Sunday, January 27, 2013

Travertine landscape and pools of Huanglong, China

Huanglong  is a scenic and historic interest area in the northwest part of Sichuan, China. Colored travertine ponds are the main landscapes in Huanglong.

The large travertine accumulations, created by the arctic-alpine environment, are rarely seen in other parts of the world. Layer over layer, travertine ponds look like terraces under green waters dazzling under the sun.


Great Barrier Reef, Australia

One of Australia's most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world.

A closer encounter with the Great Barrier Reef's impressive coral gardens reveals many astounding underwater attractions including the world's largest collection of corals, coral sponges, mollusks, rays, dolphins, over 1500 species of tropical fish, more than 200 types of birds, around 20 types of reptiles including sea turtles and giant clams over 120 years old.

The marine park stretches over 1800 miles, almost parallel to the Queensland coast.

From a set of five stamps about Australia's most popular native baby animals. The Dingo is Australia's native dog. But unlike other dogs it does not bark.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Moremi Game Reserve Botswana

Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa,  Namibia  Zimbabwe and Zambia (for a very small part).

In March 1885 Botswana was declared a British Protectorate. Extensive territories were incorporated into the then British colony of South Africa under the name of British Bechuanaland. In 1966 the country became the independent Republic of Botswana with Sir Seretse Khama its first President.

Moremi falls within the tribal land of the Batswana and is named after the late Chief Moremi III. It was clear to his wife, who reigned after his death, that the game in their traditional hunting grounds was fast disappearing. 

With encouragement from conservationists, Mrs Moremi proclaimed the Moremi Game Reserve in March 1963 and the tribe agreed to vacate the land. Today, Moremi rates as one of the leading wildlife areas of the world.

From a set of 14 stamps picturing butterflies, issued 2007: Sapphire (left), Apricot Playboy (right) and an African Monarch (bottom).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bison roaming Montana's Great Plains

Historically, bison numbered an estimated 20-30 million. Unregulated shooting of bison, which culminated in mass slaughters during the 1870s, reduced the population to about 1,000 in 1889.

Today, approximately 500,000 bison live across North America. Most are not pure bison but rather have been cross-bred with cattle in the past and are raised as livestock on ranches. Fewer than 30,000 bison are in conservation herds, and fewer than 5,000 are free-ranging and disease-free.

Often weighing over a ton, Bison may appear sluggish and mild mannered, but can move with amazing speed and deadly power to defend themselves if provoked.

Al-Chouf Cedars Nature Reserve, Lebanon

The Al-Chouf Cedars Nature Reserve is located 50 km from Beirut, covering two percent of the total area of Lebanon. It consists of three major forests, accounting for a quarter of the remaining cedar forests of Lebanon. In the reserve, 2000 year old trees can be found as well as various species of mountain birds, plants and mammals including wolves, hyenas, wild boars, gazelles, foxes and lynxes.

From a set of stamps celebrating Lebanon’s cultural heritage: Lebanese singer and actress Sabah (1927).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jaisalmer Desert Festival, Rajastan

The Jaisalmer desert festival is a three-day long extravaganza of dances, music, handicraft fairs and interesting competitions- including really unusual ones like a 'Mr Desert' pageant and a 'best moustache' contest. It's a fantastic showcase of all things Rajasthani.

Besides the food, the music and the cultural performances, there are camel rides, processions, camel polo, and even a camel tug-of-war.
Rajasthan is the largest state of the Republic of India. And it is one of the most popular tourist destination in India for its historical forts, palaces, art and culture.

(left) Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984) was the third Prime Minister of India and a central figure in Indian politics during the second half of the 20th century.

(right) Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, (1888 – 1970) was an Indian physicist and Nobel Prize winner (1930).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The pearl of the Syrian | سوريا desert: Palmyra


Palmyra (or Tadmor in Arabic) lies in the heart of Syrian Desert. The city of palm trees was located along the Silk Route. Syria was a Roman (Byzantine) province from 64 BC to 636 AD. After the Romans conquered Syria, Palmyra flourished and became known as the city of palm-trees.

Syria is a country of 21 million people. It gained independence in April 1946. Damascus is the capital city of Syria and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. 

The wave of Arab unrest that began with the Tunisian revolution reached Syria on March 15, 2011, when residents of a small southern city took to the streets to protest the torture of students who had put up anti-government graffiti. The government responded with heavy-handed force, and demonstrations quickly spread across much of the country.

By the start of 2013, more than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, were thought to have died and tens of thousands of others had been arrested. More than 400,000 Syrian refugees had registered in neighboring countries. In addition millions of Syrians are in need of aid or are displaced domestically.

Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The family of President Bashar al-Assad has been in power since his father, Hafez, took over in a coup in 1970. The country underwent some liberalisation after Bashar became president in 2000, but the pace of change soon slowed, if not reversed. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

From Catania, Sicily: Ursino Castle

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. Catania is a city on the east coast of Sicily.

The Ursino Castle was built on the initiative of Emperor Frederick II as part of his plan for fortifying the Sicilian coast.

Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Åland à la (post)Carte

Åland is an autonomous region of Finland. Åland consists of more than 6,700 islands situated midway between Sweden and Finland.

Although the people of Åland speak Swedish, this autonomous territory is part of Finland. Åland has its own flag, has issued its own postage stamps since 1984, runs its own police force, and is a member of the Nordic Council.

The current population of 28,000 live on only 65 islands.  Over 40 per cent live in the only town and capital Mariehamn. The archipelago is largely made up of coastal rock slopes and heather moorland, and has large areas of pine forests. Only about nine per cent of Åland is arable land.
The postcard shows 4 typical Åland dishes: Åland Panncake, Gravlax, Pickled fish and Smoked Åland flounder.

Georg August Wallin (1811 – 1852), also known as Abd al-Wali was a Finnish (born in Åland) orientalist, explorer and professor remembered for his journeys in the Middle East during the 1840s.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Medellin, Colombia, a panorama from Nutibara Hill

Nutibara Hill is a small mountainous formation located in the Colombian city of Medellín, the second largest city in the country behind Bogota.

In the valley of Aburra, where the city of Medellin is located, the powerful "Cacique Nutibara" used to reign. This native chief became legendary for leading the rebellion of the indigenous tribes against the Spanish conquistadores.

(left) A stamp issued 2011 to commemorate historian, writer and archivist Jorge Palacios Preciado (1940-2003).

(right) To celebrate 100 year symphony band, National Police of Colombia (1912-2012).

Friday, January 11, 2013

A postcard from the West Indies: Sint Maarten

Saint Martin is an overseas collectivity of France located in the Caribbean. Sint Maarten is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It encompasses the southern half of Saint Martin.

It is the smallest island in the world ever to have been partitioned between two different nations. The border is almost imperceptible and people cross back and forth without ever realizing they are entering a new country. 

Princess Juliana International Airport serves both the Dutch and the French part of the island. It is named after crown princess Juliana of the Netherlands in 1944, the year after the airport opened. The airport is famous for its short landing strip which is barely enough for heavy jets. Because of this, the planes approach the island flying extremely low, right over Maho Beach.
It’s a spectacular sight!

From a set of three stamps issued 2011 about tourism.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Roman Empire in Libya | ‏ليبيا‎ : Leptis Magna

Leptis Magna Lybia
Libya is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. The largest city and capital is Tripoli. Leptis Magna is a UNESCO World Heritage site located about two hour's drive east of Tripoli. 

Leptis Magna was a prominent city of the Roman Empire. The site is one of the most spectacular and unspoiled Roman ruins in the Mediterranean. Originally a Phoenician settlement, probably founded in the 6th century BC by Phoenicians from Tyre , Leptis Magna became a great metropolis under the Romans, particularly during the reign of Septimus Severus (193-211 AD).

From a set of 5 stamps picturing children drawings.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fishing for Simsim, Comoros | جزر القمر

The Comoros is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa, between Mozambique and Madagascar. Its capital is Moroni, on the island Grande Comore.

In the late 1800's, the islands were annexed by France. Independence for the Comoros was gradual, and was finally achieved in 1975. Mayotte is geographically part of the Comoro Islands but is an overseas department and region of France.

In Comoros, Simsim, a small fish of the family sardines, is very popular. During the season, everybody is an improvised fisherman because it is an opportunity to make money and learn to fish.

(top) From a set of six stamps issued in2006 in remembrance of  Leopold Senghor, first President of Senegal, 1960-1980.

(bottom) From a set of 6 stamps about local flowers.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sunrise at Sazilé beach, Mayotte

Mayotte is part of the archipelago that makes up the Comoros Islands. The archipelago is located in the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, between Madagascar and Mozambique.  Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France.

Taken by Malagasy people from Madagascar at the end of the 18th century, it came under French control in 1843. Together with the other Comoros islands and Madagascar, it became part of a single French overseas territory in the early 20th century. It has been administered separately since 1975, when the three northernmost islands of the Comoros declared independence.

Mayotte uses French stamps. Stamped at Mamoudzou Kawéni post office (ROC code 25309A).

Souk El Khayatine | Ancient tailors' souk from Tripoli, Lebanon

The Khan Al Khayatine souk in Tripoli was built in the first half of the 14th century and renovated in 1974. It is the oldest souk of the city and has narrow winding alleys featuring tailor shops where you will find beautiful traditional clothing.

Beautiful colors, unique textures and special designs are in display. The costumes for Lebanon’s most renowned dance troupes are made here.


(right) Suleiman Kabalan Frangieh(1910 - 1992) was President of Lebanon from 1970 to 1976.


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