Cuba is a land of contradictions that is easy to enjoy but difficult for first-time visitors to decipher. The largest island in the Caribbean, it is a tropical paradise that Christopher Columbus called “the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen.” It is famous for the romantic charm of its crumbling colonial cities, the beauty of its white sand beaches, and its irresistible Afro-Cuban dance beats. But it is also a land of shortages and tight government control, which has been in a sixty-year political standoff with its superpower ne... + Read More
India’s population of 1.2 billion is as varied and colorful as the spice markets of Old Delhi. Each region, caste, and community has its own culture, reflecting unique histories shaped by conquest, creativity, and religion, expressed in distinct languages, social customs, art forms, and expectations of life. Despite enormous recent political and economic change, in many ways India remains the same—a total sensory experience. The chaos and beauty of color and sound, the language shifts every ten miles, the household variations of spicy and sharp... + Read More
Iran is rarely out of the headlines, and there is likely to be a rush of interest from tourists and investors if the provisional framework agreement reached in April 2015 is implemented, lifting most sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program for at least ten years. Western fascination with Iran is nothing new. For centuries, foreigners have been entranced by a country that is quite distinct from all others in the region. Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Travelers have long been seduced by the echoes of the... + Read More
The island of Ireland is famous for its timeless beauty, the variety of its landscape, its quiet towns and lively cities, the poetic and literary genius of so many of its citizens, its music and folklore, and its colorful and bloody history. What is also true is that the Irish people have in many ways changed in recent years, while retaining the scars and proud memories of their past, and their thriving national culture. Twenty-first century Ireland, North and South, is the product not only of its history and culture, but also of massive politi... + Read More
For many, Spain conjures up images of rapacious conquistadors, the unworldly Don Quixote, brave bullfighters, fiery flamenco dancers, and brilliant artists. All true enough—but how does the reality conform to these stereotypes? The Spanish people are certainly distinctive. Visitors are often astounded by their vitality, entranced by their friendliness, and driven mad by their frequent indulgence of their friends and relatives. They tend to be proud, passionate, spontaneous, generous, and loyal; they can also be procrastinators, individualistic ... + Read More
There is far more to Switzerland than beautiful scenery, chocolate, watches, faceless bankers, and spotless cities. The real Switzerland is full of surprises and anything but bland. This small, rugged, landlocked country at the heart of Europe has been a confederation since the first three cantons came together in a defensive alliance in 1291. Four national languages are spoken within its borders. Its present twenty-six cantons are largely autonomous and retain their individual characters. In this grassroots democracy real power lies with the p... + Read More
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