Posted by Ellen

On New Year's Day of 2014, the islands of Mayotte, population 194,000, in the Indian Ocean channel between Madagascar and Mozambique, will become the newest official Outlying Region of the European Union. Already, the currency here is the euro.

Most islands in the archipelago that includes Mayotte are part of the independent Union of Comoros. But in 2009, the voters of Mayotte chose overwhelmingly to affiliate with France, as its 101st département, instead of with Comoros. French citizens need no visas to vacation in Mayotte, and many of them do just that, notably for the diving in the island's lagoon and coral reef.

Tourism seems to be the major industry; per capita GDP in Mayotte is about $6,500–ten times that of Comoros, though only about one-fifth that of mainland France.

Most of the population is Muslim. Seen here is the mosque in the town of Kani Kéli.

Posted by Ellen

Vitamin, at left in the brown cardigan, and Fivla, at right, wearing red, play starring roles in a new ad campaign urging everyone to visit Scotland in general and the Shetland Islands in particular.

Vitamin and Fivla are classic Shetland ponies, wearing traditionally patterned Fair Isles sweaters custom-knitted by Shetland native Doreen Brown, from yarn spun from the wool of Shetland sheep, and they are posed all warm and cozy on the windswept moor of a scenic Shetland isle, and if this picture doesn't get you to go there then nothing will.