Just before noon on 25 April 2015, a violent 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal, killing almost 9,000 people and injuring more than 23,000. Hundreds of aftershocks followed. Entire villages were razed, destroying communities and leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
With the devastating earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015, not only humans but also gods became shelterless. The famous Car Narayan or Fourfold Vishnu Temple in Patan is one of the many temples that completely collapsed. It was constructed in the classical Newar “pagoda” style with two pyramidal roofs and an inner ambulatory by a local ruler, Purandara Simha, in 1565.
This July, a NASA space probe completed our set of images of the planets, at least as I knew them growing up. New Horizons, a probe that launched back in 2006, arrived at Pluto and its moons, and over a very brief encounter, started to send back thousands of images of this hitherto barely known place.
Nepal has had an extraordinarily eventful 2015. It has been rocked by catastrophic earthquakes and burdened by a blockade from India, but it has also (finally) passed a new constitution and elected its first female head of state, Bidya Devi Bhandari, who took office in October.
With the ballots cast and the year winding down, we recognize Nepal as Oxford’s Place of the Year 2015. The country came into the global spotlight back in April, when a devastating earthquake took over 9,000 lives and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless. Months later, critics point at the slow-moving recovery process that has still a far way to go before Nepal can resume normal operations.
Earlier in the year, Greece faced some unsettling economic troubles. The country voted on a referendum that would decide whether they would pull their membership from the European Union (and thus, the union’s currency and economic system). It’s a wonder to think that this country, less than a decade ago, was among one of the richer nations.
This week, we’re shining the spotlight on another one of our Place of the Year 2015 shortlist contenders: Cuba.
As voting for the Place of the Year 2015 continues, we would like to take a moment to highlight one of the shortlist nominees: Nepal.
Thank you to those of you who participated in the voting period for our Place of the Year 2015 longlist. The top five contenders have moved on to the next round into our shortlist, and we need your help again. If you’re interested about each place and why each has been nominated for Place of the Year 2015, read back on our previous blog post. Vote for your pick in this year’s shortlist by 30 November. The Place of the Year 2015 will be announced 3 December.
Last year in 2014, Ukraine made its way into our Place of the Year shortlist, garnering 19.86% of votes. Though Scotland beat out Ukraine for the top spot (with its impressive 37.98% of votes out of five on the shortlist), that by no means undermines everything this Eastern European country has gone through. Serhy Yekelchyk, author of The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know, reflects on how Ukraine has transformed in recent years.
You don’t need to follow the news too closely to know that 2015 has been a roller coaster of a year. Last week we announced our longlist for Place of the Year 2015, but since then some of you have been asking, “why is x included?”, or “why is y worth our attention?”
Today we officially launch our efforts to discover what should be the Place of the Year 2015, coinciding with the publication of the Atlas of the World, 22nd edition–the only atlas that’s updated annually to reflect current events and politics.
Scotland has remained in the media spotlight throughout 2014 for one reason: the referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. This was the most significant event to have taken place in Scotland since the creation of the Union in 1707.
Scotland has of course dominated the television and newsprint headlines over the last year, and has now emerged as the Oxford Atlas Place of the Year for 2014. This accolade is a fair reflection of the immense volume of recent discussion about Scotland’s constitutional future, and that of the United Kingdom.
The light in the Orkneys is so clear, so bright, so lucid, it feels like you are on top of the world looking though thin clouds into heaven. It doesn’t even feel part of the UK: when you sail off the edge of Scotland by the Scrabster to Stromness ferry, you feel you are departing the real world to land in a magical realm.
With the announcement of Scotland as Place of the Year 2014, we asked a few of our staff members who hail from Scotland to share their thoughts about home. They responded with heartfelt opinions, patriotism, nostalgia, and a little homesickness. Here’s their reasons why Scotland is their Place of the Year.