Tag Archives: small country

Happy New 2016!

Dear readers,

Thank you all for visiting my Small European Country blog in 2015. I would like to thank all of you, wish you all the best in the new year, and I hope you will come back to read more about the life of a small European country in 2016.

The past year has been rather eventful for me to say the least. The birth of my second child, my son Boaz, is without a doubt the most significant thing I will remember from 2015. Of course, having more than 6500 visitors coming to read my blog has been a joyful event as well, so thank you again for stopping by.

I have great plans for 2016. Finishing my Ph.D., finally running the marathon, finding a new job and perhaps a new career in, who knows, a different (small European) country – not necessarily in that order – these are just some of the things I hope to accomplish in the coming year. I hope you will excuse me for sometimes being more focused on achieving these noble goals, and less concerned with reporting the progress on this blog.

In the meantime, the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for me.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed almost 10000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Let’s make 2016 a very good year, shall we?

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Filed under Europe, Small European things, Work

Baltic – the only European region I haven’t been to

This is the last of the posts in my series about the division of Europe into travel-ready regions. I’ve originally started this series because so many people go to “Europe” not being aware of the size and diversity of the continent, and try to cover too much in too little time. I hope these posts have been useful to some readers.

The Baltic is the only European region I haven’t visited so far. My review is therefore based entirely on hearsay (and the photo’s used here are from Wikipedia). But then again nobody’s been to Mars, yet it doesn’t prevent people from writing about it, and the Baltic is a whole lot closer. Usually, the Baltic states include Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but since I’ve already excluded Finland from Scandinavia and since Finland  shares a history of Russian domination with the other 3 states, I’ve decided to include it as a “Baltic state” as well.

  • Why go there?
    Tucked away in a quiet corner of Europe, this compact region pretty much leads its own life, seemingly unconcerned by the rest of Europe. Although in relative numbers these countries get more tourists that Italy or France, none of them is a major tourist destination. So if you want to experience life in a small European country in its most authentic form, I’d say the Baltic is the right region for you.
  • What’s it best for?
    The Baltic states don’t share a common language or religion like many other regions do. They do share a calm, reserved character which has probably a lot to do with the local nature – long tracks of sandy beaches on cold shores and dark forests with quiet bogs and lakes, the perfect place for reflection.
  • When is the best time to go?
    Autumn is the calmest season in Europe. Summer tourist peak is already gone and the X-mas business is some time away, and since I think the Baltic is best for relaxing, why not experience it at its calmest – in September-October, when the simple melancholy of a small European capital or a bog at the end of the world are entirely yours?
  • How to get around?
    The distances are quite small here, so a local bus can easily be your best bet even on cross-border routes.
  • Why is it best to avoid?
    If you’re impatient and look for the fast-paced thrills, you may be better off in more Southern parts of Europe, like the Pyrenees or the Balkan.
  • Where to go if you just have one week?
    The compactness of the Baltic actually means you can spend a week hopping between the capitals, comparing the subtle differences between neighbouring small European countries, spending one or two nights in each. Or treat yourself to a week-long retreat in a remote rural corner the area is so blessed with and spend some time living the country life in the slowest pace in Europe.

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Filed under Europe, Europe by region, Travel

What is the average European country?

How do you decide a country is “average”? Like no two people are the same, countries are also different and the “average” country is a virtual concept, just like “average Joe”. There are some statistics though, that are commonly used to compare countries – geographical size, population and income, so I’ll try to use those to find out which European country is closest to what you might call “average European country”.

But first – a bit of math (don’t worry, just a tiny bit). There are several ways to decide on what is called “average”. The “mean” is the “average” you’re used to, where you add up all the numbers and then divide by the number of numbers. The “median” is the “middle” value in the list of numbers. The “mode” is the value that occurs most often. If you take the numbers 1, 3, 4, 4, 10, 20, 40 and 100, the mean will be 22.75, median is 40 and mode is 4. I don’t think mode is very useful here so I will only use mean and median in my comparisons.

Europe has 55 countries (countries are defined as UEFA members), spreads over 10.2 million square kilometres populated by 740 million Europeans who produce a total GDP of 19 trillion (with 12 zeros) USD. The data may be a bit old and the presence of trans-continental countries like Russia and Turkey makes the statistics slightly distorted. But the influence on the averages is limited – for example, 80% of the population of Russia lives in the European part, so as a first approximation its fine. Dividing all of Europe between the 55 countries we calculate that the “mean” European country has an area of 185 thousand square kilometers, populated by 13.6 million people who produce 25.5 thousand USD annually on average. No single country fits the description. The closest ones are Belarus (area), Greece (population) and Slovenia (income). Finding the “median” country is simpler – just list all 55 countries and find the 28th in ranking, the one in the middle. The “median” countries are Georgia (area), Slovakia (population) and Czech Republic (income).

An average street in an average European country

An average street in an average European country

As you can see, statistics is pretty useless here –  no country combines even two of the averages. So I’ll just point out the one I think is the most average. And the most average European country is… the Czech Republic! Why? Because its much “averager” than  the other candidates. The Czech Republic is quite close to the mean values (except size, but Russia is distorting the statistics), and it is very close to the medians, too. Besides, a small European country that actively brands itself as being “in the heart of Europe” is sort of asking to be labelled as the “average” country, don’t you agree?

So what do you think? Do you agree that the Czech Republic is the most average European country? What do you think would be a good criterion to determine the “average country”? If you have other candidates, please let me know!

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Filed under Europe, Just another small European country, Small European things