Around the World from A to Z: Norway

When most people imagine a place widely considered to be the best and most developed country in the world, a place that is one of the largest producers of oil and has the fourth largest per capita income, they probably aren’t thinking of Norway. Settled so far north the sun barely rises in the winter, this sparsely-settled country is one of the most prosperous and naturally beautiful places known.

Norway, officially referred to as the Kingdom of Norway, is home to just over five million people, almost a million of whom live in the capital city of Oslo. The main language spoken is Norwegian. Their government is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, and although it is not a member of the European Union, it has very close ties to the region. Norway’s largest industry is by far its natural resources – it produces the most oil of any country outside of the Middle East, and also has noteworthy amounts of natural gas, lumber, fresh water, seafood, and minerals.

Norway is bordered by Sweden to the east and Finland and Russia to the northeast. It has over 25,000 kilometers of coastline along the Norwegian and North Seas, most of which is islands and fjords. The northern parts of Norway are mostly covered in frozen tundra, while the more southern parts have mountains, plateaus, and valleys. Around the country, the winters can vary from mild to very cold, and the summers are mostly mild, except in the lowlands near Oslo.

Norway’s long history has been mostly characterized by the Vikings and a later alliance with Denmark. After unifying the country in 872 AD, the Vikings ruled until 995 AD, when Christian influence increased and the first King of Norway was crowned. Norway later joined the Kalmar Union with Sweden and Denmark in 1388. They tried to rebel along with Sweden, but they failed and stayed in an alliance with Denmark until 1814. In 1814, they declared their independence and adopted a constitution inspired by those of France and America. They stayed neutral in World War I, and attempted neutrality again in World War II, until Germany invaded in 1940 and they were under Nazi occupation for five years.

While many may view Norway as a cold and desolate place, it is far from it. Norway offers some of the most stunning scenery in the world. The fjords that dot its coastlines are dramatic and unmissable. National Geographic ranks the West Fjords as the number one World Heritage site.

Something else Norway is well-known for is its outdoor activities. Anyone who loves nature would never be bored in this country. The hiking trails through mountains, valleys and fjords attract tourists from all around. The mountains of Norway are also home to many quality ski resorts with hundreds of challenging trails.

One of the, by far, most interesting events that draws people to Norway is the midnight sun. Because of the country’s position so near to the North Pole, in the summer there are often up to twenty hours of sunlight per day. In the far northern parts, such as North Cape, it never even sets.

It’s the things like this, along with the natural beauty and booming economy, that make Norway one of the world’s best countries. Even if cold isn’t your thing, Norway is a place that you truly have to see before you die.

Links:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/no.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway

http://www.visitnorway.com/us/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com//news/2006/10/photogalleries/best-worst/photo5.html

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Around the World from A to Z: India

Located in the south of Asia, India is a beautiful country, rich in historical and cultural value. The second most populated country in the world, it also has many famous sites, such as the Taj Mahal, the Ganges River, and the Konark Sun Temple.

India’s capital is the city of New Delhi. The official language of the country is Hindi, and the population is 1,241,491,960 people. It is the seventh largest country by land mass. India is the largest democracy in the world. There are hundreds of languages in the country; 844 dialects are spoken in India alone. India is also very peaceful; in over 100,000 years of India’s history, they have never invaded country at all.

India ranks second worldwide in farm output and agriculture. The GDP is 1.53 trillion dollars per year. According to Goldman Sachs, India’s GDP per capita will quadruple from 2007 to 2020! India also grows more than 12 million tons of mangoes a year, which is equivalent to about the weight of 80,000 blue whales. Another interesting fact: India has 568 million more voters than the US and a better turnout rate too!

One of the many famous attractions in India is the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world. It took 20000 workers and took 22 years to build. The Taj Mahal is a tomb for Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Shah Jahan, who was once an emperor of India. Mumtaz died during childbirth, and Shah Jahan built the tomb for her. He wanted to build an identical tomb for himself from black marble instead of white, right across the river, but he died before its completion. Many types of precious stones were used in the creation of the Taj Mahal. It attracts 2 to 4 million visitors annually.

Photo credit: foxypar4

Another main attraction in India is the Ganges River.  The river is 2525 km long and it originates in a glacier in Himalayas. It is said that the water in the Ganges is holy and people who bathe in it are considered purified, although the water is filthy because lots of sewage and waste travel down the river. Many holy sites line the Ganges River, including the Varanasi and the Haridwar.

The Sun Temple at Konark is one of the Seven Wonders of India.  It was built in the 13th century in Odisha, near the water’s edge.  According to legend, Samba was afflicted by leprosy, brought about by his father’s curse on him. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honour he built the magnificent Konark Sun Temple. The temple takes the form of the chariot of Surya, the Sun God.

All in all, India is one of the most adventurous places to go if you are ever looking to go on a life-changing vacation.  With its thousands of years of history, it has accumulated a vast collection of cultural richness that is delightful to behold. The Taj Mahal, Ganges River, and Sun Temple are just three of the many, many wonders of India’s culture that will never cease to amaze the world with its uniqueness.

Next in series: Around the World from A to Z: Jamaica by emmakitkat

Around the World from A to Z: Honduras

Lying surrounded by Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador in Central America, Honduras is a beautiful, culturally rich country, especially well known for it’s huge coral reef, the third largest in the world.

Honduras is located in Central America. The capital city is Tegucigalpa, and the population it 7,754,687 people. The country is northwest of South America. There are many ethnic groups in the country, such as mestizos, Lenca, Tolupán, Chorti, Garifuna, Tawahka, and Miskito. There are also ten languages ​​in Honduras: Spanish, English, Ch’orti’, Garifuna, Lenca, Miskito, Pech, Sumo Tawahka, Tol, and Honduras sign language, which counts as an official language of its own. Ninety percent of people in Honduras are Roman Catholic. Three percent are Protestant, and the remaining seven percent consists of the rest of the religious minorities in the country.

Photo Credit: USFWS Pacific

Honduras’s national flower is the orchid, a beautiful species that has “beauty, vigor, and distinction”, according to the decree that dictated it. The national animal of Honduras is the white-tailed deer, which was appointed as an effort to stop excessive depredation. The unit of currency in Honduras is the lempira. A lempira is equivalent to five cents in American money. The main exports are coffee, fruit, and nuts.

The flag of Honduras has a lot of symbolical value for the country, as does the coat of arms. The flag has three stripes, blue, white, and blue, from top to bottom. In the center of the flag are five blue stars. The stars represent the first members of the Federal Republic of Central America. Blue symbolizes the sea, the sky, truth, justice, and loyalty. White means peace.

The coat of arms of Honduras has an eye, a cornucopia, and trees and cliffs.

The triangle means equality and freedom. Trees and cliffs represent the natural beauty of the country.

The coral reefs in particular make the natural beauty of Honduras stand out. The reefs in Honduras are actually part of a larger chain, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, that stretches along the coasts of four Central American countries. This spectacular reef is home to more than 65 types of coral, 350 types of mollusks, and several hundred different species of tropical fish. Many of these species are endangered, so multiple protections have been placed on the reef. The coral is also home to one of the world’s largest populations of manatees, another endangered species.

The coral is only one of the many attractions in Honduras. With it’s rich culture and astonishing natural beauty, Honduras is a great place to visit, and one that is certain to offer an experience that will never be forgotten.

Next in series: Around the World from A to Z: India by urvi011235

Around the World from A to Z: Greece

Greece is a popular tourist destination in Europe. Exquisite beaches line the peninsula’s border, Mount Olympus houses the ancient Greek gods, and the first signs of philosophy are traced back to the early Greeks. White sand beaches and beautiful harbors attract countless tourists to Greece every year. The Greek gods are known and taught worldwide. The Greeks were also the first to write down philosophies, so now we know the ideas of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and many others. Overall, Greece is the best place to go for a relaxing but educational vacation.
With over eight thousand miles of coastline, Greece is great place to go for exotic beaches. Beaches extend countless miles. Blonde stretches of sand with dunes, pebble beaches, caves with steep rocks and dark sand typical of volcanic soil line Greece’s coasts. Greek beaches are not only known for their beauty, but also for their cleanliness, easily seen in the crystal-clear waters. Greece also offers many idyllic resorts for fun and relaxation. It’s no surprise that Greek beaches are some of the most popular in the world.
Greece is a developed country with fish being one of Greece’s main economic exports. Greece’s prime minister is Karolos Papoulias and he has been in office for almost eight years. Although many perceive Greece’s economy to be poor, there are a few pros about the country’s economical stature. Greece is a part of the European Union, allowing the country to trade easily and have more access to allies. Also, tourism is a huge part of the economy, and the tourism most comes from Greece’s history.

Photo Credit: massonth

Poseidon, one of many Greek gods, is the god of the ocean. According to Greek mythology, Athena and Poseidon agreed that whoever gave Athens the best gift would become guardian over the city. Though Poseidon gave the gift of water, Athena’s gift of an olive tree was thought by the other gods to be more valuable because Poseidon’s salt water was of no use to the Greeks.
Ancient Greek philosophy is dominated by three very famous men: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. All three of them lived in Athens for most of their lives, and they knew each other. Socrates came first, and around 400 BC, Plato became his apprentice. Socrates was killed in 399 BC, and Plato began his work by writing down what Socrates had taught him, and then continued by writing down his own ideas and opening a school. Aristotle, who was younger, came to study at Plato’s school, and ended up starting his own school as well.
Greece is a fascinating and enjoyable place to go for vacation. Many people want to go to Greece and see the things that they’ve seen in history and geography books. Greece is the perfect vacation destination: beaches for relaxing and the intriguing monuments for sightseeing. All in all, it is a highly recommended country to visit, at any time in the year.

Next in series: Around the World from A to Z: Honduras by emmakitkat

Around the World from A to Z: Finland

With flat or gently rolling plains and hills, a cold, almost subarctic climate, and a population of merely 5 million people, Finland is an interesting country, known for several attractions like the underground church  and historical ports, as well as … Continue reading

How to Survive in the Wild

Photo credit:  Al_HikesAZhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/alanenglish/4670272715/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Photo credit: Al_HikesAZ

Have you ever gotten lost in the woods with no one with you with no tools? Probably not, and I commend you if you have. But if you answered no, you might want to read on.

The first thing you want to do if you get lost in the woods is to call for help. Hey, you never know if someone will hear you.

Next you will want to take care of three essential things that a human needs to survive: food, water, and shelter.

The first of those three things is shelter. Try to make at least a small covering out of sticks (if you have rope, that would greatly help) to protect you from the elements.

Second is water. Water is the number 1 thing you want to have if you are lost in the wild. To find water in the wilderness, you would want to head downhill, rain water will run downhill. If you can not find water, don’t give up, if you see any animal, they have to drink also. You could dig down deep to find water too. You will want to make a fire to purify your water, but more on that later. Heres a small tip, try not to drink from a still pond to avoid parasites.

The third essential thing that a human needs to survive is food. In order to know if a wild berry is poisonous, first, smell it. If it smells like peaches or almonds, it is probably poisonous. Next, test it on your skin, if it tingles or get’s a rash don’t eat it. After that, place it on your lips, if it starts to burn, it is most likely poisonous.

After you take care of those, you have to make a fire. Gather small sticks to get the fire started, then get bigger sticks, then get big logs to keep the fire going. Put the small sticks in a little pile. To light that pile faster, you can add highly flammable substances such as birch bark and orange peels. To light it, if you have an orange, peel it, then put a rock in the center of the peel and take a stick and rub it against the stick, the peel will catch on fire for a while. If you don’t have an orange, bend a stick and tie a shoelace around each end to make sort of a bow looking thing. Then twirl a stick in it and rub it, it will make friction, which will eventually make a spark.  Continue reading

Around the World from A to Z: Austria

Lying landlocked near the center of Europe, surrounded by the countries of Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, is the country Austria. It is famous for it’s breathtaking scenery and many renowned cultural sites, along with … Continue reading