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The Geographical Oddity of Fortaleza de Sao Joao Baptista de Ajuda

In the middle of the port city of Ouidah, Benin is Fortaleza de Sao Joao Baptista de Ajuda (the Fort St. John the Baptist of Ouidah). The fort was 1.9 acres (.76 hectares) of Portugal sticking in the middle of French West Africa and later the Republic of Dahomey (later Benin). For a time, it was the smallest exclave in the world.

 The fort was first constructed in the late 1600s as the Portuguese established lines of communion and trade stretching from Portugal, down Africa, across the Cape of Good Hope up Africa, into India, and over into Indonesia. However, the Portuguese never permanently manned the fort until the French began to claim and govern large stretches of western Africa in the 1850s and 1860s. When the French took over modern-day Ouidah from the independent African Kingdom of Dahomey, the Portuguese refused to leave the fort even though it was isolated from any exit point and had no water access. The Portuguese kept the fort as a matter of pride, and the French thought taking the fort was not worth the trouble it would cause.

Benin became self-governing in 1958 as part of the French Community (a French effort to mirror the British Commonwealth system) and fully independent in 1960 as the Republic of Dahomey. At the same time, Portugal was being ruled by the soft fascist Estado Novo (New State) regime. Dahomey, being post-colonial and not a supporter of fascist, European colonial powers, seized the fort despite the effort of the two Portuguese stationed there who tried to burn the fort down rather than surrender it. Portugal demanded the fort back, but with post-colonial conflict developing elsewhere in its empire, Portugal did not deem to worth it to fight Dahomey and its French backers over the fort. It was not until the fall of the New State and its replacement with a pro-democratic government by socialist military officers in 1974 that Portugal recognized it no longer owned the fort. Portugal then paid money to turn the fort into a museum which it remains today.

Text on Flags

Flags represent more than just a country. They represent the values, history, and people and can when accepted by the population, be a truly national symbol. Words can be used to express values on a flag, just like colors, patterns, and symbols. Due to the previous required work needed to make a flag in the past, text generally does not appear on flags, though. However, some states have used words to express themselves on their flags. There are four categories of text on flags: national mottos, religion, geolocation, and history.

National Mottos:

  • Andorra: The motto on the coat-of-arms stresses a Catholic corporatist culture with “Virtus Unita Fortior,” meaning “United Virtue is Stronger.”
  • Belize: “Sub Umbra Floreo” on the coat of arms translates to “Under the shade, I flourish.”
  • Brazil: The flag combines the monarchies’ color’s with a more contemporary republican motto of “Ordem e Progresso” meaning “Order and Progress.”
  • Dominican Republic: Besides its Spanish name, the flag’s coat of arms stresses the values of God, Country (fatherland), and liberty.
  • Equatorial Guinea: This Spanish-speaking African republic’s motto “Unidad, Paz y Justicia” means “Unity, Peace, and Justice.”
  • Haiti: “L’Union Fait La Force” means “Unity Makes Strength.” Haiti is not a strong country.
  • Malta: This former Knight-state prizes its past and British World War II medal honor phrase of “For Gallantry” which is on the George Cross.
  • Spain: The Spanish prize their early explorations to the New World and push themselves towards the future with “Plus Ultra” meaning “Further Beyond.”


  • Afghanistan: The modern flag of Afghanistan is the former monarchy flag with “Afghanistan” spelled at the bottom with the addition of the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith.
  • Iran: The white text in the green and red spells out Allah-u-Akbar meaning God is great.
  • Iraq: The flag has Allah-u-Akbar on it as well. The text was once in Saddam’s handwriting but changed to a general font to de-Baathify the flag.
  • Saudi Arabia: It also has the shahada.
  • Somaliland: The unrecognized but in control republic has the shahada.


  • El Salvador: Citizens are never lost as the Spanish-language sentence says the Republic of El Salvador in Central America.
  • Nicaragua: Nicaragua also states it’s existence in Central America.


  • Guatemala: No one forgets that liberty was achieved on September 15, 1821, because that’s what the Spanish-language document says on the flag.

After looking at about 200 independent countries and de facto countries, it is clear that words on flags are uncommon. Even more so when one throws out coats of arms. National, mostly secular, mottos are the most common. These try to unite the state and people in common values. Muslims have complete dominance on the religious text on flags. Christian and post-Christian countries meanwhile have dominance over Muslims in the Cross versus Crescent flag battle. El Salvador and Nicaragua both base their flags closely on the former Federal Republic of Central America and have modified the text to keep the geolocation. Finally, Guatemala is the only country to spell out its independence day, but others like Belize and Brazil use symbolism to represent the date.

Eurovision’s Cultural Geopolitics

Russia has won the 2008 iteration of Eurovision. The song Believe captured the title. This will definitely be a cultural boost for Russia following a series of sports wins.

The BBC has a wonderful site about this year’s contest and the contest in general. The contest is a pop song competition which European countries compete in, kind of like American Idol meets the Olympics.

The contest is a cultural phenomenon that says a lot about which countries choose to be “European” in nature. The countries involved in the process were the Central Western nations with expansion first to the west then into the former Soviet bloc. Non-European continent countries have competed, including Israel, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Morocco. Sadly, Morocco and Lebanon currently are not involved because their governments favor not recognizing Israel over closer cultural ties to the west.

Culture is a sensitive issue in Eurovision. Proud France freaked out when they found out their entry had English in it. Austria did not enter this year in part because of diplomatic issues with host Serbia. And imagine if Kosovo wants to have an entry! Countries such as Egypt, Libya, and Iraq are eligible to compete because they are in the European Broadcasting Area but choose not to be part of the European cultural sphere.

No-Go Areas of France and the rest of Europe

2011 Update: Scotland Yard and local Muslims are organizing a radical Islamist effort to establish sharia micronations in London. These micronations are a threat to not only native Europeans but the majority of Muslims who do not wish to live under an Islamist tyranny.

Note: No-Go Zones are the product of a radical ideology. Catholicgauze denounces all radical ideologies, including Nazism and racism. “White Nationalism” is just as bad as Islamic Separatism.

An increasingly common thing in European cities is the no-go zone. These are places where the police, medical rescue crews, and other government agents will not venture into. The areas are viewed as just too violent and/or risky to enforce rules. Following the rules of ungoverned spaces, anarchy does not reign for long. A group will enforce its own ruleset, and the no-go zone will become a microstate.

In France, no-go zones are referred to as Zones Urbaines Sensibles (Sensitive Urban Zones). A few are truly no-go zones, while most are just areas where the government is focusing more development, and police require special procedures to operate. A few (NOT ALL of the 751 ZUS, as falsely report in “anti-jihadist blogs,” of these zones, primarily around Paris) are under the control of radical Islamists. From these no-go zones around Paris and other urban centers, Islamic militants are waging cultural and sometimes even guerrilla warfare against French police. The police are now taking to the streets in protest against the violence targeted at them in Lyons with police unions claiming there is a civil war against them.

It is important to remember that the Islamist movement in France is small overall. However, the much larger issue of racial discrimination of French against Muslim ethnic groups feeds into the Islamist movement, and non-Islamists will commit violent acts in favor of Islamists because it hurts the French rule-of-law.

The rest of Europe is going down a similar path. The United Kingdom is wondering if different groups should be under separate laws. If this were to happen with official approval, it would only be a matter of time that political unity would be called into question. Europe, with a dying population and hostile race relations, faces a bleak future.