It’s been awhile since you’ve had to endure my gleeful exclamations as each new visitor arrived from a country never represented before on the Twelve Mile Circle. That’s because I was getting tired of that thread and figured you were too. Nonetheless I’ve been collecting them the last couple of months so I can spring a bunch of them all at once and be done with it.
With me, it’s all about coloring-in the blank spots on the map. I hate all those empty spaces that never send any readers to my website. I’m like a ham radio operator who wants to make contact with every location. It’s irrational, I know, but it compels me and it’s mostly harmless.
I’ve been known to pander, beg and even focus keywords in articles specifically to convince the search engines to send some of those elusive visitors to me. I have little dignity remaining. You know that already if you’ve been reading the site for awhile and you’ve come to accept it as one of my quirks.
I Thought We Already Had Visitors from Here – Apparently We Didn’t
I received a visitor from Libya, specifically Tripoli, arriving in mid-January. I’m hoping it was Muammar Gaddafi because it would be really cool to have both Sarah Palin and Muammar as fans. Talk about spanning the whole spectrum of views and opinions! What, you didn’t know that Sarah was a regular reader? Well there’s a one in ten thousand chance that it’s true which makes it "good enough for the Internet" in my opinion. That’s a lot better odds than getting struck by lightning (0.0002%), just sayin’. Anyway our Libyan visitor was interested in the Greatest Time Zone Jump.
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Someone from Senegal came knocking about a month later. This resident of Dakar wanted to know more about the Unusual Geography of the Republic of the Gambia. Senegal surrounds The Gambia on three sides so his interest wasn’t all that unusual. I guess maybe it was unusual that he didn’t already comprehend the unusual geography of The Gambia given that it stabs a couple hundred miles directly into the interior of his nation. I’ll let that slide and catalog it as a successful visit.
Then I got a visit from someone in Uzbekistan. Tashkent, where our reader resided, has an average February high/low temperature of 8°/-2° C. (46°/28° F.). No wonder he was dreaming of warmer days in Florida’s Southern Keys.
My Ferry Maps of the Caribbean has been getting great traffic throughout these cold winter months for obvious reasons. This has resulted in lots of steady seasonal readership from the Caribbean basin and nearby nations from those warmer latitudes. It seemed natural in that context to receive my first website visitor from the Turks and Caicos Islands. They were looking at… the CANADA ferry map? In EARLY JANUARY?
I love this one. The Democratic Republic of the Congo ("The Country Formerly Known as Zaire"™) dropped onto my site for the first time in February through a rather odd set of coincidences. A visitor from Kinshasa wanted to find a specific golf course in his city, the Cercle de Kinshasa. It seems like a nice enough place based on what I could research: 18 holes; squash courts; restaurants and all the usual amenities, but its website terminated at a dead end (and still does – golfclubkinshasa.cd).
Google happened to cache the October 2009 version of one of my pages which included articles on National Capitals Closest Together — Kinshasa being one of them — and the World’s Longest Golf Course in Australia. The page title included the name of my blog, or more specifically the word "Circle." Combine the three elements and I can see why Google sent someone searching for the Cercle de Kinshasa Golf to my humble site. I’ve tried to replicate the feat but the cache has since changed and it’s no longer possible. That’s why my one-and-only Congolese visitor may remain that way for awhile.
Now THAT’s What I’m Talking About
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There are only about 4,000 people living in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), a set of remote atolls in the Chagos Archipelago, triangulated between Africa, India and Indonesia. It’s most famous location, indeed its only inhabited place today is Diego Garcia. Britain removed the entire population of native Chagossian inhabitants in the 1960’s — still quite controversial — and replaced them with military forces and their support contractors at a joint UK-US base on Diego Garcia.
This one is a good catch but I also figured I’d capture it sooner-or-later. Many (most?) people here speak English as a native language, they have excellent access to technology, and they have cultural ties to places I feature on my site regularly. Probability dictates that I should find occasional visitors from BIOT. I’m wondering though, why this particular visitor had a fascination with an obscure Icelandic beer?
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My favorite new visitor from this entire list came from the world’s smallest island nation: Nauru. This place is only 21 km2 (8.1 mi2). Contrast that with Washington, DC which is 177 km2 (68.3 mi2), for a quick comparison. Barely 9,000 people live here and most of them speak Nauruan albeit many are bilingual in English out of necessity.
Nauru is a large phosphate rock, the phosphate originating from sea bird excrement. It was once one of the most prosperous nations on the planet until the phosphate mines played-out. They’d compiled a rather sizable trust fund during those times of plenty. Poor investments wiped most of it out. Much of their economy today seems to accrue by taking sides in foreign disputes in return for aid (e.g., recognizing breakaway regions with their United Nations vote, weighing-in on China vs. Taiwan, giving harbor to refugees that Australia doesn’t want to deal with).
What’s a poor country to do when it has no other way of generating income? I guess there’s always the old standby, postage stamps and coins, but that’s not enough. They don’t even have a good Internet domain they can exploit like their fellow South Pacific nation, Tuvalu (.tv). Serving as an international tax haven didn’t work out so well for them either.
I mean no disrespect to the citizens of Nauru. I’m sure it’s a lovely place with wonderful people. I’d love to go there myself someday just to see it. However it’s hard to get past the fact that my visitor was sitting on bird-poop island, the party’s over and he’s been reduced to taking unpopular stands for money. Is there any wonder why he might be looking to see if he can find a ferry to Australia?