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Lion Dance 舞狮

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Lion Dance, 舞狮, is a traditional art form that incorporates physical training commonly associated with martial arts and ascetic expressions.

During a lion dance performance, 2 performers co operate to “become” a lion. The Lion’s body consists of a lion head with movable ears, eye lids and mouth and a highly decorated body. The performers wear a t-shirt with the lion dance association’s logo and a special pair of pants designed to look like lion’s feet and in matching color and design with the lion’s body.

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One of the performers takes the front position and assumes the front body of the lion. He controls the lion’s eye lids, ears and the mouth while his legs moves represent the front legs of a lion. The second performer arches forward to form the back of the lion, controls its tail and his legs represents the hind legs of the lion.

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Lion dance performances are often accompanied by drum and gong players so that whenever there is a lion dance performances, the drum and gongs help to “inform” everyone around the area drawing crowds. The lion dance can occur with one or a group of lions and sometimes together with the dragon dance.

At the end of each performance, the Lion may leave a display of orange petals for audience to decipher the lucky numbers from the formation. Pastries such as prosperity cakes 发糕 are also used as props because of its auspicious symbolism.

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Although it is called a lion dance, the lion is definitely not the physical lion in the zoo but a stylized cultural lion with a variety of colors and designs. The lions are generally categorized into northern and southern lions and within each category, there are variations reflecting regional influences in China. One of the most distinguished types of Southern Lion is the Green Lion 青狮 thought to have its origins in the Ming loyalist’s anti Qing movement.

Lion dance performances are usually associated with joyous or auspicious occasions. The following is a list of social and festival occasions that a lion dance performance can be seen.

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Ground breaking ceremony / Opening ceremony

Lion dance performances are also found at ground breaking ceremonies of buildings and institutions. The performances create a joyous mood for an important and significant occasion.

In this function, lion dances witness and usher many important occasions and events of a society.

Festive / religious events

During major religious events, lion dance performances are arranged for ritual purposes and also to create a festive and joyous mood. These events quickly attract people around the area especially tourists and children to enjoy the performance.

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In Chinatowns around the world, the lion dance is always associated with Chinese New Year celebration.

See also, Lion dance, firecrackers during Dragon Boat Festival in Bintan, Indonesia.

Public performances

Lion dance groups are also invited to performance at tourist destinations or night markets. Lion dance performances are very effective in drawing crowds and in creating a festive or joyous mood since performances are often associated with happy events.

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In Singapore, lion dance performances are commissioned by Chinese customers and also by expatriate community. Lion dance association also attracted students from other ethnic groups so that it is common to see Lion Dance performance with Malay and Indian performers.

The next time you have an event consider a lion dance performance to create a joyous mood or to mark the start of an auspicious event. When you commission a lion dance performance, you also contribute toward sustaining a traditional art form in a modern society.

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Happy Independence Day to the People of Sri Lanka (4th February)

Have you ever visited Sri Lanka, truly, a heavenly tropical paradise island known as Ceylon, Serendib, Taprobane, Emerald Island located in the center of the Indian Ocean, celebrating its Independence Day on 4th February. MSF (http://www.msf-ebooks.org) wishes to the people of Sri Lanka Happy Independence Day.

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Sri Lanka is also a member of the Commonwealth, the SAARC, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank and the Colombo Plan.

 

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the 5th President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, assumed his second term of office on November 19, 2010.

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He established a record in Sri Lankan political history with being the first Executive President to lead his party to a landslide victory in Parliamentary Elections held just over two months after being elected for a second term of office as Executive President with an overwhelming majority of 1,842,749, polling 6,015,934 votes.

His success in Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in January and April 2010 respectively, came after a series of sweeping victories in elections to eight Provincial Councils by the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by him. The UPFA now has an over two thirds majority in parliament.

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President Rajapaksa’s election for a second term of office in the Presidential Election held on January 26, 2010, saw the Sri Lankan electorate recognizing him as the national leader who liberated the country from the terrorism of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and set the country on the path to peace, stronger democracy and rapid economic development.

 

 History of Sri Lanka:

 

The story of ancient Lanka has its beginnings in the culture of stone, the Stone Age. An ageless, timeless period, the Stone Age in Sri Lanka stretched from 125,000 BC to 1000 BC. Encompassing tens of thousands of years, the scales are so vast that we still cannot measure it properly. It is like peering through a telescope, looking at a world so far away that is visible only in fractions, a fleeting glimpse here and there. This era is called “prehistory”. The time before the dawn of history.

It is during the period that we find traces of early man. He appears to have lived almost everywhere; along the coast, on the plains and amongst the rolling grasslands of the hill country. The richest evidence however survives in caves. It is only then that the Stone Age begins to take shape in our minds. At caverns like Fa Hsien – lena, near Buthsinhala ( C 35,000 – 3400 BC ) Batadomba – lena in Kuruwita ( C 29,000 – 9500 BC ) and Beli lena in Kitugala ( C 28,000 – 1500 BC ).

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The Balangoda Man is a popular parlance, derived from his being responsible for the Mesolithic “Balangoda Culture” first defined in sites near Balangoda. The bones are robust, with thick skull-bones, prominent brow-ridges, depressed wide noses, heavy jaws and short necks. The teeth are conspicuously large. These traits have survived in varying degrees among the Veddas and certain Sinhalese groups, thus pointing to Balangoda Man as a common ancestor.

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Sri Lanka has an enthralling recorded history of civilization. Its unique and proud historical record of a great civilization spans over 25 chronicled centuries, and is documented primarily in three books; the Mahavansa (Great Genealogy or Dynasty), Dipavansa and Culavansa. Sri Lankan history is distinctive as it has a historical record, which is ancient, continuous and trustworthy, and begins with the occupation of the island by civilized men in 5th century, BC. The story continues under each successive king for over 20 centuries. The Mahavamsa is primarily a dynamic and religious historical record. In addition to this record, there are over 2500 inscriptions in Sri Lanka. The earliest inscriptions are contemporary with the introduction of Buddhism in the 3rd century BC. More than 1000 epigraphs, mostly inscribed on caves, belong to the third, second and first centuries BC, exist in the dry zone as well as in the old caves temples in Colombo, Kegalla, and Kandy.

Largest cities of Sri Lanka

 

Colombo:

The capital and the most populous city in Sri Lanka are not only busy in business and trade industry. Colombo is a perfect spot where anyone can witness how the past and present meet at a crossroad. This is the very reason why thousands of tourists flock the place every year.

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Situated in the west coast, Colombo boasts of magnificent man-made wonders that will leave visitors at awe. One of this wonders is the Wolvendaal Church built in 1749 that became a center of religious beliefs and practices. Another site is the old Legislative Council Building in Colombo fort that served protection spots against Dutch and British oppressors. The Gargarama temple is another religious hub and tourist destination in the city.

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Things to do in Colombo:

·        Play a round of golf at The Royal Colombo Golf Club.  The immaculately manicured greens of the Royal Colombo Golf Club have attracted golfers for 129 years, a slice of golfing history.

·        Enjoy a city tour hop on board the exciting open deck double Decker of the Colombo City Tour to witness the charm of Colombo.

·        Enjoy some seafood on Mt Lavinia Beach.  It is one of Colombo’s more laidback suburbs filled with great seafood restaurants on the golden beach and is named after Lovinia, the gypsy dancing girl who had a secret romance with one of Sri Lanka’s governors.

·        Do some shopping; One of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets is the shopping secret opportunities in Colombo –sleek department stores and cool shopping malls are filled with designer clothing, shoes and handbags, plus handicrafts, home furnishings and more.

·        Indulge in a massage at one of Colombo’s Spas featuring serene surroundings and expert masseurs trained in everything from Swedish to Shiatsu.

·        Visit to National Museum, it has some terrific examples of ancient paintings, sculptures and sketches dating back to the 4th century BC, while if it’s something contemporary you want, the city has a thriving arts scene, with many creative painters exhibiting in local galleries.

·        Visit Temple; The Gangarama Vihara is one of the most venerable temples in the country, decorated with wonderful brass work, stone carvings, and other Buddhist art. Also a place of learning, it houses a museum, complete with residential hall.

·        Visit Dehiwal Zoological Garden;beautifully landscaped 30 acres in which a rich collection of mammals, birds, reptiles and fishes live in harmony with Nature.

·        Get wet and wild at leisure world Sri Lanka’s first amusement and Water Park features log flumes, roller coasters, and many other thrilling rides for kids and adults. 

·        Eat some Kothu Rotti; the quintessential Sri Lankan snack consists of sliced-up bits of rotti, expertly blended with your choice of chicken, beef, egg, onions, tomatoes and green chilies. Unmissable.

·        Go for a ride in a Trishaw; these motorised three-wheeled chariots are the backbone of Sri Lankan transport – just remember to hang on for dear life!

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Ahungalla

Most people visit the country of Sri Lanka and its different regions for the beach and scenery, and Ahungalla is no different. Aside from the long stretch of Ahungalla beach, another famous beach in this region is the one in Kosgoda. This place is also well known for the multitudes of turtles that swim its coast. Since not much people are aware of Sri Lanka as a tourist spot yet, the areas here are not as populated as other countries.

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Another tourist activity to consider while in Ahungalla is shopping. Not the normal commercialized shopping in malls but shopping that makes you experience culture as well. Street vendors can be found everywhere and offer everything from fruits and vegetables to intricate masks. You might also want to take this time to visit a moonstone quarry, some in Meetiyagoda, to choose from the countless selections of stone encrusted jewelries or even precious stones in their simple forms. Just remember to have Sri Lankan Rupees with you.

There are also various restaurants that you can try here that offer both local delicacies as well as well-loved international favorites. If you are in the mood for European or Italian dishes, you might want to try Lotus Villa located along the beachfront of Ahungalla or Don’s Deli that can be found along Duplication Road. If ever you are in the mood for pizza or pasta, try Izza Pizza also found on Duplication Road. There are also countless shops and restaurants along Kosgoda beach that offers a variety of food and souvenirs.

Adam’s Peak

Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands, in which Adam’s Peak stands, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2010 to protect the montane forests which are home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species such as the western-purple-faced langur, and the Sri Lankan leopard. The region is considered a super biodiversity hotspot.

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Kandy

This sacred Buddhist site, popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, was the last capital of the Sinhala kings whose patronage enabled the Dinahala culture to flourish for more than 2,500 years until the occupation of Sri Lanka by the British in 1815. It is also the site of the Temple of the Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of the Buddha), which is a famous pilgrimage site.

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Negombo

Negombo situated by the shores of a lagoon by the same name once has been a trading port for Portuguese and Dutch and is an ideal place for those who want quick access to and from the airport. Attractions in the city are the old Dutch fort gate built in 1672 now a part of the prison, the Dutch Canal which was then a supply route to the Dutch administration, old churches and fishing villagers. The 100km long canal running through the town is still being used and is an attraction for those who want to see the country from a different perspective. 

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The stretch of road towards Kotchchikade comes to life at dusk (most shops are open at daytime too) with many handicrafts and curio shops, gem shops, restaurants and internet cafes catering for tourists.

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Galle:

The capital of the southern province is a city with a colorful history. UNESCO declared World Heritage Site the magnificent Dutch fort is the most popular attraction of the town. 300 year old Dutch atmosphere is still very much alive around the fort and amidst its many historical buildings not invaded by the skyscrapers. The beautiful beach of Unawatuna is just 6km south east of the city centre.

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The southern coastal belt is the most popular among the tourists and comes to life mainly from October through April when the monsoon moves northeast and the sea becomes calm with blue skies. The earliest European administrative centre of Sri Lanka was the major port and the largest city until the British shifted the port to Colombo. The City of Galle had been the European administrative centre over 4 centuries.

  

Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa is one of the earliest tourist beaches of Sri Lanka famous for its sandy beaches and superb waves for surfing. Once a popular coral reefs at Hikkaduwa are now nearly extinct. There are many hotels and guest houses to suit any budget with varying quality and comfort. 

Your itineraries at Hikkaduwa may include hiring a glass bottom boat for coral viewing, surfing, snorkeling, going fishing with the locals, scuba diving or simply relaxing in the beach. There are also nice lagoons not to far away, which is nice to visit if you need a break from the beach.

The people of Hikkaduvva are really friendly and you don’t get the feeling of being cheated all the time. Its a place you visit and if you stay a few days people will remember you.

Wasgamuwa National Park

WASGAMUWA NATIONAL PARK situated in the districts of Matale and Polonnaruwa, this substantial national park stretches up to a remarkable 36,948 hectares. Initially Wasgamuwa was affirmed to be a strict nature reserve in 1938 but then it was altered and declared into a national park in 1984. The park lies within the central and northern central provinces. Rainfall is generally by the northeast monsoon (December to February) and inter-monsoonal rains. Meaning annual rainfall can vary from about 1750mm in a dry zone to about 2250mm in an intermediate zone. The yearly temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius.

 

 Wasgamuwa National Park

Park consists of Riverina forest, dry mixed evergreen forest, grasslands and wetlands. As park is almost surrounded by Mahaweli & Amban Rivers, riverine forest area is fairly large.

 

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Wasgamuwa is famous as an elephant habitat. These elephants are known to be less habituated to people and are more wildish. Other than elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, spotted and barking deer, wild boar and wild buffalo are also found here. Torque Macaque, Purple face leaf monkey and nocturnal slender Loris is also found in the park. Lesser Adjutant, Wooly necked stork, open bill, painted stork, Racket tailed Drongo, Yellow fronted barbet, Sri Lanka Junglefowl & Spurfowl are among the over 100 species of birds found within the park.

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Pristine:


Sri Lanka is a paradise island offering visitors incomparable beach holidays. With the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean gently lapping its pristine shores, Sri Lanka’s beaches are covered with soft warm sand. Home to tropical fish and living corals the waters surrounding Sri Lanka are warm thanks to the tropical climate the island enjoys. With over 1300 km of beach on offer, all you have to do is come to Sri Lanka and spend hours of fun in the sun. 

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Whether you are looking to just relax in the sun and get the perfect tan or if you are looking for more action such as surfing, diving or jet skiing, Sri Lanka has much to offer with its world renowned best beaches. Come visit Sri Lanka, the wonder of Asia.

 

 

Jaffna

Jaffna or Yazhpanam is the capital city of the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. Most of the residents of Jaffna are Sri Lankan Tamils with a presence of Sri Lankan Moors and Portuguese Burghers . Almost all Sri Lankan Muslims were driven off from Jaffna by the LTTE in the 1990s, as a result of the ethnic conflict which started in the 1970s [1] which leaves Jaffna exclusively Tamil, apart from the military personnel.

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Food in Sri Lanka

The nurturing of many types of rice, spices, vegetables and fruit, coupled

with past foreign influences, ensures that Sri Lanka enjoys a varied and

selected cuisine. As a staple, rice is consumed with an assortment of colorful

curries (eggplant, potato, green banana, chicken, fish) that range in potency

from delicately-spiced to near-dynamite.

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Other Sri Lankan staples include hoppers (a pancake-like snack), string hoppers (steamed rice noodles) and pittu (a mixture of flour and coconut). Lampreys – rice and accompaniments baked in plantain leaves – is a legacy of the Dutch. Seafood lovers will rejoice at the fresh fish, prawns, crab, squid and crayfish available. Desserts include buffalo curd eaten with palm-honey, and the Malay-derived caramel-like wattalapam.

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Sri Lanka has a wonderful array of snacks, known as short eats, named cutlets, patties, malu pang (fish bun), and kimbula bunis (crocodile-shaped bun!) that are excellent for trips.

Delectable fruit includes the popular mango, pineapple, banana and papaya, but also many lesser-known but distinctive examples such as sapodilla, mangosteen, rambuttan, woodapple, custard apple and beli.

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Shopping:

 

 

Shopping in Sri Lanka can take many forms: haggling with a handicraft-seller

 

while sunbathing on the beach; choosing fruit from the traditional village store,

 

the kadé,while side-stepping sacks of rice checking out the bargain-priced

 

latest international fashions (Sri Lanka is a major garment exporter) while

 

enjoying the ambience of a luxurious shopping centre in Colombo.


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And there’s much in-between. Visit a handicraft shop and familiarize yourself with traditional designs such as makara (a mythical animal, lion, swan, elephant and lotus which are most evident in brass work (boxes, trays, lanterns, vases) and silverware (ornately carved and filigree jewellery, tea-sets) that make excellent souvenirs. In addition, ritual masks, lacquer ware, batik and handloom textiles, lace, and wood carvings are popular.


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Last but certainly not least, Sri Lanka has the widest variety of precious stones among the world’s gem producing countries –blue sapphiresstar sapphiresrubies, cat’s eye, garnets, moonstonesaquamarines and topazes being just a dazzling handful. What’s more, Sri Lanka naturally has a tradition in jewellery-making, so you can bring your gems to life.

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Please visit to download a pdf guide books to Sri Lank

World Wetlands Day (2nd February)

In the city of Iran Ramsar an International Conference on the Conservation of Waterlands and Waterfowl held in February 1971 where International Agencies of United Nation and other Governmental and Non-governmental agencies passed a resolution to take care of the water reservoirs throughout the world. This day is celebrated every year on the 2nd February.

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The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with the actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.
At present, there are 163 participating contries all over the world. Each party country to the Ramsar Convention has designated a number of internationally important wetlands within its territory for protection wetlands resources. Among other nations, Pakistan has also endorsed the Ramsar Convention and became an astringent faction to the Convention in 1976. In Pakistan, there are 19 Ramsar sites — nine in Sindh, five in Balochistan, three in Punjab, and two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistan possesses a great variety of wetlands distributed almost through out the country from the coastal mangroves and mudflats on the Indus Delta to the glacial lakes of the high Himalayas. Some of the important wetlands in Pakistan are, Drigh Lake, Jiwani Coastal Wetland, Jubho Lagoon, Miani Hor, Nurri Lagoon, Runn of Kutch, Tanda Dam, Taunsa Barrage, Thanedar Wala, Uchhali Complex, the Sindh and Makran coast, Indus Delta and River System.
These wetlands are the lifeline of wetlands dependent local communities who not only benefit from the substantial economic growth but are also a source of staple food, livestock grazing and fodder, fuel-wood, transport, energy generation and irrigation. Around the world about one billion people eat fish as wetlands product, in addition to crab, shrimp and salmon. Wetlands are also a source of rice, the staple food of over three billion people throughout the world.

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In addition, these ecosystems provide essential habitats for a number of important mammal species, like the smooth coated otter, Indus dolphin, fishing cat, hog deer, and wild boar besides waterfowl. They connect nations through water flow and the migratory birds and fauna that migrate from one country to the other.

Conservation of wetlands is essential because they are very fertile and productive areas. Wetlands are found all over the world, the only continent that does not have them is Antarctica. Wetlands play a key role in keeping our water clean because they store and filter water that passes through them. Wetland also play an important role in flood control by storing excess water which seeps gradually back into the ground and becomes available to people for their use in the form of purified springs and streams. This supplies people with clean water. Therefore, wetlands are important part of watersheds.
There are many types of plants, bacteria and animals associated with wetlands that help remove many harmful impurities. Wetlands and their surrounding upstream and downstream serve as habitat for many species of plants, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish and many invertebrates, where they obtain shelter, food and water. The fauna associated with wetlands use them as breeding and nesting grounds and resting areas. Wetland vegetation not only traps sediments but also controls soil erosion by stabilising the soil against erosive waves and currents.

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Besides their historical importance and cultural significance, wetlands help to promotion the wellbeing of the local people by setting up small-scale business activities. We all know about the folklore associated with Lake Saiful Malook. Though situated in remote areas, many people still make an effort to go to these places to enjoy the natural beauty of wetlands.

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However, increased human population around wetlands contributes to growing biotic pressure which has posed threats to the existence of wetlands on account of unsustainable practices and lack of awareness at large.
Conversion, diversion, agriculture expansion and changed land use practices, increased sedimentation, drainage, pollution, hunting, and over-exploitation of wetland resources are some of the contributing drivers that bring about significant changes in the ecology of the wetlands. Due to these factors both wildlife and people suffer. It presents a sad reality that the condition of the existing wetlands is gradually deteriorating which needs to be conserved as they are our natural assets.

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National Day of Nauru (31st January)

MANILA, Philippines – Nauru is going to celebrate its National Day tomorrow  (Thursday).  Happy National day to the people of Nauru from MSF (www.blog.msf-ebooks.org , http://www.msf-ebooks.org).  Located in the Western Pacific Ocean, Nauru is an oval-shaped island which lies 42 kilometers south of the equator. The island is considered the world’s smallest island nation, just 21 square kilometers. The nearest country to Nauru is Kiribati, whose Ocean Island is only 350 kilometers to the east. The present inhabitants of Nauru are of mixed Polynesian, Micronesian, and Melanesian races. About four-fifths of the people are Christians. Nauruans and English are the main languages.

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During the first half of the 20th century, Nauru was a “renter state,” a term to describe those states whose national revenues are mostly derived from renting indigenous resources to external clients. The island was well known for its massive phosphate reserves. As early as 1907, Nauru was a major exporter of phosphate, but in the 1980’s, the phosphate deposits ran out after numerous years of mining.

In 1947, Nauru became a United Nations trust territory, administered by Australia. The country’s Local Government and Legislative Council were formed in 1957 and 1965, respectively. In 1968, the Nauruans gained their complete independence.

Commercial and agricultural exchanges have been active between the Philippines and Nauru. The linguistic, religious, and ethnic affinities between our two peoples are responsible for the close bilateral relations.

We congratulate the people and government of Nauru led by H.E., President Marcus Stephen, on the occasion of their National Day. We wish them all the best and success in all their endeavors.

Nauru parliament Suomi: Naurun parlamenttitalo...

Nauru parliament Suomi: Naurun parlamenttitalo Polski: Budynek parlamentu Português: Parlamento de Nauru Русский: Здание Парламента Науру Svenska: Parlamentshuset i Nauru (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good things come in small packages…
Nauru is indeed a tiny island nation. Remember to treat it with care.

When taking a vacation on an isolated coral atoll like Nauru, it is important to remember that many of the resources necessary to sustain the island are imported.  Even natural fresh water is limited so electricity and drinking water is at a premium.

What to bring on your holiday
Remember to bring beach wear for sunbathing/swimming but also conservative wear for visits around the island.  Sturdy shoes for a visit to the phosphate interior is a good idea, as is some light wet weather gear for tropical rain. Sun block, insect repellent and all the other Pacific Island necessities would be a good idea; however there are shops on the island to provide some of these products.

Nauru’s Weather
Nauru’s weather is tropical with temperatures ranging between 24.4 Celsius and 33.9 Celsius.  Heat is kept temperate by cooling sea breezes.  The tropical weather has a monsoonal pattern, with a rainy season from November to February.  North-east trade winds blow from March to October and average humidity is 80%.

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Nauru’s Land
Nauru boasts 30 kilometres of coastline, ringed on all sides by the amazing expanse of the Pacific Ocean.  Sandy beaches rise to a fertile coastal belt around raised coral reefs.  The interior is a raised, unique moonscape made up of limestone pinnacles. The legacy of the island’s only export, phosphate mining, the plateaus are an important part of the island’s economic history. There is talk of a secondary source of phosphate being utilised.  However some of this land is now also being considered for other purposes, such as regeneration and building projects.

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Nauru’s Flora and Fauna
Birdwatchers will enjoy plenty of native sea bird sights.  Surrounding deep water provides accessible deep sea game fishing for tuna, marlin, skipjack, barracuda and many more.

Natural vegetation includes pandanus trees, coconut palms, tomano trees and the Pacific’s most recognised flower, the beautiful frangipani.  The land surrounding the Buada lagoon is used to grow some vegetables and bananas.

Nauruan Public Holidays

  • Angam Day (26 October) – The word Angam means homecoming and the day commemorates the various times in history when the size of the Nauruan population has returned to 1,500 which is thought to be the minimum number necessary for survival.
  • Independence Day (31 January)
  • Constitution Day (17 May)
  • National Youth Day (25 September)
  • Statutory holidays: New Year’s Day (1 January), Christmas Day (25 December), Easter (Good Friday, Easter Monday and Tuesday)

Money: Nauru uses the Australian Dollar.

Time zone: Nauru is GMT/UTC +12

Electricity: Australian plugs and sockets are used

Visas: Visitors from commonwealth countries can be granted visas on arrival whereas visitors from non-commonwealth countries need to apply for visas.  They can apply for visas via email at visa@naurugov.nr or at nauru.consulate@brisbane.gov.nr .

Departure Tax:  Departure tax has now been included in the airfares.

Capital: Due to its small size, Nauru has no capital.  The government’s offices are based in the Yaren district.

Language: Nauruan, but English is also widely spoken. Perhaps due to the isolation of the island of Nauru, the Nauruan language is said not to be similar to any other Polynesian island language.

Some useful Nauruan words:

Ekamawir Omo – Greetings/Hello/Welcome
Tubwa – Thank you
Omo Yoran – Good Morning

Activities on Nauru

Holidaying on Nauru promises to be a unique experience but it still offers all the benefits of ‘island time’ and Pacific Island relaxation.  Relax back and enjoy the tropical sunshine, snooze at your hotel or get out and about and see the island.  Here’s a list things to do on extraordinary Nauru:Nauru2

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Deep sea game fishing
Locals with privately owned boats hire out their vessels to take you deep sea game fishing on request.  There are a number of local people involved and it is best to organise your trip through the staff at your hotel.  Journeys to deeper waters surrounding Nauru are undertaken dependent on availability of boats, weather and sea conditions etc.  However once out on the Pacific blue, anglers can catch a great selection of fish including marlin, yellowfin tuna, skipjack, barracuda and more.

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Scuba diving
Clear water and an unspoiled reef mean scuba diving from Nauru is a popular activity.  There is a variety of marine life to be seen and one significant wreck to dive.  Scuba diving equipment can be hired on the island.

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It’s not a real vacation if you can’t cool off in the big blue…locals recommend the beach next to the Menen Hotel as the best place to take a swim.

Walks
The central area of Nauru offers an interesting walk around the pinnacles that make up the remains of the phosphate mine.  Menen Hotel organizes walking tours through this area.  Otherwise, the island’s green belt circles the island and provides roads for driving or walking.

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Shopping – arts and crafts
Menen Hotel boutique has gifts and books. Other small stores sell a variety of food and goods.  Tobacco and alcohol are duty free.  The Nauru Philatelic Bureau offers a range of sought after Philatelic issues of Nauru.  Arts and crafts are available from small owner operated stores dotted around the island.  Artisans sell their own artworks from these stalls within their own districts.

Food and Entertainment
Restaurants offering a variety of cuisine and provides regular barbecues.  Reynaldo’s is another well known local restaurant, offering Chinese cuisine.

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National Day of Australia (26th January)

Happy greetings to the people of Australia who are celebrating their national day on 26th of January.  The national day which is called Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.
FlagAustraia

Citizenship ceremonies are also commonly held with Australia Day now the largest occasion for the acquisition of Australian citizenship. On 26 January 2012, more than 300 Citizenship Ceremonies took place and 15,000 people from 153 countries took Australian Citizenship. In recent years many citizenship ceremonies have included an affirmation by existing citizens.

Various music festivals are held on Australia Day, such as the Big Day Out, the Triple J Hottest 100, and the Australia Day Live Concert which is televised nationally. For many years an international cricket match has been held on Australia Day at the Adelaide Oval. These matches have included both Test matches and One Day Internationals.

Geography:

Covering a total area of 7.69 million square kilometers, mainland Australia is the world’s largest island – but smallest continent.

In distance, the continent stretches about 3700 kilometers from north to south and 4000 kilometers from east to west, making it the sixth-largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States and Brazil.  Australia currently has a population of almost 24 million people.

Australian Government:

Australia has three levels of government – the federal Australian Government, the governments of the six states and two territories, and around 700 local government authorities. Australia has been a nation with a single national government since 1 January 1901. Although it is divided into states and territories which have their own state governments, we are all united as one nation.

Australia is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as its head of state, which is why Australia’s national flag comprises the Union Jack (along with the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross).

Culture in Australia:

Australian society is made up of people from a rich variety of cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds, and this is a defining feature of modern Australian society. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have inhabited Australia for tens of thousands of years. Most Australians are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants who arrived during the past two hundred years from more than 200 countries. The most commonly spoken language in Australia is English, and the most commonly practiced religion is Christianity, although foreign languages and other religions are also common.

Cities, states and territories:

Australia is divided into six states and two territories.

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Canberra is the national capital and the centre of government. It is located approximately 290 kilometers south of Sydney in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Canberra lies on the ancient lands of the Indigenous Ngunnawal people, and its name is thought to mean ‘meeting place’, from the Aboriginal word ‘Kamberra’. It is home to important national institutions, including the Australian Parliament and the High Court of Australia.

New South Wales is Australia’s oldest and most populated state. It was originally settled as a penal colony on the shores of Port Jackson where the bustling capital city of Sydney now stands. More than a third of Australians live in New South Wales, and Sydney is the nation’s largest city.

Victoria is the smallest of the mainland states in size but the second most populated. Melbourne is the capital and is Australia’s second most populated city. During the gold rush of the 1850s, it became one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities. Melbourne is sometimes referred to as the “cultural capital of Australia” and is the birthplace of Australian film, television, art, dance and music. Victorians’ enthusiasm for sport is also legendary and this is where Australian Rules football began.

Queensland is Australia’s second-largest state in size. The state capital is Brisbane, the third most populated city in Australia. Queenslanders enjoy more winter sunshine and warmth than most other Australian states and it’s perfect for all types of outdoor activities and water sports. Queensland is also home to the world famous Great Barrier Reef as well as five World Heritage listed areas.

South Australia is a state in the southern central part of the country which covers some of the most arid parts of the continent. It is the fourth largest of Australia’s states and shares its borders with all of the mainland states and the Northern Territory. The state capital is Adelaide, the fifth-largest city in Australia. South Australia has a thriving arts scene and is sometimes known as the ‘Festival State’, with more than 500 festivals taking place there every year.

At the top end of Australia lies the Northern Territory.

Darwin, on the northern coast, is the capital, and Alice Springs the principal inland town. Alice Springs is the physical heart of Australia, almost exactly at the nation’s geographical centre. The Northern Territory is home to the famous Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (the Olga’s) and Kakadu National Park.

Western Australia is Australia’s largest state by area. About three-quarters of the state’s population live in the capitalPerth, this is the fourth most populated city in Australia. The east of the state is mostly desert while to the west the state is bound by almost 13000 kilometers of pristine coastline. In the 1890s gold was discovered and mining is still one of the state’s biggest industries.

Weather in Australia:

Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year but the climate can vary due to the size of continent. The northern states typically experience warm weather much of the time, with the southern states experiencing cooler winters. Australia is also one of the driest continents on earth with an average annual rainfall of less than 600 millimeters. Like all countries in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring.

Sandy Beaches:

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Don’t miss the world-famous beaches Bondi and Manly. The city’s coastal walks are a perfect way to take in the golden beaches, dramatic headlands, sandstone cliffs and national parks.

Melbourne is a well planned city with wide flat streets laid out in a grid. Renowned for it’s shopping, in the jigsaw of tiny laneways hidden behind the main streets you’ll find one-off boutiques, galleries, and hole-in-the-wall cafés, bars and restaurants. With its rich multicultural heritage, you’ll find everything from European-inspired cafés to authentic Asian food. Try Lygon Street for its famous Italian cuisine. Further afield, Victoria Street, Richmond; Johnston Street, Fitzroy; and Chapel Street, Prahran offer great shopping and more casual dining.

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Hop on a tram to St Kilda; stroll along the Yarra River, or wander through the many parks and gardens that surround the city centre.

Enjoy the bayside beaches that stretch along the arc of Port Phillip Bay. Less than an hour away to the east you’ll find world-class wineries in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. Head west for the historic goldfields of Bendigo and Ballarat. To the north lies alpine country. South you’ll find the watery playgrounds of the Mornington Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road.

Extending from the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, the well-planned roads of Canberra offer extensive cycle paths, world-class mountain biking and city walking trails. At night stylish restaurants come alive with a vibrant entertainment scene.

Popular activities include the Story Bridge adventure climb and rock climbing at the Kangaroo Point cliffs; or cycle one of the many bicycle pathways that skirt the city.

Story Bridge adventure

Adelaide is a neat, flat city surrounded by superb gardens, overlooking the banks of the River Torrens. Stroll along the wide boulevards and historic buildings of North Terrace and Rundle Mall for boutiques showcasing high-end fashion. Adelaide is highly regarded for its fine food and quality restaurants. Gouger, Rundle, Hutt, O’Connell, Melbourne and Leigh Streets, King William Road and The Parade at Norwood are good places to start. The Adelaide Central Market is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Perth

There are many ways to enjoy the relaxed lifestyle of Perth. Free buses get you around the CBD where you can visit the Perth Mint, Swan Bells Tower, Art Gallery of Western Australia and many more attractions. King Street, Murray Street and Hay Street malls have many boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.

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Tropical Darwin offers a relaxed outdoor lifestyle combined with multicultural experiences, exciting wildlife encounters and fun events. It’s a small city, and easy to get around. You won’t find skyscrapers and high-rise buildings here, everything about Darwin is down-to-earth.

Sacred Aboriginal sites exist in and around Darwin, where you can learn about the world’s oldest living culture. Darwin also played an important role in Australia’s WWII history and many relics remain from this time.

Much of the city’s social activities take place at open air markets, outdoor festivals, in parks and reserves, by the beach or on boats down on Darwin Harbor.

Restaurants

Mitchell Street is the heart of Darwin’s restaurants and pub scene. The Darwin Waterfront Precinct and Mindil Beach night markets all offer entertainment, while the sleepy suburb of Parap on the outskirts of the city has some of the best collections of indigenous art in Australia.

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Surrounded by sea on three sides, Darwin is an excellent base to explore Kakadu National Park, Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks, the Tiwi Islands and Arnhem Land.

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Hobart

Hobart is a city of natural beauty and cultural heritage characterized by warm sandstone buildings, bright sails on the water and fishing boats at the docks. Throughout this small, walk able city you’ll find 19th-century waterfront warehouses and many sites showcasing Australia’s convict history. Around Sullivan’s Cove, where the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race finishes, there are good restaurants and unique shopping. Every Saturday the outdoor Salamanca Market comes alive.

Beach areas around Hobart include Sandy Bay, Cornelian Bay, Nutgrove, Kingston and Howrah. There are many more around Frederick Henry Bay. Take a luxury catamaran from Hobart’s waterfront down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and you’ll arrive at Peppermint Bay.

With superb golden beaches, including the world renowned ‘Surfers Paradise’, the Gold Coast is a mix of cosmopolitan lifestyles, theme parks, high-end boutiques, and some of Australia’s best sporting events.

Its skyline is dominated by high-rise buildings, including the Q1, one of the world’s highest residential towers. The Gold Coast is all about glitz, glamour and fun. High Street Surfers Paradise is a new precinct for sophisticated food and fashion, while the bars and nightclubs of Cavil Avenue are the main hub of activity. There are also many theme parks close to town.

Popular beaches include South Stradbroke IslandThe Spit, Main Beach, BroadbeachMermaid BeachBurleigh Heads.

Broome is a relatively small town where the pace is slow. Take the time to look at the brilliant red color of the earth and the lush tropical greenery and flowers.

Major attractions are riding a camel into the sunset along the white sands of Cable Beach, visiting sites where dinosaurs once roamed at Gantheaume Point and bird-watching at world-renowned Roebuck Bay.

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One of Broome’s natural treasures is the Staircase to the Moon. After the full moon from March to October, reflections stretch out across shiny mudflats creating the beautiful illusion of a long silver staircase.

Broome is the western gateway to The Kimberley region of Western Australia. Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third largest island, is located just 15 kilometers off the South Australian mainland. More than a third of the island is preserved as Conservation or National Parks. The island has five significant Wilderness Protection Areas. On its wild coastline, buffeted by the Southern Ocean, you will find abundant Australian wildlife in their natural habitat.

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The marine wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef is an explosion of color and biodiversity that stretches for more than 2500 kilometers off the Queensland coast. It’s both the world’s biggest World Heritage Area and biggest coral reef system, and the biggest thing made out of living creatures on earth. It is formed of more than 3000 individual reefs and 900 coral cays and continental islands. These create a web of life for more than 1500 species of fish, one third of the world’s soft corals, 600 species of starfish and sea urchins, six species of endangered marine turtles and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins.

Blue Mountains, NSW:

The blue-hazed beauty, golden sandstone escarpments, dramatic cliffs and deep canyons of the Blue Mountains are just a 90-minute drive from Sydney. As well as a million hectares of World Heritage-listed wilderness, here you’ll find the world’s rarest tree, the prehistoric Wollemi Pine. There is also more than 400 different kinds of unique Australian animals such as the spotted-tail quell, yellow-bellied glider, and the long-nosed Potaro. One of the best ways to take it all in is on the Greater Blue Mountains Drive, a 1200 kilometer touring journey that links 18 different ‘discovery trails’ – each one unique.

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Every day at dusk, Summerland Beach in the Phillip IslandNature Park, just 90 minutes from Melbourne, comes alive with thousands of little penguins. The wild ocean beaches, sheltered bays, blowholes and caves are also home to koalas, abundant bird life and fur seals. Join a wildlife cruise to see the colony of 16000 Australian fur seals at Seal Rocks, one of the largest colonies in Australia, and spot koalas among the treetops at the Koala Conservation Centre.

Sunshine Coast:

The HMAS Brisbane was sunk off the Sunshine Coast in late July 2005 in order to create a dive able artificial reef in between 12-27 meters (40-89 feet) of water. Operators visit this site from Noosa and Mooloolaba.

New South Wales

The diving in New South Wales is somewhat overshadowed by Queensland to the north. However, there are several dive destinations along the coast that are more than worth a visit: many coastal areas have vibrant local dive communities, and some of the more northern towns do an extensive trade in teaching travelers to dive.

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North Coast

Byron Bay’s excellent diving is starting to become a well known competitor to the best Queensland diving. As in much of northern New South Wales, the waters have a mix of tropical and temperate species. In addition the water temperature goes as high as 27f/81f and the visibility is on average around 15m. The sites are also currently well managed: there are a small number of commercial vessel launching licenses available, vessels use permanent moorings and over-diving isn’t taking place. Dolphin sightings are common on the boat trips and whale sightings regular between May and October.

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The Solitary Islands Marine Park off Coffs Harbor has both tropical and subtropical marine life. Notables are grey nurse sharks, hard and soft coral, anemone fish, and colorful wrasse. Seeing large rays is unusual but not unheard of. Visibility is between 10 and 20 meters, and most of the interesting diving is shallower than 20 meters. Water temperature may be up to 25c in summer.

A comprehenive travel guide for Austrlia can be download in pdf format from the following urls:

http://www.msf-ebooks.org/Travel.html

http://www.blog.msf-ebooks.org