Olympics Participants - Competing Countries

  • Andorra - Will 2012 bring the first medal to this tiny country?


    Andorra has been described as 'France and Spain's democratic love child'. . . appropriate for the tiny country nestled in the mountains between the two countries.  With a total population under 100,000, it's surprising Andorra has many Olympic competitors at all, but it does.  Cycling, Judo, shooting, athletics and swimming are what they're good at . . . and let's not forget canoeing.  When canoeist Montserrat Garcia Riberaygua competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he was just 18.  2012 finds him the nation's favourite competitor.  Andorra's been competing since 1976, but has not yet won a medal. Perhaps Summer 2012 will change that.

    Photo courtesy of Keith Laverack

  • The Island of Bermuda


    Bermuda is beloved by conspiracy theorists, owing of course, to the triangle which bears its name; a place in which planes and ships are said to have mysteriously disappeared.  Bermuda's a British overseas territory, but it's closer to the coast of Carolina in the United States than it is to the UK.  Although the sunny island is beautiful, its rocky shores and difficult coastlines have helped maintain its private character.  Bermuda has been competing in the summer and winter olympics since 1931, and has, to date, won 1 bronze medal (boxing, 1976).  Unlike its olympic medal hopes, Bermuda's economy is flourishing, due to offshore finance and tourism.  

    Photo courtesy of StormyDog

  • Can the South Pacific Idyll produce an Olympic giant?

    Cook Islands

    Happily ensconsed in the South Pacific, the Cook Islands owe their name to British explorer Captain James Cook.  This country has competed at the Olympic games six times.  2012 finds it in the canoeing categories, although the national sport is rugby, followed closely by cricket and football.  Fifteen small islands make up the country, but its influence spreads far beyond their land mass, across the sea.  The Cook Islands are a self-governing democracy, in 'free association' with New Zealand. English is the official language with Cook Islands Maori coming second.  Ethnically, they are more than 80% Cook islands Maori.  Their economy is weak, owing to their geographical isolation.  Their main product is agriculture and The Cooks rely largely on foreign aid to keep afloat.

    Photo courtesy of pumicehead

  • Aphrodite's Rock, on Cyprus.  Legend has it that if you swim in these waters, love will come to you.


    Cyprus is located at a strategic point in the eastern Mediterranean, which means that it's been taken over by successive waves of invaders throughout its history.  It has been divided since 1974; the Southern 'Greek' part is a member of the EU, but the northern Turkish half has not yet joined. Although Cyprus is no longer a British protectorate, some vestiges of the British legacy remain, including 2 military bases and driving on the left hand side of the road.  In 2008 Beijing Olympics, Cyprus participated in swimming, athletics, sailing, archery, shooting and weightlifting.  Cyprus has been sending athletes to the games since 1980, but is yet to win an Olympic medal. 

    Photo courtesy of Karen V Bryan

  • Lush Haitian landscape


    Haiti first competed officially at the 1924 Olympics in Paris.  That year marked the first medal, a bronze for the men's shooting team.  In 1928, they graduated to silver, in the long jump.   Through 2011, the island failed to earn any more. The Republic of Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.  It was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the first black-led nation in the world.  Today it's the poorest country in the Americas.  Destructive earthquakes, political instability, crime and violence have taken a large toll.  The country is still trying to recover from the 2010 earthquake which left more than 200,000 people dead.  Although predominantly Christian, the island's culture and arts have also developed with reference to Voodoo, a religion believed to have developed from West African practices amongst slaves in the Indies.

    Photo courtesy of MichelleWalz

  • Palau in the Pacific


    The Republic of Palau lies in the Pacific ocean, 800 miles east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles south of Tokyo.  It is one of the world's youngest and smallest sovereign states, having gained ratified statehood in 1993.  Palau sent just five people to the 2008 Beijing olympics.  Palau faces the same problems as many other Pacific islands, the danger of being engulfed by rising sea levels, and a lack of fresh water supply.  Illegal fishing with dynamite has been a problem in the past, but now the government has declared Palau territory the world's first shark sanctuary.

    Photo courtesy of LuxTonnerre

  • Nevis

    Saint Kitts and Nevis

    Saint Kitts and Nevis are part of the Leeward islands in the Caribbean.  They are the smallest sovereign state in the Americas in both area and population.  The islands have been sending athletes to the summer olympics to compete in athletics since 1996, but have yet to win a medal.  The country's intricate flag will be flown in the 2012 Olympic parade: green to represent island's fertility; red for the struggle of the people to free themselves from slavery; black, the people's African heritage; and two white stars to represent the two islands, St Kitts and Nevis. The islands were settled by Native Americans attracted to its fertile volcanic soil.  Later claimed by both Spanish and French, the islands are now part of the British commonwealth.

    Photo courtesy of opusbei

  • Boat in a bay, Saint Lucia

    Saint Lucia

    Saint Lucia has been competing in the summer Olympics since 1996.  It has so far achieved no medals, but qualified to compete in the 2012 men's and women's high jump.  With a population of just under 200,000 inhabitants, Saint Lucia sits in the Eastern Caribbean sea, bordering the Atlantic ocean.  Like many other caribbean islands, it is volcanic.  A member of the British Commonwealth, St. Lucia has a two-party parliamentary democracy and has been fully independent since 1979.  Interestingly, this small island has produced not one, but two nobel laureates, the highest ratio in the world:  Derek Walcott for literature, and Sir Arthur Lewis for economics.

    Photo courtesy of joncallas

  • St John, US Virgin Islands

    US Virgin Islands

    The US Virgin Islands has fielded athletes for the Summer and Winter Olympics most years since 1968.  for 2012, they have a candidate qualified for the long jump, and the mens and women's track events.  Comprised of the four main islands in the Lesser Antilles, the US Virgin Islands are classified as a 'non governing territory' by the UN. They are an organised unincorporated United States Territory after being sold to the US by Denmark in 1916.  USVI inhabitants are thus American citizens, but can't vote in Presidential elections. The islands are home to just over 100,000 people, mostly of Afro-Caribbean descent.  Protestantism, a Danish legacy, is the majority religion, with Roman Catholicism not far behind.

    Photo courtesy of fhmira

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