World Facts

10 Bizarre Stories From Around the World

Join us on a path through the obscure and the mindblowing.

Certain traditions from various parts of the world are highly unusual and mind-blowing. From Ethiopia using its own calendar to Denmark having rigorous name laws and Nauru operating without a capital, below are the most bizarre stories from around the world:

10. Ethiopia has its own calendar.

Ethiopia uses a calendar that is distinct from the Gregorian calendar. The country's calendar bears some similarities to the Julian and Coptic Calendars. One year in the Ethiopia's calendar consists of 13 months where 12 months have 30 days each. The final month contains five days in a common year and six days in a leap year. A leap year occurs after four years without fail in the country's calendar. The calculation of Christ's birth marks the major difference with the Ethiopian calendar. Ethiopians commemorate Christmas on January 7 and not on the common December 25. Ethiopia's calendar is also used in the Orthodox Tewahido Church present in both Ethiopia and Eritrea.

9. In Tanzania, there is a lake that is so alkaline that animals are killed by it if submerged.

Lake Natron in the northern part of Tanzania ranks as one of the world's most alkaline lakes. High concentrations of Trona (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate) and natron (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate) make the lake's water have a pH as high as 10.5 while the temperatures peak over 40 degrees Celsius. Only the Alcolapia latilabris and A. ndalalani fish species survives in the lake in addition to some algae. Migrating birds sometimes land on the lake's surface after which they are calcified. These chemically preserved carcasses float to the shore during the dry season. The inhabitants of the surrounding villages do not swim in the lake as it is extremely caustic. The lake is, however, the breeding ground of nearly 2.5 million lesser flamingoes.

8. Denmark has the most strict name laws in the world.

Denmark's name laws rank as the strictest in the world. These laws were enacted to protect children from being given those names that only suit the fancy of their parents. First names are selected from a list of pre-approved names which are about 15,000 male names and 18,000 for females. The names should indicate gender, and they must also be consistent with Danish orthography. The names cannot also have surname character. If a parent intends to use a name not featured on the list, he or she must seek special approval from the local church after which the name is examined by governmental officials.

7. In China, elements of time travel are being censored from television shows.

Elements of time travel are being subjected to censorship in Chinese television shows. The authorities have cited the need to respect the nation's values in issuing the directive and have discouraged any films with the potential to rewrite historical events. The media authorities further illegalized such elements as fantasy, absurd techniques, reincarnation, and superstition.

6. Nauru, once the world's richest nation, is now one of the poorest.

Nauru was once recognized as the world’s richest nation but is now ranked among the poorest. By the time it gained its sovereignty in 1968, Nauru boasted rich deposits of phosphates thanks to numerous centuries of bird guano. The per-capita income in Nauru in the 1960s and 1970s was one of the highest in the world. The exhaustion of the phosphate reserves posed financial problems for the tiny country in addition to harming its environment. The country resorted to being an illegal money laundering center and a tax haven for a while. The country has received Australian aid for many years in exchange for operating the Nauru detention center. Nauru’s unemployment rate has peaked at 90% while the government employs 95% of the labor force.

5. Nauru is the only country in the world without a capital.

Nauru is the only nation without a capital city. Nauru is ranked as the 3rd smallest state after Vatican City and Monaco. Most of the Republic's important buildings sit in the Yaren District which is sometimes wrongly quoted as the country's capital city. The District hosts the embassies of Australia and Taiwan, Parliament House, and the International Airport. Nauru's territories feature 14 administrative districts with Denigomodu being the most populated with 1,804 inhabitants. Nauru lacks any cities in the proper meaning of the term.

4. There is a very small island in the south Pacific that uses Disney characters on its currency.

Niue is the only nation whose legal tender features Disney images. The small Pacific nation contracted the New Zealand Mint to churn out a series of gold and silver commemorative coins. Featured on the coins are several of Disney's most famous characters including Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald Duck. The coins have facilitated international awareness of the country, and they have become collector items across the world. The coins, however, feature the head of Queen Elizabeth on the reverse side.

3. In Zimbabwe, there is a town that simutaneously flushed their toilets as an attempt to unclog pipes.

The city of Bulawayo gained global spotlight in 2012 when local officials requested households to participate in synchronized water flushing. The exercise was scheduled to start at 7:30pm in three-day intervals. The local authority aimed at clearing waste that had gathered in Bulawayo's sewers after extreme water rationing necessitated by drought. Council workers took trips to the townships to urge the residents to participate and warned them of possible fines for those households that would fail to participate. Many of Bulawayo's inhabitants were believed to have undertaken the flushing directive.

2. There is a town in Norway that uses mirrors to control the direction of sunlight.

The Norwegian town of Rjukan makes use of massive sun mirrors to receive sunlight. Prior to the fitting of the mirrors, the inhabitants had become used to dark winters. The Gaustatoppen Mountains surround the industrial town which does not get direct sunlight for 5 to 6 months annually. Three large mirrors have been fitted in the mountains, and they are computer controlled and solar powered. The mirrors are able to track the sun's movement and reflect the rays to the square. The concept for the sun mirrors was discussed a century back when Rjukan was being established. Sam Eyde who founded Norsk Hydro, opted to construct a cable car instead due to inadequate technology to fit the mirrors. The cable car has transported the residents to the sunny mountaintops for years. Martin Andersen is the artist responsible for Rjukan's mirrors.

1. In an effort to encourage people to pick up after their dogs, there is a Spanish town that has began to mail dog poop.

The Spanish town of Brunete has been dealing with a pet feaces problem. The municipality first implemented an advertising campaign which worked for a while. It subsequently enlisted twenty volunteers to identify irresponsible pet owners and to engage them in conversation with an aim of obtaining the name of the particular pooch. A registered pet database helps authorities to identify the owners of the pets. Dog poop is then sent to negligent pet owners. The crusade has been significantly effective and has been welcomed by Brunete’s residents.

About the Author

Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor. 


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