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There was a time in Great Britain when having windows in homes and buildings were prohibitively expensive. That time began in 1696 with the introduction of the much-despised window tax, that levied tax on property owners based on the number of windows or window-like openings the property had. The details of the tax kept changing with time, but the basic premise was that the more windows the hous Read More »
The northern tip of Greenland, despite being situated a little over 700 km from the north pole, is entirely ice free and has been for the last 8,000 years since the glaciers retreated. It is the most northerly ice-free region in the world. The climate is high arctic with a relatively warm summer of less than two months and long winters. Precipitation levels are so low that this region has been du Read More »
The bald eagle may be America’s national bird, but for the small Alaskan town of Unalaska, this majestic bird is little more than a pest. They lurk above telephone poles and stop lights, watching for potential victims to sweep down upon, litter through trash, and steal grocery bags. But mostly they wait for the fishing boats to return with the day’s catch. Located far out in the Aleutian Islands, Read More »
On a cold, snowy December night in 1598, about a dozen men armed with swords, daggers and axes quietly broke into a recently vacated theater in Shoreditch, located just outside the city of London. With the aid of what modest light their lanterns could throw, the men worked tirelessly all throughout the night, dismantling the theater beam by beam and nail by nail, and loading the stripped timber o Read More »
During the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, between Great Britain and the United States, the border between British Canada and upstate New York saw some of the fiercest fighting, much of which took place around Lake Champlain. This freshwater lake situated across the US-Canada border provided the British a direct invasion route into the heart of America. Had this important travel c Read More »
In Australia, cattle stations—which is the equivalent of an American ranch—tend to be unimaginably large, so large that some of them are bigger than some European and African countries. Take Anna Creek Station, a well known cattle station in South Australia, near Simpson Desert between Coober Pedy and Lake Eyre. This station covers nearly 24,000 square kilometers. By comparison, Israel is barely Read More »
On the southwest corner of Devon Island in the Canadian Archipelago of Nunavut, lies a small desolate island—the island of Beechey. For more than a hundred years, this windswept and barren island was a favorite landing site for Arctic explorers. Beechey Island’s relatively flat beach allowed for easy landing, while the small hill behind the narrow beach provided the needed shelter. Many crews fro Read More »
There once stood a huge oak tree near the center of Eufala, a small city in Alabama, the United States. The 65-foot-tall tree was the city’s landmark and a favorite place for local children to play under. In 1919 a violent tornado lashed through the city, but the oak tree survived. Later, the tree also survived a fire. The locals thought it was a divine sign and petitioned the city council to dee Read More »
About 30 kilometers to the west of the modern city of Yinchuan, lies the enormous burial complex of the Western Xia dynasty. Spread over 40 square kilometers on the eastern slope of the Helan mountain range, these tombs are proudly called "the Pyramids of China” by the locals. As anybody can see, these tombs look nothing like the majestic stone pyramids of Africa. Instead, the Western Xia T Read More »
Between the 13th and the 19th centuries, the northern hemisphere was in the grip of a “Little Ice Age”. Temperatures dropped worldwide as summers became cold and wet while winters became colder, long and harsh. In the Swiss Alps encroaching glaciers destroyed farmlands and villages. Canals and rivers in Great Britain and the Netherlands froze up frequently hampering navigation. Greenland was larg Read More »
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