HowStuffWorks looks at the history and culture of places from all over the world.
About 25 symbols in the Egyptian hieroglyphic "alphabet" denote specific sounds. But very few words were written purely alphabetically.
Bolívar was the catalyst and cult of personality behind the 19th-century liberation movement that won independence for six Latin American nations: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Bolivia, a country named for the Liberator himself.
Seven might seem like the no-brainer answer if you grew up in the U.S. But it may surprise you to know that experts around the world disagree on how many continents are out there. Here's why.
Fourteen countries and 39 million square miles make up Oceania in the South Pacific. Known for its natural beauty and cannibalistic past, this region also invented bungee jumping.
Although Zionism draws its name from the biblical Mount Zion, it is primarily a secular, rather than religious movement. So, what does it mean, and why do some people find it controversial?
Movies like '300' have popularized the image of ancient Spartans as brutal super-warriors. But that's only part of the story: They had a softer side, too, for dancing and crafts. And their women had an unusual amount of freedom.
The KGB, the Soviet Union's vast secret police and espionage apparatus, technically was dismantled decades ago. But it still actually exists under a new name.
The archaeological site Chichén Itzá is one of Mexico's most popular tourist draws. Here are some things you may not know about this amazing Mayan wonder.
For 600 years, the Ottoman Empire covered a territory stretching across huge swaths of Europe and the Middle East, until it all came down after World War I. What hastened its demise?
Slavery followed indigo, a cash crop from which blue dye was made, around the world, until it was replaced by synthetic substitutes in the early 20th century.
Mongolia is a country struggling to maintain its nomadic ways while stepping boldly into the modern 21st century world.
Millions of people around the world have no country they can call their own. Sometimes they're not allowed to have a birth certificate, go to school or work. What are some of the biggest groups in this category?
Before World War II, a third of the world's population lived a territory controlled by a colonial power. How did this start and how did it end?
You may know the story of how Fletcher Christian and his men mutinied aboard the ship the Bounty. But what was the voyage all about in the first place?
Often described as "The Hermit Kingdom," North Korea is a source of mystery for those living in the West. How has it survived so long and how worried should Americans be about a nuclear attack?
Can a solar eclipse change the world as we know it? If the past is any indication, it might.
The origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls have baffled scholars since their discovery in 1947. Who wrote these ancient texts and what do they mean about the history of Judaism?
The Israeli settlements have been a source of controversy for decades, with the Israel government insisting they are legal while much of the rest of the world says they are not. We look at both sides of the story.
In this episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You, Cristen and Caroline explain the history of the women forced into prostitution for Japanese soldiers during World War II.
It takes more than frustration with the government and endless optimism to make your new country's independence stick.
Linguistic and cultural clues have long suggested Madagascar's prehistoric human settlers came from Southeast Asia, but now scientists have found physical proof.
Controversies surround not just the possible existence of hidden chambers, but even the ability of Egyptologists to undertake the search for them.
In the mid-20th century, STDS were a big problem, and penicillin was a potential solution. In an experiment gone badly awry, U.S. scientists brought the two together.
Beer may be one of the most humble of alcoholic beverages, but its history is no less noble -- or muddled -- than wine or liquor.
Think of a flavor, any flavor -- from apple to zucchini -- and there's probably a liquor-based beverage out there incorporating it. Find out how the hard stuff probably got its start.