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  • The world’s most welcoming countries – as voted by you

    Whether it’s a friendly face at check in or a taxi driver who’s full of useful tips, nothing beats getting a warm welcome on your travels – and our interactions with local people have a huge impact on how we view countries as a whole. This month, we asked our Facebook and Twitter followers to share where they’ve found the most hospitable places around the world. Here’s what they said.

    10. Bolivia

    This South American country has been voted among the world’s least friendly tourist destinations in the past – but we’ve always thought Bolivia has been a bit misunderstood. And it looks like our readers agree. As long as you make an effort to learn some key phrases in the local languages, you’ll find out exactly how hospitable Bolivians can be. From the otherworldly Salar de Uyuni to the vast, sapphire-blue Lake Titicaca, the country’s spectacular sights make it worth going the extra mile.

    9. Finland

    Finns are famous for being uncommonly reserved, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a welcoming bunch – all you have to do is join them in the sauna to find out. Sweating it out together has become a national obsession, and you’ll no doubt come away from the experience with plenty of new friends. Once you’ve beaten each other with a bunch of leafy twigs and plunged feet first into a pool just a shade above freezing, you’ll at least have plenty to talk about.

    8. Myanmar

    Cut off from the rest of the world for decades, Myanmar only recently began emerging from its period of isolation – and now is a fascinating time to go. Visit any one of the traditional teahouses to meet the friendly locals, who generally still view tourists as a novelty. In 2016, Myanmar was voted the world’s most generous country in the World Giving Index for the third year running. The index takes into account the kindness to strangers, so you can expect to be warmly received on your travels.

    7. Kenya

    It’s likely that the spindly acacia trees, dusty plains and ochre-hued sunsets that come to mind when you think of Africa belong to Kenya. It hosts a breathtaking range of natural habitats, from the reefs and lagoons of the Indian Ocean to the fertile plains of the Maasai Mara. And its cultural heritage – with more than 40 ethnic groups – is just as rich. It’s common for locals here to speak three languages – their own, Swahili and English – so you’ll find it easy to start up a conversation.

    6. Indonesia

    Home to everything from rumbling volcanoes to orangutan-filled rainforests, and surrounded by some of the best dive sites in the world, Indonesia’s 17,000 tropical islands are extraordinarily diverse. Meanwhile, the people that live here share around 300 ethnicities and many hundreds of languages between them. Locals are outgoing and accustomed to seeing new faces, so you shouldn’t be surprised if a complete stranger introduces themselves.

    5. Japan

    Stepping off the plane and into Japan can feel a bit like strolling onto another planet. There’s everything from ramen vending machines to futuristic capsule hotels to get your head around – and the rules of etiquette can seem just as tricky to navigate. But there’s no need to worry, as Japan is regularly heralded as one of the most welcoming and hospitable countries in the world. That means you don’t have to fret if you’ve accidentally forgotten to switch to toilet slippers or committed a chopstick-related faux pas.

    4. Colombia

    Colombia is widely regarded as one of South America’s rising stars, with the gradual decline of the drug cartels and improving security conditions finally granting access to its charming colonial cities, cloud forests and palm-fringed beaches. Locals here are famous for their hospitality, and you’ll no doubt get to experience this first-hand with a visit to the country’s underrated capital city or thriving Medellín.

    3. Uganda

    Once dubbed “the pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill, Uganda still has plenty to be proud of, including a healthy population of mountain gorillas, the source of the world’s longest river and the Mountains of the Moon, the continent’s tallest range. Many years of civil strife have largely kept it under the tourist radar, though travellers have begun flocking back in recent times with the fostering of stability. Now, you’ve voted it one of the most welcoming countries on Earth, so it’s the perfect time for a trip.

    2. India

    In big Indian cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, you’re almost guaranteed to meet a new person every minute – and the welcome could initially seem a shade too warm. Everywhere you go, local people may introduce themselves, stare at you, or take photos, and you might even find yourself faced with awkward questions such as “Do you have a boyfriend?” or “How much money do you earn?” All of this is perfectly normal in India, and it’s simply a friendly way of showing interest in a new face.

    1. Ethiopia

    Top of the list sits Ethiopia, a profoundly beautiful East African country with a history that stretches back many thousands of years. It was never colonized, so the tribal customs and hospitable traditions you can see here are largely just as they’ve always been. Take the Ethiopian coffee ceremony: the women of the household meticulously roast, grind and boil the aromatic beans, before presenting three consecutive cups of exceptionally fresh coffee to their guests. The process can last for hours, but it’s considered a real mark of friendship.

    Source: roughguides.com

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  • 20 Facts about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

    Ethiopia is building one of the largest dams in the world, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) formerly known as Millennium Dam and sometimes referred to as Hidase Dam, on the River Nile near the Sudan border. Let's see some of the major facts about the Dam.

    1-Location: The dam is being built on the Blue Nile River in North western Ethiopia, a few Kilometers from the Ethio– Sudan common border, in Benishangul/Gumuz Regional State, Metekel zone, Buamza Kebele, between Lebeyate and Negro mountains. The project is located approximately 500 km north west of the capital Addis Ababa

    2-Area Coverage-The dam will flood 1,680 square kilometers of forest in northwest Ethiopia.

    3-Reservoir Size: Holds about 74 bn cubic meters of water.

    4-Projected Capacity-The project’s projected electricity capacity  more than  6,000MW and when completed it will have an estimated production of 15,000 GWh per year.

    5-Dam size: 145m high and 1,708m long 

    6-Dam Cost: US$4.8bn (equal to about 15% of Ethiopia’s GDP in 2012, and about 60% of the annual budget). 

    7-Site Identification-The eventual site for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was identified by the United States Bureau of Reclamation during a Blue Nile survey conducted between 1956 and 1964.

    8-Site Survey-The Ethiopian Government surveyed the site in October 2009 and August 2010. In November 2010, a design for the dam was submitted.

    9-Publicity-On 31 March 2011, a day after the project was made public, a US$4.8 billion contract was awarded without competitive bidding to Salini Costruttori and the dam's foundation stone was laid on 02 April 2011 by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

    10-Initial Name-The dam was originally called "Project X", and after its contract was announced it was called the Millennium Dam.

    11- Renaming-On 15 April 2011, the Council of Ministers renamed it Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

    12-Fund Source-The dam is being funded by government bonds and private donations.

    13-Contractors-The main contractor is the Italian company Salini Costruttori,and other local contractors.

    14-Benefits-A major benefit of the dam will be hydropower production. The electricity to be produced by the hydropower plant is to be sold in Ethiopia and to neighboring countries including Sudan and possibly Egypt.

    15-Job Opportunities-It is expected to create up to 12,000 jobs. 

    16-Resettlement-Approximately 20,000 people will be resettled during the course of the project.

    17-Flood Handling-The dam will be capable of handling a flood of 19,370 cubic metres per second, will reduce alluvium in Sudan by 100 million cubic metres and also facilitate irrigation of around 500,000ha of new agricultural lands.

    18-Total Turbines- The total installed capacity of the dam will accommodate 16 turbines 375 MW installed capacity. 10 turbines will be on the left bank, while another 6 turbines on the right bank.

    19-Upgrading- On March 27, 2012, the Ethiopian government announced a revision of the design to the power plant's design, increasing it from 5,250 MW to 6,000 MW.  

    20-Rank-At 6,000 MW, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa  and the 11th largest in the world when completed.

    Sources: internationalrivers.org , en.wikipedia.org ,ibtimes.co.ukwater-technology.netsalini-impregilo.com and hornaffairs.com

     

     

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