Every day, the software that runs this blog reports the countries from which we received hits. It’s interesting to glance at the list and wonder what it was that led people in far-away places to click on Under Western Skies. OK, I admit, it’s really not much of a mystery; most of the hits are people looking for photos they can steal from here — I hope they enjoy them and get rich making calendars, T-shirts, mugs and coffee table books with photos of food and travel and send me a check. It hasn’t happened yet, but it could.
Still, I always hope that some number of those people do read the blog.
For the heck of it, I took a look at a summary of all the countries from which hits have come. For some reason, the date from which the software begins counting hits is February 25, 2012. Perhaps that’s when the blog service instituted the tracking. I’m not certain.
Here’s the list of countries and number of hits from each country during those 10 months as of last week:
5,772: United States
288: United Kingdom
83: Brazil, France
36: Russian Federation
33: Indonesia, Belgium
28: Argentina, Republic of Korea
23: Hong Kong, Sweden
20: Czech Republic
18: Poland, Peru
15: Norway, Kuwait, Portugal
14: Colombia, Greece
13: South Africa, Austria, Philippines
9: Viet Nam, United Arab Emirates
7: Georgia, Ireland, Chile, Estonia
6: Bosnia and Herzegovina, New Zealand, Finland, Bulgaria
5: Pakistan, Slovakia, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Jordan
4: Cambodia, Israel, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Albania
3: Bangladesh, Morocco, Macao
2: Seychelles, Slovenia, Lithuania, United Republic of Tanzania, Tunisia, Moldova,
Croatia, Macedonia, Uganda, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Iraq, Cyprus, Reunion
1: Libya, Venezuela, Paraguay, Armenia, Mauritius, Oman, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Guatemala, Latvia, Kenya, New Caledonia, Luxembourg, Myanmar
Rwanda, Belarus, Paraguay, Guatemala, Armenia, Latvia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe
By my count, that’s 98 countries. There are a lot more countries than that in the world, but it’s a good percentage of the total.
The first 13 countries on the list are places where Romance or Germanic languages — at least somewhat akin to English — are the native language, and in most of those countries, the citizens learn English as part of their core education. Of course, those are also countries with large populations with good access to technology.
Any countries you don’t recognize? Any that you’ve heard of but can’t place on a map of the world? I had to look up two I didn’t recognize. Both proved to be connected to France: New Caledonia (one hit) is a group of islands east of Australia, and Reunion (2 hits), is an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar.
Of the countries I DON’T see on the list, some are to be expected. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Nope. It’s neither a republic nor democratic, and they don’t let people have food there, much less Internet access. Iran? Uh, no. Neither is Syria there. They have more dire concerns than looking at pictures of life in California. One no-show stands out starkly: China: the People’s Republic of China (distinct from Taiwan, the Republic of China). It’s interesting that New Caledonia, with a quarter million people, generated a hit, but NONE of the PRC’s 1.3 billion souls have visited Under Western Skies. Is it possible that someone there took umbrage at a few somewhat judgmental things I said about a former bloodthirsty, murderous founder of the People’s Republic of China? Too much to hope for. Almost certainly the great and wise administrators of that place simply don’t allow access to blogging sites, because that would provide their citizens an opportunity for freedom of expression from which to post their own comments for the rest of the world. Even more threatening, it would provide uncensored access to what the other billions of humans who occupy their planet are saying and seeing. Think about that the next time you buy something marked, “Made in China.”
I’m delighted to have some hits from the former hermit state, Albania, and a number of other places that have already or are emerging from isolation. Of the former Soviet Union, we have Russia itself, as well as Armenia, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine. Missing are the “stans:” Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. Well, if you can’t stan the heat, stay out of the kitchen debate.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity, the means and the freedom to travel more than many people have. Still, I’ve only been to a dozen or so of these countries, That includes China, by the way. Here’s my favorite shot from that trip: at the Summer Palace in Beijing, walking with a group of schoolkids who were dying to try out their English: “Hello. Are you from America?” “Yes, where are you from?” “China.” “You’re from CHINA!!! Oh my gosh.” That got the laughter you see here.
I’ll never see most of these countries, nor even meet someone from a lot of them. I’m glad to be able to make some contact with the rest of you. If you’re a visitor from a distant land, drop me a comment and say hello. I wish you all a happy new year — and in those places where your culture puts New Year at a different time, a happy turn of the calendar to you. Distance, language, culture and ideologies seem to divide us. But one of our inherent gifts as humans is that we can bridge the gaps. My wish is that we all — all — make use of our opportunities to share what we know about this world of ours.
© 2013 Brad Nixon
Photograph courtesy of Shannon Wickliffe, all rights reserved.