Spanish Capital

Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

This great postcard of the Spanish capital, Madrid, came to me from Juliet. The city is also Spain’s largest city with a population of 3.3 million people. I knew that it was a large city but I was surprised at its sheer size. Madrid is the 3rd largest city in the EU, after London and Berlin and the 3rd largest metropolitan in the EU after London and Paris. It is ranked as the 10th most livable cities in the world and one of Europe’s 12 greenest cities. It is also the major financial centre of Southern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. I have to say that I am so impressed with this city right now. Thank you Juliet for giving me the opportunity to learn all that through this cool postcard!

Sloven…kia

Slovakia

Slovakia

Another great postcard from Patricia in Slovakia! Known as Slovensko in Slovak, the name of the country causes quite a bit of confusion among speakers of English. A friend, whom I shall not name here, quite embarrassingly thanked a woman for her postcard from Slovenia, when it was in fact from Slovakia. I was rather amused. This small country is located in central Europe, has a population of just over 5.4 million people and spans 49 035 square kilometers. Slovakia became independent from Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993 and it really annoys me when people still talk about that union in the present tense. The capital city of Slovakia is Bratislava. Slovakia, along with Slovenia and Estonia, are the only formerly communist states that are part of the EU, Eurozone, NATO and the Schengen Area simultaneously. It sure looks like a place worth visiting!

Favourite Country in 3D

Map of Germany

Map of Germany

This awesome 3D map of Germany comes to me from Debbie in Stuttgart, Germany. Along with another 3D postcard that she sent me, they were my very first 3D postcards in my collection. A third has also made its way to South Africa and I will post that one soon as well. Back to this postcard. Germany, the most populous country in the EU with 80.3 million people, is located in western-central Europe. The size of the country is 357 021 square kilometers. Since its formation in 1871 the country’s boundaries have changed multiple times and I’m sure that we all know that it was much bigger at one particular time than it is today. The country is bordered by Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland. Germany’s $3.4 trillion GDP has made it one of the richest countries in the world for decades and still remains unrivaled by any European country. Germany is certainly one of the most impressive countries in the world and that’s just one of the reasons why it’s my favourite country outside my own. Thank you for an awesome postcard, Debbie.

Unknown Island

Insel Halgoland

Insel Helgoland

Franzi from Heligoland, Germany, sent me this awesome postcard of her island. In German the island is known as Helgoland. Helgoland consists of 2 islands located about 45 kilometers North of Germany in the North Sea called Hauptinsel and Düne respectively. Heligoland is often used to describe the former. The islands are also respectively 1 square kilometers and 0.7 square kilometers. Düne is situated lower than Hauptinsel and is not permanently inhabited but is now the location of the airstrip of Heligoland. Heligoland has a population of a mere 1370 people and derives most of its income from tourism. It is within the European Union but falls outside of the EU VAT area and customs union and sells a great deal of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and perfumes to tourists as a result. Thank you Franzi for teaching me about a place I never knew about through your postcard.

Hundreds & Thousands

Swedish Island

Swedish Island

Arthur from Stockholm, Sweden sent me this postcard of an island off the coast of Sweden. Most of us don’t think of Sweden as an island nation but most of us would clearly be wrong. According to a survey done in 2001, Sweden has a total of 221 800 islands! The size of these islands collectively, do however, take away from the grand impression the sheer number gives you. They are collectively 60500km2. According to EU classification, most of these islands would be considered no more than rocks in the sea. The EU requires that an island be at least 1km2 in size, must be more than 1km from the coast of the mainland, must not be permanently connected to the mainland, must be home to at least 50 people and must not house the capital of an EU nation. Of these great many islands, buildings were found on 7032, which were mostly holiday homes and only 1143 were inhabited islands. Furthermore, only 593 were larger than 1km2. It was after much debate was had about the number of islands that the Swedish National Rural Development Agency came up with their own set of criteria and found that only 576 of the 221 800 islands can actually be considered islands. Interesting hey? You’re welcome!

Birthplace of the EU

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Maastricht

From Ischa in the Netherlands, I received this awesome postcard of Maastricht. Ischa was the first person to trade postcards with me from my blog. So far, she has also been the only person to do so. Maastricht is not your typical Dutch city, she tells me. Apparently there are a lot of French and Belgian influences in the city. Maastricht is also known as the birthplace of the EU and the Euro through the Maastricht Treaty that was signed here. Maastricht is also one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. There is some debate as to whether Maastricht or Nijmegen are the oldest cities but it would seem as though historians do consider Maastricht an older settlement. Very interesting to know!