England is an island in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a relatively small nation, but it has a long history. This small island was once a huge empire, and it ruled a large part of the world through colonization. Colonization is when an outside nation conquers and then rules another country. Some of the larger colonies of England were India, Australia and the original 13 colonies that eventually declared their independence to become the United States. Great Britain no longer controls these countries; they are now the independent nations of India, Australia and the United States of America. Though many of England’s colonies are now independent, the lasting relationships they have made in their region of small islands makes the United Kingdom a unique country made of four nations: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. • The population is 63,742,977. • The official language is English. • The capital is London. • There are three major rivers: the Thames, Severn and Tyne. • The official currency is the Pound Sterling. • Popular sports are soccer, rugby and cricket. • Golf was invented in the United Kingdom. • England is slightly smaller than Alabama. • Robin Hood and King Arthur were English. • England still has a monarchy, but the Parliament runs the government. • The national anthem is “God Save the Queen.” • The national animal of England is the Bulldog. England has a long history as a nation and for centuries, it was a monarchy. The king ruled with absolute power and then passed the crown down to his oldest son. After a series of wars, however, the government of England changed drastically. England’s government is now called a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. It combines the tradition of having a king and/or queen with the freedoms of having a democracy. They still have a queen, but the parliament makes most of the official decisions. The parliament is divided into two sections: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. These are officials elected by the citizens of England. The real head of state, similar to the American president, is called the Prime Minister.
The first human settlement in Russia existed 10,000 years ago in the southern part of the nation in a region called the Steppes. The northern part of the nation was still covered in ice from the Ice Age. Slowly, as the ice melted, more and more people, like the Slavs, settled into regions in this huge territory. Even the Vikings came, though they often traded with instead of attacking the villages they found. Today, Russia is a single nation under one government, but there is still a lot of diversity (differences) within the country with 120 different ethnic groups. Eighty percent of the population considers their ancestry as Slavic, but there are also Tartars and Ukrainians to name a few. • Russia is considered part of both Europe and Asia. • The official language is Russian, but there are 27 recognized languages in use , and more than 100 are spoken. • There are four official religions: Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism. • The capital city is Moscow. • Russia has a Prime Minister and a President. • Russia is so large it spans 11 time zones. • It is the largest country in the world based on land mass. • It covers 6,592,772 square miles. • It is about twice the size of the United States. • The population is 142,470,272. • The currency is the ruble. • The two major mountain ranges are Ural and Altay. • It has 100,000 rivers. Because Russia is such a large nation, it has a wide variety of environments. The North is famous for its frozen tundra, but there are also treeless plains called Steppes, as well as deserts, coasts and forests. Thankfully a lot of this beautiful nature is protected by national parks called zapovedniks. For many years these areas were unprotected and incredible animals like the Siberian tiger, snow leopards and polar bears suffered. These animals are still currently threatened, but national parks are a great step towards protecting them and their habitat.
When President Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana territory from France in 1803, there was no Google Earth technology to peer down and take pictures of the land from space. There was no Mapquest or WAZE app to tell people how to get there. There was no TripAdvisor or Yelp app to tell anyone what to expect once they got there, either. They had to go find out for themselves. The travelled by foot and by boat, because there were no airplanes, trains or cars to take them. The president needed someone to travel to this newly purchased land and check it out and then report back with their findings. In the end it was the president’s personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark who rose to the occasion. Maybe you’ve heard of them. They led the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which took them from St. Louis to Oregon, a total of about 8,000 miles, in just two-and-a-half years. They left St. Louis in May of 1804. That year the expedition celebrated the first Independence Day west of the Mississippi. River. In August of 1804 the group met several Native American tribes. By October, the party had made it to what is now North Dakota. In November, Lewis and Clark hire a French/Canadian fur trader named Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife, a Shoshone named Sacagawea, as interpreters. On Christmas Eve 1804, the expedition settled in for the winter at Fort Mandan, in what is now North Dakota. By April of 1805, the group was on the move again and killed its first grizzly bear near Yellowstone River in Montana. By September, they made it to the Rocky Mountains. The expedition reached the Pacific Ocean in November of 1805 and wintered there. On March 23, 1806 they started the journey back east. They returned to St. Charles, Missouri, on Sept. 23, 1806. This trip was more than a great adventure for the men and their crew — it helped shape the country as we know it today. Some of the things that Lewis and Clark accomplished on their expedition include: • Establishing control of the Pacific Northwest. • Inspiring explorers, trappers, traders, hunters, adventurers, prospectors, homesteaders, ranchers, soldiers, businessman and missionaries to move west. • Determining the course of the Upper Missouri River. • Proving that it was possible to travel to the west coast by land. • Surveying the life and culture of the Native American tribes they met in Missouri, the Rocky Mountains and the northwest coast. • Discovering, meticulously documenting and describing at least 120 mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, as well as almost 200 plant specimens.
• The Czech Republic is a landlocked country. • The highest point is Snezka at 5,256 feet high. • Prague is the capital city. • Prague is home to the largest ancient castle in the world called the Prague Castle. • The official language is Czech, but Slavic is considered a minority language. • Czech and Slavic are so similar that speakers of each language can usually understand each other. • The most popular sport is ice hockey. • There are more than 2,000 castles and castle ruins in the Czech Republic. • The Czech Republic is surrounded by mountains. • The Czech Republic makes a lot of its money from tourism. • Charles University in Prague is the oldest university in Eastern Europe. • It was founded in 1348. • The sugar cube was invented here in 1843. • The national flag is red, blue and white. • Czechs love mushroom hunting in local forests. • The currency is the Koruna. The Czech Republic is a small nation in central Europe. The Czech people have been part of many different nations since the land was first inhabited by Slavic tribes in the 10th century. After World War I, the Czechs and Slovaks came together in hopes of forming a more powerful nation: Czechoslovakia. The nation was occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II, but was liberated by Soviet and American forces in 1945. Eventually, the union between the Czechs and Slovaks dissolved into two different nations on Jan. 1, 1993. Czechoslovakia became the independent nations of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic has given the world some of the most amazing scientists, inventors and artists in all human history. One such scientist is Gregor Mendel the father of modern genetics. While many people identify him as Austrian, Mendel was actually born in 1822 in what is now the Czech Republic. He was a monk. While he lived in the monastery, he used pea plants to study heredity. This is how the parents’ DNA combines during reproduction to create the next generation of plants. His work was revolutionary and because of his efforts, scientists today can do amazing things with genetics and DNA. For example, they can use DNA to predict diseases or catch criminals.
Mount Chimborazo is an inactive volcano in the Andes mountain range. The last time it erupted was in 550 A.D. Because it has been so long since its last volcanic activity, it is called inactive and is just thought of as a mountain. It has four summits called Veintimilla, Whymper, Politecnica and Nicholas Martinez. The highest of the peaks is Whymper. The top of the mountain is constantly covered in glaciers, making it difficult and dangerous to climb year-round. There are often avalanches and dangerous weather near the summit. • It is the highest mountain in Ecuador. • The summit Nicolas Martinez was named after the father of Ecuadorian mountaineering. • It is 20,702 feet high. • It has many craters on its surface from past volcanic activity. • The summit Whymper is named after Edward Whymper the British mountaineer who was the first to reach the summit in the 1880. • The other mountaineers on the first ascent with Whymper were Lois Carrel and Jean-Antoine Carrel. • It is a stratovolcano. • It had seven eruptions in the last 8,000 years. • It has a circumference of 78 miles. • The largest crater is 820 feet deep. • The glaciers at the top of the mountain provide water when they shrink in the summer. • The glaciers are also mined for ice sold in markets. • Natives call the mountain Urcorazo.That is translated to “Mountain if Ice.” Mount Everest is the highest point on earth above sea level, but Mount Chimborazo is actually the highest place on Earth. It is the farthest place from the center of the earth — 3,968 miles. This is because of tidal bulge. The earth is not a perfect circle. The gravitational pull of the moon not only moves the oceans of the earth creating the tides, it also stretches the surface of the earth. The earth has a bulge where the tidal pull is strongest, the equator. Mount Chimborazo is only one degree away from the equator so it’s height as a mountain and being located on the tidal bulge make it the highest place on earth, beating Mount Everest.
The Galapagos Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. There are 18 main islands, three smaller islands and 107 rocks and islets. Islets are extremely small islands. The islands are known for their hundreds of unique animals that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. There are giant tortoises called the Galapagos tortoises. They are extremely docile and very large. The Marine iguana dives into the nearby ocean and feeds on the nutritious seaweed. They also have special glands that allow them to sneeze out the extra salt that they collect during their dives. These amazing animals are so different from what can be found in mainland Ecuador and the rest of the world because the islands are so remote and isolated. • The largest island is Isabela. • It is officially part of Ecuador. • The islands are 620 miles from the mainland. • The animals are not afraid of humans; this can make them vulnerable. • It is the first protected World Heritage site. • They are volcanic islands and still have volcanic eruptions. • It is estimated that the islands are between 3 and 10 million years old. • Some islands are above the equator and some are below. • The highest point is the Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island, it is 5,600 feet high. • Europeans discovered the islands in 1535. • Combined, the islands have 87 miles of coast. • There are two seasons, wet (December to May) and dry (June to December). • Lonely George is 90 years old and the only living Giant Pinta tortoise left alive. • The islands are a national park. • There are more than 800 species of mollusks. Charles Darwin came to the islands in 1835. He was so inspired by the incredible diversity and amazing animals that he saw on the island that he studied them and then wrote his famous book about evolution Theory on the Origin of Man, about how animals naturally change over long periods of time. These islands still inspire scientists. Tourism is limited to protect the islands, but scientists are always welcome to learn from these beautiful animals.
Nepal is a small nation that sits between China and India. Nepal is famous for its mountain range, the Himalayas. The Himalayas have the world’s highest peak — Mount Everest, which is 29,0035 feet high. Everest isn’t the only giant mountain in the range, however. Eight of the 10 highest mountain peaks in the world are in Nepal. These huge mountains were formed 10-15 million years ago. India and the rest of Asia are on two different tectonic plates. When these two giant plates of rock smashed into each other the land wrinkled and formed Himalaya Mountains. The lowest points in Nepal are at sea level. • The capital of Nepal is Kathmandu. • The money is the Nepalese rupee. • The area of Nepal is 54,363 square miles. • Nepal is about the size of Arkansas. • The major religions are Hinduism and Buddhism. • Sherpas are known for their amazing ability tonavigate and survive in the mountains. • Many Sherpas are born and raised at 12,000 feet and above. They often guide climbers and tourists through the mountains. • Only 10 percent of the population lives in the mountains. • Some of the exotic animals that live in Nepal are the Bengal tiger, the snow leopard and the Ganges fresh water dolphin. • Nepal was a monarchy until June 2008. • The official language is Nepali. • 92 percent of their energy comes from hydroelectric plants (rivers). • The Nepali word for Everest is “Sagarmatha.” It means “Forehead of the Sky.” Sherpas call Everest the ‘Goddess Mother of the World’ or “Chomolungma.” • The Nepali calendar is 57 years and 8.5 months ahead of the Gregorian calendar (the Calendar that America uses). • Cows are the national animal of Nepal, making it is illegal to kill them. • Nepal has the only flag that isn’t a square or rectangle. • Nepal has never won a gold medal in the Olympics. • A popular sport is Elephant Polo. • The population was 27.8 million in 2013. • Everest is named after the British surveyor Sir George Everest. • Tourism is one of the most important industries in Nepal. • Most of the population live in the Katmandu Valley. • Less than half of the population can read.
Canada is the large nation that borders the United States to the north. The very first people to settle in Canada came from Asia across a land bridge an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 years ago. The first Europeans to successfully settle in Canada were the French and British who came by sea in the 15th century. For many years, Canada was a British colony, but some parts of Canada still speak French. • Canada is known for being full of wilderness and forests, half of Canada’s area is covered in forests. • Much of Canada can get very cold, 1/3 of the land is within the Arctic Circle. • The capital is Ottawa. • Their currency is a Canadian dollar. • Their national symbols are the maple leaf and the beaver. • It is the second largest country in the world. • Canada has the largest waterfall by water volume: the Niagara Falls. • Canada became an independent nation in 1931. • Ninety percent of Canadians live within 125 miles of the border with the United States. • The native people of Canada are referred to as “Inuit.” • The nation has over 30,000 lakes. The biggest lakes in the world, Great Bear Lake and Great Slave Lake, are in Canada. • The Canada-U.S. border is 5,525 miles long. The longest boarder in the world. One of the most exciting things that happens in Manitoba, Canada, every year is the polar bear migration. Churchill is a small town located on the edge of Hudson Bay. Every year, the ice around the bay melts and then refreezes according to the season. When the ice melts in the spring and summer the polar bears come onto the land. Every year as winter approaches, the bears migrate to Churchill because this northern city is where the very first of the winter ice forms, allowing them to hunt. Churchill is famous for this migration and many tourists come to take polar bear tours to safely observe the amazing animals.
Angel Island is a small island located on the coast of California. It has been an important island for many of the people who have lived in California. The Miwok Native Americans used it to hunt and fish. It was an Army post for many years dating back to the Civil War. From 1910 until 1940 it was a portal for many Chinese immigrants to begin their life in America. It is estimated that 1 million Asian immigrants passed through Angel Island before reaching California. Immigrants from Europe came through Ellis Island in New York. One of the main purposes of the island was to ensure that the new Americans were healthy before they moved onto the mainland, many to join the gold rush. The process often took up to 90 days, much longer than it took in Ellis Island. • At 1.2 square miles, it is the largest island in San Francisco Bay. • The island was named by Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala. • Ayala was a Spanish explorer who came to map the bay in 1775. • In 1837, the island was used as a cattle ranch. • It was called the Ellis Island of the West. • In World War II, German and Japanese prisoners of war were kept on the island. • In World War II, American soldiers built a baseball diamond on the island near Fort McDowell. • The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation preserves the history of the island. • You can now camp on the island and explore some of the nine miles of bike trails. • It has a population of 57. • National Angel Island Day is January 21.
Korea is a 750 mile-long peninsula full of millions of people and beautiful cities. The peninsula is divided into two countries, North and South Korea. South Korea is a small nation full of large cities and beautiful mountains. It officially became a country on Aug. 15, 1948. It was occupied by Japan until the end of World War II. After the Korean War ended in 1953, the peninsula officially separated into North and South Korea. North Korea is a communist dictatorship but South Korea is now a successful democratic republic. Some Koreans still consider the Koreas a single nation because the Korean War never officially ended. Instead, the two nations are separated by a border that is strictly guarded on both sides with an empty stretch of land between them. There is still a lot of tension between North and South Korea. • Their currency is Won. • The capital is Seoul with a population of 10 million people. • The official language is Korean. • It is officially named the Republic of Korea. • Kimchi, or spicy pickled vegetables, is one of the most popular dishes in Korea. • There are 250 different kinds of Kimchi. • Four is considered an unlucky number. • The Korean alphabet is called Hangul. It has 10 vowels and 14 consonants. • Taekwondo, the Korean martial art, is the national sport. • Cabs are color coded for how experienced the driver is and how much they will cost. • It’s a tradition to eat seaweed soup on birthdays. • It is polite to take off shoes before going into someone’s home. • They eat with chopsticks, often made of metal. • Seoul translated into English means “capital.” • The Seoul underground railway system is the largest in the world. • Manners and being polite are very important to Korean culture.
- Parentown KidSmart
- Parentown KidShape
- Resources for Teachers and Parents
- Come Out and Play
- Cultural Connections
- Movie Reviews for Kids by Kids
- Around The World
- Story Time with Truman
- Where in the World
- What’s It Like To be
- Space Place
- Kidsville Kitchen
- Kidsville Connections
- Cool Kind Kid
- Conservation Corner
- Letter From Truman