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I was absolutely delighted to see Nick Ryan's article on Western Sahara. Nick did an excellent job in capturing the reality of daily life in the camps. How the Saharawis have survived for 23 years in such a barren environment and against the unrelenting heat still amazes me. I only just survived three days there!

I am sure you will be pleased to learn that Morocco and Polisario appear to be reaching a settlement which could lead to a referendum in March 2000.

Richard Stanforth, Western Sahara Campaign, Leeds


Bill McGuire's article, `A Risky Business' in your February issue was a timely one and far-reaching in its implications. A recent story in the Sunday Gleaner of Kingston, Jamaica, advised readers to keep away from yellow-plated vehicles at all costs. The colour indicates a public vehicle and there is simply no insurance on these as a result of the parlous state of the Jamaican economy. Geohazards are only one of the many problems faced by people in many countries of the developing world on a regular day-to-day basis.

Michael Spragg, Norfolk


I think that Geographical is excellent and read it from cover to cover, but I couldn't help but notice an error in your April issue. In the `Sail of the Century' feature you gave misleading information about the photograph on page 53. It is not, as you state, the departure of the James Caird from Elephant Island. It is actually the joyous welcome given by the members of the expedition who had been left on Elephant Island to the appearance of the longboat from the Chilean vessel Yelcho, on which Shackleton returned to rescue them.

John Williams, London


I am researching a book about Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands off Antarctica. Your magazine carried an excellent article about the volcanic eruptions on Deception Island in the November 1969 issue.

Although I have a photocopy of this article, I am seeking an actual issue of the magazine for the superb colour photos that accompanied the story. I would be very grateful if any fellow readers who have a copy of that issue would be willing to part with it in return for a modest sum.

Jeff Rubin, Middletown, USA Ed: Contact us at the address at the bottom of the page and we will pass on any messages.


I thoroughly enjoyed your interesting interview with polar explorer Wally Herbert in the May edition. It's excellent to see this great man get the recognition he deserves.

J Greenwood, by email


I was fascinated by Amar Grover's feature (`Chinese Whispers', May), having spent a couple of nights at the Qiniwak Hotel in Kashgar after travelling by bus through the passes over the Tien Shan mountains from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan in September 1997.

I really enjoy challenging articles like this--perhaps other correspondents can guide us to realistic understandings of more `flash-point' situations (the Balkans, for example?)

Bill Reed, Dorset


Your article on Tibet (April 1999) reminded me of the elements of nationhood, which are as follows:

1. A head of state to whom all citizens owe allegiance

2. A flag, symbol of the nation

3. A common language

4. A common religion

5. A common currency, the stability of which is guaranteed by the government to prevent the widows and orphans being deprived of their inheritance

6. A good football team Tibet scores on items one and four, possibly three. How does the UK fare?

J W Maltby, Tiverton


As English appears not to be the mother tongue of your correspondent Ms Tracz (Letters, May 1999 issue), may I point out that there are other instances in the English language where the definite article is used in conjunction with a country or geographical area. So it is correct to say `in The Netherlands', `in The Argentine', in The Sudan', in The Congo, `in The Punjab', and `in The Crimea' as well as `in The Ukraine'. I suspect that as Ukraine rhymes with Argentine it has been accorded the same treatment linguistically. This would be further underlined by the fact that if both countries are referred to by their `native' names, the definite article should not be used--hence `in Argentina' and `in Ukraina'.

George Gruner, Rickmansworth


We are encouraged to see that so many of you have had complimentary things to say about recent issues. If you write in next month and your letter is published, you will receive a free travel book

We reserve the right to edit all letters. Send them to The Editor, Geographical, 47c Kensington Court, London W8 5DA, fax it on 0171 938 4022, or email to
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Date:Jun 1, 1999
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