REPOST: Eastern Europe’s major economies are having an underappreciated “Goldilocks moment”

Eastern Europe is a budding economic powerhouse in the world’s wealthiest continent, but no one seems to notice it. Here is an article from Quartz for some insights:

Germany has long been the engine that drives the EU’s economic growth, but for the past few years it has been outpaced by countries further east—most notably Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

The three largest eastern EU members by GDP are experiencing a “Goldilocks moment” of high economic growth, low unemployment, and manageable inflation of around 2%, according to Diana Amoa, a money manager at JPMorgan Asset Management who specializes in emerging market debt.

The IMF now forecasts that “emerging and developing Europe” economies to grow 4.5% this year, upping their prediction by 1.5 percentage points from six months ago. This increased optimism is based, in part, on bumper growth in the second quarter of 2017, when Romania’s economy increased 5.7% versus a year earlier, the Czech Republic’s by 4.7%, and Poland’s by 4.4%. By comparison, the EU average was 2.4% growth over the same period.

Why are these countries growing so quickly?

All of these economies are still heavily reliant on manufacturing, exporting much of their production to the rest of the EU. For example, the Czech Republic—er, Czechia—has the lowest unemployment rate in the EU and about 35% of the Czech labor force is employed in manufacturing, the highest proportion of any EU country. When Europe is growing, demand for the things made in these economies grows. Often this means cars: automakers including Toyota, Volkswagen, and Peugeot have factories in the Czech Republic. Romania’s largest exporter is Dacia, a subsidiary of French car company Renault.

Continue reading HERE.

Europe’s most environmentally vulnerable regions are preparing for the worst

Image source: NASA.gov

Humanity is slowly waking up to the inevitable reality of climate change and its potential economic, social, and political repercussions. While some countries have been relatively fortunate to escape the wrath of the worsening changes in the world’s weather patterns, many of the most naturally vulnerable regions are preparing for the worst.

Europe, for instance, as part of the northern hemisphere, is experiencing an alarming pace of warming temperatures more than the global average. Because of this, experts have warned the country of multiple climatic hazards.

According to a related study, European mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees and the Alps will soon experience a dramatic glacier-melting temperature rise – and the Mediterranean is facing the same threat of extreme and drastic heat, possibly triggering a region-wide drought, forest fires, and crop failure.

Image source: ibtimes.com

Even countries fronting the Atlantic could suffer the opposite but similar fate, with experts predicting heavier rainfalls, bigger flood risks as well as continuous devastations from storms of unprecedented strength.

Recently, a massive earthquake shook the Turkish coast and the Greek Islands. Greece and Turkey, according to United Nations University for Environment and Human Security’s (UNU-EHS) World Risk Report in 2015, are among the countries in the continent vulnerable to natural disasters more specifically earthquakes.

These two major European countries are considered the most earthquake-prone countries in the region because of its unfortunate location, seated on the meeting point of Eurasian and African tectonic plates.

Image source: telegraph.co.uk

Since most Europeans live in the cities, urban development experts agree that focusing the attention on infrastructure can be the first line of defense against natural disasters and a long-term solution in coping with climate change. In fact, many cities have adapted similar plans like Copenhagen, Bratislava, London, and Almada in Portugal. Other major cities like Bologna, a medieval city prone to flooding and heatwaves, followed a totally different approach

REPOST: What is the ‘Lucifer’ heatwave in Europe, which countries have had the highest temperatures and what’s the latest forecast?

Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, and Greece have been the worst hit of this year’s European summer heat wave. The weather phenomenon is particularly dangerous for older people and can cause massive forest fires. Here are more details from The Sun:

A RELENTLESS heatwave which has surged across southern Europe has been given the satanic nickname “Lucifer”.

The sweltering temperatures have caused the mercury rise to as high as 44C in the south of Spain.

Here’s the low down on the high temperatures currently hitting the continent.
People enjoy the sun and the sea on a beach in Villeneuve Loubet, southern France

What is the Lucifer heatwave?

“Lucifer” is the nickname Europeans have come up with to describe the heatwave baking southern Europe.

The devilish moniker was coined after several countries across the continent saw temperatures head north of 40C.

So far at least five people have died in the heat in Italy and Romania.

Unusually high temperatures are being recorded across an area spanning much of Spain and Portugal, southern France, Italy, the Balkans and Hungary.

Hospital admissions have spiked 15-20 per cent in Italy, where at least three people have died.

Italians longing for the beach have dubbed the hot spell “Lucifero”, or Lucifer.

Which countries have had the hottest weather?

Weather boffins have warned the dangerous heatwave has put lives at risk on the continent.

Meteoalarm – a Europe-wide operation made up of dozens of national weather services – has warned that “major damage and accidents are likely, in many cases with threat to life”.

It has issued red alerts – considered “very dangerous” and meaning “exceptionally intense meteorological phenomena are forecast” – for parts of Italy, Switzerland, Croatia and Poland.

Orange alerts – which mean dangerous weather is expected – are in place in Spain, southern France, Greece and much of the Mediterranean.

Continue reading HERE.

Experience an extraordinary gastronomic adventure in these underrated EU cities

Image source: themileageclub.com

 

Europe is a major destination for hundreds of millions of tourists around the world. In fact, the hospitality business in the region is so big that in 2014, one in ten enterprises in the European non-financial business economy belonged to the tourism industries. Its biggest attractions are its majestic ancient and medieval wonders, but visitors also flock to the continent for its diverse and glamorous food scene.  Whether you’re a foodie who just wants to have that once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic experience or if you’re a humble connoisseur of the finest wines, these emerging food hotpots in Europe should be on your itinerary:

 

1. Dubrovnik

Image source: happytrips.com

Located along the Dalmatian coastline, this fascinating Croatian city is a home to a delectable range of seafood cuisines, cooked fresh off the boat in a Mediterranean-style of food preparation that will definitely bring up your appetite.  If you’re more of a truffle fan, did you know that it was in Croatia where they have discovered one of the world’s largest truffle? No wonder why gourmet fungi is popular all over the country.

 

2. Bordeaux

Image source: williams-sonoma.com

Paris and Lyon may be two of the most visited places to eat in France but Bordeaux has its own charm when it comes to its wine culture – however, if we scratch the surface, there’s more to this French city than just a haven of finest wines – its emerging food and restaurant culture. The developing food scene in Bordeaux is credited to the advent of the bistronomy movement, a new culinary movement that’s rejuvenating France’s restaurant scene, attracting a new wave of chefs and culinary experts to the city.

 

3. Lisbon

Image source: hostelsclub.com

An impressive range of seafood from the waters of the Atlantic, an abundance of fruits and fresh meat from Portugal’s countryside: what more could any epicurean ask for? This destination is a treasure island for gourmet pirates who would to enjoy the privilege of a wide selection of Michelin starred- restaurants, relaxed cafes, and interesting establishments and bistros around the city.

REPORT: The 17 most inclusive cities in Europe

Planning to visit, work, or perhaps live in Europe? The cities listed below, as published on The Independent, are considered the best in the continent, ranked based on innovation, inspiration, inclusion, interconnection, investment, and infrastructure:

Europe is incredibly diverse, and it can be hard to know where to go — or where to live, if you’re considering a move.

Savills Investment Management (Savills IM) has released a list of the 40 most dynamic cities in Europe based on a number of factors that contribute to long-term wealth, economic growth, and positive population trends.

130 cities were chosen for the complete survey, which included all European capitals, as well as all cities with a minimum metropolitan area of 250,000 inhabitants, and positive forecasted population growth.

The cities were then measured on innovation, inspiration, inclusion, interconnection, investment, and infrastructure.

Scroll down to see a list of the 17 most innovative, inspiring, and inclusive cities in Europe, ranked in ascending order.

 

  1. Barcelona, Spain

The capital of Catalonia and home to La Rambla, one of Europe’s most famous streets. The Spanish city is famous for its beautiful Gaudí architecture

 

  1. Lausanne, Switzerland

Located in the heart of Europe, Lausanne ranks number one for foreign-born population and number three for number of foreign university students

 

  1. Basel, Switzerland

Located on the Rhine River in northwest Switzerland, close to the borders with France and Germany, Basel is the country’s third most populous city

 

  1. Oxford, England

 

Oxford is helped by a strong and developed university presence and scores particularly highly in individual engagement in community-organised, arts-related activities

 

  1. Oslo, Norway

Oslo is the capital of Norway, which was ranked number one in the OECD’s 2016 Better Life Index. The majority of Norway’s population benefit from paid jobs, a high level of education, and long average life spans.

 

 

  1. Vienna, Austria

Vienna scores fourth in terms of interconnectivity, which takes into account both current and future transport links

 

  1. Madrid, Spain

The city takes the top spot for number of railway stations and ranks fifth in terms of interconnectivity overall. There are less transport projects planned in Madrid compared to the top four cities ranked by this measure

 

  1. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich scores highly for wealth and consumer spending indicators. The population is forecasted to grow, and the Swiss city ranks in the top 20 for commercial real estate investment activity

 

  1. Edinburgh, Scotland

Historically part of Midlothian, the city has long been a centre of education, particularly in the fields of medicine, Scots law, literature, science, and engineering. The University of Edinburgh is now one of four universities in the city

 

  1. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm has strong forecasted growth in its urban population and ranks well for government infrastructure

 

 

See the full list on this PAGE.

Most iconic TV and movie locations you can actually visit

Many of us love watching movies and while others just enjoy the good laughs and the wonders of what films have to offer, some fans make the extraordinary effort to travel and get a glimpse of the world inside and beyond their imagination. In fact, in many instances, places featured on popular shows and films have reported a major boost in tourism revenues due mainly to their new-found fame. If you want to visit the most iconic movie locations of some of your favorite films, this list will help you map out an unforgettable and fantastic travel experience.

 

  1. Skiathos and Skopelos islands, Greece
Image source: thomson.co.uk

If you’ve sung along Mamma Mia’s charming classic covers of several iconic songs in this musical film, we’re sure you’ve also noticed the stunning islands where the movie was set: the Grecian jewels, Skiathos and Skopelos. With the enchanting blue waters, the sandy beaches and the familiar tavernas, this film location will surely make you fall in love over and over again.

 

  1. Durham City, Durham
Image source: dur.ac.uk

The Harry Potter series may be a story about a magical world of wizards and witches but it doesn’t mean that muggle fans like us can’t have the chance to visit Hogwarts – at least its counterpart in the real world, the Durham Cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage Site served as a film location for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and its sequel, the Chamber of Secrets.

 

  1. Amalfi Coast, Italy
Image source: popsugar.com

The director and the creators of the 2017 Wonder Woman movie actually considered 47 different countries and even visited several of them just to find the most ideal location for the Amazon’s city-state, Themyscira. At last, production designer Aline Bonetto fell in love with the wild, rocky, green coastal landscapes and the sparkling seas of the Amalfi Coast located south of Italy and thought that its Mediterranean landscape would be perfect for the ancient and exotic all-women tribe.

 

  1. Central Park, New York
Image source: traveldigg.com

New York City itself is a popular setting for many television shows and films, but it is its universal symbol, the Central Park, that appears most frequently in the majority of NY-based productions. Huge blockbusters and TV ratings winners such as Law & Order (1990), Sex and the City (1998), The Avengers (2012), and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) all had at least one scene shot in the park.

 

  1. Korean Folk Village, South Korea
Image source: korea.net

Made popular by the Hallyu phenomenon, a.k.a. the Korean Wave, many K-drama locations have become iconic amongst fans, especially those in Asia. The Korean Folk Village in Yongin, Gyeonggi province, for example, is best recognized as the filming location of historical-themed dramas like Jewel in the Palace (2004), Moon Embracing the Sun (2012), and Arang and the Magistrate (2012). This place also offers Instagram-perfect Joseon-era buildings and interesting activities, such as Korean folk games, traditional weddings, and martial arts.

REPOST: The Best Places to Travel in Europe This Year

Europe is a universal staple on every traveler’s bucket list, and there is a very good reason for that. Parade.com suggests 10 destinations that globetrotters–whether first-time vacationers or repeat tourists–must visit this year, with trip highlights such as museums, historic architecture, and fantastic cuisines!

Why should you visit Europe on your next vacation? As the team at new nightlife and travel website SELECT: Your City’s Secrets Unlocked (the fastest way to get to know any city and live like a local) is fond of pointing out, there are a multitude of reasons. For example: World class museums. Movie-worthy beaches. Picturesque skiing. Historic architecture. And, oh yeah, great food, even better wine and all the culture and history you could ever dream of. But what are the best places to visit in Europe, and which travel destinations should you keep in mind when you want to broaden your horizons and get out of your comfort zone? If you’re ready for adventure, here are ten top hotspots to put on your list today.

 

Ireland

First Place to Stop: Belfast

What’s rated as Europe’s top attraction in several polls? The Titanic Museum, which shows off replica cabins and the slip where the fabled ship was built. The W5 children’s science and discovery museum also notches up rave reviews, with more than 250 interactive exhibits on offer, including a multi-story climbing exploration tower aptly called Climbit.

 

Croatia

First Place to Stop: Dubrovnik

This “pearl of the Adriatic” boasts medieval architecture, stunning beaches and exquisite natural beauty. Oh, and if you’re a Game of Thrones fan who appreciates atmospheric locales, rest assured: It’s a must-see city. Croatia’s got several up-and-coming wine regions to explore as well—if you need a quick guide to the area, Dubrovnik Wine Tours can help give you a taste of the region.

 

France

First Place to Stop: Bordeaux

A new high-speed TGV Oceane train connects Paris to Bordeaux, making it possible to journey in less than six hours from the capital’s cultural attractions to the wine and beaches of one of the world’s most fabled retreats. Be sure to check out the recently opened Cite du Vin wine museum as well, and—on a hot day—cool off at the Water Mirror, where you can get misted in rhythmic bursts to cool down in between wine tastings and cultural endeavors.

 

Switzerland

First Place to Stop: Zermatt

If you like mountain hiking and skiing, then Zermatt’s a must-visit destination. Neighbors to the sky-touching Matterhorn, this Swiss town has been a tourist destination for centuries. The five-star Riffelalp Resort, facing the mountain, just reopened after a remodeling in December, with ski access—a visit should quickly be added to your bucket list.

 

See the full list on this PAGE.

Small towns and nature sanctuaries to visit in Europe

Traveling Europe offers a delightful experience for anyone who is willing to explore its hidden wonders. It will not be the world’s top continent for tourists for no reason. In fact, the hospitality industry forms one of its strongest and most resilient economic sectors, with six of the world’s 10 most visited countries located within its borders (in Spain alone, more than $56 billion in tourist spending was generated in 2015). However, aside from the famous sites that tourists usually visit (e.g. Paris, Rome, London, etc.), there are other charming destinations that you should definitely see at least once in your life.

If you’re looking for a list of unique and inspiring European travel destinations, these small towns and nature sanctuaries are all you need.

  1. Göreme National Park

Located in Turkey, this picturesque national park was naturally created by the process of erosion. It is the haven to an abundant flora and a glorious collage of valleys, hills and alluvial streams. The national park is also a home to bizarre yet beautiful rock formations called, ‘fairy chimneys’ and were once a booming residence of the region’s old inhabitants.

Image source: britannica.com

 

  1. Conwy, Wales

This Welsh town is one of Europe’s finest sites, highlighting medieval walls and majestic castles. In fact, Conwy is a walled market town. Plus, its local beer and lager breweries at the Albion Ale House offer a unique 1920s pub experience.

Image source: acreativenomad.com

 

  1. Cinque Terre

This breathtaking national park is located in Italy, showcasing an extraordinary blend of nature and culture. Aside from its spectacular line of small beaches and coves, it is also a home to wildlife and a site of vibrant and nostalgic medieval quarters.

Image source: routeperfect.com

 

  1. Kilkenny

This Irish city is located in the province of Leinster. Although locals and travelers know Kilkenny as a city, the land area is just the size of a large town. It treasures scenic heritage and historical marvels like the St Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny Castle, and medieval walls.

Image source: independent.ie

REPOST: Netflix announces 400 new jobs in Europe and two new European original series

In its bid to further expand its subscriber base in Europe, streaming and video-on-demand giant Netflix is launching its first batch of original European productions in the next couple of months and would hire a few hundred new employees to support its customer service hub in Amsterdam. The full story on CNBC:

 

 

Netflix said it would create 400 jobs in its new European customer service hub in Amsterdam, as the U.S. video streaming pioneer expands around the world.

The service hub, which opened this week, will initially employ 170 people. The number is expected to grow to 345 by the end of the year and surpass 400 by 2018-end.

The company has expanded around the world over the last few years, betting that its U.S. formula would pay off in other countries.

Netflix has committed more than $1.75 billion to European productions for five years since entering the market in 2012.

The company, whose original shows include “13 Reasons Why” and “House of Cards,” said on Thursday that at least six new original European series would be announced by the end of 2017,

including a German production, “Dogs of Berlin,” which is set to go on floors in 2018.

The new hub, which is an addition to Netflix’s internal service centers in the United States and Japan, caters to customers across 11 European countries, including the UK and Denmark.

 

Six autonomous territories that are taking the world by storm

In the age of exploration, numerous seafarers and captains set out into the unknown waters in search of land and gold. They traversed the treacherous waters in order to attain glory for their nation. Some of the most successful countries in their expeditions include the United Kingdom, the United States, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Today, however, many of their territories have already grown into flourishing jurisdictions nearly independent of all their economic and socio-political decisions. While they may not still be considered countries, these places have achieved many feats many other nations could only think of.

 

Image source: 1worldbermuda.com

 

Bermuda is one of the world’s most popular non-sovereign territories that is currently under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. It has now a thriving economy which can be attributed to international business, tourism, and as the headquarters of prestigious financial services companies such as the LOM Financial Group. It is known for its high-cost economy. According to the World Bank, it ranks third worldwide in terms of gross national income per capita. Despite its modest land area and relative geographical isolation, it is an economic powerhouse and frequented by the rich and famous.

Puerto Rico on the other hand is an unincorporated overseas territory of the United States. It is considered as one of the most competitive economies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Decades ago, citizens relied heavily on sugar production for their national revenue. Currently, manufacturing is dominating the market as well as tourism and commerce.  With a new referendum to be held next month, Puerto Rico might soon officially become a US state.

 

Image source: stripes.com

 

Another non-sovereign but thriving territory of the United States is Guam. This piece of tropical paradise in the Pacific Ocean depends primarily on hospitality services, Department of Defense installations, and locally owned businesses. Its tourist hub, Tumon, boasts of more than a dozen large hotels, indoor aquarium, a Duty Free Shoppers Galleria, Pleasure Island district, Sandcastle Las Vegas–styled shows, and other shopping and entertainment venues. Experts are viewing the island’s financial future with optimism.

North of Venezuela in the Caribbean lies three islands belonging to the Kingdom of Netherlands: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, also known as the ABC Islands. Aruba and Curaçao are autonomous, self-governing constituent countries of their mother country while Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands proper. All three however, have excellent reputation as diving Meccas, being home to a great diversity of marine life. Not surprisingly, eco-tourism plays an extremely important role in these territories’ economies.

 

Image source: hkexpress.com

 

In Asia, perhaps the most popular special administrative regions of a much larger country are Hong Kong and Macau. These cities are technically found in mainland China but have their own economic policies and political affairs. Hong Kong is a former British territory and is now a hugely successful global city home to numerous large companies and a thriving stock exchange. Macau, meanwhile, was previously administered by the Portuguese Empire but is now an autonomous territory famous for its Las Vegas-style casinos, luxury hotels, and vibrant entertainment venues.

In conclusion, a certain administrative entity does not have to be fully independent or geographically large for it to be economically successful. In fact, many of the world’s small territories actually have very high standard of living and rank well in many other lists related to quality of life. It’s all about efficient governance, smart economic moves, and having a pleasant reputation in the international community.