Feb 27, 2009


FM from Teresa Milanova Group Facebook

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The history of SofiaBulgaria's capital and largest city, spans thousands of years from Antiquity to modern times, in which the city has always been a commercial, industrial, cultural and economic centre of its region and the Balkans.

Sofia was originally a Thracian settlement called Serdica or Sardica, named after the Thracian tribe Serdi that had populated it. Around 500 BC another tribe settled in the region, the Odrysi, known as an ethnos with their own kingdom. For a short period during the 4th century BC, the city was possessed by Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great.

Around BC 29, Sofia was conquered by the Romans and renamed Ulpia Serdica. It became a municipium, or centre of an administrative region, during the reign of Emperor Trajan (98-117). The city expanded, as turrets, protective walls, public baths, administrative and cult buildings, a civic basilica and a large amphitheatre called Bouleutherion, were built. When Emperor Diocletian divided the province of Daciainto Dacia Ripensis (on the banks of the Danube) and Dacia Mediterranea, Serdica became the capital of Dacia Mediterranea. The city subsequently expanded for a century and a half, which caused Constantine the Great to call it "my Rome".

Serdica was of moderate size, but magnificent as an urban concept of planning and architecture, with abundant amusements and an active social life. It flourished during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, when it was surrounded with great fortress walls whose remnants can still be seen today.

The city was destroyed by the Huns in 447 but was rebuilt by Byzantine Emperor Justinian and renamed Triaditsa. Although also often destroyed by the Slavs, the town remained under Byzantine dominion until 809.

Sofia first became part of the First Bulgarian Empire during the reign of Khan Krum in 809. Afterwards, it was known by the Slavic name Sredets and grew into an important fortress and administrative centre.

After a number of unsuccessful sieges, the city fell again to the Byzantine Empire in 1018. In 1128, Sredets suffered a Magyar raid as part of the Byzantine Empire, but in 1191 was once again was incorporated into the restored Bulgarian Empire at the time of Tsar Ivan Asen I after the Vlach-Bulgarian Rebellion.

From the 12th to the 14th century, Sofia was a thriving centre of trade and crafts. It was renamed Sofia (meaning "wisdom" in Greek) in 1376 after the Church of St Sophia. However, it was called both "Sofia" and "Sredets" until the 16th century, when the new name gradually replaced the old one.

During the whole of the Middle Ages, Sofia remained known for its goldsmithing, particularly aided by the wealth of mineral resources in the neighbouring mountains. This is evidenced by the number of gold treasures excavated from the period and even from Antiquity.

ofia was conquered by the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Murad I in 1382 and saw the 1443 crusade of John Hunyadi and Władysław III of Varna in a desperate effort to drive out the Ottomans, for the participation of which many citizens of Sofia were persecuted, particularly those from the elite classes.Muslims first appeared in the still predominantly Bulgarian town during the time, as Sofia rose to become in 1444 the capital of Rumelian beylerbeylik, spanning most of the Ottoman possessions in Europe, remaining the centre of the region until the 18th century.

Many Ottoman buildings emerged during the period, of which few are preserved until today, including only a single mosque, Banya Bashi. The tax registers of the 16th century witness a significant rise in the Muslim population at the expense of Bulgarians, with 915 Muslim and 317 Christian households in 1524–1525, 1325 Muslim, 173 Christian and 88 Jewish in 1544–1545, 892 Muslim, 386 Christian, 126 Jewish and 49 Roma in 1570–1571, as well as 1017 Muslim, 257 Christian, 127 Jewish and 38 Roma households in 1573. The Ottoman rule saw a major demographic growth, as the city grew from a total population of 6,000 (1620s) through 55,000 (middle 17th century) to 70-80,000 (18th century data from foreign travellers, albeit possibly exaggerated).

During the 16th century, Sofia was a thriving trade centre inhabited by TurksBulgariansRomanioteAshkenazi, and Sephardic Jews,[1] ArmeniansGreeksand Ragusan merchants. In the 17th century, the city's population included even Albanians and Persians.[2]

Destruction in Sofia in 1944 after thebombing as photographed by Tsanko Lavrenov

In 1610 the Vatican established the Bishopric of Sofia for Ottoman subjects belonging to tho the Catholic millet inRumelia, which existed until 1715 when most Catholics had emigrated to Habsburg or Tsarist territories.

Sofia was liberated by Russian forces in 1878, during the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78, and became the capital of the autonomous Principality of Bulgaria in 1879, which became Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1908.

In 1925, the gravest act of terrorism in Bulgarian history, the St Nedelya Church assault, was carried out by the Bulgarian Communist Party, claiming the lives of 150 and injuring other 500.

During World War II, Sofia was bombed by Allied aircraft in late 1943 and early 1944, as well as later occupied by the Soviet Union. Bulgaria's regime which allied the country with Nazi Germany was overthrown and Sofia became capital of the Communist-ruled People's Republic of Bulgaria(1944–1989).


Easter Island is over 2,000 miles from the nearest population center, (Tahiti and Chile), making it one of the most isolated places on Earth. A triangle of volcanic rock in the South Pacific - it is best known for the giant stone monoliths, known as Moai, that dot the coastline. The early settlers called the island "Te Pito O Te Henua" (Navel of The World). Admiral Roggeveen, who came upon the island on Easter Day in 1722, named it Easter Island. Today, the land, people and language are all referred to locally as Rapa Nui.There has been much controversy and confusion concerning the origins of the Easter Islanders. Thor Heyerdahl proposed that the people who built the statues were of Peruviandescent, due to a similarity between Rapa Nui and Incan stonework. Some have suggested that Easter Island is the remnant of a lost continent, or the result of an extra-terrestrial influence . Archaeological evidence, however, indicates discovery of the island by Polynesians at about 400 AD - led, according to legend, by Hotu Matua. Upon their arrival, an impressive and enigmatic culture began to develop. In addition to the statues, the islanders possessed the Rongorongo script; the only written language in Oceania. The island is also home to many petroglyphs (rock carvings), as well as traditional wood carvingstapa (barkcloth) crafts, tattooingstring figures, dance and  music.  

The population of Easter Island reached its peak at perhaps more than 10,000, far exceeding the capabilities of the small island's ecosystem. Resources became scarce, and the once lush palm forests were destroyed - cleared for agriculture andmoving the massive stone Moai. In this regard, Easter Island has become, for many, a metaphor for ecological disaster.

Thereafter, a thriving and advanced social order began to decline into bloody civil war and, evidently, cannibalism. Eventually, all of the Moai standing along the coast were torn down by the islanders themselves. All of the statues now erected around the island are the result of recent archaeological efforts.

Contacts with western "civilization" proved even more disastrous for the island population which, through slavery and disease, had decreased to approximately 110 by the turn of the century. Following the annexation by Chile in 1888, however, it has risen to more than 2,000, with other Rapanui living in Chile, Tahiti and North America. Despite a growing Chilean presence, the island's Polynesian identity is still quite strong .

Easter Island today, remains one of the most unique places you will ever encounter; an open air museum showcasing a fascinating, but unfortunately lost, culture. The Rapanuiare among the friendliest people you will ever meet, and the landscape is truly amazing - with its volcanic craters, lava formations, beaches, brilliant blue water, and archaeological sites .


Flamenco History

Flamenco's origins are a subject of much debate because it has only been documented for the past two hundred years, and the word Flamenco, which applies to the song, the dance and the guitar, did not come into use until the 18th century. Much of what we know before this time comes from stories that have been passed down through families, in a similar way to the flamenco song itself. 

Although many of the details of the development of flamenco are lost in history, it is certain that it originated in Andalusia and that from the VIII to the XV centuries, when Spain was under Arab domination, their music and musical instruments were modified and adapted by Christians and Jews, and later by gipsies becoming a hybrid music separate from the musical forms which created it. 

Between 1765 and 1860, the first Flamenco-schools were created in Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Triana (Seville). In this epoch Flamenco dance started to have its firm position in the ballrooms. Early Flamenco seems to have been purely vocal, accompanied only by rhythmical clapping of hands,toque de palmas. It was left to dedicated composers, as Julián Arcas, to introduce guitar playing.

During its Golden Age (1869-1910) Flamenco was developed in the epoch's numerous music cafés (cafés cantantes) to its definitive form. Also the more serious forms expressing deep feelings (cante jondo) date from then. Flamenco dance arrived to its climax, being the major attraction for the public of those cafés cantantes. Guitar players featuring the dancers increasingly gained a reputation.

The time from 1910 to 1955 Flamenco singing is marked by the ópera flamenca, with an easier kind of music such as fandangos and cantes de ida y vuelta. The latter clearly showed South American influences.

From 1915 on Flamenco shows were organized and performed all over the world. Anyhow, not everybody was enchanted with that development and intellectuals such as Falla organized 1922 in Granada a contest to promote "pure" cante jondo.

1955 started a sort of Flamenco Renaissance, with the great performer Antonio Mairena being its key figure. Outstanding dancers and soloists soon made their way out of the small tablaos, successors to the early cafés cantantes, to the great theatres and concert houses. It was now that guitar players acquired a great protagonism, and their playing arrived to maturity. The Flamenco guitar which formerly was just featuring the dancers arrived to be a soloist art form. Great virtuosos like Paco de Lucia played an essential roll in this development.

Massmedia have brought Flamenco to the world stage, but deeply it has always been and will remain an intimate kind of music. That's why one of the most authentic Flamenco you may experience is in a juerga (flamenco party) with a small group of friends, at midnight somewhere in the South of Spain, when there is nothing around but the voice, the guitar and the body of a dancer moving in the moonlight.


The spectacle of bullfighting has existed in one form or another since ancient days. For example, a contest of some sort is depicted in a wall painting unearthed at Knossos in Crete, dating from about 2000 BC. It shows male and female acrobats confronting a bull, grabbing its horns as it charges, and vaulting over its back. 

Bullfights were popular spectacles in ancient Rome, but it was in the Iberian Peninsula that these contests were fully developed. The Moors from North Africa who overran Andalusia in AD 711 changed bullfighting significantly from the brutish, formless spectacle practised by the conquered Visigoths to a ritualistic occasion observed in connection with feast days, on which the conquering Moors, mounted on highly trained horses, confronted and killed the bulls.

As bullfighting developed, the men on foot, who by their capework aided the horsemen in positioning the bulls, began to draw more attention from the crowd, and the modern corrida began to take form. Today the bullfight is much the same as it has been since about 1726, when Francisco Romero of Ronda, Spain, introduced the estoque (the sword) and the muleta (the small, more easily wielded worsted cape used in the last part of the fight).

Bull fighting: The Spectacle

Six bulls, to be killed by three matadors, are usually required for one afternoon's corrida, and each encounter lasts about 15 minutes. At the appointed time, generally 5 PM, the three matadors, each followed by their assistants, the banderilleros and the picadors, march into the ring to the accompaniment of traditional paso doble (“march rhythm”) music. The matadors (the term toreador, popularized by the French opera Carmen, is erroneous usage) are the stars of the show. They wear a distinctive costume, consisting of a silk jacket heavily embroidered in gold, skintight trousers, and a montera (a bicorne hat). A traje de luces (“suit of lights”), as it is known, can cost several thousand pounds; a top matador must have at least six of them a season. 

When a bull first comes into the arena out of the toril, or bull pen gate, the matador greets it with a series of manoeuvres, or passes, with a large cape; these passes are usually verónicas, the basic cape manoeuvre (named after the woman who held out a cloth to Christ on his way to the crucifixion).

The amount of applause the matador receives is based on his proximity to the horns of the bull, his tranquillity in the face of danger, and his grace in swinging the cape in front of an infuriated animal weighing more than 460 kg (1,000 lb). The bull instinctively goes for the cloth because it is a large, moving target, not because of its colour; bulls are colour-blind and charge just as readily at the inside of the cape, which is yellow.

Fighting bulls charge instantly at anything that moves because of their natural instinct and centuries of special breeding. Unlike domestic bulls, they do not have to be trained to charge, nor are they starved or tortured to make them savage. Those animals selected for the corrida are allowed to live a year longer than those assigned to the slaughterhouse. Bulls to be fought by novilleros (beginners) are supposed to be three years old and those fought by full matadors are supposed to be at least four.

The second part of the corrida consists of the work of the picadors, bearing lances and mounted on horses (padded in compliance with a ruling passed in 1930 and therefore rarely injured). The picadors wear flat-brimmed, beige felt hats called castoreños, silver-embroidered jackets, chamois trousers, and steel leg armour. After three lancings or less, depending on the judgment of the president of the corrida for that day, a trumpet blows, and the banderilleros, working on foot, advance to place their banderillas (brightly adorned, barbed sticks) in the bull's shoulders in order to lower its head for the eventual kill. They wear costumes similar to those of their matadors but their jackets and trousers are embroidered in silver.

After the placing of the banderillas, a trumpet sounds signalling the last phase of the fight. Although the bull has been weakened and slowed, it has also become warier during the course of the fight, sensing that behind the cape is its true enemy; most gorings occur at this time. The serge cloth of the muleta is draped over the estoque, and the matador begins what is called the faena, the last act of the bullfight. The aficionados (ardent fans) study the matador's every move, the ballet-like passes practised since childhood. (Most matadors come from bullfighting families and learn their art when very young.) As with every manoeuvre in the ring, the emphasis is on the ability to increase but control the personal danger, maintaining the balance between suicide and mere survival. In other words, the real contest is not between the matador and an animal; it is the matador's internal struggle.

The basic muleta passes are the trincherazo, generally done with one knee on the ground and at the beginning of the faena; the pase de la firma, simply moving the cloth in front of the bull's nose while the fighter remains motionless; the manoletina, a pass invented by the great Spanish matador Manolete (Manuel Laureano Rodríguez Sánchez), where the muleta is held behind the body; and the natural, a pass in which danger to the matador is increased by taking the sword out of the muleta, thereby reducing the target size and tempting the bull to charge at the larger object—the bullfighter.

After several minutes spent in making these passes, wherein the matador tries to stimulate the excitement of the crowd by working closer and closer to the horns, the fighter takes the sword and lines up the bull for the kill. The blade must go between the shoulder blades; because the space between them is very small, it is imperative that the front feet of the bull be together as the matador hurtles over the horns. The kill, properly done by aiming straight over the bull's horns and plunging the sword between its withers into the aorta region, requires discipline, training, and raw courage; for this reason it is known as the “moment of truth”.


History Of Pakistan
Pakistan emerged on the world map as an independent sovereign state in August 1947, as a result of the division of the British Indian Empire. With a land area of 796,095 sq. km. [including FATA (Federal Administered Tribal Areas) and FANA (Federal Administered Northern Areas)], its population stands at nearly 130.60 million, according to the 1998 Census. Historically, this is one of the most ancient lands known to man. Its cities flourished before Babylon was built; its people practiced the art of good living and citizenship before the celebrated ancient Greeks.

The region traces its history back to at least 2,500 years before Christ, when a highly developed civilization flourished in the Indus Valley. Excavations at Harappa, Mohenjodaro and Kot Diji have brought to light evidence of an advanced civilization flourishing here even in most ancient times. Around 1,500 B.C. the Aryans conquered this region and slowly pushed the Hindu inhabitants further east, towards the Ganges Valley. Later, the Persians occupied the northern regions in 5th century B.C. The Greeks came in 327 B.C., under Alexander of Macedonia, and ran through the region like a meteor. In 712 A.D. the Arabs, led by Mohammed Bin Qasim, landed somewhere near what is now Karachi, and ruled the lower half of Pakistan for two hundred years. During this time Islam took root and influenced the life, culture and traditions of the inhabitants of the region.

From 10th century A.D. onwards, a systematic conquest of Indo-Pakistan by the Muslims from Central Asia began and lasted up to 18th century A.D., when the British colonized the Sub-continent and ruled for nearly 200 years (for 100 years over what is now Pakistan). The Muslim revival began towards the end of the last century when Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a renowned leader and educationist, launched a movement for intellectual renaissance of the Indian Muslims. In 1930, the well-known poet/philosopher, Dr. Mohammed Iqbal conceived the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of the Sub-continent, and in 1940, the All-India Muslim League adopted the famous Pakistan Resolution.

After seven years of untiring struggle, under the brilliant leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan emerged on the world map as a sovereign state on August 14, 1947, when the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two independent states - India and Pakistan.


Rural Scene
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Mt Cook
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Sheep grazing
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Sheep Farm
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New Zealand has 45 million sheep and produces the finest wool in the world. New Zealand and is also the biggest producer of wool in the world after Australia. The sheep outnumber the country's human population by more than 11 to one.

British colonists first successfully introduced sheep to New Zealand in the early 1800s. Today there are six main sheep breeds, and about 30 breeds in total. Farmers keep breeds that best suit their type of farmland and climate.

The Merino, for instance, is favoured in the alpine grasslands of the South Island's Southern Alps. Halfbreds and Corriedales are bred on the foothills and plains east of the Alps. Romneys, Coopworths and Perendales are typical of the 'crossbred' breeds, used for meat and wool production.



FM from Dealova Group CARI

New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous Māori named New Zealand Aotearoa, commonly translated as The Land of the Long White Cloud. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica).

New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation, situated about 2000 km (1250 miles) southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are New CaledoniaFiji and Tonga. During its long isolation New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, a number of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and the mammals they introduced.

The population is mostly of European descent, with the indigenous Māori being the largest minority. Asians and non-Māori Polynesians are also significant minorities, especially in the urban areasElizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the Head of State and, in her absence, is represented by a non-partisan Governor-General. She has no real political influence, and her position is essentially symbolic.Political power is held by the democratically elected Parliament of New Zealand under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who is thehead of government. New Zealand's open economy is known for being one of the world's most free market capitalist economies.

It is unknown whether Māori had a name for New Zealand as a whole before the arrival of Europeans, although they referred to the North Island as Te Ika a Māui (the fish of Māui) and the South Island as Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of greenstone) or Te Waka o Aoraki (the canoe of Aoraki). Until the early 20th century, the North Island was also referred to as Aotearoa (colloquially translated "land of the long white cloud"); in modern Māori usage, this name refers to the whole country. Aotearoa is also commonly used in this sense in New Zealand English.

The first European name for New Zealand was Staten Landt, the name given to it by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who in 1642 became the first European to see the islands. Tasman assumed it was part of a southern continent connected with land discovered in 1615 off the southern tip of South America by Jacob Le Maire. The name New Zealand originated with Dutch cartographers, who called the islands Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland. No one is certain exactly who first coined the term, but it first appeared in 1645 and may have been the choice of cartographer Johan Blaeu. British explorer James Cook subsequently anglicised the name to New Zealand. There is no connection to the Danish island Zealand.

New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major landmasses. The first settlers of New Zealand were Eastern Polynesians who came to New Zealand, probably in a series of migrations, sometime between around 700 and 2000 years ago. Over the following centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into Iwi (tribes) and hapū (subtribes) which would co-operate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Māori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their own distinct Moriori culture.

The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642. Māori killed several of the crew and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook's voyage of 1768–71.Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost the entire coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whalingsealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Māori timber, food, artefacts and water. On occasion, Europeans traded goods for sex. The potato and the musket transformed Māori agriculture and warfare, although the resulting Musket Wars died out once the tribal imbalance of arms had been rectified. From the early nineteenth century, Christian missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Māori population, who had become disillusioned with their indigenous faith by the introduction of Western culture.

Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi

Becoming aware of the lawless nature of European settlement and increasing interest in the territory by the French, the British government sent William Hobson to New Zealand to claim sovereignty and negotiate a treaty with Māori.The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in the Bay of Islands on 6 February 1840. The drafting was done hastily and confusion and disagreement continues to surround the translation. The Treaty is regarded as New Zealand's foundation as a nation and is revered by Māori as a guarantee of their rights. Hobson initially selected Okiato as the capital in 1840, before moving the seat of government to Auckland in 1841.

Under British rule New Zealand had been part of the colony of New South Wales. In 1840 New Zealand became its own dominion, which signalled increasing numbers of European settlers particularly from the British Isles. At first, Māori were eager to trade with the 'Pakeha', as they called them, and many iwi (tribes) became wealthy. As settler numbers increased, conflicts over land led to the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s and 1870s, resulting in the loss of much Māori land. The detail of European settlement and the acquisition of land from Māori remain controversial.

Gustavus von Tempsky is shot during the land wars

Representative government for the colony was provided for by the passing of the 1852 New Zealand Constitution Act by the United Kingdom. The 1st New Zealand Parliament met for the first time in 1854. In 1856 the colony became effectively self-governing with the grant of responsible government over all domestic matters other than native policy. Power in this respect would be transferred to the colonial administration in the 1860s. In 1863 PremierAlfred Domett moved a resolution that the capital transfer to a locality in Cook Strait, apparently due to concern the South Island could form a separate colony. Commissioners from Australia (chosen for their neutral status) advised Wellington as suitable because of its harbour and central location, and parliament officially sat there for the first time in 1865. In 1893, the country became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. In 1907, New Zealand became an independent Dominion and a fully independent nation in 1947 when the Statute of Westminster (1931) was ratified, although in practice Britain had ceased to play any real role in the government of New Zealand much earlier than this. As New Zealand became more politically independent it became more dependent economically; in the 1890s, refrigerated shipping allowed New Zealand to base its entire economy on the export of meat and dairy products to Britain.

New Zealand was an enthusiastic member of the British Empire, fighting in the Boer WarWorld War I and World War II and supporting Britain in theSuez Crisis. The country was very much a part of the world economy and suffered as others did in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The depression led to the election of the first Labour government, which established a comprehensive welfare state and a protectionist economy.

New Zealand experienced increasing prosperity following World War II. However, some social problems were developing; Māori had begun to move to the cities in search of work and excitement rather than the traditional rural way of life. A Māori protest movement would eventually form, criticisingEurocentrism and seeking more recognition of Māori culture and the Treaty of Waitangi, which they felt had not been fully honoured. In 1975 a Waitangi Tribunal was set up to investigate alleged breaches of the Treaty, and enabled to investigate historic grievances in 1985. In common with all other developed countries, social developments accelerated in the 1970s and social and political mores changed. By the 1970s, the traditional trade with Britain was threatened because of Britain's membership of the European Economic Community. Great economic and social changes took place in the 1980s under the 4th Labour government largely led by Finance Minister Roger Douglas, and commonly referred to as "Rogernomics."