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El Salvador

new internationalist
issue 227 - January 1992

...that have always intrigued you about the world will appear in this,
your section, and be answered by other readers. Please address
your answers and questions to ‘Curiosities’.

Does anyone know what the 'Football War' was about?

PIERS CAVENDISH / CAMERA PRESS . Exactly what it implies - it was a war that started over a game of football. It happened in 1969 when Honduras and El Salvador were playing each other in the qualifying rounds for the 1970 World Cup. The first match was played on Sunday June 8 in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa. The night before the match Honduran fans surrounded the hotel in which the Salvadorean team was staying and throughout the night threw stones at windows, beat sheets of metal and empty barrels, leaned on horns of cars parked outside the hotel and set off strings of firecrackers. The next day the exhausted Salvadoreans, not surprisingly, lost 1-0.

Meanwhile, back in San Salvador 18-year-old Amelia Bolanios watched her national team lose on TV - took out her father's pistol and promptly shot herself. Amelia was given a state funeral, the President of the Republic, his ministers, and the football team following her flag-draped coffin. On the return match it was the Honduran team's turn to spend a sleepless night - and to lose 3-0. Honduran fans were kicked and beaten (two of them died), 150 visitors' cars were burned and the border between the two countries was closed.

The next day a Salvadorean plane bombed Tegucigalpa and troops launched a ground assault. Honduras retaliated by dropping bombs on El Salvador. By the time the Soccer War was over 100 hours later, 6,000 people had been killed and 12,000 wounded.

The deciding game was finally held on neutral ground in Mexico, the fans kept apart at opposite ends of the stadium by 5,000 Mexican police armed with clubs. El Salvador won 3-2. All this and more can be found in Ryszard Kapuscinski's fascinating reportage/auto-biography The Soccer War (Granta, 1990).

Jane Bertram,
Cambridge, UK

Can someone please explain the difference between GNP and GDP?

. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the measure of a country's output from all domestic producers. The Gross National Product (GNP) is the GDP plus the earnings from, that country's ownership of assets abroad such as property, factories and plantations - and minus the earnings that foreigners receive from their ownership of such assets in the host country.

Roger Britton,
Famham, UK

Where is Idi Amin now?

. Alive and well and living in Saudi Arabia. What does he do all day?

Peter Davis,
Oxford, UK

Why was Haile Selassie called the 'Lion of Judab'?

. In the reply in NI 223 the belief that Menelik, the first ruler of Axum in northern Ethiopia, was the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba was dismissed as 'myth' and 'legend'. I am undertaking post-doctoral research on the 'Menelik text' - one section Qf the Ge'ez epic Kebra Nagast - and I can assure you I am not alone in concluding that the linguistic evidence, geographical references and other data, indicate that the Menelik story is more than a legend.

It also provides valuable information concerning southern Arabian history. Hopefully the Rastafarians' belief will eventually become part of mainstream Biblical studies.

Dr Bernard Leeman,
Westbroak, Australia

I understand that there is an African tree that explodes. Does anyone know which - and why?

. I've seen these in Malawi and they are called Baobab trees. The tree is enormous and has a soft inside which is very gaseous. When the gases build up the tree can burst into flames - or so I was told!

Sue Seymour,
Bridlington, UK

Awaiting your answers...

Cartoon by P J POLYP How does a fly land on a ceiling? How does a fly take off from a ceiling?

MT Gibbs,
Kempston, UK

I've heard it said that Ludwig van Beethoven was black. Is there any truth in this?

Esther Ferguson,
London, UK

Why do nomads in the Sahara wear dark colours when light colours are supposed to be cooler?

Alan Davidson,
Tipton, UK

Where do Panama hats originate from?

Janet Merton,
Dublin, Eire

If you have any questions or answers please send them to Curiosities,
New Internationalist, 55 Rectory Road, Oxford OX4 1BW, UK,
or to your local NI office (click here for addresses).

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