South Sudan as a country has had a difficult past. Having been invaded by the Ottoman Empire, before it came under rule by the British-Egyptians. Following the exit of British-Egyptian rule in the nation, South Sudan was marked by decades of civil war and violence which has seen only 27 years of peace out of its 65 year history. Nonetheless, the petroleum industry plays a big role in the country, with major players such as Malaysia’s Petronas and China’s CNPC being key companies in the region.
Eritrea lies on the Horn of Africa. It borders Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia and has a coast along the Red Sea. With highlands and coastal terrain, the country has highly varied terrain, with a highest point of over 9,500 feet, it’s not an insignificant height given the narrow nature of the country. It is also one of a few countries that were under Italian colonial rule, until its independence was declared in 1961.
Santorini (Thira) International Airport (LGSR/JTR)
Greece, home to 18 UNESCO Heritage Sites, 6,000 islands and over 16,000 kilometres of coastline, it sees well over 300 sunny days in a year as well as plenty of holidaymakers looking for sunny and warm weather. Despite all of this, recent times has seen the country suffer from wildfires of a decreasing size, although, they are still not at a controllable size just yet.
Djibouti is a country that lies on the Horn of Africa, with a coastline that lies on the Gulf of Aden, it’s incredibly strategic when looking for ships that are looking to port and transit as it looks to cross the Suez Canal. Not to mention, it has a diversified economy with natural resources such as gold, granite, limestone and marble, with the potential of extracting geothermal sources of power.
Ethiopia has one of the most varied geography on the African continent. Lowlands are scattered throughout the country, however no large settlement has come about due to temperatures being too high in those regions. However, with the rest of the country at a high altitude of over 10,000 feet in many cases, temperatures become low enough that its habitable and rather comfortable too.
Kenya is thought to be one of the most successful athletics country in the world. Having won a total of 113 medals in the Olympics, 96 of the 113 came from athletics. Long distance running has long been Kenya’s powerhouse, and this was especially highlighted when Eliud Kipchoge ran a marathon in under 2 hours at an exhibition event in Vienna, Austria.
Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (TUPJ/EIS)
The British Virgin Islands compasses more than 60 islands, from the granite boulder snorkeling sites of the Baths National Park, to North Sound being a major water sports hub in the country, the British Virgin Islands is one of the best places to be if you’re looking for water sports.
Somalia has the longest coastline of all of Africa, with a distance of over 3,000km. While it coasts the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, one of the most important waterways in the world lies to the north, in the Gulf of Aden. With a significant percentage of trade between Europe and the Asia Pacific region, the Gulf of Aden serves as a passageway to the Suez Canal. Though Somalia has been known to have plenty of pirates in the region looking to take ship crews hostage in return for ransom money, no ships has been taken hostage in the last 4 years though.
Guatemala’s southern volcanic belt is known to have made some of the most fertile soil the country has seen. Nevertheless, deforestation and soil erosion has made those lands difficult to cultivate crops on. Not to mention, when agriculture provides about 40% of the country’s economy, it’s easy to see why the loss of some of these land can mean so much to those who are affected. However, the discovery and extraction of petroleum starting in the 1980s has helped alleviate some of the struggles the country was once in.
Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (MZBZ/BZE)
Like many countries in the region, Belize is a top destination for those who are looking to go diving. The Great Blue Hole is commonly voted as the top diving destinations in the world, as well as being the home to the Belize Barrier Reef which is only second to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Furthermore, history in the country of Belize is unparalleled, given the country was once the capital for the ancient Mayan civilisation.
The most densely populated of the 7 Central American countries, El Salvador has made a name for itself by being some of the most notable coffee exporters in the world. However, as its economy progressed, it had shifted its focus from being an agricultural based economy to being a service-sector based economy. Despite civil unrest in the early 1990s, El Salvador has since been able to focus on the production of various key products, such as electronics as well as pharmaceutical products.
Toncontin International Airport is known as one of the most difficult airports to land at in the world. With high terrain surrounding the airport on all sides, as well as inclement weather frequenting the vicinity of the airport due to its placement in a valley, visibility can quite easily become a challenge. Not to mention, its short runway adds to the already hazardous challenge that is given to anyone who dares to fly in.
Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MNMG/MGA)
Heading over to the largest countries in the Central American region, Nicaragua is home to the largest freshwater lake in Lake Nicaragua. Also being the 19th largest lake in the world, it allows for volcanic activity to form islands in the lake over millions of years. However, being home to so many volcanoes means that the country is heavily prone to natural disasters, with volcanic eruptions being somewhat common in the country.
Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (TKPK/SKB)
Saint Kitts and Nevis, like many islands in the region, are popular tourist destinations for those looking to flee the cold weathers of the winter. Particularly favoured by those in North America and Europe, the island was the first colony of the British Empire, and was once known as Gibraltar of the West Indies. Volcanic activity is to be credited for the formation of the island, with the last eruption over 200 years ago. However, it’s lack of volcanic activity has since transformed the volcano into a prime tourist attraction on the island.
Costa Rica is a biologist’s utopia. Accounting for over 5% of the world’s known flora and fauna species, this nation has over 500,000 species that are native to the country. Furthermore, with four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and three of them being nature related, it’s obvious to see that the country has had a rich history in both culture and nature. Not to mention, Costa Rica has dedicated over 25% of its land to conservation efforts.
Panama, most well known for its Panama Canal which is thought to be the most important waterway in the world, linking the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean. Being a prominent shipping country, it’s no surprise that it has over a thousand islands off both coast, as well as a diverse flora and fauna population throughout the country. Well known within the country too is the Darien Gap on the southeastern side of Panama. With thick jungles and land that’s rich in biodiverse life, the gap has been thought to be impossible to cross. Not to mention, even though it may be just over a hundred kilometers, efforts to cross this gap by with a land vehicle takes over 2 years due to its unforgiving characteristics.
New Zealand, without any argument, is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to. Cultural icons includes the filming site of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. New Zealand was also one of the last places on earth to be inhabited. Not to mention, New Zealand has had many notable people, such as Sir Edmund Hillary who first summited Mount Everest, as well as Sir Ernest Rutherford, who is widely regarded as the father of nuclear physics
As we move down through South America, we’ll quickly come across many of my personal favourite airports. Among other challenges, El Dorado presents us with a more unorthodox challenge. Perhaps well noted among radar controllers, El Dorado employs a point merge STAR arrival. While it has advantages such as increasing the overall efficiency of arriving traffic, it can be a challenge to control, as often, not many people are familiar with the system. However, despite this, the high elevation of El Dorardo too presents a challenge for pilots, requiring a higher speed to perform take off and landings.
Moving onto another personal favourite airport of mine, Quito provides a terrain filled challenge for anyone who dares fly into the country. With high altitudes and high temperatures, high speed is likely to follow, and with it, just more being added to the challenge that is the terrain in the area. Not to mention, Ecuador is the country with the mountain that is closest to space. Lying on the equator, the equatorial bulge puts Ecuador closer to space, and along with it, the highest peak is the closest you can get to space while remaining on the ground.
Not like many other countries in the region, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Holding a frankly ridiculous 18.22% of the world’s reserves in 2016, Venezuela is second to none, with Saudi Arabia not being too far behind. However, Venezuela has had plenty of domestic turmoil, with protests frequently being held in the last 8-10 years, with a history of protests against the government. Not to mention, inflation in the country has led to a rapid devaluation of their currency, reported to be at about 28.5% in the month of May in 2021, whereas inflation in the European Union is expected to be at 1.68% throughout the year of 2021.