Norway

February 27, 2008

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a country and constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe that occupies the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is bordered by Sweden, Finland, and Russia. The distance between the northern and southern parts of Norway is considerable compared to east-west distances. The country’s extensive coastline along the North Atlantic Ocean is home to its famous fjords.

The Kingdom of Norway also includes the Arctic island territories of Svalbard and Jan Mayen. Norwegian sovereignty over Svalbard is based upon the Svalbard Treaty, but that treaty does not apply to Jan Mayen. Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic Ocean and Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land in Antarctica are external dependencies, but those three entities do not form part of the kingdom.

Since World War II, Norway has experienced rapid economic growth, and is now amongst the wealthiest countries in the world,[6][7][8] with a fully developed welfare system. This economic progress is caused in part by the development of oil and gas reserves off its coast. Norway was ranked highest of all countries in human development from 2001 to 2006.[9] It also rated the most peaceful country in the world in a 2007 survey by Global Peace Index.[10] In contrast, Norwegian secondary education is ranked as 33rd in the world by OECD, significantly below the OECD average.[11] It is a founding member of NATO.

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Canada

February 27, 2008

Canada (IPA: /ˈkænədə/) is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world’s second largest country by total area,[2] and shares land borders with the United States to the south and northwest.

The lands have been inhabited for millennia by various groups of aboriginal peoples, and many areas are still occupied by mainly aboriginal peoples. Some of the eastern coasts were settled and explored by Vikings. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored and later settled the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion.[3][4][5][disputed] This began an accretion of additional provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom, highlighted by the Statute of Westminster in 1931 and culminating in the Canada Act in 1982 which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.

A federation now comprising ten provinces and three territories, Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual and multicultural country, with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. Technologically advanced and industrialized, Canada maintains a diversified economy that is heavily reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade—particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship.

United Kingdom

February 27, 2008

United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain,[7] is a sovereign island country located off the northwestern coast of mainland Europe comprising of the four constituent countries; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.[8][9] It comprises the island of Great Britain, the northeast part of the island of Ireland and many small islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK with a land border, sharing it with the Republic of Ireland.[10] Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea. The largest island, Great Britain, is linked to France by the Channel Tunnel.The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. The Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, formally possessions of the Crown, are not part of the UK but form a federacy with it.[11] The UK has fourteen overseas territories,[12] all remnants of the British Empire, which at its height encompassed almost a quarter of the world’s land surface, making it the largest empire in history. As a direct result of the empire, British influence can be observed in the infrastructure, culture, sporting preferences and language of other leading countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, South Africa, and the United States of America as well as in less globally influential independent states. Queen Elizabeth II remains the head of the Commonwealth of Nations and head of state of the Commonwealth realms. The UK is a developed country, with the fifth or sixth largest economy depending on source.[13]

The UK was the world’s foremost power during the 19th and early 20th century,[14] but the economic cost of two world wars and the decline of its empire in the latter half of the 20th century diminished its leading role in global affairs. The UK nevertheless retains significant economic, cultural, military and political influence and is a nuclear power, with the third highest defence spending in the world. It holds a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, and is a member of the G8, NATO, the European Union and the Commonwealth of Nations.

United States

February 27, 2008

The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to its east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait, and the state of Hawaii is in the mid-Pacific. The United States also possesses several territories, or insular areas, scattered around the Caribbean and Pacific.

At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km²) and with over 300 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and third largest by land area and by population. The United States is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries.[7] The U.S. economy is the largest national economy in the world, with a nominal 2006 gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$13 trillion (over 19% of the world total based on purchasing power parity).[4]

The nation was founded by thirteen colonies of Great Britain located along the Atlantic seaboard. Proclaiming themselves “states,” they issued the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The rebellious states defeated Britain in the American Revolutionary War, the first successful colonial war of independence.[8] A federal convention adopted the current United States Constitution on September 17, 1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic. The Bill of Rights, comprising ten constitutional amendments, was ratified in 1791.

In the nineteenth century, the United States acquired land from France, Spain, Mexico, and Russia, and annexed the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Hawaii. Disputes between the agrarian South and industrial North over states’ rights and the expansion of the institution of slavery provoked the American Civil War of the 1860s. The North’s victory prevented a permanent split of the country and led to the end of slavery in the United States. The Spanish-American War and World War I confirmed the nation’s status as a military power. In 1945, the United States emerged from World War II as the first country with nuclear weapons, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and a founding member of NATO. The United States is the only military superpower in the post–Cold War era and a dominant economic, political, and cultural force in the world

India

February 27, 2008

India (Hindi: भारत Bhārat; see also other names), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: भारत गणराज्य Bhārat Gaṇarājya), is a sovereign nation in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world.[12] Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east, India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometers (4,671 mi).[13] It borders Pakistan to the west;[14] China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia.

Once home to the Indus Valley Civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history.[15] Four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, while Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region’s diverse culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early eighteenth century and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century, India became a modern nation state in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by widespread nonviolent resistance.

India is the world’s twelfth largest economy at market exchange rates and the third largest economy in purchasing power. Economic reforms have transformed it into the second fastest growing large economy;[16] however, it still suffers from high levels of poverty,[17] illiteracy, malnutrition and environmental degradation. A pluralistic, multilingual, and multiethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.