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The Japanese reveal their strengths as they cope with their disaster.

Amid political upheaval in Egypt, looters plunder the nation's archaeological treasures.

The dreams of the separatists who seek to break up Italy.

And we hear how the Russians have found a new enthusiasm for reaching for the stars.

Even now, days on, we struggle to grasp the enormity of what has befallen Japan. Colossal forces of nature have combined to destroy and drown entire communities. And the survivors have also had to confront the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe. But within all the accounts of disaster on a grand scale, Rachel Harvey sees another story emerging - one of remarkable resilience on the part of the Japanese people.

Revolutionary Egypt's future is rather uncertain right now. But the nation's ancient past was glorious. Its archaeological heritage is, literally, like nothing else on earth - an extraordinary cultural treasure. However, looters are now taking advantage of the current upheaval and insecurity. The United Nations is getting alarming reports of museums and archaeological sites being plundered. And far up the Nile valley, Christine Finn has been finding evidence of this herself.

Southern Sudan is now just a few months away from independence. Its people have voted overwhelmingly to separate from the rest of the country. And on July 9th, the south will become a nation in its own right - so Africa is about to get a new state. And Hugh Sykes has been getting a feel for life in what will be the continent's newest capital, the city of Juba.

Set against the grand sweep of history, modern Italy is quite a recent idea. It's marking the anniversary of its unification this week - and it's only 150 years old. It was as late as 1861 that the nation was pulled together. Official celebrations are underway. But as David Willey in Rome explains, there are some who would rather dismantle the state than celebrate its foundation.

Go back to the late 1960s and all the world was fascinated by space. Neil Armstrong had just taken his famous, first "small step" on the Moon. And there was huge excitement at the start of what felt like mankind's greatest ever adventure. Now though, decades on, much of that enthusiasm has ebbed. These days astronauts come and go from the international space station in a rather routine way - more like weary commuters than magnificent voyagers to the stars. But in Moscow, Richard Hollingham has been poking around in the past, and remembering some of those heady, pioneering days at the start of the Soviet space programme.

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30 minutes

Last on

Thu 17 Mar 2011 11:00
BBC Radio 4 FM only
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