Our planet is full of surprises. Just when we think that we know everything about our beautiful planet, we hear something else that would make us say “wow”. As technological advances are being made every day, scientists are able to use them to uncover more details of this mysterious planet. Geographers search high and low for interesting facts about our world because they want to know “why”, but so do we. As we grow, our curiosity makes us seek answers. Here, we have collected some unbelievable but true geographical facts that you would find to be fascinating.
1. Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee was formed as a result of three earthquakes that occurred in the winter of 1811–1812.
The sequence of three very large earthquakes is referred to as the New Madrid earthquakes. During the winter of 1811–12, three powerful earthquakes occurred in Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee, that in turn created a depression that river water rushed in to fill. The lake has a surface area of some 23 square miles (60 square km), an average depth of about 5 feet (1.5 meters) and its surrounding area is covered by trees. The marine life within the lake seek haven in the roots of the trees that are intertwined underwater. Today, Reelfoot Lake is considered a state park and wildlife refuge that supports various species of fish and fowl. (source)
2. It is almost impossible to determine which time zone you are in based on the longitude at the North and South Pole. Researchers in the Arctic and Antarctic regions use New Zealand time zone since nearly all flights to Antarctica and the South Pole are from New Zealand.
According to Science Focus: “The rotation of the Earth means that time zones are dictated by the lines of longitude connecting the two poles. But at the poles themselves, all these lines converge, meaning that technically the poles are in all the time zones simultaneously”. Polar explorers and scientists often choose New Zealand time zone since nearly all flights to Antarctica and the South Pole are from New Zealand. Also, Daylight Saving is useless in Antarctica because of how it’s situated. Most of the area experiences 24 hours of sunlight during the summertime and 24 hours of night during the winter. The same goes for the Arctic. (source)
3. The city of Bangkok, capital of Thailand, has the longest name in the world.
Bangkok’s real name is Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit—totalling 168 letters!
Locals refer to it as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, or Krung Thep, which also means the “city of angels”. The full name translates to “The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Intra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn”. In fact, the name is so long that the Guinness Book of World Records declared it the longest capital name in the world. (source)
4. Covering an expanse of over 6.6 million square miles, Russia is the world’s largest country by landmass. In fact, it is so large that it spreads over 11 different time zones. When the sun rises in the west of Russia, at the same time it’s setting in the east.
Did you know that Russia is the largest country in the world by landmass? In fact, it’s size is a reason for Russians to celebrate 11 consecutive New Year parties, birthdays, or Christmases because it spans over 11 time zones. When the sun rises in the west of Russia, at the same time it’s setting in the east. Since the 16th century, Russia has remained the biggest country in the world. Apart from its size, Russia also borders more countries than any other country in the world; 18. Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, China, Mongolia, North Korea (water border). Japan (water border), and the U.S. (water border). (source)
5. In the Philippines, you can find an island within a lake, on an island, within a lake, on an island. Islandception!
Within the Philippines sits the island of Luzon, and within the island of Luzon, there’s a massive lake called Lake Taal. Within Lake Taal is one of the world’s most active volcanoes; Taal Volcano, and within the Volcano Island, over 1,000 ft up from Lake Taal, sits Main Crater Lake. The island on Taal Volcano, the smallest active volcano on Earth, is located in the capital of the Philippines. Although it’s small, the volcano is among the world’s most dangerous and active volcanoes. Since the 16th century, it has erupted more than 30 times. (source)
6. The Mariana Trench is so enormous that it could engulf all of Mount Everest.
Located in the Western Pacific, just east of the Mariana Islands, the Mariana Trench, a crescent-shaped trench, contains the deepest known points on Earth. The Challenger Deep, in the southern end of the Mariana Trench is the deepest spot in the ocean. Although it’s the deepest part of the ocean, scientists are unable to measure the exact depth from the surface. In 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), utilized sound pulses which reflected back at 36,070 feet (10,994 m).
In 2012, film director and deep-sea explorer James Cameron utilized a specially designed ROV to descend into the Challenger Deep. According to reports, he reached a depth of 35,756 feet (10,898 m) during his voyage and scientists believe that he could have went a bit further. In 2014, researchers from the University of New Hampshire published a seafloor mapping survey that estimates the Challenger Deep to be 36,037 feet (10,984 m). Mt. Everest, the highest point above global mean sea level, stands at 29,029 feet. (source)
7. The Diomede Islands are two rocky islands located in the middle of the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska. The islands are separated by an international border and the International Date Line. Little Diomede is controlled by the United States, while the Big Diomede is controlled by Russia. Although both islands are only 1.86 miles apart from one another, the time difference between the two is 21 hours.
The Diomede Islands are two small islands consisting of the western island Big Diomede (also known as Imaqliq, Nunarbuk or Ratmanov Island), and the eastern island Little Diomede (also known as Krusenstern Island or Inaliq). The rocky islands are located in the middle of the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, as well as separated by an international border and the International Date Line. The United States controls Little Diomede, while Russia controls Big Diomede. Although they are only 1.86 miles (3 km) apart from one another, the time difference is 21 hours. Due to this, the Big Diomede is called Tomorrow Island and Little Diomede is called Yesterday Island. (source)
8. The continent of Antarctica holds 90% of the world’s fresh water reserves. If the constant rise in temperature melts the Antarctic ice sheets, the level of the oceans could rise by 70 meters (230 feet) all around the world.
Covering an area of almost 14 million square km and containing 30 million cubic km of ice, the Antarctic ice sheet is the largest single mass of ice on Earth. Scientists estimate that around 90% of the fresh water on the Earth’s surface is held in the ice sheet. According to Science Daily, this amounts to 70 m of water in the world’s oceans, and if not for the ice sheets, our planet would have been a seabed with no land in sight.
If the entire ice sheet melted, then the level of the oceans could rise by 70 meters (230 feet) all around the world. However, scientists say that we won’t be alive to witness it, since there would have to be a 10-degree Celsius (18-degree Fahrenheit) rise in the global temperature to accomplish this. Our bodies are not designed to withstand such temperatures and all human life on Earth would disappear. (source)
9. Point Nemo is officially known as “the oceanic pole of inaccessibility”. It is the point in the ocean that is farthest away from land, which is literally “the middle of nowhere”.
If you ever feel like you need a break from civilization, then Point Nemo is where you need to be. Located more than 1,000 miles from civilization in all directions, Point Nemo is officially known as “the oceanic pole of inaccessibility,” or, “the middle of nowhere”. Surrounded by more than 1,000 miles of ocean in every direction, the closest landmasses to the pole are one of the Pitcairn islands and one island off of the coast of Antarctica to the south. Also, when ships pass through the Point Nemo in the southern Pacific Ocean, the nearest humans are on the International Space Station, 254 miles (408 kms) away. (source)
10. The Sargasso Sea is the only sea in the world that has no shorelines.
Unlike other seas in our planet, the Sargasso Sea is unique. Not only is it the only sea without a land boundary, it is also home to species of sargassum that are ‘holopelagi’. According NOAA, the algae not only freely float around the ocean, but they reproduce vegetatively on the high seas; whereas other seaweeds reproduce and begin life on the floor of the ocean. Due to this amazing ability, Sargassum supports various lifeforms and marine species. According to MSN, “It’s bordered by the Gulf Stream to the west, the North Atlantic Drift to the north, the Canary Current to the east, and the North Equatorial Current to the south. It’s also a calm sea, where wind is rare”. (source)
11. The longest fence in the world is located in south-east Australia. Stretching 3,488 miles (5,614 km), the Dingo Fence stretches across two southeastern Australian states, Queensland and South Australia.
Built in 1885, the Dingo Fence in Australia was not only erected just to keep dingos and other wild dogs out. Also known as the Dog Fence, its main purpose was to keep rabbits out and prevent the spread of the black plague across state borders. By 1914, it was discovered that the rabbits were going beneath the fence, thus rendering it useless. Instead of taking it down, the fence was turned into the Dingo Fence, to save sheep flocks of hardworking farmers. Stretching 3,488 miles (5,614 km), it is one of the longest structures in the world and the world’s longest fence. Until 1980, the fence was 5,352 miles long but was then shortened to 3,488 miles. (source)
12. Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, is more than 200m high, 150m wide and 5 km long. It is so big that it has its own river, waterfalls, jungle, clouds and climate.
The Hang Son Doong cave in Vietnam is so big it has its own river, waterfalls, jungle, clouds and climate. The cave was first discovered in 1990 by Ho Khanh, a local farmer who was seeking shelter from a storm. Upon entering the cave, Ho Khanh noticed clouds and the sound of an underground river. Khanh reported his findings to the British Caving Research Association (BCRA) but sadly, he couldn’t retrace his steps to rediscover the cave. For another 18 years, the cave remained lost, until 2008, when he once again came across it while hunting in the jungle.
Khanh traced his steps so that he wouldn’t lose the cave once again. The following year, he returned with researchers from BCRA who determined it to be the largest ever cave in the world. After years of research and studying, Hang Son Doong was finally opened to the public in 2013. (source)