World History

HowStuffWorks looks at the history and culture of places from all over the world.

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You probably didn't know there was a place where you could order a cocktail with a human toe in it, did you?

By Valerie Stimac

Have you ever wanted to be in two places at once? There are destinations around the world that literally straddle state or country borders. How many of these boundary-pushing places can you name?

By Caroline Eubanks

It's been called one of American's biggest foreign policy failures. But why was it such a disaster? Let's count the ways.

By Dave Roos

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About 25 symbols in the Egyptian hieroglyphic "alphabet" denote specific sounds. But very few words were written purely alphabetically.

By Mark Mancini

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.

By Dave Roos

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.

By Nathan Chandler

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.

By Nathan Chandler

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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?

By Dave Roos

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.

By Dave Roos

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.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

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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?

By Dave Roos

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.

By Jesslyn Shields

Mongolia is a country struggling to maintain its nomadic ways while stepping boldly into the modern 21st century world.

By Tara Yarlagadda

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?

By Dave Roos

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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?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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?

By Dave Roos

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?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Can a solar eclipse change the world as we know it? If the past is any indication, it might.

By Laurie L. Dove

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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.

By Patrick J. Kiger

It takes more than frustration with the government and endless optimism to make your new country's independence stick.

By Oisin Curran

Controversies surround not just the possible existence of hidden chambers, but even the ability of Egyptologists to undertake the search for them.

By Jesslyn Shields

Beer may be one of the most humble of alcoholic beverages, but its history is no less noble -- or muddled -- than wine or liquor.

By Laurie L. Dove

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Empires rise and empires fall -- it's a seemingly unavoidable fact of life on Earth. But these superpowers reigned longer than any others. What can we learn from their missteps and achievements?

By Thorin Klosowski

The Code of Hammurabi is a 7-foot-tall piece of basalt with more than 300 laws engraved on it. According to the code, if you strike your father, then your hands will be cut off. Why would our modern society care about studying such inhumane mandates?

By Jane McGrath