Saudi Arabia

Although there is evidence of human existence in Saudi Arabia dating back 20,000 years, the harsh climate prevented any permanent settling, and it wasn't until the Ottomans expanded their empire in the 16th century that any major developments occurred.

Abdullah officially ascended the throne, and became Saudi Arabia's king in 2005. Four years later, he issued a series of changes within the government, armed forces and other various ministries in an attempt at modernization, and also appointed the country's first female deputy minister.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the Middle East, is 95% desert, including the Rub' Al Khali, the biggest mass of sand on the planet.
As a strict Muslim land and home to both Medina and Mecca (Islam's holiest cities) each year an estimated 2 million Muslims take part in the Hajj pilgrimage.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars, or duties, of the Islamic faith, requiring all able-bodied Muslims to make the journey to Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed, at least once in their lifetime.





This strategic island called Singapore was first inhabited by regional fishermen and pirates, and later became part of the Sumatran Empire of Srivijaya.

During the 14th century, Singapore became involved in a struggle between Siam (present-day Thailand) and the Majapahit Empire as they fought for control of the Malay Peninsula.

Defeated by the Majapahits, Singapore fell under their rule for several years, before being seized by Portugal in the early 1500s.

For a brief time in 1963, Singapore and the states of Sabah and Sarawak joined the Peninsular Malaysia Federation; however, Singapore left in 1965 to become a separate nation.

Following its independence, Singapore set out to establish itself as a more modern region, and within a couple of decades grew into one of the world's most prosperous nations.

This modern economic powerhouse's seaport is one of the busiest in the world; in addition, Singapore has become a major worldwide banking, shipbuilding and petroleum center.

Within the last few decades, this melting pot of cultures has moved on to the "A List" for international travelers, and is today one of the most sophisticated tourist destinations on the planet.








South Korea

Archaeological evidence on the Korean Peninsula indicates that humans inhabited this land some 500,000 years ago.

Besides successfully staging the Summer Olympics of 1988, and the 2002 soccer World Cup, South Korea's tourism base is now growing rapidly, especially in the Australian and Asian markets.

In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South's President Kim Tae-chung and the North's leader Kim Jong Il.
Tensions again flared between the two sides as a South Korean navy ship was sunk in 2010 by a reported North Korean torpedo.
Ongoing threats and sanctions between North and South Korea keep occurring and in November of 2013, North Korea threatened South Korea, the U.S. and Japan with a "nuclear catastrophe".

North and South Korea are as different as black and white when economies, living conditions and personal freedoms are compared, but on the Korean Peninsula today there are millions of people still hoping for the eventual reunification of their common culture and extended families.





Sri Lanka

The Maldives, a group of about 1,200 islands, separated into a series of coral atolls, is just north of the Equator in the Indian Ocean. Only 200 of the islands are inhabited. It has a population of 393,988 and celebrates their National Day on July 26th.
Many of these tropical atolls and islands are simply gorgeous, with swaying palms, white sandy beaches and deep-blue lagoons; none of the islands rise higher than 7.8 ft. above sea level.

The Maldives successfully gained their freedom from the United Kingdom in 1965, and three years later, declared itself an independent republic.

In 1978, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was elected president, and a period of political stability flourished along with an increase in tourism and increased foreign contact.
In spite of the booming economy, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's presidency was seen as controversial, and a series of coup attempts throughout the 1980s were attempted.
Additional riots in the capital city of Malè during August 2004 garnered worldwide attention, and prompted the president and his government to pledge much needed democratic reforms, including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms.



尽管经济蓬勃发展,Maumoon Abdul Gayoom的总统被视为有争议的,并且在八十年代尝试了一系列政变。


In the emerald-green waters of the Indian Ocean, the island country of Sri Lanka, frequently referred to as the "Teardrop of India," was first populated by the Sinhalese peoples from northern India in 543 BC.

For the decades that followed, internal strife seemed indigenous to Sri Lanka, as tensions between the Sin
halese majority and Tamil separatists finally erupted into a civil war in 1983.
Tens of thousands died in that ethnic conflict, and although now on the proverbial back burner, social and governmental conflicts continue to fester.
Tragically, Sri Lanka was devastated by the powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami on December 26, 2004.

Today, this tropical island is once again on the radar screens of worldwide travelers, as Sri Lanka is rebuilding itself into one of the fastest growing economies of the world, and making a strong comeback, especially in tourism.