May I recommend a short visit to the CIA World Factbook - they make it into one word - not I - as part of the Orwellian New Speak that W-DC is so
enamored of. Hmm? Can I end that sentence with a preposition? www.cia.gov...
Look at Ireland and Slovakia. Ireland
. 4 million people. Dublin is the capital and the metropolitan center of Ireland. I may as well throw in
the infant mortality and longevity numbers, as I have a fixation on those statistics as you know if you read many of my posts. I refer to those
numbers because I have been told they are a shorthand way to get a handle on the overall health of a nation. Ireland’s I/M is 5.3 per 1000 live
births, and Longevity is 77.7 years.
The other number I like to use is the nation’s personal GDP, which in the case of Ireland is $41,000. That number has surprised me. Why or how did
a country that in the 1800s saw 1/3 of its people starve to death and 1/3 emigrate to the United States, get to have such an enviable GDP? More on
The Slovak Republic
. Slovakia. 5.4 million people. Bratislava is the capital city. Czechoslovakia was created in 1918, out of the failed
Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The people had always been there of course, but the new state of Czechoslovakia was a creature of the post-War 1 changing
world. Hitler took back part of it, the province Sudatenland, which was 80% German ethnicity, at the notorious 1938 Munich conference with Britain’s
Neville Chamberlain, who remarked, “Peace in our time.”
From 1948 until 1989-1991, Czechoslovakia was behind the “Iron Curtain” and its economy showed it. In 1993, the Czechs and Slovaks agreed to
divide the country. Peacefully. About 15,000 square miles went to the Slovaks. The Czech s got about 35,000 square miles for 10 million people. Some
places on the border have not finalized yet. The Slovak I/M is 7.3, and Longevity is 74.7 years. The good part is the GDP, at $16,100, up very much.
Slovakia joined the EU in 2004. More on this later.
. Ireland joined the European Council, the predecessor to the EU, in 1979. Slovakia joined the EU in 2004. The EU has undertaken
to raise the standard of living in all member states. It began with the lowest or poorest states.
About 15 years ago, the EU took on Ireland. The EU agreed to pour aid into the country, to supplement the local tax base, so that Ireland could devote
itself to improving its infrastructure and to encourage foreign investments in the country, especially in manufacturing industry to replace the
predominately agriculture base. Manufacturing now accounts for 46% of GDP whereas agriculture is a mere 5%. Current unemployment is given as 4.3%.
The EU has launched a similar undertaking in Slovakia. The EU takes over the normal budgetary expenses running any country, health, education, public
services and infrastructure. With its own money freed-up, the country can then do those things that attract multi-nationals to move to the country.
As in Ireland, Slovakia also wants to convert from a predominately agriculture base but here, to a service industry base. Already the economy is
improved but with a 11.7% unemployment rate, there is yet a long way to go. The future of Slovakia looks good.
. It takes 10 or 15 years to change a nation’s economy in a radical way. After all, most economies are the product of centuries of
gradual evolution. But today, in 2006, the giant in manufacturing is China and the giant in service is India. Both have 1 billion + people, which is
almost an unlimited human resource. For a country like Slovakia to compete global means they must find a niche that they can do better than China or
India. Prudence dictates you should maintain flexibility so you can readily and easily adapt to changes in external demand. This will not be easy,
but it offers the best hope for a small landlocked country.
. Remember “East Prussia?” The founder of modern Germany, the unifier of the country, was Count Otto von Bismark, of East Prussia.
He was made Chancellor of the German Empire in 1871. The grand military tradition of the Prussians was adopted into Germany’s army by the end of the
19th century. Konigsberg was the capital of East Prussia. After 1918, Poland was created as a modern country. As part of the punishment of Germany, it
was separated from East Prussia. A narrow strip of land called the Polish Corridor leading to Danzig, a major predominantly German city on the Baltic,
but now in Poland. To assuage the German residents, it was made into a Free City of Danzig. Not a good solution to a vexing problem. (Danzig is now
known as G’dansk of Lech Walesa Solidarity fame.)
In 1945, the Russians captured Konigsberg as well as the country-side around it as part of its war with Germany. When the USSR collapsed, in 1989 to
1991, the neighboring countries, Lithuania and Poland - and Belarus - separated the new Russian Federation from part of its territory, now called
Kaliningrad. The city and land around it occupies about 5,000 square miles and has about 1.9 million people. It is one of the 48 “Oblasts” or
administrative districts around the Russian Federation. Others are Krusk, and Rostov. In other words, an “oblast” deals directly with the Federal
Assembly. Similar to our own District of Columbia and its only city, Washington.
To travel from Kaliningrad to Moscow, one must pass first through Lithuania - a special arrangement has been made to facilitate Russians making such
trips - then through Belarus which also allows special transiting for Russians. But Kaliningrad is much too valuable to the Russian Federation as a
major port on the Baltic Sea to give any serious consideration to letting it go to either Lithuania or Poland, or as is more popular now, to let it
become independent, as in Singapore.
[edit on 8/5/2006 by donwhite]