19th September

Oetzi the Iceman discovered

Saint Kitts and Nevis Independence Day (from UK, 1983)

St Kitts was named after St Christopher and Nevis named after Nuestra Senora de las Nueves – Our Lady of the Snows. Not that Nevis is very snowy.

They were settled by Native Americans, the Kalinago people, five thousand years ago, and Christopher Columbus arrived in 1493.

In 1538 French Huguenots arrived, and in 1636 English settlers arrived. Three years later the English and French joined forces to massacre the Kalinagos in case they did it first. In 1629 the Spanish came back and deported the lot of them.

But the Spanish Empire went into decline and the Brits and French used St Kitts as a base to take over other islands nearby. The French eventually ceded the island to the Brits in 1713. We stuck St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla altogether as one colony, but Anguilla broke away in 1971. St Kitts and Nevis gained independence in 1983, making it the youngest sovreign state in the Americas.

International Talk Like A Pirate Day


18th September

1809 London’s Royal Opera House opens

1928 Juan de la Cierva makes the first autogyro crossing of the English Channel

1709 Samuel Johnson (wrote the first English dictionary) born

1819 Leon Foucault (inventor of the Foucault pendulum) born

Azerbaijan Day of National Music – see 17th November

Chile Independence Day (Dieciocho)

Native Americans moved to Chile about 10,000 years ago. They became the Mapuche people, who resisted Inca invasions.

In 1520 Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Strait of Magellan through Chile. Spain came to conquer them in 1540, but the Mapuches weren’t having it. In fact, Spain abolished slavery after realising it just made the Mapuche people angrier. However Spain eventually succeeded, and by 1778 73% of the population was European.

In 1808 Napoleon decided France had Spain now and put his brother Joseph on the throne. Not all of Spain agreed and Chile definitely didn’t and declared itself independent on 18th September 1810. Spain tried to take Chile back in the Reconquista but by 1818 Chile had won.

From 1972 they had a socialist government which increased nationalised industry and employment, but a year later inflation was out of control because they had funded the socialist changes by printing money. A military coup took over, led by General Pinochet and helped by America. Around 40,000 people were then tortured, imprisoned or killed for political reasons. Eight years later he lost his presidential role in a democratic election.

In 2010 Chile had a huge earthquake, but also made international news for rescuing 33 miners who were trapped in a shaft for 17 days.

Chile’s national animal is the condor. The national dance is the cueca. Chile is most famous for Easter Island.


15th September

1254 Marco Polo born – so go exploring:



Battle of Britain Day

National Hispanic Heritage Month starts in US

Costa Rica/El Salvador/Guatemala (20th October) /Honduras/ Nicaragua (19th July) Independence Days (from Spain, 1821)

Costa Rica means Rich Coast, and it was first inhabited by hunter-gatherer tribes about 10,000 years ago, and when Colombus sailed past in 1502 he reported the natives wore vast quantities of gold jewellery.

A Spanish conquistador landed in 1522. But despite its name, and because Spain forbid it from trading with nearby islands that belonged to other empires, Costa Rica actually became one of the poorest Spanish colonies.

The Spanish Constitution of 1812 made Costa Rica an autonomous province, but clearly news didn’t get through as Costa Rica celebrates its Independence Day after Guatemala declared all of South America independent in 1821.

Costa Rica has had a more peaceful independence than most of South America, with the exception of a 44-day civll war in 1948 that left 2,000 dead. After that Costa Rica abolished its military, just to be safe.

Costa Rica is famous for its mysterious prehistoric stone spheres:

They have the world’s oldest men – i.e., they live the longest, and rank number 1 on the Happy Planet Index, meaning they live happily without destroying the planet too much. They say ‘pura vida’ – pure life – as ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’.

El Salvador means The Saviour, i.e., Jesus.

It was originally inhabited by Native American Lenca people, then the Olmecs who left great pyramids behind, then the Mayans, who were chased out by the eruption of the supervolcano Ilopango. These were followed by the Pipil people, whose word for El Salvador, Kuskatan, eventually became the word used to describe people from El Salvador, Cuzcatlecos.

Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado arrived in 1524 after Spain conquered Mexico. But the Cuzcatlan soldiers were ready and chased them off. When Pedro sent Mexican messengers to ask them to return the weapons they’d stolen and to surrender to the Spanish crown, the reply was “If you want your weapons, come get them.”

But the Pipil people were weakened by smallpox and El Salvador was conquered in 1525. But a Lenca princess, Antu Silan Ulap I, raised armed resistance and managed to destroy the first Spanish garrison of San Miguel. For 10 years the Lencas kept the Spanish out, but they eventually returned with enough soldiers to chase the Lencas into the moutains.

In 1821, after several independence movements, Spain granted independence to their Central American colonies. El Salvador became part of the First Mexican Empire, then the Republic of Central America, then had a load of juntas and coups, then had a civil war 1979-92.

El Salvador has over 20 volcanoes and a history of very destructive earthquakes. It also suffers from severe droughts leading to famine, and severe rains that cause flooding and landslides. Due to climate change it also gets more hurricanes than it ever used to.


Honduras was originally inhabited by Mesoamerican people, especially the Mayans.

In 1524 the Spanish arrived, led by Hernan Cortes, and eventually conquered it, making it part of their Kingdom of Guatemala. Spain made the Honduras people work in silver mines, and when they refused or fell ill, imported African slaves to do it instead.

Honduras gained its independence in 1821. By 1904 it was called the ‘Banana Republic’ as it had so may companies exporting fruit.

In 1969 Honduras’s former president blamed the country’s economic problems on immigrants from El Salvador. The two countries then had a ‘friendly’ football match before a World Cup Game and somehow this escalated into a full-blown war, called the Football War.

It has the highest homicide rate in the world. Velasquez came from Honduras – he painted this:

Honduras people say they have an annual rain of fish, called the Lluvia de Peces. They have a really miserable legend called La Llorona, a Weeping Woman who drowned her children in revenge for her husband taking a younger mistress, then drowning herself. Turned away from Heaven, she wanders around trying to drown living children to swap for her own children’s souls.


10th September

2008 the Large Hadron Collider is powered up – try the BBC resources.

Amerindian Heritage Day (Guyana)

St George’s Caye Day (British colonists in Belize defeated Spanish in 1798)

Gibraltar National Day:

Gibraltar belongs to Britain officially, after we and the Dutch took it from Spain in 1704. Spain still isn’t happy about it (as you can see, it is technically part of Spain), but the Gibraltans voted to stay British. They keep control of most of their own laws and stuff; we just look after their defence.

Gibraltar is famous for having the only wild monkey colony in Europe – Barbary macaques, who love to eat out of tourists’ hands.



Day of the Workers in the Oil, Gas, Power, and Geological Industry (Turkmenistan, 2015, 2nd Saturday)

National Grandparents Day (2017, 2nd Sunday, US, Canada, Estonia)

Turkmen Bakhshi (2017, 2nd Sunday, Turkmenistan culture celebrated)