World Info wimtalk

 World Info

 a guide to world history and politics

originally written on HyperCard, for the Apple Macintosh



M.A. (Edinburgh); M.Sc. (Aston); PGCE (Moray House)

For Any Topic In George Matthews' Web Pages

Who is this website for?

Anyone interested in world politics and history.

High School students and first year College.

Warning on Plagiarism
Avoid it. Don't copy any of this text into your assignments but use it as material to think about, and do your own research. Always write assignments in your own words.
If you do quote, you must give a reference - the URL of the page.

Remember: your teachers can use this service to check.

Keeping people ignorant

 In most countries the history and current affairs syllabus in the schools has been reduced to a small number of topics. This website contains a range of topics a well-educated person ought to know about.

Judging by the information I have gained from the tracker, people in schools throughout the world are studying very few history topics. British Empire seems to be the most popular, followed by Yugoslavia (why, I ask myself) and perhaps Feudalism and Black Death. This is not an adequate basis for understanding history. It seems to result in the population as a whole being profoundly ignorant about History. Is that what politicians prefer? The recent events at the Texas Board of Education show that it is not just in nasty dictatorships that politicians want to distort what students learn in history classes. Doctoring the official textbooks is fortunately no longer entirely effective, as at the present time the internet provides information outside the textbooks.

I have advertised many books to buy or borrow that will improve students' knowledge. A well-educated person needs to have read many books. The internet can never replace the experience of being well-read. Politicians hope that students will read only the set books. That works in North Korea where the unfortunate population is not allowed to know anything about the real world. Surely it shouldn't work in Texas or any "western" country?

I ask myself why, for example, no students are consulting the pages on Afghanistan and Iraq. Is it that politicians are terrified of people learning what is going on in these countries and prefer them to know nothing? In some countries I suspect history teachers are warned not to discuss these topics. But Afghanistan is the source of a great deal of our culture and Iraq is one of the two countries whose early developments are at the root of almost all our culture and civilisation (the other is Egypt).

There is no excuse in the modern world for being being ignorant when the whole of knowledge is freely available (at least in civilised countries).

Is there censorship in western countries? Yes. See this article.

Simon Jenkins on the lessons of historyuct/1402153147?ie=UTF8&tag=hompag-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=1402153147" TARGET="amazon">

A well-written 19th century attempt at a universal history.



World Problems







Christopher Lloyd - What on earth happened?

What on Earth Happened?: The Complete Story of the Planet, Life and People from the Big Bang to the Present Day

An excellent overview of the history of the planet and the human cultures and states that have risen and fallen.

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 wimtalk AT


The world is a complex and subtle place. There are millions of connections between every part. Every event affects in some way every other. Therefore, even the connections of Hypertext cannot show more than a small proportion of them. World Info is an attempt to provide the basic information needed to begin to understand the world as a whole and as its parts. World Info is concerned with history and politics, though there is some mention of the ecological reality without which the politics would be impossible.

We can imagine that the world is a finely woven oriental carpet. There are threads which criss-cross the whole area. In the spaces between these are millions of knots. World Info is a sketch of a tiny corner of the complexity.

There is an entry for each sovereign and potentially sovereign territory in the world. Inclusion or exclusion of a potentially sovereign territory in this database is not a sign that the author either supports or opposes, approves or disapproves of any particular independence movement or its methods of campaigning. This site is a report of what is going on and an indication of what might happen, not an advocacy.

The author has tried to avoid bias, though such may creep in inadvertently. The attempt is to view the world as an alien space traveler might see it. (This is a metaphor for attempted impartiality, not a belief in aliens.) If the views expressed are different from those current in your society, come to your own conclusion whether or not to accept them. Nothing here is intended to be THE TRUTH. No ideological position is intended here though the author must admit to a preference for governments elected and dismissible by the people. The National myths of different peoples are often incompatible, so that an alien would regard them with some scepticism.

A great deal of history writing is interpretation of the known events. Unknown events may be at least as important.

There are also entries for regions and for general world problems and wars. All these are linked together. Countries which are involved in wars, or threaten to become involved, have a button which will link them to the Wars site.

The information here is a very concise summary. Every article - and perhaps every sentence - could be expanded into a whole book.


Some Americans have asked me how I know the things I have posted here. The main answer is I have a History degree but also I live in Britain where the BBC and newspapers carry very full coverage of world affairs. On my visits to the United States I am always struck by the difficulty in keeping informed about what is going on, as the media there seem to carry very little information. I have also visited or worked in a surprising number of the countries described, so there is a good deal of personal experience, especially about Africa and the Middle East.

The number of sources used are too numerous to mention here. A complete bibliography would take up more space than I care to use. There are a few links to other web sites which might be of interest. These are gradually increasing as I revise the pages.

For a complete bibliography go to encyclopedias and library catalogs or use google. (If people ask for a bibliography I will consider doing one.)

Interesting Reading
There are links to Amazon books. These are chosen for various reasons. I don't expect that all students will want to read all the books but I hope they will try. The more students read the more they will learn. Sometimes a book is recommended for what may seem to be "literary" reasons but the books I recommend will, I hope, illustrate something about the topic or country of the main article.
(And, yes, I do get a small payment for each one people buy from this website.)
If you are in the Dollar zone, order from the picture of the book cover from Amazon US.

If you live where the British pound is the currency, order from:
British Amazon

if in the euro zone order from
Amazon Germany

or for books in the German language

if your language is French there are a few books stocked by
Amazon France

However, for keeping up to date, I recommend such sources as the British magazine The Economist (though its very ideological opinions should be treated with reserve), the BBC World Service, the foreign news pages of the best newspapers, which in Britain are: The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, the Sunday Observer, the Sunday Times, the Independent on Sunday.

There are of course the web sites at BBC; London Guardian

In the United States the equivalent papers may be the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor (despite its bizarre title). In Europe such papers as Le Monde, the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit, or La Stampa are useful.

The English versions of Russian papers can also be consulted for a flavour of modern Russian and post-Soviet news.

Keesings Contemporary Archives (Longman) was a useful source.

Indexmundi for basic facts.

Last revised 9/03/11

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