Friday, April 30, 2010

BRAZIL - Curitiba : Ópera de Arame

BRAZIL stamps


Curitiba (Tupi-Guarani: "Pinion Land") is the capital city of the Brazilian state of Paraná. The city has the largest population, the largest economy in the State and also in southern Brazil. According to the American magazine Reader's Digest, Curitiba is the best place to live in Brazil.

The Ópera de Arame, in Portuguese, or the Wire Opera House, in English, is a theatre house located in the city of Curitiba, the capital of the state of Paraná, in southern Brazil. It is one of the major tourist attractions of the city. Situated in the middle of an urban green park, Parque das Pedreiras, the Wire Opera House theatre is built out of steel tubes, which gave it its name. It is built on the site of a former rock quarry.


Postcard sent by Lore , as "luhany"
Private swap - Reference BR001

CURITIBA - Ópera de Arame - Parana


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ROMANIA - Children in folk costume

Romania's national costume and kids dancing the traditional "hora" or "sarba".
The dances are really entertaining.
Romanian are famous for the joy with which they dance and the parties they organize.


Postcard sent by Roxy, as "roxy92"
Private swap - Reference RO002

Children in folk costume


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ROMANIA - Country profile

Location of ROMANIA in the world



The national flag of Romania (Romanian: Drapelul României) is a tricolour with vertical stripes: beginning from the flagpole, blue, yellow and red. It has a width-length ratio of 2:3.

The Constitution of Romania provides that “The flag of Romania is tricolour; the colors are arranged vertically in the following order from the flagpole: blue, yellow, red”. The proportions, shades of color as well as the flag protocol were established by law in 1994 and extended in 2001.

The flag is coincidentally very similar to the civil flag of Andorra and the state flag of Chad. The similarity with Chad’s flag, which differs only in having a darker shade of blue (indigo rather than cobalt), has caused international discussion. In 2004 Chad asked the United Nations to examine the issue, but then-president of Romania Ion Iliescu announced no change would occur to the flag.

National Anthem of ROMANIA

"Deşteaptă-te, române" ; variously translated as "Awaken thee, Romanian! ", "Awaken, Romanian !", or "Wake Up, Romanian !") is Romania's national anthem.

The lyrics were composed by Andrei Mureşanu (1816-1863) and the music was popular (it was chosen for the poem by Gheorghe Ucenescu, as most sources say). It was written and published during the 1848 revolution, initially with the name "Un răsunet" ("An echo"). It was first sung in late June in the same year in the city of Braşov, on the streets of Şchei. It was immediately accepted as the revolutionary anthem and renamed "Deşteaptă-te, române". quarter

Since then, this song, which contains a message of liberty and patriotism, has been sung during all major Romanian conflicts, including during the 1989 anti-Communist revolution. After that revolution, it became the national anthem, replacing the communist-era national anthem "Trei culori" ("Three colors").

July 29 is now "National Anthem Day" (Ziua Imnului naţional), an annual observance in Romania.

The first country to adopt this song as a national anthem was the Moldavian Democratic Republic, during its brief existence, between 1917 and 1918.

This song was also the national anthem of Moldova for a few years, but was replaced in 1994 by the current Moldovan anthem, "Limba noastră" ("Our language").

Profile of ROMANIA

NETHERLANDS - Typical landscape with windmill


The Netherlands is so closely associated with windmills, that it's often the first fact people recall about the country. The Dutch built windmills for many centuries (and to some extent, the windmills built the country itself, since without them much of the land drainage could not have occured). In that time the mills were developed for corn milling, land drainage, saw milling, and in fact all manner of industrial purposes. Despite this widespread use, Dutch mills are in may ways quite primitive - using canvas sails, and turned to wind by hand (as distinct from the automated mechanisms that were developed for English windmills, including the fantail, and shuttered sails).

There are a very pleasing number of remaining windmills in the Netherlands - the number is about 1150 and rising, in that the Dutch only count complete workable mills, and in the past 10 years especially many extensive rebuilds have occured to add to this number.


Postcard sent by Alma, as "Stuik"
Postcrossing - Reference NL-334362

A typical landscape in Holland with windmill

dank je wel

NETHERLANDS - Country profile




The flag of the Netherlands is a horizontal tricolour of red, white, and blue. Introduced in 1572, it is one of the first tricolours and the oldest tricolour still in use today. Since 1937, the flag has officially been the national flag of the Netherlands and of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Het Wilhelmus (English translation: The William) is the national anthem of the Netherlands and is the oldest national anthem in the world though the words of the Japanese national anthem (not the music) date back to the ninth century. Although it was not recognized as the official national anthem until 1932, it has always been popular with parts of the Dutch population and resurfaced on several occasions in the course of Dutch history before gaining its present status.

Like many anthems, Het Wilhelmus originated in the nation's struggle to achieve independence. It tells of Willem van Oranje (William of Orange), his life and why he is fighting against the King of Spain. As a result, the anthem is written in a first person perspective, as if it were sung by William himself.

This refers to the initial loyalty of the leading figures of the Dutch Revolt, the Counts of De Montmorency ("Hoorne") and Lamoral ("Egmond") who both were executed, and the then surviving Prince of Orange (William), to the Spanish king Philip II and their claim that they merely objected against some hardships of the Spanish rule over The Netherlands. These objections were especially concerning the taxation and the religious prosecutions.

The text and tune of the song are remarkably peaceful for a national anthem. The Wilhelmus derives its name from the first word of the song ; the Geuzenliedboek's original introduction to the text speaks of "a new Christian song" ("een nieu Christelijck Liedt").


Official Name:
Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
short form: Nederland
alternative name: Holland
int'l short form: Netherlands
int'l long form: Kingdom of the Netherlands

ISO Country Code: nl

Capital City: Amsterdam (pop. 743 000)
Den Haag (475 000)
The Hague (seat of government)

Other Cities:
Groningen, Haarlem, Maastricht, Rotterdam, Utrecht

Type: Constitutional monarchy
Head of State: Queen Beatrix

Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany.
Area: 41 528 sq. km. (16 485 sq. mi.).
Terrain: Coastal lowland; land below sea level 24%

Climate: Temperate maritime.

Nationality: Noun--Dutchmen and Dutchwomen. Adjective--Dutch.
Population: (March 2004)16,3 million.
Ethnic groups: Predominantly Dutch; largest minority communities are Moroccans, Turks, Surinamese.
Religions: Roman Catholic (31%), Protestant (21%), Muslim (5,5%), other (2,5%), none (40%).
Language: Dutch; English widely spoken
Literacy: 99%.

Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, peat, limestone, salt, sand and gravel, arable land.

Agriculture products: Grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits, vegetables; livestock.

Industries: Agroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing.

Exports partners: Germany 25.3%, Belgium 12.6%, France 10.2%, UK 10.1%, Italy 6%, USA 4.5% (2003)

Imports partners: Germany 18.2%, Belgium 10%, USA 8%, UK 7.3%, China 6.2%, France 5% (2003)

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Monday, April 26, 2010

JAPAN - Mount Fuji and tea plantations

JAPAN stamp

Location of MOUNT FUJI in JAPAN

Mount Fuji (富士山 Fuji-san) is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776 m. Along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku, it is one of Japan's "Three Holy Mountains". An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji is just west of Tokyo, and can be seen on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers.

Green tea (緑茶 Ryokucha) is ubiquitous in Japan and therefore is more commonly known simply as "tea" (お茶 ocha). It is even referred to as "Japanese tea" (日本茶 nihoncha) though it was first used in China during the Song Dynasty, and brought to Japan by Myōan Eisai, a Japanese Buddhist priest who also introduced the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism. Types of tea are commonly graded depending on the quality and the parts of the plant used as well as how they are processed. There are large variations in both price and quality within these broad categories, and there are many specialty green teas that fall outside this spectrum. The best Japanese green tea is said to be that from the Yame (八女 yame) region of Fukuoka Prefecture and the Uji region of Kyoto. Shizuoka Prefecture produces 40% of raw tea leaf.


Postcard sent by Masako, as "hatopoppo"
Private swap - Reference JP007

Mount Fuji, in Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures
and tea platations (green tea)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

SWITZERLAND - Zürich-city, Skyline



Zürich or Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zürich. It is located in Eastern Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich. While the municipality itself has 380,500 inhabitants, the Zürich metropolitan area is an urbanised area of international importance constituted by a population of nearly 2 million inhabitants. Zürich is a mixed hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zürich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.

Permanently settled for around 7,000 years, the history of Zürich goes back to its founding by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. During the Middle Ages Zürich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, was the place of origin and center of the Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland, led by Ulrich Zwingli.

Zürich is a leading global city and amongst the world's largest financial centres. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Also, most of the research and development centers are concentrated in Zürich and the low rate of tax attracts overseas companies to set up their headquarters there. According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zürich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe.

In addition to being Switzerland's main commercial centre, Zürich is sometimes called the Cultural Capital of Switzerland. An impressive number of museums and art galleries can be found in the city, among which the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus. Zürich also hosts one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.


Postcard sent by Pam, as "pami1977"
Private swap - Reference CH003

Zürich-City, Skyline

Danke / Merci

SWITZERLAND - Country profile




The flag of Switzerland consists of a red flag with a bold, equilateral white cross in the center. It is one of only two square sovereign-state flags, the other being the flag of the Vatican City. (The civil and state ensign, used by Swiss ships and boats, has more traditional proportions of 2:3.)

Only the dimensions of the cross are formally established since 1889: "The coat of arms of the federation is, within a red field, an upright white cross, whose [four] arms of equal length are a sixth longer than their width." The size of the cross in relation to the field is not formally established except on the naval ensign. A relation of 2:3 or 7:10 to the span of the flag is usual.


The Swiss Psalm is the national anthem of Switzerland. It was composed in 1841, by Alberich Zwyssig (1808-1854). Since then it has been frequently sung at patriotic events. The Federal Council declined however on numerous occasions to accept the psalm as the official anthem. This was because the council wanted the people to express their say on what they wanted as a national anthem.

From 1961 to 1981 it provisionally replaced Rufst Du, mein Vaterland ("When You call, my Country", French O Monts indépendants; Italian Ci chiami o patria, Romansh E clomas, tger paeis) the anthem by Johann Rudolf Wyss (1743-1818) which was set to the melody of God Save the Queen.

Finally on April 1, 1981 the Swiss Psalm was declared the official Swiss national anthem.


Official Name:
Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (German)
Confederation Suisse (French)
Confederazione Svizzera (Italian)
short form: Suisse, Schweiz, Svizzera
int'l long form: Swiss Confederation
int'l short form: Switzerland

ISO Country Code: ch

Capital City: Bern (Berne)
Berne (pop. 123 000)
The Municipality of Berne.

Major Cities:
Basel, Genève (Genf, Genève, Geneva), Luzern, Lausanne, Lugano, Zürich.

Type: Federal republic.
Independence: The first Swiss Confederation was founded in August 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. The Swiss Confederation established independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499.
Constitution: 1848; extensively amended in 1874; fully revised in 2000
Federal Charter of 1291
Document of the Federal Charter.
National Day (Bundesfeier/fête nationale/festa nazionale): 1. August (Celebrates the Oath of 1291, which is considered the start of the Swiss Confederation).

Location: Central Europe, south of Germany, east of France and north of Italy.
Area: 41 285 sq. km. (15 941 sq. mi.)
Terrain: 60% mountains, the remainder hills and plateau. Switzerland straddles the central ranges of the Alps.

Climate: From Central European in the north to Mediterranean in the south, varying with altitude and season.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Swiss.
Population: 7.3 million.
GNI per capita PPP: $ 33 168
Ethnic groups: Mixed European--German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other.
Religions: Roman Catholic 42%, Protestant 33%, Muslim 4.3%, others 5.4%, no religion 11%.
Languages: German 63.7%, French 20.4%, Italian 6.5%, Romansch 0.5%, are official languages, other 9.4%.
Literacy: 100%.

Natural resources: Waterpower, timber, salt.

Agricultural Products: Dairy, livestock, grains, fruit and vegetables, potatoes, wine.

Industries: Machinery, chemicals, watch-making, textiles, precision instruments.

Exports partners: Germany 20.8%, USA 11.3%, France 8.7%, Italy 8.3%, UK 4.9%, Japan 4% (2003)

Imports partners: Germany 32.3%, France 10.8%, Italy 10.7%, USA 5.5%, Netherlands 5%, Austria 4.2%, UK 4.1% (2003)

Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)

JAPAN - Kyoto : Kinkaju-ji temple

Location of KYOTO in JAPAN

Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺 literally Temple of the Golden Pavilion), or formally Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺Deer Garden Temple) is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the construction that represents the Kitayama Culture of Muromachi period.

The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku, is a three-story building on the grounds of the Rokuon-ji temple complex. The top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha (Buddha's Ashes). The top floor is built in traditional Chinese cha'an style, also known as zenshu-butsuden-zukuri; and the middle floor in the style of warrior aristocrats, or buke-zukuri. The ground floor is rendered in shinden-zukuri style, reminiscent of the residential style of the Heian imperial aristocracy. The building is often linked or contrasted with Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion Temple), and Shōkoku-ji, which are also located in Kyoto.

The Golden Pavilion is set in a magnificent Japanese strolling garden (kaiyū-shiki). The pond in front of it is called Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond). There are many islands and stones on the pond that represent the Buddhist creation story.

UNESCO World Heritage Site :
Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu cities)

Date of inscription : 1994

Built in A.D. 794 on the model of the capitals of ancient China, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan from its foundation until the middle of the 19th century. As the centre of Japanese culture for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto illustrates the development of Japanese wooden architecture, particularly religious architecture, and the art of Japanese gardens, which has influenced landscape gardening the world over.


Postcard sent by Sashi, as "Haako"
Private swap - Reference JP006

Kinkaju-ji Temple, Kyoto

JAPAN - Yokohama, Minato Mirai 21 : harbour by night, Cosmo Clock 21, Yokohama Landmark Tower

JAPAN stamp


Minato Mirai 21, often shortened to Minato Mirai, is a large urban development in Yokohama, Japan.

The name, which means "Harbor Future 21", was selected in a public competition. Construction of the area started in 1983. Built largely on reclaimed land, the area now features the Landmark Tower, Japan's tallest skyscraper, the Queen's Square shopping mall, the Pacifico Yokohama convention center, Intercontinental Hotel, Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris wheel, and more. Next to Landmark Tower is the Yokohama Museum of Art.

The area is a popular tourist spot together with nearby Yokohama Chinatown. Minato Mirai is one of the few places in the Tokyo-Yokohama area where the seashore is accessible, and not blocked by industry and harbour areas. Another area where the seashore is accessible is Odaiba.

Cosmo Clock 21 is a giant Ferris wheel located in Yokohama, Japan. It is also the world's largest clock.

Built for the YES '89 Yokohama Exposition at Minato Mirai 21 in 1989, Cosmo Clock 21 was originally constructed with a height of 107.5 metres.

In 1997 the structure was dismantled, then in 1999 relocated onto a taller base which increased its overall height to 112.5 metres.

When it first opened in 1989, it was the world's tallest Ferris wheel, until the completion of the 112.5-metre Tempozan Harbor Village Ferris wheel in Osaka in 1997.

Cosmo Clock 21 has 60 passenger cars, each capable of carrying up to eight people. One rotation of the 100-metre diameter wheel takes 15 minutes.


The Yokohama Landmark Tower is the tallest building in Japan, standing 295.8 m high. It is located in the Minato Mirai 21 district of Yokohama city, right next to Yokohama Museum of Art. Work on the building was finished in 1993.

The building contains a five-star hotel which occupies floors 49-70. The lower 48 floors contain shops, restaurants, clinics, and offices. The building contains two tuned mass dampers on the (hidden) 71st floor on opposite corners of the buildings.

On the 69th floor there is an observatory, Sky Garden, from which one can see a 360-degree view of the city, and on clear days Mount Fuji.

The tower contains the world's second fastest elevator, which reaches speeds of 12.5 m per second (45.0 km/h). This speed allows the elevator to reach the 69th floor in approximately 40 seconds.

The building was designed by Hugh Stubbins and Associates, now KlingStubbins.


Postcard sent by Masayo, as "MASAYO"
Private swap - Reference JP005

The city of Minato Mirai 21 floating in the sea of lights

JAPAN - Country profile




The national flag of Japan is a white rectangular flag with a large red disk (representing the sun) in the center. This flag is officially called Nisshōki in Japanese, but is more commonly known as Hinomaru.

The Nisshōki flag is designated as the national flag in Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem, which was promulgated and became effective on August 13, 1999.


"Kimigayo" is Japan's national anthem. It is also one of the world's shortest national anthems in current use, with a length of 11 measures and 32 characters. Its lyrics are based on a Waka poem written in the Heian period (794-1185), sung to a melody written in the later Meiji period. The current melody was chosen in 1880, replacing an unpopular melody composed eleven years earlier.

Although Kimigayo had long been Japan's de facto national anthem, it was only legally recognized in 1999 with the passage of Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem.


Official Name:
Local Name: Nihon (Nippon)
Local Formal Name: Nihon Koku

ISO Country Code: jp

Capital City: Tokyo

Other Cities: Chiba, Fukuoka, Hiroshima,
Kobe, Kyoto, Osaka, Sendai, Yokohama.

Type: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government.
Constitution: 3 May 1947.
Independence: 660 BC (traditional founding by Emperor Jimmu, held as official dogma until 1945.)

Location: Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan (East Sea), east of the Korean Peninsula.
Area: 377 864 sq. km. (145 902 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Rugged, mountainous islands.
Highest peak: Mount Fuji (富士山, Fuji-san)

Climate: Varies from subtropical to temperate.

Nationality: Japanese.
Population: 128 million.
Ethnic groups: Japanese.
Religions: Shinto and Buddhist.
Language: Japanese (Nihongo)
Literacy: 99%.

Natural resources: Negligible mineral resources, fish.

Agriculture products: Rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit, pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs, fish.

Industries: Among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals, textiles, processed foods.

Exports partners: USA 24.8%, China 12.1%, South Korea 7.3%, Taiwan 6.6%, Hong Kong 6.3% (2003)

Imports partners: China 19.7%, USA 15.6%, South Korea 4.7%, Indonesia 4.3% (2003)

Currency: Yen (JPY)

NETHERLANDS - Windmill at Kinderdijk



Kinderdijk is a village in the Netherlands, belonging to the municipality of Nieuw-Lekkerland, in the province South Holland, about 15 km east of Rotterdam.

Kinderdijk is situated in a polder at the confluence of the Lek and Noord rivers. To drain the polder, a system of 19 windmills was built around 1740. This group of mills is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands.

The windmills of Kinderdijk are one of the best known Dutch tourist sites. They were placed on the list of UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.

Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout

Date of inscription : 1997

The outstanding contribution made by the people of the Netherlands to the technology of handling water is admirably demonstrated by the installations in the Kinderdijk-Elshout area. Construction of hydraulic works for the drainage of land for agriculture and settlement began in the Middle Ages and have continued uninterruptedly to the present day. The site illustrates all the typical features associated with this technology – dykes, reservoirs, pumping stations, administrative buildings and a series of beautifully preserved windmills.


Postcard sent by Linda, as "Stuik"
Postcrossing - Reference NL-330914

Windmill at Kinderdijk in spring season

dank je wel

Thursday, April 22, 2010

ICELAND - Almannagjá in Þingvellir National Park


Þingvellir location in ICELAND

Þingvellir is a place in Bláskógarbyggð in southwestern Iceland, near the peninsula of Reykjanes and the Hengillvolcanic area. Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. It is also the site of a rift valley and home to Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland.

Parliament or Alþingi was established at Þingvellir in 930 and remained there until 1789. Þingvellir National Park was founded in 1930 to protect the remains of the parliament site and was later expanded to protect natural phenomena in the surrounding area. Þingvellir National Park was the first national park in Iceland and was decreed "a protected national shrine for all Icelanders, the perpetual property of the Icelandic nation under the preservation of parliament, never to be sold or mortgaged.

The two tectonic plates in Iceland

Almannagjá is 7.7 km long. Its greatest width is 64 m, and its maximum throw is 30-40 m. It marks the eastern boundary of the North American plate. Its equivalent across the graben, marking the western boundary of the Eurasian plate is Hrafnagjá. It is 11 km long, 68 m wide and has a maximum throw of 30 m. The Þingvellir faults are believed to be the surface expressions of deeply rooted normal faults. The numerous fissures encountered on the valley floor are of similar origin.

Þingvellir National Park

Date of inscription : 2004

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is the National Park where the Althing – an open-air assembly, which represented the whole of Iceland – was established in 930 and continued to meet until 1798. Over two weeks a year, the assembly set laws – seen as a covenant between free men – and settled disputes. The Althing has deep historical and symbolic associations for the people of Iceland. The property includes the Þingvellir National Park and the remains of the Althing itself: fragments of around 50 booths built from turf and stone. Remains from the 10th century are thought to be buried underground. The site also includes remains of agricultural use from the 18th and 19th centuries. The park shows evidence of the way the landscape was husbanded over 1,000 years.


Postcard sent by Vala, as "vala"

Private swap - Reference IS002

Aerial view over Almannagjá with Þingvellir Lake in the background.
Iceland is situated on two tectonic plates,
the North American and Eurasian.
The movement and separation of these plates
is evidenced in the many features of
Þingvellir :
volcanoes, fissures, faults and the sunken valley.
Almannagjá marks the eastern boundary of the North American plate.