Friday, June 27, 2008

Rides of Heads of State (Part 27.6)

This is a tale of three island nations-- Taiwan, Nauru, and Tuvalu. Taiwan needs friends in the international community. China is snatching up diplomatic recognition at a fast clip. Taiwan is relegated to being friends with about two dozen poor countries in Central America, the Pacific, and Africa. It keeps these friendships with "donations" like medical supplies, catered banquets, and scholarships. Nauru and Tuvalu are two such friends. That's how I found these two leaders' rides, on Taiwan's foreign ministry's website.

177. Tuvalu. With a population of 12,000, it is not a rich country. Its GDP is about $20 million. A tenth of that income is from selling the rights to the internet suffix ".tv". More than a few eyebrows were raised when Taiwan generously donated $13 million to build the island's government center. At three-stories, it's the tallest building in the country.

Tuvalu is made up of a number of desolate islands. When the prime minister visits a neighboring island, he has to ride in whatever is available. And in the case below, he had to ride in a Mazda truck.

178. Nauru. Nauru has a sad story. It measures just 8 square miles. It used to be covered with bird poop and was a phosphate "gold" mine. Unfortunately, all of the poop has been shipped away and billions of dollars in proceeds have disappeared. Here we see President Scotty last year in front of his E-class Mercedes. Nauru is mired in debt.

Updated tally:
S-class: 57
Land Cruiser: 17
7 series: 15
A8: 11
Maybach: 6
Caddy: 6
Suburban/Yukon: 5
Mitsubishi Montero/Pajero: 4
Phaeton: 4
G-wagen: 4
Holden-Chevy-Opel: 3
H2: 3
Jag: 2
ZIL: 2
Volvo: 2
Touareg: 2
Lincoln: 2

One of each of the following: Lancia, Hyundai, Skoda, A6, Peugeot, Renault, Lincoln, VW van, London taxi, Daimler, Toyota Century, Hongqi, Bentley, Rolls, Ford Fairlane, Aston Martin, SEAT, Ford Expedition, Nissan Patrol, Stutz, Suzuki, Camry, Toyota Crown, Toyota Sequoia, Proton, Land Rover, Ford F150, Mitsubishi Galant, Hummer H1, Chrysler Imperial, Mitsu L200 pick-up, Mazda truck, E-class Merc.

I have 17 countries to go.


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