No longer are most world conflicts merely "proxy wars" between two superpowers. Instead, since the end of the cold war, violence has flared primarily for ethnic reasons (mainly in Africa) or for religious reasons (mainly involving militant Muslims).
Still, many old tensions from the cold-war days remain, even if they simmer rather than boil.
Here's a short course about those areas already in major conflict and some of those where tensions are currently high.
Sources: Staff reports, AP, Reuters, International Institute for Strategic Studies;
National Defense Council Foundation.
1. Afghanistan. A militant Islamic group called Taliban has conquered most of the country since 1994. Neighboring countries are suspected of supplying arms to the conflict.
2. Algeria. A civil war between the radical Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and military-dominated government has left 75,000 dead since 1992, when the government canceled an election that an Islamist party was expected to win. A presidential election is set for April.
3. Angola. Civil war erupted in 1975 after independence from Portugal and was fueled by Soviet and US support of opposing sides. Now UNITA rebels rely on diamond revenues while the government taps oil profits. A 1994 UN peace pact collapsed in October. In 1998, the government sent forces to Congo to help stop a rebellion there and to knock out bases of Angola's UNITA rebels.
4. Colombia. A long civil war, made worse by large-scale drug trafficking, keeps the country divided. In January the government attempted peace talks with the most powerful leftist rebel group, which has been fighting for 35 years. Some 1,100 political assassinations were carried out in 1998, many by right-wing paramilitaries.
5. Congo. Rwanda-backed rebels are trying to unseat President Laurent Kabila. But each side in Africa's most entangling conflict gets support from nearby nations. Rwanda seeks a safety zone against Hutu rebels.
6. Congo (Brazzaville). An Angola-backed coup in 1997 left 10,000 dead and evolved into factional fighting, often along ethnic lines.
7. Ethiopia-Eritrea. A bitter border fight continues. Eritrea was part of Ethiopia until 1993. Leaders of each country worked together in 1991 to oust Ethiopia's dictator.
8. Guinea-Bissau. An army rebellion against the elected president began last June. A West African peacekeeping force is trying to end fighting.
Indonesia. Since the May ouster of President Suharto, violence sometimes associated with separatist movements has flared in East Timor (9), Irian Jaya (10), Aceh (11), and Pontianak (12).
13. Iraq. US and British planes continue to strike Iraqi air defenses. Saddam Hussein stepped up his defiance of UN weapons inspections in 1998, culminating in four days of US-British airstrikes in December.
14. Israel and Occupied Territories. Occasionally killings by Palestinians and Jews occur in Jerusalem and, outside of Israel proper, the West Bank and Gaza. Peace talks are on hold until a May Israeli election.
15. Lebanon. Syria-backed Hizbullah guerrillas are fighting to oust Israeli occupiers in the south since 1978. There are regular Israeli airstrikes. Israeli casualties were high last year, leading many Israelis to call for a pullout.
16. Sierra Leone. Rebels, who launched an insurgency in 1991, hang on despite cease-fire efforts and thousands of Nigerian-led regional peacekeeping troops.
17. Sri Lanka. Ethnic Tamil rebel group continues to wage war for a separate homeland from majority Sinhalese. More than 54,000 people have been killed in fighting since 1983.
18. Sudan. The Muslim north and Christian and animist south have waged an ethnic war since the mid-1980s, causing massive hunger.
Yugoslavia. A guerrilla force in Kosovo (19) province is fighting for independence from Serb control for the majority ethnic Albanians. NATO threatens attacks on Serbia unless peace talks succeed.
Armenia-Azerbaijan. From 1990 to 1994, these former Soviet states fought over an ethnic Armenian enclave, Nagorno Karabakh (20), in Azerbaijan. The enclave has declared autonomy and expelled Azeris.
21. Bosnia-Herzegovina. The 1991-95 Serb-Muslim war in this former Yugoslav province ended with the Dayton peace accord and entry of NATO troops. Political tensions remain high, and NATO is trying to catch war criminals.
Britain. A quarter century of terrorist bombings in Northern Ireland (22) ended with an April 1998 peace agreement that promises power-sharing between British Protestants and Irish Catholics. Disarmament and political beatings remain sticking points.
23. Burma (Myanmar). A military government has waged an 11-year crackdown on democracy activists. A long civil war with northern ethnic groups has nearly ended.
24. Burundi. Peace talks resumed in January between the Tutsi-dominated government and Hutu rebels, and regional states lifted sanctions imposed after a coup in 1996. But new clashes followed, and each side blamed the other for killing scores of civilians - who have been the main casualties throughout the conflict, with some 150,000 killed since 1993.
China. Beijing has heightened its diplomatic offensive to isolate Taiwan (25a). In 1996, China fired "test" missiles near Taiwan; the US responded by sending aircraft carriers to the area. In the northwestern province of Xinjiang (25b), Muslims have increasingly clashed with authorities.
26. Senkaku (Daioyu) Islands. Claimed by Japan, China, and Taiwan, this tiny uninhabited group of islands in the East China Sea was occupied by Japanese nationalists briefly in 1996. Activists from Hong Kong and Taiwan who protested the move were met by Japanese patrol boats.
27. Comoros. In 1997, Anjouan declared its secession from the rest of the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean but rival groups have since been engaged in a bitter struggle for control.
28. Cyprus. A plan by the Greek-controlled south to install Russian missiles last year touched off a crisis with the Turkish north that would have challenged NATO (Greece and Turkey are members). The plan was dropped.
29. India-Pakistan. Nuclear bomb tests last year by these rivals have created new tensions beyond the volatile dispute over India-controlled Kashmir.
30. Iran. Its tests of missiles with an 800-mile range and US fears of a nuclear-weapons program have heightened tensions with Israel.
Mexico. Zaptista National Liberation Army staged an armed uprising in 1994 to win indigenous rights. Sporadic rebel attacks continue in remote areas (31), including Chiapas.
32. Morocco. A rebel group, Polisario Front, is contesting with Morocco over control of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara.
33. North Korea-South Korea. The Communist north has made weapons-grade nuclear material and tested rockets that can reach Japan. Despite widespread hunger, it remains belligerent with South Korea, 46 years after the Korean War. Talks with US are erratic.
34. Pakistan. Ethnic and political violence continues, notably in the financial capital city of Karachi. The number of deaths from fighting has fallen since martial law was imposed in Sindh Province by prime minister in October. Border tensions with India over Kashmir continue.
35. Peru. Border conflict with Ecuador has been settled, but many people along the border are not happy. Guerrilla-vs.-government strife lingers.
36. Philippines. Sporadic violence continues in the south where Muslim groups fight for independence.
37. Rwanda. Lingering violence continues after a 1994 genocidal civil war between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis. Involved on rebel side in Congo conflict.
Russia: A 1994-96 war for independence in the Chechnya (38) republic resulted in an ambiguous peace deal. Russian troops have left, and local leaders are locked in a secular-Islamic feud.
39. Somalia. Warlords still battle for turf, five years after the US military debacle here. Famine threatens again.
Spain. Basque separatist group ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom) (40) said in January it has no plans to break its four-month-old cease-fire with the Spanish government.
41. Spratly Islands. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei claim all or some of these islands in the South China Sea. Some have military presence. All but Malaysia have had naval skirmishes over the issue. Since 1995, China has maintained a naval post on Mischief Reef, claimed by the Philippines.
42. Tajikistan. A 20-month-old peace deal between Moscow-backed secular government and mainly Islamist opposition is threatened by sporadic violence. The accord came after five years of civil war.
43. Turkey. The Army runs regular raids against PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) seeking an independent state for Kurds. In recent months, Turkey has gained the upper hand in the conflict.
44. Uganda. Like Rwanda, Uganda is supporting rebels in Congo while fighting its own rebels it claims have refuge in Congo.
45. Yemen. Problems include low-level border clashes with Saudi Arabia, and a rash of kidnappings of Westerners.
46. Zimbabwe. Tensions over government's expropriation of white-owned farms, prosecution of journalists, conflict with unions, and expensive military support of Congo government against rebels persist.