New facts about Olympic countries I did not know

(finally, I concede – this is my last post on London2012)

Apparently there were 204 countries competing at the Olympics this year.

As I watched the Opening Ceremony, I did what many of my Facebook friends apparently also did – felt my jaw dropping further and further as I learned about the existence of countries of which I’d previously never heard.

Now, I am a world traveller. I am, if nothing else, a world traveller. I cheered for a significant percentage of those 204 countries because I had a personal connection with them: I’d been to many, and I had friends from even more of them.

Even so, there were quite a few countries that were new to me. Thankfully, watching the Olympics with my laptop on my lap (where it belongs), I came across the website So as the Olympic nations came through, I could refer to this site to make sure I got the name right. Also, if I clicked on the name of a country, a handy page would come up entitled “5 Facts You Might Not Know.”

Here’s a fact I didn’t know about a country I didn’t know: Kiribati used to be located on both sides of the International Date line but in 1995 they voted to move the line so the whole country could be on the same day. They are now apparently the first country to welcome in each new year.

So, I learned, for example 5 new things about Nauru (not counting the fact that Nauru exists, which was in and of itself a new bit of information to me). One of the 5 facts about Nauru is, “Catching Noddy Terns is a traditional activity. The men stand on the beach and throw lassos at birds. The lasso is thrown in the air as a bird flies close. It then hits or drapes over the bird bringing it to the ground. The Noddy is then prepared to be eaten.” Pretty cool, huh?

I also learned that the Spratly Islands were named after Captain Richard Spratly and that Japan used some of the Spratly Islands as a submarine base during World War II. I also learned that the Spratly Islands exist.

On a more serious note, though, I want to express my sadness at the lack of a team for Kosovo. Apparently Kosovo has not been conceded the right to have an Olympic committee, because the United Nations have not yet recognised Kosovo as a country. This makes me very sad.

We’ve all mourned the fact that South Sudan doesn’t have an Olympic committee – yet – and praised the participation of a South Sudanese on the “Independent nations” team. I agree wholeheartedly with that, but I still think Kosovo should get to send a team, especially since it’s almost 4 years older than South Sudan.

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