Places in news – Part 7 | Prelims Capsules 2021

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‘Places in news series‘ is a weekly initiative by Forumias. In this series we bring you highly detailed & visually rich maps of the places that have been in news recently. Go through these maps and prepare yourself for the high scoring mapping section of UPSC Prelims.

North Korea

Why in news?
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reinforced the ruling Workers’ Party discipline and appointed new members of its powerful politburo, on June 19, 2021.


North Korea

  • It occupies the northern portion of the Korean peninsula.
  • Bordering countries:
    • China
    • Russia
    • South Korea
  • Important water bodies:
    • Gulf of Po Hai
    • Korea Bay
    • Yellow Sea (Huang Hai)
    • East Korea Bay

North Korea - Places in news - UPSC 2021

  • North Korea faces South Korea across a demilitarized zone (DMZ) that is 4 km wide. It was established by the terms of the 1953 armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War (1950–53). The DMZ, constitutes the 1953 military cease-fire line and roughly follows latitude 38° N and is known as the 38th parallel.
    • The DMZ between North and South Korea has become a de facto nature preserve now since its almost untouched since the end of hostilities in 1953.
  • India is a critic of North Korea’s nuclear proliferation record and has also voiced concerns of de-nuclearization and disarmament. India has repeatedly condemned North Korean nuclear tests and views its nuclear programme as a threat to regional security.

Burkina Faso

Why in news?
Suspected jihadists massacred at least 114 civilians in Burkina Faso’s volatile north in the deadliest attacks since Islamist violence erupted in the west African country in 2015. Burkina Faso - Places in news - UPSC 2021

  • Africa’s semi-arid Sahel region has been hit by an insurgency since militants captured large parts of northern Mali in 2012 and 2013.
  • Attacks took place near the borders with Mali and Niger.
  • Since 2015, Burkina Faso has struggled to fight back against increasingly frequent and deadly jihadist attacks from groups including the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS).
  • The attacks first started in the north near the Mali border, but have since spread to other regions, particularly in the east.

Burkina Faso [Capital: Ouagadougou]

Burkina Faso - Places in news - UPSC 2021
  • It is a landlocked country in western Africa
  • A former French colony, it gained independence as Upper Volta in 1960. The name Burkina Faso, which means “Land of Incorruptible People,” was adopted in 1984.
  • Burkina Faso is a part of the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UMEOA).
    • The West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known by its French-language acronym UEMOA) is an organization of eight, mainly French-speaking, states within the ECOWAS which share a customs union and currency union
  • Bordering countries:
    • Mali
    • Niger
    • Benin
    • Côte d’Ivoire
    • Ghana
    • Togo

Sahel Region

  • Sahel, or Sahil in Arabic, means a coast or shore, is a vast region that stretches along the Sahara desert’s southern rim from the Atlantic to the Red Sea.
  • It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara (desert) to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the south.
  • The Sahel stretches from the Atlantic Ocean eastward through the following countries:
    • Senegal
    • Mauritania
    • Mali
    • Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta)
    • Niger
    • Nigeria
    • Chad
    • Sudan
    • Eritrea
    • Ethiopia
Sahel region - Places in news - Upsc 2021
  • The actual boundary of the Sahel is neither as precise nor as rigid. Hence, for practical purposes, the Sahel is usually defined in terms of its climate and vegetation
  • With vast stretches of inhospitable desert and porous borders, the central Sahel has become a hunting ground for armed groups, rebels, jihadists, and criminal gangs. Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger have formed an anti-jihadist alliance called the G5 Sahel.
  • The effect of global warming is around 50% greater in the Sahel. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the region suffered the worst droughts of anywhere on the planet.
  • This has contributed to a staggering 90% decline of the surface of Lake Chad over the past six decades.
Lake Chad - Places in news - UPSC 2021
  • Africa’s Great Green Wall project, which involves gigantic efforts to stop the Sahara Desert from spreading further south, came into effect since 2007. The wall runs from Senegal (west) till Djibouti (East).

Black Sea

Why in news?
Russia has accused the UK of spreading lies over a warship confrontation in the Black Sea. It has warned Britain that it would respond more firmly to any further provocative actions by the British Navy off the coast of Russia-annexed Crimea. 

  • Read about this news in detail here
Black Sea - Places in news - UPSC 2021

Black Sea [also known as the Euxine Sea]

  • It is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Located between Eastern Europe and Western Asia 
  • Bordering countries –
    • Romania
    • Bulgaria
    • Ukraine
    • Russia
    • Georgia
    • Turkey 
  • Black Sea ultimately drains into the Mediterranean Sea via the Turkish Straits and the Aegean Sea.  
  • The Bosporus Strait connects it to the small Sea of Marmara which in turn is connected to the Aegean Sea via the Strait of the Dardanelles 
  • To the north, the Black Sea is connected to the Sea of Azov by the Kerch Strait. 
  • Black Sea is the largest area of anoxic (depleted of Oxygen) water in the world.
    • Shipwreck remains from hundreds of years ago can still be found at the bed of the Black Sea, due to the anoxic nature of its waters.

Lhasa-Nyingchi railway line

Why in news?
China has started operating the first bullet train line in Tibet, connecting the provincial capital Lhasa with Nyingchi – a strategically located Tibetan border town close to Arunachal Pradesh.  

Sichuan-Tibet Railway line - Places in news - UPSC 2021

 Lhasa-Nyingchi rail line  

  • Train link would connect the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region to the border city of Nyingchi with a travel time of three and a half hours.  
  • Over 90% of the track is 3000m above sea-level and the line is the first electrified high-speed rail (HSR) line, as China refers to bullet trains, in Tibet. China has the world’s longest HSR network 
  • The Lhasa-Nyingchi rail is one section of the Sichuan-Tibet railway line.  
  • The Sichuan-Tibet Railway line will be the second railway line into Tibet after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.   
For previous parts of ‘Places in news’ series – Click here
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