Top Ten North American Attractions

Top Ten North American Attractions

  1. Vancouver, Canada

    Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. The 2011 census recorded a population of more than 603,000 in the city, making it the 8th largest among Canadian cities. The metropolitan area has a population of more than 2.3 million residents, making it the 3rd most populous metropolitan area in the country and the most populous in Western Canada. With 5,249 people per km2 (13,590 per mi2), Vancouver is the most densely populated of Canadian municipalities with more than 5,000 residents. The city is in the Lower Mainland statistical area, which has a population of 2,590,921. Its population is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse in Canada, with 52% for whom English is not their first language. The settlement of Gastown grew around a logging sawmill established in 1867, enlarging to become the town site of Granville. With the announcement that the railhead would reach the site, it was renamed “Vancouver” and incorporated as a city in 1886. By 1887, the transcontinental railway was extended to the city to take advantage of its large natural seaport, which soon became a vital link in a trade route between the Orient, Eastern Canada and London. As of 2009, Port Metro Vancouver is the busiest and largest port in Canada, and the most diversified port in North America. While forestry remains its largest industry, Vancouver is well known as an urban center surrounded by nature, making tourism its 2nd largest industry. Major film production studios in Vancouver and Burnaby have turned Metro Vancouver into the 3rd largest film production center in North America after Los Angeles and New York City, earning it the film industry nickname, Hollywood North. Vancouver has ranked highly in worldwide “livable city” rankings for more than a decade according to business magazine assessments and it was also acknowledged by Economist Intelligence Unit as the first city to rank among the top-ten of the world’s most livable cities for five straight years. It has hosted many international conferences and events, including the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Expo 86, and the World Police and Fire Games in 1989 and 2009. The 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics were held in Vancouver and nearby Whistler, a resort community 125 km (78 mi) north of the city.
    Links: Top Ten Canadian Attractions, Cities, Top Ten North American Cities, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vancouver,
  2. Mexico City, Mexico

    Mexico is the Federal District (Distrito Federal), capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole. Mexico City is the country’s largest city as well as its most important political, cultural, educational and financial center. As an “alpha” global city Mexico City is one of the most important financial centers in North America. It is located in the Valley of Mexico (Valle de Mexico), a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 m (7,350 ft.). The city consists of 16 boroughs. The 2009 estimated population for the city proper was around 8.84 million people, and has a land area of 1,485 square km (573 square mi). According to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments, the Mexico City metropolitan area population is 21.2 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and the 5th largest agglomeration in the world. Mexico City has a gross domestic product (GDP) of $390 billion US$ in 2008, making Mexico City the 8th richest city in the world. The city was responsible for generating 21% of Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product and the metropolitan area accounted for 34% of total national GDP. The city was originally built on an island of Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325 AD as Tenochtitlan, which was almost completely destroyed in the 1521 siege of Tenochtitlan, and subsequently redesigned and rebuilt in accordance with the Spanish urban standards. In 1524, the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenochtitlán, and as of 1585 it was officially known as La Ciudad de México (Mexico City). Mexico City served as the political, administrative and financial center of a major part of the Spanish colonial empire. After independence from Spain was achieved, the Federal District was created in 1824. After years of demanding greater political autonomy, residents were given the right to directly elect the Head of Government and the representatives of the unicameral Legislative Assembly by popular vote in 1997. Ever since, the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has controlled both of them. In recent years, the local government has passed a wave of liberal policies, such as abortion on request to any woman up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, a limited form of euthanasia, no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions, Cities, Top Ten North American Cities, Top Ten Theatres, Top Ten Museums, Top Ten North American Museums, Top Ten Mexican Museums, Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, Top Ten Castles, Top Ten North American Castles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico_City,
  3. Teotihuacán, Mexico

    Teotihuacán is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, just 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Apart from the pyramidal structures, Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the Avenue of the Dead, and numerous colorful, well-preserved murals. Additionally, Teotihuacan produced a thin orange pottery style that spread through Mesoamerica. The city is thought to have been established around 100 BC and continued to be built until about 250 AD. The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD. At its zenith, perhaps in the first half of the 1st millennium AD, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, with a population of perhaps 125,000 or more, placing it among the largest cities of the world in this period. Teotihuacan was even home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate this large population. The civilization and cultural complex associated with the site is also referred to as Teotihuacan or Teotihuacano. Although it is a subject of debate whether Teotihuacan was the center of a state empire, its influence throughout Mesoamerica is well documented; evidence of Teotihuacano presence can be seen at numerous sites in Veracruz and the Maya region. The Aztecs may have been influenced by this city. The ethnicity of the inhabitants of Teotihuacan is also a subject of debate. Possible candidates are the Nahua, Otomi or Totonac ethnic groups. Scholars have also suggested that Teotihuacan was a multiethnic state. The city and the archaeological site are located in what is now the San Juan Teotihuacán municipality in the State of México, Mexico, approximately 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Mexico City. It is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions, Top Ten Pyramids, Top Ten North American Pyramids, Top Ten Museums, Top Ten North American Museums, Top Ten Mexican Museums, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teotihuacan,
  4. Chichen Itza, Mexico

    Chichen Itza, “at the mouth of the well of the Itza,” was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya civilization. The archaeological site is located in the municipality of Tinum, in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Chichen Itza was a major focal point in the northern Maya lowlands from the Late Classic (600–900 AD) through the Terminal Classic (800–900) and into the early portion of the Early Postclassic period (900–1200). The site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico and of the Puuc and Chenes styles of the northern Maya lowlands. The presence of central Mexican styles was once thought to have been representative of direct migration or even conquest from central Mexico, but most contemporary interpretations view the presence of these non-Maya styles more as the result of cultural diffusion. Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and it was likely to have been one of the mythical great cities, or Tollans, referred to in later Mesoamerican literature. The city may have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, a factor that could have contributed to the variety of architectural styles at the site. The ruins of Chichen Itza are federal property, and the site’s stewardship is maintained by Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History, INAH). The land under the monuments had been privately-owned until March 29, 2010, when it was purchased by the state of Yucatán. Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico; an estimated 1.2 million tourists visit the ruins every year.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions, Top Ten Pyramids, Top Ten North American Pyramids, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chichen_Itza,
  5. Palenque, Mexico

    Palenque (Bàak’ in Modern Maya) was a Maya city state in southern Mexico that flourished in the 7th century. The Palenque ruins date back to 100 BC to its fall around 800 AD. After its decline it was absorbed into the jungle, which is made up of cedar, mahogany, and sapodilla trees, but has been excavated and restored and is now a famous archaeological site attracting thousands of visitors. It is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas, located about 130 km (81 mi) south of Ciudad del Carmen about 150 m above sea-level. Palenque is a medium-sized site, much smaller than such huge sites as Tikal or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings that the Mayas produced. Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the many monuments; historians now have a long sequence of the ruling dynasty of Palenque in the 7th century and extensive knowledge of the city-state’s rivalry with other states such as Calakmul and Toniná. The most famous ruler of Palenque was Pacal the Great whose tomb has been found and excavated in the Temple of the Inscriptions. By 2005, the discovered area covered up to 2.5 square km (1 square mi), but it is estimated that less than 10% of the total area of the city is explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions, Top 100 Mayan Artifacts, Temples, Top Ten North American Temples, Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten North American Relieves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Hispanic_City_and_National_Park_of_Palenque,
  6. Mustique, Grenadines

    Mustique is a small private island in the West Indies. The island is one of a group of islands called the Grenadines, most of which form part of the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The island covers 1,400 acres (5.7 square km or square 2.2 mi) and it has several coral reefs. The land fauna includes tortoises, herons and many other species. Its year-round population of about 500 mostly live in the villages of Lovell, Britannia Bay and Dover. The island of Mustique is owned by the Mustique Company, which in turn is owned by the island’s home owners. The island has approximately 100 private villas, many of which are rented out through the Mustique Company. In addition there is one hotel called the Cotton House, owned by the Mustique Company, and one privately-owned four bedroom hotel called Firefly, which is owned by Stan and Liz Clayton. The island is located in the Grenadines Parish administrative area of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
    Links: Top Grenadian Attractions, Top Ten Islands, Top Ten North American Islands, Top Ten Reefs, Top 100 Beaches,
  7. Ottawa, Canada

    Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the 2nd largest city in the Province of Ontario and the 4th largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario. Ottawa borders Gatineau, Quebec, located on the north bank of the Ottawa River; together they form the National Capital Region (NCR). The 2011 census had the city’s population as 883,391 and the metropolitan population as 1,236,324. Mercer ranked Ottawa with the 2nd highest quality of living of any in the Americas, and 14th highest in the world. It was also considered the 2nd cleanest city in Canada, and 3rd cleanest city in the world. Founded in 1826 as Bytown and incorporated as “Ottawa” in 1855, the city has evolved into a political and technological center of Canada. Its original boundaries were expanded through numerous minor annexations and ultimately replaced by a new city incorporation and major amalgamation in 2001 which significantly increased its land area. The name “Ottawa” is derived from the Algonquin word adawe, meaning “to trade.” Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley was home to the Algonquin people prior to the arrival of Europeans during the fur and subsequent lumber trade eras. Initially an Irish and French Christian settlement, Ottawa has become a multicultural, bilingual city with a diverse population.
    Links: Top Ten Canadian Attractions, Cities, Top Ten North American Cities, Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, Top Ten Sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, Top Ten Clock Towers, Top Ten Winter Festivals, Top Ten Ice Sculptureshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottawa,
  8. Toronto, Canada

    Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto’s history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from the Mississaugas of the New Credit. The settlement was later established as the Town of York and proclaimed as the new capital of Upper Canada by its lieutenant-governor, John Graves Simcoe. In 1834, York was incorporated as a city and renamed to its present name. The city was ransacked in the Battle of York during the War of 1812 and damaged in two great fires in 1849 and in 1904. Since its incorporation, Toronto has repeatedly expanded its borders through amalgamation with surrounding municipalities, most recently in 1998. With over 2.6 million residents, it is the 5th most populous city in North America. Its metropolitan area with over 5.5 million residents is the 7th largest urban region in North America. Toronto is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and is part of a densely populated region in Southern Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. The census metropolitan area (CMA) had a population of 5,583,064, and the Greater Toronto Area had a population of 6,054,191 (2011). Its cosmopolitan and international population reflects its role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada. Toronto is one of the world’s most diverse cities by percentage of non-native-born residents, with about 49% of the population born outside Canada. Toronto is also consistently rated as one of the world’s most livable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. As Canada’s commercial capital and one of the top financial centers in the world, Toronto is considered an alpha world city by the Globalization and World Cities study group. It is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange, the world’s 7th largest in terms of market value. Toronto contains more corporate headquarters than any other Canadian city, including those of Canada’s five largest banks. Toronto’s leading economic sectors include finance, business services, telecommunications, aerospace, transportation, media, arts, film, music, television production, publishing, software production, medical research, education, tourism, engineering, and sports industries. According to Forbes, Toronto is the 10th most economically powerful city in the world and one of the fastest growing among the G7 nations, whilst PwC ranks the city as the world’s 2nd best “metro powerhouse.” The cost of living in Toronto was ranked highest in Canada in 2011.
    Links: Top Ten Canadian Attractions, Cities, Top Ten North American Cities, Top Ten Museums, Top Ten North American Museums, Top Ten Galleries, Top Ten North American Galleries, Top Ten Squares, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto,
  9. Montreal, Canada

    Montreal is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the 2nd largest city in Canada and the 15th largest in North America. Originally called Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary,” the city takes its present name from Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city, whose name was also initially given to the island on which the city is located, or Mont Réal as it was spelled in Middle French, (Mont Royal in present French). As of February 2012, Statistics Canada identifies Montreal’s Census Metropolitan Area (land area 4,259 square km (1,644 square mi)) as Canada’s 2nd most populous with an estimated metropolitan area population of 3,824,221 and a population of 1,886,481 in the “agglomeration” of Montreal. French is the city’s official language and is also the language spoken at home by 60.5% of the population, followed by English at 21.2% and 23.4% other languages (2006). Montreal is the 2nd largest primarily French-speaking city in the Western world, after Paris. Montreal is consistently rated as one of the world’s most livable cities, was called “Canada’s Cultural Capital” by Monocle Magazine. Though historically the commercial capital of Canada, it was surpassed in population, as well as economic strength, by Toronto after 1976. Today it continues as an important center of commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, culture, tourism, film and world affairs. In 2010, Montreal was named a hub city, ranked 34th globally out of 289 cities for innovation across multiple sectors of the urban economy, in the Innovation Cities Index by 2thinknow. Montreal was the next Canadian city in the annual index behind nexus city Toronto in 12th place and ahead of fellow hub cities Calgary, Quebec City, Vancouver and Edmonton. In 2009, Montreal was named North America’s number one host city for international association events, according to the 2009 preliminary rankings of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
    Links: Top Ten Canadian Attractions, Cities, Top Ten North American Cities, Top Ten Towers, Top Ten Bridges, Casinos, Top Ten North American Casinos, Top Ten Fireworks Shows, Top Ten Photographs of Fireworks, Top Ten Fountains, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal,
  10. Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands

    Saint Thomas is an island in the Caribbean Sea and with the islands of Saint John, Saint Croix and Water Island a county and constituent district of the US Virgin Islands. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie. As of the 2010 census, the population of Saint Thomas was 51,634 about 48.5% of the US Virgin Islands total. The district has a land area of 31.24 square mi (80.9 square km).
    Links: Top Ten US Virgin Islands Attractions, Top Ten Islands, Top Ten North American Islands,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Thomas,_U.S._Virgin_Islands,
  11. Nassau, Bahamas

    Nassau is the capital, largest city and commercial center of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city has a population of 248,948 (2010), 70% of the entire population of The Bahamas (353,658). Lynden Pindling International Airport, the major airport for The Bahamas, is located about 16 km (9.9 mi) west of Nassau city center, and has daily flights to major cities in the US, the Caribbean, Canada and the UK. The city is located on the island of New Providence, which functions much like a business district. Nassau is the site of the House of Assembly and various judicial departments and was considered historically to be a stronghold of pirates. Nassau’s modern growth began in the late 18th century, with the influx of thousands of American Loyalists and enslaved Africans to the Bahamas following the American War of Independence. Many of them settled in Nassau (the then and still commerce capital of the Bahamas) and eventually came to outnumber the original inhabitants. As the population of Nassau grew, so did the built-up areas. Today the city dominates the entire island and its satellite, Paradise Island. However, until the post-WWII era, the outer suburbs scarcely existed. Most of New Providence was uncultivated bush until the loyalists came in the 1780’s and established several plantations such as Clifton and Tusculum. When the British abolished the international slave Trade in 1807, thousands of liberated Africans freed from slave ships by the Royal Navy were settled on New Providence (at Adelaide Village and Gambier Village) along with other islands such as, Grand Bahama, Exuma, Abaco and Inagua. The largest concentration of Africans lived in the “Over-the-Hill” suburbs of Grants Town and Bain Town to the south of the city of Nassau, while most of the European descent inhabitants lived on the island’s northern coastal ridges.
    Links: Top Ten Bahamian Attractions, Top Ten Islands, Top Ten North American Islandshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nassau,_Bahamas,
  12. Paradise Island, Bahamas
    Paradise Island is an island in the Bahamas formerly known as Hog Island. The island is located just off the shore of the city of Nassau, which is itself located on the northern edge of the island of New Providence. It is best known for the sprawling ‘Vegas-by-the-sea resort’ Atlantis. Paradise Island is connected to the island of New Providence by two bridges that cross Nassau Harbor. The first was built in 1966 by Resorts International and the second in the late 1990’s.
    Links: Top Ten Bahamian Attractions, Top Ten Bahaman Resorts, Top Ten Resorts, Top Ten North American Resorts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Island,
  13. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

    Seven Mile Beach is a long crescent of coral-sand beach on the western shore of Grand Cayman island. Despite its name, the beach is only about 5.5 miles (8.9 km) long. Seven Mile Beach known for its beauty, recently receiving the honor of “The Caribbean’s Best Beach” from Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine. SMB is the most popular and most developed area of Grand Cayman and is home to the majority of the island’s luxury resorts and hotels. The beach is only about 5.5 miles (8.9 km) long and falls victim to annual erosion, which has reduced its size in some areas. Like the rest of Grand Cayman, the development around SMB was severely damaged in Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 but many condominiums and hotels are now running at full capacity. Seven Mile Beach is public property, and it is possible to walk the full length past many hotels and villas. There are restaurants open to the public at most of the resorts, and several public beach bars. Some small reefs are located just off shore which offer good snorkeling, most notably by the Marriott hotel (an artificial reef), Government House (the Governor’s residence), and just north of Seven Mile Public beach. There are few restrictions on use of the beach. Open grilling is allowed, and pets are free to roam the beach off leash. Loud music and public nudity are, however, strictly prohibited. Directly to the south of Seven Mile Beach is George Town, the capital city of the Cayman Islands, while to the north is the district of West Bay, which features a turtle farm and the limestone formations of Hell. Beautiful turtle shell-based items are sold in many locations, however they are illegal in the US and many other Western countries. There is The Cayman Turtle Farm that was rebuilt after a hurricane destroyed it in September 2004. Today, it is built directly adjacent to the ocean.
    Links: Top Ten Cayman Island Attractions, Top 100 Beaches, Top Ten Caribbean Beaches, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Mile_Beach,_Grand_Cayman,
  14. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

    The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 m (980 ft) offshore in the north and 40 kilometers (25 mi) in the south within the country limits. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 km (190 mi) long section of the 900 km (560 mi) long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya up to Honduras making it one of the largest coral reef systems in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef. It is Belize’s top tourist destination popular for scuba diving and snorkeling and attracting almost half of its 260,000 visitors, and is vital to its fishing industry. Charles Darwin described it as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies” in 1842.
    Links: Top Ten Belizean Attractions, Top Ten Reefs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belize_Barrier_Reef,
  15. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

    The Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde (the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve) is a Costa Rican reserve located along the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range within the Puntarenas and Alajuela provinces. Named after the nearby town of Monteverde and founded in 1972, the Preserve consists of over 10,500 hectares of tropical rainforest, which is visited by roughly 70,000 visitors a year. The Preserve consists of 6 ecological zones, 90% of which are virgin forest. An extremely high biodiversity, consisting of over 2,500 plant species (including the most orchid species in a single place), 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and thousands of insects, has drawn scientists and tourists.
    Links: Top Ten Costa Rican Attractions, Top 100 Flowers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monteverde_Cloud_Forest_Reserve,
  16. Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica

    The Area de Conservación Guanacaste, is a World Heritage Site in the northwestern part of Costa Rica, which comprises Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, Rincón de la Vieja National Parks and the Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge. It formally became part of National System of Conservation Areas in 1994. The area of the parks combined totals 1470 square km as of 2004.
    Links: Top Ten Costa Rican Attractions, National Parks, Top Ten North American National Parkshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_de_Conservaci%C3%B3n_Guanacaste_World_Heritage_Site, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Rosa_National_Park,
  17. Cancún, Mexico

    Cancún is a city of international tourism development certified by the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization). Located on the northeast coast of Quintana Roo in southern Mexico, more than 1,700 km from Mexico City, the Project began operations in 1974 as Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR (Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo, National Fund for Tourism Development), formerly known as INFRATUR. Since then, it has undergone a comprehensive transformation from being a fisherman’s island surrounded by virgin forest and unknown shores to being one of the two most renowned Mexican resorts, along with Acapulco. Politically, it is the county seat of Benito Juárez municipio (county), in the state of Quintana Roo. The World Tourism Organization (WTO), through its foundation UNWTO-Themis, awarded the Best of the Best “for excellence and good governance” to the Trust for Tourism Promotion of Cancun on February 3, 2007. This gave Cancún the support of the Department of Education and Knowledge Management of the WTO.
    Links: Top Ten Mexican Attractions, Resorts, Top Ten North American Resorts, Top 100 Beaches, Top Scuba Diving Sites, Top Ten Unique Swimming Destinations, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canc%C3%BAn,
  18. Tik’al National Park, Guatemala

           Tik’al is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala. Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period (200 to 900 AD). During this time, the city dominated much of the Maya region politically, economically and militarily, while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica such as the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the distant Valley of Mexico. There is evidence that Tikal was conquered by Teotihuacan in the 4th century AD. Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned. These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century. Tikal is the best understood of any of the large lowland Maya cities, with a long dynastic ruler list, the discovery of the tombs of many of the rulers on this list and the investigation of their monuments, temples and palaces.
    Links: Top Ten Guatemalan Attractions, Top Ten Pyramids, Top Ten North American Pyramids, National Parks, Top Ten North American National Parks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikal_National_Park,
  19. Cayo Largo del Sur, Cuba

           Cayo Largo del Sur is a small resort island belonging to Cuba, in the Caribbean Sea no more than 25 km (15.5 miles) long and 3 km (1.9 miles) wide. It is the 2nd biggest island in Cuba’s Canarreos Archipelago. Christopher Columbus is said to have visited the island on his second expedition in 1494, and Sir Francis Drake may have also stopped on the island during his circumnavigation of the globe. Pirates also likely used the island as a base. Today, pristine beach, scuba diving and wildlife draw tourists to the island, however no people live there permanently; locals who work in the hotels stay for about 20 days, then return to their families on nearby islands. There are five all-inclusive resort hotels on the island. Flights from Argentina, Italy and Canada service the island. A large catamaran style ferry provides surface transportation. Travelers to Cayo Largo should be advised nudism is legal in Cayo Largo and is practiced on the periphery of the resorts in designated areas, and on the many desolate stretches of beaches (20km) on this island. Typically, the fine white sand is packed hard on the surf’s edge and allows easy walking. A major tourist attraction of cayo largo are the west beaches, Playa Sirena and Playo Paraiso. These beaches are a kilometer apart and one may easily walk between them when the tide is not full. Playa Paraiso offers more privacy for the nudist, while Sirena offers full service facilities for tourists. A shuttle “train” service takes tourists from the resorts to these beaches. Sirena offers one of the finest under-developed beaches in the world. Activities on the beach may be curtailed during turtle egg laying season. The beach has water sports related to the hotels, a restaurant, dolphin attraction, docks for catamaran trips. The lee side of the beach features tidal flats where many very large starfish congregate and other tropical fish are easily viewed. Living coral reefs form one more attraction for tourists on this island, although coral bleaching has stressed some reef communities in the Caribbean. The northern coast of Cayo Largo consists largely of mangroves and salt pans. While the water south of the island appears clear enough to reveal the underlying ocean floor, the water on the north side of the island is cloudy.
    Links: Top Ten Cuban Attractions, Beaches, Top Ten North American Beaches, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayo_Largo_del_Sur,
  20. Montego Bay, Jamaica

           Montego Bay is the capital of St. James Parish and the 2nd largest city in Jamaica by area and the 4th by population (after Kingston, Spanish Town and Portmore). It is a tourist destination with duty free shopping, cruise line terminal and the beaches. The city is backed by picturesque low mountains.
    Links: Top Ten Jamaican Attractions, Top Ten Bays, Top Ten North American Bays, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montego_Bay,
  21. Havanna, Cuba

           Havana is the capital city, major port and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city has 2.1 million inhabitants, making it the largest city in the Caribbean region. The city extends mostly westward and southward from the bay, which is entered through a narrow inlet and which divides into three main harbors: Marimelena, Guanabacoa and Atarés. The sluggish Almendares River traverses the city from south to north, entering the Straits of Florida a few miles west of the bay. Havana was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and due of its strategic location it served as a springboard for the Spanish conquest of the continent becoming a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish Galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World. King Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of City in 1592. The Spaniards began building fortifications and in 1553 they transferred the governor’s residence to Havana from Santiago de Cuba on the eastern end of the island, thus making Havana the de facto capital. The importance of harbor fortifications was early recognized as English, French and Dutch sea marauders attacked the city in the 16th century. The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana’s harbor in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish-American War. Contemporary Havana can essentially be described as three cities in one: Old Havana, Vedado and the newer suburban districts. Present day, the city is the center of the Cuban government, and various ministries and headquarters of businesses are based there.
    Links: Top Ten Cuban Attractions, Cities, Top Ten North American Cities, Top Ten Cigars, Top Ten Cigar Makers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havana,
  22. Kingston, Jamaica

           Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica, located on the southeastern coast of the island. It faces a natural harbor protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connects the town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island. In the Americas, Kingston is the largest predominantly English-speaking city south of the US. The local government bodies of the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew were amalgamated by the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation Act of 1923, to form the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation. Greater Kingston, or the “Corporate Area” refers to those areas under the KSAC; however, it does not solely refer to Kingston Parish, which only consists of the old downtown and Port Royal. Kingston Parish had a population of 96,052, and St. Andrew parish had a population of 555,828 (2001). Kingston is only bordered by Saint Andrew to the east, west and north. The geographical border for the parish of Kingston ends at East Street, West Street and North Street. The city proper is bounded by Six Miles to the west, Stony Hill to the north, Papine to the northeast and Harbor View to the east, communities in urban and suburban Saint Andrew. Communities in rural St. Andrew such as Gordon Town, Mavis Bank, Lawrence Tavern, Mt. Airy and Bull Bay would not be described as being in Kingston city. Two parts make up the central area of Kingston: the historic Downtown, and New Kingston. Both are served by Norman Manley International Airport and also by the smaller and primarily domestic Tinson Pen Aerodrome.
    Links: Top Ten Jamaican Attractions, Top 420 Destinations, Sculptures, Top 100 North American Sculptures, Great Bob Marley Songs, Top 100 Reggae Songs, Top Ten Reggae Artists, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston,_Jamaica,
  23. Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica

           Cocos Island is an uninhabited island located off the shore of Costa Rica. It is located in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 550 km (340 mi) from the Pacific shore of Costa Rica. With an area of approximately 23.85 km² (9.2 mi²) and a perimeter of around 23.3 km, this island is more or less rectangular in shape. Surrounded by deep waters with counter-currents, Cocos Island is admired by scuba divers for its populations of Hammerhead sharks, rays, dolphins and other large marine species. The extremely wet climate and oceanic character give Cocos an ecological character that is not shared with either the Galapagos Archipelago or any of the other islands in this region of the world.
    Links: Top Ten Costa Rican Attractions, National Parks, Top Ten North American National Parks, Top Ten Islands, Top Ten Places to Scuba Dive, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocos_Island,
  24. Saint Croix, US Virgin Islands

           Saint Croix is an island in the Caribbean Sea, and a county and constituent district of the US Virgin Islands. Formerly the Danish West Indies, they were sold to the US by Denmark in the Treaty of the Danish West Indies of 1916, in exchange for a sum of US $25,000,000 in gold. St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands, being 28 by 7 miles (45 by 11 km).
    Links: Top Ten US Virgin Islands Attractions, Top 100 Maps, Top Ten Islands, Top Ten North American Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Croix,_U.S._Virgin_Islands,
  25. Copán, Honduras

           Copán is an archaeological site of the Maya civilization located in the Copán Department of western Honduras, not far from the border with Guatemala. It was the capital city of a major Classic period kingdom from the 5th to 9th centuries AD. The city was located in the extreme southeast of the Mesoamerican cultural region, on the frontier with the Isthmo-Colombian cultural region, and was almost surrounded by non-Maya peoples. In this fertile valley now lies a city of about 3,000, a small airport, and a winding road. Copán was occupied for more than 2,000 years, from the Early Pre-classic period right through to the Post-classic. The city developed a distinctive sculptural style within the tradition of the lowland Maya, perhaps to emphasize the Maya ethnicity of the city’s rulers. The city has a historical record that spans the greater part of the Classic period and has been reconstructed in detail by archaeologists and epigraphers. Copán, probably called Oxwitik by the Maya, was a powerful city ruling a vast kingdom within the southern Maya area. The city suffered a major political disaster in AD 738 when Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil, one of the greatest kings in Copán’s dynastic history, was captured and executed by his former vassal, the king of Quiriguá. This unexpected defeat resulted in a 17-year hiatus at the city, during which time Copán may have been subject to Quiriguá in a reversal of fortunes. A significant portion of the eastern side of the acropolis has been eroded away by the Copán River, although the river has since been diverted in order to protect the site from further damage.
    Links: Top Ten Honduran Attractions, Top Ten Pyramids, Top Ten North American Pyramidshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cop%C3%A1n,
  26. Río Platano Biosphere Reserve, Honduras



           The Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve is 5,250 km² of preserved land in the La Mosquitia region on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Most of the land runs along the Río Plátano. The reserve has a number of endangered species and some of Honduras largest sections of forest. The reserve encompasses both mountainous and lowland tropical rainforest, full of diverse wildlife and plant life, and has more than 2,000 inhabitants. The reserve is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that stretches from Mexico southwards trough Central America. Although the reserve covers a large portion of Honduras, very little is recorded about the biological diversity within it. While previous management plans have proven successful, a continued investigation into ongoing management plans and future conservation issues will be necessary to keep this valuable reserve safe. Currently there are threats to the conservation of the reserve which include illegal hunting, logging and clearing of land to graze cattle. Recent rafting expeditions from the Rio Platano headwaters through all three zones of the reserve (cultural, buffer and core) have documented cattle grazing in the core zone, commercial fishing and hunting camps along the river and clear cutting of forest near Las Marias. Links: Top Ten Honduran Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%ADo_Platano_Biosphere_Reserve,
  27. Bonus: Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

           Lake Atitlán is a large lake in the Guatemalan Highlands. While Atitlan is recognized to be the deepest lake in Central America, its bottom has not been completely sounded. Estimates of its maximum depth range up to 340 meters. The lake is shaped by deep escarpments which surround it and by three volcanoes on its southern flank. Lake Atitlan is further characterized by towns and villages of the Maya people. Lake Atitlán is about 50 kilometers (31 mi) west-northwest of Antigua. The lake is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed in an eruption 84,000 years ago. It is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and Aldous Huxley famously wrote of it: “Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.” The lake basin supports extensive coffee growth and a variety of farm crops, most notably corn. Other significant agricultural products include onions, beans, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, chile verde, strawberries, avocados and pitahaya fruit. The lake itself is rich in animal life which provides a significant food source for the largely indigenous population.
    Links: Top Ten Guatemalan Attractions, Top Ten Lakes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Atitl%C3%A1n,
  28. Bimini, Bahamas

           Bimini is the westernmost district of the Bahamas composed of a chain of islands located about 53 miles (81 km) due east of Miami, Florida. Bimini is the closest point in the Bahamas to the mainland US and approximately 137 miles (209 km) west-northwest of Nassau. The combined population for the islands is estimated to be about 1,600. The Bimini Road, sometimes called the Bimini Wall, is an underwater rock formation near North Bimini island in the Bahamas. The Road consists of a 0.8 km (0.50 mi)-long northeast-southwest linear feature composed of roughly rectangular to subrectangular limestone blocks.
    Links: Top Ten Bahamian Attractions, Top Ten Places to Scuba Dive, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bimini,
  29. Bonus: Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA

           Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a US National Historical Park hosting the densest and most exceptional concentration of pueblos in the American Southwest. The park is located in northwestern New Mexico, between Albuquerque and Farmington, in a remote canyon cut by the Chaco Wash. Containing the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico, the park preserves one of the US’ most important pre-Columbian cultural and historical areas. Between 900 and 1150 AD, Chaco Canyon was a major center of culture for the Ancient Pueblo Peoples. Chacoans quarried sandstone blocks and hauled timber from great distances, assembling 15 major complexes which remained the largest buildings in North America until the 19th century. Evidence of archaeoastronomy at Chaco has been proposed, with the “Sun Dagger” petroglyph at Fajada Butte a popular example. Many Chacoan buildings may have been aligned to capture the solar and lunar cycles, requiring generations of astronomical observations and centuries of skillfully coordinated construction. The sites are considered sacred ancestral homelands by the Hopi and Pueblo people, who maintain oral accounts of their historical migration from Chaco and their spiritual relationship to the land. Though park preservation efforts can conflict with native religious beliefs, tribal representatives work closely with the National Park Service to share their knowledge and respect the heritage of the Chacoan culture.
    Links: Top Ten US Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaco_Canyon,
  30. Links: North America, Attractions, Top Ten North American Hotels, Top Ten North American Resorts, Top Ten North American Islands, Top Ten North American Islands, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_the_Americas,

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