11 Aug 09 | Re: Ongoing trivial tide
Hello, hello, and welcome to the eighth edition of the universe’s slowest-moving quiz. Last week I asked you how many countries in the world are -stans. The answer follows (highlight the invisible text):
There are seven countries whose names end in -stan: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and of course Pakistan. Together they form a huge contiguous land mass with an area of over two million square miles that I like to think of as Stanistan; it is a strange land of mountains, horsemen and tour cyclists maurauding across endless steppes and nomads bathing in vast inland seas, its only real coastline being Pakistan’s stretch on the Arabian Sea. Or perhaps it’s a collection of surprisingly westernised modern republics. Who knows.
There are actually at least a couple of other -stans: Tatarstan and the superbly named Bashkortostan are quasi-autonomous republics within the Russian Federation, but they don’t really count as countries. So the answer’s seven.
Finished highlighting? Good, good. It’s now time for this week’s question, which will have to last you two weeks because I’m not updating next Tuesday.
It’s a tradition for Popes to adopt a Papal name, which is almost always the name of a previous Pope. Setting aside John Paul I, who combined the names of two predecessors, who was the last Pope to use a name that hadn’t been used before?
Answer soon enough. I wonder if the cardinals ever sit round and say “If I was Pope, my Papal name would be...”