Waverley (2011 population: 2,468) is an suburban community located in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada. It has a rich history in gold mining.


Waverley was first settled by Charles Pillsbury Allen who established a chair factory in the area. Waverley was named after the Waverley novels by Sir Walter Scott. Allen’s original land purchase included about 700 acres (2.8 km2) of land in 1847 for the price of 50 pounds. Although there have been extensive renovations since it was first built, his original house still stands today at 2550 Rocky Lake Drive as “An Olde Manor House Bed and Breakfast” near the junction of Lakes Thomas and William. A nearby high school, Charles P. Allen High School in the neighbouring town of Bedford carries his name.

Allen’s son-in-law, Cornelius Blois, is often credited with discovering gold in Waverley. Two major gold mining periods ensued between 1861 through the early 20th century. Waverley became a boom town with highly skilled gold miners coming from Germany and England. Saloons, hotels, camp followers and the usual trappings of a gold town sprang up quickly, and there were even instances of murders and riots. A third attempt to restart the gold industry occurred years later in the 1930s, but it proved unprofitable and lasted only a few years. Other industries in Waverley have included millworking and forestry. It is also worthy of note that the Shubenacadie Canal system runs through Waverley, between Lake William and Lake Thomas.

Many street names in Waverley reflect families that have been long established in the area. From the early 1930s until the mid-1980s, there existed in Waverley near the bridge, a service station operated and owned by Warren H. Isnor (deceased), and was up until the mid-1980s, the oldest existing service station with the same owner, in the province.
Modern day and landmarks

Modern-day Waverley is mostly a bedroom community. Major landmarks included one elementary school, newly built in September 2010, a post office, the Waverley Manor retirement home, the Waverley Heritage Museum; which is housed in the former St. John’s Anglican church, Charles P. Allen House, and the Waverley Gold Mining Manager’s House, which now operates as “The Adelaide Respite Care”. There is a gravel quarry in the area, as well as the Nova Scotia Firefighters School. There is also the Cheema Aquatic Club; a canoe and kayak club which consistently produces high caliber National and Olympic Team athletes.

Gold Rush Days

Each Labour Day weekend, Waverley holds a celebration at a park known as “The Village Green” called ‘Gold Rush Days’, to commemorate its gold-mining history. Highlights include the Gold Rush Days Parade, karaoke, an arts and crafts show, fireworks, and the Miss Waverley Gold Rush contest.

Gold Rush Gus

The mascot of Gold Rush Days is a cartoon character resembling Yosemite Sam called “Gold Rush Gus”. Until the amalgamation of Waverley into the HRM in 1996, all fire apparatus of the Waverley Fire Department had a picture of him painted on the side. WFD vehicles also had the distinction of being the only ones in the local fire district at the time of being painted yellow; an homage to the village’s gold mining history. Presently only those vehicles remaining in service from per-amalgamation with their original yellow paint still carry Gus’ image.

Halifax Regional Search and Rescue

Waverley is the original home of Halifax Regional Search and Rescue. On September 3, 1998, the organization undertook the largest Mutual Aid Search operation in Nova Scotia’s history. With the crash of Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Search and Rescue was charged with primary responsibility for all ground operations including military operations and other ground SAR teams. On November 5, 1998, 64 days later, volunteers had contributed 48,780 hours with 3,141 person days. The current headquarters of HRSR is located at 116 Lakeview Rd in the nearby community of Lakeview just over 4 kilometers from their original location.


Tumen River

tumen river (22)

The Tumen River, also called the Tuman River (Korean pronunciation: [tumanɡaŋ]; called the Duman in South Korea), is a 521-kilometre (324 mi) long river that serves as part of the boundary between China, North Korea and Russia, rising on the slopes of Mount Paektu and flowing into the Sea of Japan.

The river flows in northeast Asia, on the border between China and North Korea in its upper reaches, and between North Korea and Russia in its last 17 kilometers (11 mi) before entering the Sea of Japan. The river forms much of the southern border of Jilin Province in Northeast China and the northern borders of North Korea’s North Hamgyong and Ryanggang provinces. Baekdu Mountain on the Chinese-North Korean border is the source of the river, as well as of the Yalu River (which forms the western portion of the border of North Korea and China).

The name of the river comes from the Mongolian word tümen, meaning “ten thousand” or a myriad. This river is badly polluted by the nearby factories of North Korea and China; however, it still remains a major tourist attraction in the area. In Tumen, Jilin, China, a riverfront promenade has restaurants where patrons can gaze across the river into North Korea. The Russian name of the river is Tumannaya, literally meaning foggy.

In 1938 the Japanese built the Tumen River Bridge, where the Quan River meets the Tumen River, between the villages of Wonjong (Hunchun) and Quanhe. Important cities and towns on the river are Hoeryong and Onsong in North Korea, Tumen and Nanping  in China.

In 1995, the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, Russia and South Korea signed three agreements to create the Tumen River Economic Development Area.

A former island at the mouth of the Tumen, known as Noktundo, has been a boundary contention between Russia and North Korea. The Qing Dynasty ceded the island to Russia as part of the Primorsky Maritimes (East Tartary) in the 1860 Treaty of Peking. In 1990, the former Soviet Union and North Korea signed a border treaty which made the border run through the center of the river, leaving territory of the former island on Russian side. South Korea refuses to acknowledge the treaty and demanded that Russia returns the territory to Korea.

Illegal crossings

The Tumen has been used for years by North Korean refugees defecting across the Chinese border. Most refugees from North Korea during the 1990s famine crossed over the Tumen River, and most recent refugees have also used it, as it is far easier than crossing the Yalu.

The river is considered the preferred way to cross into China because, unlike the swift, deep and broad Yalu River which runs along most of the border between the two countries, the Tumen is shallow and narrow. In some areas it can be crossed on foot, or by short swims. It also freezes in winter allowing dry crossings.

Defectors who wish to cross the Tumen often ignore its pollutants and dangerous border patrol, and spend weeks if not months or years waiting for the perfect opportunity to cross. “Long, desolate stretches of the Chinese-North Korean border are not patrolled at all”, according to a New York Times article.

Refugees rarely cross the Tumen into Russia. This is because Russia’s short stretch of the river is far better patrolled than China’s stretch. In addition, there is no sizable ethnic Korean community in Russia to receive support from, as opposed to China, which has a larger Korean population.

The Tumen is also crossed illegally by soldiers and others seeking food and money. Some Chinese villagers have left the border area because of North Korean depredations.

The humanitarian crisis along the Tumen River was dramatized in the 2010 dramatic feature-length film, Dooman River.


The city of Fallujah, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly 69 kilometers (43 mi) west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah dates from Babylonian times and was host to important Jewish academies for many centuries.

The city grew from a small town in 1947 to a population of 326,471 inhabitants in 2010. Within Iraq, it is known as the “city of mosques” for the more than 200 mosques found in the city and the surrounding villages.

In January 2014, a variety of sources reported that the city was controlled by al-Qaeda and/or its affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS; sometimes called ISIL). On a broadcast of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Middle East analyst Kirk Sowell stated that while ISIS was occupying parts of the city, most of the ground lost was to the tribal militias who are opposed to both the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda. Speaking on condition of anonymity at the end of May 2014, an Anbar-based Iraqi government security officer told Human Rights Watch that ISIS was in control of several neighborhoods of southeast Fallujah as well as several northern and southern satellite communities, while local militias loyal to the Anbar Military Council controlled the central and northern neighborhoods of the city; however, Human Rights Watch stated that they could not confirm these claims.


The region has been inhabited for many millennia. There is evidence that the area surrounding Fallujah was inhabited in Babylonian times. The current name of the city is thought to come from its Syriac name, Pallgutha, which is derived from the word division or “canal regulator” since it was the location where the water of the Euphrates River divided into a canal. Classical authors cited the name as “Pallacottas”. The name in Aramaic is Pumbedita.
Al Anbar and Nehardea

The region of Fallujah lies near the ancient Sassanid Persian town of Anbar, in the Sassanid province of Asōristān . The word anbar is Persian and means “warehouse”. It was known as Firuz Shapur or Perisapora during the Sassanian Era. There are extensive ruins 2 km (1 mi) north of Fallujah which are identified with the town of Anbar. Anbar was located at the confluence of the Euphrates River with the King’s Canal, today the Saqlawiyah Canal, known in Early Islamic times as the Nahr ‘Isa and in ancient times as Nahr Malka. Subsequent shifts in the Euphrates River channel have caused it to follow the course of the ancient Pallacottas canal. The town at this site in Jewish sources was known as Nehardea and was the primary center of Babylonian Jewry until its destruction by the Palmyran ruler Odenathus in 259. The Medieval Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela in 1164 visited “el-Anbar which is Pumbeditha in Nehardea” and said it had 3000 Jews living there.

The region played host for several centuries to one of the most important Jewish academies, the Pumbedita Academy, which from 258 to 1038 along with Sura (ar-Hira) was one of the two most important centers of Jewish learning worldwide.
Modern era

Under the Ottoman Empire, Fallujah was a minor stop on one of the country’s main roads across the desert west from Baghdad.

In the spring of 1920, the British, who had gained control of Iraq after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, sent Lieut.-Colonel Gerard Leachman, a renowned explorer and a senior colonial officer, to meet with local leader Shaykh Dhari, perhaps to waiver a loan given to the sheikh. Exactly what happened depends on the source, but according to the Arab version, Gerard Leachman was betrayed by the sheikh who had his two sons shoot him in the legs, then behead him by the sword.

During the brief Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941, the Iraqi army was defeated by the British in a battle near Fallujah. In 1947 the town had only about 10,000 inhabitants. It grew rapidly into a city after Iraqi independence with the influx of oil wealth into the country. Its position on one of the main roads out of Baghdad made it of central importance.

Under Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq from 1979 to 2003, Fallujah came to be an important area of support for the regime, along with the rest of the region labeled by the US military as the “Sunni Triangle”. Many residents of the primarily Sunni city were employees and supporters of Saddam’s government, and many senior Ba’ath Party officials were natives of the city. Fallujah was heavily industrialised during the Saddam era, with the construction of several large factories, including one closed down by United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) in the 1990s that may have been used to create chemical weapons. A new highway system (a part of Saddam’s infrastructure initiatives) circumvented Fallujah and gradually caused the city to decline in national importance by the time of the Iraq War.
Gulf War, 1991

During the Gulf War, Fallujah suffered one of the highest tolls of civilian casualties. Two separate failed bombing attempts on Fallujah’s bridge across the Euphrates River hit crowded markets, killing an estimated 200 civilians. The first bombing occurred early in the Gulf War. A British jet intending to bomb the bridge dropped two laser-guided bombs on the city’s main market. Between 50 and 150 civilians died and many more were injured. In the second incident, Coalition forces attacked Fallujah’s bridge over the Euphrates with four laser-guided bombs. At least one struck the bridge while one or two bombs fell short in the river. The fourth bomb hit another market elsewhere in the city, reportedly due to failure of its laser guidance system.
Iraq War
Fallujah was one of the least affected areas of Iraq immediately after the 2003 invasion by the US-led Coalition. Iraqi Army units stationed in the area abandoned their positions and disappeared into the local population, leaving unsecured military equipment behind. Fallujah was also the site of a Ba’athist resort facility called “Dreamland”, located a few kilometers outside the city proper.

The damage the city had avoided during the initial invasion was negated by damage from looters, who took advantage of the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government. The looters targeted former government sites, the Dreamland compound, and the nearby military bases. Aggravating this situation was the proximity of Fallujah to the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, from which Saddam, in one of his last acts, had released all prisoners.

The new mayor of the city—Taha Bidaywi Hamed, selected by local tribal leaders—was strongly pro-American[citation needed]. When the US Army entered the town in April 2003, they positioned themselves at the vacated Ba’ath Party headquarters. A Fallujah Protection Force composed of local Iraqis was set up by the US-led occupants to help fight the rising resistance.

On the evening of 28 April 2003, a crowd of 200 people defied a curfew imposed by the Americans and gathered outside a secondary school used as a military HQ to demand its reopening. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne stationed on the roof of the building fired upon the crowd, resulting in the deaths of 17 civilians and the wounding of over 70. American forces claim they were responding to gunfire from the crowd, while the Iraqis involved deny this version. Human Rights Watch also dispute the American claims, and says that the evidence suggests the US troops fired indiscriminately and used disproportionate force. A protest against the killings two days later was also fired upon by US troops resulting in two more deaths.

On 31 March 2004, Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed a convoy containing four American private military contractors from Blackwater USA, who were conducting delivery for food caterers ESS.

The four armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerry (Jerko) Zovko, Wesley Batalona, and Michael Teague, were dragged from their cars, beaten, and set on fire. Their charred corpses were then dragged through the streets before being hung from a bridge spanning the Euphrates River. This bridge is unofficially referred to as “Blackwater Bridge” by Coalition Forces operating there. Photographs of the event were released to news agencies worldwide, causing outrage in the United States, and prompting the announcement of a campaign to reestablish American control over the city.

This led to an abortive US operation to recapture control of the city in Operation Vigilant Resolve, and a successful recapture operation in the city in November 2004, called Operation Phantom Fury in English and Operation Al Fajr in Arabic. Operation Phantom Fury resulted in the reputed death of over 1,350 insurgent fighters. Approximately 95 American troops were killed, and 560 wounded. After the successful recapture of the city, U.S. forces discovered a room in which they claimed to find evidence of a beheading, and bomb-making factories, which were shown to the media as evidence of Fallujah’s important role in the insurgency against U.S. forces. They also found two hostages—an Iraqi and a Syrian. The Syrian was the driver for two French journalists, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, who had been missing since August 2004. The Iraqi’s captors were Syrian; he thought he was in Syria until found by the Marines. Chesnot and Malbrunot were released by their captors, the Islamic Army in Iraq, on 21 December 2004.

The U.S. military first denied that it has used white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon in Fallujah, but later retracted that denial, and admitted to using the incendiary in the city as an offensive weapon. According to George Monbiot, reports following the events of November 2004 have alleged war crimes, human rights abuses, and a massacre by U.S. personnel. This point of view is presented in the 2005 documentary film, Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre.

On 17 May 2011, AFP reported that 21 bodies, in black body-bags marked with letters and numbers in Latin script had been recovered from a mass grave in al-Maadhidi cemetery in the center of the city. Fallujah police chief Brigadier General Mahmud al-Essawi said that they had been blindfolded, their legs had been tied and they had suffered gunshot wounds. The Mayor, Adnan Husseini said that the manner of their killing, as well as the body bags, indicated that US forces had been responsible. Both al-Essawi and Husseini agreed that the dead had been killed in 2004. The US Military declined to comment.

Residents were allowed to return to the city in mid-December 2004 after undergoing biometric identification, provided they wear their ID cards all the time. US officials report that “more than half of Fallujah’s 39,000 homes were damaged during Operation Phantom Fury, and about 10,000 of those were destroyed” while compensation amounts to 20 percent of the value of damaged houses, with an estimated 32,000 homeowners eligible, according to Marine Lt Col William Brown. According to NBC, 9,000 homes were destroyed, thousands more were damaged and of the 32,000 compensation claims only 2,500 have been paid as of 14 April 2005.

According to Mike Marqusee of Iraq Occupation Focus writing in the Guardian, “Fallujah’s compensation commissioner has reported that 36,000 of the city’s 50,000 homes were destroyed, along with 60 schools and 65 mosques and shrines”. Reconstruction mainly consists of clearing rubble from heavily damaged areas and reestablishing basic utility services. 10% of the pre-offensive inhabitants had returned as of mid-January 2005, and 30% as of the end of March 2005. In 2006, some reports say two-thirds have now returned and only 15 percent remain displaced on the outskirts of the city.

Pre-offensive inhabitant figures are unreliable; the nominal population was assumed to have been 250,000–350,000. Thus, over 150,000 individuals are still living as IDPs in tent cities or with relatives outside Fallujah or elsewhere in Iraq. Current estimates by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and Coalition Forces put the city’s population at over 350,000, possibly closing in on half a million.

In the aftermath of the offensive, relative calm was restored to Fallujah although almost-daily attacks against coalition forces resumed in 2005 as the population slowly trickled back into the city. From 2005–06, elements of the New Iraqi Army’s 2nd and 4th brigades, 1st Division, occupied the city while the Marines maintained a small complex consisting of a security element from RCT8 and a CMOC at the city hall. The Iraqi units were aided by Military Transition Teams. Most Marine elements stayed outside of the city limits.

In December 2006, enough control had been exerted over the city to transfer operational control of the city from American forces to the 1st Iraqi Army Division. During the same month, the Fallujah police force began major offensive operations under their new chief. Coalition Forces, as of May 2007, are operating in direct support of the Iraqi Security Forces in the city. The city is one of Anbar province’s centers of gravity in a newfound optimism among American and Iraqi leadership about the state of the counterinsurgency in the region.

In June 2007, Regimental Combat Team 6 began Operation Alljah, a security plan modeled on a successful operation in Ramadi. After segmenting districts of the city, Iraqi Police and Coalition Forces established police district headquarters in order to further localize the law enforcement capabilities of the Iraqi Police. A similar program had met with success in the city of Ramadi in late 2006 and early 2007.
Current situation

On 4 January 2014, the Iraqi government lost control of the city to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also called ISIS). More than 100 people were killed as Iraqi police and tribesmen battled militants who took over parts of two cities on Anbar province. On the same day, the Iraqi Army shelled the city of Fallujah with mortars to try to wrest back control from Sunni Muslim militants and tribesmen, killing at least eight people, tribal leaders and officials said. Medical sources in Fallujah said another 30 people were wounded in shelling by the army.

Despite various reports stating that the ISIS was behind the unrest, Christian Science Monitor journalist Dan Murphy disputed this allegation and claimed that while ISIS fighters have maintained a presence in the city, various tribal militias who sympathized with the ideas of nationalism and were opposed to both the Iraqi government and the ISIS controlled the largest share of area in Fallujah. A report from Al Arabiya also backed this claim and alleged that the relationship between the tribesmen and the ISIS militants was only logistical. On 14 January, various tribal chieftains in the province acknowledged “revolutionary tribesmen” were behind the uprising in Fallujah and other parts of Anbar and announced they would support them unless Maliki agreed to cease the ongoing military crackdowns on tribesmen.

Fallujah’s western boundary is the Euphrates River. The Euphrates flows from the west (Ramadi), past Fallujah, and into the Baghdad area. When the river reaches the western edge of Fallujah, it turns north, then quickly south, forming what is commonly referred to as the ‘peninsula’ area. There are two bridges that cross the Euphrates at Fallujah.

The city’s eastern boundary is Highway 1, a four-lane, divided superhighway that travels from Baghdad past Fallujah towards the west. After the sanctions imposed by the UN after the 1991 Gulf War, this highway became the main supply route for the country. Truckers and travelers from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and southern Syria all merge onto this highway prior to entering the Eastern Al Anbar province. The highway has a prominent ‘cloverleaf’ off-ramp on the eastern edge of Fallujah.

The northern boundary is a railroad line that runs east-west just along the northern edge of the city. The line sits atop a 10–15 foot high berm all along the northern edge of the city, except where it crosses Highway 1.

Highway 10 also runs through Fallujah. It is a two-lane highway that tuns into a four land highway once inside of Fallujah. The highway runs east-west from Baghdad through Fallujah then west towards Ramadi. A ‘cloverleaf’ on-ramp allows for traffic on/off Highway 1. The highway basically splits the city into two halves, north and south.

There are three major hospital locations in Fallujah. The main hospital (formerly Saddam General) is located downtown, near the west end. The second is located across the Euphrates River in an area of west Fallujah commonly referred to as the ‘peninsula’, (due to its shape). The third hospital is the Jordanian Field Hospital located east of the Highway 10/Highway 1 interchange.

In 2010 it was reported that an academic study had shown “a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer.” since 2004. In addition, the report said the types of cancer were “similar to that in the Hiroshima survivors who were exposed to ionising radiation from the bomb and uranium in the fallout”, and an 18% fall in the male birth ratio (to 850 per 1000 female births, compared to the usual 1050) was similar to that seen after the Hiroshima bombing.

Avery Island


Avery Island (historically French: Île Petite Anse) is a salt dome best known as the source of Tabasco sauce. Located in Iberia Parish, Louisiana, United States, it is about three miles (5 km) inland from Vermilion Bay, which in turn opens onto the Gulf of Mexico. A small human population lives on the island.


The island was named after the Avery family, who settled there in the 1830s, but long before that, Native Americans had found that Avery Island’s verdant flora covered a precious natural resource—a massive salt dome. There, the Indians boiled the Island’s briny spring water to extract salt, which they traded to other tribes as far away as central Texas, Arkansas, and Ohio.

According to records maintained prior to 1999 in the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Petite Anse Island, renamed Avery Island in the late 19th century, was purchased by John Craig Marsh of New Jersey in 1818. Marsh operated a sugar plantation on the island’s fertile soil. His daughter, Sarah Craig Marsh, married Daniel Dudley Avery in 1837, thus uniting the Marsh and Avery families. Daniel Dudley Avery hailed from Baton Rouge, and was a jurist. In 1849, Daniel became co-owner of his in-law’s sugar plantation, and in 1855 he became sole owner.

During the American Civil War, a mine of pure rock salt was founded on Avery Island in May 1861, which subsequently produced more than 22 million pounds (10,000 metric tons) of salt for the Confederacy. According to the historian John D. Winters in his The Civil War in Louisiana (1963), the rock salt mine had been well-protected, until Union General Nathaniel P. Banks began a push up Bayou Teche. After an all-night march, Union Colonel W.K. Kimball, in Winters’ words, “advanced to the beautiful little island and, without opposition, burned eighteen buildings, smashed the steam engines and mining equipment, scattered six hundred barrels of salt awaiting shipping, and brought away a ton of gunpowder left behind by [Confederate General] Taylor’s men.

Before the Civil War, Edmund McIlhenny joined the Avery family, by wedding Mary Eliza Avery, daughter of Daniel Dudley Avery and Sarah Marsh Avery. In 1868, McIlhenny founded McIlhenny Company, and began manufacturing Tabasco brand pepper sauce. In 1870, he received letters patent for his sauce processing formula. That same basic process is still used today.

Avery Island was hit hard in September 2005 by Hurricane Rita. According to The New York Times, the family spent $5 million on constructing a 17-foot (5.2 m)-high levee, pumps, and back-up generators to ensure that future hurricanes will not disrupt Tabasco sauce production.
Bird sanctuary

Under the Avery/McIlhenny family’s management, Avery Island has remained a natural paradise, inhabited by many animal species, as well as by exotic plants from throughout the world. Edward Avery McIlhenny, or “Mr. Ned” as he was affectionately known, founded this bird colony—later called Bird City—around 1895 after plume hunters had slaughtered egrets by the thousands to provide feathers for ladies’ hats. Edward gathered eight young egrets, raised them in captivity on the Island, and released them in the fall to migrate across the Gulf of Mexico. The following spring the birds returned to the Island with others of their species, a migration that continues today.
Exotic plants

Edward McIlhenny introduced numerous varieties of azaleas, Japanese camellias, Egyptian papyrus sedge, and other rare plants to the Island’s natural landscape. When oil was discovered on the Island in 1942, he ensured that production crews bypassed live oak trees and buried pipelines (or painted them green) to preserve the Island’s beauty, wildlife, and utility as a wildlife refuge.


Avery Island is surrounded on all sides by bayous (slow-moving, muddy rivers), salt marsh, and swampland; it sits about 130 miles (225 km) west of New Orleans. The island was a sugar plantation formerly known as Petite Anse Island. (Petite Anse means “Little Cove” in Cajun French.) Access to the island is via toll road (technically, a very low toll bridge, which charges only on inbound traffic).

Avery Island is actually a huge dome of rock salt, three miles (5 km) long and two and a half miles (4 km) wide. It was created by the upwelling of ancient evaporite (salt) deposits that exist beneath the Mississippi River Delta region. These upwellings are known as “salt domes.” Avery Island is one of five salt dome islands that rise above the flat Louisiana Gulf coast.

At its highest point, the island is 163 feet (50 m) above mean sea level. It covers about 2,200 acres (8.9 km2) and is about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) across at its widest point.

Kingdom of Swaziland


The Kingdom of Swaziland, in southern Africa, is one of the smallest nations on the African continent, with its total area equaling just over 6,700 sq miles (17,000 square km) and a population estimated in 2005 as slightly more than 1 million (a drop from its 2001 census of nearly 1.2 million). It is situated on the eastern slope of the Drakensberg mountains, embedded between South Africa in the west and Mozambique in the east.

Swaziland consists mostly of high plateaus and mountains with an array of diverse vegetation at every turn, surprising variety for a nation its size. Sometimes referred to as the “Switzerland of Africa,” the country has magnificent mountain scenery with unique, ancient rock formations which are a source of fascination for geologists and scholars.

In 1949 the British government rejected a South African request for control of this small, landlocked nation. Independence was granted in 1968. The death of King Sobhuza in 1982 led to the coronation of 18-year-old King Mswati III in 1986. The king is an absolute monarch with supreme executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Nearly 60 percent of Swazi territory is held by the crown.

Present-day Swaziland, through its ancient Bantu and Nguni origins, easily accepts the concept of royal leadership. This is reflected in the status accorded to the King and Queen Mother, in a unique dual monarchy. Ruled autocratically by sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, who lives lavishly while two-thirds of the people survive on less than two dollars a day, it is largely agriculturally supported. Political parties and demonstrations are banned. The prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is the highest in the world.

Human remains and artifacts from more than 100,000 years ago have been found in Swaziland. Evidence of agriculture and iron use dates from about the fourth century, and people speaking languages ancestral to current Sotho and Nguni languages began settling no later than the eleventh century.

According to traditional lore, the people of the present Swazi nation descend from the southern Bantu who migrated south from central Africa in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to what is now Mozambique. Following a series of conflicts with people living in the area of modern Maputo, the Swazis settled in northern Zululand about 1750. Unable to match the growing Zulu strength, the Swazis moved gradually northward in the 1800s and established themselves in the area of modern Swaziland. As the Zulu raids of the early nineteenth century, known as the mfecane or difaqane, dispersed surrounding tribes, the Swazis consolidated their hold over their mountain fastness under several able leaders. The founding father was Sobhuza I, of the ruling Dlamini clan. Under his leadership, they expanded their territory to the northwest and stabilized the southern frontier with the Zulus. In self-defense, the Swazis adopted some of the military innovations that had empowered the Zulus. The nation takes its name from his son, Mswati II.

Early in Mswati’s reign he asked British authorities in South Africa for assistance against Zulu raids into Swaziland. It also was during Mswati’s reign that the first whites settled in the country as the Boers moved north to avoid British rule. Following his death, the Swazis reached agreements with British and South African authorities over a range of issues, including independence, claims on resources by Europeans, administrative authority, and security. South Africans administered Swazi interests from 1894 to 1902. In 1902 Swaziland became a British protectorate and thus maintained its territorial identity.

In the early years of colonial rule, the British had expected that Swaziland would eventually be incorporated into South Africa. After World War II, however, South Africa’s intensification of racial discrimination induced the United Kingdom to prepare Swaziland for independence. Political activity intensified in the early 1960s, but the largely urban parties had few ties to the conservative rural areas, where the majority of Swazis lived.

The country was granted independence on September 6, 1968. Since then, Swaziland has seen a struggle between pro-democracy activists and the totalitarian monarchy. All political parties are banned.

In 2007, the Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organizations (CANGO) listed the problems facing the nation as poverty, HIV/AIDS, food security, governance, employment, corruption, and gender-based violence. It complained that the government’s failure to respect the nation’s NGOs was hindering their ability to address the nation’s humanitarian crisis and called for fiscal transparency and accountability and a shift in spending priorities to allocate more funds for education and health. CANGO said donors were avoiding Swaziland because of its lack of democratic reforms and transparency.

The head of state is the king, who since 1986 has been King Mswati III. By tradition, the king holds supreme executive, legislative, and judicial powers. The king not only appoints the prime minister—the head of government—but also a small number of representatives for both chambers of the Libandla (parliament). The Senate consists of thirty members, while the House of Assembly has sixty-five seats, fifty-five of which are occupied by elected representatives, but since political parties are banned, they run as individuals.

The 1968 constitution was suspended in 1973. In 2001 King Mswati III appointed a committee to draft a new constitution. It was signed by the king in July 2005 after sections he objected to had been changed. The new constitution reaffirms his authority over the government and legislature and was strongly criticized by civil society organizations in Swaziland and human rights organizations elsewhere. It went into effect in 2006, the first constitution in over thirty years. Students and labor unions are beginning to be restive under the king’s tight control.

King Mswati III is often criticized for living lavishly in a nation that is afflicted by the world’s highest HIV infection rate. His fleet of luxury cars and millions spent on refurbishing his numerous wives’ luxury mansions are at odds with the approximately 34 percent of the nation that stand unemployed, nearly 70 percent of whom live on less than a dollar a day, and with around 40 percent of adults afflicted by HIV.

In this small, landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture or livestock herding occupy more than 80 percent of the population. Most of the land is held in trust for the nation by the monarchy. The manufacturing sector has diversified since the mid-1980s. Sugar and wood pulp remain important foreign exchange earners. Mining has declined in importance in recent years, with only coal and quarry stone mines remaining active.

Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa, from which it receives nine-tenths of its imports and to which it sends more than two-thirds of its exports. Customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union and worker remittances from South Africa substantially supplement domestically earned income. But the customs fees will be lost when regional trade reforms take effect. To compensate, the government is trying to build up the transportation and tourism sectors.

It is also trying to improve the atmosphere for foreign investment. But even the textile factories built to take advantage of special benefits moved on to China and India with the removal of import quotas on textiles. The prime minister predicted a growth rate of 2.8 percent for 2006; critics doubted that was realistic. The Central Bank of Swaziland said at least 2.9 percent economic growth was needed to match population growth and maintain Swazis’ standard of living.

Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and sometimes floods persist as problems for the future. In 2004 Swaziland acknowledged for the first time that it has one of the highest AIDS rates in the world, with almost 40 percent of adults infected with HIV. Prime Minister Themba Dlamini declared a humanitarian crisis due to the combined effect of drought and land degradation, increasing poverty, and HIV/AIDS. The United Nations special envoy on AIDS, Stephen Lewis, said “Swaziland stands alone with the world’s highest rate of HIV infection after nearby Botswana made headway against the deadly pandemic.”

Swaziland offers a wide variety of landscapes, from the mountains along the Mozambican border to savannas in the east and rainforest in the northwest. Several rivers flow through the country, such as the Lusutfu River. With fifty thousand inhabitants, the capital city of Mbabane is the largest town in the nation; others include Manzini, Lobamba, and Siteki.

Swaziland is made up of four diverse areas, varying from 400 to 1800 meters above sea level, and each with its own climate and characteristics.

The mountainous Highveld to the west has rivers, waterfalls and gorges with a generally temperate climate of warm, wet summers and dry winters when the temperature can rise sharply during the day, but with cold nights.

The adjacent Middleveld is at a lower altitude with lush, fertile valleys and a warm climate ideal for cultivating various crops. It is here that much of the country’s agriculture occurs.

Further east is the sub-tropical Lowveld where two major export crops, sugar and citrus, are cultivated in abundance. Cattle farming is also extensively carried out in this region, much of which is typical African bush where a profusion of indigenous wildlife and flora is also found.

The smallest area is Lubombo, which borders with Mozambique. This subtropical region is typified by mountainous scenery and supports abundant plant and animal life. Mixed farming is the main activity. There are also four administrative regions: Manzini, Hhohho, Shiselweni and Lubombo.

The majority of the population consists of Swazi, but there are also small numbers of Zulus, Europeans, and Mozambican refugees. The official languages are Swati and English; the latter is also the official written language. The chief religion is Christianity, often in a form blended with several indigenous religions. There are also Jewish and Muslim communities.

Women occupy a subordinate role in society. In both civil and traditional marriages, wives are legally treated as minors, although those married under civil law may be accorded the legal status of adults if stipulated in a signed prenuptial agreement. A woman generally must have her husband’s permission to borrow money, open a bank account, obtain a passport, leave the country, gain access to land, and, in some cases, obtain a job. Domestic violence against women, particularly wife beating, is common, as is rape. A sense of shame and helplessness often inhibits women from reporting rape, particularly when incest is involved. The acquittal rate is high and sentences generally lenient.

In traditional marriages a man may take more than one wife. A man who marries a woman under civil law legally may not have more than one wife, although in practice this restriction sometimes is ignored. Traditional marriages consider children to belong to the father and his family if the couple divorce. Inheritances are passed through male children only.

Mourning customs lead to further inequalities for women. When the husband dies, his widow must remain in strict mourning for one month, during which she cannot leave the house and the husband’s family can move into the homestead and take control. The mourning period can extend as long as three years, during which the widow’s actions are extremely restricted. For example, she cannot participate in the chief’s kraal, a traditional place of gathering where people take their problems.

The government is committed to children’s rights and welfare, but the growing number of orphans and vulnerable children—seventy thousand in 2004—challenges that commitment. The government does not provide free, compulsory education for children. The country has a 70 percent primary school enrollment rate. Most students reach grade 7, the last year of primary school, and many go on to finish grade 10. The public school system ends at grade 12. In rural areas families favor boys over girls if they do not have enough money to send all their children to school.

Child abuse and rape are serious problems, with media reports of rapes of children one year old and younger. Traditional marriages under law and custom can be with girls as young as 14. Critics of the royal family said the king’s many wives and young fiancées, some of whom were 16, set a poor example for behavior change in a country with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world.

The law prohibits prostitution and child pornography, provides protection to children under 16 years of age from sexual exploitation, and sets the age of sexual consent at 16 years. Nevertheless, female children sometimes suffer sexual abuse, including by family members. There were reports that underage Mozambican and Swazi girls worked as prostitutes in the country or were trafficked to South Africa for domestic work or prostitution. Children, including street children, were increasingly vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

There are growing numbers of street children in Mbabane and Manzini. A large and increasing number of HIV/AIDS orphans were cared for by aging relatives or neighbors, or they struggled to survive in child‑headed households. Some lost their property to adult relatives. The National Emergency Response Committee on HIV and AIDS, a private group partly funded by the government and by international aid, and other NGOs assist some AIDS orphans.

With more than ten percent of households headed by children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) supported school feeding programs, established a number of neighborhood care points, and provided nutritional support to children weakened by AIDS.

Swaziland celebrates two major festivals. The incwala is an ancient celebration of the new year and the first fruits of the harvest. The six-day ceremony, which includes song, dance, feasting, and ritual, acknowledges the king as the source of fertility. In the umcwasho ceremony, or Reed Dance, young women dance before the king, symbolically offering themselves to him. It is a week-long festival of music, dancing, and feasting.

Rognvald “The Wise” Eysteinsson


Rognvald “The Wise” Eysteinsson (son of Eystein Ivarsson) is the founder of the Earldom of Orkney in the Norse Sagas. Three quite different accounts of the creation of the Norse Earldom on Orkney and Shetland exist. The best known is that found in the Heimskringla, but other older traditions are found in the Historia Norvegiae and the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland. According to tradition, Rognvald Eysteinsson was appointed Eral in 875, but handed the responsibility to his brother, Sigurd. The earldom remained in the hands of their descendants until 1232. This era of Orkney’s history is known as the Norse period.

Although the dynasty began with conquest, later Earls governed a peace-loving people and developed reputations for preferring negotiation over warfare, despite their Viking origins. The genre of literature that contains Rognvald Eysteinsson’s story, though, also anticipates that global peace is the end-goal of history and celebrate peaceful, just reigns throughout the period they cover. It may not be accidental that the region covered by the Norse Saga contains some of the nation that are not only peaceful but which, through the United Nations and other international agencies, work to promote a peaceful, prosperous world for all people.


The geography of the Orkneys placed the islands and their inhabitants on a maritime frontier between Norway and Scotland. The islands are about 20 miles North of Scotland. From 875, the King of Norway claimed the Orkney islands and Norway remained overlord of the isles until 1468 when with Shetland they were ceded to Scotland. Vikings had settled in the islands, possibly discovering them when they were blown off course, which they used as a base from which they subdued the islands accompanied by Rognvald Eysteinsson, who become the first Earl of Orkney. The Vikings were no regarded as a lawless force. They not only raised Scotland and the English coastline but Norway too. Harold also took Shetland. Later, the Earls of Orkney acquired territory in Scotland, namely Caithness and Sutherland for which they were required to pay tribute to the King of Scotland. The Earls were vassals, then, of Norway and of Scotland. At this time, the Kings of Scotland also paid tribute to England for some territories South of the English-Scottish border. A complex system of vassalage thus spread across the North Sea. At time there were three earls of Orkney when the earldom was split among siblings and their heirs.
The Sagas

The saga accounts are the best known, and the latest, of the three surviving traditions concerning Rognvald and the foundation of the Earldom of Orkney. Recorded in the 13th century, their views are informed by Norwegian politics of the day. Once, historians could write that no-one denied the reality of Harald Fairhair’s expeditions to the west recounted in Heimskringla, but this is no longer the case. The Norwegian contest with the Kings of Scots over the Hebrides and the Isle of Man in the middle 13th century underlies the sagas.

In the Heimskringla, Rognvald is Earl of Møre. Known as “Mighty” and as “Wise” it is said that both descriptions were equally apt. He accompanies Harald Fairhair on his great expeditions to the west, to Ireland and to Scotland. Here, Rognvald’s son Ivarr is killed. In compensation King Harald grants Rognvald the Orkneys and Shetlands. Rognvald himself returns to Norway, giving the northern isles to his brother Sigurd Eysteinsson

The Heimskringla recounts other tales of Rognvald. It tells how he causes Harald Finehair to be given his byname Fairhair by cutting and dressing his hair, which had been uncut for ten years on account of Harald’s vow never to cut it until he was ruler of all Norway, and it makes him the father of Ganger-Hrólf, identified by saga writers with the Rollo (Hrólfr), ancestor of the Dukes of Normandy, who was said to have been established as Count of Rouen by King Charles the Simple in 931.

Earl Rognvald is killed by Harald’s son Halfdan Hålegg. Rognvald’s death is avenged by his son, Earl Turf-Einar, from whom later Orkney earls claimed descent, who kills Halfdan on North Ronaldsay.
Historia Norvegiae

The Historia Norvegiae’s account of Rognvald and the foundation of the Orkney earldom is the next oldest, probably dating from the twelfth century. This account contains much curious detail on Orkney, including the earliest account of the Picts as small people who hid in the daytime, but it has little to say about Rognvald.

In the days of Harald Fairhair, king of Norway, certain pirates, of the family of the most vigorous prince Ronald [Rognvald], set out with a great fleet, and crossed the Solundic sea… and subdued the islands to themselves. And being there provided with safe winter seats, they went in summer-time working tyranny upon the English, and the Scots, and sometimes also upon the Irish, so that they took under their rule, from England, Northumbria; from Scotland, Caithness; from Ireland, Dublin, and the other sea-side towns.

This account does not associate Rognvald with the earldom, but instead attributes it to his anonymous sons.
Fragmentary Annals of Ireland
…for it was not long before this that there had been every war and every trouble in Norway, and this was the source of that war in Norway: two younger sons of Albdan, king of Norway, drove out the eldest son, i.e. Ragnall son of Albdan, for fear that he would seize the kingship of Norway after their father. So Ragnall came with his three sons to the Orkneys. Ragnall stayed there then, with his youngest son.
Fragmentary Annals of Ireland, FA 330. Edited and translated by Joan N. Radnor.

The oldest account of the Rognvald and the earldom of Orkney is that found in the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland. The annals survive only in incomplete copies made by Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh in the seventeenth century, but the original annals are believed to date from the lifetime of Donnchad mac Gilla Patráic (died 1039). The annals are known to have had an influence on later writings in Iceland.

The annals make Rognvald the son of “Halfdan, King of Lochlann.” This is generally understood to mean Halfdan the Black, which would make the Rognvald of the annals the brother of Harald Finehair. However, the sagas claim that Rognvald’s grandfather was named Halfdan.

These events are placed after an account of the devastation of Fortriu, dated to around 866, and the fall of York, reliably dated to late 867. However, such an early date makes it difficult to reconcile the saga claims that Harald Fairhair was involved in Rognvald’s conquest of the northern isles.

Harald Finehair’s victory in the Battle of Hafrsfjord, which gave him dominion over parts of Norway, is traditionally dated to 872, but was probably later, perhaps as late as 900. What little is known of Scottish events in the period from the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba would correspond equally well with Harald’s attacks on Scotland in the reign of Domnall mac Causantín (ruled 889–900). However, this would not correspond with the sequence in the earliest account of the origins of the Orkney earldom, which places this a generation earlier.

The earldom established by Rognvald remained within his family until 1232. The Scandinavian influence and culture remained strong, and continues to be evident in place names as well as in vocabulary. The earldom was home to several knights of the Arthurian legends. The mythology of the Norse Saga that surrounds the story of Rognvald comprises a rich tapestry of colorful stories, memorable characters, heroic sacrifice, and epic battles. These stories are part of the heritage of the people of the Orkneys just as they are of other Scandinavian peoples.

The stories glorify war, including the subjugation of the Orkneys. Yet the story in which Rognvald Eysteinsson featured was actually about pacification; the king and his earl wanted to end the Viking raids from Orkney because they were too disruptive. Eventually, the whole region over which the heroes of these stories roamed, or rather sailed, including the Orkneys, transformed itself into one of the most peace-loving zones on earth. In modern times, the Scandinavian countries have evolved away from their ancient associations with belligerence and warfare to become leaders in promoting peace and diplomacy. Orkney may not officially be “Scandinavian” any more but it can be described as “a perfect place for peace loving people.” One of the earls, Magnus Erlendsson, descended from Rognvald through both parents, loved peace. He once refused to take part in a Viking raid. Instead, he stayed aboard the boat singing psalms. He later entered a peace treaty with his cousin, who claimed the Earldom and ruled jointly with him for several years until conflict flared up again. Still trying to negotiate peace, Magnus was captured and executed in 1115. When his son, also called Rognvald became Earl, he built a cathedral to commemorate his father, who was canonized by the Church. In the Norse sagas, history is understood as linear and progressive; after evil has been defeated, “all men and Gods will live at peace.” Indeed, the story of the island is replete with references to the people enjoying “peace and prosperity” under the earls who constantly attempted to forge peace with their enemies. The Heimskringla also tells many stories of peace-making.


Burnopfield, Land of Prince Bishops / County Durham Sign
Burnopfield, Land of Prince Bishops / County Durham Sign

Burnopfield is a village in County Durham, in England. It is situated north of Stanley and Annfield Plain, close to the River Derwent and is 564 feet above sea level. There are around 5,000 inhabitants in Burnopfield. It is located 10 miles from Newcastle upon Tyne and 15 miles from Durham.


The name Burnopfield probably comes from the Old English meaning “field by the valley stream”, although local legend says that the village got its name after an attempted Scottish invasion of England was foiled by literally burning up the fields to stop the advancing armies. In the 19th century, Burnopfield was usually referred to as the Leap, or in local dialect, as the Loup, after the area of Burnopfield named Bryan’s Leap.


Burnopfield was the site of a leper hospital, High Friarside Hospice, which was founded in 1312, but was demolished in approximately 1450. The remains of the original Chapel can still be seen today. Other historical buildings in Burnopfield include Burnopfield Hall, which was constructed in 1720 by the Newton family, a wealthy mine-owning family, Leap Mill Farm, a classic example of an 18th-century mill with a working water wheel, and the Gibside estate, which is located between Burnopfield and Rowlands Gill.

The families of Burnopfield Hall and Gibside are linked by the scandalous adventurer Andrew Robinson Stoney: in the late 1760s, Hannah Newton, daughter and heiress to the Newton family fortune, married Stoney, an Irish Lieutenant and adventurer who was stationed in Newcastle. They went to live at Colepike Hall in Lanchester, where his ill-treatment of her became a local scandal, and within a few years she died. In control of her £20,000 fortune, he set off for London, where he met the widowed Countess of Strathmore, who owned the Gibside estate. Stoney eventually tricked her into marriage, and having to adopt her family name of Bowes, became the notorious Stoney Bowes. Her subsequent miserable life with him became one of the biggest scandals of the period. His story was fictionalised by William Makepeace Thackeray in The Luck of Barry Lyndon. Stanley Kubrick later adapted the novel into the 1975 film Barry Lyndon. The family at Gibside Hall eventually became the Bowes-Lyon family, one member of the family being Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The Hall itself is now owned by the National Trust. In 1815, J. M. W. Turner produced several landscapes of Gibside Hall, which are on display in the Tate Britain.

In 1746, John Wesley visited the village, and preached in a garden in Sheep Hill, an area within Burnopfield. He made several more visits, resulting in the formation of a Methodist Society, and in 1775 the first Chapel was built, and rebuilt in 1880. By this time other two places of worship had been built: in 1870, a second Methodist Chapel, and in 1873, the Anglican church of Saint James was constructed in 1873 at the Leazes end of the village.  Until the church was built, Burnopfield had been a section of the Tanfield and District Anglican Parish.

Coal mining

Coal mining in County Durham began in the 1600s, and narrow waggonways were laid from the pits and Burnopfield was found to be an ideal place for the waggonways from the Pontop and Tanfield Moor areas to pass through and then continue down the hill to cross the Derwent, and on to the River Tyne for the coal to be shipped. Although surrounded by colliery villages like Lintz, Hobson, High Friarside, and Marley Hill, it never had a serious mine of its own. Gradually it became largely occupied by people who worked in the nearby mining villages. With the building of a Co-operative Society shop in 1889, it also became a shopping centre for the miners and their families from the neighbouring colliery villages.

With the decline of the British mining industry, the number of miners in the village drastically decreased, and they worked in the coastal pits. Industrial estates, factories, offices and shops now provide the work for residents of Burnopfield. During the latter part of the 20th century, the village changed from its old waggonway days; new council and private estates have been built and Burnopfield has extended both to the east and the west absorbing much of the adjoining areas into its Postal District.

Cricket has long been a popular sport in the village – it has been played at a small cricket ground in Lintz, near Burnopfield, since 1905, on land leased to the club by the National Coal Board. The village produced two Test cricketers for England, both of whom played before Durham County Cricket Club took part in the county championship; Jim McConnon, who played for Glamorgan, and Colin Milburn, the “Burnopfield Basher”, who played for Northamptonshire. When Milburn died in 1990, his funeral was the largest ever seen in Burnopfield, and was attended by many notable cricketing figures including future Durham player Ian Botham. The famous court case, Miller v. Jackson, arose from cricket played by Lintz Cricket Club.