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Commonwealth of Independent States

(203 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a voluntary association that includes 12 of the 15 republics of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union). Proclaiming itself a successor to the USSR in some aspects of international affairs, the commonwealth provides a framework for unified military policy, a single currency, and a single “economic space.” The Minsk Agreement of December 8, 1991, which established the commonwealth, was signed by the three Slav republics Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Later that month, eight other for…

Bahrain

(736 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The State of Bahrain is an archipelago nation lying along the Arabian Peninsula in the Persian Gulf. Roughly two-thirds of the population are Bahrainis, with the remainder resident foreign workers (Foreigners 2), divided among Asians (13 percent, mostly Indians and Pakistanis), other Arabs (10 percent, mainly Palestinians, Egyptians, and Saudis), Iranians (8 percent), and smaller groups of Europeans. The main island, Bahrain, is linked to Saudi Arabia by a 25-kilometer (15-mi.) causeway, and by shorter causeways to the other main islands, Muharr…

Azerbaijan

(791 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
Azerbaijan is a Transcaucasian republic bordering on the Caspian Sea. Two parts of its territory have been claimed by neighboring Armenia: the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, an exclave to the southwest separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by a strip of ¶ Armenia; and the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, an area wholly within Azerbaijan populated largely by Armenians. Tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh became violent in February 1988 and continued so until May 1994, when a cease-fire mediated by Russia was signed by the warring parties.…

Maldives

(441 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Republic of Maldives, comprising a pencil-shaped cluster of 26 atolls, lies in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of India. Only about 200 of its 1,190 islands are permanently inhabited. No island is over 13 sq. km. (5 sq. mi.) in area; the highest point in any of them is only 2.4 m. (8 ft.) above sea level. Maldives is important geopolitically because of its location astride or along major sea lanes in the Indian Ocean. Ethnically, Maldivians are a mixture of South Indians, Sinhalese, and Arabs; the official language is Dhivehi, of Sanskrit or…

Bahamas

(1,201 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, a West Indies nation independent since July 10, 1973, comprises an archipelago of 700 islands and over 2,000 cays and rocks extending southeastward from off the coast of Florida in the United States to just north of Haiti. Not more than 30 islands are inhabited, with the population divided ethnically between Afro-Caribbean (85 percent) and Euro-American (15 percent, largely from Great Britain, Canada, and the United States). The official language of the Bahamas is English, which ¶ reflects the dominant role of the British in …

Brunei

(964 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
The sultanate of Brunei (official name: Negara [State of] Brunei Darussalam) is a small enclave on the northwestern coast of Borneo. It is bordered by the South China Sea and, on land, is surrounded entirely by Sarawak, an eastern state of Malaysia. In 1997 the sultan was Sir Muda Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah, who, upon succeeding his father in October 1967, became the 29th ruler in a single family of sultans tracing back to Sultan Mohammed (reigned 1405–15), the first Brunei leader to embrace Islam. According to the official census, in 1991 the population of Brunei was…

Morocco

(1,056 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Kingdom of Morocco, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, lies between Algeria and the Western Sahara. In the 11th and 12 centuries it was the center of a Berber empire ruling much of Spain and northwest Africa. Spanish rule came in the 19th century, then French in the 20th century (Colonialism); independence was achieved in March 1956. Later that year Tangier (which had been internationalized in 1923) was turned over to the new country. In the 1970s Morocco annexed the Western Sahara (formerly the Spanish Sahara), beginning a…

Sanctuary Lamp

(90 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
In Roman Catholic churches the sanctuary light is the hanging light that shines constantly before the altar, where the reserved sacrament is kept in the tabernacle (§2). The purpose of the lamp is “to indicate and honor the presence of Christ” (1983 CIC  940). Evidence exists of the use of this light in the West from the 11th and 12th centuries. The Rituale Romanum (1614) made it obligatory. Oil or wax is usually burned, but electric light is permitted. See Eucharist; Eucharistic Spirituality; Liturgical Books The Editors

Belize

(379 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
Formerly British Honduras (to 1973), Belize lies between Guatemala and Mexico on the Caribbean coast of Central America. From the middle of the 17th century British traders exploited the coast from Campeche to Belize, cutting timber (for dyeing) and building factories. After 1680 Spanish pressure forced the British out of the Yucatán peninsula and into the stretch of coast in Belize between the Río Hondo and the Río Belize. With the Dallas-Clarendon agreement they secured control over a territory enlarged from 6,000 to 20,000 sq. km. (2,300 to 7,700 sq. mi.). In 1859 Guatemala re…

Heterodoxy

(64 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
“Heterodoxy” (Gk. heterodoxia, “other opinion”), in a theological and ecclesiastical context, denotes teaching that diverges from official church doctrine. In the early church it meant the same as heresy (Ignatius). Today, however, especially for Roman Catholics, it means formal divergence from orthodoxy, with “heresy” used for outright denial of the truths of the faith (see 1983 CIC 1364). See Dogma The Editors

Oman

(956 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Sultanate of Oman, with Muscat (or Masqat) as its capital city, lies in the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula, strategically located at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. Over 80 percent of the population lives in urban areas, the balance inhabiting largely desert areas. As early as the third century b.c., Oman (known before 1970 as Muscat and Oman) was an important and prosperous trading site, a harbor on routes to Vietnam and Indonesia. Since the settling of Arab tribes in Oman in the second century a.d., the population has been mostly Arab, with Per…

Creed

(72 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
A creed is a concise statement of Christian doctrine, typically produced by one of the councils of the early church. In this encyclopedia, the fullest treatment of “creed” appears in “Confessions and Creeds.” See Apostles’ Creed; Athanasian Creed; Barmen Declaration; Darmstadt Declaration; Niceno Constantinopolitan Creed The EditorsBibliography J. N. D. Kelly, ed., Early Christian Creeds (3d ed.; London, 1972) J. H. Leith, Creeds of the Churches (3d ed.; Atlanta, 1982).

Lithuania

(1,570 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. Historical Overview Ancient Baltic culture can be traced to around 2500 b.c., when local cultures began to merge with newly arrived Indo-Europeans. The pre-Christian religion, largely known from a few shrines still being uncovered by archaeologists, was Indo-European in origin and, while it changed considerably over time, had a certain correspondence to the pantheons of other religions (Paganism). In about a.d. 1240 Mindaugas (d. 1263) became the ruler of Lithuania and was able to unite the unruly duchies of the area. In 1251 he was, largely for politic…

Congo (Brazzaville)

(679 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Republic of Congo, whose capital is Brazzaville, is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic, as well as by the former Zaire, known since May 1997 as the Democratic Republic of Congo. The most important tribal groups are the 10 groups of the Kongo peoples (840,000), 15 groups of Teke (490,000), 6 groups of Mboshi (195,000), and 6 groups of Mbete (140,000). There are altogether over 75 ethnic groups speaking 60 different languages. Congo includes small percentages of other African peoples, as well as Europeans and Asians. French…

Niger

(624 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Republic of Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa, borders on Algeria and Libya to the north, Chad to the east, Nigeria and Benin to the south, and Burkina Faso and Mali to the west. Europeans first entered Niger in the late 18th century, with the French making Niger part of French West Africa in 1904 (Colonialism). It became a colony within French West Africa (1922), an overseas territory of France (1946), an autonomous republic within the French community (1958), and…

Barbados

(1,057 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The independent island nation of Barbados occupies the easternmost land mass in the West Indies. Archaeological evidence indicates that Arawak Indians maintained permanent settlements there beginning approximately a.d. 1000. First contacts with European explorers occurred probably in the early 1500s, when the Spanish landed in Barbados to seek slaves for their gold mines in Hispaniola. By the mid-1500s, no Indians remained, nor did a party of 80 English settlers under Henry Powell encounter any inhabita…

Pakistan

(2,270 words)

Author(s): Schimmel, Annemarie | Editors, the
Pakistan became an independent state on August 14, 1947. The idea of a Muslim area in the northwest of the subcontinent was first suggested and supported by Muhammad Iqbāl (1877–1938), the poet-philosopher of Indian Muslims, at the annual gathering of the All India Muslim League in Allahabad on December 30, 1930. 1. History Muslims (Islam) came to India in 711 and took over the lower Indus Valley up to Multan (now southern Pakistan). By 800 a second wave came and, from Ghaznī in present-day Afghanistan, set up Muslim rule in northwest India. Ben…

UNESCO

(421 words)

Author(s): Kimminich, Otto | Editors, the
The founding of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was proposed in 1943 by the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education, which was meeting to seek ways of rebuilding the systems of education crippled by the war. The UNESCO charter was signed in London by 37 countries on November 16, 1945. Its model was the International Committee of Intellectual Co-operation, which the League of Nations had organized in January 1921. As of October 2005, UNESCO had 191 member states and 6 associate members. Because of tensions between states,…

Qatar

(735 words)

Author(s): Koszinowski, Thomas | Editors, the
1. General Situation The State of Qatar lies along the peninsula of the same name on the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. East Arab Bedouin tribes began to settle there in the 18th century. Among them the Al Thani family played a leading role from the end of the 19th century. In 1872 the territory came under Ottoman rule with a Turkish garrison in Doha, the capital. When the Turks left at the beginning of World War I, Qatar became a British protectorate. By a treaty concluded in 1916, Britain took over responsibility for its defense and foreign policy (Colonialism). 1.1. Britain left the gu…

Divination

(2,094 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert | Editors, The
1. Term The term “divination” comes from Lat. divinatio, meaning “divine inspiration; soothsaying.” Divination is a social practice of choosing and evaluating signs. It is related to such phenomena as the interpretation of events, the seeking of causes (diagnosis), and the planning of action (prognosis). But it also carries with it the extraordinary claim of being the disclosure of what is hidden (Apocalypticism 1), of having privileged access to a special “pool” of signs (e.g., the anatomy of sheep livers), and of having unquestionable authority. Divination practic…
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