Albania the Republic of Albania, is a country in Southeast Europe on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea within the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, Greece to the south and a maritime border with Italy to the west. Geographically, the country displays varied climatic, geological and morphological conditions, defined in an area of 28,748 km2, it possesses remarkable diversity with the landscape ranging from the snow-capped mountains in the Albanian Alps as well as the Korab, Skanderbeg and Ceraunian Mountains to the hot and sunny coasts of the Albanian Adriatic and Ionian Sea along the Mediterranean Sea. The area of Albania was populated by various Illyrian and Ancient Greek tribes as well as several Greek colonies established in the Illyrian coast; the area was annexed in the 3rd century by Romans and became an integral part of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Illyricum. The autonomous Principality of Arbër emerged in 1190, established by archon Progon in the Krujë, within the Byzantine Empire.
In the late thirteenth century, Charles of Anjou conquered Albanian territories from the Byzantines and established the medieval Kingdom of Albania, which at its maximal extension was extending from Durrës along the coast to Butrint in the south. In the mid-fifteenth century, it was conquered by the Ottomans; the modern nation state of Albania emerged in 1912 following the defeat of the Ottomans in the Balkan Wars. The modern Kingdom of Albania was invaded by Italy in 1939, which formed Greater Albania, before becoming a Nazi German protectorate in 1943. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, a Communist state titled the People's Socialist Republic of Albania was founded under the leadership of Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour; the country experienced widespread social and political transformations in the communist era, as well as isolation from much of the international community. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1991, the Socialist Republic was dissolved and the fourth Republic of Albania was established.
Politically, the country is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic and developing country with an upper-middle income economy dominated by the tertiary sector followed by the secondary and primary sector. It went through a process of transition, following the end of communism in 1990, from a centralized to a market-based economy, it provides universal health care and free primary and secondary education to its citizens. The country is a member of the United Nations, World Bank, UNESCO, NATO, WTO, COE, OSCE and OIC, it is an official candidate for membership in the European Union. In addition it is one of the founding members of the Energy Community, including the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and Union for the Mediterranean; the term Albania is the medieval Latin name of the country. It may be derived from the Illyrian tribe of Albani recorded by Ptolemy, the geographer and astronomer from Alexandria, who drafted a map in 150 AD, which shows the city of Albanopolis located northeast of the city of Durrës.
The term may have a continuation in the name of a medieval settlement called Albanon or Arbanon, although it is not certain that this was the same place. In his history written in the 10th century, the Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates was the first to refer to Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the Duke of Dyrrachium. During the Middle Ages, the Albanians called their country Arbëri or Arbëni and referred to themselves as Arbëreshë or Arbëneshë. Nowadays, Albanians call their country Shqipëria; as early as the 17th century the placename Shqipëria and the ethnic demonym Shqiptarë replaced Arbëria and Arbëresh. The two terms are popularly interpreted as "Land of the Eagles" and "Children of the Eagles"; the first traces of human presence in Albania, dating to the Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic eras, were found in the village of Xarrë close to Sarandë and Dajti near Tiranë. The objects found in a cave near Xarrë include flint and jasper objects and fossilized animal bones, while those found at Mount Dajt comprise bone and stone tools similar to those of the Aurignacian culture.
The Paleolithic finds of Albania show great similarities with objects of the same era found at Crvena Stijena in Montenegro and north-western Greece. Several Bronze Age artefacts from tumulus burials have been unearthed in central and southern Albania that show close connection with sites in south-western Macedonia and Lefkada, Greece. Archaeologists have come to the conclusion that these regions were inhabited from the middle of the third millennium BC by Indo-European people who spoke a Proto-Greek language. A part of this population moved to Mycenae around 1600 BC and founded the Mycenaean civilisation there. In ancient times, the territory of modern Albania was inhabited by a number of Illyrian tribes; the Illyrian tribes never collectively regarded themselves as'Illyrians', it is unlikely that they used any collective nomenclature for themselves. The name Illyrians seems to be the name applied to a specific Illyrian tribe, the first to come in contact with the ancient Greeks during the Bronze Age, causing the name Illyrians to be applied pars pro toto to all people of similar language and customs.
The territory known as Illyria corresponded to the area east of the Adriatic sea, extending in the south to the mouth of the Vjosë river. The first accou
The Czech Republic known by its short-form name, Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. The Czech Republic covers an area of 78,866 square kilometres with a temperate continental climate and oceanic climate, it is a unitary parliamentary republic, with 10.6 million inhabitants. Other major cities are Brno, Ostrava and Pilsen; the Czech Republic is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe. It is a developed country with an advanced, high income export-oriented social market economy based in services and innovation; the UNDP ranks the country 14th in inequality-adjusted human development. The Czech Republic is a welfare state with a "continental" European social model, a universal health care system, tuition-free university education and is ranked 14th in the Human Capital Index, it ranks as the 6th safest or most peaceful country and is one of the most non-religious countries in the world, while achieving strong performance in democratic governance.
The Czech Republic includes the historical territories of Bohemia and Czech Silesia. The Czech state was formed in the late 9th century as the Duchy of Bohemia under the Great Moravian Empire. After the fall of the Empire in 907, the centre of power transferred from Moravia to Bohemia under the Přemyslid dynasty. In 1002, the duchy was formally recognized as an Imperial State of the Holy Roman Empire along with the Kingdom of Germany, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, numerous other territories, becoming the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1198 and reaching its greatest territorial extent in the 14th century. Beside Bohemia itself, the King of Bohemia ruled the lands of the Bohemian Crown, holding a vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. In the Hussite Wars of the 15th century driven by the Protestant Bohemian Reformation, the kingdom faced economic embargoes and defeated five consecutive crusades proclaimed by the leaders of the Catholic Church. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the whole Crown of Bohemia was integrated into the Habsburg Monarchy alongside the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary.
The Protestant Bohemian Revolt against the Catholic Habsburgs led to the Thirty Years' War. After the Battle of the White Mountain, the Habsburgs consolidated their rule, eradicated Protestantism and reimposed Catholicism, adopted a policy of gradual Germanization; this contributed to the anti-Habsburg sentiment. A long history of resentment of the Catholic Church followed and still continues. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Bohemian Kingdom became part of the German Confederation 1815-1866 as part of Austrian Empire and the Czech language experienced a revival as a consequence of widespread romantic nationalism. In the 19th century, the Czech lands became the industrial powerhouse of the monarchy and were subsequently the core of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, formed in 1918 following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in this part of Europe in the interwar period. However, the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany in World War II, while the Slovak region became the Slovak Republic.
Most of the three millions of the German-speaking minority were expelled following the war. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the 1946 elections and after the 1948 coup d'état, Czechoslovakia became a one-party communist state under Soviet influence. In 1968, increasing dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in a reform movement known as the Prague Spring, which ended in a Soviet-led invasion. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed and market economy was reintroduced. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved, with its constituent states becoming the independent states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia; the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004. The traditional English name "Bohemia" derives from Latin "Boiohaemum", which means "home of the Boii"; the current English name comes from the Polish ethnonym associated with the area, which comes from the Czech word Čech. The name comes from the Slavic tribe and, according to legend, their leader Čech, who brought them to Bohemia, to settle on Říp Mountain.
The etymology of the word Čech can be traced back to the Proto-Slavic root *čel-, meaning "member of the people. The country has been traditionally divided into three lands, namely Bohemia in the west, Moravia in the east, Czech Silesia in the northeast. Known as the lands of the Bohemian Crown since the 14th century, a number of other names for the country have been used, including Czech/Bohemian lands, Bohemian Crown and the lands of the Crown of Saint Wenceslas; when the country regained its independence after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, the new name of Czechoslovakia was coined to reflect the union of the Czech and Slovak nations within the one country. After Czechoslovakia dissolved in 1992, the Czech part lac
Wrestling Titans known as Fighting Giants and Giants' Gate, is a pair of outdoor sculptures leading to the first courtyard of Prague Castle, in the Czech Republic. List of public art in Prague Media related to Wrestling Titans (Prague Castle at Wikimedia Commons
Afghan National Army
The Afghan National Army is the land warfare branch of the Afghan Armed Forces. It is under the Ministry of Defense in Kabul and is trained by US-led NATO forces; the ANA is divided into six corps, with the 201st in Kabul followed by the 203rd in Gardez, 205th in Kandahar, 207th in Herat, 209th in Mazar-i-Sharif and the 215th in Lashkar Gah. The current Chief of Staff of the ANA is Lieutenant General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali; the Afghan National Army traces its roots to the early 18th century when the Hotak dynasty was established in Kandahar followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani's rise to power. It was reorganized in 1880 during Emir Abdur Rahman Khan's reign. Afghanistan remained neutral during the Second World Wars. From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the Afghan Army was equipped by the Soviet Union. After the resignation of President Najibullah in 1992, the Islamic State of Afghanistan took control of the Army; that government was driven from power in 1996 by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which lasted until late 2001 when NATO invaded the country.
By 2014, most of Afghanistan came under government control with NATO playing a supporting role. The majority of training of the ANA is undertaken in the Afghan National Security University. In 2017, the ANA had 175,000 soldiers out of an authorized strength of 195,000. Afghans have served in the army of the Ghaznavids, Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals; the Afghan National Army traces its origin to the early 18th century when the Hotak dynasty rose to power in Kandahar and defeated the Persian Safavid Empire at the Battle of Gulnabad in 1722. When Ahmad Shah Durrani formed the Durrani Empire in 1747, the Afghan Army fought a number of battles in the Punjab region of India during the 19th century. One of the famous battles was the 1761 Battle of Panipat in which the Afghan army decisively defeated the Hindu Maratha Empire; the Afghans fought with the Sikh Empire, until the Sikh Marshal Hari Singh Nalwa died and Sikh conquests stopped. In 1842, the British unsuccessfully tried to conquer Afghanistan, resulting in the 1842 retreat from Kabul.
At the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, Ali Ahmad Jalali cites sources saying that the regular army was about 50,000 strong and consisted of 62 infantry and 16 cavalry regiments, with 324 guns organized in horse and mountain artillery batteries. Sedra cites Jalali, who writes that'..although Amir Shir Ali Khan is credited for founding the modern Afghan Army, it was only under Abdur Rahman that it became a viable and effective institution.' In 1880 Amir Abdur Rahman Khan established a newly equipped Afghan Army with help from the British. The Library of Congress Country Study for Afghanistan states: When came to the throne, the army was nonexistent. With the assistance of a liberal financial loan from the British, plus their aid in the form of weapons and other military supplies, he began a 20-year task of creating a respectable regular force by instituting measures that formed the long-term basis of the military system; these included increasing the equalization of military obligation by setting up a system known as the hasht nafari.
Further improvements to the Army were made by King Amanullah Khan in the early 20th century just before the Third Anglo-Afghan War. King Amanullah fought against the British in 1919, resulting in Afghanistan becoming independent after the Treaty of Rawalpindi was signed, it appears from reports of Naib Sular Abdur Rahim's career that a Cavalry Division was in existence in the 1920s, with him being posted to the division in Herat Province in 1913 and Mazar-i-Sharif after 1927. The Afghan Army was expanded during King Zahir Shah's reign, starting in 1933. In 1953, Lieutenant General Mohammed Daoud, cousin of the King who had served as Minister of Defence, was transferred from command of the Central Corps in Kabul to become Prime Minister of Afghanistan. Periodic border clashes with Pakistan seem to have taken place between 1950 and 1961. From 1949 to 1961, Afghanistan-Pakistan skirmishes took place along the frontier, culminating in fighting in Bajaur Agency in September 1960; this led to a breakoff in diplomatic relations between the two countries in September 1961.
From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the Afghan Army received training and equipment from the Soviet Union. In February - March 1957, the first group of Soviet military specialists was sent to Kabul to train Afghan officers and non-commissioned officers. At the time, there seems to have been significant Turkish influence in the Afghan Armed Forces, which waned after the Soviet advisors arrived. In the early 1970s, Soviet military assistance was increased; the number of Soviet military specialists increased from 1,500 in 1973 to 5,000 by April 1978. The senior Soviet specialist at this time was a Major General I. S. Bondarets, from 1975 to 1978, the senior Soviet military adviser was Major General L. N. Gorelov. Before the 1978 Saur Revolution, according to military analyst George Jacobs, the Army included "some three armored divisions, eight infantry divisions (averaging
Belgium the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, the North Sea to the northwest, it has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; the sovereign state is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organisation is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds, it is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or Communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.
The Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that included parts of northern France and western Germany, its name is derived after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars; the country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels. Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.
Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has high standards of living, quality of life, education, is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index, it ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world. The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire; the Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands; the latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region; the reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napo
Spanish Hall (Prague Castle)
Spanish Hall is a ceremonial hall in the New Royal Palace of Prague Castle. As part of the State Rooms it is intended for the reception of official guests of the President of the Czech Republic. Many important political and social events take place in the hall. Spanish Hall was intended for the display of statuary collected by Emperor Rudolph II; the over-lifesize terracotta and stucco statues by Adriaen de Vries were exhibited in the niches in the southern wall. The hall was used for ceremonial court occasions; the hall was built in 1602–1606 by Italian architect Giovanni Maria Filippi. The walls were decorated with pilasters and Renaissance stucco reliefs. A row of wooden columns in the centre of the hall supported a panelled coffer ceiling and underpinned the double span-roofs. In the early 18th century the original roofs were replaced by a new king-post roof during Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer's alternations; the height of the hall was raised by 2.5 meters and a row of smaller windows was added.
The hall was damaged during the Prussian bombardment of Prague Castle in 1757 and was restored by Nicolò Pacassi who removed the central columns. In that time the niches in the southern wall were walled-up and the painter Norbert Kryštof Saeckel decorated them with illusive landscape views with ruins. In 1868 these paintings were covered with mirrors. In 1826 new toilets were neighbouring Rudolph Gallery. Both interiors were rebuilt in 1865–1868 during the preparations for the Bohemian coronation of Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria, however, never took place; the reconstruction was led by Viennese builder Ferdinand Kirschner to plans by architect Hans von Ferstel. The present relief decoration originated in that time. Contrary to the Rudolphian modelled stucco it consists of plaster castings additionally fixed on the walls and the ceilings; the two shorter walls of the hall were built in a wholly new way. Spanish Hall measures 48 meters by 12 meters high; the two long walls have remained from the time of Rudolph II—with nine windows on the north side and the same number of niches of identical size on the south wall.
The keystone above the central window bears the imperial monogram R with the Order of the Golden Fleece. The two shorter walls, with galleries, were built in 1860s and are decorated with sculptures of Art, Science and Industry by Auguste la Vigne; the gilded chandeliers and wall lights date from the late 19th century, take over 2,000 electric light bulbs. Media related to Spanish Hall at Wikimedia Commons
Uk vz. 59
The Universal Machine Gun Model 1959 is a general-purpose machine gun developed in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s. It remains in use by the Slovak Armed Forces; the Uk vz. 59 fires 7.62×54mmR ammunition, delivered via an ammunition belt. The weapon can serve as a light and medium machine gun, can be used as a co-axial mounted weapon; the pistol grip acts as the charging handle for the Uk vz. 59. Biafra. Czech Republic Democratic Republic of Congo Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda Georgia Libya Mali Slovakia Tanzania Vietnam: used by PAVN and Viet Cong URZ AP Media related to UK vz. 59 at Wikimedia Commons Modern Firearms Univerzální kulomet vzor 59