Continued from Page 14
will invariably choose the one that visits the most places.
We tend to think of destinations as being fixed by their very na -
ture. They’re anchored to one spot, they’re not going anywhere.
But, in fact, destinations do “move.” Fifty years may not be a
significant amount of time to a geologist studying plate tectonics,
but when a city, country or continent is viewed in terms of travel
and tourism, several epochs appear to have come and gone between 1958 and 2008.
In 1958, one could, according
to Arthur Frommer, reasonably
have expected to take a vacation
in Europe for $5 a day. Today that
will buy you a crepe from a street
stall in Paris, provided you only
want cinnamon and sugar on it.
In 1958, it was not possible for
a Westerner to get a tourist visa
to China. Today, China prepares
to play host to the world at the Construction of the Beijing National Stadium for the Summer Olympics.
In 1958, there were only 82 member states in the United Nations (and the People’s Republic of China wasn’t one of them; Taiwan held the “China” seat). Today there are 192, the
rise primarily due to Europeans letting loose their colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, the
South Pacific, Central America, South America and the Indian Ocean (and, in one instance,
Europe itself, when Malta gained independence).
But additionally, new countries fought for and gained independence (Bangladesh, East
Timor), former nation names returned to world maps (Russia, Eritrea) and countries adopted new names (Zimbabwe, Myanmar). Some countries fragmented (the Soviet Union,
Yugoslavia), resulted from a merger (Yemen, Tanzania) or, after a merger didn’t work, got
divorced (Senegambia, the United Arab Republic).
At the midway point of Travel Weekly’s half-century, in 1983, no one’s crystal ball was
working very well. There isn’t a futurist on record who was predicting that, before the end of
the 20th century, Germany would reunite and Czechoslovakia would divide.
In addition to the changes that kept globe-makers busy over the past 50 years, the character of many countries that have stayed intact has changed dramatically. Cuba today is a
r adically different place than it was
before Castro took over in 1959
( though, judging by the vintage of
t he cars on the streets today, you
m ight think no calendar pages have
t urned at all). And only in their
m ost hopeful dreams did people
5 0 years ago envision a black leader
h eading an apartheid-free South
If you last visited Dubai in 1958
a nd returned today, you’d recheck
y our GPS settings; nothing would
b e recognizable. In 50 years time,
M iami Beach’s South Beach went
f rom being one of America’s most
p opular vacation areas to a drug-r idden dump to one of America’s
m ost popular vacation areas. And
though what happens in Vegas stays
i n Vegas, the same can’t be said for
the properties on the Strip over a
5 0-year time span. To be static in
Vegas is to lose it all.
There are exceptions to the dram atic change that has characterized
t he last half-century. In fact, a few
p laces have remained virtually un-
Aerial views of South Beach, Miami, in 1964, and now. c hanged.
Visiting North Korea today (should
you be able to secure a visa) would not
be a substantially different experience from seeing it in 1958 (should you have been able to
secure a visa). While we in the West would tend to shake our heads at the lack of progress
there, we’re also grateful that there are other corners of the globe that seem to be immune
A visit to tribal villages in the Amazon basin, to a pygmy camp in Democratic Republic of
Congo’s Ituri rainforest or to a town 75 miles up the Rio Platano from Honduras’ Mosquito
Coast would not be very different from a visit in 1958.
See PLACES on Page 18
16 JUNE 16, 2008
Egypt and Syria merge to form the United Arab Republic. Guinea
becomes independent from France.
Somalia is formed from the merger of British and Italian Somaliland.
Upon becoming independent, Belgian Congo changes its name to Zaire.
Independence also comes for the colonies of Central African Republic, Chad,
Cyprus, Dahomey, French Cameroun, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar,
Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, Senegal,
Togo and Upper Volta.
Syria withdraws from the United Arab Republic. British Cameroons gains
independence and merges with French Cameroun to become Cameroon.
Sierra Leone and Tanganyika become independent.
Algeria, Burundi, Jamaica, Rwanda, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and
Western Samoa become independent.
The Federation of Malaya is renamed Malaysia. Kenya becomes independent.
Tanganyika and Zanzibar merge to form Tanzania.
Malawi, Malta and Zambia become independent.
Singapore breaks from Malaysia to become an independent state.
The Gambia is granted independence from the U.K.;
Rhodesia declares itself independent.
Barbados, Botswana, Guyana, Kuwait and Lesotho become independent.
Equatorial Guinea, Mauritius, Nauru and Swaziland become independent.
Fiji and Tonga become independent.
The United Arab Republic changes its name back to Egypt.
The Peoples Republic of China assumes the “China” seat at the U.N.
Newly independent countries: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Qatar
and the United Arab Emirates.
British Honduras changes its name to Belize.
The Bahamas become independent.
Grenada and Guinea-Bissau become independent.
Dahomey changes its name to Benin. Angola, Cape Verde, Comoros,
Mozambique, Papua New Guinea and Sao Tome
and Principe become independent.
North and South Vietnam merge. Seychelles becomes independent.