is a substantial island located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, south
of Anatolia and west of Syria. It has often been within the control of
larger regional states, but there have been times of independence as well.
In very broad outline, Cyprus was settled in early antiquity by a variety
of folk, notably Western Semitics, Egyptians, and Hellenes. The place was
a Roman province during late Classical times, passing to the Byzantine
Empire thereafter. During the Crusades of the 12th century, the island
fell to a Western dynasty, and was thereafter an independent Kingdom until
the late 15th century, and a possession of Venice until 1571. Passing to
the Ottoman Empire, it was a Turkish province until the late 19th century,
when it came under British control. Independence was again achieved in
he Cypriot population has been largely Hellenic for ages (although there
are some Phoenician and Syriac influences, as well). When the island was
taken by the Ottoman Empire, a large number of ethnic Turks migrated into
Cyprus. Eventually, the Turkish element grew to about 20 % of the total
population. When Great Britain took control in 1878, the Greeks immediately
began agitating for political union with Greece. The Turkish minority has
always resisted this call, and the tension thus created between the two
communities has been central to problems occuring on the island for the
past 127 years. In preparation for independence, a constitution was formulated
which guarenteed rights and representation for both communities, but it
soon broke down after 1960, and the Greek majority took a predominant control
of the state -- without being able to join Greece, however. Acts of violence
grew more frequent, and matters came to a head in 1974, when the Turkish
community began a full-scale revolt, entirely supported by the government
and military of Turkey itself. A Turkish enclave was established in the
northeastern quarter of the island, and a Republic set up. This state (Turkish
Federated State 1975-1983, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 1983-present),
endures to the present day, although it is not recognized diplomatically
by anyone apart from Turkey.
is the island's listing: CYPRUS
there are lists for local states within Cyprus, Alasiya
. The archive notes the
existence of both rival states.
is the region west of the Jordan River-Dead Sea-Sea of Galilee system,
northeast of the Sinai Peninsula, east of the Mediterranean Sea, and south
of Lebanon. Inhabited for a time almost longer than any other place on
earth, the region has been controlled by larger regional states for the
most part, although there have been periods of autonomy as well. A very
rough outline would approximately the following: the place has been the
homeland of a variety of Western Semitic peoples (Caananites, Hebrews,
Phoenicians, and others) since before the time of written language. Additionally,
powerful neighbours (Egyptians, Arabs, Hittites, and others) have contributed
influence extensively. A central focus has been the Hebrew people, who
managed to establish two Kingdoms during ancient times (Israel and Judah),
and another during Classical times (the Maccabean Kingdom). A Roman and
then Byzantine province during Imperial times, the region was conquered
by Muslim Arabs in the 7th century. Taken by Christian forces at the beginning
of the 12th century, it was recaptured by Muslims by the mid 13th century.
First an Egyptian possession, and then (1517) an Ottoman, it was seized
by Great Britain in 1917, and passed to Jewish authority in 1948, when
the current State of Israel was set up.
region as a whole, and the chief city of Jerusalem in particular, are of
central importance to all three of the world's monotheistic faiths (Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam). Jews regard Jerusalem as having been covenented
to them by the Deity for eternity. For Christians, Jerusalem is uniquely
the city of Jesus, being the site of his most significant works and of
his martyrdom. To Muslims, Jerusalem is the place from whence Muhammad
ascended into heaven. On a more prosaic level, the region has been a homeland
and a cultural hearth for Jews for thousands of years. It has also been
a homeland for local Arabs for more than 40 generations. Politically, it
is difficult to avoid using the phrase "the over-promised land". The British
agreed to cede it on three separate occasions to three separate entities
(two Arab, one Zionist). Local Arabs particularly, and the Muslim world
generally, regard the establishment of Israel as nothing less than a re-imposition
of Crusading conquest on the part of the West. Zionists the world over
regard the creation of an autonomous Jewish homeland as non-negotiable,
particularly after the Holocaust demonstrated the necessity of having a
viable refuge from persecution.
The region as a whole is listed under ISRAEL
Additionally, these are other lists associated with peoples or states within
the district: Akko (Acre)
, High Priests
. I do not provide a separate
listing for Palestine per se.
is the region located at the very northern tip of India and Pakistan,
in a heavily mountainous highland area. The region has a long history as
an independent state, and was a center of Hinduism for ages. It was taken
by Muslims in 1320, but not without struggle - Hindus regained it between
1323 and 1339. The modern province dates from 1846, when the Dogra ruler
of Jammu, a Sikh, was created Maharaja of Kashmir at the behest of the
British, who hoped thereby to secure a stable northern frontier against
Russian and Chinese advances. When Great Britain granted independence to
India and Pakistan in the late 1940's, the Maharaja of Kashmir attempted
to retain independence for his province, but circumstances prevented this,
and Kashmir signed into the Indian union. This led to immediate warfare
and de facto partition by Pakistan, which regarded Kashmir as a natural
part of that state. Intermittent warfare has continued between India and
Pakistan over the region to this day, complicated enormously by Chinese
advances into the area from the mid 1950's.
the problem here is that the terrain has allowed for only isolated pockets
of settlement, each with it's own history and traditions. Largely, but
by no means exclusively Muslim, the region plays host to Hindu, Sikh, and
Tibetan Buddhist communities, some of considerable antiquity. There are
also wide swaths of upland territory not inhabited by anyone, and in some
cases only mapped in a very rudimentary fashion, if at all. When the modern
Kashmiri state was created in the 19th century, it's frontiers were very
poorly defined, and beyond that disability, successive Maharajas had for
more than fifty years to engage in complex diplomatic negotiations to get
local mountain communities' agreement to be part of the state. With a strong
Imperial presence (Great Britain), this situation had little relevance,
but with the fragmentation of the region into competing interests, conflict
has been unavoidable.
list the area as KASHMIR
; there is
also a list in the same article for Jammu
On the same page, I also provide information on Ladakh
an important Tibetan state within the general Kashmiri region, and Baltistan
a state lying directly on the Line of Demarcation between India and Pkistan.
is a district lying to the northeast of Albania and the northwest of Macedonia.
A Roman district, it passed to the Byzantine Empire, but was overrun by
migrating Slavic peoples in the 7th century. Out of these settlers emerged
the state of Rascia, the earliest recognizable Serbian polity. It fell
to outland conquerors, but was always inhabited by, and fairly often ruled
by Serbians. It passed to the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, and remained
under Turkish authority until 1912. In the first half of the 20th century
the district fairly often changed hands, but from 1945 to 1999 it was Yugoslavian.
It still is, as a technicality, but it is currently administered by the
UN, which is trying to reach a peaceful settlement of the problem.
the core of the Serbian heartland, Kosovo has from the 15th century
onward been increasingly populated by Muslim migrants, Albanians for the
most part. Today, the population is overwhelmingly Albanian. In the days
of the Cold War, this was not an issue, but since the death of Marshal
Tito and the disruption of Yugoslavia, the demands of the Albanian majority
have become increasingly powerful. Kosovo had been granted considerable
autonomy under the old constitution, but that was removed in 1989. Agitation
for it's reinstallation led to Albanian recognition of Kosovar independence
in 1991. A concerted attempt to set up a government was quashed by Yugoslavia
in 1998, which led to open warfare. The international community generally
supported the Kosovars, and eventually a limited air war on the part of
NATO was instituted against Yugoslavia, which led to the collapse of the
Milosevic government and the imposition of a United Nations peacekeeping
force inside Kosovo. Just recently, the Kosovar Albanians have once more
voted for an independent government, and have begun agitating for international
The Kosovar position
he Kosovo Albanians
want independence from Yugoslavia. Whether that means a separate state,
or union with Albania is uncertain. The fact remains though, that the Kosovars
have zero regard for and trust of Serbian Yugoslavs. They were subject
to severe persecution in the days between 1989 and 1999, and have no wish
to repeat the experience.
The Serbian position
erbia regards Kosovo
as an integral part of the nation, and would regard its secession as intolerable.
Apart from it being yet another province breaking away from Yugoslavia,
the emotional cost of Kosovo as such being lost would be extreme: it would
be akin to having the state of Virginia, or perhaps the New England states,
be lost to the United States in favour of an occupying ethnic group, alien
in language, culture, and religion. Moreover, it would involve the world
community rushing forth to support the occupying group, bombing major US
cities in service of such support.
I have a separate listing for KOSOVO
not so much because it has a long tradition of local dynasties - it doesn't
- but rather in service of human interest for a region much in the news.
I include RASCIA
within my Serbian listing,
which makes sense from an ethnic point of view, but which could be regarded
as slightly misleading geographically.
is a mountainous region located north of Greece, east of Albania, south
of Serbia, and west of Bulgaria. Like many locales within the Balkans,
the area has an extremely long and complex history. In essence, the region
now known as Macedonia forms the northern and northwestern portions of
the Classic-Age Kingdom of Macedonia, and the western reaches of the Classic-Age
Kingdom of Paeonia; both were inhabited by Hellenic peoples. Macedonia
is, of course, famous in history as the heartland of a large but fairly
ephemeral Empire created in the 4th century BCE by Alexander the Great.
It eventually fell to the Romans, and was a district within the Roman and
Byzantine Empires until the 7th century CE. In that century it, along with
most of the rest of the Balkans, was occupied by migrating tribes of Slavs.
In the 10th century the Byzantines regained it, but were able to hold on
to it only intermittently; it was Bulgarian in the 13th century, and Serbian
during part of the 14th century. It passed to the Ottoman Empire in 1371,
and remained there until 1913. In the 20th century, it has changed hands
a number of times, but usually has been within Yugoslavian control. It
gained independence in 1991.
difficulties here surround the fact that the population is Slavic (but
see below, Macedonia (II) ), but uses a Greek name for the nation -- and
a very famous and heroic Greek name, at that. During the Cold War, this
attracted little attention, but since the break-up of the Iron Curtain
and the subsequent drive for independence on the part of many East European
communities, the issue has been drawn in stark and uncompromising lines.
When the region broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991, there was an immediate
outcry from Greece, claiming that use of the name "Macedonia" constituted
an offense to the Greek nation, and an implied security threat. After considerable
and protracted diplomatic and military manueverings, Greece succeeded in
requiring Macedonia to rename itself "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"
(usually abbreviated as "FYROM") as a condition for international recognition.
Having done so, however, has not solved the problem; Greeks still excoriate
the state wherever and whenever possible.
The Greek position
reeks and their supporters
will relate that the people of the region are in no sense of the term Macedonian,
but rather a Bulgarian population. They say that Slavic Macedonia is no
older than the Tito era in Yugoslavia, and some will claim that Tito invented
"Macedonia" in order to bring pressure against Greece. They say that use
of the term "Macedonia" is a species of theft perpetrated on the entire
Greek nation and as such is intolerable. They will further claim that use
of the term implies a security threat, by putting the "Macedonian" nation
in a position of being able to claim a large swath of Greek territory should
it so chose, in the name of "Macedonian" reunification.
The Macedonian position
claim that for any foreign entity to dictate what a nation may or may not
call itself is an intolerable meddling in the internal affairs of the state.
They reject the notion that they are late-arriving immigrants, pointing
out that while Macedonian as a language is closely related to Bulgarian,
that it nevertheless has a literary tradition stretching back better than
200 years. They will go on to say that they have been living in their land
for many centuries. They disavow any ambition to militarily threaten Greece,
or desire for annexation of southern, or Greek Macedonia.
The lists that I offer are based primarily on geography. I try in most cases
to stay within a particular region, and describe the rulers and governments
that occur in that region through time. I have listings for Greek MACEDONIA
among the Hellenic states, and another entry for Slavic MACEDONIA
among the Balkans states.
ee above, Macedonia (I), for a review of the geography and historical
development of this area.
indicated in the section just above, the region was held by the Ottoman
Empire from 1371 to 1912. During that time, a large number of ethnic Albanians
migrated into western and northwestern districts of the region. They were
a quiescent population throughout the 20th century, but since recent developments
have encouraged local extensions of autonomy or even outright independence
all over the world, the Albanian minority in the region has agitated for
of direct equality, or even secession from the new Republic. Open warfare
has erupted, and required the international community to step in to try
and calm things, generally with limited success. The Albanian community
continues to agitate for greater local autonomy, union with Kosovo, union
with Albania, or full independence - it isn't entirely clear which goal
predominates. The remainder of the state is equally adamant that no such
fragmentation will be permitted to go forth.
As mentioned above, their is a list associated with
No special mention is made of local districts within the region which are
populated primarily by Albanians as such. There is a list for ALBANIA
proper, and for KOSOVO
term "Serbo-Croatian", used to identify certain ethnoi within the western
Balkans, is objected to by many of those same people.
It is trivial to note that the Balkans as a region is deeply fragmented
in language, religion, and general culture - the term "Balkanization" is
too well-known to need much explanation. The present author can call to
mind twenty different ethnic groups inhabiting the region off the top of
his head while typing this, without bothering to do even cursory research.
Nevertheless, certain patterns do present themselves, and therein lies
a set of problems. One of the largest class of subgroups in the region
are a people who have been referred to as "Serbo-Croatians". The term stems
from linguistic associations, indicating a very close connection between
local subgroups who, as often as not, are hostile to one another and would
prefer to not be labelled by a name hearkening to distasteful associations.
these groups are the Serbs (Orthodox Christian speakers of Serbian),
the Croats (Roman Catholic speakers of Croatian), Bosnians (largely but
not exclusively Muslim speakers of the Bosnian dialect), Montenegrins (Serbian
speaking Orthodox Christians), and Dalmatians (largely Roman Catholic speakers
of various Croatian dialects). The fact is that despite fractious religious
persuasions and divergent histories, all these groups are quite closely
related, and their dialects are mutually comprehensible. In speaking of
these people, one normally attempts to refer to them by their local names,
but there are times when the entire group must be referenced, which can
lead to problems.
I am asked on a very regular basis to change the archive
and re-label these folk or some subset of these folk by a more politically
palatable name. I would like to comply, for it is not my intention to insult,
but frankly my choices are limited. I could refer to these people in
toto as "South Slavs", which is what they are - but the term is antiseptic,
dry, and generally not used by any standard authorities. I could refer
to them as "Yugoslavians", which is simply "South Slav" put into their
own language - But Yugoslavia has past and present political connotations
which would confuse and distort the meaning of the term. Referring to them
as Croatians, Dalmatians, Montenegrins, or Bosnians would be ludicrously
inapt, and I don't even want to think of the kind of mail I'd get if I
started calling everyone "Serbians" or "Greater Serbians" after the oldest
and still predominant subgroup present. I suppose I could invent a term
like "Neo-Illyrian" or "West Balkan", but such inventions would be inaccurate
and misleading to an extreme.
In short, there is no generally acceptable
term to describe all of these ethnoi considered as a unit. "Serbo-Croatian",
while somewhat distortive, at least has the benefit of tradition behind
it. Ultimately, the fact of the matter is that "Serbo-Croatians" are a
people who are at this present time in the process of differentiating themselves
into entirely distinct nationalities. That process is not yet complete
and, while it continues, a certain level of awkwardness will ensue in the
matter of what to call these people in various contexts.
I normally try to avoid the problem by referring to specific groups and
writing in a manner calculated to not address general groups as such. Where
I am forced by circumstances to do so, I normally use "Serbo-Croatian"
as the commonly accepted term in international usage, fully aware that
it will grate on some ears. I apologize but, as I trust the above essay
will make clear, my options in this regard are somewhat limited.
is a large island off the southeast coast of China, between the Philippines
to the south and Japan to the north. Occupied by a Malay-Polynesian people
for millenia, it also received sporadic settlers from China - refugees
and criminals for the most part, as consistent Chinese policy was to forbid
Chinese subjects from going there. In the 16th century the island became
known to European explorers - the alternate name of "Formosa" dates from
Portuguese accounts. In the early 17th century, the Dutch succeeded in
gaining control over the place, and successfully challenged a similar Spanish
attempt at colonization. The Dutch themselves were ejected in the 1660's
by a Ming Dynasty loyalist, who succeeded in establishing a short-lived
Kingdom. The Chinese assumed control over the island in the 1680's and,
reversing their settlement policy, thereafter encouraged Chinese migration
onto the island. A Japanese possession from 1895 to 1945, it fell to anti-communist
forces at the conclusion of WWII, and became a refuge for them when the
Communists gained hegemony over the mainland.
stated, the current Nationalist government on Taiwan and the Communist
government in Beijing both agree that Taiwan is an integral part of China,
and should be part of the larger Chinese State. Naturally, the Nationalists
feel that mainland China should return to their control (there is no chance
whatsoever of this occuring), and the mainland has become increasingly
strident in insisting that Taiwan come under Communist authority. The mainland
government has very firmly regarded any international interest in the question
as an interference in it's internal affairs, and has done everything it
can on the international stage to suppress possible recognition of Taiwan
as a sovereign entity. The Taiwan government has flirted with moves toward
a declaration of independence from China but has always backed off, recognizing
that any such move is quite likely to trigger a military invasion.
I list the island under it's own entry, TAIWAN,
located within the general CHINA file.
Unquestionable the region at the highest
overall altitude in the world;
the entire country is situated on a major plateau, the southern edge of
which thrusts up into the tallest mountain range on earth, the Himalayas.
The place has been occupied by humans for millenia, but for obvious reasons
the population density is quite low. Historically, Tibet has often been
a distinct Kingdom, and there have been times when it was a Power in the
region. At other times, Tibet has been fragmented among lesser states.
In terms of recent history, Tibet
was in effect a dependency of the Mongol
Empire, which did not have the resources to directly control it. When the
Mongols lost the ability to govern eastern Asia, Tibet became a ramshackle
Kingdom, which had devolved by the 18th century into a relatively ceremonial
and powerless state. This coincided with a renascent China, which exerted
a certain level of control over the region. At the same time, religious
leadership under the Dalai Lamas became paramount, and by 1750 the Lamas
were in sole authority, aside from the Chinese. The Chinese left in 1911,
and Tibet became a fully autonomous Theocracy. With the advent of the Communist
regime in China, however, the Chinese returned, and re-established control
over the place on much more direct terms than they had held before.
Since the Chinese annexation of Tibet in
1951, they have grown increasingly
severe in their approach to governing the region. At first, they attempted
to gain the cooperation of the current Dalai Lama, but when this proved
impossible, they subjected him to increased restrictions, ultimately resulting
in his exile from the region in the late 1950's. He has since led his people
from afar, and has served as an internationally recognized symbol of the
Tibetan culture. Within Tibet itself, the Chinese have systematically dismantled
Tibetan culture and traditions.
The Chinese position
Beijing says that it
is simply exerting an authority over a province over which it has governed
for many centuries in the past, and aside from which is restoring a degree
of secular culture to a deeply priest-ridden society. The Chinese are extremely
sensitive to any hint that the international community may be conducting
what they see as interference in an internal matter.
The Tibetan position
regard Chinese intervention in Tibetan affairs as out and out colonialism;
interference in the internal affairs of a foreign state in the most direct
and immediate fashion.
I have list associated with the region located in my Central Asian file. There,
one may look through lists associated with Gughe,
and TIBET itself.