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  The World Factbook.  2008.
 
Geography—note
 
 
CountryGeography—note
Afghanistanlandlocked; the Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide the northern provinces from the rest of the country; the highest peaks are in the northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)
AkrotiriBritish extraterritorial rights also extended to several small off-post sites scattered across Cyprus; of the Sovereign Base Area land, 60% is privately owned and farmed, 20% is owned by the Ministry of Defense, and 20% is SBA Crown land
Albaniastrategic location along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)
Algeriasecond-largest country in Africa (after Sudan)
American SamoaPago Pago has one of the best natural deepwater harbors in the South Pacific Ocean, sheltered by shape from rough seas and protected by peripheral mountains from high winds; strategic location in the South Pacific Ocean
Andorralandlocked; straddles a number of important crossroads in the Pyrenees
Angolathe province of Cabinda is an exclave, separated from the rest of the country by the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Anguillathe most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles
Antarcticathe coldest, windiest, highest (on average), and driest continent; during summer, more solar radiation reaches the surface at the South Pole than is received at the Equator in an equivalent period; mostly uninhabitable
Antigua and BarbudaAntigua has a deeply indented shoreline with many natural harbors and beaches; Barbuda has a very large western harbor
Arctic Oceanmajor chokepoint is the southern Chukchi Sea (northern access to the Pacific Ocean via the Bering Strait); strategic location between North America and Russia; shortest marine link between the extremes of eastern and western Russia; floating research stations operated by the US and Russia; maximum snow cover in March or April about 20 to 50 centimeters over the frozen ocean; snow cover lasts about 10 months
Argentinasecond-largest country in South America (after Brazil); strategic location relative to sea lanes between the South Atlantic and the South Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage); diverse geophysical landscapes range from tropical climates in the north to tundra in the far south; Cerro Aconcagua is the Western Hemisphere's tallest mountain, while Laguna del Carbon is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere
Armenialandlocked in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains; Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan) is the largest lake in this mountain range
Arubaa flat, riverless island renowned for its white sand beaches; its tropical climate is moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean; the temperature is almost constant at about 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit)
Ashmore and Cartier IslandsAshmore Reef National Nature Reserve established in August 1983
Atlantic Oceanmajor chokepoints include the Dardanelles, Strait of Gibraltar, access to the Panama and Suez Canals; strategic straits include the Strait of Dover, Straits of Florida, Mona Passage, The Sound (Oresund), and Windward Passage; the Equator divides the Atlantic Ocean into the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean
Australiaworld's smallest continent but sixth-largest country; population concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts; the invigorating sea breeze known as the "Fremantle Doctor" affects the city of Perth on the west coast, and is one of the most consistent winds in the world
Austrialandlocked; strategic location at the crossroads of central Europe with many easily traversable Alpine passes and valleys; major river is the Danube; population is concentrated on eastern lowlands because of steep slopes, poor soils, and low temperatures elsewhere
Azerbaijanboth the main area of the country and the Naxcivan exclave are landlocked
Bahamas, Thestrategic location adjacent to US and Cuba; extensive island chain of which 30 are inhabited
Bahrainclose to primary Middle Eastern petroleum sources; strategic location in Persian Gulf, through which much of the Western world's petroleum must transit to reach open ocean
Bangladeshmost of the country is situated on deltas of large rivers flowing from the Himalayas: the Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal
Barbadoseasternmost Caribbean island
Belaruslandlocked; glacial scouring accounts for the flatness of Belarusian terrain and for its 11,000 lakes
Belgiumcrossroads of Western Europe; majority of West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO
Belizeonly country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean
Beninsandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands
Bermudaconsists of about 138 coral islands and islets with ample rainfall, but no rivers or freshwater lakes; some land was leased by US Government from 1941 to 1995
Bhutanlandlocked; strategic location between China and India; controls several key Himalayan mountain passes
Bolivialandlocked; shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m), with Peru
Bosnia and Herzegovinawithin Bosnia and Herzegovina's recognized borders, the country is divided into a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation (about 51% of the territory) and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska or RS (about 49% of the territory); the region called Herzegovina is contiguous to Croatia and Montenegro, and traditionally has been settled by an ethnic Croat majority in the west and an ethnic Serb majority in the east
Botswanalandlocked; population concentrated in eastern part of the country
Bouvet Islandcovered by glacial ice; declared a nature reserve
Brazillargest country in South America; shares common boundaries with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador
British Indian Ocean Territoryarchipelago of 55 islands; Diego Garcia, largest and southernmost island, occupies strategic location in central Indian Ocean; island is site of joint US-UK military facility
British Virgin Islandsstrong ties to nearby US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
Bruneiclose to vital sea lanes through South China Sea linking Indian and Pacific Oceans; two parts physically separated by Malaysia; almost an enclave within Malaysia
Bulgariastrategic location near Turkish Straits; controls key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia
Burkina Fasolandlocked savanna cut by the three principal rivers of the Black, Red, and White Voltas
Burmastrategic location near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes
Burundilandlocked; straddles crest of the Nile-Congo watershed; the Kagera, which drains into Lake Victoria, is the most remote headstream of the White Nile
Cambodiaa land of paddies and forests dominated by the Mekong River and Tonle Sap
Cameroonsometimes referred to as the hinge of Africa; throughout the country there are areas of thermal springs and indications of current or prior volcanic activity; Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in Sub-Saharan west Africa, is an active volcano
Canadasecond-largest country in world (after Russia); strategic location between Russia and US via north polar route; approximately 90% of the population is concentrated within 160 km of the US border
Cape Verdestrategic location 500 km from west coast of Africa near major north-south sea routes; important communications station; important sea and air refueling site
Cayman Islandsimportant location between Cuba and Central America
Central African Republiclandlocked; almost the precise center of Africa
Chadlandlocked; Lake Chad is the most significant water body in the Sahel
Chilestrategic location relative to sea lanes between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage); Atacama Desert is one of world's driest regions
Chinaworld's fourth largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US); Mount Everest on the border with Nepal is the world's tallest peak
Christmas Islandlocated along major sea lanes of Indian Ocean
Clipperton Islandreef 12 km in circumference
Cocos (Keeling) Islandsislands are thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation
Colombiaonly South American country with coastlines on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea
Comorosimportant location at northern end of Mozambique Channel
Congo, Democratic Republic of thestraddles equator; has very narrow strip of land that controls the lower Congo River and is only outlet to South Atlantic Ocean; dense tropical rain forest in central river basin and eastern highlands
Congo, Republic of theabout 70% of the population lives in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, or along the railroad between them
Cook Islandsthe northern Cook Islands are seven low-lying, sparsely populated, coral atolls; the southern Cook Islands, where most of the population lives, consist of eight elevated, fertile, volcanic isles, including the largest, Rarotonga, at 67 sq km
Coral Sea Islandsimportant nesting area for birds and turtles
Costa Ricafour volcanoes, two of them active, rise near the capital of San Jose in the center of the country; one of the volcanoes, Irazu, erupted destructively in 1963-65
Cote d'Ivoiremost of the inhabitants live along the sandy coastal region; apart from the capital area, the forested interior is sparsely populated
Croatiacontrols most land routes from Western Europe to Aegean Sea and Turkish Straits; the vast majority of Adriatic Sea islands lie off the coast of Croatia - some 1,200 islands, islets, ridges, and rocks
Cubalargest country in Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles
Cyprusthe third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and Sardinia)
Czech Republiclandlocked; strategically located astride some of oldest and most significant land routes in Europe; Moravian Gate is a traditional military corridor between the North European Plain and the Danube in central Europe
Denmarkcontrols Danish Straits (Skagerrak and Kattegat) linking Baltic and North Seas; about one-quarter of the population lives in greater Copenhagen
DhekeliaBritish extraterritorial rights also extended to several small off-post sites scattered across Cyprus; of the Sovereign Base Area land 60% is privately owned and farmed, 20% is owned by the Ministry of Defense, and 20% is SBA Crown land
Djiboutistrategic location near world's busiest shipping lanes and close to Arabian oilfields; terminus of rail traffic into Ethiopia; mostly wasteland; Lac Assal (Lake Assal) is the lowest point in Africa
Dominicaknown as "The Nature Island of the Caribbean" due to its spectacular, lush, and varied flora and fauna, which are protected by an extensive natural park system; the most mountainous of the Lesser Antilles, its volcanic peaks are cones of lava craters and include Boiling Lake, the second-largest, thermally active lake in the world
Dominican Republicshares island of Hispaniola with Haiti
EcuadorCotopaxi in Andes is highest active volcano in world
Egyptcontrols Sinai Peninsula, only land bridge between Africa and remainder of Eastern Hemisphere; controls Suez Canal, a sea link between Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea; size, and juxtaposition to Israel, establish its major role in Middle Eastern geopolitics; dependence on upstream neighbors; dominance of Nile basin issues; prone to influxes of refugees
El Salvadorsmallest Central American country and only one without a coastline on Caribbean Sea
Equatorial Guineainsular and continental regions widely separated
Eritreastrategic geopolitical position along world's busiest shipping lanes; Eritrea retained the entire coastline of Ethiopia along the Red Sea upon de jure independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993
Estoniathe mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands
Ethiopialandlocked - entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993; the Blue Nile, the chief headstream of the Nile by water volume, rises in T'ana Hayk (Lake Tana) in northwest Ethiopia; three major crops are believed to have originated in Ethiopia: coffee, grain sorghum, and castor bean
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)deeply indented coast provides good natural harbors; short growing season
Faroe Islandsarchipelago of 17 inhabited islands and one uninhabited island, and a few uninhabited islets; strategically located along important sea lanes in northeastern Atlantic; precipitous terrain limits habitation to small coastal lowlands
Fijiincludes 332 islands; approximately 110 are inhabited
Finlandlong boundary with Russia; Helsinki is northernmost national capital on European continent; population concentrated on small southwestern coastal plain
Francelargest West European nation
French Polynesiaincludes five archipelagoes (4 volcanic, 1 coral); Makatea in French Polynesia is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Nauru
French Southern and Antarctic Landsislands component is widely scattered across remote locations in the southern Indian Ocean
Bassas da India (Iles Eparses): the atoll is a circular reef that sits atop a long-extinct, submerged volcano
Europa Island and Juan de Nova Island (Iles Eparses): wildlife sanctuary for seabirds and sea turtles
Glorioso Island (Iles Eparses): the islands and rocks are surrounded by an extensive reef system
Tromelin Island (Iles Eparses): climatologically important location for forecasting cyclones in the western Indian Ocean; wildlife sanctuary (seabirds, tortoises)
Gabona small population and oil and mineral reserves have helped Gabon become one of Africa's wealthier countries; in general, these circumstances have allowed the country to maintain and conserve its pristine rain forest and rich biodiversity
Gambia, Thealmost an enclave of Senegal; smallest country on the continent of Africa
Gaza Stripstrategic strip of land along Mideast-North African trade routes has experienced an incredibly turbulent history; the town of Gaza itself has been besieged countless times in its history
Georgiastrategically located east of the Black Sea; Georgia controls much of the Caucasus Mountains and the routes through them
Germanystrategic location on North European Plain and along the entrance to the Baltic Sea
GhanaLake Volta is the world's largest artificial lake
Gibraltarstrategic location on Strait of Gibraltar that links the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea
Greecestrategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands
Greenlanddominates North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe; sparse population confined to small settlements along coast, but close to one-quarter of the population lives in the capital, Nuuk; world's second largest ice cap
Grenadathe administration of the islands of the Grenadines group is divided between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada
Guamlargest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago; strategic location in western North Pacific Ocean
Guatemalano natural harbors on west coast
Guernseylarge, deepwater harbor at Saint Peter Port
Guineathe Niger and its important tributary the Milo have their sources in the Guinean highlands
Guinea-Bissauthis small country is swampy along its western coast and low-lying further inland
Guyanathe third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay; substantial portions of its western and eastern territories are claimed by Venezuela and Suriname respectively
Haitishares island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic (western one-third is Haiti, eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic)
Holy See (Vatican City)landlocked; enclave in Rome, Italy; world's smallest state; beyond the territorial boundary of Vatican City, the Lateran Treaty of 1929 grants the Holy See extraterritorial authority over 23 sites in Rome and five outside of Rome, including the Pontifical Palace at Castel Gandolfo (the Pope's summer residence)
Hondurashas only a short Pacific coast but a long Caribbean shoreline, including the virtually uninhabited eastern Mosquito Coast
Hong Kongmore than 200 islands
Hungarylandlocked; strategic location astride main land routes between Western Europe and Balkan Peninsula as well as between Ukraine and Mediterranean basin; the north-south flowing Duna (Danube) and Tisza Rivers divide the country into three large regions
Icelandstrategic location between Greenland and Europe; westernmost European country; Reykjavik is the northernmost national capital in the world; more land covered by glaciers than in all of continental Europe
Indiadominates South Asian subcontinent; near important Indian Ocean trade routes; Kanchenjunga, third tallest mountain in the world, lies on the border with Nepal
Indian Oceanmajor chokepoints include Bab el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz, Strait of Malacca, southern access to the Suez Canal, and the Lombok Strait
Indonesiaarchipelago of 17,508 islands (6,000 inhabited); straddles equator; strategic location astride or along major sea lanes from Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean
Iranstrategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport
Iraqstrategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf
Irelandstrategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe; over 40% of the population resides within 100 km of Dublin
Isle of Manone small islet, the Calf of Man, lies to the southwest, and is a bird sanctuary
Israelthere are 242 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, 0 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (August 2005 est.); Sea of Galilee is an important freshwater source
Italystrategic location dominating central Mediterranean as well as southern sea and air approaches to Western Europe
Jamaicastrategic location between Cayman Trench and Jamaica Channel, the main sea lanes for the Panama Canal
Jan Mayenbarren volcanic island with some moss and grass
Japanstrategic location in northeast Asia
Jerseylargest and southernmost of Channel Islands; about 30% of population concentrated in Saint Helier
Jordanstrategic location at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba and as the Arab country that shares the longest border with Israel and the occupied West Bank
Kazakhstanlandlocked; Russia leases approximately 6,000 sq km of territory enclosing the Baykonur Cosmodrome; in January 2004, Kazakhstan and Russia extended the lease to 2050
Kenyathe Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa; glaciers are found on Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest peak; unique physiography supports abundant and varied wildlife of scientific and economic value
Kiribati21 of the 33 islands are inhabited; Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Makatea in French Polynesia, and Nauru
Korea, Northstrategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated
Korea, Southstrategic location on Korea Strait
Kuwaitstrategic location at head of Persian Gulf
Kyrgyzstanlandlocked; entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tien Shan range; many tall peaks, glaciers, and high-altitude lakes
Laoslandlocked; most of the country is mountainous and thickly forested; the Mekong River forms a large part of the western boundary with Thailand
Latviamost of the country is composed of fertile, low-lying plains, with some hills in the east
LebanonNahr el Litani is the only major river in Near East not crossing an international boundary; rugged terrain historically helped isolate, protect, and develop numerous factional groups based on religion, clan, and ethnicity
Lesotholandlocked, completely surrounded by South Africa; mountainous, more than 80% of the country is 1,800 meters above sea level
Liberiafacing the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline is characterized by lagoons, mangrove swamps, and river-deposited sandbars; the inland grassy plateau supports limited agriculture
Libyamore than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert
Liechtensteinalong with Uzbekistan, one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world; variety of microclimatic variations based on elevation
Lithuaniafertile central plains are separated by hilly uplands that are ancient glacial deposits
Luxembourglandlocked; the only Grand Duchy in the world
Macauessentially urban; an area of land reclaimed from the sea measuring 5.2 sq km and known as Cotai now connects the islands of Coloane and Taipa; the island area is connected to the mainland peninsula by three bridges
Macedonialandlocked; major transportation corridor from Western and Central Europe to Aegean Sea and Southern Europe to Western Europe
Madagascarworld's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel
Malawilandlocked; Lake Nyasa, some 580 km long, is the country's most prominent physical feature
Malaysiastrategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea
Maldives1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts); archipelago with strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean
Malilandlocked; divided into three natural zones: the southern, cultivated Sudanese; the central, semiarid Sahelian; and the northern, arid Saharan
Maltathe country comprises an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Ghawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited; numerous bays provide good harbors; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
Marshall Islandsthe Marshal Islands Bikini and Enewetak are former US nuclear test sites; Kwajalein, the famous World War II battleground, is used as a US missile test range; island city of Ebeye is the second largest settlement in the Marshall Islands, after the capital of Majuro, and one of the most densely populated locations in the Pacific
Mauritaniamost of the population concentrated in the cities of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and along the Senegal River in the southern part of the country
Mauritiusthe main island, from which the country derives its name, is of volcanic origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs
Mayottepart of Comoro Archipelago; 18 islands
Mexicostrategic location on southern border of US; corn (maize), one of the world's major grain crops, is thought to have originated in Mexico
Micronesia, Federated States offour major island groups totaling 607 islands
Moldovalandlocked; well endowed with various sedimentary rocks and minerals including sand, gravel, gypsum, and limestone
Monacosecond-smallest independent state in the world (after Holy See); almost entirely urban
Mongolialandlocked; strategic location between China and Russia
Montenegrostrategic location along the Adriatic coast
Montserratthe island is entirely volcanic in origin and comprised of three major volcanic centers of differing ages
Moroccostrategic location along Strait of Gibraltar
Mozambiquethe Zambezi flows through the north-central and most fertile part of the country
Namibiafirst country in the world to incorporate the protection of the environment into its constitution; some 14% of the land is protected, including virtually the entire Namib Desert coastal strip
NauruNauru is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia; only 53 km south of Equator
Navassa Islandstrategic location 160 km south of the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; mostly exposed rock with numerous solution holes but with enough grassland to support goat herds; dense stands of fig trees, scattered cactus
Nepallandlocked; strategic location between China and India; contains eight of world's 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga - the world's tallest and third tallest - on the borders with China and India respectively
Netherlandslocated at mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Maas or Meuse, and Schelde)
Netherlands Antillesthe five islands of the Netherlands Antilles are divided geographically into the Leeward Islands (northern) group (Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten) and the Windward Islands (southern) group (Bonaire and Curacao); the island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the World shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten
New Caledoniaconsists of the main island of New Caledonia (one of the largest in the Pacific Ocean), the archipelago of Iles Loyaute, and numerous small, sparsely populated islands and atolls
New Zealandabout 80% of the population lives in cities; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world
Nicaragualargest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua
Nigerlandlocked; one of the hottest countries in the world; northern four-fifths is desert, southern one-fifth is savanna, suitable for livestock and limited agriculture
Nigeriathe Niger enters the country in the northwest and flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea
Niueone of world's largest coral islands
Norfolk Islandmost of the 32 km coastline consists of almost inaccessible cliffs, but the land slopes down to the sea in one small southern area on Sydney Bay, where the capital of Kingston is situated
Northern Mariana Islandsstrategic location in the North Pacific Ocean
Norwayabout two-thirds mountains; some 50,000 islands off its much indented coastline; strategic location adjacent to sea lanes and air routes in North Atlantic; one of most rugged and longest coastlines in the world
Omanstrategic location on Musandam Peninsula adjacent to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
Pacific Oceanthe major chokepoints are the Bering Strait, Panama Canal, Luzon Strait, and the Singapore Strait; the Equator divides the Pacific Ocean into the North Pacific Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean; dotted with low coral islands and rugged volcanic islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean
Pakistancontrols Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass, traditional invasion routes between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent
Palauwesternmost archipelago in the Caroline chain, consists of six island groups totaling more than 300 islands; includes World War II battleground of Beliliou (Peleliu) and world-famous rock islands
Panamastrategic location on eastern end of isthmus forming land bridge connecting North and South America; controls Panama Canal that links North Atlantic Ocean via Caribbean Sea with North Pacific Ocean
Papua New Guineashares island of New Guinea with Indonesia; one of world's largest swamps along southwest coast
Paracel Islandscomposed of 130 small coral islands and reefs divided into the northeast Amphitrite Group and the western Crescent Group
Paraguaylandlocked; lies between Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil; population concentrated in southern part of country
Perushares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake, with Bolivia; a remote slope of Nevado Mismi, a 5,316 m peak, is the ultimate source of the Amazon River
Philippinesthe Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands; favorably located in relation to many of Southeast Asia's main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait
Pitcairn IslandsBritain's most isolated dependency; only the larger island of Pitcairn is inhabited but it has no port or natural harbor; supplies must be transported by rowed longboat from larger ships stationed offshore
Polandhistorically, an area of conflict because of flat terrain and the lack of natural barriers on the North European Plain
PortugalAzores and Madeira Islands occupy strategic locations along western sea approaches to Strait of Gibraltar
Puerto Ricoimportant location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north
Qatarstrategic location in central Persian Gulf near major petroleum deposits
Romaniacontrols most easily traversable land route between the Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine
Russialargest country in the world in terms of area but unfavorably located in relation to major sea lanes of the world; despite its size, much of the country lacks proper soils and climates (either too cold or too dry) for agriculture; Mount El'brus is Europe's tallest peak
Rwandalandlocked; most of the country is savanna grassland with the population predominantly rural
Saint HelenaSaint Helena harbors at least 40 species of plants unknown anywhere else in the world; Ascension is a breeding ground for sea turtles and sooty terns; Queen Mary's Peak on Tristan da Cunha is the highest island mountain in the South Atlantic and a prominent landmark on the sea lanes around southern Africa
Saint Kitts and Neviswith coastlines in the shape of a baseball bat and ball, the two volcanic islands are separated by a three-km-wide channel called The Narrows; on the southern tip of long, baseball bat-shaped Saint Kitts lies the Great Salt Pond; Nevis Peak sits in the center of its almost circular namesake island and its ball shape complements that of its sister island
Saint Luciathe twin Pitons (Gros Piton and Petit Piton), striking cone-shaped peaks south of Soufriere, are one of the scenic natural highlights of the Caribbean
Saint Martinthe island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the World shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten
Saint Pierre and Miquelonvegetation scanty
Saint Vincent and the Grenadinesthe administration of the islands of the Grenadines group is divided between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is comprised of 32 islands and cays
Samoaoccupies an almost central position within Polynesia
San Marinolandlocked; smallest independent state in Europe after the Holy See and Monaco; dominated by the Apennines
Sao Tome and Principethe smallest country in Africa; the two main islands form part of a chain of extinct volcanoes and both are fairly mountainous
Saudi Arabiaextensive coastlines on Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal
Senegalwesternmost country on the African continent; The Gambia is almost an enclave within Senegal
Serbiacontrols one of the major land routes from Western Europe to Turkey and the Near East
Seychelles41 granitic and about 75 coralline islands
Sierra Leonerainfall along the coast can reach 495 cm (195 inches) a year, making it one of the wettest places along coastal, western Africa
Singaporefocal point for Southeast Asian sea routes
Slovakialandlocked; most of the country is rugged and mountainous; the Tatra Mountains in the north are interspersed with many scenic lakes and valleys
Sloveniadespite its small size, this eastern Alpine country controls some of Europe's major transit routes
Solomon Islandsstrategic location on sea routes between the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea, and the Coral Sea; on 2 April 2007 an undersea earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale occurred 345 km WNW of the capital Honiara, the resulting tsunami devastated coastal areas of Western and Choiseul provinces with dozens of deaths and thousands dislocated; the provincial capital of Gizo was especially hard hit
Somaliastrategic location on Horn of Africa along southern approaches to Bab el Mandeb and route through Red Sea and Suez Canal
South AfricaSouth Africa completely surrounds Lesotho and almost completely surrounds Swaziland
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islandsthe north coast of South Georgia has several large bays, which provide good anchorage; reindeer, introduced early in the 20th century, live on South Georgia
Southern Oceanthe major chokepoint is the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica; the Polar Front (Antarctic Convergence) is the best natural definition of the northern extent of the Southern Ocean; it is a distinct region at the middle of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current that separates the cold polar surface waters to the south from the warmer waters to the north; the Front and the Current extend entirely around Antarctica, reaching south of 60 degrees south near New Zealand and near 48 degrees south in the far South Atlantic coinciding with the path of the maximum westerly winds
Spainstrategic location along approaches to Strait of Gibraltar
Spratly Islandsstrategically located near several primary shipping lanes in the central South China Sea; includes numerous small islands, atolls, shoals, and coral reefs
Sri Lankastrategic location near major Indian Ocean sea lanes
Sudanlargest country in Africa; dominated by the Nile and its tributaries
Surinamesmallest independent country on South American continent; mostly tropical rain forest; great diversity of flora and fauna that, for the most part, is increasingly threatened by new development; relatively small population, mostly along the coast
Svalbardnorthernmost part of the Kingdom of Norway; consists of nine main islands; glaciers and snowfields cover 60% of the total area; Spitsbergen Island is the site of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a seed repository established by the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Norwegian Government
Swazilandlandlocked; almost completely surrounded by South Africa
Swedenstrategic location along Danish Straits linking Baltic and North Seas
Switzerlandlandlocked; crossroads of northern and southern Europe; along with southeastern France, northern Italy, and southwestern Austria, has the highest elevations in the Alps
Syriathere are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (August 2005 est.)
Taiwanstrategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait
Tajikistanlandlocked; mountainous region dominated by the Trans-Alay Range in the north and the Pamirs in the southeast; highest point, Qullai Ismoili Somoni (formerly Communism Peak), was the tallest mountain in the former USSR
TanzaniaKilimanjaro is highest point in Africa; bordered by three of the largest lakes on the continent: Lake Victoria (the world's second-largest freshwater lake) in the north, Lake Tanganyika (the world's second deepest) in the west, and Lake Nyasa in the southwest
Thailandcontrols only land route from Asia to Malaysia and Singapore
Timor-LesteTimor comes from the Malay word for "East"; the island of Timor is part of the Malay Archipelago and is the largest and easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands
Togothe country's length allows it to stretch through six distinct geographic regions; climate varies from tropical to savanna
Tokelauconsists of three atolls (Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu), each with a lagoon surrounded by a number of reef-bound islets of varying length and rising to over 3 m above sea level
Tongaarchipelago of 169 islands (36 inhabited)
Trinidad and TobagoPitch Lake, on Trinidad's southwestern coast, is the world's largest natural reservoir of asphalt
Tunisiastrategic location in central Mediterranean; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
Turkeystrategic location controlling the Turkish Straits (Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles) that link Black and Aegean Seas; Mount Ararat, the legendary landing place of Noah's Ark, is in the far eastern portion of the country
Turkmenistanlandlocked; the western and central low-lying desolate portions of the country make up the great Garagum (Kara-Kum) desert, which occupies over 80% of the country; eastern part is plateau
Turks and Caicos Islandsabout 40 islands (eight inhabited)
Tuvaluone of the smallest and most remote countries on Earth; six of the 9 coral atolls - Nanumea, Nui, Vaitupu, Nukufetau, Funafuti, and Nukulaelae - have lagoons open to the ocean; Nanumaya and Niutao have landlocked lagoons; Niulakita does not have a lagoon
Ugandalandlocked; fertile, well-watered country with many lakes and rivers
Ukrainestrategic position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia; second-largest country in Europe
United Arab Emiratesstrategic location along southern approaches to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
United Kingdomlies near vital North Atlantic sea lanes; only 35 km from France and linked by tunnel under the English Channel; because of heavily indented coastline, no location is more than 125 km from tidal waters
United Statesworld's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India); Mt. McKinley is highest point in North America and Death Valley the lowest point on the continent
United States Pacific Island Wildlife RefugesBaker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands: scattered vegetation consisting of grasses, prostrate vines, and low growing shrubs; primarily a nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for seabirds, shorebirds, and marine wildlife
Johnston Atoll: Johnston Island and Sand Island are natural islands, which have been expanded by coral dredging; North Island (Akau) and East Island (Hikina) are manmade islands formed from coral dredging; the egg-shaped reef is 34 km in circumference
Kingman Reef: barren coral atoll with deep interior lagoon; closed to the public
Midway Islands: a coral atoll managed as a national wildlife refuge and open to the public for wildlife-related recreation in the form of wildlife observation and photography
Palmyra Atoll: the high rainfall and resulting lush vegetation make the environment of this atoll unique among the US Pacific Island territories; it supports one of the largest remaining undisturbed stands of Pisonia beach forest in the Pacific
Uruguaysecond-smallest South American country (after Suriname); most of the low-lying landscape (three-quarters of the country) is grassland, ideal for cattle and sheep raising
Uzbekistanalong with Liechtenstein, one of the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world
Vanuatua Y-shaped chain of four main islands and 80 smaller islands; several of the islands have active volcanoes
Venezuelaon major sea and air routes linking North and South America; Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands is the world's highest waterfall
Vietnamextending 1,650 km north to south, the country is only 50 km across at its narrowest point
Virgin Islandsimportant location along the Anegada Passage - a key shipping lane for the Panama Canal; Saint Thomas has one of the best natural deepwater harbors in the Caribbean
Wake Islandstrategic location in the North Pacific Ocean; emergency landing location for transpacific flights
Wallis and Futunaboth island groups have fringing reefs
West Banklandlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are 242 West Bank settlements and 29 East Jerusalem settlements in addition to at least 20 occupied outposts (August 2005 est.)
Western Saharathe waters off the coast are particularly rich fishing areas
Worldthe world is now thought to be about 4.55 billion years old, just about one-third of the 13.7-billion-year age estimated for the universe
Yemenstrategic location on Bab el Mandeb, the strait linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, one of world's most active shipping lanes
Zambialandlocked; the Zambezi forms a natural riverine boundary with Zimbabwe
Zimbabwelandlocked; the Zambezi forms a natural riverine boundary with Zambia; in full flood (February-April) the massive Victoria Falls on the river forms the world's largest curtain of falling water

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