Saturday, December 10, 2011

2 Countries 8 Facts

I am getting down to the final stretch! Next week is finals week and I have been studying harder than ever this week trying to get ready. Today I never left my room, except for, you know, eating and stuff… I’m still in my pajamas from last night, and it is currently… Um… Very, very late at night… Again… :p But it was all worth it because I completely finished a huge research paper and an assignment for Geography where we were to find 4 facts each about two different countries. (Though because I am somewhat of a nerd, I beefed up all the facts, so they each contain a bunch of sub-facts. Maybe I’ll get bonus points! :D ) The countries could be anywhere in South America, Europe, Asia, or North Africa. Since I know you are all dying for some interesting Geographical trivia, ;) I decided to share my findings with all of you. Aren’t you excited? Hooray for knowledge! :D

For my first country I chose Latvia, as I have friends whose family immigrated from Latvia, one of whom has now returned, having married a Latvian, and they are currently raising a family there. The second country I chose purely because I wanted to incorporate some aspect of Cryptozoology into my report. I chose Nepal, because it is one of the two counties in which the Himalayas are located. The Himalayas being the home of the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman. :p

You guys are all lucky because, as this is my blog, I decided that I would illustrate my report for you. So much more interesting than the one my teacher has to grade! :D



The name Latvia is spelled Latvija in the Latvian language and this comes from the ancient Latgallians, or Letts, one of four tribes, who formed the ethnic core of today’s Latvian people. In written sources, they are first mentioned in the 11th century, but not much is known of the origins of these tribes.

One of the staples of the Latvian diet is Rupjmaize, a dark bread made from rye.


Using rye bread for something other than sandwiches would be pretty unheard of here in the U.S., but in Latvia, it is used to make Rupjmaizes kartojums, a traditional Latvian dessert. Layered like a trifle, this dessert uses jam or preserves, along with a rye bread crumb mixture and whipped cream.

Rupjmaizes Kartojums

Often it is garnished with more bread crumbs and fresh fruit to give it an attractive appearance.

Latvia's national bird is the White Wagtail, so named for the way its tail moves as it runs along the ground.

White Wagtail

No one knows why the wagtail is constantly wagging its tail, but reasons for it have been hypothesized, from a submissive signal to other wagtails, to a sign of vigilance that deters predators.

Although the origins of the Christmas tree are disputed by historians, one of the first documented uses in history is from Latvia. In 1510 an evergreen was erected for their celebration in the town hall square in Riga, Latvia.

Latvian tree

The grandest building on the square, the House of Blackheads has a domed plaque in front of it, marking the location of this first celebration.




Early sources refer to the country as Nepala, and the name Nepal is believed to come from the word "Nepa" referring to the Newar Kingdom, which is the present day Kathmandu Valley. Local legends say that a Hindu sage named "Ne" came to the valley in prehistoric times and that the word "Nepal" means, "The country looked after by Ne".

Nepal contains some of the highest mountain peaks on earth. One of these mountains is Mount Everest, which is the highest mountain in the entire world.


Although the height is disputed and Nepal is planning a new survey, the current accepted height of the mountain is 29,029 ft. The mountain is the home of what may be the highest non-microscopic life form on earth, the Euophrys omnisuperstes, a tiny jumping spider.

ARKive image GES074071 - Himalayan jumping spider

It is thought that the spider may feed on small frozen insects blown there on the wind.

Nepal's flag is the only national flag in the world that is not rectangular in shape.

Nepal Flag

The red in the flag stands for courage, and is the color of the rhododendron, the national flower of Nepal, and the flag's blue border signifies peace. The curved moon on the flag is a symbol of the calm nature of the Nepalese people, while the sun represents the aggressiveness of the Nepalese warriors.

Nepal is one of two countries said to be the home of one of the most famous legendary monsters of today, known as the Yeti, or, more popularly, the Abominable Snowman.


The Yeti is said to live in the Himalayas, a mountain region spanning both Nepal and Tibet. The name Yeti comes from a Tibetan word for bear, as some believe that the Yeti is a Man-Bear. Most descriptions given of this creature make it out to be a giant ape, similar to the Bigfoot or Sasquatch of North America.

So, there you have it. All you never knew you needed to know about Latvia and Nepal. :)

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