Country - Mexico

Population 132.5 million (2019)  Capital - Mexico City

Mexico is a land of extremes, with high mountains and deep canyons in the centre of the country, sweeping deserts in the north and dense rainforests in the south and east. Mountains cover much of Mexico.

Mexico is the product of a rich Indian heritage, three centuries of Spanish rule, and a shared border with the United States of America. Today, most Mexicans are mestizos which means they have a mix of Indian and Spanish blood.

Mexico’s ancient societies built great cities and huge pyramids, created remarkable works of art, and even studied the stars and planets to determine when to plant crops and hold ceremonies.

Mexicans take sports seriously. In ancient times, losers of a ritual ball game were once put to death. In some dangerous sports, like bullfighting and rodeo (which was invented in Mexico), competitors still put their lives on the line.

Throughout its history, Mexico has been home to great artists. The Maya and other Indians made impressive murals, sculptures and jewellery. Modern Mexican artists include great painters, photographers, sculptors and muralists (creating artwork on walls).

Mexico is a country with great problems and great potential. It has lots of valuable, natural resources like oil, silver, copper and agricultural products, too. But political and economic problems have kept much of the population in poverty.

😎 Video - 22 interesting & weird facts (5:26 min)

😎 Video - Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula (4:10 min)

Game 1
Black's knight has no escape in enemy territory

Game 2
White's queen harasses Black until a knight is trapped

Game 3
Black resigns after a series of forcing moves by White leading to checkmate

 

Country - Lithuania

Population 2.8 million (2017)   Capital city - Vilnius

Lithuania is a country that enjoys nature and a peaceful life. During their history they struggled to become a place where people could live freely and enjoy a better economy after their hardships with Russia. The national symbol of the country is a white knight on a horse with a sword. This symbol recognises the country’s struggles.

Today it is a place to visit if you enjoy forests and small lakes that are scattered across the countryside.

Lithuania has all kinds of wild life - foxes, wolves, deer, beavers, mink and hundreds of birds. The national animal is the stork. Lithuania has one of the largest stork population in any European country, and more specifically the highest nesting density in the world for this bird. Many Lithuanians superstitiously believe that storks bring luck and harmony to the families near which they nest.

The first known people living in Lithuania were part of the Ice Age. They were hunter gathers but were taken over by the Baltic tribes. Later they traded amber with the Romans and fought with the Vikings

There is a theme park in Lithuania which recreates life as a USSR citizen. Visitors have their belongings confiscated, have to wear gas masks, experience interrogation and must learn the Soviet anthem.

🙂 Video - What is Lithuania ? (10:41 min)

🙂 Video - Lithuanian folk dance (1:49 min)

🙂 Video - Our holiday in Lithuania, Japanese (2:01 min)

Game 1
Black miscalculates on the 24th move to let White back into the game. An early exchange of queens leads to a cat-and-mouse game.

Game 2
Black sets up an impressive mating net

Game 3
A clever deflection tactic by Black decides the game

 

Country - Kenya

Population 52.3 million (2019)

Kenya is located in East Africa, on the equator.

The capital and largest city is Nairobi. Mombasa is the second largest city.

The two official languages in Kenya are English and Swahili, although there are dozens of other languages spoken in various parts of the country.

Kenya shares Lake Victoria, the world's second largest freshwater lake, with Tanzania and Uganda.

Kenya features many national parks and wildlife reserves, with safaris being a popular activity for visitors.

Agriculture is important to Kenya's economy, especially tea, coffee and flowers.

Large animals such as lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants and rhinoceros are present in Kenya.

In Kenya they drive on the left-hand side of the road.

Kenya is named after Mt Kenya, the tallest mountain in the country (5,199 metres, 17,057 feet).

Kenya gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1963.

Hydroelectricity is the largest contributor to Kenya's electricity supply.

Kenya is a developing country and half of the population live in poverty.

In terms of sports, Kenya is perhaps best known for its middle distance and long distance runners, with the country frequently producing Olympic champions.

😎 Video - Welcome to Kenya (7:49 min)

😎 Video - A family's journey (2:04 min)

😎 Video - 10 surprising facts about Kenya (8:21 min)

Game 1
Black's queen, rook & knight combine to set up the win

Game 2
White deflects Black's queen to win the game

Game 3
Black's rooks & advanced pawn combine to threaten checkmate

 

Country - Japan

Population – 126.8 million (2017)

The Japanese name for Japan is “Nihon” or “Nippon” which means “sun origin”.

Japan is made up of 6852 islands.

The highest point in Japan in Mount Fuji, which stands at 3776m

Japan is an industrialized nation, producing some of the most technologically advanced motor vehicles, electronics, and machine tools. 

Japan is a world leader in robotics. Japanese engineers are known for producing a range of human-like robots.

Some of the most well-known companies in the world are Japanese such as Toyota, Honda, Sony, Nintendo, Canon, Panasonic, Toshiba, and Sharp.

Japanese cuisine has become popular around the world. Some well-known dishes are sushi, sashimi and tempura.

Japan is home to many different forms of martial arts. Karate, Judo, Sumo, Ninjutsu, Kendo, Jujutsu, and Aikido to name a few.

Sumo is recognized as the national sport of Japan, although the most popular spectator sport is baseball.

Japan hosted the 1964 Summer Olympic games in Tokyo and will again in 2020. They also hosted the 1972 and 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo and Nagano, respectively.

👍 Video - Japan's independent kids (8:21 min)

👍 Video - Interview with Erica the robot (1:27 min)

Game 1
sometimes you can castle into trouble

Game 2
an impressive mating net 

Game 3
evenly poised after 31 moves but White takes advantage of Black's errors in the endgame

Game 4
Black controls the centre files for a decisive win