Thursday, 23 October 2008


There are forty-six countries in Europe, including Kosovo, and I have only so far been to twenty-three so I am half way towards my objective of visiting them all. Some of the old Soviet republics have tried to claim European status but I haven’t included them here. The definition of a sovereign state is set out in Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention of 1933, according to which, a sovereign state should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population, (b) a defined territory, (c) a government, and (d) a capacity to enter into relations with the other states. So that excludes places like Scotland, which is technically part of the United Kingdom, and Wales, which is only a Principality, but it does include the tiny independent states of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican State, none of which would appear on paper to be a sustainable proposition. Actually Wales is nearly fifty thousand times bigger than the Vatican state and one thousand five hundred times bigger than Lichtenstein, but both of these little countries are considerably richer!

The blue and white flag of Greece is called ‘Galanolefci’, which you may be interested to know, means ‘blue and white’. Originally it was blue with a white diagonal cross but the cross has now been moved to the upper left corner, and this cross is symbolic of the Christian faith. Being a seafaring nation, the blue of the flag represents the colour of the sea and is also considered to be a lucky colour, which according to superstition will ward off evil spirits. White is the colour of freedom, which is something that is very important to the Greeks after years of enslavement under foreign domination. The nine stripes of the flag each symbolise a syllable in the Greek motto of freedom: E-LEY-THE-RI-A-I-THA-NA-TOS, which translates literally into ‘Freedom or Death’.

Here are the flags of the countries in Europe that I have visited so far:

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