July 4th is Independence Day in the United States. It’s celebrated with camping trips, barbeques and fireworks, although in Colorado the fire danger is so high, fireworks have been banned so we will stick to the beer and brats. Coincidentally enough, the United States isn’t the only country celebrating its independence in July. Although many people in the USA have probably heard of Canada Day and Bastille Day, nearly three dozen other countries and one breakaway republic celebrate their independence, or at least the precursor towards their independence such as the adoption of their respective constitutions or the day on which they became a republic, during the month of July. This year on July 9th, the newest nation in the world, South Sudan, will celebrate independence day for the first time. July is an active month around the world when it comes to nation forming, so no matter where you are, there are bound to be some celebrations going on nearby. Sadly, in a few of these countries, there actually is ongoing conflict, so fireworks in those places really might consist of “bombs bursting in air,” so keep your heads down and stay safe if you happen to be in one.
Muammar Gaddafi waves goodbye (photo from PressTV)
2011 was a year of unprecedented change around the world. Grassroots protests topped longstanding dictatorships while others succumbed to natural causes. Time magazine selected The Protester as its person of the year for 2011 and with all the change protesters helped bring about in the world in 2011, 2012 is shaping up to be a year for travelers. In 2008, The World by Road was stopped dead in its tracks; barred entry to Libya because we were Americans. Three years later, the Arab Spring saw the forced resignations of long serving authoritarians in Tunisia and Egypt. Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi didn’t go as willingly and was later captured and killed by rebel forces ending a bloody six month civil war. Protests have also gained momentum in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and most recently Russia, and if the events of North Africa are any indication, change is on the horizon in those countries as well.