Friday, June 28, 2013

New World Heritage sites 2013

Congratulations to the 19 newly inscribed World Heritage sites and three site extensions as this year's World Heritage Committee meeting wraps up in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Among the new sites is another for Canada this year: Red Bay Basque Whaling Station. It was founded in the 1530s and is an archaeological site providing the earliest, most complete and best preserved testimony of the European whaling tradition.

Another Canadian site was up for nomination. Pimachiowin Aki is a large stretch of pristine boreal forests in Northern Central Canada that includes the ancestral lands of several indigenous people. The site was being nominated in the "Mixed" category, meaning that it had both outstanding "Natural" and "Cultural" features. Of the almost 1,000 sites now on the list, only 29 are mixed sites. The World Heritage Committee decided to defer listing for Pimachiowin Aki until next year to give the nominators time to improve certain aspects of the bid, while also saying that the Committee needed to improve the nomination process for mixed sites as there were currently structural problems in the process that made approving mixed nominations very difficult. So hopefully another new site for Canada after next year's meeting in Qatar!

A big congratulations also going out to Fiji, Lesotho and Qatar for having their first sites added to the list!

New sites 2013
Al Zubarah Archaeological Site (Qatar)
Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora (Ukraine)
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (Germany)
Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces (China)
Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration (Japan)
Golestan Palace (Iran)
Hill Forts of Rajasthan (India)
Historic Centre of Agadez (Niger)
Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong (North Korea)
Levuka Historical Port Town (Fiji)
Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany (Italy)
Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (Canada)
University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia (Portugal)
Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine (Poland/Ukraine)
El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve (Mexico)
Mount Etna (Italy)
Namib Sand Sea (Namibia)
Tajik National Park (Mountains of the Pamirs) (Tajikistan)
Xinjiang Tianshan (China)

New site extensions 2013
Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines (Poland)
Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest (Kenya)
Maloti Drakensberg Tranboundary World Heritage Site (Lesotho/South Africa)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Taiwan II

Postcard of the Taipei 101 Tower (台北101), the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010, when it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The tower's 101 floors gave rise to it's name, and it's design is  meant to resemble the jointed segments of a bamboo plant. Bamboo is extremely sturdy, serving as an inspiration to the designers who needed a building able to withstand Taiwan's frequent earthquakes and typhoons.

Many thanks to flatmate Paul, who was in Taipei on holiday. 

Stamp from a 2012 set of four on local berries. Pictured here is glossy nightshade, Solanum americanum, a common plant across the tropical Pacific whose berries are often used in traditional medicine.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Djibouti II

A second postcard from Djibouti, with my thanks again to Salah. Shukran! This card shows Maskali Island, a popular destination for scuba divers in the Gulf of Tadjoura near the entrance to the Red Sea.

Same stamp previously featured, issued in 2005 in honour of the Djibouti National Women's League.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Another new country; I'm really on quite an astounding role at the moment! Five new countries in the space of a month! Certainly a record for me.

This card from the small East African country of Djibouti says on the reverse that it's of Moucha Island, a small offshore island popular with scuba divers. But I'm quite certain that must a printing error of some kind. Google Earth confirms that this is a picture of the eponymous capital city, Djibouti, founded in 1888 by the French as the capital of French Somaliland.

Shukran and many thanks to Salah for help knock this country off my list.

Stamp commemorating the Djibouti National Women's League that works for women's empowerment, literacy and health care.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Greenland II

Happy Birthday to my blog! Wax on, Daniel-san – Postcards turns three today. It doesn't seem so long ago that I uploaded my first card showing two Greenlandic children performing the kunik, the traditional Inuit greeting. It seems only appropriate that I should have another card from Greenland for a birthday post, and with perfect timing received this one just last week. 

Card show's Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (and of Greenland), in traditional Greenlandic dress. She was crowned in 1972, but had not initially been expected to become sovereign due to Salic law preventing the crown from passing to a woman. A constitutional amendment was passed in 1953 to allow this after it became clear that her father, King Frederick, was unlikely to have any male heirs.

A woman after my own heart, Margrethe is an accomplished translator and contributed to the Danish translation of Lord of the Rings. You go, girl! 

Stamp on the left is from the 2012 definitive series, again featuring Queen Margrethe II. Stamp on the right commemorates the Queen's Ruby Jubilee of 40 years on the throne.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands, the second of two new countries received today! Woot! The Faroe Islands are an archipelago in the North Atlantic halfway between Scotland and Iceland and are an autonomous part of Denmark. The islands are famous for having dramatic scenery and equally as dramatic weather. Card shows the high cliffs near the village of Trøllanes, on the northern island of Kalsoy.

Stamp depicts the northern prawn, Pandalus borealis, an important food resource widely fished in the Faroe Islands and elsewhere in the North Atlantic. The species is not considered overfished however, likely due to its short life expectancy and high rates of reproduction.

Nauru II

BEST! DAY! EVER! Two new countries in one day. So amazing. A super big 非常感謝 and heartfelt thanks to Hsiang-chi who sent my first Nauruan card sans stamp and very kindly offered to send a second with. I'll forever be in his debt, as Nauru is certainly one of the trickier countries to strike off the list.

Card shows coral rocks at Anibare Bay, Nauruan boy holding a frigate bird, a sunset and Buada Lagoon.

Two stamps from a 1991 set of 12 on local flowers, featuring hibiscus on the left and clerodendon on the left, both common flower types in the tropics.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Åland Islands

Woohoo! On a roll with another new country, the Åland Islands, an autonomous Swedish-speaking region of Finland made up of a Baltic Sea archipelago between the two countries. Postcard show the Åland Islands flag, which is a Swedish flag defaced by a red cross symbolising Finland.

Stamp on left depicts the Boletus edulis mushroom, or porcino mushrooms as it is more commonly known in culinary circles. It is a common mushroom across the Northern Hemisphere and is highly regarded in many cuisines. Stamp on the right depicts, quite obviously, potato chips. A bit of investigative searching for the connection between the Åland Islands and potato chips revealed that the Åland Islands is, in fact, home to Scandinavia's largest potato chip company, Chips AB, established in 1969 to offset the decline in the the island's traditional economic mainstay, fishing.