Finland celebrates Independence Day. It became free from Russia in 1917. For centuries Sweden and Russia have fought over Finland. Russia took over the country in 1809. According to the CIA World Factbook, Finland is slightly smaller than the state of Montana. Today Helsinki is the northernmost capital of any country in Europe. More than five million people live in Finland, and most live in a small coastal plain. Over three-fourths of the land is covered with forests. It exports timber and wood pulp.
Republic of Kazakhstan celebrates Independence Day. In 1991 it broke away from the Soviet Union. According to the CIA World Factbook, Kazakhstan is about four times the size of Texas. Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world. About 16 million inhabitants live in this arid country. Although Almaty is the biggest city, Astana is the capital. Kazakhstan exports oil and wheat. Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in Kazakhstan’s desert steppe, is the world’s oldest and largest space launch site.
Czechoslovakia officially became two countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in 1992.
Cuba celebrates Liberation Day. On January 1, 1899, Spain lost control of Cuba. For a time it was under United States rule. It became a country with a republican government until Fidel Castro overthrew the rulers on January 1, 1959. According to the CIA World Factbook, Cuba is slightly smaller than the state of Pennsylvania. Located in the tropical Caribbean region, Cuba can experience both hurricanes and drought. About 11 million people live on the island, and the country exports sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, and coffee. Havana is the capital.
Haiti celebrates Independence Day. It was a Spanish colony from 1492 until 1697. Then it became a French colony until 1804 when it gained its freedom. According to the CIA World Factbook, Haiti is slightly smaller than the state of Maryland. Like Cuba, Haiti is located in the Caribbean. It can experience hurricanes, earthquakes, and drought. Over 9 million people live in Haiti, and Port-au-Prince is the capital. The country, again according to the CIA World Factbook, is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Idea: Haiti is part of an island. Children could locate Haiti on a map and discuss its neighbor.
Sudan celebrates Independence Day. It has been a free nation since 1956 when Egypt and the United Kingdom gave up control. Sudan is about a fifth of the size of the United States. Located south of Egypt, the country lies in a desert region. Over 26 million people live in the country, and most of these people live along the Nile River. Khartoum is the capital. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan broke away and formed its country.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, celebrates Independence Day. It became free from British rule in 1948. According to the CIA World Factbook, Myanmar is a bit smaller than Texas. About 55 million people live in this southeast Asian country, and about 4.25 million people live in the capital of Rangoon. Monsoons plague this resource-rich, including natural gas, timber, and mining, country.
Nauru celebrates Independence Day. It gained its independence from a United Nations Trusteeship managed by Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom in 1968. Nauru is a small island, only 8.1 square miles (one-tenth the size of Washington, DC), and supports about 10,000 inhabitants. Yaren is the capital. The interior used to hold reserves of phosphates, used to make fertilizers. However, the phosphates have been exhausted. Located just south of the equator in Micronesia, the country has a tropical climate.
Sri Lanka celebrates Independence Day. The United Kingdom relinquished control of the island in 1948. The country, located southeast of India, exports tea, coconuts, and rubber. According to The CIA World Factbook, Sri Lanka is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia. Colombo is the capital. Over 21 million people live on this country that has a tropical monsoon climate. Idea: Children could open up coconuts and enjoy the milk. They could toast the coconut flesh and enjoy it.
Grenada celebrates Independence Day. Although it became free of British rule in 1974, it still recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. Carib Indians inhabited the island, located in the Caribbean, in the 1600’s. St. George’s is the capital. The 108,000 inhabitants depend a great deal on tourism. Nutmeg and mace are leading exports. Idea: Children could learn how nutmeg and mace are grown. Are nutmeg and mace different?
Lithuania celebrates Independence Day of 1918. It became free of Russian and German rule. People celebrate this day even though Lithuania was annexed into the Soviet Union in 1940. In 1991 Lithuania became the first nation to break away from the Soviet Union. According to the CIA World Factbook, Lithuania is slightly larger than West Virginia. It borders the Baltic Sea, and Vilnius is the capital. A member of the European Union, Lithuania depends on agricultural products, including grains, potatoes, and flax.
Kosovo celebrates Independence Day. In 2008 it broke away from Serbia. According to the CIA World Factbook, Kosovo is slightly larger than Delaware. Almost two million people live in this landlocked country. Pristina is the capital and largest city, and the country is rich in minerals and lignite.
The Gambia celebrates Independence Day. It gained its independence from Great Britain in 1965. Banjul is the capital of this small country, located on the northwestern coast of Africa. According to the CIA World Factbook, The Gambia is about twice the size of Delaware. Almost two million people live in The Gambia, and about 75 percent of its inhabitants are farmers.