Tag Archives: geography

Landlocked

Luxembourg

The good ol’ red white and blue for half a million Europeans

Landlocked

“I think you’re being aggressive.”

“I am not being aggressive! All I said was that I really want a vacation by the sea. I’m feeling stifled.” Luxembourg sighed. “All I asked for was a tiny corridor to the ocean. Even for a month?”

Belgium looked doubtful. “Yeah, but what if you don’t give it back? I know, let’s just hook up. Then you’d get lots of beach, through me.”

“Me and you?”

Belgium shrugged. “Yeah, and Netherlands too, if you want. Whatever.”

“That’s sick.”

“Just picture is: Benelux. It could be a thing.”

“Hey, what are we talking about?” a bleary voice from the northeast asked.

“Oh go back to sleep, Netherlands. It was just a joke,” Belgium said.

“You know, there’s more than one way to get to the sea,” France said, sidling over.

“Look, I really didn’t mean to imply that—oh geez, here comes Germany.”

Several hours later, after untold glasses of wine and beer and several annexation proposals, Germany wandered off and Belgium fell asleep. Luxembourg sat and pondered. There had to be a better way to get some beachfront property: something less wussy than being absorbed into another country, and less super-villainy than blowing up all the land between it and the ocean.

France was still there, drunkenly explaining how big it was.

“Dude, I’ve got this place called Clipperton Island. It’s off the coast of Mexico in the Pacific, of all places. I haven’t even been there in like a hundred years. I just like to tell people I own it. I even tell people I own part of Antarctica, though not everyone believes me.”

“How much land do you have?” Luxembourg asked.

“Beau—coup.” France smiled, then got up and went home.

Luxembourg called up a friend in the United Nations. “It’s not that I’m feeling small or anything, Kimoon. I’m just wondering if there is any land no one has taken yet. I just need some lebensraum, you know? I mean—forget I said that.”

“Two words for you,” Kimoon said. “Bir Tawil.”

“No thanks. I’ve already had a lot of beer this evening—”

“No, it’s a place in Africa. Maybe you could have it.”

“Actually, I’m a little leery about colonizing Africa,” Luxembourg said. “Belgium’s told me a thing or two about what it went through there. I don’t want to become that. It’s just not me.”

“No, it’s perfect. It’s a tiny little place between Sudan and Egypt—actually, it’s about your size. Sudan says it belongs to Egypt and Egypt says it’s Sudan’s, so neither one claims it. Honestly, if you want it, you can just have it. It’s a real headache for map makers. Rand McNally has been breathing down my neck about it for years.”

“You sure it’d be okay?”

Kimoon laughed. “You’re Luxembourg! Who’s going to say no to you?”

This was sounding pretty good. “Okay then! I’ll send some guys down this week with a flag and get things set up. How are the beaches there?”

“Beaches? It’s totally landlocked. That’s shouldn’t bother you though, right?” He laughed and hung up the phone.

Luxembourg sat alone in the bar. It had just doubled the size of its territory, so why wasn’t it happier? It didn’t need to be like Canada, with its 200,000 plus kilometer coastline. All it wanted was a place by the water, where it could sit and listen to the seagulls.

And maybe a navy.


Korean Place Names in English

Generally, in North America, we don’t think about what place names mean much. Either they’re in English (e.g. Grand Falls, Red River) or they come from French, Spanish, German, or any number of native American languages, and often very corrupted from the original language.

In Korea, however, all major place names can be written with Chinese characters, which makes it easy to look up the meaning. The notable exception to this is Seoul, which cannot be written in Chinese characters. I have made a map of Korea with the meanings of all major cities on it in English. (In case you’re wondering, the name “Korea” comes from a former kingdom called Goryeo, which means “high beauty”.)

original map from es.rice.edu

I live in Perfect Area. (original map from es.rice.edu)


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