7 Aug 2011

Skiathos, Greece

Skiathos is a small island in the Aegean Sea belonging to Greece. Skiathos is the westernmost island in the Northern Sporades group of islands. The mainland of Greece and Magnesia lie to the west, while the island of Skopelos lies to the east. The name of the island dates back to ancient times. The Municipality of Skíathos includes the islands of Tsougria and Tsougriaki, and of the islets of Maragos, Arkos, Troulonisi and Aspronisi. Total land area of the island is 50 km². The major settlement on the island is the town of Skiathos (pop. 4,988 in 2001), while other settlements are Χanemos (195), Kalyvia (179), Troulos (159), and Koukounaries (126).

3 Aug 2011

Minh Mang Tomb

Minh Mạng was the second emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty of Vietnam, reigning from 14 February 1820 until 20 January 1841. He was a younger son of Emperor Gia Long, whose eldest son, Crown Prince Canh, had died in 1801. He was well known for his opposition to French involvement in Vietnam and his rigid Confucian orthodoxy. As Gia Long aged, he took on a more isolationist foreign policy, and as a result favored Minh Mang especially for his outlook. Minh Mang was a classicist who was regarded as one of Vietnam's most scholarly monarchs. He was known as a poet and was regarded as an emperor who cared sincerely about his country and paid great attention to its rule, to the extent of micromanaging certain policies. He pursued a sceptical policy to Christian missionaries, often trying to inhibit their activities by administrative means, and later by explicitly banning proselytisation. His crackdowns led to negative European sentiment towards Vietnam and fomented discontent among Catholics at home and abroad which further antagonised Western attitudes towards Vietnam. As a result of his Confucian conservatism, Minh Mang allowed little innovation in Vietnamese society, and in time its military in particular became antiquated. He restricted trade and exchange with Western powers. At home he strengthened the central administration and had to contend with several rebellions, many of them Catholic-inspired. The most serious came in 1833 when southern Vietnam revolted, leading to a civil war lasting a year. This was further deepened by an invasion into the same area by Siamese forces who had attempted to retake Cambodia from Vietnam. After a long struggle, his forces managed to put down both enemies and regain control.