I just received an Anniversary greeting from WordPress! To remind me that I am now on my 7th year as a WordPress blogger! Can you imagine that? Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I’d be blogging this long. But it’s been an enjoyable, enlightening, enriching adventure for me. And that’s why I keep pounding on.
So now, allow me to thank everyone who have in one way or another helped me trudge along this new path; from those who have found time to read and appreciate my stuff, to those whose bright ideas and incredible content have helped to improve my blog as well. Of course, special mention to the old veterans such as GPCox, JFWKnifton, Michael Lai, Mustang Koji, etc; guys who have made this journey a fulfilling and comfortable one. A special shout-out too to my new-found friends whose creativity and enthusiasm have resonated well with me and made me feel young again. Guys, you know who you are, I am indebted to you! Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart! I’m learning the tricks to this new trade!!!
Here are some figures. In my 7 years of blogging, I’ve made 445 posts, collecting 2.5M views from 232 countries and territories around the globe. I’ve slowed down somewhat in the past 2 years due to the demands of a new job, but the passion to write remains, I assure you that.
Blogging has helped me in so many ways. For one, it has opened up new frontiers for me, eventually leading me to a new career in the development sector. It allowed me to grow the humanitarian part of me that cared about the environment and more about people’s concerns. I have since returned to the security sector, but the experience I acquired during those humbling days have certainly enriched my body and soul.
Blogging convinced me to study and learn more about our space in the universe. It allowed me to travel around the world through other people’s eyes. Last August, my new friend, SindrElf, gave me the idea to track down the countries my blog has been to. There are 251 countries and territories in WordPress’ Country List, and I counted – ahemm – just 37 countries still unaccounted for. It’s been a little over 2 months now, and I am proud to say that I am down to only 19, with the help of SindrElf. My goal now is to get my blog visited by every country listed under WordPress.
How did I nail down 18 of the most elusive countries and territories to visit my blog? I reached out to the most isolated locations in the world by targetting them in Facebook ads. In the 2 months or so that followed, I was able to get results from the following countries: Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, French Guiana, Guinea Bissau, Kiribati, Kosovo, Mayotte, Montserrat, Nauru, Niger, Sao Tome & Principe, St. Barthélemy, St. Martin, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and finally, Wallis & Futuna. Some of these island-states I never even knew existed before I embarked on this journey! See that? Now, I know that Montserrat is known as the Pompeii of the Caribbean. And that St Martin and Sint Maarten are 2 different states of an island in the Caribbean. Or that several island states such as Kiribati are in danger of sinking due to the rising seas caused by global warming. Truly, I am thankful for the new lessons I draw from having undertaken this project.
That said, there are only 19 more countries and territories which have yet to check-in to my Country List. If you have friends or acquaintances there, could you please give them a warm hug for me please? These are the countries in my ‘Unfinished Business’ List:
a. Antartica. The world’s southernmost continent. There are 12 countries that claim to have rights to at least a portion of the continent. Estimated population of a little over 1,000 researchers. I wonder if these researchers have the time to chitchat over the internet. Hey, guys, you want some first class chocolate drink there? My wife makes some.
b. Bouvet Island. Recognized as the most remote island in the world. It is a largely uninhabited dependency of Norway in the South Atlantic Ocean, with only a few researchers manning the island on occasion. Hmmm, maybe we can teach the penguins how to use the internet there?
c. Christmas Island. Located south of Java, Indonesia, the Island is an Australian territory with an area of roughly 135 sq kms and a population of 1,400. And lots of crabs!!! Hopefully, this Christmas, we’ll find friends in this island more active in social media. I could teach you guys how to cook a mean dish of spicy crabs! Just come visit my blog! 🙂
d. Cocos Island. Another remote Australian territory found in the Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia. It is composed of 27 tiny islands and has an airport and a modest tourism industry! They’ve got internet, hallelujah! Hope they get to click on my blog too.
e. Eritrea. A war-torn country located in the Horn of Africa. Over the past decades, due to the bloody war against Ethiopia, so many people have left the country. Eritrea thus has the dubious distinction as the world’s fastest emptying nation. But they have satellite TV and internet, however slow. Ok, ok, I’ll write about Eritrea one of these days.
f. Falkland Islands. This remote South Atlantic archipelago was made famous by the 1982 War that pitted the British Empire against Argentina. With a total population numbering only 3,400 inhabitants, Falklands is a self-governing British Overseas Territory. They’ve got internet! Yes!!! And they have a huge population of marine mammals.
g. French Southern Territories. These are overseas territories of France consisting of islands located in the vicinity of Madagascar stretching toward the Antarctic. Population within the islands varies from 150 to 300 depending on the season.
h. Heard and McDonald Island. The twin islands are uninhabited Australian external territories along the way from Madagascar to Antarctica. Guess we’ll have to train the penguins to use the internet here.
i. Norfolk Island. Another Australian external territory located between Australia and new Zealand. It has a population of close to 2000, with a total area of roughly 35 sq kms. Formerly a penal settlement, it’s actually a beautiful place for a private vacation. Paging Brad Pitt. Or whoever.
j. North Korea. Considered one of the most repressive countries in the world, North Korea has been governed by the Kim Dynasty in a totalitarian dictatorship. Its military-to-population ratio is the highest in the world, with roughly 1 military personnel for every 2 non-military. It has an active duty Army that is the 4th largest in the world. But they have good-looking high-stepping paraders right there.
l. Pitcairn. Made famous by the movie: Mutiny on the Bounty, the islands form part of the British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. Originally peopled by native Polynesians, Pitcairn has a biracial ethnic group descended from the 9 Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians who decided to join them. However, the alarming downtrend in population threatens to kill off Britain’s lonely colony. There is now a campaign to woo in new settlers to this island paradise. You guys interested? Who knows, you could be the next mayor, or the Lord Chancellor, or whatever over there.
m. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Part of the British Overseas Territory in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Originally a whaling base, it now houses a small research facility, and is slowly becoming a favorite tour destination. The view is stunning, with a diverse topography that has both forests and high peaks covered with snow.
n. St. Helena. Main claim to fame is its having been Napoleon Bonaparte’s place of exile and death. The decision to exile Napoleon in St Helena stems from the fact that the island was known as one of the world’s most isolated islands during those times. Historically, it also figured as a halfway point for slave ships from Africa on the way to the Americas. St Helena is part of the British Overseas Territory. With a population of close to 5,000 people, it has a robust tourism industry anchored on its history, heritage and nature.
o. St. Pierre & Miquelon. A French archipelago located south of Canada’s Newfoundland. It used to be a smuggling center during the times of Prohibition in the US. The end of Prohibition plunged the island into a temporary economic depression. This is a former fishing village that has a population of more than 6,000. I’m sure someone there could learn a thing or 2 from our blog.
p. Svalbard and Jan Mayen. The island-groups are remote territories in the north that are under the sovereignty of Norway. Its very sparse population is mainly composed of military or meteorological researchers.
q. Tokelau Islands. A dependent territory of New Zealand with a population of only 1,500. Holds the distinction as the only state or dependency that relies solely on renewables for its sources of energy. It has a combined land area of only 10 sq kms, and a population of 1,500. And sinking.
r. Tuvalu. An independent island nation in the South Pacific under the British Commonwealth. With a combined land area of 26 sq kms, it has a thriving community of 11 thousand people. However, the rising sea levels are a big concern for its growing population.
s. United States Minor Outlying Islands. Consists of 8 insular territories of the United States located in the Pacific and 1 in the Caribbean. These islands, atolls and reefs cover a total of 34 sq kms, with a population of 300, mostly military or civilian researchers.
t. Western Sahara. A disputed area in West Africa, partially controlled or occupied by either the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic or by neighboring Morocco. With an area of roughly 266,000 sq kms, this war-torn area has a population estimated at half a million people. Its capital city of Laayoune is the temporary home for hundreds of peacekeepers from the UN, hence there should be internet access right there.
There you have it, folks! The last 19 on my ‘Unfinished Business’ List. C’mon, give me some love, guys! Help me out with this.
And have a Happy Halloween, everyone! Stay safe!