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World Affairs Annual: 2002-2003. (Special).

If someone had asked you a year ago to locate Afghanistan on a map, could you have found it? Probably not. But today, that Central Asian country is at the forefront of the American war on terrorism.

In the age of the Internet, supersonic jets, global trade, satellite communications, and the unfortunate reality of global terrorism, far-flung parts of the world are becoming ever more linked. There's hardly any event occurring anywhere on the planet today that doesn't have some impact on our lives in the U.S. The earth has become such a small, communal place that we can no longer afford to ignore any region's problems or write off any country.

That's where The New York Times Upfront World Affairs Annual comes in. Here, you'll find the latest available information on the globe, with updated maps and vital statistics on every country. Each map is accompanied by a news summary encapsulating the year's events in that part of the world. We hope you'll save this issue for year-round reference, and that it inspires your curiosity to find out more about the people and cultures that share your planet.

Europe

A year ago, Europe seemed poised for great strides forward. In January, most Europeans began using a new, unified currency, the euro, and the European Union (EU) was considering expanding its membership to several Eastern European countries. These were both signs of growing unity among nations that had once been bitter foes. But the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks overshadowed much of the EU's progress and revealed that Europe was still plagued by many internal tensions.

With their countries' economies limping, and increasing worries about a rising tide of immigrants, European voters this year handed liberal governments a series of defeats across the continent. Dutch voters elected a new government led by a conservative party. In several other European countries, extreme far-right parties continued to support more mainstream governments. And under increasing pressure from the anti-immigrant extreme far-right, the Italian government enacted tougher immigration laws.

But the swing to the right was not universal. French voters soundly defeated an extreme-right candidate in the early rounds of voting for president. Swedish voters re-elected the ruling liberal party, while in Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, a liberal who had criticized the Bush administration's push to attack Iraq, narrowly withstood a conservative challenge in national elections.

Even as other European governments questioned many of Washington's moves in the war on terror, Britain maintained its role as America's staunchest ally. Largely alone among European leaders, Prime Minister Tony Blair stood firmly behind the U.S. on positions such as pressing Iraq for compliance with United Nations resolutions.

A LANDMARK WAR-CRIMES TRIAL

Since February, the former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, has been standing trial at an international court in The Hague. He is accused of the gravest European war crimes since World War II: systematically murdering Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Kosovo Albanians to "cleanse" Serbian territories of them. The landmark legal trial marks the first time a head of state has been tried for war crimes.

In Russia, the government of President Vladimir V. Putin remained preoccupied with the threat to stability in Chechnya, a province that tried to break away from Russia in 1991. Russia continued to fight Chechen rebels in an operation that has led to mounting losses on both sides but no resolution. Russia also threatened military action against neighboring Georgia to crush what it called Chechen terrorist groups operating from there.--John Tagliabue in Paris

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Asia

Central Asia

In the wake of Sept. 11, Central Asia became the focus of American foreign policy. Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda followers had been using Afghanistan as a terrorist training ground when the country was still ruled by the Taliban with their stern, medieval interpretation of Islam, The American counterattack against Al Qaeda involved a massive air campaign and about 9,000 U.S. troops. While an additional 5,000 soldiers were supplied by several Western nations, the fighters who led the way into Kabul, the capital, were Afghans. They were part of the Northern Alliance, which had long been resisting the Taliban's conquest of the country.

The Taliban's fall was sealed when one of their few allies, the government of neighboring Pakistan, joined the U.S.-led coalition. General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military ruler, said his nation could not afford a confrontation with the West. His decision has brought financial rewards from the U.S., but it has also angered Muslim fundamentalists within Pakistan. That discontent, as well as frustration with Musharraf's resistance to the return of democracy, has left Pakistan very unstable.

Though Pakistan turned its back on the Taliban, it continued to aid Islamic militants trying to take control of Kashmir, a lush Himalayan region that lies between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both countries. The struggle over Kashmir nearly led to war between India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers. South Asia remains one of the world's most volatile places--a condition unlikely to change soon.--Barry Bearak in New Delhi

East Asia

China, the region's largest and the world's most populous country, focused much of its attention on maintaining domestic prosperity and quelling ethnic tensions. President Jiang Zemin, 76, announced plans to step down this fall, signaling a shift toward younger leadership. Meanwhile, Chinese government officials finally acknowledged the country's AIDS epidemic, estimating the number of people infected with the deadly virus at one million. (Foreign experts believe the actual number infected may be much higher.)

Japan, the world's second-largest economy after the U.S., endured persistent economic stagnation. Unemployment continued to rise, and average incomes declined; as consumers cut back, so did employers, in a downward spiral.

Attempts at reconciliation between North and South Korea continued, with talks focusing on reuniting divided families and building road and rail links across the highly militarized border. Meanwhile, North Korea, still a strictly Communist regime, endured a famine and was named part of President Bush's "axis of evil" for its support of terrorism.

North America

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 changed the political, economic, and social landscape of the United States. The American war on terrorism prompted proposals for creation of a Department of Homeland Security, the largest government reorganization in 50 years. Terrorism fears also prompted incursions on civil liberties and aggravated an economic recession that had begun before the attacks. A wave of corporate scandals added to the downward economic spiral. Fear of terrorism also prompted the U.S. to take a more wary approach to its neighbors. Much to Mexico's distress, plan to ease restrictions on immigration and give legal status to Mexicans living illegally in the U.S. were put on hold. In Canada, Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced that he would not seek a fourth term and would leave office in February 2004.

South America

South America endured a difficult year in 2002. Venezuela was shaken by an attempt to overthrow its President, and Colombia's long civil war intensified after a new President vowed to step up the fight against left-wing guerrillas. But more alarming was the collapse of Argentina's economy in January.

The economic fallout was quickly felt in neighboring countries such as Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, and Brazil (the continent's largest country and economy). As a result, poverty and political unrest were growing, and many countries began seeking alternatives to the American-supported free-market policies that they had adopted a decade ago in hopes of bringing prosperity to their people.--Larry Rohter in Rio de Janeiro

Africa

As several of Africa's long-running wars wound down this year, leaders groped for ways to take the continent forward. Conflicts that had long destabilized Africa were ending. Peace arrived in Sierra Leone and Angola, and negotiations were under way in Congo and Sudan to resolve long-standing conflicts. With less fighting, Africa sought ways to unite.

Leaders abandoned the ineffective Organization of African Unity to create what they hoped would be their version of the European Union, called the African Union. They also promoted an ambitious economic plan, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, to promote democracy and accountability in order to attract investment.--Norimitsu Onishi in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

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Middle East

The Middle East maintained its standing as the world's most volatile region. Israelis and Palestinians resisted all attempts to force them back to the negotiating table, with each blaming the other for ever-more bloody cycles of violence. Israel considered Palestinian suicide bombings a threat to its existence, while the Palestinians said they were fighting to free themselves from Israel's military occupation and its continued construction of residential settlements in the occupied territories. The United States threatened to replay the 1991 Persian Gulf war, accusing Iraq of harboring chemical and biological weapons. The region's mushrooming young, unemployed population, frustrated with repressive governments and U.S. support for them, seemed increasingly fertile ground for the appeal of militant Islam.--Neil MacFarquhar in Cairo

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Oceania

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 prompted Australia, a staunch American ally, to debate its own national-security issues. A sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving from the Middle East and Central Asia (specifically, Afghanistan and Pakistan) brought a re-examination of attitudes toward immigrants and led to a tightening of immigration laws.

Australia's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions, left it out of step with the international community except for the United States, which also rejected the treaty. With a drought gripping large parts of rural eastern Australia, water emerged as a serious environmental challenge for the future.--Catie Low in Perth, Australia

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Upfront Quiz 2

FILL IN THE BLANK

DIRECTIONS: Write the correct answer on line provided. OPEN-BOOK TEST.

1. Gross--Product is the value of all goods and services produced in a country in one year.

2. The Human Development--measures economic and human well-being on a scale of 0 to 1.

3. --, the African country whose capital was named for U.S. President James Monroe, was founded by freed American slaves in 1847.

4. In September, more than 100 American students, children of missionaries in Africa, were trapped during an uprising in--, the country that borders number 3, above, to the east.

5. --, capital of--, bucks the trend in Oceania; it is the only capital city situated away from the ocean.

6. --, and--, both in Europe, have higher GDPs per capita than the United States.

7. --, the world's newest nation, won its independence from Indonesia in 2002.

8. --is the poorest country in the Americas; its GDP per capita is little more than $500.

9. Four major U.S. cities, Denver, Colo., Indianapolis, Ind., Columbus, Ohio, and Philadelphia, Pa., are situated at almost exactly--degrees north latitude.

10. --is experiencing an economic catastrophe. In September, The New York Times reported that many people in the capital of Buenos Aires were scrounging in garbage cans.

11. --is Europe's (and the world's) northernmost capital city.

12. Hamid Karzai is President of--, where U.S. troops are searching for members of Al Qaeda, the group linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

ANSWER KEY:

1. Domestic. 2. Index. 3. Liberia. 4. Cote d'Ivoire. 5. Canberra/Australia. 6. Norway/Luxembourg. 7. East Timor. 8. Haiti. 9. 40. 10. Argentina. 11. Reykjavik. 12. Afghanistan.
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Publication:New York Times Upfront
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Oct 18, 2002
Words:1884
Previous Article:Weighing the case against Iraq. (National).
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