This is called “Shik-Hye”. It’s a Korean rice punch. It’s one of my favorite drinks. Hey geograpeeps, so let’s do one more episode of ‘Geography More’ before the year is over, alright? Shall we? So, for those of you who are new to this channel, ‘Geography More’ is basically where we cover the little extra information that didn’t quite make it into the country episodes. Now we cover Belarus, Belgium and Belize. So for this episode, I actually asked some of you guys, the geograpeeps from Belarus, Belgium and Belize, to help out. So let’s jump back to Eastern Europe and see what Belarus has up its sleeve. So one thing I didn’t really expound too much upon in the Belarus episode was really explaining the distinctions between Belarusians and Russians. It’s kind of sad because a lot of Belarusians don’t even know how to speak the Belarusian language since they’re just immersed in Russian since childhood. Now of course Belarusian is a Slavic language similar to Russian, however there are some word differences here and there. For example, in Russian if you want to say “My name is Bob”, you wouldy say “Menya zavut Bob” But in Belarusian you would say “Myanye klichuts Bob” In Russian “thank you” is “spaciba”, but in Belarusian it’s “dzyakui”. In Russian “please” is “pazhaluista”, but in Belarusian it’s “kalipaska”. In the video I talked a little bit about Lukashenko, which by the way he calls himself “batka” which means “daddy”, but I didn’t really talk too much about the underlying political scene apart from his rule. Whenever there’s a protest in Belarus, the protesters typically use this flag the white-red-white flag, kind of like an inverted version of the Austrian flag. It was on and off the flag of Belarus before the standard Rushnik pattern flag. Waving this flag in public can get you in trouble. Belarus also has a lot of Junia churches which are kind of strange because they’re kind of like orthodox churches, but they recognize the Pope in Rome. Belarus has gone through a lot of turmoil, I mean, Minsk city was kind of destroyed and burned down like 18 times, World War 2 killed off like a quarter of their population, those radioactive crop fields in the south put a burden on them economically. By the way, almost every city in Belarus has a street named after Lenin. Now Belarusian cuisine might look similar to Russian, however if you look close, they do have their own distinct style and process that sets them apart ever so slightly. First off, they love potatoes, in fact they love them so much they have like 300 different recipes for potatoes. Second, traditionally yeast wasn’t used in bread in Belarus, they use their own special type of leaven, which is why Belarusian bread is typically heavier and sourer than other breads. Some cool Belarusian dishes include ‘perepichka’ which is pancakes made of peas, ? praised ham, ?? à la Minsk and smoked meats are everywhere. Minsk library probably the most iconic building in Belarus is huge, it’s 22 storeys tall and has 8 and a half million books. By the way they just changed their currency to the new Belarusian ruble which looks like this. Getting into Belarus is a little bit easier now since the EU lifted a sanctions in 2015 when they said the presidential election was more transparent than the other ones. This means trade has boosted too, however sometimes Belarusians will take EU products and then resell it to the Russians under the name of Belarusian product. So then suddenly you have things like Belarusian shrimp, even though Belarus has no access to the sea. Finally, Belarus has quite a few heritage sites, such as: the residential and cultural complex of the Radziwell family, the Kamyanets tower, St. Nicholas monastery, the Brest…hehe…breast fortress and the palace and park of Gomel. Overall, Belarus is Slavic, but not Russian. Alright, moving on! BELGIUM So the Belgium episode was incredibly complex and convoluted with a boatload of political structure info and a lot of the information that I gave is either out of date or it was just kind of wrong. First of all, I mentioned the BHV or the Brussel
Halle-Vilvoorde, totally butchered that. It’s really hard to explain but it wasn’t a French administrative area but rather a voting district where people in Brussels could vote for French-speaking candidates which was deemed unconstitutional and disbanded in 2012. In the video I said Belgium was generally flat and it is for the most part, but when you go to the south you hit the Ardennes which are kind of like .. eh .. hilly, I mean, we’re not talking the Alps, but it is kind of noticeably.. no not flat..it’s hilly. The highest point being Signal de Botrange which is technically 694 meters tall, but then they added a 6 meter tall tower on the top to make it an even 700. The police in Brussels are federal, not regional so I got that wrong. Although seriously, who would even take the time to even care about a small fact like that. The Congo was actually a “personal property” of King Leopold II then it wasn’t until later when the Belgian government kind of put pressure on him to relinquish his claim and then give it to the state. And overall, Belgium isn’t “as new” as I may have portrayed in the video, I mean yes, the royal family and the modern generalized construct of Belgium is kind of new, but I mean, Flemish and Wallonian people have had distinct cultures and they’ve been existing for millenia prior to this even happening. But now, some new info – I can’t believe I missed this piece of information because it’s so cool and thank you to geograpeep Elias for telling me about this, but right along the tri-point border with Germany and the Netherlands lies this little guy – Shaped like a triangle, this place was like a semi-quazi micronation that lasted for like a century. The capital was Kelmis and they had their own legislative system, you can still see marker stones today on the land area that it claimed. And the coolest thing is that it was the first community in the world that tried to introduce Esperanto as the official language. For those of you who don’t know – Esperanto is the world’s most commonly spoken constructed language made by this guy in the late 19th century in an attempt to create an easy to learn language that could be used universally across the world. Also fun side note: in 2018 Belgium and the Netherlands will swap some land due to the fact that their border lies on the Maas river which keeps changing its direction. Some cool Belgian inventions include: the body mass index scale, mainstream commercialized plastic, the saxophone, the JPEG image conversion, two Belgian priests were credited to inventing neoprene synthetic rubber and disovering the Big Bang, some Belgian American inventors include professor
J. de Smedt who invented asphalt and Charles Van Depoele who invented the electric tramway. Waterloo – the battle that pretty much crushed Napoleon was in Belgium. Some notable Belgians include: Audrey Hepburn, Jean-Claude Van Damme, love that guy! artist Jan van Eyck, Peter Paul Rubens and René Magritte love that guy too! fashion designer Liz Claiborne, composer and singer Jacques Brel not French! and writer Georges Simenon. Language-wise, the French spoken in Wallonia is different from the French spoken in France and of course Flemish is a little different from Dutch. The biggest difference for the French and Belgian is the counting system. If you’re learning French you guys will know how difficult it can get when you go past 60. 70 becomes soixante-dix, 80 becomes quatre-vingts and 90 becomes quatre-vingts-dix. In Wallonia they just abbreviate it to septante and nonant, although they still use quatre-vingts for 80. Fun little side note: in Switzerland they use octante for 80 which I personally believe makes things so much easier. Now for Flemish, the Dutch kind of think that Flemish sounds a little too old-fashioned and the Flemish think that the Dutch sounds too rude. The G is hit a lot harder in Dutch so you would say something like but in Belgium you’d say: Also in Belgium the W reverts from a V sound back to a W sound, so in the Netherlands you’d say something like: but in Belgium you would say something like: Also Flemish has a little bit of a French influence in it, you can kind of hear it, for example in words like jam, in the Netherlands jam is just jam, but in Flemish it’s confituur derived from the french word ‘confiture’ which means jam. Nonetheless they all understand each other, they love poking fun at each other. Anyway, moving on! Now looking back to Belize episode, there’s a lot of cool info that wasn’t there. Remember the black Mennonites? However, there are a few things that I missed out that I kind of want to elaborate a little further. First of all, of course English is the official language, however most people speak English, Spanish and Belizean Creole which is not too hard to pick up for most English speakers, you can probably guess what ‘Gud maanin’ and ‘Mi naym da..’ means. But then you get some heavy thick words like “Wait bruk down bridge.” or “Dah no so, dah naily so.” As mentioned in the video the Mayan language is spoken especially in the south where they have about 30 Mayan villages in the Toledo district by Punta Gorda or “the point of the fat one”. These villages are kinda hard to get to, I mean the whole country only has like 4 main highways and the villages still have thatched roof houses and women that cook fresh corn tortillas on a hot plate just like their ancestors did. It’s a little touristy but they even offer “homestays” where you can experience “Mayan life”. The Toledo district is also known as ‘the forgotten land’ as it is the most untouched heavily forested area. Many parts of the forest haven’t even been explored yet, home to many cat species like jaguarundi, pumas, oceltos and margays. Now of course, as mentioned in the video doing business in Belize is very easy but also so is real estate, this is why Belize’s one of the top retirement destinations in the world especially
for Americans and Brits. Orchid Bay in northern Belize is known for being a retirement haven. Most real estate agents aren’t even licensed, they just sell houses because the industry is booming. Houses are cheap in relatively safe, quiet, calm neighborhoods and nice beautiful tropical areas. The exchange rate is always fixed at 2:1 ratio for the American dollar. I mean, you may have to deal with occasional hurricane here and there but otherwise life is easy and it’s good. Fun little side note: you can get close to nurse sharks and stingrays at Shark Ray Alley and you can witness whale sharks at Placinica. There are 500 different species of birds found in the forest like the Jabiru stork which is the largest one in all of North America, as well as 500 different species of orchids. Belize is also home to a few mythical legendary characters, like El Sisimite or the Belizean version of Sasquatch or Big Foot. This guy has no knees, his feet are on backwards and he eats people. There’s also El Duende, a one meter tall evil dwarf with no thumbs and punishes kids who kill animals in the forest. I didn’t really talk too much about the English influence on Belize, I mean the Spanish did try to kind of take over, but they didn’t really hold on to it very well as Belize was kind of seen as the “back regions” and then the English pirates came in and that just kind of made things even worse for the Spanish. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the English came in and officially “annexed” the area for themselves calling it British Honduras. You can still kind of see the English influence a little bit in the country though, like an architecture with houses that have open gable roofs and rail balconies or in cuisine they love meat pies and the typical English breakfast is not hard to find. Nonetheless most food is influenced by the Caribbean and Latin American cuisine. Beans and rice with coconut milk, fry jacks, lobsters and plantains are never in short supply. If you come to Belize though try to find the local delicacy “Gibnut” or the most prized game animal. Gibnut is a jungle rodent also known as the Royal Rat because it was once served to Queen Elizabeth. Speaking of which there are virtually no fast food chains in Belize, no McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, KFC, none of that. Thumb locking is a somewhat common greeting in Belize and finally every island off the coast whether inhabited or not has a government-appointed official watchman that stays at a post,
depending on your views and solidarity, it could be probably the most fun or boring job in the world. So there you go: Belarus, Belgium and Belize. Three wonderfully unique countries that we haven’t even scratched the surface on. I’m sure there’s a lot of information I missed out even in this video, so if you know something about these 3 countries that I didn’t mention, feel free to write in the comments and teach everybody, that’s what we’re all about here in Geography Now, okay, we teach each other, so write something down if you know something that I didn’t mention. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have some country episodes that I gotta work on so until then I’ll see you in 2017. Stay cool.