Welcome back! Grab your passport and get ready to take off while we visit Slovakia, Columbia, Belgium and Guam this week. The fasten seatbelt light has been lit and the Captain says we are prepared for take off. Please pay attention to the following safety video, treat your flight attendants with kindness and enjoy the journey!
While the dissolution of Czechoslovakia officially occurred on January 1, 1993, the Slovak Parliament adopted the Declaration of Independence of the Slovak nation on July 17, 1992 under Vladimír Mečiar. By July 23rd, Mečiar and Václav Klaus (Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia) came to terms to dissolve Czechoslovakia. It is interesting to note that there was a movement for either a tighter confederation of the two states or complete independence. The vast majority of either state were not in favour of the dissolution and to this day there are still tight ties between the countries including both nations using either language officially as long as the speaker is using their native tongue. Slovakia has since become a member of the European Union, NATO, the UN, WTO and many other organizations.
In 1808, Charles IV of Spain was forced to abdicate the throne (along with Ferdinand VII of Spain) by Napoleon Bonaparte in favour of crowning his brother Joseph I as King of Spain. This didn’t last long, which lead to the formation of the Supreme Central and Governing Junta of the Kingdom – which collapsed in early 1810 in favour of reinstating Ferdinand VII. The news reached the Americas in mid 1810…a number of incidents occurred, including the breaking of a vase which eventually led to the independence of Colombia (known also as Gran Colombia to differentiate it from the Columbia of today). It’s a fascinating history, and well worth the read!
Formed from the “Southern Provinces” of the Netherlands, Belgium became an officially French-speaking nation once it gained its independence from the Netherlands. Leopold I was not the first choice of King of Belgium (Louis, the second son of Louis-Philippe, King of France was considered first, but this was nixed by Louis-Philippe on the advice of Lord Palmerston, British Foreign Secretary). Leopold was very nearly the Prince Consort of the United Kingdom (had Princess Charlotte lived, she would have been Queen), and then he was next offered the Throne of Greece, which he refused due to the perceived opposition to this appointment and his lack of desire in being imposed on a nation. He accepted this offer to become King of Belgium, and took his oath on July 21, 1831. Two weeks later, King William I attacked Belgium in an attempt to regain control. Skirmishes continued for 8 years, and finally in 1839, both sides signed a Treaty recognizing the independence of Belgium.
Guam had been an American Territory since 1898. Captured by Japan on December 8th, 1941 just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbour, residents of Guam faced a 2.5 year occupation. During this time they were forced to adopt Japanese culture, into forced labour amongst other atrocities. On July 21, 1944 US troops recaptured the island. Guam is once again a territory of the US, has a democratic, self led government; representation in Congress; and pay some US taxes.
A few courses that you might be interested in reviewing this week:
The Captain has informed us that we are preparing to land. Please return your seats and trays to an upright position and fasten your seatbelts as our journey comes to an end for this week – but please, join us next week when we will gather passport stamps from Egypt, Puerto Rico, Liberia, Peru and the Republic of the Maldives. There are many more places to visit this summer, so make sure to come back every week to see where we will head next!