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  • Hello and welcome to ‘A geopolitical tour of the world’. In this video I’m going

  • to take you on a guided journey around the globe, talking to you about some disputes,

  • oddities, complexities, or just some things that are good to be aware of in this complicated

  • planet we live on. Some of the things I’ll be talking about, I already have entire videos

  • on, if you want a deeper understanding.

  • Well start at thecentre of the world”, the prime meridian, which goes through Greenwich,

  • England. This is because that’s where the British invented time in 1884.

  • Here we have two independent countries: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern

  • Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. The country of Ireland comprises the majority

  • of the island of Ireland, while the northern part, called Northern Ireland, is 1 of the

  • 4 constituent countries of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland doesn’t really have an

  • official flag because its population doesn’t exactly agree on whether they should remain

  • British or unite with the rest of Ireland. The other 3 constituent countries are in Great

  • Britain and surrounding minor islandsScotland, England, and Wales.

  • Some people use the termsGreat Britain”, “United Kingdom”, andEnglandinterchangeably

  • but please don’t. Us Scots really don’t appreciate it. In fact, many Scots don’t

  • want to be part of the UK. Despite an unsuccessful referendum in 2014, there’s still a very

  • sizable independence movement. Even more so since Brexit.

  • So just rememberGreat Britain: an island, the UK: an independent country made up of

  • 4 non-independent countriesand England: one of those 4 countries.

  • Oh, and there’s also the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey. Which are British, but not part

  • of the UK for some reason. Theyre referred to as Crown Dependencies.

  • Okay we really need to move on, lots to cover. If we go into the icy north, we find the Faroe

  • Islands, and Greenland. Two places that you wouldn’t think have much in common, but

  • they do, theyre both Danish. Theyre both autonomous territories of Denmark. And

  • despite the immense difference in size between the two, they actually both have a similar

  • population of around 50,000. Unsurprisingly, Greenland is one of the least densely populated

  • parts of the world. The island is literally ¾ ice.

  • Now moving onto land with a morehospitable climate: mainland Europe. First thing to talk

  • about is probably the European Union, an economic and political union of 27 European States.

  • It used to be 28, but, y’know Brexit.

  • The EU has what’s calledthe Schengen Area”, an area of free travel, in which

  • participating countries have abolished border controls. Not ALL members of the EU are part

  • of this area, and also some non-EU members ARE. Same with the Eurozone, a monetary union

  • in which all countries use a shared currency, the Euro. 19 of the 27 members are part of

  • the Eurozone. 4 countries have agreements with the EU to officially use the Euro despite

  • not being part of the EU, and then two others just sort of decided that they wanted it too,

  • without any agreement in place.

  • Now given how much Europeans loved conquering the world for a few centuries, there are plenty

  • of parts of European countries, outside of Europe. Like the large part of France in South

  • America, or smaller islands off the coast of Madagascar. Of course, I won’t be able

  • to cover them all.

  • Just a quick mention about the Vatican City, which is considered a country (the smallest

  • in the world, entirely surrounded by Italy), but is NOT a member of the United Nations

  • although it is an observer State.

  • Okay, to Spain next. This region here is called Catalonia, it’s one of the 17 “autonomous

  • communitiesof Spain. Many Catalans have been fighting for independence from Spain

  • over the last century, with things picking up over the last decade. Catalonia sought

  • permission from Madrid to hold an independence referendum. Spain said no. Catalonia said

  • theyll do it anyway. Spain saidwait no that’s illegal”. But they did it anyway.

  • The result was 92% in favour of independence, BUT everyone who wanted to remain part of

  • Spain just boycotted the vote, so it doesn’t really count.

  • The President of Catalonia later declared independencesort of? It was all very confusing

  • and nobody really knows what happened. Catalonia is still part of Spain, though, and their

  • former president is currently living in self-imposed exile in Belgium.

  • On the southern coast of the Iberian peninsula, there’s Gibraltar, an overseas British territory,

  • which was ceded from Spain about 300 years ago. And just across the Mediterranean, there

  • are a couple of parts of Africa that are still part of Spain.

  • Alright, what’s nextah yes, the Balkans. This is a part of Europe in which everyone

  • hates each other. Probably the biggest point of contention is the self-declared, partially-recognised

  • State of Kosovo. Or the autonomous Serbian province of Kosovo, depending on your viewpoint.

  • The province declared its independence in 2008, after a war with Serbia a few years

  • earlier, in which Kosovo received military support from NATO. The population of Kosovo

  • is prodimently Albanian.

  • As well as this, there was also the near 3-decade naming dispute between Greece and Mace-- uh,

  • North Macedonia, as it’s now called. Basically Macedonia is a large geographic region, much

  • of which is in Greece, and was named as such after the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon.

  • So Greece wasn’t too happy in 1991 when their neighbour declared independence from

  • Yugoslavia as theRepublic of Macedonia”. Due to Greek objections, the country was referred

  • to asthe former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniain diplomatic organisations like the UN. After

  • 28 years the insanity was finally ended and the country was renamed theRepublic of

  • North Macedonia”. But I’m pretty sure neither side was really happy with the outcome

  • and they both still hate each other.

  • On to Russia now. This is the Crimean Peninsula. It was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014

  • after a referendum of... questionable legitimacy. It was only actually part of Ukraine for about

  • half a century, since it was transferred to Ukraine while both were Soviet Republics.

  • Western governments and the UN do not recognise the annexation, and still consider the peninsula

  • to be part of Ukraine. Nothing has actually been done about it, though.

  • One more part of Russia that’s good to be aware of, is this small exclave here called

  • theKaliningrad Oblast’. It was originally part of the German state of Prussia, but the

  • Soviet Union claimed it after the Alliesvictory in WWIIand then after the fall

  • of the Soviet Union it became completely cut off from the rest of Russia..

  • Now travelling to Russia’s southern border with Georgia. Georgia has a somewhat precarious

  • political situation, as it has not one, but TWO parts of the country that have declared

  • their independenceAbkahzia, and South Ossetia. Both States have control over the

  • areas they claim, however they very much lack international recognition. Both States declared

  • their independence in the 1990s with backing from Russia. There was even a brief war over

  • the dispute between Georgia and Russia in 2008. No prizes for guessing how that turned

  • out

  • Next well take a trip down to the Mediterranean, to the beautiful summer getaway of Cyprus.

  • The political situation here though, is a bit ugly. The island is currently divided

  • between the country of Cyprus, and the unrecognised Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus. There’s

  • a UN buffer zone separating the two political entities that was established after the inter-ethnic

  • violence between the Greeks and the Turks of the island erupted in the 1960s, shortly

  • after Cyprus became independent from the UK. There was a Greek coup, followed by Turkish

  • invasion, and it all got very messy. Oh, and there’s also some British bases on the island.

  • I guess the strategic location was just too valuable to give up

  • Moving further south and onto Africa. Probably the most noticeable geopolitical dispute in

  • Africa is an area known as Western Sahara. The region is claimed (and mostly controlled

  • by) Morocco. But the region has also been proclaimed as the independent country of the

  • Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, by the indigenous rebel group the Polisario Front, which started

  • off by fighting against Spanish colonial rule in the 1970s.

  • In 1976, Spain just sort-of noped out of the whole situation, and divided the region between

  • Morocco, and another neighbouring country, Mauritania, who also claimed the region at

  • the time... but not anymore.

  • On the opposite coast of Africa, we have Somaliland. Which, once again, is a dispute caused by

  • the Europeans. Somaliland was controlled by the British, while the rest of what is today

  • the country of Somalia, was controlled by Italy. In 1960 the two were joined to make

  • a new, independent country. Somaliland declared independence in 1991, and a civil war has

  • been ongoing ever since.

  • Now moving onto the Middle Eas-- oh ****... (SIGH) Why am I doing this?!

  • Okay, so it is quite literally impossible to give any kind of explanation of what the

  • hell is going on here in just a couple of minutes. So just keep in mind everything I

  • say here is going to be way oversimplified.

  • Before the beginning of the currently ongoing situation, this area was called Palestine,

  • and was under British administration. In 1948, the United Nations passed a resolution to

  • partition the land between Jewish and Arab communities. The descendants of these Arab

  • communities, in this region and in refugee camps nearby, are what we today call Palestinians.

  • After the resolution was passed, the State of Israel was declared. This led to the first

  • of several wars with its neighbors, in which Israel was often fighting against most (or

  • all) of them at once. Territory in this region has bounced back and forth between different

  • countries and organizations MANY times. Today, Israel is also in control of the Golan Heights,

  • which it captured from Syria in 1967.

  • Now, as well as Israel, we also have the State of Palestine, declared in 1988, which is a

  • partially-recognised state, with observer status at the United Nations. Its claimed

  • territory is the West Bank, in which an interim division agreement was reached with Israel

  • in the 90s, as well as the Gaza strip, which has actually been controlled by Hamas since

  • 2007, a Palestinian political party, and variously described as a terrorist organization.

  • Things are even more complicated in Jerusalem, an ancient city with profound significance

  • to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. This city is fully controlled by Israel but claimed

  • by both groups as their capital - though with different parts of the city being claimed

  • by each group.

  • On top of all of this, there’s the issue of Israeli settlements, which we don’t have

  • time to get into and I’d really like to move on now please

  • Staying in the Middle East, there’s the situation in Syria, in which a devastating,

  • multi-sided civil war has been ongoing for nearly 10 years now. This began with a series

  • of anti-government protests, part of the broader movement known as the Arab Spring, which were

  • violently suppressed. The conflict is one of the bloodiest of the 21st century, and

  • has spilled over to several neighbouring countries.

  • There’s also the situation in Iraq. There is still ongoing conflict that stemmed from

  • the US-led invasion in 2003 to topple the government of Saddam Hussein. With ISIS having

  • mostly lost their territory in Iraq, the violence has continued in the form of an insurgency,

  • featuring several rebel groups. ISIS was defeated in the civil war with help from the Kurds,

  • a distinct ethnic group in northern Iraq that is seeking independence. The people overwhelmingly

  • voted in favour of independence, but the Iraqi government deemed the referendum illegal.

  • Alright, let’s move east of theMiddle East, and onto the Indian subcontinent, where

  • we find the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir. Basically, this area was a “Princely State

  • of India while under British control, and in 1947 when India was divided into India

  • and Pakistan, disagreements about which country to join caused conflict, and a de facto partition

  • of the region that remains unresolved to this day. Around here, there’s also several territorial

  • disputes between India and China along their extensive border. All of which are controlled

  • by China.

  • And speaking of China, there’s plenty here to talk about, too. Weve got Tibet, Hong

  • Kong, Taiwanand probably much more that we don’t have time for.

  • So, Tibet. Tibet is an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. The Tibetan

  • people are ethnically distinct from the Han Chinese majority, but the area has been under

  • Chinese control for 300 years. However, when imperial rule in China came to end with the

  • fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, Tibet experienced a few decades of de facto independence. This

  • is when China became a republic for the first time. However, when a civil war broke out

  • between the government and a communist rebellion, the communists won, and proclaimed the People’s