Guide to Nigeria

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Population: 155 million

Major Languages: English, Yoruba, Ibo

Currency: Naira

Calling Code: 234

Nigeria is the beating heart of West Africa and the most populous country in the whole of Africa. For centuries it remained a collection of small states and loose kingdoms, until first the Portuguese arrived, and then, in the 19th century, the British. By the 20th century, Britain had extended control over the entire region, and the newborn colonial Nigeria was divided into two- a southern Christian colony and a northern Islamic protectorate.

A mixture of nationalist fervor and British legislation secured Nigeria's independence in 1960. This, however, proved to be the beginning of a destabilizing period marked by ethnic clashes and violent coups which, over the coming decades, left millions in famine. Only in 1998 with the arrival of new president Olusegun Obasanjo did the country begin to look up. He was partly successful at revamping Nigeria's place in the international system, proved by the country's current leading role in the Commonwealth, though despite the cancelling of Nigeria's debts, Obasanjo's economic work generally met poorer results.

Guide to Malaysia

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Population: 27 million

Major Languages: Malay & English

Currency: Ringgit

Calling Code: 60

Aboriginal Malays from southwestern China arrived in present-day Malaysia around 10,000 years ago. The region gained international attention upon Indian traders' visits in search for gold and tin during the 2nd century AD. Throughout the following centuries, various empires such as the Funan and the Srivijayan ruled "Malaya" with the support of the Chinese, who offered protection from the northern Siamese. It was around this time that Islam arrived and soon spread throughout the region.

As wealth and prosperity increased in Malaya, foreign powers fought for its control. Indeed, the Portuguese were the first to arrive in 1511, followed by the Dutch in 1641 and the British in 1795. The British government held control for the next two centuries, founding the Brooke dynasty and bringing in Chinese and Indians, which heavily account for the ethnic make-up of the current Malay population. In the Second World War the Japanese army invaded Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore, occupying the region for over three years. Japanese rule fueled nationalism, with independence fervor strengthening after the Allied Forces reconquered Malaya.

Guide to Canada

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Population: 33 million

Major Languages: 
English & French

Currency: Canadian dollar

Calling Code: 1

As with many countries, Canada has a divided history of fighting over her lands. However, more than other countries, Canada is very much shaped today by its history, with the country split in two. It was in 1791, that the British government divided the colony into present-day Ontario and present-day southern Quebec, which retained French civil laws and was dominated by a majority population of French-speakers.

Guide to Hong Kong

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Population: 7 million

Major Languages: 
Cantonese and English

Currency: Hong Kong dollar

Calling Code: 852

Hong Kong is a city-state and technically a ‘special administrative region' of China. Whilst it is now one of the most densely populated and developed areas on earth, it hasn't always been that way. For centuries the Guangdong region of China, the area that is now occupied by modern Hong Kong, was a virtual wasteland. However, this began to change after the area became a British territory as part of a treaty to end the First Opium War in 1842.

Guide to India

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Population: 1.2 billion

Main Language: Hindi and English

Currency: Rupee

Calling Code: 91

Before the Common Era had begun, civilisations in the Indian subcontinent had already produced the sacred Hindu scriptures, witnessed the birth of Buddhism and formalised a caste system. The Indus Valley, stretching across the modern India-Pakistan border, saw the birth of multiple Hindu kingdoms after the invasion of the Huns, with South India retaining a strong Hindu culture and the North developing a contrasting Muslim character.

By the early 19th century, Britain had sole colonial power in India. Government institutions began to mirror British bureaucratic models and national production followed British demand. English even became the official administration language. However, serious challenges against British rule began to develop at the turn of the 20th century, and after decades worth of intense pressure, India finally gained independence in 1947. An independent India, however, did not mean a united India. The Muslim and Hindu factions called for division along religious lines, which ultimately led to separation from Pakistan.

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