It’s Saturday again, and getting closer to the opening ceremony of World Cup 2018 in Russia!
Anyone planning to watch the match live in the stadium? Because if so, I absolutely envy you. It’s always been my dream to watch the World Cup live in the stadium.
Never got any luck (or enough money) to do it, so I think with the visa-free for Indonesian passport holder in Qatar, my best (and nearest) opportunity to actually watch it will be in 2022.
But anyway, despite being sorry for myself
and my passport and economy weakness, let’s try the feature for those countries in Group E and F for this World Cup! 😀
FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group E & F
You’ll definitely enjoy how this group is going to get since it’s the group of two countries with the most titles in the tournament: Brazil and Germany.
- Costa Rica
- South Korea
But then again, how much knowledge have you got about all these countries?
Group E – Smartass Prediction & 11 Random Facts of the Countries
Talking about Brazil, more or less, people will automatically think about football. First, the fact that they are the only country who have won the World Cup 5 times, which makes them the country with most titles in the tournament’s history.
And they don’t seem to ever run out of football talents despite how embarrassing it was when they lost to Germany 1-7 in the last World Cup. 😛
I mean, sure it was quite embarrassing and even a little bit sad to watch their fans back in the days, but then again with what they have in the squad, it’s not impossible for them to get up and give some kind of sweet revenge in this World Cup.
Brazil and Costa Rica were once playing in the same group during the World Cup, and it happened in 2002 with the result 2-5 for Brazil. Why the heck do I remember this random stuff? Because that’s what I do, I remember the random thing that is not so necessary to remember.
Also, because it’s the first time I saw Kaka playing when he came in replacing Rivaldo. It was pretty much love at the first sight, despite he only played once in that match. 😐
Don’t forget, despite the fact that maybe the United States didn’t really want to go to Russia *lol*, Costa Rica won 4-0 against the ‘Muricans in CONCACAF’s qualification. And with Navas being the #1 goalkeeper for Real Madrid, I think it’s fair to predict that they’re probably good in defence too.
Being a fan of Croatia myself, it doesn’t make me know too much about Serbian national football team, because honestly, it’s been awhile since the last time I watched them play.
But seeing their track record, I think the fact that they were topped in the group with Ireland and Wales sounds something that is quite promising.
As for Switzerland, I am particularly interested to follow them since they’re the kind of underdog team that could surprise the world out of the sudden. Honestly, I’m kind of hoping they will surprise me on this group stage. 🙂
With the numerous talented football players and supermodel, I think we all agree that Brazil is probably one of the countries with the sexiest people in the world.
Sure, maybe you have no idea who this Lula guy is despite the fact that this former president got into some huge corruption scandals in the country, but rest assured we all know some Brazilian hotties from Kartika Luyet, Adriana Lima, Gisele Bundchen, Kaka, and don’t forget that Love Actually guy Rodrigo Santoro.
Not to mention the destinations in Brazil as there are so many things to do around there. From having an adventure around the Amazon to watching a football match in Sao Paulo, you can do all in Brazil.
Now that Indonesia has just agreed for a visa-free scheme with Brazil, thinking about those people make me want to go to Brazil to get a little luck. *lol*
- Brazil is the only country in South America whose first language is not Spanish. Theirs, like you probably already know, is Brazilian Portuguese.
- Brazil has the largest number of Japanese people outside of Japan. And it all started out with Meiji Restoration, whereby the reformation had put Japan in such situation that forced their people to look elsewhere for the opportunity to live.
- If you’re familiar with the martial arts jiu-jitsu, or maybe you actually practice it, then it’s fair to thank Japanese community in Brazil for that.
- Brazil was the last nation in the Americas to abolish slavery, which happened in 1888 after centuries of hardship seen by the imported African slaves.
- Remember the controversial Olympics in 2016? Well, despite the controversy, due to the event, Brazil has become the first South American country to host the Olympics.
- You know what? I just found out that Embraer is actually Brazilian. I feel like a failure as for being an ex-flight attendant and not knowing this. 😛
- It’s been 10 years since Brazil started to provide sex change surgeries for free under their public health system. One of the requirements to get into the procedure is that patients must be at least 21 and diagnosed as transsexuals with no other personality disorders. In addition, they also must undergo psychological evaluation for at least two years.
- Brazil is the 5th largest country by population behind China, India, US, and of course my very own country Indonesia.
- I’m surprised with how many similarities Indonesia has to Brazil. Not only that both of the countries are around the Equator, but also some fun facts might interest you as much as it did me. For example, did you know that the Dutch invaded Brazil in 1630? The only difference is that the Portuguese had more power in Brazil, while the opposite happened in Indonesia. Also, they’ve also got only 3 time zones. Same as Indonesia.
- The largest waterfall system in the world is partially located in Brazil. Iguazu Falls of the Iguazu River is located on the border of the Brazilian state of Parana and the Argentine province of Misiones.
- The country occupies half of South America’s total landmass, in which it has borders with all countries in South America except for Chile and Ecuador.
2. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is the kind of countries that I only know by name.
Like, I literally have no idea what’s in there and how it is there since I’ve never been. Neither I have met any Costa Rican as the representative of the country.
So, I’m trying to compile some interesting facts I’ve found about the country to be listed here.
- The colon (not sure why they call it that) is their own currency, however many stores list the prices in the USD. Despite the name colon for the local currency, the locals often use the word harina, which literally means flour to refer to their money. Well, colon doesn’t sound great in English either, does it? 😛
- The average wage for labors in Costa Rica is 10 USD per day, which makes it the highest in the whole Central America region.
- Monkeys are one of the most common mammals in Costa Rica, next to bats
and human. Hence, the picture.
- Native Costa Ricans call themselves ticos (male) and ticas (female), while foreigners are often called gringos (male) and gringas (female).
- In case you’re planning to visit Costa Rica for a party, just bear in mind that if you want to go to a nightclub, ask people where a discoteca is. In Costa Rica, a nightclub is what they call a strip club. Either way, it’s gonna be fun I guess? 😛
- Pretty much like Iceland, Costa Rica also has no standing military since they abolished their armed forces in 1949.
- For all Columbus haters out there, in 1546, his grandson Luis was named Duke of Veragua. The territory of Veragua had been created in 1502 and extended along the Caribbean Coast of present-day Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Anyway, this grandson Luis set out from Spain to claim his legacy with 130 men, but he was attacked by the Indians, lost most of his men, and returned back to Europe in failure.
- Costa Rica is ranked as one of the most visited international destinations with tourism as their leading industry. It has been proven with over two million visitors arriving each year.
- Costa Rica is currently a country member of the Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries organization as it possesses fully 4% of all known living species of flora and fauna. They also possess 51 of the New World’s 300 hummingbird species, making it the hummingbird capital of the world.
- Costa Rica is one of the largest exporters of bananas in the world, only second to Ecuador.
- Instead of saying “my other half”, Costa Ricans refer to their significant others as their “media naranja“, or “the other half of the orange.”
You probably know by now that my thesis for bachelor’s degree is related to Serbia, despite my obsession over Croatia.
However, even in my thesis, I’ve done a fair bunch of research related to Serbia as well.
Not exactly an expert, but at least I know who Slobodan Milosevic is or what Chetniks is without having to take some time to google it.
- The capital city Belgrade, is known as one of the cities in Europe that has the best nightlife.
- If Croatia is known as the inventor of neckties, Serbia has vampir in their dictionary. Although the first vampire has nothing to do with Dracula. The first vampire in the world who was also extentively written in the Austrian press was Petar Blagojevic in 1725. The word vampire itself was derived from the Serbian word, vampir.
- Serbia is the country that has changed its name numerous time in the past 2 decades. Most of you are probably already familiar with Yugoslavian Wars, but the transformation of Serbia’s name is quite interesting to follow. After the breakup of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in early 1990s, they’ve changed the name into Republic of Yugoslavia before they made an important transition to rename their country as Serbia and Montenegro in 2003 after the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic from his presidency. That, until Montenegro became an independent nation in 2006. The turmoil didn’t even stop right there, as in 2008, Kosovo also declared their separation from Serbia. Although this time, Serbia remains Serbia until today.
- Serbia has two official flags, in which their official flag has the coat of arms on it when the national flag (the one that you often see in every football or any other sports) is just the tricolor.
- Serbian is the only European language that uses two writing systems – both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. The Cyrillic is still used for more official documents and in school. However, more Serbs opt to use the Latin alphabet outside it.
- Despite the fact that he was born in a city that is now modern Croatia, Nikola Tesla was a Croatian Serb. Meaning that he was a Serb living in Croatia.
- Although our next country in this series, Switzerland, is famous with the clock making business, Serbia is actually ahead of them. They started doing this almost 600 years before the Swiss took over the industry heavily.
- If you were a fan of Croatian national football team like me, you might recall the incident in the qualifying phase for World Cup 2014 in which it ended with the ban of each their supporters. That is not something new in terms of football, some people would probably remember the football riot that happened in 1990 between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade.
- 18 Roman emperors were born on the land of modern Serbia, which is about 20% of all emperors. The most famous one was definitely Constantine the Great.
- Not only that Serbs are the most hospitable nation in the world according to an international poll, their people are also infamous with a dark sense of humor.
- If there’s no enough reason to visit Serbia, just know that Serbia has granted visa-free entry to Indonesian passport holder. This is probably the main reason why I am actually considering to get back to fly. Should I go back to my previous profession as a flight attendant?
I don’t care if any of you have somewhat American dreams, I do have my own personal Swiss dreams.
If you ask me why, not only is it because the strength of Swiss franc as their local currency, but also it’s a small country with so many beautiful nature and landscape. And don’t forget about the luxury of Swiss chocolate!
- There are only two countries in the world that have square flags: Switzerland and the Vatican. Now that I’ve mentioned some random stuff about flags, first Serbian and then Switzerland, I honestly feel like I’m a devout subscriber of Sheldon’s Fun With Flags. 😛
- Geneva, Switzerland is the home to the second-largest of the four major office sites of the United Nations.
- Switzerland is one of the world’s best places to be born, live and be happy. It was ranked the world’s happiest country in 2015, and only come second after Denmark one year later.
- Despite the fact that yall are probably already familiar with Zurich, it’s actually not the capital city of Switzerland. Zurich is only the largest city, while the capital city is Bern.
- Half of the luxury watches produced in the world come from Switzerland. To name a few, there are Tissot, TAG Heur, and Rolex. Those watches that I can’t afford to even look at the price tag. LMAO. But guess what? Even when you’re too broke to buy the watch, you can still enjoy the Swiss watch museum and tours if you happen to travel there.
- There are more banks than dentists in Switzerland. You’ve probably heard about the infamous Swiss bank, like most rich guys probably have a bank account there. The main benefit of Swiss bank account includes the low levels of financial risk and high levels of privacy they offer. You probably want to read more stuff about Panama papers to understand this better. 😉
- You probably know E=MC2 by Albert Einstein, but did you know that the equation was devised when he was in Switzerland?
- To my surprise, Nescafe is actually a Swiss. And if you didn’t already know, it’s actually the first world instant coffee.
- Despite being located in Europe, Swiss was never involved in any World War.
- The country has a direct democracy, in which Swiss citizens can gather at least 50,000 signatures to challenge against the law within 100 days. If successfull, a national vote will be held and voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law. All hail vox populi!
- Of course you may be familiar with some of Swiss chocolates like Lindt or Toblerone.
Group F – Smartass Prediction & 11 Random Facts of the Countries
Let’s put aside the fact that Germany is the current world champion, I doubt people would belittle the team as if anything, they’re the kind of team that has always had a stable performance in the past few decades.
I mean, yeah… They don’t always come out as a champion but der Panzer has always performed fairly well in every tournament.
As for South Korea, being the only Asian team that has ever made it to the semifinal of the tournament, again they will have some kind of ambition to rewrite the history. If not even make it better than before.
Being the top of CONCACAF, hopefully Mexico could play fairly well with some popular names from Chicarito to even Rafael Marquez!
Normally, I’d be excited to watch Sweden, but nowadays since I rarely follow Swedish national football team, I barely know any player that makes it to the preliminary squad. However, I think it’s pretty interesting to see what the Swedish team could do in the tournament.
I think it’s a general knowledge to know things about Germany since there’s so many things to talk about. No kidding, from history to technology, it’s right there in front of you.
Prior to writing on the list of facts about the country, I even doubt that I would find something that I didn’t know about it. But then again, let’s try!
- I was wrong, some things actually still surprise me. Like, did you know that Germany was the first country in the world to adopt daylight saving time? Okay, so even until now I still don’t quite understand what’s up with that and why, but anyway…
- Fanta originated in Germany as a result of the World War 2 due to a trade embargo that prevented importing Coca-Cola into Germany. In result of that, the head of Coca-Cola in the country decided to create a domestic product for the market using available products like whey and apple pomace. Fanta is the second oldest brand of the Coca-Cola Company history.
- Germany is the EU’s largest economy with a GDP of 3.73 trillion USD. They are also the 4th largest economy in the world behind the US, China and Japan. Hence, the popularity of Angela Merkel.
- The Germans are the second largest consumer of beer after the Irish, and maybe you’re already familiar with the Oktoberfest in Munich, Bavaria as the biggest beer festival in the world.
- The zoo in the capital city of Germany, Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten is the largest in the world.
- If you grew up with the Lindsay Lohan’s movie The Parent Trap, then just know that the movie is an adaption of Erich Kaestner’s German novel called das doppelte Lottchen. I grew up with the novel as well, not sure if you’ve ever read the novel. If you haven’t, I think you should. 🙂
- As weird as it sounds for some people, German is still the language with the most native speakers in Europe whereby some other countries have German as their official language. To name a few, alongside with Germany, there are also Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.
- Berlin isn’t the first capital city of Germany since there are several cities that had become the capital city in the country such as Aachen, Regensburg, Frankfurt-am-Main, Nuremberg, Weimar, and Bonn. And I suppose talking about Berlin nowadays is incomplete if we don’t talk about the infamous Berlin Wall or Berlin Mauer for the local eh?
- The 9th of November is a significant day in Germany as so many events fell on the day only with the year difference. In 1918, Germany became a republic. In 1923, the Bier Hall Putsch in Munich. In 1938, Kristallnacht. And the last would be in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell.
- Despite being associated with ‘Muricans, the hamburger is actually taken from the city in Germany, Hamburg.
- Germany has Museum of Snoring or Schnarchmuseum in Alfeld.
2. South Korea
I know there are so many K-fans community out there, from K-Pop, K-Beauty and all things South Korean out there. I mean, the number of people who are interested in learning Korean language and culture has been decreasing in Indonesia, thanks to the raising K-pop culture.
Honestly, I have no idea about all of those. Despite being interested with makeup in particular, I’m not quite a big fan of K-beauty products. I mean, yeah, I’ve found some products that suit my skin type quite well. But I also have tried some others with the average result but the higher price here in Indonesia. So I can’t really say that I’m a fan of anything Korean.
But ever since my sister got obsessed with the triplets Daehan, Minguk and Manse from the Return of Superman series, at least I know those kids.
- On Jeju, the largest island in South Korea, giant stone statues known as dol hareubang (old grandfather) can be found along the beaches. It is believed that if newlywed women touch the statues’ long, broad, phallic-looking noses, they will be blessed with fertility.
- Jeju Islands can be visited visa-free for so many countries, even though visa is required to visit South Korea for your particular passport.
- Just like Chinese, South Korean also believes that number 4 is unlucky, often associated with death.
- In case you didn’t know it already, surprise… South Korea is the largest market for plastic surgery per capita in the world.
- South Korea has the second lowest percentage of obese citizens in the entire world after Japan. Not sure whether it’s because their citizens live a healthy lifestyle or it has something to do with point #4. 😛
- South Korea is currently the 11th largest economy in the world, while they’ve also made it into top 3 after China and Japan in Asia.
- It is actually quite surprising to find out the fact that in South Korea, you must be 19 to smoke, drink, or vote.
- As it turns out, just like Japanese, South Koreans also celebrate White Day on 14th of March. For those who are not familiar with the term, it’s pretty much like Valentine’s Day, but it is reserved for women where the men would receive the gifts and treats.
- The 8th secretary-general of United Nations, prior to the current Antonia Guterres, Ban Ki-moon, is Korean.
- And yup, not only is Gangnam style Korean, Taekwondo is also Korean. 😉
- The Korean War was the first major military conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. As you probably know nowadays, it has never officially ended. However, in case you’re not so up-to-date in terms of global news, just recently Kim Jong-un has become the first North Korean leader to cross into the South since the of the war.
You’ve probably heard of this country so often from Donald Trump’s speech during the last presidential election, or if you’re a lucky girl like me, you probably grew up with numerous Mexican telenovela and declared Thalia as your favorite actress, thanks for the role Maria Mercedes when your name is Marya.
If that’s not enough, during your adolescence, you also grew up with Amigos x Siempre. I mean, seriously, I could relate with Mexicans more than I thought I would be. 😛
Are you planning a trip to Mexico anytime soon? Or are you a digital nomad thinking about relocating to the country? Well, you might find the tips on getting a Mexican SIM card useful.
- If you’ve probably read my piece on Dalmatian and Croatia, then it’s not a rocket science to associate the dog Chihuahua with Mexico. 😉
- The border between Mexico and the United States, the one that has been talked a lot by the current ‘Murican president where the ‘wall’ will be built, is apparently the second largest border in the world. The first is the US-Canadian. Planning to visit Mexico? Here’s the backpacking Mexico travel guide that you may want to check out.
- There are at least 6 out of the 52 states that currently exist in the lands, in which they used to belong to Mexico. They are Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and California.
- Hernan Cortes was a Spanish conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of modern Mexico in the early 16th century. He was a part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas. He had a native mistress and translator Marina (La Malinche), who later gave birth to his first son, who is considered the first mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish).
- I couldn’t thank Mexico enough to introduce chocolate, corn, and chillis to the world. Those three are the things that I love.
- Although the pyramids in Egypt is probably the most popular in the world, the largest pyramid in the world is actually located in Mexico, the Great Pyramid of Cholula.
- Mexico hosted the FIFA World Cup twice, 1970 and 1986. And in case you forget, the match between Argentina and England with the infamous goal of Maradona, which was to become known as ‘the hand of God goal’, happened in Estadio Azteca, Mexico City.
- The National University of Mexico was founded in 1551 by Charles V of Spain is the oldest university in North America.
- If you happen to visit Mexico for a vacation, you can visit some cenotes located in Mayan Riviera. Associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings. You can find out more about cenotes in Tulum here.
Not TilaTequila, the infamous Mexican distilled beverage, is a native to a town “Tequila.” It is located in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.
- As probably like most of you, I also love guacamole, just know that the Aztec empire created it with the same exact ingredients that local restaurants use today back in the 1500s. The Aztecs used to call this “ahuaca-mulli”, which literally means avocado-mixture.
Sweden has got a special place in my heart ever since I watched them playing against England in the World Cup 2002. It was the era of Freddie Ljungberg, Anders Svensson, and Magnus Hedman. Ever since, although I know almost nothing about the country in particular, I think that one day, I have to visit Sweden just because.
Only a few years ago that I’ve found the book written by a Swedish author, Jonas Jonasson, The 100-Year-Old who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. I fell in love with the book, and automatically name it as my favorite book.
Moving forward to this day, I’ve read 3 of his books including The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden and Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All.
- If Danish has the term hygge, then Swede has an important and often-used word lagom. It literally means ‘good enough’ or ‘just right’, which sums up Swedish cultural and social ideals of equality and fairness.
- Homosexual relations have been legal in Sweden even before Indonesia’s independence, in 1944. Same sex couples have been able to adopt since 2003 and get married since 2009. Btw, thanks to the book The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden, I’ve been genuinely curious with the Haijby affair situation. For any Swede that came across my page here, please do enlighten me in such the easiest way possible! 😀
- Most of you probably know that Swedish name of Sweden is Sverige. It was started around 2000 years ago when the Svear people gave Sweden its name. Svear in their language meant ‘us’, and rike meant ‘kingdom’. To combine both words, Sverige literally means ‘our Kingdom’.
- Sweden is not only about the Grandpa Nokia. There are some famous items that were invented either in Sweden or by Swedes. To name a few, there are ultrasound, astonomical lens, refrigerator, and even computer mouse!
- For yall dancing queen out there, you probably know by now that ABBA is the fourth-best selling music act in history after Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson.
- If you happen to have been addicted to Candy Crush, just know that the Swedish company King is behind the app game. And King was named as the Sweden’s best employer in 2013.
- You’re probably familiar with the term Stockholm syndrome, the psychological response wherein a captive begins to feel closely with their captors. It was named after the capital city of Sweden due to a botched bank robbery happened in the city, in August 1973. Four employees of Sveriges Kreditbank were held hostage in the back for six days. During the standoff, a bond developed between captive and captor. During a phone call with the then Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, the captive stated that she fully trusted her captors but feared that she would die on the building. You know, the modern story of Beauty and the Beast. 😛
- Absolut Vodka used to belong to Swedish government, until they sold it to the French billionaire Pernod Ricard for USD 8.3 billion in 2008.
- How many times have you visited IKEA in your country? Well, IKEA was first registed in their home country Sweden in 1943 and now has stores in more than 30 countries, including Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United States and even China.
- In 1974, the grandpa of the current North Korean president, Kim Il-sung, took 1000 Volvo sedans from Sweden to North Korea and never paid for them.
- Considering we take a crap once in a while, in Sweden you can buy toilet paper called Kräpp.
Yup, so there are some things that you’re probably getting familiar with about the countries above. Or maybe some that you only heard of it for the first time.
Is there any of these countries that you probably are familiar with in addition to some facts about it? Or maybe, are you interested to relocate to one of these countries because of something? Let me know, and see you in the last group for the series next Saturday. Cheerio! 😀