There's a dream I get from time to time in which I am looking at a map or a globe and I notice a country that I've never seen before. It's usually landlocked in Canada or Russia. Nothing much happens. I just stare at it.
I had a similar experience this week while reading a comment on Pete Birks' blog. Birks had written about the various 'stans' of Central Asia, some of which are nation states, others merely regions of Russia and that prompted someone else to post a map of the regions of Russia and the remark: 'I'm intrigued by the autonomous oblast in the lower right-hand corner, labelled "Jewish"...'
I assumed it was some sort of joke but, lo and behold, there it was:
It's the blue one in the far east. It turns out that in the 1920s Stalin had some idea of promoting a dedicated Jewish region. It's a fascinating story and I recommend you read about it -
Check out the flag and the coat of arms too. The former is a bit like the 'gay rainbow' flag, while the latter has a tiger on it!
Intriguingly, Russia also has a republic that is officially Buddhist. It's Kalmykia, the green-coloured one in the west, marked with an 8, just above Dagestan. It amuses me that the jewish region is in the Asian part of Russia, just above China, while the Buddhist one is in Europe!