Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Paraguay - Asuncion and the Taiwan connection

It may surprise people to know that Asuncion is twinned with Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. Not that the Taiwanese would notice, with Taipei having no less that 45 twin cities. As far as twinning goes, I guess that makes Taipei the belle of the ball.

So why Asuncion then? What could Asuncion and Taipei possibly have in common? Well, the answer is easier than you think. If you stood in the centre of Asuncion and drilled a hole right through the centre of the Earth (not that this is possible but, please, humour me!) when you came out the other side you would be in Taipei. Well, somewhere in Taiwan anyway, I haven't quite worked out the Maths!

This is because the region around Asuncion and the entire island of Taiwan are antipodes, ie. opposite polar points, (from the Greek for opposite foot). If, like me, you're pulling out your atlas to find your find your own antipodes, well, prepare to be disappointed. In a planet where the surface is mostly covered in water, the chances of two land antipodes (like Paraguay and Taiwan) is extremely rare. Most of the United States ends up in the South Indian ocean, the giant landmass of Eurasiafrica ends up in the Pacific! I wonder if this arrangement keeps the world balanced somehow!?

Of course, when we use the word Antipodean in English, it's almost synonymous with Australia/New Zealand, whereas, in fact, it just means the opposite side of the world. A Paraguayan could call someone from Taiwan antipodean, whereas we would never think of it that way.

The closest we've got to a match in Europe are the antipodes of New Zealand and Spain/Portugal. In 2006, according to Wikipedia, the famous American humorist Ze Frank encouraged viewers of his daily webcast to create an antipodean sandwich, by placing two pieces of bread on antipodes in Spain and New Zealand, with the earth being the sandwich filling. I don't know if anyone in Paraguay/Taiwan has tried the same thing.

Image credits

The image of Asuncion is by flickruser everdaniel - he is a web designer and Asuncion is his hometown, although he now lives in Encarnacion with his family.  You can see more of his work at http://www.everdaniel.com/

The image of Taipei is by flickruser fr064722 a.k.a. Aro, who is from Taipei.
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