Facts about Golden Mole


Golden moles are small burrowing insectivorous mammals that are endemic to southern Africa; They comprise the Chrysochloridae family and, as such, differ taxonomically from true moles, the Talpidae family, and other mole-like families, all of which resemble each other to varying degrees due to evolutionary convergence. There are 21 types of golden moles. 11 out of 25 species of golden mole are endangered due to habitat loss and because they are often killed by cats and dogs.

Golden moles burrow into the ground and live solitary lives, interacting with other golden moles only during mating season. 

Golden mole is a tiny creature. It reaches 3.9 inches in length and 1.23 ounces of weight.

They have torpedo-shaped bodies, pointed noses, no external ears, and no tail, which allows them to move swiftly through the ground.

Body of the golden mole is covered with silky cinnamon-brown fur that is getting darker toward the back and paler toward the belly.

They are covered with thick, tough skin that protects them while they squeeze and scrape through tight spots. 

Golden moles are highly specialized for the underground life. They have muscular shoulders and short, but strong legs, equipped with curved claws, designed for digging of the tunnels. Webbed hind legs allow shoveling in backwards.

Their short but strong front legs with curved claws make them very effective diggers.

Golden mole has non-functional eyes due to absence of light under the ground.

They even have webbed back feet that act like shovels to push dirt backwards.

Golden mole has excellent sense of touch and hearing, used for detection of vibrations that may signal potential danger.

The eyes of these creatures are covered by skin so that they are totally blind.

Species of golden moles which live in desert area "swim" through the loose sand and form visible ridges on the surface of the sand. Those that inhabit more compact terrains dig permanent underground burrows, which are complex and consist of deep chambers designated for the rest and for the personal hygiene (something like toilets).

The golden moles are aptly named for their fur, which despite varying in colour from yellow to black, usually has an iridescent sheen of coppery gold, purple, green or bronze.

Golden moles are insectivores which eat different kind of insects, earthworms and snails. Termites are their favorite foods.

Despite resembling true moles in appearance, golden moles are in fact more closely related to an ancient group of African mammals which includes the elephants, sea cows, hyraxes, aardvark, sengis and tenrecs.

Golden mole has very low metabolic rate and may enter the state of torpor (kind of temporary hibernation) which preserves energy. Torpor is usually associated with extreme weather conditions and with a resting time.

They create two types of burrow system: tunnels close to the surface that are used for foraging and deeper tunnels that are used for resting and raising their young.

Golden mole can switch off its termo-regulation when resting. This is another mechanism used for conservation of the energy. It was considered to be very primitive feature, but modern techniques of analysis showed that golden moles developed this mechanism recently, as an adaptation to a life in harsh environment.

Unlike true moles, golden moles do not push soil up into mounds, but rather create conspicuous ridges of soil above their tunnel systems.

Recent genetic analyses showed that golden moles belong to the ancient group of African mammals, called Afrotheria. Golden moles are more closely related to elephants, hyraxes and sea cows than with the true moles.

Golden moles have five toes on their webbed hind feet that help them push away dirt as they tunnel underground.

Golden moles are rarely seen in the wild because they are very small, live underground and because they are active only during the night. Scientists collected majority of information about them by examining carcasses of golden moles isolated from the stomach content of owls.

They eat earthworns, millipedes, termites and other insects.

Golden moles are solitary creatures which gather only during mating season. During that period, they produce sounds such as squeals and clicks.

Dominant individuals may subsume a rival's tunnel within their home range. 

Mating season takes place during October and November. Pregnancy lasts four to six weeks and ends up with one or two hairless babies.

Golden moles are believed to be polygynous and breed during the winter months of April to July.

Babies are kept in the burrows for a long period of time (until they gain enough weight) before they are ready to emerge to the surface. Mother is very protective and she aggressively defends her burrow.

Males and females exchange chirping and squealing calls; the male shakes his head, stamps his feet and pursues the female.

Average lifespan of the golden mole is unknown.

Eleven out of 21 species were under threat of extinction, according to the year 2002 IUCN Red List.

Facts about Andorra


Andorra is a small independent principality between France and Spain in the Pyrenees. It is known for its ski resorts and tax haven status that encourages tax-free shopping. The capital, Andorra la Vella, has boutiques and jewelry stores on Meritxell Avenue and several shopping centers. In the Barri Antic district is the Romanesque church of Santa Coloma with a round bell tower.

Andorra is a landlocked country in southwestern Europe. It is officially the Principality of Andorra.

The population of Andorra is approximately 70,000 people! That makes it the 11th smallest country in the world by population.

Andorra is among the safest countries in the world with almost zero pickpocketing, car theft and disorderly conduct incidents.

It is the 6th smallest country in Europe and 16th smallest country worldwide.

Andorra, according to some estimates, is the world’s 14th oldest country.

The official currency in Andorra is the euro.

The offices of the government, court, and prison are housed in the “House of the Valleys,” which was built in 1580 in Andorra la Vella, the capital city of Andorra.

It is believed that the colors on the country flag of Andorra reflect the impact of both Spain and France, as the French flag has red and blue stripes, and the flag of Spain has a combination of yellow and red.

Andorra also witnesses the world’s most prestigious cycle race – the Tour De France.

Even though the flag of Andorra has been used since the 19th century, its design was officially ratified only in 1993, when Andorra joined the United Nations.

Andorra is a principality (a territory ruled by a prince).

Around 92% of the country is forest land, and only 8% is urbanized or used for farming.

The capital city of Andorra, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe with an elevation of 1,023 meters.

About 9% of the country has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

It is also the only country in the world where Catalan is an official language.

Andorra produces some high-quality wine! Local vineyards make impressive high-altitude wines, such as Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.

Andorra is not an official member of the European Union.

Even though Andorra has two princes, it is a parliamentary co-principality, which means that the real executive power over the country lies in the hands of the prime minister.

According to the CIA, Andorra ranks eighth in overall life expectancy in the world, with Monaco at the top and Chad at the bottom of the list.

Andorra is the largest  country in Europe considered to be a microstate. The biggest smallest nation, if you will.

According to World Bank data, more than 10 million tourists arrived in Andorra last year.

Andorra has never had its own army. However, in times of extreme need, the army has been formed by the heads of the families.

In 1933, Andorra was occupied by France.

There are no airports or railroads in Andorra, and it is only possible to enter the country by land through its neighbors.

Andorra became a member of the UN and Council of Europe in 1993. The political system of the country was also modernized the same year.

The postal service in Andorra is operated by France and Spain, and not the state. Both of these countries issue special stamps that can be used by Andorrans. 

Andorra has two princes. The president of France and the Bishop of Urgell serve as co-princes for the country. Note that it is the world’s only co-principality.

There are three pillars that generate more than three-quarters of the GDP in Andorra: tourism (with a large part of it related to skiing in the Pyrenees Mountains), financial services, and retail sales.

Skiing is a popular sport in the country, attracting millions of tourists every year. Vallnord and Grand Valira are two popular ski areas in the country.

The country of Andorra can fit into the City of London more than three times.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), does not provide health coverage in Andorra.

Andorra’s largest natural park, the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, and takes up 9% of the country.

The common otter is among the country’s threatened species, while the Apollo butterfly and the lesser horseshoe bat are vulnerable species in Andorra.

Before ski resorts became popular, it was tobacco that drove the country’s economy.

Because of its high elevation, the northern valleys in the country are completely snowed in for several months of the year.

Two of the main international airports nearby are Toulouse in France and Barcelona in Spain.

An estimated two-thirds of the Andorran population is without Andorran nationality. They are not allowed to vote or to be elected as the president.

The people of Andorra live to a very old age. For males the life expectancy is around 80, while for females it is around 84.

Spanish nationals account for almost 43% of Andorra’s population.

The land in Andorra is rough and mountainous, and it has several small mountain lakes and rivers.

Arinsal is the smallest city in the country, with a population of 1,555.

Most of the time, Andorra has a moderate (average) climate, but its high elevation causes the winters to be severe (very cold).

Only 5% of the land in Andorra is arable.

Summers in Andorra are warm and dry, and most of the country’s rain falls from October to May.

Andorra was once referred to as “the poor man’s Switzerland.”

Birds such as eagles, vultures, and ducks can also be found in Andorra.

There’s no income or inheritance tax in Andorra.

There are about 3,500 species of plants in the Pyrenees region.

The Coma Pedrosa, at 2,942 meters (9,652 ft), is the highest mountain (highest point) in the country.

Andorra was originally created as a buffer state by the French emperor Charlemagne to keep the Moors out of France.

Facts about Leafy Spurge


Leafy Spurge is a plant belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family. This plant is native to Europe and Asia. It was introduced in North America at the beginning of the 19th century, since then the Americans have tried unsuccessfully to eradicate this plant. Leafy spurge inhabits pastures, rangelands, grasslands, prairies and areas near the roads. It reproduces quickly, easily conquers new habitats, and kills native plant species. Commercially available herbicides are generally ineffective against this plant. Leafy spurge is not on the menu of many animals because it produces toxic substances. Fortunately, the toxins in Leafy spurge do not affect all animals. Certain herbivores and beetles are used as biological weapons against these weeds.

Leafy spurge is a deep-rooted perennial weed native to Europe and Asia.

Leafy spurge is herbaceous plant which develops few upright stems. They can reach 2.5 to 3 feet in height.

It may have been introduced to North America in the 19th Century as an ornamental or contaminant in imported grain or ballast water.

Leaves of leafy spurge are small, usually 1.5 to 3 inches long. They are oval or lanceolate in shape and wavy on the edges.

All parts of the plant contain a milky latex which is irritating to cattle, horses and some humans. 

It grows in a variety of dry and moist habitats ranging from flood plains and riverbanks to

grasslands, ridges and mountain slopes.

Sheep, like goats, can graze leafy spurge without ill effects.

Leafy spurge develops extremely strong root that can grow 26 feet in depth. Lateral roots can spread 15 feet horizontally.

In Alberta, leafy spurge occurs throughout most of the agricultural areas of the province, with

the most extensive infestations occurring in the southern and east-central areas.

It frequently infests rough terrain, hindering access for management by conventional means.

It was introduced to Minnesota in 1890 as seed in a bushel of oats from Russia.

Flowers of leafy spurge are miniature, yellow-green in color and surrounded with modified yellow leaves called bracts. Individual flowers are gathered in umbrella-shaped inflorescence called umbel. Flowers develop during the spring.

By 1992, it was estimated that there were 800,000 infested acres in the central, northern, and western parts of the state, in addition to the Twin Cities area.

Each flower bud produces up to 140 seeds, while each plant produces around 130 000 seeds. Seeds are released after bursting of the capsule. This process resembles explosion and leads to spreading of seeds 15 feet away from the mother plant.

Most leafy spurge plants flower in May and June, although mowed stems may flower later.

Seed can remain dormant up to 8 years before it starts to germinate under appropriate weather conditions.

The leaves are simple and opposite with a blue-grey hue.

Cattle, birds and other animals that inhabit grassy habitats facilitate dispersal of the seed. Humans can transfer seeds from one location on another by carrying the seeds on their cloths and agricultural machines.

Besides terrestrial routes, seeds can be dispersed by water.

If the stems or leaves are cut, a distinctive white, milky sap exudes.

Except via seed, leafy spurge can propagate via vertical and horizontal parts of the root.

One plant can send up clusters of multiple stems that arise from the same underground root system.

Leafy spurge often lives in symbiosis (mutually beneficial relationship) with fungi. Fungi provide all required nutrients and ensure survival of leafy spurge even on infertile soils.

The plant reaches a maximum height of about 4 feet.

Leafy spurge produces toxins which prevent development of other nearby plants.

It grows in full to part sun in a wide range of soil types, from dry to moist.

All parts of the leafy spurge contain white milky sap which is toxic for most domestic animals. Some animals, such as sheep and goats, consume it without visible side effects.

Each plant can produce large clumps of shoots from extensive underground stems and roots allowing the weed to overtake other vegetation quickly.

Humans will experience skin irritation, swelling and formation of blisters after exposure to the milky sap of leafy spurge.

Leafy spurge also produces seed that explodes from the seedpods and can travel up to 20 feet.

Certain countries eliminate leafy spurge from the pastures with the help of sheep and goats.

Disturbances such as road construction create opportunities for leafy spurge to spread along roadways and into agricultural and natural areas.

Another way to eliminate leafy spurge from the ground is to use flea beetles which feed on the root and leaves of leafy spurge.

Leafy spurge is distributed across the northern half of the United States.

Leafy spurge is perennial plant which means that it can survive more than 2 years in the wild.

Leafy spurge is reported in all Minnesota counties with the largest infestations in western Minnesota.  

Facts about Coral Snakes


Coral snakes are a large group of elapid snakes that can be divided into two distinct groups, Old World coral snakes and New World coral snakes. There are 16 species of Old World coral snakes in three genera and more than 65 recognized species of New World coral snakes in two genera. The coral snake is a close relative of cobras, mambas and sea snakes. There are 65 species of coral snakes found around the world, some of them live in the water, but most of them are terrestrial (living on land) and prefers habitats such as salt marshes, swamps, bush areas and forests. The best known are the eastern and western coral snakes that inhabit North America. The coral snakes in eastern North Carolina are critically endangered.

Micrurus has the most species of the New World coral snake genera, with 80.

Coral snakes are not very large. Rare specimens may reach 3 feet in length, but most of them are 18 to 20 inches long.

The Arizona coral snake (Micruroides euryxanthus) is a small (40–50-cm) inhabitant of the American Southwest.

Coral snakes are characterized by specific body coloration which consists of black, red and yellow bands. 

In most classifications, Old World coral snakes comprise the genera Calliophis (with 15 species) and Sinomicrurus (with six species) of southern Asia and the genus Hemibungarus (with three species) of the Philippines.

Some species may have pink or blue bands, while some others lack the bands completely. Head of the coral snake is black and it is hardly distinguished from the tail.

Some classifications also include African harlequin snakes (Homoroselaps), which are known for their pronounced orange, black, and yellow coloration.

Due to similarity between head and tail, snake curls when threatened and exposes its tail to confuse the predator.

There are 50 genera of coral snake mimics, such as the false coral snakes (see king snake and scarlet snake), and nearly one-third of all American species have some coral snake pattern. 

Venom produced by the coral snake is the second strongest of all snake venoms. Luckily, back in 1967 anti-venom was produced. Death after the coral snake bite has not been recorded ever since.

Most coral snakes prey on other snakes, particularly worm snakes and blind snakes, with lizards being a secondary food source.

Coral snake produces neurotoxic venom which targets brain and nervous system. Sometimes effects of venom can become visible after 12 hours. If not treated with anti-venom, person will experience difficulties with movement and speech, and eventually die as a result of cardiac arrest due to inability to breath.

New World coral snakes lay 1 to 13 eggs.

Unlike other venomous snakes, coral snake cannot retract its venomous fangs into the mouth; instead, they are constantly erect.

The longevity record for Micrurus in captivity is 18 years.

Coral snake does not have strong or large fangs, so it needs to chew its prey in order to deliver toxin. Leather boots, for example, cannot be penetrated with coral snake's fangs.

Coral snakes are extremely reclusive and generally bite humans only when handled or stepped on.

Since there are few non-venomous species of snakes that look like coral snake (because of their bands and colors), there are few rhyme which help people to distinguish venomous from non-venomous snakes. The most famous one is: "Red on yellow, kill a fellow" and " red on black, friend of Jack".

Coral snakes must literally chew on their victim to inject their venom fully, so most bites to humans don't result in death. In fact, no deaths from coral snake bites have been reported in the U.S. since an antivenin was released in 1967.

People rarely come in contact with coral snakes because they are active mostly during the night or early in the morning hours. Besides, coral snakes are not aggressive and they will rather hide than confront with the predator.

Eastern coral snakes live in the wooded, sandy, and marshy areas of the southeastern United States, and spend most of their lives burrowed underground or in leaf piles.

Coral snakes spend most time during the day in the underground holes and tunnels which are dug by other animals. They can be also found under the rotten leaves or in the tree stumps.

They eat lizards, frogs, and smaller snakes, including other coral snakes.

Coral snakes are carnivores (meat eaters). They prefer frogs, mice, insects, lizards and small birds. They will also eat other snakes, including coral snakes. That is why they are called "ophiophagous", which means "snake eaters".

Baby snakes emerge from their eggs 7 inches long and fully venomous.

Coral snake is the only venomous snake in the North America which lays eggs (other species give birth to live snakes).

Adults reach about 2 feet in length.

Female lays 3 to 5 eggs in the summer. It takes couple of months (2 to 3) for eggs to hatch.

Average lifespan in the wild is unknown, but they can live up to seven years in captivity.

Babies have the same coloration as their parents and they are fully venomous from the first day of their life.

Facts about Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong, known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the founding father of the People's Republic of China, who ruled as Chairman of the Communist Party of China from the founding of the PRC in 1949 until his death in 1976. Mao Zedong was born on December 26, 1893 in Shaoshan, Hunan Province, China, to the wealthy farmer Mao Yichang and the Buddhist Wen Qimei. Mao Zedong's father was known for beating him and his brothers. In 1911 he joined the Revolutionary Army and the Nationalist Party. In 1921 he joined the Chinese Communist Party. His political ambitions began to grow and in 1949 he became the founding father of the People's Republic of China.

He’s credited with stabilizing China and greatly increasing both the life expectancy and overall population of its citizens.

Mao Zedong's father arranged his marriage to a 17 year old girl at the age of only 14 in order to unite the two families. Mao never accepted the marriage and his wife Luo Yigu died in 1910.

Chairman Mao had a sexual relationship with Chen Luwen, a self-described “imperial concubine.” She was 14 at the time, and he was 68. The relationship lasted almost a decade, from 1962-1971.

Mao Zedong initially supported the National Party Kuomintang, which was led by Sun Yat-sen.

According to Dr. Li, Chairman Mao’s personal doctor, the ruler was infertile despite the observed pregnancy of at least one of his young mistresses.

In 1918 Mao Zedong became a certified teacher.

Despite his infertility, Chairman Mao had four wives who gave birth to 10 children.

Unable to find work as a teacher Mao Zedong moved to Beijing and worked as a librarian assistant at the university.

Chairman Mao also was the grandfather to 12 grandchildren.

In 1921 Mao Zedong joined the Chinese Communist Party.

Chairman Mao’s favorite food was hong shao rou—braised cubes of pork belly glazed with caramelized sugar and Shaoxing rice wine. 

For a few years the National Party and the Communist Party worked in cooperation, and Mao Zedong rose in the political ranks in the Communist Party.

At the age of 13, Chairman Mao was forced to leave school and return home to help on the family farm.

When the leader of the National Party - the Chinese President Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, the new leader was not in favor of the Communist Party's ideas and tried to eradicate them.

Chairman Mao didn’t brush his teeth. Instead, he rinsed his mouth with tea, then chewed the leaves. 

The Chinese Civil War began and it continued until after World War II when Mao Zedong's Communist forces defeated the Kuomintang National Party.

Chairman Mao also considered bathing a “waste of time.” He would swim and receive rubdowns with hot towels instead.

Mao Zedong founded the People's Republic of China in 1949, making him the absolute leader of China.

Mao Zedong was the carrier of a parasitic STD. He refused treatment for the infection, likely spreading the STD to multiple female partners.

Those who disagreed with Mao Zedong were executed. He was considered to be a brutal leader.

Mangoes were used under Chairman Mao’s rule as an offering to the working class. 

Mao Zedong set up many labor camps in China, where millions were sent, and many died.

Three years before his death, Chairman Mao offered to send 10 million women to the United States.

Mao Zedong announced a plan in 1958 to industrialize his country. He named it the Great Leap Forward, and instead of making China great, it backfired.

Mao suffered from such severe insomnia that he would take up to 10 times the normal dosage of sleeping pills.

Because of Mao Zedong's industrialization plan for China, approximately 40 million people died of starvation. The famine destroyed Mao's reputation and he lost his absolute power.

Insomnia also led the Chairman to suffer bouts of addiction with barbiturates and chloral hydrate.

In 1966 Mao Zedong made a comeback with his Cultural Revolution. His Red Guard helped him take over China once again.

When he died, Chairman Mao’s body was embalmed and put on display inside of a crystal coffin. Visitors can still see his preserved body at the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The Cultural Revolution resulted once again in executions and labor camps for those who dared disagree with Mao Zedong.

At the age of 73, Chairman Mao plunged into the Yangtze River and swam 15 kilometers in 65 minutes (9.3 miles)–according to the Chinese Central Government. This would mean that Chairman Mao swam a mile in under 8 minutes when, at the time, the record was one mile in 20 minutes.

Mao Zedong died of Parkinson's disease on September 9th, 1976, at the age of 82. He had suffered a few heart attacks in the year leading up to his death as well.

During the civil war led by Chairman Mao, he refused to use a toilet. Instead, he’d round up his bodyguards, head out into the fields, dig a hole, and empty his bowels.

Mao Zedong married four times in his life and had a total of ten children.

Mao redistributed the land to the peasant class and landless workers by ordering the execution of the wealthier landlords. Estimated death tolls put the result of the Chairman’s order into the millions.

Some give Mao Zedong credit for China's growth that continues even today, while others believe his time as leader resulted in stagnation in the country.

Before committing to becoming a revolutionary and statesman, Chairman Mao tried out a variety of career paths. He enrolled in police school, law school, and business school.

Fun Facts about Turkey


Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country between West Asia and Southeast Europe. It borders Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the Black Sea in the north; Georgia in the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran in the east; Iraq in the Southeast; Syria and the Mediterranean in the south; and the Aegean to the west. Turks make up the vast majority of the country's population and Kurds are the largest minority. Its capital is Ankara while its largest city and financial center is Istanbul.

Here are some of the most interesting facts about Turkey:

The place known as Troy from the legendary Trojan Wars is located in Western Turkey.

Turkey has the third highest number of Facebook users in the world, with 14 million users, after the U.S. and U.K.

The oldest recognized human settlement is in Catalhoyuk, which is in Central Turkey.

Jelly beans began as an American version of the “Turkish Delight” (lokum) confection.

The country has two places which are part of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They are the Temple of Artemis and Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

While nearly all of the Turkish population is Muslim, Turkey is not officially a Muslim country. Turkey has officially been a secular nation since 1927.

Saint Nicholas, who is popularly known as Santa Claus, was born in Turkey.

Turkey is the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world and had 35 million foreign visitors in 2013 alone.

The first signs of writing were found in Anatolia, Turkey. It was in 1950 B.C. when clay tablets were found in the Assyrian ruins.

There are at least 150 archaeological digs going on in Turkey each year.

The first Neolithic paintings found on man-made walls were discovered in Catalhoyuk.

Istanbul is the world’s only city spanning two continents. Three percent is in Europe and 97% in Asia. The part that lies in Asia is called Anatolia (Turkish: Anadolu).

he world’s oldest shipwreck was found in Kas. It is currently being displayed in the Submarine Archaeology Museum.

One way of protecting a newborn baby in Turkey is by “salting,” which is a custom where the baby’s body is rubbed all over with salt in the belief that will give the child strength to resist harmful influences. 

The world’s most precious silk carpet is stored in the Mevlana Museum, which is located in Konya.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is the father of the modern Turkish nation.

The first ever coins known to man were discovered in Sfard during the seventh century, B.C.

The Turks invented parchment—paper made out of calfskin—when the Egyptians stopped exporting papyrus to Pergamum, Turkey, because they were afraid that Pergamum’s library would become larger than the library at Alexandria, the world’s largest at the time.

Istanbul was formerly known as Constantinople. It was the Roman Empire’s capital.

Tulips were introduced to Europe through Dutch traders by the Turks in the 17th century. The word “tulip” comes from the Turkish word for turban, tülbent.

The first ever university known to man is located in Harran.

The fez is a traditional, short, conical, red felt cap worn by Turkish men, but they are almost never worn today. They were banned by the government in 1925.

Istanbul was the capital of three empires for 2,000 years: the Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine Empires.

Turkey is the largest grower of hazelnuts in the world; it is responsible for 80% of the world’s hazelnut exports.

The first man-made Christian Church was discovered in Antioch.

The most common last names in Turkey are Yılmaz (never gives up, undaunted), Kaya (rock), Demir (iron), Şahin (falcon or hawk), and Çelik (steel).

Historical figures such as Homer, Aesop, and St. Paul the Apostle were all born in Turkey.

Most Turks did not have surnames until a law was passed requiring it in 1934.

Carpets are very important in Turkish culture. Seen as religious symbols, they are used in mosques.

More journalists are imprisoned in Turkey than any other country in the world.

Turkish food is deliciously scrumptious. They are most famous for their kebabs and seafood.

The Asklepion at Pergamum, Turkey, has been called one of the world’s first full-service health clinics.

In Turkey, you will find a dessert made out of chicken. It is called Tavukgogsu.

Turkey’s Istanbul Tünel is the world’s second oldest underground railway, after the London Underground, and the oldest on the European continent. It began operating in 1975.

The most famous coffee in Europe is made in Turkey.

One of the world’s earliest civilizations, the Hittites, flourished in Turkey around 1600 B.C. They were among the first people to work iron and use a system of writing.

There are more than ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Turkey.

Turkey has 82,693 mosques, more than any other country per capita in the world.

Seven churches mentioned by John in his revelations are located in Turkey. These are Ephesus, Pergamum, Smyrna, Sardis, Thyatira, Laodicea and Philadelphia.

The cherry tree was first introduced to Rome, and then to Europe, from Giresun in northern Turkey in 69 B.C. It is thought to be one of the earliest domesticated plants, around 10,000 years ago.

It is common in Turkey to kiss an elderly individual’s hand as a sign of respect.

The oldest known shipwreck on earth was found and examined in Uluburun in the Mediterranean region of Turkey, about 6 miles SE of Kaş. It was dated to be at least 3,300 years old.

Turkish public buildings commonly have a black arrow placed on their ceilings. It shows the direction of Mecca, which is considered to be the holiest place on Earth for Muslims.

Turkish Delight, or lokum, is one of the oldest sweets in world history, dating back 500 years.

They were one of the first countries that allowed women to vote.

The Turkish baths, or hammam, was an export of the Roman Empire to Turkey in the 7th century, derived in part from Greek, Roman, and Byzantine bathing, or purification, traditions. Turkish bath attendants are called tellaks, or scrubbers.

Julius Caesar’s famous saying, “I came, I saw, I conquered,” was spoken in the Black Sea in Turkey.

The Turkish Mediterranean resort city of Antalya holds the world record for having the highest number of “Blue Flag” certified beaches in the world, awarded for highest water quality, beach cleanliness, and highest environmental standards.

The first ever Church solely dedicated to Mother Mary is found in Ephesus.

Most Turks drink 10 or more cups of tea per day, and the country has the highest per-capita consumption of tea in the world at nearly 7 lbs. per person per year.

Istanbul is the last stop for the infamous Simplon Orient Express. It is called the “king of trains and train of kings.”

Facts about Cuckoo


Cuckoos are birds in the Cuculidae family, the only taxon in the order Cuculiformes. The cuckoo family includes the common or European cuckoo, roadrunner, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals and anis. The Coucals and Anis are sometimes separated as different families, the Centropodidae and Crotophagidae, respectively.

Though there are 54 species of Old World cuckoos, just two live in Europe; most live in Africa, Asia and Australasia.

Cuckoos are birds of the medium size. They can reach 12.6 to 14.1 inches in length and weight up to 2.1 ounces.

The common cuckoo is the only member of the family that calls cuckoo-cuckoo-cuckoo… Most of the others have loud voices but totally different calls.

Males and females can be distinguished by the color of their feathers. Upper parts of the males are bluish to gray, and their white bellies are intersected with dark lines. Some females may look like males, except that they have buff colored breast with dark lines. Other types of females are reddish brown or covered with dark bars completely. Young cuckoos are slate-gray and reddish brown in color.

The female’s bubbling call is often said to resemble the sound of bath water running out when the plug is pulled.

Cuckoo has long and pointed wings and long and thin beak. While flying, it resembles to hawk.

The resident African cuckoo looks virtually identical to our bird, but has more orange-yellow on the beak. It calls pooh-pooh…

Cuckoos are named after onomatopoeic sound which they produce: 'cuck-oo, cuck-oo'. Even thought the whole family is named by this unique sound, only one cuckoo species (Common cuckoo) is able to produce this sound.

The cuckoo is one of the most widespread breeding birds in Europe, and is only absent from Iceland. It also breeds throughout Asia east to Japan.

Other species communicate by producing different types of sounds.

The earliest-ever reliable record of a cuckoo in England was one at Farnham in Surrey on 20 February 1953.

Characteristic 'cuck-oo, cuck-oo' sound is produced only by males. Females produce bubbling sound, which resembles the sound of the water that is running out of the tub after removing the plug.

It is traditional to write to "The Times" when you hear the first cuckoo of spring.

Cuckoo feeds on insects and its favorite food is hairy caterpillar.

Only the male cuckoo calls cuckoo, and as the spring progresses the double-note tends to change: In June I change my tune.

Cuckoo travels to Africa each September to avoid cold periods and lack of food during the winter in temperate areas of Europe and Asia.

Cuckoo spit has nothing to do with cuckoos, but is produced by insects as a protection from predators.

Although cuckoo spends almost nine months in Africa, it never sings while there.

The word cuckold indicates a betrayed husband, a reflection of the cuckoo’s mating habits.

Cuckoo does not build its own nests, because it is a brood parasite. That means that female cuckoo uses nests of other birds to lay her own eggs.

More than 120 species have been parasitised by cuckoos in Europe: in Britain the most favoured species are dunnock, meadow pipit and reed bunting.

More than 120 species of birds can be tricked to raise young cuckoos as their own chicks, but 90% of cuckoo's eggs are laid in the nests of reed warbler, meadow pipit and dunnock birds. Cuckoo chooses nests with eggs that are the most similar to eggs that she is producing.

Unlike most birds, female cuckoos lay their eggs in the afternoon rather than the morning.

20% of cuckoo's eggs will be recognized as foreign eggs and eliminated from the nest.

Adult cuckoos move back to Africa as soon as the breeding season is over – as early as the second half of June in southern England.

Female cuckoo lays one egg in each nest. She usually lays between 12 and 22 eggs per season (in 12 to 22 different nests).

Young cuckoos follow their parents back to Africa several weeks later.

Timing of the hatching is very important and female cuckoo closely observes routine and behavior of other birds. Cuckoo's eggs need to hatch before other eggs so that the young cuckoos gain advantage over other chicks and ensure enough food for development.

The cuckoo spends nine months of the year in tropical Africa, where it has never been heard to sing.

Young cuckoos are very aggressive toward other chicks in the nest and they will often remove them from the nest as soon as they hatch. When they are several weeks old, young cuckoos are ready to fly to Africa along with their parents.

Young cuckoos do not tolerate other eggs or chicks in their nest.

Cuckoos live less than six years in the wild.

Facts about Bartolomeu Dias


Bartolomeu Dias was the first European explorer to cross the southern tip of Africa and discover the so-called Cape of Good Hope. This discovery made it possible for Europeans to trade with Asia and India over the water and not on land, which was very expensive at that time. Bartolomeu Dias was born in the Algarve, Portugal, in 1451, but little more is known about his early life. His father is said to come from a Portuguese noble family. On October 10, 1487, King John II of Portugal entrusted Bartolomeu Dias with sailing to the southern tip of Africa in the hope of finding a trade route to India.

Bartolomeu Dias was a member of the royal Portuguese court when he was chosen to head the expedition to find the trade route to India.

Dias was probably in his mid- to late 30s in 1486 when João appointed him to head an expedition in search of a sea route to India.

Bartolomeu was also supposed to be searching for a man named Prester John, a supposed Christian King of Ethiopia. The king wished to establish a friendship to enable trade to India.

In August 1487, Dias' trio of ships departed from the port of Lisbon, Portugal. Dias followed the route of 15th-century Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão, who had followed the coast of Africa as far as present-day Cape Cross, Namibia.

Bartolomeu Dias was the sailing master of the man-of-war (warship) San Christovao.

Dias' cargo included the standard "padrões," the limestone markers used to stake Portuguese claims on the continent.

The expedition to the south of Africa began in the summer of 1487 and lasted for 16 months.

Padrões were planted at the shoreline and served as guideposts to previous Portuguese explorations of the coast.

A terrible storm blew Dias' three ships out to sea and his crew did not spot land for 13 days.

Dias' expedition party included six Africans who had been brought to Portugal by earlier explorers.

The food supply on the expedition began to run low and the crew convinced Dias to return to Portugal before reaching their destination of India.

Dias dropped off the Africans at different ports along the coastline of Africa with supplies of gold and silver and messages of goodwill from the Portuguese to the Indigenous peoples. 

On the return trip Dias' fleet saw the tip of Africa. They had missed it on the way because of the storm.

Dias named the tip of Africa ‘Cape of Storms' because of the storm they had encountered when they first sailed past it.

The king of Portugal changed the name to the ‘Cape of Good Hope' because he believed that its discovery would eventually lead to a route to India via water.

The king was not happy that Dias and his crew had not reached India and that they had not found Prester John.

Dias moved to Guinea until the new king Manuel I hired him to oversee the building of the ships for Vasco de Gama's upcoming expedition.

Dias supervised the construction of two ships in 1494; both would be part of the first successful voyage to India traveling south around the Cape of Good Hope, led by Vasco de Gama.

After Vasco de Gama's successful expedition, king Manuel I sent a large fleet to India under the command of Pedro Alvares Cabral.

Bartolomeu Dias' commanded four ships. They first sailed to Brazil, arriving there in March of 1500.

Their next destination was South Africa, and then India.

In May of 1500, the fleet's ships met a terrible storm at the place Dias had called the ‘Cape of Storms' (that the king renamed the Cape of Good Hope).

Bartolomeu Dias' ship sunk in the storm. It was one of four ships in the fleet of 13 ships that sunk.

Bartolomeu Dias died off the Cape of Good Hope when his ship went down. He never did reach his destination of India.