Sinikka Tarvainen

Poverty time bomb ticks in Morocco

Anger over poverty is simmering in Morocco, where popular protests against the high cost of living and unemployment occur regularly.

How the Mediterranean is turning into a barren sea

For millennia, the Mediterranean has fed its coastal peoples with abundant fish, but now it threatens to become a barren sea. Overfishing is taking a heavy toll on fish stocks, with the numbers of tuna plummeting and anchovy becoming scarce in the western Mediterranean. ''Many species are becoming increasingly rare,'' says Alain Bonzon, secretary general of a commission monitoring fishing in the Mediterranean.

Madrid’s full-bodied models spark controversy

When Madrid banned extremely thin models from the country's top fashion show that began this week, it was the kind of measure that European society seemed somehow to be waiting for. The decision sparked immediate controversy among fashion professionals, politicians, in the media and on internet forums.

Oil companies look to Spain for black gold

As Europe seeks to reduce dependence on the unstable Middle East's oil reserves, it is not only looking to continents such as Africa or Latin America, but also to its own soil to ensure supplies. Several companies are investigating the possibilities of starting or increasing oil production in Spain, an insignificant producer so far.

Stone-age Basque language remains a mystery

No frontier marks the entrance to Spain's Basque region, but the traveller passing by quaint villages on green hillsides has a clear sense of entering a distinct territory. It is not just the Basque flags here and there. It is, above all, the signs in a strange language unlike any other in the world.

Sahara crosses into Portugal and Spain

Rivers run low, crops wither, livestock starve to death and wildfires rage on the Iberian peninsula in the grip of a devastating drought that makes it look like the Sahara is reaching out across the Mediterranean. The peninsula's fiercest drought in 60 years is seen as a further sign of desertification in the region.

Revealed: The new scramble for Africa

A new ''scramble for Africa'' is taking place among the world's big powers, who are tapping into the continent for its oil and diamonds. While sub-Saharan Africa is the object of the West's charitable concern, billions of dollars' worth of natural resources are being removed from it.

Scientists amazed by crocodiles in Sahara

Crocodiles living in the Sahara sounds like fiction, but Spanish scientists are investigating such a group in southern Mauritania. The reptiles are regarded as the last remains of the abundant crocodile population that roamed the Sahara before it dried up about 9 000 years ago. The group of a few dozen crocodiles subsists at a pond near the Senegalese border.

Islanders don’t just whistle while they work

It is indisputably one of the world's more original languages. For more than half a millennium, the inhabitants of the Spanish Canary Island of La Gomera have communicated over steep slopes and isolated valleys by whistling. Now the whistle language, known as Silbo, has aroused the interest of scientists.

Maria Gomez and the faces of Belmez

One day in 1971, when Spanish farmer Miguel Pereira Gomez came home from the fields, he noticed something strange on the floor of the family house. ''It is a face,'' his mother said. Since then, the village of Belmez near the southern city of Jaen has become something of a pilgrimage site for people interested in paranormal phenomena.

Mauritania: The place where people still keep slaves

''I trust that God almighty will free my wife from the yoke of slavery,'' says Cheikhna Ould Beilil, a middle-aged Mauritanian man, fighting back the tears. Ould Beilil's story constitutes rare testimony to the continued practice of slavery in the northwest African Islamic republic, despite claims by President Maaouya Ould Taya's government that it has all but been wiped out.

Famous white gorilla goes to jungle in the sky

Copito de Nieve (Snowflake), the world's only known white gorilla, died on Monday in the Barcelona zoo. The albino gorilla, which was estimated to be about 40 years old, suffered from incurable skin cancer. The gorilla was a worldwide celebrity, and even made the cover of the National Geographic magazine.

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