Top Ten Wonders of the Natural World

Top Ten Wonders of the Natural World

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       Planet Earth is home to some of the most breathtaking and serene natural beauty, which we must continue to appreciate and be stewards of if we hope to enjoy its magnificence for generations to come.

  1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia



           The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 km (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square km (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. This reef supports a wide diversity of life, and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. CNN labeled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions, Top Ten Reefs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Barrier_Reef,
  2. Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

           The Amazon Rainforest is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America. This basin encompasses 7 million square km (1.7 billion acres), of which five and a half million square km (1.4 billion acres) are covered by the rainforest. This region includes territory belonging to nine nations. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombian Amazon with 10%, and with minor amounts in, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and France (French Guiana). States or departments in four nations bear the name Amazonas after it. The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests, and it comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world.
    Links: Top Ten Brazilian Attractions, Top Ten ForestsTop Ten RainforestsTop 100 Birds, Top Ten RiversTop Ten Waterfalls, Top Ten Frogs/Toadshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Rainforest,
  3. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

           The Serengeti National Park is a large national park in Serengeti area, Tanzania. It is most famous for its annual migration of over one and a half million white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250,000 zebra. Serengeti National Park is widely regarded as the best wildlife reserve in Africa due to its density of predators and prey.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten African National Parks, Top Ten Tanzanian Attractions,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serengeti_National_Park,
  4. Galápagos Islands National Park, Ecuador

           The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 972 km (525 mi) west of continental Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The islands are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. The first crude navigation chart of the islands was done by the buccaneer Ambrose Cowley in 1684. He named the individual islands after some of his fellow pirates or after the English noblemen who helped the privateer’s cause. More recently, the Ecuadorian government gave most of the islands Spanish names. While the Spanish names are official, many users (especially ecological researchers) continue to use the older English names, particularly as those were the names used when Charles Darwin visited.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten South American National Parks, Top Ten Ecuadoran Attractions, Top Ten Islands,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gal%C3%A1pagos_Islands,
  5. Aurora Borealis
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           Auroras, sometimes called the northern and southern polar lights or aurorae, are natural light displays in the sky, usually observed at night, particularly in the polar regions. They typically occur in the ionosphere. In northern latitudes, the effect is known as the aurora borealis, named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora and the Greek name for north wind, Boreas, by Pierre Gassendi in 1621. The aurora borealis is also called the northern polar lights, as it is only visible in the sky from the Northern Hemisphere, with the chance of visibility increasing with proximity to the North Magnetic Pole. Auroras seen near the magnetic pole may be high overhead, but from further away, they illuminate the northern horizon as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the sun were rising from an unusual direction. The Aurora Borealis most often occurs near the equinoxes. The northern lights have had a number of names throughout history. The Cree call this phenomenon the “Dance of the Spirits.” In the Middle Ages the auroras have been called a sign from God. Its southern counterpart, the aurora australis or the southern polar lights, has similar properties, but is only visible from high southern latitudes in Antarctica, South America, or Australasia. Auroras can be spotted throughout the world and on other planets. It is most visible closer to the poles due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_Borealis,
  6. Cave of the Crystals, Mexico
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    Cave of the Crystals or Giant Crystal Cave is a cave connected to the Naica Mine 300 m (980 ft) below the surface in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico. The main chamber contains giant selenite crystals (gypsum, CaSO4·2 H2O), some of the largest natural crystals ever found. The cave’s largest crystal found to date is 12 m (39 ft) in length, 4 m (13 ft) in diameter and 55 tons in weight. The cave is extremely hot with air temperatures reaching up to 58 °C (136 °F) with 90% to 99% humidity. The cave is relatively unexplored due to these factors. Without proper protection people can only endure approximately ten minutes of exposure at a time. A group of scientists known as the Naica Project have been heavily involved in researching these caverns.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions, Top Ten Caves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_of_the_Crystals,
  7. Grand Canyon, USA and Copper Canyon, Mexico
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           The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park, one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km) and attains a depth of over a mile (1.83 km) (6000 feet). Nearly two billion years of the Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists, recent evidence suggests the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River continued to erode and form the canyon to the point we see it as today. Before European immigration, the area was inhabited by Native Americans who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon (“Ongtupqa” in Hopi language) a holy site and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.
    Links: Top Ten US Attractions, Top Ten Mexican Attractions, Top Ten Canyons, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Canyon,
  8. The Sahara Desert
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    The Sahara, Arabic for ‘the Great Desert,’ is the world’s hottest desert, and the 3rd largest desert after Antarctica and the Arctic. At over 9,400,000 square km (3,600,000 sq mi), it covers most of North Africa, making it almost as large as China or the US. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean. To the south, it is delimited by the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna that composes the northern region of central and western Sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the sand dunes can reach 180 m (590 ft) in height.
    Links: Top Ten Deserts, Top Ten Oases, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahara_desert,
  9. Mount Everest, Tibet and Nepal
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           Mount Everest, also known as Qomolangma Peak, Chajamlungma (Limbu), Zhumulangma Peak or Mount Chomolungma, is the highest mountain on Earth above sea level, and the highest point on the Earth’s continental crust, as measured by the height above sea level of its summit, 8,848 meters (29,029 ft). The mountain, which is part of the Himalaya range in Asia, is located on the border between Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal and Tibet, China. In 1856, the Great Trigonometric Survey of India established the first published height of Everest, then known as Peak XV, at 29,002 ft (8,840 m). In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society upon recommendation of Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India at the time. Chomolungma had been in common use by Tibetans for centuries, but Waugh was unable to propose an established local name because Nepal and Tibet were closed to foreigners.
    Links: Top Ten Tibetan Attractions, Top Ten Nepali Attractions, Top Ten Mountains,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Everest,
  10. Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

           Rio de Janeiro is the 2nd largest city of Brazil, and the 3rd largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th largest in the Americas and 26th in the world. The city was the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries, from 1763 to 1815 during the Portuguese colonial era, 1815 to 1821 as the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves, and 1822 to 1960 as an independent nation. Rio is nicknamed the Cidade Maravilhosa or “Marvelous City.” Rio de Janeiro represents the 2nd largest GDP in the country (and 30th largest in the world in 2008), estimated at about R$ 343 billion (IBGE/2008) (nearly US$ 201 billion), and is the headquarters of two major Brazilian companies, Petrobras and Vale, and major oil companies and telephony in Brazil, besides the largest conglomerate of media and communications companies in Latin America, the Globo Organizations. The home of many universities and institutes, it is the 2nd largest center of research and development in Brazil, accounting for 17% of national scientific production according to 2005 data. Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in the southern hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, carnival celebrations, samba, Bossa Nova, balneario beaches such as Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. Some of the most famous landmarks in addition to the beaches include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer (‘Cristo Redentor’) atop Corcovado mountain, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf mountain (Pão de Açúcar) with its cable car; the Sambódromo, a permanent grandstand-lined parade avenue which is used during Carnival; and Maracanã Stadium, one of the world’s largest football stadiums. The 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, which will mark the first time a South American city hosts the event. Rio’s Maracanã Stadium will also host the final match for 2014 FIFA World Cup. Rio de Janeiro will also host World Youth Day in 2013.
    Links: Top Ten Brazilian Attractions, Cities, Top Ten South American Cities, Sculptures, Top 100 South American SculpturesTop Ten Carnival CelebrationsBeachesTop Ten South American BeachesTop Ten TheatersTop Ten ArenasTop Ten Soccer Stadiumshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_de_Janeiro,
  11. Jeita Grotto, Lebanon
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           The Jeita Grotto is a system of two separate, but interconnected, karstic limestone caves spanning an overall length of nearly 9 km (5.6 mi). The caves are situated in the Nahr al-Kalb valley within the locality of Jeita, 18 km (11 mi) north of the Lebanese capital Beirut. Though inhabited in prehistoric times, the lower cave was not rediscovered until 1836 by Reverend William Thomson; it can only be visited by boat since it channels an underground river that provides fresh drinking water to more than a million Lebanese. In 1958, Lebanese speleologists discovered the upper galleries 60 m (200 ft.) above the lower cave which have been accommodated with an access tunnel and a series of walkways to enable tourists safe access without disturbing the natural landscape. The upper galleries house the world’s largest known stalactite. The galleries are composed of a series of chambers the largest of which peaks at a height of 120 m (390 ft). Aside from being a Lebanese national symbol and a top tourist destination, the Jeita grotto plays an important social, economic and cultural role and is a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition.
    Links: Top Ten Lebanese Attractions, Top Ten Caves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeita_Grotto,
  12. Komodo National Park, Indonesia
    The Komodo National Park is a national park in Indonesia located within the Lesser Sunda Islands in the border region between the provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara. The park includes the three larger islands Komodo, Padar and Rincah, and 26 smaller ones, with a total area of 1,733 km² (603 km² of it land). The national park was founded in 1980 in order to protect the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard. Later it was dedicated to protecting other species.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten Squids/Octopuses, Top Ten Lizards, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komodo_National_Park,
  13. Mount Roraima, Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela
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    Mount Roraima is the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau in South America. First described by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, its 31 km2 summit area is defended on all sides by tall cliffs rising 400 m (1,300 ft). The mountain also serves as the triple border point of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. Mount Roraima lies on the Guiana Shield in the southeastern corner of Venezuela’s 30,000 square km (12,000 sq mi) Canaima National Park forming the highest peak of Guyana’s Highland Range. The tabletop mountains of the park are considered some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back to some two billion years ago in the Precambrian. The highest point in Guyana and the highest point of the Brazilian state of Roraima lie on the plateau, but Venezuela and Brazil have higher mountains elsewhere. The mountain’s highest point is Maverick Rock, 2,810 m (9,219 ft), at the south end of the plateau and wholly within Venezuela.
    Links: Top Ten Brazilian Attractions, Top Ten Venezuelan Attractions, Top Ten Guyanese Attractions, Top Ten PlateausTop Ten Mountains,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Roraima,
  14. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia

           The Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) is a waterfall located in southern Africa on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls are some of the largest in the world.
    Links: Top Ten Waterfalls, Top Ten Zimbabwean Attractions, Top Ten Zambian Attractions,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Falls,
  15. Richat Structure, Mauritania

            This weird bull’s eye feature spans 50km of desert in the Mauritanian Sahara. The structure has been something of a puzzle for geologists ever since it was first spotted from space, as the surrounding area is largely featureless. It’s now thought it was caused by uplift and erosion rather than a meteorite impact.
    Links: Top Ten Rock Formations, Top Ten Mauritanian Attractions, http://www.insidehoops.com/forum/showthread.php?t=142190,
  16. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
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    Hạ Long Bay (“Descending Dragon Bay”) is a popular travel destination, located in Quảng Ninh province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City, Cẩm Phả town, and part of Van Don district. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Hạ Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà islands to the southwest. These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate and cultural characters. Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 squarekm, including 1,960 islets, most of which are limestone. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. Hạ Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species. Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhụ culture around 18,000-7,000 BC, the Cái Bèo culture 7,000-5,000 BC and the Hạ Long culture 5,000-3,500 years ago. Hạ Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many artifacts found in Bài Thơ Mout, Đầu Gỗ Cave, Bãi Cháy. 500 years ago, Nguyen Trai praised the beauty of Hạ Long Bay in his verse Lộ nhập Vân Đồn, in which he called it “rock wonder in the sky.” In 1962, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam listed Hạ Long Bay in the National Relics and Landscapes publication.
    Links: Top Ten Vietnamese Attractions, Top Ten Bays, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ha_Long_Bay,
  17. Polar Ice Caps, Fox Glacier, New Zealand and Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina
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           Earth’s North Pole is covered by floating pack ice (sea ice) over the Arctic Ocean. Portions of the ice that don’t melt seasonally can get very thick, up to 3–4 meters thick over large areas, with ridges up to 20 meters thick. One-year ice is usually about a meter thick. The area covered by sea ice ranges between 9 and 12 million km². In addition, the Greenland ice sheet covers about 1.71 million km² and contains about 2.6 million km³ of ice. While the International Panel on Climate Change 2001 report predicted that the North polar ice cap would last to 2100 in spite of global warming caused by climate change, the dramatic reduction in the size of the ice cap during the northern summer of 2007 has led some scientists to estimate that there will be no ice at the North Pole by 2030 with devastating effects on the environment. Other scientists such as Wieslaw Maslowski, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, estimate that there will be no summer ice by as soon as 2013. He argues that this projection is already too conservative as his dataset did not include the minima of 2005 and 2007.
    Links: Top Ten Argentinian Attractions, Top Ten New Zealand Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_ice_caps,
  18. Iguazú National Park and Falls, Brazil and Argentina

           The Iguazú National Park is a national park of Argentina, located in Iguazú, in the north of the province of Misiones, Argentine Mesopotamia. It has an area of 550 square km (212 sq mi).
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten South American National Parks, Top Ten Brazilian Attractions, Top Ten Argentinian Attractions, Top Ten Waterfalls,  Animals, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iguaz%C3%BA_National_Park,
  19. Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park, Australia

    Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park is located in the Northern Territory of Australia, 1,431 km south of Darwin by road and 440 km south-west of Alice Springs along the Stuart and Lasseter Highways. The park covers 2,010 square km and includes the features it is named after, Uluru/Ayers Rock and, 40 km to its west, Kata Tjuta/Mount Olga and is serviced by flights from most Australian capital cities. Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. It lies 335 km (208 mi) south west of the nearest large town, Alice Springs; 450 km (280 mi) by road. Kata Tjuta and Uluru are the two major features of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. Uluru is sacred to the Aṉangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. The area around the formation is home to a plethora of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten Oceanic National Parks, Top Ten Rock Formations, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uluru-Kata_Tjuta_National_Park,
  20. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, Palawan, Philippines
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    The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located about 50 km (31 mi) north of the city center of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. The National Park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the northern coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. It is also known as St. Paul’s Subterranean River National Park, or St. Paul Underground River. The entrance to the Subterranean River is a short hike from the town of Sabang. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the 28 finalists for the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” competition.
    Links: Top Ten Philippine Attractions, National Parks, Top Ten Caves,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Princesa_Subterranean_River_National_Park,
  21. Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
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    The Cliffs of Moher are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland. They rise 120 m (390 ft.) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 m (702 ft.) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, 8 km to the north. The cliffs receive almost one million visitors a year. O’Brien’s Tower is a round stone tower near the midpoint of the cliffs built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O’Brien to impress female visitors. From the cliffs and from atop the watchtower, visitors can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain ranges to the north in County Galway, and Loop Head to the south.
    Links: Top Ten Irish Attractions, Top Ten Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliffs_of_Moher,
  22. Links: Top Ten Wonders of Space, Top Ten Ancient Wonders, Top Ten Medieval Wonders, Top Ten Modern Wonders, http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/play/natural-wonder-bucket-list-50-spectacular-places-see-639593,