Top 10 Natural Wonders of the World | Natural Wonders of the World
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Grand Canyon National Park, in Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park, located in northwestern Arizona, is the 15th site in the United States to have been named a national park. The park’s central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Wonders of the World. The park, which covers 1,217,262 acres (1,901.972 sq mi; 4,926.08 km2) of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties, received more than six million recreational visitors in 2017, which is the second highest count of all American national parks after Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Grand Canyon was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. The park celebrated its 100th anniversary on February 26, 2019.
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, 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. It supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. CNN labelled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland.
A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, dumping of dredging sludge and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish. According to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.
Caño Cristales, Colombia
Caño Cristales (English: Crystal Channel) is a Colombian river located in the Serrania de la Macarena province of Meta, and is a tributary of the Guayabero River. The river is commonly called the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow,” and is noted for its striking colors. The bed of the river from the end of July through November is variously colored yellow, green, blue, black, and especially red, the last caused by Macarenia clavigera plants (family Podostemaceae) on the riverbed.
The Amazon rainforest, alternatively, the Amazon Jungle, also known in English as Amazonia, is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America. This basin encompasses 7,000,000 km2 (2,700,000 sq mi), of which 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi) 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%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Four nations have “Amazonas” as the name of one of their first-level administrative regions and France uses the name “Guiana Amazonian Park” for its rainforest protected area. The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests, and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves attraction is a cave at Waitomo on the North Island of New Zealand. It is known for its population of Arachnocampa luminosa, a glowworm species found exclusively in New Zealand. This cave is part of the Waitomo Caves system that includes the Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave.
The attraction has a modern visitor centre at the entrance, largely designed in wood. There are organized tours that include a boat ride under the glowworms.
Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a natural site in Denizli in southwestern Turkey. The area is famous for a carbonate mineral left by the flowing water. It is located in Turkey’s Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley, which has a temperate climate for most of the year.
The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white “castle” which is in total about 2,700 metres (8,860 ft) long, 600 m (1,970 ft) wide and 160 m (525 ft) high. It can be seen from the hills on the opposite side of the valley in the town of Denizli, 20 km away.
Known as Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) or ancient Hierapolis (Holy City), this area has been drawing the weary to its thermal springs since the time of Classical antiquity. The Turkish name refers to the surface of the shimmering, snow-white limestone, shaped over millennia by calcium-rich springs. Dripping slowly down the vast mountainside, mineral-rich waters foam and collect in terraces, spilling over cascades of stalactites into milky pools below. Legend has it that the formations are solidified cotton (the area’s principal crop) that giants left out to dry.
Hạ Long Bay
Hạ Long Bay (Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long, IPA: [vînˀ hâːˀ lawŋm] (About this soundlisten)) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. The name Hạ Long means “descending dragon”. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long city, Cẩm Phả city, and is a part of Vân Đồn District. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes. Ha Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà Island to the southwest. These larger zones share a similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.
Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2 (600 sq mi), including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 (129 sq mi) with a high density of 775 islets. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. Hạ Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.
Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistoric human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhu culture around 18,000–7000 BC, the Cai Beo culture 7000–5000 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 Bai Tho Mountain, Dau Go Cave, Bai Chay.
Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights, United States
aurora (plural: auroras or aurorae),[a] sometimes referred to as polar lights, northern lights (aurora borealis), or southern lights (aurora australis), is a natural light display in the Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in the high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic).
Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind. These disturbances are sometimes strong enough to alter the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma. These particles, mainly electrons and protons, precipitate into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere).
The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emit light of varying color and complexity. The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both polar regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles. Precipitating protons generally produce optical emissions as incident hydrogen atoms after gaining electrons from the atmosphere. Proton auroras are usually observed at lower latitudes.
Mount Everest (Nepali: Sagarmatha सगरमाथा; Tibetan: Chomolungma ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ; Chinese: Zhumulangma 珠穆朗玛) is Earth’s highest mountain above sea level, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The international border between Nepal (Province No. 1) and China (Tibet Autonomous Region) runs across its summit point.
The current official elevation of 8,848 m (29,029 ft), recognised by China and Nepal, was established by a 1955 Indian survey and subsequently confirmed by a Chinese survey in 1975.
In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society, as recommended by Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India, who chose the name of his predecessor in the post, Sir George Everest, despite Everest’s objections.
Mount Everest attracts many climbers, some of them highly experienced mountaineers. There are two main climbing routes, one approaching the summit from the southeast in Nepal (known as the “standard route”) and the other from the north in Tibet. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges on the standard route, Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather, and wind, as well as significant hazards from avalanches and the Khumbu Icefall. As of 2019, over 300 people have died on Everest, many of whose bodies remain on the mountain.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia
Victoria Falls (Lozi: Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke That Thunders”) (Toka Leya: Shungu Namutitima, “Boiling water”) is a waterfall on the Zambezi River in southern Africa, which provides habitat for several unique species of plants and animals. It is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and is considered to be the world’s largest waterfall due to its width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft).