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.
Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory that got its name from the description of the island. Being long and narrow, it was described as an eel in French, which is ‘anguille’. Although small, it is undulating, with a highest point of about 64 meters above sea level. Given its location out in the Atlantic Ocean, natural disaster has been a large part of the history of the island, with hurricanes often sweeping past the island, causing significant damage. However, like many other islands in the region, tourism has been a significant driving force in recent times, with beaches that look at the Atlantic Ocean.
Eugene F. Correira International Airport (SYEC/OGL)
Guyana is the only English speaking country in South America, with colonial history with Dutch and British settlers. Given the country’s main assets is in it’s forest and mineral reserves, it has continued to be one of the poorest countries in the region. As such, many of its exports comes from minerals or farm produce. Such examples of exports includes bauxite, gold and diamond, as well as crops such as sugar and rice.
Eugene F. Correira International Airport (SYEC/OGL)
Suriname is South America’s most ethnically diverse country. With people of ethnic groups from India, Pakistan and Indonesia, as well as Creole Surinamese, many of these people trace their origins to being brought to Suriname by colonists as contract labourers in the 19th century. In more recent times, there have been plenty of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and Brazilian who have immigrated to Suriname. Given the large workforce brought in, it is only obvious that there was a large natural resource to exploit, with bauxite being the case for Suriname. Being one of the top producers in the world. In more recent times, oil and gas has been something that Suriname has been exploring.
Iceland has been a popular tourist destination in recent years, with waterfalls, glaciers and volcanoes being a tourist attraction, and doing so while being eco-friendly. Almost all of its electricity is generated through renewable means, only boosting its target of being a carbon neutral country by 2040. Iceland has also produced numerous songwriters and bands, of which Of Monsters and Men have been a personal favourite of mine for many years.
French Guiana is sometimes seen as the gateway to space for many European countries. With its location being far from many storm paths, as well as a low population and plenty of undeveloped land, the French government turned a portion of the land into a space center. Now, with the presence of the European Space Agency, the French Space Agency as well as Arianespace, a private company developing the Ariane rocket line, this country has been a destination for those looking to send their cargo to outer space. Not to mention, later this year, there will be a very high profile launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on the Ariane 5 rocket which aims to search for the first light and stars after the Big Bang, study the formation and evolution of galaxies, study the formation and evolution of stars and planetary systems, as well as the further study of planetary systems and the origins of life.