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CultureGrams—New Kids Country: Liechtenstein

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

The new Liechtenstein report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this tiny country.

Liechtenstein Kids Text

Liechtenstein Kids Text

 

Here are some fascinating Did You Knows about Liechtenstein:

  • Liechtenstein has not had an army since 1868.
  • Liechtenstein’s royal family did not live permanently in their own country until the 20th century.
  • Liechtenstein is the smallest German-speaking country in the world.
  • Most of Liechtenstein is above an altitude of 4,000 feet (1,200 m).

Find out about common foods, learn about the annual Christmas market, and learn about the holiday where everyone builds a bonfire!

CultureGrams—New Kids Country: Andorra

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids Edition country report!

Andorra Kids Report landing page

Andorra Kids Report landing page

The new Andorra report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this unique country.

Here are some fascinating Did You Knows about Andorra:

  • Andorra’s army is ceremonial and has only 12 men.
  • Andorra has the highest capital city of any European country.
  • Ice-racing events, where race-car drivers compete on a professional track covered in a thick layer of ice, are held at least once a year in Andorra.
  • Andorra is the only country to use Catalan as its official language.
  • Andorra has not fought in a war for nearly one thousand years!

Find out about Andorra’s history, discover the country’s unique Christmas celebrations, and read about the country’s unique stone churches, all in this colorful new report.

New Antarctica Interviews

One of the most interesting features of CultureGrams is our series of interviews with country natives. Although Antarctica has no native residents, we recently added interviews with two people who live in Antarctica for part of the year. Their insights into the unique way of life in Antarctica are fascinating! Elaine, who has been travelling to and living in Antarctica since 1998, describes her life as a public relations representative for the U.S. Antarctica Program. She describes Christmas traditions among the scientists and employees at McMurdo station, such as giving handknit hats or fresh oranges (a rare treat) as Christmas gifts. Byron talks about his work as a “Beaker” (the nickname for scientists), exploring Antarctica’s harsh terrain and discovering how its ecosystem works. He also describes traditions on the McMurdo Station, including the midsummer music festival called Icestock. Check out these interviews at CultureGrams to learn even more about Antarctica!

 

Byron's interview

Screenshot of Byron’s interview about life in Antarctica

CultureGrams—New Kids Country: Vatican City

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids Edition country report!

Vatican City Kids Report

Vatican City Kids Report landing page

The new Vatican City report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this unique country.

Here are some fascinating Did You Knows about Vatican City:

  • The Vatican army, called the Swiss Guard, is the oldest and smallest army in the world. Its soldiers are highly trained and skilled marksmen, and the pope’s personal safety is their responsibility.
  • With less than 1,000 permanent residents, Vatican City is the smallest country in the world.
  • The Vatican is the only country in the world whose laws are based completely on religious commandments.
  • In 1277, a half-mile-long secret passageway was built, linking the Vatican to Castel Sant’Angelo. This passageway served as an escape route for popes when the Vatican was under attack.

Find out about the Vatican’s history in Ancient Rome, discover the country’s unique Christmas celebrations, and read about the country’s own soccer league, all in this colorful new report.

Dutch Christmas Traditions

Each year, countries around the world celebrate Christmas with legendary figures who give gifts to children. In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas, a tall and decidedly not plump bishop, arrives by boat in mid-November. He rides his white horse and parades through city streets. On the eve of 5 December, he  leaves small gifts in the wooden clogs of Dutch children. But over the past few years, Saint Nicholas’s helper has sparked a debate between the importance of tradition and concerns about race.

Chocolate figurines of Zwarte Piet and Saint Nicholas. Photo by Rachel Ligairi.

Chocolate figurines of Zwarte Piet and Saint Nicholas. Photo by Rachel Ligairi.

 

Zwarte Piet (translated as Black Peter) is Saint Nicholas’s helper. In the past, Piet was responsible for beating naughty children with a switch, but today he gives candy and treats to children at parades. He is brought to life by Dutch actors who wear black face paint, curly black wigs, gold earrings, exaggerated red lips, and a colorful costume imitating clothing worn by Moors in the 17th century. Many Dutch feel that the character is a wonderful part of the Christmas tradition. But as the Netherlands becomes more diverse, some Dutch citizens wonder if the character of Zwarte Piet is a racial stereotype from a more prejudiced past. In some ways, the Zwarte Piet character has changed with the times. Once considered Saint Nicholas’s servant or slave, today Piet is framed as a helper. Even the appearance has been softened, with face paint changed to look like soot from travelling down a chimney. Still, protests have been held against parades in large cities like Amsterdam, and the issue has even made its way into the Dutch courts.

To read more about the controversy over Zwarte Piet, check out these news articles. And to learn more about holiday traditions around the world—and what they’ve come to mean in the present—check out the Holidays sections of CultureGrams’ country reports.

CultureGrams—New Kids Country: Rwanda

The CultureGrams editors are pleased to announce a new Kids Edition country report!

Rwanda Kids Edition report

Rwanda Kids Edition report

In this new report, you’ll find information on the history, language, food, culture, and daily life of Rwanda, a small but influential country in central Africa. Did you know these interesting facts about Rwanda?

  • Rwanda is home to mountain gorillas, and each gorilla has a unique nose print.
  • Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa.
  • People in Rwanda brew a traditional beer made from fermented bananas.
  • Most families cook their food over wood fires.

You can also learn about Rwanda’s infamous genocide in 1994, traditional games for kids, and the Harvest Day celebrations!

CultureGrams—New Kids Country: Monaco

The CultureGrams editors are pleased to announce a new Kids Edition country report!

Monaco screen capture

CultureGrams Monaco Kids Country Report

 

This new report includes information on the history, language, food, culture, and daily life of Monaco, one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. Did you know these interesting facts about Monaco?

  • Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, after Vatican City.
  • Grace Kelly, a famous American actress, married Monaco’s Prince Rainier III in 1956.
  • Monaco is home to the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the oldest and most famous car races in the world. The difficult course runs through the tight corners and narrow streets of Monaco.
  • People from more than 120 different countries live in Monaco.
  • Monaco has more foreign residents than native Monegasques!

You can also learn how Monaco’s famous casino saved its economy, how Monegasques play a game similar to bowling called petanque, and how Monaco holds international fireworks and circus competitions every year!

Breaking Down the Ukrainian Conflict with the Help of CultureGrams

Lately the news has been dominated by the conflict in Ukraine between the government and pro-Russian rebels in the east. From a Malaysia Airlines flight being shot down over Ukraine to characterizations that another Cold War is brewing with Russia, breaking news often obscures the historical roots of this conflict. To help you and your students better understand the war, turn to the Ukraine and Russia World Edition reports in CultureGrams.
In these reports, you’ll get an overview of centuries of conflicts between Russia and Ukraine. You can learn about the population breakdown of Ukraine, including the high number of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine where the fighting is taking place. You can also read about the differences between Ukraine’s and Russia’s governments, including why the change to a pro-European government in Ukraine makes Russia and the ethnic Russians in Ukraine nervous. Our History sections are updated weekly to bring you the most important breaking news in a streamlined, easy-to-understand format. CultureGrams can provide the kind of context that will lead to greater understanding of this conflict for you and your students.

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Macedonia

The CultureGrams editors are thrilled to announce another Kids edition country report!

 

Macedonia KT screen shot

In our new Macedonia report, you can learn about the country’s culture, cuisine, history, language, and daily life.

The report also includes interesting facts about Macedonia:

  • Macedonia’s Lake Ohrid is called “a living museum of living fossils” because it is home to a fish species that is extinct everywhere else in the world.
  • Mother Theresa was born in Macedonia.
  • According to legend, Macedonia was founded by Macedon, the son of the Greek god Zeus.
  • Many Macedonians are named after Orthodox saints. In addition to birthdays, Orthodox Macedonians also celebrate their imenden (name day) in honor of the saint they were named after.

You can also learn about the Macedonian independence holiday called Ilinden, a musical style called turbo folk, and life as a Macedonian kid in this interesting new report.

Climate Change and Lessons from the Dutch

In the media these days, chilling predictions about the effects of climate change are common. Just this week, scientists reported in two separate studies that the melting of West Antarctic glaciers is irreversible. As a result, some scientists estimate that global sea levels could rise three to four feet by the end of the century, wreaking havoc on coastal cities around the world. This issue is one that people of all ages have a hard time understanding, and young students especially struggle to know how cultures can respond to battles with nature. But the truth is that many countries have struggled against their natural habitat to survive. Some cultures, such as the Dutch, have even fought against the sea in particular.

Understanding Dutch history can give us insight into our own future. Although the methods used are different today, the Dutch war with water has shaped the culture in unique ways, giving people community values that many of us today could learn from. According to a recent New York Times article, “Dutch battles against water led [the] country to develop a communal society.” The Dutch had to ban together to build windmills to pump out water and dikes and levies to preserve reclaimed land. “To this day, Water Boards, which date to the Middle Ages, are a feature of every region, and they guide long-term infrastructural planning. American individualism, on the other hand, has yielded a system in which each municipality has a great deal of autonomy, making regional cooperation difficult.” Although climate change is a global issue of a much greater scope, clearly any serious progress in coping with these changes will have to be made by communities and countries working together. For that reason, the world has a lot to learn from the Dutch. But first, we need to understand Dutch history and values.

That’s where CultureGrams can help. CultureGrams gives students age-appropriate reports detailing countries’ histories, social values, environment, and more. Our Dutch report also describes how the country’s efforts to reclaim land from the sea has shaped the people there. For example, a common Dutch saying is, “God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.” Check out CultureGrams’ report on the Netherlands for more fascinating insights!

The top of this zeespiegel, or sea mirror, marks the point that the water reached before the land beneath it was reclaimed for human habitation. This reclamation was accomplished by pumping water from land that was below sea level and building dikes to keep the water back.

The top of this zeespiegel, or sea mirror, marks the point that the water reached before the land beneath it was reclaimed for human habitation. This reclamation was accomplished by pumping water from land that was below sea level and building dikes to keep the water back.