The Northern Mariana Islands, located in the North Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the Philippines, were settled by ancestors of the Chamorros Indians around 2000 B.C. In 1521, explorer Ferdinand Magellan claimed the islands for Spain, which ruled them until selling them to Germany in 1899.
Norway is officially known as the Kingdom of Norway and includes a large mainland, a variety of small islands, and other territories totaling 385,155 square kilometers. Norway lies on the Scandinavian Peninsula and is surrounded by three seas to the west and shares most of its eastern border with Sweden.
Oman (Uman) is situated in the southeastern portion of the Arabian Peninsula next to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is an independent sultanate (Sultanat Uman) that has considerably upgraded its economic and social situation through various developments since a 1970 peaceful coup established Qa-boos bin Said al Said as sultan in place of his father.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan celebrated 50 years of independence in 1997. Those years have often been turbulent ones, given that military rulers have remained heads of state for 28 of those 50 years.
Palau, the westernmost archipelago of the Caroline islands chain in the North Pacific Ocean, consists of six island groups of more than 200 islands. Its first inhabitants may have been distant relatives of the Malays of Indonesia, Melanesians of New Guinea, and Polynesians.
Panama has been both blessed and hindered by its geography and geopolitical location. It is home to some of the least densely populated terrain on earth (the Darien rain forest region) but also hosts the busy Panama Canal, which has brought the world to the country's doorstep.
The independent state of Papua New Guinea enjoys some of the Pacific region's liveliest media coverage. Though its two daily newspapers are foreign owned, the private press reports vigorously on corruption and political issues.
Paraguay is a rather young democratic state continuing its journey toward freedom. The country is noted for its hydroelectric facility, Itaipu, the world's largest hydroelectric facility.
Like neighboring countries Bolivia and Ecuador, Peru has a large population of indigenous citizens. In fact, in the early 2000s, 45 percent of the population of 27 million was considered indigenous, and many of these spoke Quechua or Aymara.
The Republic of the Philippines was under Spanish rule begining March 16, 1521, when Ferdinand Magellan landed on the island of Cebu and claimed it for Spain. In 1565 the first permanent Spanish settlement was founded, and later the islands received their name from Philip II of Spain.
Pitcairn is located in the South Pacific, halfway between Peru and New Zealand. The remote island's place in history was secured in 1790 when Fletcher Christian and the surviving mutinous sailors from the British ship Bounty decided it would make an ideal hideaway.
Poland reached the pinnacle of its influence in the sixteenth century, when it became one of the most important powers in Europe. At that time, Poland's territories stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
Despite a slow and steady movement away from government-controlled media and toward privatization throughout Portugal's business sector, the Portuguese press fights for life on a different battlefield. Print media struggles to gain a market-share in a country where the illiteracy rate is approximately 15 percent.
Puerto Rico is a very fertile island for the media, largely due to its ever-changing political status. The varied opinions of its inhabitants are largely expressed through the print and broadcast media.
Qatar, which became independent from British protection in 1971, is located on the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The territory includes the mainland and a number of small islands.
Situated in the Indian Ocean, off the southeastern African coast, east of Madagascar, the tropical, volcanic island now known as Réunion, has a long colonial past. When it was discovered in 1513 by the Portuguese, who named it Bourbon Island, there were no inhabitants.
Although a new nation, Romania has an ancient history. During the Roman Empire, Romania was the province of Dacia.
On the eve of its breakup in December, l99l, the Soviet Union had a population of about 291 million, the third largest in the world. Great Russians made up a slight majority of 52 percent.
Approximately the size of the state of Maryland, the Republic of Rwanda is a landlocked country; the nearest harbor is at 1,000 miles. It is located just south of the equator, bordered by Congo (ex-Zaire), Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Burundi.
Saint Helena, a group of islands in the South Atlantic Ocean midway between South America and Africa, was uninhabited when they were discovered by the Portuguese in 1502. Its most notorious resident was Napoleon Bonaparte, who was exiled there from 1815 until his death in 1821.
The islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, located in the Caribbean Sea between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago, are said to resemble a baseball bat and ball, respectively. Settled by Britain in the early seventeenth century, the country declared independence in 1983.
Saint Lucia is located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago. Originally inhabited by the Carib people, Britain and France both claimed the territory as their own.