Featured category: North & Central Asia

The language with more consonants and fewer vowels than almost any other; the angry letters between the pope and the khan; the flying submarine designed to infiltrate the Black Sea; and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s songwriter credit for “All By Myself.”

Юлия ДраченкоCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ubykh, an extinct language from the northern shore of the Black Sea, uses more consonants and fewer vowels than almost any other.


The 13th century CE could have seen an alliance between Pope Innocent IV and Genghis Khan’s grandson – if only they had been more careful when writing each other letters.


Charlie Chaplin Studios [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the early 1960s the US navy commissioned a design for a flying submarine to infiltrate the Soviet-controlled Black Sea.


Anirudh KoulCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A percentage of the royalties for “All By Myself,” the power ballad popularised by Céline Dion, go to the estate of the Russian classical composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

For more strange facts from Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and other countries of Northern and Central Asia, begin here:

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