Conversion to the Latin Alphabet in Post-Soviet Asia

The end of the Soviet Union left its newly-independent republics free to pursue their own linguistic policies for the first time. Four of the five predominately Turkic-speaking countries of the former Soviet Union (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) looked to follow the lead of Turkey, which adopted the Latin alphabet under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk back…

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Same Name, Other Side of the Border (Part VI: West Asia)

Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan/Iran) The region of Azerbaijan, divided between the Republic of Azerbaijan in the north and the Iranian provinces of East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, and Ardabil in the south, has been split since 1812-13, when the Russian Empire, steadily extending its reach southward along the Caspian Sea, captured the khanates in the portion of Azerbaijan…

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Oil Rocks: The Offshore City of Neft Daşları

Oil platforms have been around in some form or another since the early 20th century and people have been temporarily living on them for nearly as long.  As we have tragically seen over the years and most recently in the Sea of Okhotsk, life on an oil platform can be quite precarious at times.  Of…

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Another Albania

There are many people who get confused between Georgia, the Caucasian republic, and Georgia, the US state (sometimes embarrassingly so).  The names, of course, have nothing to do with one another: the English name for the country of Georgia comes from the Syriac gurz-ān and dates back nearly a millennium, while the state was named…

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Border Bonanza

It appears that India and Bangladesh are finally trying to solve the matter of the infamous Cooch Behar enclave cluster – 106 tiny pieces of Indian land lying on the Bangladeshi side of the border, and 92 pieces of Bangladeshi land lying on the Indian side of the border, often embedded within each other. A…

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