The Serengeti is not a country; it is an ecosystem that spans two countries and several reserves and national parks. For most people, when they think of Africa, the Serengeti is what comes to mind. It is a large lush landscape of open grasslands bordered by harsh rocky hills, and it is home to many different species of animals such as lions, elephants, gazelles, zebras and hyenas. The Serengeti begins in north Tanzania and stretches through to southwestern Kenya in east-central Africa. This vast and complex ecosystem is protected by several parks and preserves that protect 80 percent of the land, but the most famous is the Serengeti National Park. This park began as a 3.2-square-mile game reserve in 1921 in order to protect over hunted lions, then grew into the national park in 1951. Many people visit these parks for adventures like safaris. • The Maasai are a people who live on the Serengeti. • For centuries, they have grazed their cows on the plains. • Serengeti is the Maasai word for “endless plains.” • It is mostly plains, but acai trees also grow and provide food and shade for many of the animals. • There are more wildebeests than any other animal (2 million). • Every year, more than 200,000 zebras and all of the wildebeests migrate across the plains in search of fresh grass. • This migration is the largest mammal migration in the world. • Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only active volcano in the region. • There are two rainy seasons. • Some of the oldest fossils of hominids were found here in the Olduvai Gorge. • The first European, Dr. Oscar Baumann of Germany, entered the Serengeti in 1892. While the animals and landscape of the Serengeti are very beautiful, the weather can be extremely harsh. It is a very warm and dry climate with two rainy seasons, from March to May and October to November. Droughts are relatively common in the area and can be devastating to the wildlife. It is a delicate balance that keeps these plains as beautiful and as rich as they are.
India is a rather large country that sits near the bottom of Asia. It is a peninsula, meaning that it is surrounded by water on three sides. The earliest known people in India lived along the Indus River, in what is now Pakistan, 5,000 years ago. These civilizations were rather advanced because they had piped water and sewer systems, but were mysteriously abandoned in 1700 B.C. The two cities that archeologists have discovered are called Harappa and Mohenjo. Europeans did not arrive in India until the late 1400s, and in 1757, Britain took control of the country. Britain ruled in India until 1947.Here are some more facts about India: India is home to many incredible animals because it has such diverse habitats. In one country are jungles, incredible mountains and a desert. Some of the incredible animals include tigers, river dolphins, rhinoceroses, leopards, elephants and pythons. There are more 65,000 species in India; it is even the only country in the world with both lions and tigers. Sadly, this beautiful diversity and all of these incredible animals are in danger. India’s population is growing very quickly and as a result, there is a lot of pollution and destruction of habitats for resources. Jungles are being cut down for wood, and land is being used for farms. Here are some more facts about India • The money is called a rupee. • The capital is New Delhi. • Cows are sacred and cannot be harmed. They even roam around cities freely. • India is home to tigers and snow leopards. • 80 percent of the people in India are Hindu. • The north of India is the Himalayan Mountains, the highest in the world. • It has the second-largest population in the world (1.2 billion people). • It is the seventh largest country in the world by land area. • The highest mountain is Kanchenjunga, the third highest in the world. • The most popular sport is cricket. • Many people are vegetarian. • There are 18 official languages, but the three main are Hindi, English and Urdu. • There are 12,000 types of flowering plants. • The tiger is the national animal. • The national flower of India is the lotus. • The national bird is a peacock.
Samoa is a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. The two largest islands are Upolu and Savai’i. The first people to settle on the islands are thought to be the Tonga, who came to the islands in 1000 B.C. Tonga is another island nation in the Pacific Ocean. The next people to explore the island were the Dutch and French in the 18th century. In 1899, the islands were divided into east and west, with America governing the western islands and Germany the eastern islands. The Western Islands are an American territory and are called American Samoa. The German Islands were called Eastern Samoa. In 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, Britain took the Eastern islands from Germany and the United Nations gave them to New Zealand. They remained under New Zealand rule until 1962, when the islands gained independence. Much of the Samoan islands are still volcanic. They sit in an area of the Pacific Ocean called “The Ring of Fire,” which is known for its many volcanoes. Hawaii also sits on the ring. Having so much volcanic activity makes the landscape of the islands interesting. It can be dangerous and very harsh, but it can also be incredibly fertile and beautiful. Here are some more facts about American Samoa: • The line that divided the islands into east and west was 171°W. • Women were given the right to vote in Samoa in 1990. • The full name of the nation is The Independent State of Samoa. • Their money is called ala. • Samoa is 2,200 miles south of Hawaii. • Most of the islands were formed from undersea volcanoes. • They used to be called the Navigator Islands. • The capital city is Apia. • The nation is slightly smaller than Rhode Island. • The national symbol is five, five-pointed stars called the Southern Cross constellation. • Their national anthem is “O le Fua o le Saolotoga o Samoa,” which translated is “The Banner of Freedom.” • Their language is similar to the language spoken by native Hawaiians. • Samoa was the first Pacific Island country to gain independence. • They export canned tuna. • The people are known for being friendly. • The islands are surrounded by coral reefs.
Sri Lanka is a 25,299-square-mile island located in the Indian Ocean at the very tip of India. The island is very close to the equator, so it is warm and tropical. The very first people to arrive on the island were called the Sinhalese, and they arrived in about the 6th century B.C. Historians think that these people originally came from India. They flourished and created several great civilizations, the Anuradhapura and then the Polonnaruwa. The Tamil arrived in the 16th century and settled on the north side of the island. The first Europeans, the Portugese, arrived in the 16th century. In 1796, the island became a British colony. It won its independence in 1948. In all, the island was under European control for 450 years. Here are some facts about Sri Lanka: • The capital city is Colombo. • 647,100 people live in Colombo. • The population of Sri Lanka is 21,675,648. • The currency is the Sri Lankan rupee. • There are three languages: English, Sinhala and Tamil. • The island used to be called Ceylon. The name was changed in 1972. • Shaking your head from side to side means yes in Sri Lanka. • Much of the electricity is produced by waterfalls. • Cinnamon originated in Sri Lanka. • The national sport is volleyball. • The meaning of Sri Lanka in Sanskrit is “venerable island.” • Most people in the country are Buddhist. • The national flower is the water lily. • Sri Lanka is about half the size of Alabama. • The long version of the name is the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. • The highest mountain on the island is Pidurutalagal (8,291 ft). • The Veddas, an aboriginal group native to the island, still live in the Jungles near Maduru Oya National Park. • Buddhists consider some places on the island to be sacred. Buddhism is the most popular religion on the island. About 69 percent of the population is Buddhist. The religion was first introduced to the island in the 3rd century B.C. Many people believe that the island is sacred to the religion. The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, also called Sri Dalada Maligawa, is a sacred site that many pilgrims travel to every year. The Temple of the Tooth is sacred because it is believed to contain a tooth from the Buddha, and whoever controls the tooth controls the country. For more information on Sri Lanka, visit the following websites: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/sri-lanka-facts/, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ce.html, http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/asia/lk.htm, http://www.factmonster.com/country/sri-lanka.html
When most people think about Italy they think about pizza and pasta. While it is true that Italian food is delicious, there is a lot more to the country than food. Italy is a peninsula. This means that it is surrounded by water on three sides. Many people compare the country to a boot that juts into the Mediterranean Sea. For centuries, Italy has been a center of arts and power in the world. When the Greeks ruled Italy, great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle developed theories that are still discussed today. Next the Romans, with Rome as their capital, conquered much of the world and brought all the riches and learning back to Italian soil. When Italy became European, it was rich with trade and full of arts. In fact, it started the European Renaissance in the 14th century, which brought great improvements in science and arts for the entire world. • 61.3 million people live in Italy. • Rome is the capital and biggest city. • The highest mountain is Monte Bianco (4,807m). • The Po is the longest river. • There are three active volcanoes: Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli. • Mozzarella was originally made from Bison milk. • Pizza was invented in Naples in 1860. • Italy is a little bigger than Arizona. • Alessandro Volta, inventor of the battery, was Italian. • The last time Mt. Vesuvius erupted was 1944. • Italy has more than 3,000 museums. • Rome is nicknamed “The Eternal City.” • Milan is the second largest city in Italy. • Rome is almost 3,000 years old. • Rome has been the capital sine 1871. • There are more than 500 different types of pasta eaten in Italy. • The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built in 1173. • The first operas were in Italian. • Italy comes from the Greek italos, which means calf. Today Italy is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. There are many reasons to visit this amazing country. Perhaps the most popular reason to visit, however, is the history. Archeologists are still excavating ancient ruins all over Italy and learning about these ancient societies. One of the biggest and most popular dig sites is Pompeii. This ancient city was destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. The city was covered in layers of ash, and while it destroyed the city, it also perfectly preserved everyday life in the city. By digging through Pompeii, archeologists can get a better look at the past than ever before.
It’s time to get out your globe! You need to know about the imaginary lines on globes and maps. These lines are called lines of latitude and longitude, and they tell a pilot or ship’s captain exactly where in the world a certain place is located. Basically, latitude lines (also called parallels) are the horizontal lines on your map. Lines of longitude (also called meridians) are the vertical lines that run from the North Pole to the South Pole. This mapping system is written in degrees and uses the symbol °. Get ready to travel the world! Located at 42o S and 174o E on the map, New Zealand is a group of islands, including two larger main islands, the North Island and the South Island, off the coast of Australia that make up one country. Besides being where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, it is a truly incredible place. The country has an amazing mix of tall snowy mountains, clear sandy beaches and soft grassy meadows in between. It should come as no surprise that in the beautiful mix of landscape is also an interesting mix of people. The two official languages of New Zealand are English and Maori. The English comes from when the island was an English colony and is the most commonly used. The Maori language is from the Maori people who came to New Zealand in canoes about 1,000 years ago. Europeans did not arrive in the islands until 1642, and the British didn’t map the islands until 1769. Here are some interesting facts about New Zealand: The Maori called New Zealand Aotearoa, which means “land of the long, white cloud.” According to the Maori, Kupe was the first explorer to reach New Zealand. The first European explorer to arrive was a Dutch explorer named Abel Tasman. Tasman originally named the country Staten Landt before it was changed to New Zealand by Dutch map makers. The Treaty of Waitangi made the islands a British colony. Maori legend says that the island was fished out of the sea by a demigod named Maui. The capital is Wellington. The largest city is Auckland. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote. The highest mountain is Aoraki Mount, meaning Cloud Piercer, or Mount Cook, which is 12,316 feet tall. Rugby is the most popular sport. New Zealand has active volcanoes that people can visit. People can relax in pools of mineral water naturally heated by the earth called geothermal pools or hot springs. The Maori used these pools for cooking and bathing. Hikers can visit and climb glaciers in the mountains. New Zealand is 1,000 miles from Australia. It is about the size of Colorado. Another amazing aspect of New Zealand is the wildlife. Because the island is cut off from other lands, its plants and animals have developed into amazing and unique species. One of the animals the nation is most known for is a small flightless bird called a kiwi. They are so well known for this bird that Kiwi has become a nickname for someone from New Zealand. Other amazing animals people can see while visiting are dolphins, whales and three species of penguins. For more information about New Zealand, visit the following sites: www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/countries/newzealand.html, www.newzealand.com/us/history/, http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/countries/new-zealand.html, www.timeforkids.com/destination/new-zealand
It’s time to get out your globe! You need to know about the imaginary lines on globes and maps. These lines are called lines of latitude and longitude, and they tell a pilot or ship’s captain exactly where in the world a certain place is located. Basically, latitude lines (also called parallels) are the horizontal lines on your map. Lines of longitude (also called meridians) are the vertical lines that run from the North Pole to the South Pole. This mapping system is written in degrees and uses the symbol °. Get ready to travel the world! Antarctica is the southernmost continent. It is also where the South Pole is located (90 ° S on the map). The very first people to see Antarctica were Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. They visited the continent in 1820. The pair had no idea that most of Antarctica is made of ice and that they could not sail directly to the South Pole. People did not actually try to hike across the ice until 1901. That expedition was led by Robert Falcon Scott. Unfortunately, they were not able to get completely to the pole. Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, led the first group that actually made it to the South Pole in 1911. These expeditions are very difficult and dangerous. It takes a lot of supplies to make it miles and miles across the ice all the way to the South Pole. In some expeditions, people have even died. Here are some of the examples of the equipment needed for an expedition: • Insulated water bottles, so that the water won’t freeze • Sun glasses to block the light that reflects off the snow • A sled to carry all of the equipment • Food for 80 days • A tent • A sleeping bag • A face mask to protect from winds • Sunscreen and lip salve to protect from the harsh wind and reflected light • A Swiss army knife • Ski equipment • A compass • Medical supplies When going to the South Pole, you have to carry everything you could possibly need. Sometimes it can be difficult to decide how much of everything to carry. It is important to carry more than one of necessary items in case something gets lost, but you also have to consider things like how much it weighs and how big it is because the explorers and scientists carry everything they take with them. Many modern expeditions have motorized vehicles and sleds to help with the travelling. In the first expeditions, dog sleds were responsible for carrying all of the packs. There is a limit to how much each sled and person can carry, so it is important to think very hard about everything that is packed.
It’s time to get out your globe! You need to know about the imaginary lines on globes and maps. These lines are called lines of latitude and longitude, and they tell a pilot or ship’s captain exactly where in the world a certain place is located. Basically, latitude lines (also called parallels) are the horizontal lines on your map. Lines of longitude (also called meridians) are the vertical lines that run from the North Pole to the South Pole. This mapping system is written in degrees and uses the symbol °. Get ready to travel the world! Located at 47 °N and 2 ° East lies the country of France. Based on land area, France is the largest country in Western Europe. It is also one of the oldest. France has been a big part of world politics since the Middle Ages, and many famous people came from France: Charles Perrault lived from 1628-1703 and wrote fairy tales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Voltaire lived from 1694-1778. He was a philosopher who helped to think of some of the ideas on which America was founded. Louis Pasteur lived from 1822 until 1895. He was a scientist, and he created a vaccine for rabies and a process called pasteurization, which makes milk safer to drink. Napoleon lived from 1769 until 1821. He was a soldier, and he made France one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world while he was alive. Coco Chanel was also French. She lived from 1883-1972. She was very important in fashion, and her perfume is still very popular today. Joan of Arc is another important French woman. She was born in the early 1400s in the eastern part of France. Her village was called Domremy. While she was a young girl, England and France were at war because the English king felt that he should be the king of France as well. At the age of 12, Joan claimed that she started seeing visions from saints and angels. These visions guided Joan to help the French army, and she was made a co-commander. With her help, the French won many battles, but the English eventually captured and killed Joan. Since 1920, she has been the patron saint of France. Domremy where Joan was born is now called Domremy-la-Pucelle. It is in the Meuse Valley and is still a small village. Less than 300 people live there. Most of the people there are farmers, and the land is very green and beautiful. There are still buildings in the town that date back to Joan’s lifetime, including the house in which she was born.
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