A few things.
1) We're still in pre-claiming mode. The new guys that post in the claim forum will, depending on their claim, either receive it by default (Abream's Ireland) or be asked to submit additional claims (Flash after requesting South Africa). I understand that this issue has caused a bit of confusion, but it will be addressed.
2) New and old faces this round. Yay!
3) Claims should be formalized tomorrow. I believe we have something like 36 claimed countries at present, 37 once Flash gets sorted. That may be the highest start I've seen.
4) I'm tentatively naming Wednesday (17th) as the start day. This gives us Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday as 'extra' days, allowing new players an additional three days for their first quarter (which will be 3Q2011). I wanted to swing a few extra days for the opening of the round due to all the administrative stuff that has to be handled (name changes and claims, mostly) as well as allowing players the necessary time to set up their factbooks and such. A finalized list of claims will be made available prior to my hour-long crusade of name changing. This will allow players that happen to log on while I'm revving the engine to get started on their necessary threads.
5) The following popular claims are still more or less open(ish): Greece, Italy, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Philippines, Koreas, Venezuela, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Sweden. This list is subject to change at any time. In fact, I've probably gotten a PM by now indicating that someone wants to switch from their claim into one on this list.