Geography with Meloukhia!

Most of you are probably not aware of this, but I worked the geography bee all through middle school. I didn’t compete in high school…I’m not sure if it stops in middle school, or if the Community School just didn’t bother. Unfortunately, this being the United States, kicking ass in middle school geography isn’t saying much…but suffice it to say that I am pretty up on my geography. I can even find the United States on a map.

This is not, apparently, the case with the current President of the United States, so I thought I would post a helpful little refresher to go over the major differences between APEC and OPEC and Austria and Australia. If you already know about these exciting topics, I recommend watching this YouTube video, in which Keith Olbermann and crew reenact the events surrounding Larry Craig’s arrest in an airport bathroom.

I know that some of these distinctions may seem petty, but apparently the rest of the world was not impressed by the President’s performance at the APEC summit. Mr. Bush, if you’re reading this, I hope it helps—I hate to think of you humiliating yourself in public! After all, you are representing the entire United States every time you go out in public, and I like for us to have a positive image with other countries and stuff.

Let’s start with APEC. APEC stands for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. APEC is an economic collective of nations which represent over half of the global economy. The member countries, also known as member economies, taking turns hosting an annual summit to discuss issues of interest along the Pacific Rim including investment, development, cooperation, and regional economies. Because the United States borders the Pacific, we are a member economy of the organization, (we hosted the 1993 summit). There are 20 other countries in APEC.

Did you know that the first APEC summit was in 1989? That’s the same year the Berlin Wall fell!

You can learn more about APEC at their website.

OPEC, on the other hand, refers to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. We are not actually a member of OPEC, as much as you might wish we are, Mr. Bush! OPEC concerns itself with the global price of oil, and acts collectively to safeguard the interests of its members. Talks about forming an alliance began in 1949, and by 1960 several member nations had begun meeting on a regular basis. There are now 12 member states in OPEC.

Did you know that the official language of OPEC is English, even though most of the member nations speak Arabic?

You can learn more about OPEC at their website.

So, let’s recap: APEC is about Asians, and OPEC is about oil. Both organizations are also about money, though, so it’s easy to see how you could get them confused.

Austria is a landlocked country in central Europe. It has a population of around eight million, and the capital is Vienna. At one point, Austria was a formidable European power, but the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand put a stop to that. In 1938, Austria was occupied by German troops, and it was occupied by the Allied Powers after the war. It wasn’t until 1955 that Austria became fully independent again, and the country quite wisely adopted a stance of neutrality in the event of future conflicts. Austria joined the European Union in 1995, and the country is particularly famous for its weiner schnitzel.

Did you know that they speak German in Austria?

Australia is a continent which is also a country. It is in the South Pacific, and it was originally used as a penal colony by the British. 21 million people live in Australia! That’s a lot! The capital of Australia is Canberra, and the official language is English, just like us! Australia is considered a commonwealth realm, which means that Elizabeth II is the head of state, although Australia also has a parliament and a Prime Minister all its own. In Australia they are not as paranoid as we are, so regular people can interact with public officials. Sometimes public officials even get pranked!

Did you know that the motto of Australia is “Advance Australia Fair”?

So, let’s recap: Austria is a landlocked country in Europe. Australia is a continent.

I hope that this useful information helps you during the remaining days of the APEC summit, Mr. Bush!