industrial development, urbanization, and poor farming practices; soil salinity rising due to the use of poor quality water; desertification; clearing for agricultural purposes threatens the natural habitat of many unique animal and plant species; the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast, the largest coral reef in the world, is threatened by increased shipping and its popularity as a tourist site; limited natural freshwater resources
International Environment Agreements:party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 People
Population:22,015,576 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 18.3% (male 2,040,848/female 1,937,544) 15-64 years: 67.7% (male 7,469,092/female 7,266,143) 65 years and over: 14% (male 1,398,576/female 1,654,508) (2011 est.)
Median age:total: 37.9 years male: 37.1 years female: 38.6 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:1.126% (2012 est.)
Birth rate:12.28 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate:6.94 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate:5.93 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 4.55 deaths/1,000 live births male: 4.87 deaths/1,000 live births female: 4.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 81.9 years male: 79.48 years female: 84.45 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:1.77 children born/woman (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.1% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:20,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
Nationality:noun: Australian(s) adjective: Australian
Ethnic groups:white 92%, Asian 7%, aboriginal and other 1%
Religions:Protestant 27.4% (Anglican 18.7%, Uniting Church 5.7%, Presbyterian and Reformed 3%), Catholic 25.8%, Eastern Orthodox 2.7%, other Christian 7.9%, Buddhist 2.1%, Muslim 1.7%, other 2.4%, unspecified 11.3%, none 18.7% (2006 Census)
Languages:English 78.5%, Chinese 2.5%, Italian 1.6%, Greek 1.3%, Arabic 1.2%, Vietnamese 1%, other 8.2%, unspecified 5.7% (2006 Census)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99% male: 99% female: 99% (2003 est.)
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 Government
Country name:conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia conventional short form: Australia
Government type:federal parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Capital:name: Canberra geographic coordinates: 35 16 S, 149 08 E time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in October; ends first Sunday in April note: Australia is divided into three time zones
Administrative divisions:6 states and 2 territories*; Australian Capital Territory*, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia
Dependent areas:Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Macquarie Island, Norfolk Island
Independence:1 January 1901 (from the federation of UK colonies)
National holiday:Australia Day, 26 January (1788); ANZAC Day (commemorates the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)
Constitution:9 July 1900; effective 1 January 1901
Legal system:common law system based on the English model
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:chief of state: Queen of Australia ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Quentin BRYCE (since 5 September 2008) head of government: Prime Minister Julia Eileen GILLARD (since 24 June 2010); Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Maxwell SWAN (since 24 June 2010) cabinet: prime minister nominates, from among members of Parliament, candidates who are subsequently sworn in by the governor general to serve as government ministers (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is sworn in as prime minister by the governor general
Legislative branch:bicameral Federal Parliament consists of the Senate (76 seats; 12 members from each of the six states and 2 from each of the two mainland territories; one-half of state members are elected every three years by popular vote to serve six-year terms while all territory members are elected every three years) and the House of Representatives (150 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve terms of up to three-years; no state can have fewer than 5 representatives) elections: Senate - last held on 21 August 2010; House of Representatives - last held on 21 August 2010 (the latest a simultaneous half-Senate and House of Representative elections can be held is 30 November 2013) election results: Senate (effective 1 July 2011) - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Liberal/National Party 34, Australian Labor Party 31, Greens 9, others 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Australian Labor Party 38.1%, Liberal Party 30.4%, Greens 11.5%, Liberal National Party of Queensland 9.3%, independents 6.6%, The Nationals 3.7%, Country Liberals 0.3%; seats by party - Australian Labor Party 72, Liberal Party 44, Liberal National Party of Queensland 21, The Nationals 7, Country Liberals 1, Greens 1, independents 4
Judicial branch:High Court (the chief justice and six other justices are appointed by the governor general acting on the advice of the government)
Political parties and leaders:Australian Greens [Christine MILNE]; Australian Labor Party [Julia GILLARD]; Family First Party [Steve FIELDING]; Liberal Party [Tony ABBOTT]; The Nationals [Warren TRUSS]
Political pressure groups and leaders:other: business groups; environmental groups; social groups; trade unions
International organization participation:ADB, ANZUS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Paris Club, PCA, PIF, SAARC (observer), Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMISS, UNMIT, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Kim Christian BEAZLEY chancery: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 telephone: [1] (202) 797-3000 FAX: [1] (202) 797-3168 consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Jeffrey L. BLEICH embassy: Moonah Place, Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600 mailing address: APO AP 96549 telephone: [61] (02) 6214-5600 FAX: [61] (02) 6214-5970 consulate(s) general: Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
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FRANCE POPULATION: 65,630,692

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 Background
France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. It plays an influential global role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the G-8, the G-20, the EU and other multilateral organizations. France rejoined NATO's integrated military command structure in 2009, reversing de Gaulle's 1966 decision to take French forces out of NATO. Since 1958, it has constructed a hybrid presidential-parliamentary governing system resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier more purely parliamentary administrations. In recent decades, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common exchange currency, the euro, in January 1999. In the early 21st century, five French overseas entities - French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion - became French regions and were made part of France proper.

 Geography
Largest West European nation
Location:metropolitan France: Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain, southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain French Guiana: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname Guadeloupe: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Puerto Rico Martinique: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago Mayotte: Southern Indian Ocean, island in the Mozambique Channel, about half way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique Reunion: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates:metropolitan France: 46 00 N, 2 00 E French Guiana: 4 00 N, 53 00 W Guadeloupe: 16 15 N, 61 35 W Martinique: 14 40 N, 61 00 W Mayotte: 12 50 S, 45 10 E Reunion: 21 06 S, 55 36 E
Area:total: 643,801 sq km; 551,500 sq km (metropolitan France) land: 640,427 sq km; 549,970 sq km (metropolitan France) water: 3,374 sq km; 1,530 sq km (metropolitan France) note: the first numbers include the overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion

Size comparison: slightly less than the size of Texas
Land Boundaries:metropolitan France - total: 2,889 km border countries: Andorra 56.6 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km French Guiana - total: 1,183 km border countries: Brazil 673 km, Suriname 510 km
Coastline:total: 4,853 km metropolitan France: 3,427 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (does not apply to the Mediterranean) continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate:metropolitan France: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral French Guiana: tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation Guadeloupe and Martinique: subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity; rainy season (June to October); vulnerable to devastating cyclones (hurricanes) every eight years on average Mayotte: tropical; marine; hot, humid, rainy season during northeastern monsoon (November to May); dry season is cooler (May to November) Reunion: tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry (May to November), hot and rainy (November to April)
Terrain:metropolitan France: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east French Guiana: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains Guadeloupe: Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin Martinique: mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano Mayotte: generally undulating, with deep ravines and ancient volcanic peaks Reunion: mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m note: in order to assess the possible effects of climate change on the ice and snow cap of Mont Blanc, its surface and peak have been extensively measured in recent years; these new peak measurements have exceeded the traditional height of 4,807 m and have varied between 4,808 m and 4,811 m; the actual rock summit is 4,792 m and is 40 m away from the ice-covered summit
Natural resources:metropolitan France: coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish French Guiana: gold deposit


s, petroleum, kaolin, niobium, tantalum, clay
Land use:arable land: 33.46% permanent crops: 2.03% other: 64.51% note: French Guiana - arable land 0.13%, permanent crops 0.04%, other 99.83% (90% forest, 10% other); Guadeloupe - arable land 11.70%, permanent crops 2.92%, other 85.38%; Martinique - arable land 9.09%, permanent crops 10.0%, other 80.91%; Reunion - arable land 13.94%, permanent crops 1.59%, other 84.47% (2005)
Irrigated land:total: 26,950 sq km; metropolitan France: 26,700 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:metropolitan France: flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean overseas departments: hurricanes (cyclones); flooding; volcanic activity (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion)
Current Environment Issues:some forest damage from acid rain; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from urban wastes, agricultural runoff
International Environment Agreements:party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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 People
Population:65,630,692 (July 2012 est.) note: the above figure is for metropolitan France and five overseas regions; the metropolitan France population is 62,814,233
Age structure:0-14 years: 18.5% (male 6,180,905/female 5,886,849) 15-64 years: 64.7% (male 21,082,175/female 21,045,867) 65 years and over: 16.8% (male 4,578,089/female 6,328,834) (2011 est.)
Median age:total: 40.4 years male: 38.8 years female: 41.9 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:0.497% (2012 est.)
Birth rate:12.72 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate:8.85 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate:1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 3.37 deaths/1,000 live births male: 3.7 deaths/1,000 live births female: 3.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 81.46 years male: 78.35 years female: 84.73 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:2.08 children born/woman (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.4% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:150,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:1,700 (2009 est.)
Nationality:noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women) adjective: French
Ethnic groups:Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities overseas departments: black, white, mulatto, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian
Religions:Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4% overseas departments: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan
Languages:French (official) 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish) overseas departments: French, Creole patois, Mahorian (a Swahili dialect)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99% male: 99% female: 99% (2003 est.)
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 Government
Country name:conventional long form: French Republic conventional short form: France local long form: Republique francaise local short form: France
Government type:republic
Capital:name: Paris geographic coordinates: 48 52 N, 2 20 E time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October note: applies to metropolitan France only, not to its overseas departments, collectivities, or territories
Administrative divisions:27 regions (regions, singular - region); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy), Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bretagne (Brittany), Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse (Corsica), Franche-Comte, Guadeloupe, Guyane (French Guiana), Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy), Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Martinique, Mayotte, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Reunion, Rhone-Alpes note: France is divided into 22 metropolitan regions (including the "territorial collectivity" of Corse or Corsica) and 5 overseas regions (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion) and is subdivided into 96 metropolitan departments and 5 overseas departments (which are the same as the overseas regions)
Dependent areas:Clipperton Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, New Caledonia, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica; New Caledonia has been considered a "sui generis" collectivity of France since 1998, a unique status falling between that of an independent country and a French overseas department
Independence:no official date of independence: 486 (Frankish tribes unified under Merovingian kingship); 10 August 843 (Western Francia established from the division of the Carolingian Empire); 14 July 1789 (French monarchy overthrown); 22 September 1792 (First French Republic founded); 4 October 1958 (Fifth French Republic established)
National holiday:Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1790); note - although often incorrectly referred to as Bastille Day, the celebration actually commemorates the holiday held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (on 14 July 1789) and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy; other names for the holiday are Fete Nationale (National Holiday) and quatorze juillet (14th of July)
Constitution:adopted by referendum 28 September 1958; effective 4 October 1958; amended many times note: amended in 1962 concerning election of president; amended to comply with provisions of 1992 EC Maastricht Treaty, 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, 2003 Treaty of Nice; amended in 1993 to tighten immigration laws; amended in 2000 to change the seven-year presidential term to a five-year term; amended in 2005 to make the EU constitutional treaty compatible with the Constitution of France and to ensure that the decision to ratify EU accession treaties would be made by referendum
Legal system:civil law; review of administrative but not legislative acts
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012) head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Marc AYRAULT (since 16 May 2012) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president at the suggestion of the prime minister (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 22 April and 6 May 2012 (next to be held in the spring of 2017); prime minister appointed by the president election results: Francois HOLLANDE elected; first round: percent of vote - Francois HOLLANDE 28.6%, Nicolas SARKOZY 27.2%, Marine LE PEN 17.9%, Lean-Luc MELENCHON 11.1%, Francois BAYROU, 9.1%, others 6.1%; second round: HOLLANDE 51.6%, SARKOZY 48.4%
Legislative branch:bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (348 seats; 328 for metropolitan France and overseas departments, 2 for New Caledonia, 2 for French Polynesia, 1 for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, 1 for Saint-Barthelemy, 1 for Saint-Martin, 1 for Wallis and Futuna, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms; one third elected every three years); and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (577 seats; 555 for metropolitan France, 15 for overseas departments, 7 for overseas dependencies; members elected by popular vote under a single-member majority system to serve five-year terms) elections: Senate - last held on 25 September 2011 (next to be held in September 2014); National Assembly - last held on 10 and 17 June 2012 (next to be held in June 2017) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PS/Greens 140, UMP 132, UDF 31, PCF/MRC 21, PRG 17, other 7; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - PS 48.5%, UMP 33.6%, miscellaneous left wing parties 3.8%, The Greens 3.0%, miscellaneous right wing parties 2.6%, NC 2.1%, PRG 2.1%, FDG 1.7%, other 2.6%; seats by party - PS 280, UMP 194, miscellaneous left wing parties 22, The Greens 17, miscellaneous right wing parties 15, NC 12, PRG 12, FDG 10, other 15
Judicial branch:Supreme Court of Appeals or Cour de Cassation (judges are appointed by the president from nominations of the High Council of the Judiciary); Constitutional Council or Conseil Constitutionnel (three members appointed by the president, three appointed by the president of the National Assembly, and three appointed by the president of the Senate); Council of State or Conseil d'Etat
Political parties and leaders:Centrist Union or UDF [Nicolas ABOUT]; Democratic Movement or MoDem [Francois BAYROU] (previously Union for French Democracy or UDF); French Communist Party or PCF [Pierre LAURENT]; Greens [Cecile DUFLOT]; Left Front or FDG [Jean-Luc MELENCHON]; Left Party or PG [Jean-Luc MELENCHON]; Left Radical Party or PRG [Jean-Michel BAYLET] (previously Radical Socialist Party or PRS and the Left Radical Movement or MRG); Movement for France or MPF [Philippe DE VILLIERS]; National Front or FN [Marine LE PEN]; New Anticapitalist Party or NPA [Myriam MARTIN and Christine POUPIN]; New Center or NC [Herve MORIN]; Radical Party [Jean-Louis BORLOO]; Rally for France or RPF [Charles PASQUA]; Republican and Citizen Movement or MRC [Jean-Luc LAURENT]; Socialist Party or PS [Martine AUBRY]; United Republic or RS [Dominique DE VILLEPIN]; Union for a Popular Movement or UMP [vacant]; Worker's Struggle or LO [Nathalie ARTHAUD]
Political pressure groups and leaders:Confederation francaise democratique du travail or CFDT, left-leaning labor union with approximately 803,000 members; Confederation francaise de l'encadrement - Confederation generale des cadres or CFE-CGC, independent white-collar union with 196,000 members; Confederation francaise des travailleurs chretiens of CFTC, independent labor union founded by Catholic workers that claims 132,000 members; Confederation generale du travail or CGT, historically communist labor union with approximately 700,000 members; Confederation generale du travail - Force ouvriere or FO, independent labor union with an estimated 300,000 members; Mouvement des entreprises de France or MEDEF, employers' union with 750,000 companies as members (claimed) French Guiana: conservationists; gold mining pressure groups; hunting pressure groups Guadeloupe: Christian Movement for the Liberation of Guadeloupe or KLPG; General Federation of Guadeloupe Workers or CGT-G; General Union of Guadeloupe Workers or UGTG; Movement for an Independent Guadeloupe or MPGI; The Socialist Renewal Movement Martinique: Caribbean Revolutionary Alliance or ARC; Central Union for Martinique Workers or CSTM; Frantz Fanon Circle; League of Workers and Peasants; Proletarian Action Group or GAP Reunion: NA
International organization participation:ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, FZ, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNRWA, UNSC (permanent), UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Francois M. DELATTRE chancery: 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007 telephone: [1] (202) 944-6000 FAX: [1] (202) 944-6166 consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Charles H. RIVKIN embassy: 2 Avenue Gabriel, 75382 Paris Cedex 08 mailing address: PSC 116, APO AE 09777 telephone: [33] (1) 43-12-22-22 FAX: [33] (1) 42 66 97 83 consulate(s) general: Marseille, Strasbourg

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SPAIN POPULATION: 47,042,984

3 VISITORS FROM HERE!


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 Background
Spain's powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II but suffered through a devastating civil war (1936-39). A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the EU in 1986) gave Spain a dynamic and rapidly growing economy and made it a global champion of freedom and human rights. The government's major focus for the immediate future will be on measures to reverse the severe economic recession that started in mid-2008.


 Geography
Strategic location along approaches to Strait of Gibraltar; Spain controls a number of territories in northern Morocco including the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and the islands of Penon de Velez de la Gomera, Penon de Alhucemas, and Islas Chafarinas
Location:Southwestern Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Biscay, and Pyrenees Mountains; southwest of France
Geographic coordinates:40 00 N, 4 00 W
Area:total: 505,370 sq km land: 498,980 sq km water: 6,390 sq km note: there are two autonomous cities - Ceuta and Melilla - and 17 autonomous communities including Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, and three small Spanish possessions off the coast of Morocco - Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera

Size comparison: slightly more than twice the size of Oregon
Land Boundaries:total: 1,917.8 km border countries: Andorra 63.7 km, France 623 km, Gibraltar 1.2 km, Portugal 1,214 km, Morocco (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Morocco (Melilla) 9.6 km
Coastline:4,964 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (applies only to the Atlantic Ocean)
Climate:temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast
Terrain:large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees Mountains in north
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m highest point: Pico de Teide (Tenerife) on Canary Islands 3,718 m
Natural resources:coal, lignite, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, tungsten, mercury, pyrites, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land
Land use:arable land: 27.18% permanent crops: 9.85% other: 62.97% (2005)
Irrigated land:38,000 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:periodic droughts, occasional flooding volcanism: volcanic activity in the Canary Islands, located off Africa's northwest coast; Teide (elev. 3,715 m) has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; La Palma (elev. 2,426 m), which last erupted in 1971, is the most active of the Canary Islands volcanoes; Lanzarote is the only other historically active volcano
Current Environment Issues:pollution of the Mediterranean Sea from raw sewage and effluents from the offshore production of oil and gas; water quality and quantity nationwide; air pollution; deforestation; desertification
International Environment Agreements:party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
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 People
Population:47,042,984 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 15.1% (male 3,646,614/female 3,435,311) 15-64 years: 67.7% (male 16,036,556/female 15,637,090) 65 years and over: 17.1% (male 3,389,681/female 4,609,532) (2011 est.)
Median age:total: 40.9 years male: 39.7 years female: 42.2 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:0.654% (2012 est.)
Birth rate:10.4 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate:8.88 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate:5.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 3.37 deaths/1,000 live births male: 3.71 deaths/1,000 live births female: 3.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 81.27 years male: 78.26 years female: 84.47 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:1.48 children born/woman (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.4% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:130,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:1,600 (2009 est.)
Nationality:noun: Spaniard(s) adjective: Spanish
Ethnic groups:composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types
Religions:Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%
Languages:Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, and Basque 2% note: Catalan is official in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and the Valencian Community (where it is known as Valencian); in the northwest corner of Catalonia (Vall d'Aran), Aranese is official along with Catalan; Galician is official in Galicia; Basque is official in the Basque Country
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 97.7% male: 98.5% female: 97% (2010 est.)
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 Government
Country name:conventional long form: Kingdom of Spain conventional short form: Spain local long form: Reino de Espana local short form: Espana
Government type:parliamentary monarchy
Capital:name: Madrid geographic coordinates: 40 24 N, 3 41 W time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October note: Spain is divided into two time zones including the Canary Islands
Administrative divisions:17 autonomous communities (comunidades autonomas, singular - comunidad autonoma) and 2 autonomous cities* (ciudades autonomas, singular - ciudad autonoma); Andalucia, Aragon, Asturias, Baleares (Balearic Islands), Ceuta*, Canarias (Canary Islands), Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Cataluna (Catalonia), Comunidad Valenciana (Valencian Community), Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Melilla*, Murcia, Navarra, Pais Vasco (Basque Country) note: the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla plus three small islands of Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera, administered directly by the Spanish central government, are all along the coast of Morocco and are collectively referred to as Places of Sovereignty (Plazas de Soberania)
Independence:1492; the Iberian peninsula was characterized by a variety of independent kingdoms prior to the Muslim occupation that began in the early 8th century A.D. and lasted nearly seven centuries; the small Christian redoubts of the north began the reconquest almost immediately, culminating in the seizure of Granada in 1492; this event completed the unification of several kingdoms and is traditionally considered the forging of present-day Spain
National holiday:National Day, 12 October (1492); year when Columbus first set foot in the Americas
Constitution:approved by legislature 31 October 1978; passed by referendum 6 December 1978; signed by the king 27 December 1978
Legal system:civil law system with regional variations
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: King JUAN CARLOS I (since 22 November 1975); Heir Apparent Prince FELIPE, son of the monarch, born 30 January 1968 head of government: President of the Government (Prime Minister equivalent) Mariano RAJOY (since 20 December 2011); Vice President (and Minister of the President's Office) Soraya Saenz de SANTAMARIA (since 22 December 2011) cabinet: Council of Ministers designated by the president (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) note: there is also a Council of State that is the supreme consultative organ of the government, but its recommendations are non-binding elections: the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually proposed president by the monarch and elected by the National Assembly; election last held on 20 November 2011 (next to be held in November 2015); vice president appointed by the monarch on the proposal of the president election results: Mariano RAJOY elected President of the Government; percent of vote - NA
Legislative branch:bicameral; General Courts or Las Cortes Generales (National Assembly) consists of the Senate or Senado (264 seats as of 2008; 208 members directly elected by popular vote and the other 56 - as of 2008 - appointed by the regional legislatures; members to serve four-year terms) and the Congress of Deputies or Congreso de los Diputados (350 seats; each of the 50 electoral provinces fills a minimum of two seats and the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla fill one seat each with members serving a four-year term; the other 248 members are determined by proportional representation based on popular vote on block lists who serve four-year terms) elections: Senate - last held on 20 November 2011 (next to be held by November 2015); Congress of Deputies - last held on 20 November 2011 (next to be held by November 2015) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PP 136, PSOE 48, CiU 9, EAJ/PNV 4, Amaiur 3, other 8, members appointed by regional legislatures 56; Congress of Deputies - percent of vote by party - PP 44.6%, PSOE 28.8%, CiU 4.2%, IU 6.9%, Amaiur 1.4%,UPyD 4.7%, EAJ/PNV 2.4%, other 7.1%; seats by party - PP 186, PSOE 110, CiU 16, IU 11, Amaiur 7, UPyD 5, EAJ/PNV 5, other 10
Judicial branch:Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo; Constitutional Court or Tribunal Constitucioanal de Espana
Political parties and leaders:Amaiur [collective leadership] (a coalition of parties advocating the peaceful Basque independence from Spain); Basque Nationalist Party or PNV or EAJ [Inigo URKULLU Renteria]; Canarian Coalition or CC [Claudina MORALES Rodriquez] (a coalition of five parties); Convergence and Union or CiU [Josep Antoni DURAN i LLEIDA] (a coalition of the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia or CDC [Artur MAS i Gavarro] and the Democratic Union of Catalonia or UDC [Josep Antoni DURAN i LLEIDA]); Entesa Catalonia de Progress (a Senate coalition grouping four Catalan parties - PSC, ERC, ICV, EUA); Galician Nationalist Bloc or BNG [Guillerme VAZQUEZ Vazquez]; Initiative for Catalonia Greens or ICV [Joan HERRA i Torres]; Yes to the Future or Geroa Bai [collective leadership] (a coalition of four Navarran parties); Popular Party or PP [Mariano RAJOY Brey]; Republican Left of Catalonia or ERC [Oril JUNQUERAS i Vies]; Spanish Socialist Workers Party or PSOE; Union of People of Navarra or UPN [Yolanda BARCINA Angulo]; Union, Progress and Democracy or UPyD [Rosa DIEZ Gonzalez]; United Left or IU [Cayo LARA Moya] (a coalition of parties including the Communist Party of Spain or PCE and other small parties)
Political pressure groups and leaders:Association for Victims of Terrorism or AVT (grassroots organization devoted primarily to supporting victims of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist organization); 15-M or 15 May protest movement, which is also known as the Indignados, Spanish for the "indignant ones" (a loose association of grassroots organizations that advocate for greater accountability and transparency in Spanish politics, increased social justice and job creation); Socialist General Union of Workers or UGT and the smaller independent Workers Syndical Union or USO; Trade Union Confederation of Workers' Commissions or CC.OO. other: business and landowning interests; Catholic Church; free labor unions (authorized in April 1977); university students
International organization participation:ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BCIE, BIS, CBSS (observer), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), SICA (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Ramon Gil-Casares SATRUSTEGUI chancery: 2375 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037 telephone: [1] (202) 452-0100, 728-2340 FAX: [1] (202) 833-5670 consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Alan D. SOLOMONT embassy: Serrano 75, 28006 Madrid mailing address: PSC 61, APO AE 09642 telephone: [34] (91) 587-2200 FAX: [34] (91) 587-2303 consulate(s) general: Barcelona

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RUSSIA POPULATION: 138,082,178

1 VISITOR FROM HERE!


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 Background
Founded in the 12th century, the Principality of Muscovy, was able to emerge from over 200 years of Mongol domination (13th-15th centuries) and to gradually conquer and absorb surrounding principalities. In the early 17th century, a new Romanov Dynasty continued this policy of expansion across Siberia to the Pacific. Under PETER I (ruled 1682-1725), hegemony was extended to the Baltic Sea and the country was renamed the Russian Empire. During the 19th century, more territorial acquisitions were made in Europe and Asia. Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 contributed to the Revolution of 1905, which resulted in the formation of a parliament and other reforms. Repeated devastating defeats of the Russian army in World War I led to widespread rioting in the major cities of the Russian Empire and to the overthrow in 1917 of the imperial household. The Communists under Vladimir LENIN seized power soon after and formed the USSR. The brutal rule of Iosif STALIN (1928-53) strengthened Communist rule and Russian dominance of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. The Soviet economy and society stagnated in the following decades until General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize Communism, but his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into Russia and 14 other independent republics. Since then, Russia has shifted its post-Soviet democratic ambitions in favor of a centralized semi-authoritarian state in which the leadership seeks to legitimize its rule through managed national elections, populist appeals by former President PUTIN, and continued economic growth. Russia has severely disabled a Chechen rebel movement, although violence still occurs throughout the North Caucasus.
 Geography
Largest country in the world in terms of area but unfavorably located in relation to major sea lanes of the world; despite its size, much of the country lacks proper soils and climates (either too cold or too dry) for agriculture; Mount El'brus is Europe's tallest peak
Location:North Asia bordering the Arctic Ocean, extending from Europe (the portion west of the Urals) to the North Pacific Ocean
Geographic coordinates:60 00 N, 100 00 E
Area:total: 17,098,242 sq km land: 16,377,742 sq km water: 720,500 sq km

Size comparison: approximately 1.8 times the size of the US
Land Boundaries:total: 20,241.5 km border countries: Azerbaijan 284 km, Belarus 959 km, China (southeast) 3,605 km, China (south) 40 km, Estonia 290 km, Finland 1,313 km, Georgia 723 km, Kazakhstan 6,846 km, North Korea 17.5 km, Latvia 292 km, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast) 227 km, Mongolia 3,441 km, Norway 196 km, Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast) 432 km, Ukraine 1,576 km
Coastline:37,653 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate:ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast
Terrain:broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m highest point: Gora El'brus 5,633 m
Natural resources:wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, reserves of rare earth elements, timber note: formidable obstacles of climate, terrain, and distance hinder exploitation of natural resources
Land use:arable land: 7.17% permanent crops: 0.11% other: 92.72% (2005)
Irrigated land:43,460 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:permafrost over much of Siberia is a major impediment to development; volcanic activity in the Kuril Islands; volcanoes and earthquakes on the Kamchatka Peninsula; spring floods and summer/autumn forest fires throughout Siberia and parts of European Russia volcanism: significant volcanic activity on the Kamchatka Peninsula and Kuril Islands; the peninsula alone is home to some 29 historically active volcanoes, with dozens more in the Kuril Islands; Kliuchevskoi (elev. 4,835 m), which erupted in 2007 and 2010, is Kamchatka's most active volcano; Avachinsky and Koryaksky volcanoes, which pose a threat to the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, have been deemed "Decade Volcanoes" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to their explosive history and close proximity to human populations; other notable historically active volcanoes include Bezymianny, Chikurachki, Ebeko, Gorely, Grozny, Karymsky, Ketoi, Kronotsky, Ksudach, Medvezhia, Mutnovsky, Sarychev Peak, Shiveluch, Tiatia, Tolbachik, and Zheltovsky
Current Environment Issues:air pollution from heavy industry, emissions of coal-fired electric plants, and transportation in major cities; industrial, municipal, and agricultural pollution of inland waterways and seacoasts; deforestation; soil erosion; soil contamination from improper application of agricultural chemicals; scattered areas of sometimes intense radioactive contamination; groundwater contamination from toxic waste; urban solid waste management; abandoned stocks of obsolete pesticides
International Environment Agreements:party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Sulfur 94
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 People
Population:138,082,178 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 15.2% (male 10,818,203/female 10,256,611) 15-64 years: 71.8% (male 47,480,851/female 52,113,279) 65 years and over: 13% (male 5,456,639/female 12,614,309) (2011 est.)
Median age:total: 38.8 years male: 35.6 years female: 42.1 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate:-0.48% (2012 est.)
Birth rate:10.94 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate:16.03 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate:0.29 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.43 male(s)/female total population: 0.85 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 9.88 deaths/1,000 live births male: 11.36 deaths/1,000 live births female: 8.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 66.46 years male: 60.11 years female: 73.18 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:1.43 children born/woman (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:1% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:980,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:NA
Nationality:noun: Russian(s) adjective: Russian
Ethnic groups:Russian 79.8%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1%, other or unspecified 12.1% (2002 census)
Religions:Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.) note: estimates are of practicing worshipers; Russia has large populations of non-practicing believers and non-believers, a legacy of over seven decades of Soviet rule
Languages:Russian (official), many minority languages
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99.6% male: 99.7% female: 99.5% (2010 est.)
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 Government
Country name:conventional long form: Russian Federation conventional short form: Russia local long form: Rossiyskaya Federatsiya local short form: Rossiya former: Russian Empire, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
Government type:federation
Capital:name: Moscow geographic coordinates: 55 45 N, 37 36 E time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr; note - Russia has announced that it will remain on daylight saving time permanently, which began on 27 March 2011 note: Russia is divided into 9 time zones
Administrative divisions:46 provinces (oblastey, singular - oblast), 21 republics (respublik, singular - respublika), 4 autonomous okrugs (avtonomnykh okrugov, singular - avtonomnyy okrug), 9 krays (krayev, singular - kray), 2 federal cities (goroda, singular - gorod), and 1 autonomous oblast (avtonomnaya oblast') oblasts: Amur (Blagoveshchensk), Arkhangel'sk, Astrakhan', Belgorod, Bryansk, Chelyabinsk, Irkutsk, Ivanovo, Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Kemerovo, Kirov, Kostroma, Kurgan, Kursk, Leningrad, Lipetsk, Magadan, Moscow, Murmansk, Nizhniy Novgorod, Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Orenburg, Orel, Penza, Pskov, Rostov, Ryazan', Sakhalin (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), Samara, Saratov, Smolensk, Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg), Tambov, Tomsk, Tula, Tver', Tyumen', Ul'yanovsk, Vladimir, Volgograd, Vologda, Voronezh, Yaroslavl' republics: Adygeya (Maykop), Altay (Gorno-Altaysk), Bashkortostan (Ufa), Buryatiya (Ulan-Ude), Chechnya (Groznyy), Chuvashiya (Cheboksary), Dagestan (Makhachkala), Ingushetiya (Magas), Kabardino-Balkariya (Nal'chik), Kalmykiya (Elista), Karachayevo-Cherkesiya (Cherkessk), Kareliya (Petrozavodsk), Khakasiya (Abakan), Komi (Syktyvkar), Mariy-El (Yoshkar-Ola), Mordoviya (Saransk), North Ossetia (Vladikavkaz), Sakha [Yakutiya] (Yakutsk), Tatarstan (Kazan'), Tyva (Kyzyl), Udmurtiya (Izhevsk) autonomous okrugs: Chukotka (Anadyr'), Khanty-Mansi (Khanty-Mansiysk), Nenets (Nar'yan-Mar), Yamalo-Nenets (Salekhard) krays: Altay (Barnaul), Kamchatka (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy), Khabarovsk, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Perm', Primorskiy [Maritime] (Vladivostok), Stavropol', Zabaykal'sk (Chita) federal cities: Moscow [Moskva], Saint Petersburg [Sankt-Peterburg] autonomous oblast: Yevrey [Jewish] (Birobidzhan) note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence:24 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union); notable earlier dates: 1157 (Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal created); 16 January 1547 (Tsardom of Muscovy established); 22 October 1721 (Russian Empire proclaimed); 30 December 1922 (Soviet Union established)
National holiday:Russia Day, 12 June (1990)
Constitution:adopted 12 December 1993
Legal system:civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN (since 7 May 2012) head of government: Dmitriy Anatolyevich MEDVEDEV (since 8 May 2012); First Deputy Premier Igor Ivanovich SHUVALOV (since 12 May 2008); Deputy Premiers Arkadiy Vladimirovich DVORKOVICH (since 21 May 2012), Olga Yuryevna GOLODETS (since 21 May 2012), Aleksandr Gennadiyevich KHLOPONIN (since 19 January 2010), Dmitriy Nikolayevich KOZAK (since 14 October 2008), Dmitriy Olegovich ROGOZIN (since 23 December 2011), Vladislav Yuryevich SURKOV (since 27 December 2011) cabinet: the "Government" is composed of the premier, his deputies, and ministers; all are appointed by the president, and the premier is also confirmed by the Duma (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) note: there is also a Presidential Administration (PA) that provides staff and policy support to the president, drafts presidential decrees, and coordinates policy among government agencies; a Security Council also reports directly to the president elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 4 March 2012 (next to be held in March 2018); note - the term length was extended from four to six years in late 2008 and went into effect after the 2012 election; there is no vice president; if the president dies in office, cannot exercise his powers because of ill health, is impeached, or resigns, the premier serves as acting president until a new presidential election is held, which must be within three months; premier appointed by the president with the approval of the Duma election results: Vladimir PUTIN elected president; percent of vote - Vladimir PUTIN 63.6%, Gennady ZYUGANOV 17.2%, Mikhail PROKHOROV 8%, Vladimir ZHIRINOVSKY 6.2%, Sergey MIRONOV 3.9%, other 1.1%; Dmitriy MEDVEDEV approved by Duma 299 to 144
Legislative branch:bicameral Federal Assembly or Federalnoye Sobraniye consists of an upper house, the Federation Council or Sovet Federatsii (166 seats; members appointed by the top executive and legislative officials in each of the 83 federal administrative units - oblasts, krays, republics, autonomous okrugs and oblasts, and the federal cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg; members to serve four-year terms) and a lower house, the State Duma or Gosudarstvennaya Duma (450 seats; as of 2007, all members elected by proportional representation from party lists winning at least 7% of the vote; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: State Duma - last held on 4 December 2011 (next to be held in December 2015) election results: State Duma - United Russia 49.6%, CPRF 19.2%, Just Russia 13.2%, LDPR 11.7%, other 6.3%; total seats by party - United Russia 238, CPRF 92, Just Russia 64, LDPR 56
Judicial branch:Constitutional Court; Supreme Court; Supreme Arbitration Court; judges for all courts are appointed for life by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president
Political parties and leaders:A Just Russia [Sergey MIRONOV]; Communist Party of the Russian Federation or CPRF [Gennadiy Andreyevich ZYUGANOV]; Liberal Democratic Party of Russia or LDPR [Vladimir Volfovich ZHIRINOVSKIY]; Patriots of Russia [Gennadiy SEMIGIN]; Right Cause [Andrey DUNAYEV, acting]; United Russia [Dmitriy Anatolyevich MEDVEDEV]; Yabloko Party [Sergey Sergeyevich MITROKHIN]
Political pressure groups and leaders:Association of Citizens with Initiative of Russia (TIGR); Confederation of Labor of Russia (KTR); Federation of Independent Labor Unions of Russia; Freedom of Choice Interregional Organization of Automobilists; Glasnost Defense Foundation; Golos Association in Defense of Voters' Rights; Greenpeace Russia; Human Rights Watch (Russian chapter); Institute for Collective Action; Memorial (human rights group); Movement Against Illegal Migration; Pamjat (preservation of historical monuments and recording of history); PARNAS; Russian Orthodox Church; Russian Federation of Car Owners; Russian-Chechen Friendship Society; Solidarnost; SOVA Analytical-Information Center; Union of the Committees of Soldiers' Mothers; World Wildlife Fund (Russian chapter)
International organization participation:APEC, Arctic Council, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), BIS, BRICS, BSEC, CBSS, CE, CERN (observer), CICA, CIS, CSTO, EAEC, EAPC, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, G-8, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINURSO, MONUSCO, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS (observer), OECD (accession state), OIC (observer), OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PFP, SCO, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNISFA, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNSC (permanent), UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer), ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Sergey Ivanovich KISLYAK chancery: 2650 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007 telephone: [1] (202) 298-5700, 5701, 5704, 5708 FAX: [1] (202) 298-5735 consulate(s) general: Houston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Michael A. MCFAUL embassy: Bolshoy Deviatinskiy Pereulok No. 8, 121099 Moscow mailing address: PSC-77, APO AE 09721 telephone: [7] (495) 728-5000 FAX: [7] (495) 728-5090 consulate(s) general: Saint Petersburg, Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg

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