Ramadan decorations in Nablus Immediately after sunset, traffic stops and quiet settles in as people settle in their homes with only one thing on their mind: eating. After about an hour people begin trickling back into the streets and their cars and gridlock and noise takes hold as people start going out and doing their evening Ramadan activities.
In Iraq, kids engage in “majinah”, a sort of Middle Eastern version trick or treat; “damam” drummers walk through the streets in the wee hours of the morning to wake up everyone for the morning meal; and neighborhood teams compete in a midnight game called “mehebbe” in which they try to find a tiny ring.
Damam drummers are highly skilled and undergo rigorous trained. Insisting that their craft is more than a thousand years old, many are forth and fifth-generation practitioners of the art. Children practicing “majinah” go door to door, singing: “Open the bag and give us!/ You give use or we give you!/ To Mecca we will take you!” If they are lucky the kids get treats. If they are not and the family has nothing to offer, the kids are splashed with water.
Mehebbe is played late at night between two opposing teams of about 30 players from different neighborhoods, A tiny ring is placed in the hand of one of the 30 players, and the captain of the opposing team has to guess who is holding the ring and in which hand.
Websites and Resources: Islam Islam.com islam.com ; Islamic City islamicity.com ; Islam 101 islam101.net ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/islam ; BBC article bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam ; Patheos Library – Islam patheos.com/Library/Islam ; University of Southern California Compendium of Muslim Texts web.archive.org ; Encyclopædia Britannica article on Islam britannica.com ; Islam at Project Gutenberg gutenberg.org ; Islam from UCB Libraries GovPubs web.archive.org ; Muslims: PBS Frontline documentary pbs.org frontline ; Discover Islam dislam.org;
Qur’an (Quran, Koran) and Hadith:
Quran translation in English alahazrat.net ; Quran in Easy English, Urdu, Arabic and 70 other languages qurango.com ; Quran.com quran.com ; Al-Quran.info al-quran.info ; Quranic Arabic Corpus, shows syntax and morphology for each word corpus.quran.com ; Word for Word English Translation – emuslim.com emuslim.com/Quran ; Digitised Qurans in the Cambridge University Digital Library cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk ; Sunnah.com sunnah.com ;
Hadith – search by keyword and by narrator ahadith.co.uk
Many Muslims gather at night, usually at a mosque, for the “Taraweeh” prayers in which portions of the Qur’an are recited using a special technique known as “Qirat” — which stresses clear enunciation, appropriate intonation and the use of pauses. The sound of it has been compared the voice of a mother comforting her baby. American Muslim Jareed Akhter wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “I do not understand much of what is being recited. Nonetheless the experience is inspiring. For those who do not understand the language , the Qur’an conveys a tone of grandeur , dignity and gravity.”
Often the entire Qur’an is recited during the month: 30 sections in 30 days, which works out to about three chapter a day (the Qur’an has 114 chapters but the chapters vary a great deal from relatively long to very short). Hassaball wrote: “The nightly congregational prayers are a wonderful experience, in which we get to hear the entire Qur’an recited ever so beautifully...It warms the heart and soul to worship with hundreds of fellow Muslim every night.”
Sometimes the Qur’an is recited from memory in pairs with each person taking turns and the what who is not reading correcting the other as he reads. In the West the Qur’an is often recited in Arabic by Muslims who don’t known what the Arabic words mean. The reciters are often “hafiz”, people who have memorized the Qur’an.
Partying, Work and Business During Ramadan
During Ramadan it seems everyone works at a slower pace than usual and many people (men especially) use the holiday as an excuse the sit around for hours. Hungry workers don’t accomplish much after one or two in the afternoon. Businesses are only open four or five hours, banks have reduced hours and trading on stock markets is light.
According to some estimates, productivity declines by 25 percent and alcohol consumption is halved during Ramadan. In some places school hours are shortened, shops stay open until right before dawn and doctors and dentists offer appointments until 2:00am.
Childhood glory, Happy Ramadan Ramadan is also traditionally a month for weddings, dances and other social activities. There is also lot of soccer playing. During the day the streets are more empty than usual but there is often a festive atmosphere at night. People often take to the streets after consuming the evening meal and party into the night.
Non-Muslims may think of Ramadan as a time of abstinence, but when the cannon booms or muezzin calls an end to the day of fasting, for many it signals time for the parties and feasts to begin. Once the sun goes Muslims are allowed to eat and smoke as much as they want (some also drink alcohol) and think nothing of partying all night and then sleep during the day.♦
Theses days in many parts of the world Ramadan is spent shopping, watching television and eating until the wee hours of the morning and then sleeping much of the day, in some cases until the sunset prayers when the fast is broken.
These days some young people resent that Ramadan has become a time of partying and shopping and trying to get back to the original spirit of the holiday by volunteering during the day, attending religious lectures at night and spending more time reflecting on their faith. One Saudi bank teller told the Washington Post, that what people do today os “not really fasting. Fasting is about feeling your hunger, getting close to God and helping the poor.”
Ramadan Parties and High Living
In 2014, Associated Press reported: “In Bangladesh, where annual per capita income is just $1,190 — among the lowest in the world — upscale buffets during Ramadan can run up to $80 per person. That cost is wildly out of reach for most in the Muslim-majority country of 160 million. "So many parties are around daily as if we are born to eat and eat," complained Sabina Yasmine, an insurance agent in Bangladesh. "People get crazy during Ramadan." [Source: Associated Press, July 26, 2014]
Hui family in northern ChinaThat sentiment was echoed in Cairo, where 24-year-old Rouchane el-Rashidi was dining with friends. She says a lot of people are losing touch with the meaning behind the month. "It's a fact that Ramadan now is more about outings, where we go for iftar and sohour instead of focusing on religion," she said, referring to the sunset and pre-dawn meals.
“Glitzy Arabian Nights-inspired tents have become a staple of Ramadan across the Gulf, with hotel buffets offering fountains of hummus and pyramids of deserts. Fozeya Ibrahim Al Mahmoud of Abu Dhabi's Environment Agency said people are supposed to consume and waste less in Ramadan, but the opposite seems to be happening. Of the total waste produced during the entire year in the small country, 39 percent is of organic materials. During Ramadan, however, the percentage of organic waste rises to 55 percent, he said.
Ramadan Food Waste in the Persian Gulf
In Dubai, 1,850 tons of food was thrown out out in Ramadan in 2010, roughly 20 percent of total waste in the emirate during the holy month. Reporting from Dubai in 2011, Jason Benham and Warda Al-Jawahiry of Reuters wrote: “Ramadan brings a huge incease in food waste across the city and the Gulf as leftovers from more lavish banquets attended by the well-to-do are thrown out in a region where soaring summer temperatures mean that fresh food goes off quickly. The amount of food thrown out in the emirate jumps considerably in the holy month — by as much as 20 percent according to Dubai Municipality, with most of the waste comprising rice and non-vegetable foods. Despite the hours of preparation put into the often vast displays of food, waiters at top hotels in Dubai say much of the food left over goes straight into the waste bins. [Source: Jason Benham and Warda Al-Jawahiry, Reuters, August 15, 2011 ^=^]
“In neighbouring Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, at least 500 tonnes of food were thrown out on a daily basis during the month Abu Dhabi-based daily the National reported in August last year. Hot and cold — all the food on the buffet gets thrown out,” said a waiter at a five star hotel in Dubai who gave his name only as Nazir, through fear of losing his job, as he went around topping up dishes on the iftar buffet, while businessmen hovered around him, eyeing the vast spread of food on offer. “If people order room service then we’ll make it fresh again. But sometimes we have a lot of waste,” Nazir said. ^=^
Eid crowds in India“Food experts at top hotels JW Marriott and Hilton in Dubai however say they plan so that no food is thrown out despite preparing up to 15 percent more food during the holy month. “We have control systems that help us avoid excess,” said Simon Lazarus, senior area director of food and beverage, Hilton Worldwide, Middle East and Africa. “Even if there is a little bit left over the staff all eat it. We never recycle food and we have our own strict policy not to.” ^=^
“The large increase in food waste during the holy month has drawn criticism from religious scholars who say that it goes against the spirit of fasting. “Wasting the blessing of Allah, like food, particularly at a time when you see people starving in Ethiopia, Somalia and other places, does not fit in the Islamic notion of moderation. God says in the Qur’an that those who waste the blessing of God, they are the brethren of the devils,” said Sheikh Muddassir Siddiqui, an Islamic scholar in Dubai. “Hotels should cut back on the amount of food they provide. It should not be a matter of prestige. Iftars at hotels should not be intended just for rich people but for everyone - particularly the less fortunate and there are many of them.” ^=^
“One charity that has been looking to help the poor and needy is Hefth al-Ne‘ma — Arabic for “Saving Grace”. Set up in 2004, the Abu Dhabi-based organisation collects leftover food from large gatherings such as weddings, banquets and iftars at hotels in the UAE capital to distribute food that is safe to eat. The charity is hoping to set up operations in Dubai and other emirates later this year its manager Sultan al-Shehi told Reuters. “There are a lot of people who are in need in the UAE and this is an interesting way to bridge the disparity,” said commentator Gergawi.” ^=^
During Ramadan a lot of Muslims sit around and watch television because they can’t work, they have a lot of time on their hands and there are special Ramadan shows . Often the whole family gathers around the television and watching TV becomes a popular social activity.
Special television soap operas are released just for Ramadan. The most watched one are produced in Egypt. These are mostly miniseries called “musalsalat” “similar to Latin America telenovelas. They are relatively high budget projects with big name stars, belly dancers, lavish sets, lots of extras and complicated and often racy plots with in-for-face moral messages.
Popular “musalsalat” include historical costume dramas about famous Islamic figures like “The Women of Islam” , set in the 13th century, and sexy melodramas like “Tales of a Modern Husband” , full of class conflict and intrigue. “We Dream of Tomorrow “ was about a wealthy man who kills a man in a car accident and then pays for an operation to cure his mother of blindness. Bab el-Hara, set in France-controlled Syria, was about Arab freedom fighters trying to free imprisoned comrades while trying to evade French soldiers.
In Egypt, the iftar meal to break the fast is followed by everyone gathering around the television to watch the featured “musalsalat” . Men go out to watch the same miniseries at the local tea house with their friends. Some musah run through daybreak and are not over until after the break meal. Some conservative Muslims don’t like the “musalsalat”, saying the passion for soap operas demeans Ramadan.
Ramadan Egyptian Soap Operas
Ramadan has also been a time when people watch a lot of television. Some of the most popular shows of the year run during that time. Egyptian soap operas are particularly associated with Ramadan TV. Nasry Esmat wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “The fierce competition between TV channels in Egypt to win audiences and advertising money during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan bombards Muslims with soap operas and historical dramas that distract them from performing their religious traditions. Ramadan began as Egyptian TV and independent satellite channels began showing 48 new soap operas and nearly the same number of other programs produced specially for the holy month. [Source: Nasry Esmat, Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2010 ~|~]
“Statistics from the Pan Arab Research Center (PARC) show that Ramadan is the advertising high season in Egypt, with $146 million spent during the holy month last year, a remarkable 62% increase over any other time of the year. Millions of Egyptians watch soap operas after breaking their fast after sunset and before beginning it again after morning prayers. “Egypt is one of the fastest-growing advertising markets in the world,” Reg Lascaris, the president of the advertising group TBWA in the Africa, Middle East and Mediterranean region, told The National newspaper. ~|~
The big spending on advertising during Ramadan inspired Egyptian TV to launch a new channel called “Drama 2.” Tarek Nour, owner of an advertising agency and a veteran in the industry, launched “Cairo and People”, a channel that broadcasts only during Ramadan. The indulgence of escaping into soap operas and other TV shows is seen by many religious leaders as a threat to the spiritual value of the holy month. “Ramadan is a worship month, not a month for watching soap operas” Ahmed Hemaya, the Imam of Sultan Hassan mosque in Cairo – one of Egypt’s oldest mosques --said in a recent interview with Egyptian TV. “Fasting teaches us patience and to control our desires and instincts … over-watching TV distracts many Muslims from Tarawih prayers,” the imam added.” ~|~
Fanoos: Egyptian Ramadan Lanterns
Wael Abdul Aziz wrote on egyptianstreets.co: “Although the fanoos –Arabic for lantern- is currently used as a decorative item or a toy for children to enjoy during the Holy month, a trip back in time shows that its journey started off rather differently. Despite its common use in modern Arabic, the word fanoos originates from the Greek word fa? -pronounced almost similarly- which means lantern, or a means of illumination, portable be it or fixed. The early tales of the fanoos’s origin may differ, but they all point to Cairo as the birthplace of the fanoos as we know it today. [Source: Wael Abdul Aziz, egyptianstreets.com, June 25, 2015]
“In spite of the tradition being seasonal, the fanoos industry is active all year long, even in our modern times. Throughout the year, the industry innovators work on coming up with new designs and crafting them. They are then stored until shortly before Ramadan when they are gleefully put up for sale.
“As the original birthplace of the fanoos, Cairo continues to uphold its pivotal role in the industry. Today’s fanoos industry hub is considered to be at Taht ElRab’ –an area close to al-Azhar. There, you can find some of the biggest fanoos workshops that have been passed down from one generation to another.
History of Fanoos
Wael Abdul Aziz wrote on egyptianstreets.com: “The story starts a little over a thousand years ago on the 5th of Ramadan of the Hijri (lunar) year 358 (969 A.D.), when Cairenes were expecting the arrival of al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah al-Fatimy during the dark. To ensure an illuminated entrance for the Caliph, Gawhar al-Siqilli –Fatimid military commander and viceroy at the time- ordered the city residents to light the path by holding candles along the pathway. To avoid any extinguished candles, the townspeople placed their candles on wooden bases and enclosed them with palm and light skin. As the Caliph walked through town, he admired the design, and from there on, the fanoos became symbolic of Ramadan. [Source: Wael Abdul Aziz, egyptianstreets.com, June 25, 2015]
“In another account of the tale, the families of Cairo used to accompany the Caliph along his journey across the city passing through the old gates of Cairo, Bab el-Nasr, Bab el-Fetouh and Bab el-Dahab on his way to the Mokattam hill for the Ramadan moon sighting, announcing the start of the Holy month. Along the route, kids would joyfully hold the fanoos and sing in welcoming and celebration of Ramadan.
“Although the early stories of the fanoos may not be strikingly odd, others associated to the fanoos are fairly unusual. In the 10th century A.D., Caliph el-Hakim bi-Amr Allah deprived women from departing their homes all year long. The only exception was during Ramadan when women were allowed to attend prayer outside their homes and visit relatives and neighbors. But that exception was applied under the condition that women are accompanied by boys carrying the fanoos both to light their way and to notify men that a woman is walking by. Furthermore, an order was passed by Caliph el-Hakim bi-Amr Allah that lanterns would be installed along every alley, and in front of each shop and home. Whoever disobeyed was fined. Under such strict orders, the fanoos industry in Cairo flourished notably.
“During the Fatimid era, celebrations and holidays were of remarkable importance to Egyptians, the reason why they invested a lot of time and effort preparing for them. Consequently, the fanoos industry started shifting from a utility of lighting homes, mosques and stores to a decorative item used during Ramadan. Moreover, it spread as a tradition for children to walk the roads and alleys carrying their Fanoos and singing jolly songs while asking for gifts and candy. At night, the mesaharaty –a person whose job is to wake people up for the predawn meal in Ramadan- would also gather children around him as they sang merrily through the neighborhood, carrying the fanoos.
“Along the passage of time, more traditions combining the fanoos with Ramadan would emerge resulting in the deeply rooted link between the two, and marking them as authentic Egyptian heritage. Slowly, the Egyptian fanoos started to trickle into neighboring countries until it became a Ramadan tradition in many of them, especially in Damascus, Aleppo, Jerusalem, Gaza and others.”
a shop window that is decorated with the Islamic crescent symbol representing the season of Ramadan, with the words, "Happy Ramadan,"
Ramadan Boon for Retailers
Ramadan is a boon for retailers in the Middle East, South Asia and beyond. While some Muslims welcome it as a positive sign, others see it as commercialization of a sacred time of year, threatening to subvert its very nature. According to Associated Press: “Glitzy billboards in the Middle East and postage stamps in the U.S. Advertisements for lingerie and sales on modest skirts. Lavish buffets and cellphone apps. Ramadan, Islam's holiest month, is a boon for retailers in the Middle East, South Asia and beyond. And while some Muslims welcome it as a positive sign, others see it as commercialization of a sacred time of year. [Source: Associated Press, July 26, 2014]
The biggest commercialization of Ramadan is concentrated in countries where Muslims are in the majority. The streets of major cities in the Middle East and South Asia are filled with billboards about Ramadan. One McDonald's ad in Islamabad shows a mosque calling on people to "Dine Divine." Carmudi, a website for buying and selling cars, said it is offering a variety of deals for residents of the United Arab Emirates "to celebrate the holy spirit of the season. So dig into your pockets."
Luxury brand Montblanc urged customers to "celebrate Ramadan in its true spirit with an exciting range of gifts." The trendy Sauce boutique in the Emirates sells bejeweled Ramadan-themed purses. One evening clutch cleverly takes the shape of a can of fava beans, or ful — a staple of pre-dawn meals. Another Dubai boutique has Ramadan-inspired T-shirts that cheekily say "Bad Girl Gone Good." Cairo supermarkets also carry Ramadan-themed towels and a range of lanterns, or fawanees, used to decorate the home.
Muslims Condemn the Commercialization of Ramadan
Abdur Rashid, who heads a mosque in Bangladesh, said such consumption does not represent the tenets of his faith. "Islam has not taught us this," he said. Scholars also are disturbed by the proliferation of evening TV shows during Ramadan. In Pakistan, live game shows give away gifts promoting their sponsors. In the Arab world, soap operas starring Egypt's top actors rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising.
Sheik Abdullah Roshdi, who heads a Cairo mosque, said Ramadan should heighten feelings of patience, empathy and compassion for others. He said people should be spending their time doing acts of charity, and remove themselves from that which is unnecessary to attain the ultimate prize of heaven in the afterlife. "Now the month of Ramadan has been transformed from a season of spiritual ascension ... into following desires and luxuries, and we totally oppose this," he said.
Holy Days Associated with Ramadan
Prayers for the Ramadan period are divided into thirds with the prayers on the first 10 days for forgiveness and the second 10 days for helped in saving oneself from hell. The final 10 days is regarded as a time for especially intense praying with prayers said on odd number days worth with more than 1,000 ordinary prayers.
On the 10th day of Ramadan, Muhammad began making preparations for the Battle of Badr, which led to an important military victory that ended with Muhammad’s triumphant entrance into Mecca.
Lailat ul Bara'h (15th night of the month Shabaan) — Night of Forgiveness — takes place two weeks before Ramadan. According to the BBC: “ It is the time when Muslims seek forgiveness for their sins and believe that on this night one's destiny is fixed for the year ahead. “On this night, Muslims pray and ask God for forgiveness either at the mosque or at home. Muslims may visit the graves of relatives and the giving to charity is also traditional. Although not a religious requirement, in some parts of the world there are firework displays that mark this night. The wording 'Lailat ul Bara'h' is Arabic; layltun meaning night and baraat meaning forgiveness. In Persian and Urdu it is called Shabbe Baraat. [Source: BBC, September 7, 2009 |::|]
Lailat al Qadr
The 27th night of Ramadan is called “Lailat al-Qadr, the “Night of Powers.” It marks the date on the lunar calendar in 610 when the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. by Allah. According to the BBC: “Muslims regard this as the most important event in history, and the Qur'an says that this night is better than a thousand months (97:3), and that on this night the angels descend to earth. This is a time that Muslims spend in study and prayer. Some will spend the whole night in prayer or in reciting the Qur'an. [Source: BBC, July 29, 2011 |::|]
Lailat al Qadr is regarded as a time of forgiveness. Prisoners are often set free and people sometimes do bad things in hopes they will be forgiven. One hadith reads: “Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven.” — Hadith, Bukhari Vol 1, Book 2:34
“Lailat al Qadr takes place during Ramadan. The date of 27 Ramadan for this day is a traditional date, as the Prophet Muhammad did not mention when the Night of Power would be, although it was suggested it was in the last 10 days of the month. Because of this, many Muslims will treat the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan as a particularly good time for prayer and reading the Qur'an. |::|
Eid al-Fitr, Feast of the Breaking of the Fast
Eid al-Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast, is celebrated for three days after the month of Ramadan is over and a new moon appears. The festival marks the end of the fast and thanks the Almighty for his blessing during the year. It begins with the start of the Muslim month Shawwal and like Ramadan requires the sighting of the new moon by a sane person in Mecca necessary for it to be declared. If the new moon is not spotted the celebrations are postponed for a day.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan. It generally lasts for three days. The end of Ramadan is marked by dressing up and visiting the mosque for prayer, and with visits to family and friends for celebratory meals. Because Islam uses a lunar calendar, the month of Ramadan comes around 11 days earlier each successive year, so there is no Western season associated with Ramadan. [Source: BBC]
Eid al-Fitr, or "the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast", is kind of like the Muslim version of Christmas, in the sense that it's a religious holiday, people gather together for big meals with family and friends, exchange presents, and have a good time.
Eid al-Fitr is held on 1 Shawwal, the only day in the month of Shawwal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. According to the BBC: “The first Eid was celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Muhammad with his friends and relatives after the victory of the battle of Jang-e-Badar. Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but thanking Allah for the help and strength that he gave them throughout the previous month to help them practise self-control. [Source: BBC, September 1, 2011 |::|]
“The festival begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky. Muslims in most countries rely on news of an official sighting, rather than looking at the sky themselves. The celebratory atmosphere is increased by everyone wearing best or new clothes, and decorating their homes. There are special services out of doors and in mosques, processions through the streets, and of course, a special celebratory meal - eaten during daytime, the first daytime meal Muslims will have had in a month. Eid is also a time of forgiveness, and making amends. |::|
Eid al-Fitr Celebrations
The last days of Ramadan resemble the days preceding Christmas. People begin preparations for Eid al-Fitr. Spirits are high and crowds flock to bazaars to purchase new clothes, jewelry, fruits, meat and sweets; women make special pastries and cakes; people visit the friends and relatives. Adults and children often wear their best clothes around Ramadan. New clothes and shoes are traditional Ramadan gifts for children. Often the bulk of a family's clothing budget is spent during this time of the year. Many stores have special sales and have late hours to boost business.
The morning of the feast has the same excitement for Muslims as Christmas morning does for Christians. People put on nice clothes and eat a special breakfast with sweets, nuts and dried fruits. Many Muslims eat a cake layered with honey or sweet dishes made from ultra-thin vermicelli cooked in milk with dried dates, raisins, almonds and nuts.
After ceremonial washing is performed and a special perfume is applied, Muslims attend prayers at a mosque or a park. Children often attend special fairs where they do things like paint sheep bright colors and ride on rudimentary carnival rides. Customary holiday greeting are exchanged and children receive gifts from their elders, mostly cash, which they spend at the bazaar or mall depending on where they live.
Eid feast procession of the Emperor Bahadur Shah in 1843
There is a feast in the middle of the day with a slaughtered sheep or goat. Rich people often times host big banquets for or give money to the poor before prayers. The third day is spent visiting relatives and friends. Children receive a great deal of attention on this day and after Ramadan.
Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons except soap opera, BBC
Text Sources: Internet Islamic History Sourcebook: sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Arab News, Jeddah; “Islam, a Short History” by Karen Armstrong; “A History of the Arab Peoples” by Albert Hourani (Faber and Faber, 1991); “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994). “Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, The Guardian, BBC, Al Jazeera, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Last updated September 2018