Here’s some things you may want to think about in the lead-up to the election.

Newfoundland, off the Canadian mainland coast, was once an independent nation. It acquired dominion status in 1907 at the same time as New Zealand, but invited the British government to appoint a 6-man Board of Commissioners to run the country in 1934, following economic collapse. In 1949, two referenda were held to determine its future – confederation with Canada was added only at the last minute and won 52-48%. To this day some Newfies believe that the vote was fixed and that they should still be an independent nation.

Vermont was not one of the original thirteen states in the US. In fact it split off from New York state in 1777 and established itself as an independent republic, maintaining that status until 1791, despite military attempts by the US and Britain (via Canada) to reincorporate it. Its community had originally split because they believed that the thirteen colonies were becoming too dominated by wealthy landowners. Today, a Vermont secession movement has revived.

Euskara, the language of the Basque people, has an ergative verb system, in which the form of the verb will be transformed not only by the number and person of the subject, but also by the object. Thus in ‘I hit you’, ‘I hit him’ ‘I hit them’ etc the word hit will be different each time.

In the middle of World War II, Ecuador and Peru had a war of their own, over a long-disputed piece of territory that then formed part of East Ecuador. The six-month war was concluded in early 1942, only so that the countries could become part of a South American pact against the Axis powers.

Meeting eight different people each lunch and dinner each day, it would take approximately two years and ten months to meet the entire population of Liechtenstein.

Tasmania was not connected to the Australian mainland by phone until 1932.

It is almost certain that admiral Robert Peary was not the first man to reach the North Pole on foot, in 1909. His erroneously accepted claims of success delayed further attempts, and it was only in 1968 that Sir Wally Herbert’s team made an undisputed conquest of the Pole.

There are five basic flavours, not four (sweet, bitter, sour, salty). The fifth is ‘umami’ which provides the tang in foods as disparate as aniseed, tomato, well-cooked meat, dark chocolate and crab.

Well? You’ve got something better to think about for the next three weeks?

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off