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14 cool things you didn’t know about the world

We went all Buzzfeed and mined Reddit's TodayILearned for the best surprises around the world. You're welcome.

Courtesy NASA/Newsmakers.

There are a lot of great places to while away the hours on Reddit. "Today I Learned" is one of our favorites. On TIL users upload random information they learn, sourcing it back to where they learned it. As a service to GlobalPost readers, we've compiled some of the most interesting posts about the world. From illegal chewing gum in Singapore to the adoption of full-grown men in Japan, you're bound to learn something, too. We promise.

1. TIL that an Ethiopian girl was kidnapped and beaten until a pride of lions chased her attackers off, then the lions stayed and defended her until help could arrive.


An Ethiopian lion. Funky Foxy/Flickr Commons.

Who says dogs are more loyal than cats? In Ethiopia, a group of men chase and beat a 12-year-old girl, trying to force her into a marriage. But a group of lions scared the men off and then stayed by the girl’s side until her family found her a few days later. Experts say the girl’s crying may have sounded to the lions like the meow of a young cub. But locals say it’s a miracle as the lions are often considered a serious threat to locals. 

 

2. TIL Norway has no minimum wage, but its McDonald's workers make 16-24 US dollars an hour. 


A coalition of groups rally in front of a McDonald's in Harlem during a protest by fast food workers and supporters for higher wages. Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

Working at McDonald’s isn’t just for Norway’s dropouts. Norway doesn’t have minimum wage, but McDonald’s workers make the equivalent of 16-24 US dollars an hour depending on their age. Compare that to the $7.25 they’ll offer as minimum wage in the United States and it might be worth the investment to take those burger-flipping skills abroad. You’ll make more than twice as much.

 3. TIL buying or selling chewing gum is illegal in Singapore. 


Chewing gum is forbidden in Singapore. Cassidy 94/Flickr Commons.

If you’re in Singapore hoping to buy some chewing gum after your coffee or lunch break, you’re out of luck. The sale of chewing gum is forbidden in the country. The only reason gum can be imported is if it’s for export elsewhere. This law came to be after officials apparently noticed copious amounts of discarded gum on sidewalks and streets. If you’ve got gum, you can chew it, but be discreet. If you’re not spitting it out in a trash can, beware: great fines will apply. 

4. TIL Chad and Romania have identical flags, as do Indonesia and Monaco.


The Romanian flag. mares_ionut/Flickr Commons.

Citizens in Chad and Romania may face a national identity crisis when they realize their flags are exactly the same. It’s true; each features a blue, yellow and red stripe, running from left to right. Those in Indonesia and Monaco are in the same position. Their flags are also identical, with a red half on top of a white half. But honestly with 196 countries in the world, there are only so many color and pattern combinations left to choose from.

5. TIL 90% of all adoptions in Japan are adult adoptions, mostly men in their 20-30s.


Denisetakespics/Flickr commons.

Forget cute babies. Why go through all of the hassle of raising a child when you can just adopt the end product — a well-adjusted man in his 20s or 30s? In Japan, that’s precisely what’s happening with 90 percent of adoptions. Why? Families are adopting full-grown men to ensure heirs to their companies if they lack a son of their own or don’t trust him to carry on the business.

6. TIL Korea's DMZ is one of the world's most abundant and well-preserved natural reserves.


A flock of wild geese fly over a barbed-wire fence near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images.

If there’s any group that thrives on conflict between North and South Korea, it’s the wildlife. A de facto nature reserve has grown in the de-militarized zone between the two nations, and either war or peace could disrupt that balance, experts say. The zone houses several rare species native to the region, including rodents, birds and deer. War would obviously devastate the region, but peace would also mean the taking-over of invaluable wetlands, proving equally damning to the animals there.

7. TIL every house in Bermuda produces its own water supply by using rain-catching roofs.


Stickerson/Flickr Commons.

No need for a Brita filters in Bermuda. Houses there have their own water supply via a rain collection apparatus on the roof that sends the water through a filtration system, rendering it drinkable. The regulations for this kind of water conservation even exists in their Public Health Regulations.

8. TIL that between Egypt and Sudan, there is a strip of land that neither country will claim. It is one of the few unclaimed regions on earth.


Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) and Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Morsi listen to their national anthems during a departure ceremony at Khartoum airport. Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images.

There’s a strip of unclaimed land between Egypt and Sudan. In reality, the two just can’t seem to agree on whose border is whose. As one Reddit reader put it, “its like you have two kids at a birthday party and only two cupcakes left. Except one of the cupcakes is smooshed and actually fell on the floor and didn't quite get dusted off. Everyone else at the party can agree that the last two cupcakes are the last two kids', but each kid claims the smooshed one should go to the other kid. Everyone else at the party already had plenty of cake though, so nobody else really wants to have the smooshed cupcake either.”

9. TIL Bahrain's government banned Google Earth because it allowed Bahraini citizens to see discrepancies between rich and poor areas. 


Bahrainis take part in a protest to demand more rights in the village of Bilad al-Qadeem, in a suburb of Manama, on June 15, 2013..Mohamed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images.

Did Google Earth cause the uprising in Bahrain? When Bahrain gained access to Google Earth in 2006, citizens could for the first time see the huge discrepancy between the ultra-rich and the majority of the population, via massive mansions on expansive compounds, next to the slums of normal citizens. The government tried to block access almost immediately, but it was too late. As the article puts it, "The people had seen the inequality.”

10. TIL that when Fiat discovered a Google's street view car was mapping Sodertalje, Sweden, they sent a Fiat to tail it for 30 miles to prank Volkswagen's headquarters.


Himanshu Sarpotdar/Flickr Commons.

Fiat is taking competition to a whole new level in Sweden. When a Google Street Views car was noticed in Sodertalje, Sweden, Fiat tailed the car for 30 miles so the car could be parked in front of the Volkswagen headquarters just before the Google photo was taken. They say any press is good press, except, in this case, maybe for Volkswagen, which will indefinitely be on Google Earth with a Fiat out front.

11. TIL that Italian banks accept parmesan cheese as collateral for loans.


A picture taken on February 15, 2008 shows a worker checking a wheel of seasoned Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in a factory in Valestra, near Reggio Emilia. In central Italy, a deposit of prized Parmesan cheese is enough to secure a loan.. Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images.

Most people love a good parmesan cheese, but in Italy, it’s quite literally worth its weight in gold. An Italian bank accepts Parmigiano Reggiano as collateral in place of money, and they even have a vault dedicated to the cheese. It’s no joke; the cheese vault is so valuable it's been robbed three times. The reasoning for this transaction is that cheese takes several years to mature, but the cheese producers need money in the meantime. So they put their cheese on layaway, are given a cheap loan, and then get the cheese back when it’s ready and pay the bank back. If they can’t pay, then the bank has the cheese to sell.

12. TIL that the Netherlands is planning to construct glow-in-the-dark roads. 


breeannakay/Flickr Commons.

Someone’s finally found a use for that glow-in-the-dark paint you used as a kid. It’s going to help highlight road features in the Netherlands, like the white lines marking lanes. A special paint has been designed for the roads that will remain illuminated for up to 10 hours after night falls. Special weather features like snowflakes will also be painted onto the road, and when the temperature falls below a certain point, those features will illuminate. Planners are hoping that this paint will help improve road safety and awareness of weather conditions.

13. TIL in Switzerland it's LEGAL to download any copyrighted material. 

 


A picture taken on February 11, 2012 shows protestors, wearing Guy Fawkes masks, holding a banner during a protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in downtown of Sofia, Bulgaria. Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images.

The Pirate Party in Switzerland is more interested in internet rights than swashbuckling. These pirates want to be allowed to download free content from the internet and, due to a recent decision to uphold current laws, they can. In Switzerland, downloading copyrighted material is free and legal, be it movies, music or software. One sticking point is that you can download the material, but you can’t upload it, or offer up new content for download. The Swiss also argue that legal downloading is fine because that money for the artists just goes other places, such as toward concerts or merchandise.

14. TIL tribes in the Amazon are using Google Earth to map their lands and fight illegal mining. 


An aerial view of the Amazon. Nullboy/Flickr Commons.

Amazonian Indians are using Google Earth and GPS to track deforestation in the Amazon, mostly by illegal miners. The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is training them to use this technology, helping them fight off encroachment of their dwindling home. Google Earth gives the Indians a birdseye view to track new mines or hidden air strips that can be impossible to find on the ground given the vastness of the Amazon. They’re also mapping much of the Amazon in detail, including the marking of sacred historical or mythological sites. 

Rian Rossetti contributed to this article.

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/offbeat/130618/14-awesome-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-world-reddit-todailearned