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Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by AdamEfimoff, Feb 21, 2015.
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What countries have the most diverse sights ? diverse food and diverse people??
I would nominate Indonesia.
You can do all kinds of beach/coastal activities - from snorkeling/diving (world-class, from Bali to Bunaken), surfing (world-class off Banyuwangi in east Java, or Nias island off the Sumatran coast), and even live aboard (world-class, at Raja Ampat), to trekking in the rainforest, to club-hopping in the city (Jakarta, metropolis of more than 8M people), rafting (various places in the country), to national parks (Komodo - where real dinosaurs still live, or Ujung Kulon - where elusive Java Rhinos still live), to UNESCO world heritage cultural sites (Hindu and Budhist monuments in Java, mausoleum in Toraja highlands among others). There are active volcanoes that can be climbed (Bromo in East Java, various others throughout the country), and even alpine climbing (Cartenz peak in Western Irian).
The food is also very diverse. Aceh people who are devout Moslems cook their curries with marijuana as one of the spice. Minang people from Western Sumatra is famous for their spicy dishes and when you visit a Minang restaurant, they usually put a spread of about 20 different dishes in front of you, ranging from vegetable dish, to fried fish, to calf brain curries. Coming a bit to the South East, to Palembang area, you can find some traditional fish cakes. In Java island, the cooking in West Java differs from Central Java, and both are different from East Java. Balinese are well known for suckling pig, which is something that most Javanese do not eat since most Javanese are Moslems. People in Manado in North Celebes eat fried bat wings as delicacies. I have not even mentioned the dishes from Borneo, Lombok islands, and the Moluccas. Throughout the archipelago, there are pockets of Chinese enclave with Chinese food establishments that do not take a backseat against any places in Singapore or even Hong Kong.
Since the archipelago stretches for about 3100 miles from East to West, there are distinct ethnic groups, with their own cultural diversity. Each ethnic groups have their own customs, languages and traditions. The Javanese language, which is widely spoken in central and east Java is hardly understood in west Java, where Sundanese is the more dominant language. That's just in Java. Other islands in the archipelago will have similar circumstances, distinct people with distinct cultures.
The other country where I could draw a parallel is probably India. Large territory, large population, different ethnic groups, with diverse geographical features.
the USA is the most diverse country in the world with mountains, seaside, islands, deserts, sub-arctic regions, vast farmland, sub-tropical areas and citizens + cuisines from every country in the world
China and Russia can be entries in this by virtue of large geographical areas, that encompass many people and cultures. Although not really the friendliest to tourists.
In absolute terms IMHO the most culturally diverse and culinarily diverse countries are all physically and linguistically diverse as well. As a general rule physical and linguistic diversity is nearly equal to culinary and physical diversity. In order to make my list one needs mountains, seashores, temperate climates, tropical climates and polar climates. One also needs ancient cultural remnants. the question, as i understand the OP, requires diversity since that word is repeated three times.
My own rank ordering:
1. China- It has it all, including hundreds of ethnic groups with linguistic, cultural, religious and culinary traditions unique to each. Despite long-time repression of such diversity it stubbornly persists. No place can match the subtropical cantonese-dominant areas adjacent to Vietnam, the wonders of Tibet and Mongolia, the incredible melting pot of Shanghai and the empire infrastructure of Beijing. And the food. Good hygiene is a problem in most areas but there is a price to pay for all that magnificence. No question- this is #1
2. Russia- Spanning more time zones than any other country Russia rivals China in diversity, although there really is no tropical component, so I'm breaking one of my own rules. Spanning from the heart of the Rus, to the west of nearly all of continental Europe to the East of Korea, with incredible diversity in the Urals, and elsewhere, Russia shared with china an effort to suppress minority languages, cultures and religions. However, many Republics have their own languages and the cultural, culinary and linguistic diversity of joined with incredible diversity in sights. A clear #2.
3. India- In cultural and religious terms no place approaches India. With Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, Moslem,Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian and many other co-existing distinct religious, cultural and culinary traditions. The linguistic variety alone may argue for India as #1. Physically india has everything from the Himalayas to the tropical beaches of Goa (Portuguese food and language still evident), Pondicherry (French), huge desert areas and serious monsoon climates in the areas close to Bangladesh. Seeing the base in and around Kerala of the Saint Thomas Christians amazes people who do not know that Christianity in India started around the time of Saint Paul and has thrived ever since. even more surprising to many people is that most of those Syriac Christians converted from Judaism. All of that diversity yields an astounding variety of buildings, food, climate, cultures and perspectives that astound anybody who bothers to look closely.
4. no other countries share in all or nearly all the points. the US wins physically, but culturally there really are not many remaining independent indigenous cultures. Immigrants mostly seem to merge quickly. Still enclaves do persist in many areas and the physical diversity and sheer accessibility count enough to make me give the US #4. The US does have tropical (US Virgin Islands, American Samoa/Guam, Hawaii), polar (Northern Alaska), mountains, and massive plains, as well as rare, but not unique, features such as the Everglades (Brazil's Pantanal is bigger and less disturbed/polluted, but not easy to get to) and numerous precious marine areas. Not too much really distinct ancient culture in evidence, but there is the colonial Spanish (Puerto Rico, St Augustine, etc) and tons of modern history (meaning mid-1700's and on). So the US is clearly #4 in my book)
5. Too many countries essentially tie for #5. Indonesia, Spain, Brazil, Iran, Lebanon and on. None of them quite make the grade for physical diversity even though their cultural diversity makes them all rank pretty high in a global list, as do quite a few other countries. All of these do share the culinary and cultural diversity that make them fascinating when you look a tiny bit beyond their nominal consistency.
Please have at this list. this is fun to think about.
I started to nominate the USA on this but I'm thinking Italy at some level. They have beaches, ancient cities, islands, mountains and somewhat differences in climate. I'm not sure it's all that diverse culturally but does have some fine points for consideration. It's also tourist friendly and easy to get to from most areas of the world.
I'd also mention South Africa - multiple languages and cultures, tropical beaches and forests, skiing in the Drakensberg mountains, deserts and prairies, wonderful cities, wild beaches backed up by wildflower-covered mountains and meadows, obviously astounding wildlife and birds - terrestrial, marine. Marvelous architecture, some of the world's best produce, wine, cooking - French, Malay, traditional - and a real sense of history, even if it's frustratingly slow or backward-looking part of the time. It's a very complicated, stirring, exasperating, visual, moving place.
And with a wink, I'll also nominate California. Alpine wilderness, desert, rain forests, rocky coastline and wide beaches, ranching, America's grocery store, a Babel of languages and cultures, remarkable history... the whole enchilada.
in a pure sense the USA might not be the most diverse naturally for food + people, it is an after-product of 100s of years of immigrants
I like China as a place that was naturally diverse without the immigrants as such. After living there for several years I think what is being preserved best is their food culture with up to 9 distinct regional cuisines with recipes passed down for 1000+ years
the modern language Putonghua (the common tongue) with simplified characters was more a political tool than it was tool to help people speaking Shanghai-hua understand others speaking Sichuan-hua or Guangdong-hua (Cantonese), citizens can not read past history if they do not read the old more complex characters
some of the most interesting people in China are the minorities but the Han majority ignores their unique cultural identities, if the government in Beijing actually conducted their census by tallying up people with specific cultural traits China would very likely be the largest muslim country in the world, not Indonesia
there are 50+ recognized minorities in China (if including unrecognized the number likely exceeds 100+) the Zhuang people have a highly developed village life and terraced farming, the Hui people are expert carpenters and herbal medicine experts, then there is the Miao, Li, Dong, Yi... and the Mosuo with their matriarchal society
English ended up being the common language in India with their huge mix of peoples, cuisines and languages
Russia certainly has the peoples and the languages (at least until Joe took over, killing off entire races) but they are a bit weak on the cuisine side with their short growing season
all interesting points in this thread, just a matter of how you interpreted the OPs question
oh you can interpret how you want!!
Nigeria certainly deserves honorable (maybe dishonorable if you have actually been there ;-) mention with over 500 languages, the largest economy in Africa and more people than Russia
I think each country that is formely made of immigrants have the most diverse people. Here in Brazil the majority os people have portuguese roots, sometimes mixtured with spanish, italian, african people. But there's also a big turkish, syrian, lebanese, japanese, korean, chinese, german (Gisele Bundchen, anyone?), polish, french, dutch. It's a cultural pot, but since it's still a new country this mixture will still take ages to merge into a real one. And when we think about natural resources, there's mountains, beaches, rivers (the Amazon), flooded areas (Pantanal), pampas, forests, canyons...
definitely Colombia. Its beautiful scenery, friendly people and culinary variety, make this country the best destination to visit.
Let's not forget the American immigrants to Brazil who arrived mostly following the US Civil War. I was very tempted to include Brazil in my list, but did not, despite the fact that I am myself an immigrant to Brazil. Brazil also has a largish population of English and Canadian immigrants who played major roles in electrification, railroad building and the adoption of cinemas, among other things. luckily for our culinary quality nothing much of the English food legacy survived. The Americans, however, did supply brazil with a country-wide fetish for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which is a major pollutant added to otherwise good sushi-shaped devices called "Hot Philadelphia". They are madly popular, despite having zero to do with sushi.
The Pantanal, as I mentioned above, is geologically a very slow moving shallow river, thus just like the Everglades in Florida, but bigger and less polluted. That is a sight truly marvelous and along with the Amazon river basin, something that exists really nowhere else on earth.
I vote for Spain: the Catalan, Basque, Galician,and to some extent Valacian cultures are distinct, with several distinct languages and cuisines represented. Plus, one has the moorish influence in southern Spain.
It's easier to be diverse in countries as large as Russia or China.
Canada and Belgium also deserve mention, plus Singapore, which takes pride in the way its various groups live together.
In terms of culinary diversity, Singapore, the city/state, has to be amongst the top 10 of any list. If one's palate has appreciation for diverse flavors, then China, India, Indonesia, Japan would be in any list. A country often neglected or ignored, is Peru. It has everything geographically, plus a very nuanced cuisine !