Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Bulguksa Temple, South Korea

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it! I hope you'll all have a wonderful holiday season. Personally I'm hoping to get some sleep... Last night I managed to sleep for maybe two hours in total as my body clock is still a bit messed up from all the night shifts I've been doing, so I'm a bit tired now.. -_-

Anyway, just one postcard for today. There's no snow here in England at the moment, thank goodness, but I thought this would be appropriate for today and sort of Christmassy.

Bulguksa is located on the slopes of mount Toham (Jinheon-dong, Gyeongju city, North Gyeongsang province, South Korea). It is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and encompasses seven National treasures of South Korea, including Dabotap and Seokgatap stone pagodas, Cheongun-gyo (Blue Cloud Bridge), and two gilt-bronze statues of Buddha. The temple is classified as Historic and Scenic Site No. 1 by the South Korean government. In 1995, Bulguksa was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the Seokguram Grotto, which lies four kilometers to the east.

The temple is considered as a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art in the Silla kingdom. It is currently the head temple of the 11th district of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Sandy Ground, Anguilla

One more card for today... and another new country to my collection! I've said this before but I wouldn't mind being somewhere like this at the moment... Warmth, the sun...

Anguilla is a British overseas territory in the Caribbean. It is one of the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, lying east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and directly north of Saint Martin. The territory consists of the main island of Anguilla itself, approximately 26 km long by 5 km wide at its widest point, together with a number of much smaller islands and cays with no permanent population. The island's capital is The Valley. The total land area of the territory is 90 km2, with a population of approximately 13,500 (2006 estimate).

Anguilla has become a popular tax haven, having no capital gains, estate, profit or other forms of direct taxation on either individuals or corporations. In April 2011, faced with a mounting deficit, it introduced a 3% "Interim Stabilisation Levy", Anguilla's first form of income tax.

Anguilla is a flat, low-lying island of coral and limestone in the Caribbean Sea, east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is directly north of Saint Martin, separated from that island by the Anguilla Channel. The soil is generally thin and poor, supporting scrub tropical and forest vegetation. Anguilla is noted for its spectacular and ecologically important coral reefs and beaches.

Nunavut, Canada

A lovely card from back in 2009. Alas, this wasn't mailed from Canada but I don't really mind too much when the card is this beautiful and I had had it in my favourites for a while.

Clockwise from top left: The Inuksuk, Purple Saxifrage, Canadian Inuit Dog, The Rock Ptarmigan.

Nunavut is the largest, northernmost and newest territory of Canada. It was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the boundaries had been contemplatively drawn in 1993. The creation of Nunavut resulted in the first major change to Canada's political map since the incorporation of the new province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.

Nunavut comprises a major portion of Northern Canada, and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Its vast territory makes it the fifth-largest country subdivision in the world, as well as the second-largest in North America after Greenland. The capital Iqaluit (formerly "Frobisher Bay") on Baffin Island, in the east, was chosen by the 1995 capital plebiscite. Other major communities include the regional centres of Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay. Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island to the far north, as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west and Akimiski Island in James Bay to the far south. It is the only geo-political region of Canada that is not connected to the rest of North America by highway.

Nunavut is both the least populous and the largest in area of the provinces and territories of Canada. One of the most remote, sparsely settled regions in the world, it has a population of 31,906, mostly Inuit, spread over a land area the size of Western Europe. Nunavut is also home to the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, Alert. A weather station farther down Ellesmere Island, Eureka, has the lowest average annual temperature of any weather station in Canada.

Open market in Shaukeiwan, Hong Kong

A lovely market view from Hong Kong. The main point of this swap were the stamps and the first day cancellation but I really like the card as well.

Shaukeiwan, is a town in the Eastern District, located in the north east of Hong Kong Island. Literally, Shau Kei means a colander, and Wan implies that the town is developed along the coast. Nowadays it is a relatively densely populated town compared with some developing areas.

Gelati Monastery, Georgia

My first written and stamped postcard from Georgia! It's such a beautiful view as well.

Gelati is a monastic complex near Kutaisi, Imereti, western Georgia. It contains the Church of the Virgin founded by the King of Georgia David the Builder in 1106, and the 13th-century churches of St George and St Nicholas.

The Gelati Monastery for a long time was one of the main cultural and intellectual centers in Georgia. It had an Academy which employed some of the most celebrated Georgian scientists, theologians and philosophers, many of whom had previously been active at various orthodox monasteries abroad, one of which was the Mangan Academy in Constantinople. Among the scientists were such celebrated scholars as Ioane Petritsi and Arsen Ikaltoeli.

Due to the extensive work carried out by the Gelati Academy, people of the time called it "a new Hellas" and "a second Athos".

The Gelati Monastery has preserved a great number of murals and manuscripts dating back to the 12th to 17th centuries. The Khakhuli triptych was enshrined at Gelati until being stolen in 1859.

In Gelati is buried one of the greatest Georgian kings, David the Builder. Near his grave are the gates of Ganja, which were taken as trophies by king Demetrius I in 1138. In

1994, Gelati Monastery was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The site was included in the 2008 World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund to draw attention to deterioration caused by prolonged neglect.

Greetings from Switzerland

A surprise from dear Sara (zasa)! :) I really like the postcards in this series but only have a couple so far. I ordered some postcards from postallove a couple of days ago and was tempted to get the whole series but I'd prefer the cards written and stamped from their respective countries of origin so I decided against it. Oh well...

I think this series is a brilliant idea, I wonder how many more countries will be added in the future...?!

Finnish post office

A lovely card I received when I was the winner of the month on the Finnish part of the Postcrossing forum a couple of years ago. I really like illustration by Marjaliisa Pitkäranta and this is one particularly great as it's mail related :)

For some reason this card rather reminds me of my childhood. ...and times when stamps used to be a lot cheaper. :P

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Marie Galante, Guadeloupe

One more card for tonight. I would so love to be somewhere like this at the moment - it's so cold here at the moment and when I'm sleeping during the day, I need two duvets because I'd be freezing otherwise. :/ Having said that, though, I'm actually kind of looking forward to Christmas this year :O

Marie-Galante is an island of the Caribbean Sea located south of Guadeloupe and north of Dominica. It is a dependency of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas department and region of France. Marie-Galante has a land area of 170.5 km². It had 12,009 inhabitants in the 2006 census, with a population density of 76 people per km².

French stamps are used in Guadeloupe.

Miradouro de Leba, Huila, Angola

A new country to my collection! Well, this one wasn't actually mailed from Angola but since the chances of ever receiving a postcard from there are pretty slim, I'm more than happy with this one. It's such a nice view, too!

Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a country in Southern Africa. It is the seventh largest country in Africa, and is bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean and Luanda is its capital city. The exclave province of Cabinda has borders with the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 The Portuguese were present in some – mostly coastal – points of the territory of what is now Angola, from the 16th to the 19th century, interacting in diverse ways with the peoples who lived there. In the 19th century, they slowly and hesitantly began to establish themselves in the interior. Angola as a Portuguese colony encompassing the present territory was not established before the end of the 19th century, and "effective occupation", as required by the Berlin Conference (1884) was achieved only by the 1920s after the Mbunda resistance and abduction of their King, Mwene Mbandu I Lyondthzi Kapova. Independence was achieved in 1975, after a protracted liberation war. After independence, Angola was the scene of an intense civil war from 1975 to 2002. Despite the civil war, areas such as Baixa de Cassanje continue a lineage of kings which have included the former King Kambamba Kulaxingo and current King Dianhenga Aspirante Mjinji Kulaxingo.

The country has vast mineral and petroleum reserves, and its economy has on average grown at a double-digit pace since the 1990s, especially since the end of the civil war. In spite of this, standards of living remain low for the majority of the population, and life expectancy and infant mortality rates in Angola are among the worst in the world. Angola is considered to be economically disparate, with the majority of the nation's wealth concentrated in a disproportionately small sector of the population.

Angola is a member state of the United Nations, OPEC, African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Latin Union and the Southern African Development Community.

Huíla, then, is a province of Angola. It has an area of 79,023 square kilometres and a population of 2,354,398 (2014 census). Lubango is the capital of the province. Basket-making is a significant industry in the province; many make baskets out of reeds.

Faces of Nepal

... and yet another swap card from 2012.

Not much to say about this one, except that it was nice to receive a postcard showing local people, even it tourist views are great as well.

Green Mountain, Ascension Island

Another postcard from a couple of years ago, this time from a swap. It wasn't mailed directly from Ascension Island but I don't think I'll ever get one so this one is still pretty good. :)

Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around 1,600 kilometres from the coast of Africa and 2,250 kilometres from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa. It is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, of which the main island, Saint Helena, is around 1,300 kilometres to the southeast. The territory also includes the "remotest populated archipelago" on Earth, the sparsely populated Tristan da Cunha archipelago, some 3,730 kilometres to the south (about thirty degrees of latitude) and about halfway to the Antarctic Circle.

The island is named after the day of its recorded discovery, Ascension Day, and is located at 7°56′S 14°22′W, about as far south of the equator as tropical Venezuela is to its north. Historically, it has played a role as an important safe haven and coaling station to mariners and for commercial airliners during the days of international air travel by flying boats and during World War II was an important naval and air station, especially providing antisubmarine warfare bases in the Battle of the Atlantic and throughout the war. Ascension Island was garrisoned by the British Admiralty from 22 October 1815 to 1922.

The island is the location of RAF Ascension Island, which is a Royal Air Force station with a United States Air Force presence, a European Space Agency rocket tracking station, an Anglo-American signals intelligence facility and the BBC World Service Atlantic Relay Station. The island was used extensively by the British military during the Falklands War. Ascension Island hosts one of five ground antennae (others are on Kwajalein Island, Diego Garcia, Colorado Springs and Hawaii) that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigational system.

Isle of Man trams

This is one of my only written and stamped postcards from the Isle of Man. I was pretty surprised to receive this one as part of the 'summer round robin' on the Finnish part of the Postcrossing forum a couple of summers ago - one of the people participating went on holiday on the Isle of Man.

The description on the back of the card:  

Snaefell Mountain Railway tramcar No. 1, Isle of Man Railways locomotive No. 1 'Sutherland' and Manx Electric Railway tramcar No. 1 line up at Laxey Station on Friday, 10th July, 1998, during an event as part of the 'Steam 125' enthusiasts week.

Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps, Austria

It feels really weird to be updating at 2am but I've got a day (or night, rather :P) off but can't really go to bed just yet as I'll be doing a 12-hour shift today (Sunday pay, night pay particularly, is quite a bit higher than the pay during the week so it would be silly to turn the extra hours down) so I thought I'd post something here again. I'm starting with this great Unesco card from Austria that I received through a facebook swap with Nina last year.

This card shows a computer animation of how the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps would have looked like. This serial property of 111 small individual sites encompasses the remains of prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlements in and around the Alps built from around 5000 to 500 B.C. on the edges of lakes, rivers or wetlands. Excavations, only conducted in some of the sites, have yielded evidence that provides insight into life in prehistoric times during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Alpine Europe and the way communities interacted with their environment. Fifty-six of the sites are located in Switzerland. The settlements are a unique group of exceptionally well-preserved and culturally rich archaeological sites, which constitute one of the most important sources for the study of early agrarian societies in the region.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Quinard Lighthouse, Alderney

I think this is my only postcard from Alderney so far. I bought this on ebay last year and was a wee bit annoyed when I found out the sender actually lived in Alderney - if I had known, I would've asked them to put a stamp on the card and send it 'naked' instead of sending it in an envelope. Oh well, at least I still got an Alderney stamp with it... :P

Info on the back of the card:  

Built 1912 on the eastern tip of the island, approximately 7,5 miles from the French coast at Cap la Hague. The island is 5 miles long, 1,5 miles wide, population of 1,500, the most northerly of the Channel Islands yet closests to France, main industries are agriculture and tourism, regular shipping connection with Guernsey, 21 miles away, landing strip with daily connections by plane to Guernsey and mainland (Gatwick and Southampton). Pleasant, clean uncrowded beaches, bracing atmosphere. 

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

A mini post for a Wednesday evening. I'm kind of busy at the moment as I got a Christmas job with the Royal Mail, sorting parcels. I'm doing night shifts (so will be off to work in about an hour) which has messed up my body clock, but otherwise it hasn't been too bad so far.

Anyway, I wanted to post a New Zealand postcard here as I'm getting really excited about the last Hobbit movie. I can't wait to see it, although I'll probably have to wait until after Christmas before I'll have the time to go see it. This particular postcard is from a swap with Edvard last year.

Doubtful Sound is a very large and naturally imposing fiord (despite its name) in Fiordland, in the far south west of New Zealand. It is located in the same region as the smaller but more famous and accessible Milford Sound. It took second place after Milford Sound as New Zealand's most famous tourism destination.

Saturday, 29 November 2014


One more post for today. I received my first ever written and stamped postcard from Barbados earlier this year, thanks to Lindsay. I did have an unwritten postcard from Barbados from a swap earlier and I'm actually wondering if I received it from the same person as according to the description I put on my Flickr (that card is unwritten), it was also sent by Lindsay in Canada. Hmmmm...?!

Anyway, this is the card I received earlier this year, showing historic Bridgetown. Bridgetown (metropolitan pop 110,000 (2014)) is the capital and largest city of the nation of Barbados. Formerly, the Town of Saint Michael, the Greater Bridgetown area is located within the parish of Saint Michael. Bridgetown is sometimes locally referred to as "The City", but the most common reference is simply "Town".

The Bridgetown port, found along Carlisle Bay lies on the southwestern coast of the island. Parts of the Greater Bridgetown area (as roughly defined by the Ring Road Bypass or more commonly known as the ABC Highway), sit close to the borders of the neighbouring parishes Christ Church and St. James. The Grantley Adams International Airport for Barbados, is located 16 kilometres southeast of Bridgetown city centre, and has daily flights to major cities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and the Caribbean. While there is no longer local municipal government, it is governed as a political constituency within the national Parliament. During the short lived 1950s-1960s Federation of the British West Indian Territories, Bridgetown was one of three capital cities within the region being considered to be the Federal capital of region.

The present day location of the city was established by English settlers in 1628 following a prior settlement under the authority of Sir William Courten at St. James Town. Bridgetown is a major West Indies tourist destination, and the city acts as an important financial, informatics, convention centre, and cruise ship port of call in the Caribbean region. On 25 June 2011, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison were added as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.

Barbados is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is 34 kilometres in length and up to 23 kilometres in width, covering an area of 432 square kilometres. It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about 168 kilometres east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 400 kilometres north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.

Barbados was visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown. It first appears on a Spanish map from 1511. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536, but they left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The first English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1624. They took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony.

In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. It has a population of 277,821 people, mostly of African descent. Despite being classified as an Atlantic island, Barbados is considered to be a part of the Caribbean, where it is ranked as a leading tourist destination. In 2011 Barbados ranked second in the Americas (after Canada) and 16th globally on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.

...and this is the other card of Barbados that I have, showing a beach in Batsheba, Saint Joseph. The parish of Saint Joseph is a parish of Barbados on the eastern side of the island. The parish is home to two of the more notable botanic gardens in the country - Flower Forest and Andromeda Gardens. Parts of St. Joseph are also referred to as the Scotland District, a reference to the appearance of the landscape. Bathsheba is the main town in the parish. One of the highest points in the island is Chimborazo in Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is also the home of the "Soup Bowl" where international surfing competitions are held.

Luang Prabang, Laos

This was a bit of a surprise in my mailbox back in 2009... A postcard from Laos! ...and with such a small postcard ID as well. It's just a shame that the card wasn't actually mailed from Laos but from Thailand, it would've been nice to get a stamp and cancellation from Laos as well.. :/ Incidentally, a friend of mine in Finland received a postcard from the same person around the same time! What are the chances?!?

If I understood the description on the back of the card, this is a photo from a Lao New Year's festival ('Pii Mai', taking place in April.

Luang Prabang is a city located in north central Laos, at the confluence of the Nam Khan river and Mekong River about 300 km north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province. The population of the city is about 50,000. The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. It had also been known by the ancient name of Chiang Thong. Until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Its population was estimated to be around 6.5 million in 2012.

Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang, which existed from the 14th to the 18th century when it split into three kingdoms. In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three kingdoms — Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak — uniting to form what is now known as Laos. It briefly gained independence in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but returned to French rule until it was granted autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. Shortly after independence, a long civil war ended the monarchy, when the Communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975.

Laos is a single-party socialist republic. It espouses Marxism and is governed by a single party communist politburo dominated by military generals. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnam People's Army continue to have significant influence in Laos. The capital city is Vientiane. Other large cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, and Pakse. The official language is Lao. Laos is a multi-ethnic country with the politically and culturally dominant Lao people making up approximately 60% of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes, accounting for 40% of the population, live in the foothills and mountains.


My first ever postcard from Kuwait! I was so happy to receive this one :)

If you can't read the text on the card, it says "Throughout the Arabian Peninsular, beautifully-wrought, heavy wooden doors once defended from marauding enemies." 

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is an Arab country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2013, Kuwait has a population of 4 million people.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Kuwait was a prosperous center of trade and commerce. Starting in the early 20th century, its regional economic importance declined, and by 1934 Kuwait had lost its prominence in long-distance trade. Kuwait's economy was devastated by several trade blockades. During World War I, the British Empire imposed a blockade against Kuwait because its ruler supported the Ottoman Empire. Following the Kuwait–Najd War of 1919–1920, Saudi Arabia maintained a trade blockade against the country from 1923 until 1937. In 1990, Kuwait was annexed by Iraq. The Iraqi occupation came to an end after military intervention by United States-led forces.

Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliamentary system. The country ranks highly in regional comparisons of national performance, including protection of civil liberties, press freedom and judicial independence. Kuwait is frequently ranked as having the freest press in the Arab world. The country is currently attempting to diversify its oil-reliant economy. In recent years, the hostile relationship between the elected parliament and government has prevented the implementation of economic reforms.


Andorra is one of those countries where I only have about three cards from. I just realised I hadn't posted any here yet so here are a couple of them. The first one is from a swap, the second one from a RR on the Postcrossing forum.

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked microstate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 km2 and an estimated population of 85,000 in 2012. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres above sea level. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.

Created under a charter in A.D. 988, the present Principality was formed in A.D. 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Spanish/Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell and the President of France.

Andorra is a prosperous country, mainly because of its tourism industry, which services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually, and because of its status as a tax haven, although it is in the process of reforming its tax regime. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the de facto currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993. The people of Andorra have the 2nd highest human life expectancy at birth in the world – 84 years.

Andorra has two postal systems, the Spanish and the French one. These stamps are from the Spanish post...

I'm not sure of the exact location of this place, it only says 'Valls d'Andorra' on the back of the card.

... and these stamps are from the French post.

Russia map

I just realised I haven't posted any Russian postcards here for a while so here's one, a lovely map card I received from a swap a couple of years ago.

Not much to say about this card, except that I really like it. The background pattern is really pretty as well!

Kronborg Castle, Denmark

Another card from a swap with Chris in Denmark last year.

Kronborg is a castle and stronghold in the town of Helsingør, Denmark. Immortalized as Elsinore in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Kronborg is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe and has been added to UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list (2000).

The castle is situated on the extreme northeastern tip of the island of Zealand at the narrowest point of the Øresund, the sound between Denmark and Sweden. In this part, the sound is only 4 km wide, hence the strategic importance of maintaining a coastal fortification at this location commanding one of the few outlets of the Baltic Sea.

The castle's story dates back to a stronghold, Krogen, built by King Eric VII in the 1420s. Along with the fortress Kärnan, Helsingborg on the opposite coast of Øresund, it controlled the entranceway to the Baltic Sea. From 1574 to 1585 King Frederick II had the medieval fortress radically transformed into a magnificent Renaissance castle. The main architects were the Flemings Hans Hendrik van Paesschen and Anthonis van Obbergen, whereas the sculptural work was coordinated by Gert van Groningen. In 1629 a fire destroyed much of the castle, but King Christian IV subsequently had it rebuilt. The castle also has a church within its walls. In 1658 Kronborg was besieged and captured by the Swedes who took many of its valuable art treasures as war booty. In 1785 the castle ceased to be a royal residence and was converted into barracks for the army. The army left the castle in 1923, and after a thorough renovation it was opened to the public.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Talofofo River, Guam

One more card for today, and another new country/territory to my collection! I received this card from a facebook swap with Sayaka, thank you so much for offering to send me this!

Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of seventeen Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations. The island's capital is Hagåtña (formerly rendered Agana). Guam is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands.

The Chamorros, Guam's indigenous people, first inhabited the island approximately 4,000 years ago. The island has a long history of European colonialism, beginning with Ferdinand Magellan's Spanish expedition landing on March 6, 1521. The first colony was established in 1668 by Spain with the arrival of settlers including Padre San Vitores, a Catholic missionary. For more than two centuries Guam was an important stopover for the Spanish Manila Galleons that crossed the Pacific annually. The island was controlled by Spain until 1898, when it was surrendered to the United States during the Spanish–American War and later formally ceded as part of the Treaty of Paris.

Guam is the largest island in Micronesia and was the only U.S.-held island in the region before World War II. Guam was captured by the Japanese on December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was occupied for two and a half years. During the occupation, the people of Guam were subjected to acts that included forced labor, torture, beheadings, and rape, and were forced to adopt the Japanese culture. Guam was subject to fierce fighting when U.S. troops recaptured the island on July 21, 1944, a date commemorated every year as Liberation Day.

Today, Guam's economy is supported by its principal industry, tourism, which is composed primarily of visitors from Japan. Guam's second largest source of income is the United States Armed Forces.

Tatev monastery, Armenia

This is my first ever written and stamped postcard from Armenia! I never really expected to ever receive one so I'm really happy to have this one. ...and Armenian cancellations look pretty cool, too!

The Tatev monastery is a 9th-century monastery located on a large basalt plateau near the Tatev village in Syunik Province in southeastern Armenia. The term "Tatev" usually refers to the monastery. The monastic ensemble stands on the edge of a deep gorge of the Vorotan River. Tatev is known as the bishopric seat of Syunik and played a significant role in the history of the region as a center of economic, political, spiritual and cultural activity.

In the 14th and 15th centuries Tatev Monastery hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities, the University of Tatev, which contributed to the advancement of science, religion and philosophy, reproduction of books and development of miniature painting. Scholars of the Tatev University contributed to the preservation of Armenian culture and creed during one of its most turbulent periods in its history.

The Tatev monastery is also a tentative Unesco site.

Saudi Arabia

This is one of my only postcards received from Saudi Arabia. ...and I was lucky to receive this one - Ellen, who I swapped with, had to resend this as the first card never turned up, and the same happened to a lot of cards she sent at the time. I can't even imagine how gutted she must have been; I hate it when that happens!

The description on the back of this card says this is "an old farm boundary, Ughdah - Hail". Now, I tried to find out if Ughdah is a place but had no luck so I don't really know where in Saudi Arabia this place is...