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Zimbabwe

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Situated in southern Africa, Zimbabwe achieved independence from the UK in 1980. President Robert Mugabe, in power since then, has become increasingly authoritarian.

Zambia

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Bordered to the south by the Zambezi River, Zambia lies at the heart of southern Africa. In 1991, it made a peaceful transition from single-party rule to multiparty democracy.

Yemen

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Located in southern Arabia, Yemen was formerly two countries: the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (south and east) and the Yemen Arab Republic (northwest) were united in 1990.

Vietnam

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French rule of Vietnam ended in 1954. Divided at 17°N, the US-backed South fought the Communist North. Reunified after the North’s 1975 victory, it is run as a single-party state.

Venezuela

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Lying on the southern shores of the Caribbean, Venezuela was the first of Spain’s colonies to seek independence. Despite large oil reserves, many Venezuelans still live in poverty.

Vatican City

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The Vatican City, or Holy See, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, is a walled enclave in the Italian city of Rome. It is the world’s smallest fully independent state.

Vanuatu

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An archipelago of 82 islands and islets in the South Pacific, Vanuatu was ruled jointly by the UK and France from 1906 until independence in 1980. Politics is democratic but volatile.

Uzbekistan

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Sharing what is left of the Aral Sea with its neighbor, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan lies on the ancient Silk Road between Asia and Europe. It is the most populous central Asian republic.

Uruguay

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Situated in southeastern South America, Uruguay returned to civilian government in 1985, after 12 years of military rule. Most land is used for farming: Uruguay is a major wool exporter.

United States of America

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Stretching across the most temperate part of North America, and with many natural resources, the US is the world’s leading economic power and third-largest country.

United Kingdom

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Separated from continental Europe by the English Channel, the UK consists of Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland), several smaller islands, and Northern Ireland.

United Arab Emirates

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Bordering the Gulf on the northern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, the seven states of the UAE are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaywayn, Ras al Khaymah, and Fujayrah.

Ukraine

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The former “breadbasket of the Soviet Union,” Ukraine lies on the north coast of the Black Sea. Politics is divided between pro-Russian sentiments and pro-European nationalism.

Uganda

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Landlocked in east Africa, Uganda has a history of ethnic strife. Under President Museveni, steps have been taken to restore peace and to rebuild the economy and democracy.

Tuvalu

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One of the world’s smallest, most isolated states, Tuvalu lies in the central Pacific. The nine islands were linked to the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati) as a UK colony until independence.

Turkmenistan

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Stretching from the Caspian Sea into the central Asian desert, Turkmenistan has had less upheaval than most ex-Soviet states, but President Niyazov was a dictator.

Turkey

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Lying partly in the region of eastern Thrace in Europe, but mostly in Asia, Turkey’s position gives it significant influence in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Middle East.

Tunisia

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Tunisia has traditionally been one of the more liberal Arab states, moving toward a multiparty democracy, but its government is now facing a challenge from Islamic fundamentalists.

Trinidad and Tobago

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The two islands of the former UK colony of Trinidad and Tobago are the most southerly of the Caribbean Windward Islands, lying just 9 miles (15 km) off the coast of Venezuela.

Tonga

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Tonga is an archipelago of 170 islands in the South Pacific. Only 45 of these islands are inhabited. The king’s powers have been challenged: democratic reforms are promised for 2010.

Togo

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Togo lies sandwiched between Ghana and Benin in west Africa. General Eyadema ruled from 1967–2005; his son succeeded him. Lomé port is an important entrepôt for regional trade.

Thailand

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Thailand lies at the heart of mainland southeast Asia. Continuing rapid industrialization has resulted in massive congestion in the capital and a serious depletion of natural resources.

Tanzania

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The east African state of Tanzania was formed in 1964 by the union of Tanganyika and the Zanzibar islands. A third of its area is game reserve or national park.

Tajikistan

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Tajikistan lies landlocked on the western slopes of the Pamirs in central Asia. Soon after the breakup of the USSR in 1991, civil war erupted between ruling communists and Islamists.

Taiwan

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The republic of Taiwan (formerly Formosa) is on an island 80 miles (130 km) off the southeast coast of mainland China, which still considers it to be a renegade province.

Syria

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Stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to the Tigris River, Syria’s borders are regarded as an artificial creation of French colonial rule by many Syrians. Foreign relations are turbulent.

Switzerland

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One of the world’s most prosperous countries, Switzerland sits at the center of Europe. It has retained its neutral status through every major European conflict since 1815.

Sweden

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The largest Scandinavian country by both population and area, Sweden has one of the world’s most extensive welfare systems and is among the leading proponents of equal rights for women.

Eswatini (Swaziland)

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The tiny southern African kingdom of Eswatini is crippled with HIV/AIDS and economically dependent on South Africa. Vocal demands for multiparty democracy have been ignored.

Suriname

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Suriname is a former Dutch colony on the north coast of South America. Democracy was restored in 1991, after almost 11 years of military rule. The Netherlands is still the main supplier of aid.