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World Tallest, Weirdest, Longest...

Six of the World’s Best Zoos

Berlin Zoo

With around 3 million visitors per year, the Berlin Zoological Garden is the most popular zoo in Europe.  It also houses the world’s biggest animal collection, with over 17,000 animals from 1,554 species.  Of particular note is the bird house, which is generally considered the world’s best.  It features 329 different species of bird, many of which are exceedingly rare.  The zoo made international headlines in 2007 when Knut the polar bear survived despite being rejected by his mother after birth.


Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo opened in 1899 on land donated from neighboring Fordham University.  Today it covers 265 acres straddling the Bronx River.  It is the largest urban zoo in the United States.  One of its most notable features is Jungle World, an indoor South Asian jungle habitat with nearly 800 animal residents.  All told, the Bronx Zoo has approximately 4,000 animals representing 650 different species.


Columbus Zoo

The Columbus Zoo is considered one of the world’s best zoos, largely thanks to the efforts of its famous former director, Jack Hanna.  It is currently in the midst of a renovation and expansion effort that will bring it up 250 acres, as well as add several new exhibits.  The zoo is home to nearly 6,000 animals and 750 different species.  The Asia Quest exhibit has several different habitats and a wide array of plants and animals from the region.  Even though it’s a little out of the way, the zoo receives more than a million visitors each year.


San Diego Zoo

Home to more than 4,000 animals and 800 species, the San Diego Zoo is at the forefront of conservation research.  It was founded in 1921 in San Diego’s Balboa Park.  Nearly all the exhibits are open-air, providing a more comfortable and natural experience for the animals.  The Skyfari aerial tram offers spectacular views of the zoo.  The nearby Safari Park offers a chance to see wild animals in even more open environments, as well as beautiful botanical gardens.


Singapore Zoo

Even though it ‘only’ has 315 species on display, the Singapore Zoo is one of the world’s best.  It opened in 1973 and was a pioneer of the concept of the open zoo.  The animals’ enclosures aren’t fenced in, but rather separated by hidden moats or glass walls.  Most of the animals are from warm regions, but the Singapore Zoo is also home to the first polar bear born in the tropics.  It attracts around 1.6 million visitors each year.


Tiergarten Schönbrunn

The Tiergarten Schönbrunn, located in Vienna, Austria on the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace, is the world’s oldest zoo.  It was started in 1752 and opened to the public in 1779.  Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II chartered expeditions to Africa and the Americas in order to search for specimens for the zoo.  It was nearly destroyed during World War II, but survived.  Today it is known for its conservation efforts and is home to some of Europe’s only giant pandas.  Its layout and preserved architecture also provide a glimpse into Vienna’s imperial past.  Around 500 species call this zoo home.


Last Updated on Monday, 31 December 2012 16:13

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World's Tallest Bridges

10. Verrazano Narrows Bridge (United States) 211.3m

Upon completion in 1964, the Varrazano Narrows Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world at 2km, with a central span of 1.3km.  It connects the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island and provides an important alternate route into New York City.  The New York City marathon starts from the bridge.  It is named after Giovanni da Verrazzano, the Italian explorer and the first European to reach the Atlantic coast of North America.


9. Runyang Bridge (China) 215m

The Runyang Bridge was completed in 2005 as part of the highway connecting Beijing and Shanghai.  It crosses the Yangtze River downstream of Nanjing.  It’s actually two bridges separated by a small island.  The northern span is a cable-stayed bridge and the southern span is a suspension bridge.  It is the suspension bridge that makes this list.  The entire complex is more than 35km long.  

8. Pont de Normandie (France) 215m

The Pont de Normandie crosses the River Seine in Normandy.  Construction began in 1988 and the bridge was completed in 1995.  At 2.1km, it was the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world until 2004.

7. Tatara Bridge (Japan) 220m

The Tatara Bridge is one of three bridges that connect Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, to Honshu, the largest.  It was completed in 1999 and has a total length of 1.5km.  At the time of construction, it had the longest single span of any cable-stayed bridge at 890m (replacing the Pont de Normandie), but has since been surpassed.


6. Golden Gate Bridge (United States) 227.4m

The world’s most iconic bridge was completed in 1937, connecting San Francisco with its suburbs and the rest of northern California.  Its signature red hue is unmistakable and the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed landmarks in the world.  At 2.7 km, it was the longest bridge in the world for nearly thirty years, before being overtaken by the Varrazano Narrows Bridge.  It has the dubious distinction of being the most popular place in the world for committing suicide.


5. Great Belt Bridge (Denmark) 254m

The Great Belt is the straight between Denmark’s two main islands: Zealand (where the capital Copenhagen is located) and Funen.  Prior to the bridge’s completion in 1998, the only way across was by ferry.  Travel time was reduced from an hour to 10 minutes.  At just over 1.6km, the main span supported by the towers is the longest outside of Asia.  The total length of the bridge is 6.8km.

4. Stonecutters Bridge (Hong Kong) 298m

The Stonecutters Bridge crosses the Rambler’s Channel at the entrance to Hong Kong’s port and has three spans with a total length of 1.6km.  It opened in 2009 and provides a more direct route from the Hong Kong Island to the airport and Disney Land, both located on Lantau Island in the bay.  The bridge is one of several major projects along Hong Kong’s Route 8, which have in total cost around 2 billion USD.


3. Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge (Japan) 298.3m

The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge connects the city of Kobe to Awaji Island across the Akashi Straight.   Prior to the bridge’s completion in 1998, the only way to get across the straight was by ferry, which was often dangerous because of the area’s volatile weather.  The Akashi Straight is an important shipping lane, necessitating the bridge’s great height.  The steel cable used during construction can circle the world more than seven times.  At 2km, the central span is the longest single span of any bridge in the world.  The total length is 4km and it is the world’s longest suspension bridge.


2. Sutong Bridge (China) 306m

Completed in 2008, the Sutong Bridge crosses the Yangtze River and connects the cities of Nantong and Changshu.  Travel time from Shanghai to Nantong was cut from four hours to just one hour.  It is a cable-stayed bridge, and the height comes from the massive towers supporting a 1km span in the middle.  All told, the bridge is 8.2km long.  It received the 2010 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers.  


1. Millau Viaduct (France) 343m

The Millau Viaduct is almost 2.5km long and crosses the valley of the River Tarn in south Central France. France’s A75 passes over the bridge and serves as an important route from Paris to Spain.  The world’s tallest pylon can be found supporting this bridge, rising a whopping 245m over the valley below.  This will not be the record holder for long, however, as the Baluarte Bridge in Mexico, scheduled for completion in 2012, will reach a height of 390m.

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 December 2012 12:45

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Top 5 longest rivers of the world

5 - Yenisei 


Length: 5,539 km

Location: Russia


The Yenisei, which flows into the Arctic Ocean from Mongolia and across Siberia, is icebound for more than half the year. This often poses the threat of flooding when the ice collects and creates blockages. Explosives and icebreakers must be used to keep the waterways open and the river flowing. In ancient times, nomadic tribes used to live beside the Yenisei. Russians began exploring the sparsely populated upper Yenisei in 1605 and the mouth around 1610. The middle section of the Yenisei powers hydroelectric dams.

4 - Mississippi-Missouri


Length: 6,275 km

Location: USA


Draining 31 U.S. states from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains and flowing from Minnesota to New Orleans, where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi and its tributary the Missouri, form the fourth longest river system in the world. The name Mississippi is derived from the Ojibwe name “Misiziibi” or “Great River”, as the first settlers of the Mississippi valley were Native American tribes like the Sioux, Ojibwe, Cheyenne and Chickasaw. Europeans reached the Mississippi by 1541, with the arrival of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and by the 17th and 18th centuries, the French gained ownership of much of the area. After the French and Indian War, the Treaty of Paris divided its American territories between the British and the Spanish.  A secret reacquisition by the French and the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 caused the land to change hands again and ultimately gave the U.S. control of the river. At its widest point by Grand Rapids Minnesota, the Mississippi spans 11 km across. This relatively slow moving river, with an average surface speed of about 1.2 miles per hour, is regulated by 43 dams that generate power and moderate flow. 

3 - Yangtze River (Chang Jiang)


Length: 6,300 km

Location: China


The Chang Jiang, meaning “Long River” originates in the Geladandong Mountain in the Qinghai province and flows east in the East China Sea. With its course through major cities (including Chongqing, Wuhan, Anqing, Nanjing, Zhenjiang and Shanghai), the river is of great economic importance as a shipping route and allows for the transportation of cargo and people between the interior and the coast. Since its completion in 2008, the Three Gorges Dam in the Hubei province serves as the world’s largest hydro-electric power station, though the population displacement and flooding has been the source of great controversy.


2 - Amazon


Length: 6,400 km

Location: South America


The Amazon River, which has its source in the Andes of Peru and its mouth in Brazil, is by far the largest river in the world by volume. Sometimes referred to as the Ocean River, the vast Amazon spans more than 190 km in certain regions during the rainy season, when the Amazon Basin releases 300,000 cubic meters of water into the ocean each second. This massive output of water makes up 20% of the freshwater that flows into ocean. Known for its diversity of wildlife, the Amazon rain forest is home to more than a third of the world’s species, including 2,500 tree species and nearly 30,000 plant species, while the river supports notable animals like the Amazonian manatee, the Amazon River Dolphin, the bull shark, the anaconda and the piranha. Sadly, large-scale development and deforestation is contributing to a loss of diversity and depletion of resources.


1 - Nile


Length: 6,650 km

Location: North Africa


The north-flowing Nile, fed by two tributaries-the White Nile that begin in Rwanda and the Blue Nile that begins in Ethiopia, runs through the deserts of Sudan and Egypt before emptying in a delta in the Mediterranean. This river has provided the fertile soil that has supported civilizations along its banks for millennia. Currently, major cities along the Nile include Aswan, Khartoum, Luxor, Giza and Cairo. The majority of Egypt’s inhabitants live in the Delta region. 

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 December 2012 12:50

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World's Tallest Towers

5 - Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), Chicago, USA

Building-5-bWhen completed in 1973, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world. If the spires of the building are included, the building stands at 527 meters (1,730 feet) tall. Sears’ rights to the name of the building expired in 2003, although the building retained its name for several years. In 2009, Willis Group Holdings bought a portion of the building and took over its official name. Willis Tower remains the tallest building in the United States.





4 - Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Building-4-bThe Petronas Towers are the tallest twin buildings in the world and were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 until 2004. The buildings are 88 floors tall and have a steel and glass façade designed to resemble motifs found in Mulsim art, reflecting the culture of this largely Muslim nation’s official religion. The “Skybridge” affords visitors the opportunity to survey Kuala Lumpur’s skyline.





3 - Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai, China 

Building-3-bWhen completed in 2008, the World Financial Center was the second tallest building in the world. It remains the tallest building in the People’s Republic of China (including Hong Kong). The building boasts the largest observation deck in the world and also has the highest hotel in the world incorporated on its 79th to 93rd floors, surpassing the neighboring Jim Mao Tower’s previous record-setting hotel.





2 - Taipei 101, Taipei, China (Taiwan)

Building-2-bUpon its completion in 2004, Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world. The building has 101 floors, as suggested by its name. The name also has symbolic meaning in Asian cultures. The building was quickly named one of the Seven New Wonders of the World by Newsweek Magazine in 2006. The tower is designed to withstand natural disasters and is connected to a large shopping mall at its base.





1 - Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE

Building-1-b-2Burj Khalifa (originally known as Burj Dubai) is the largest free stranding structure ever constructed. The flagship of “Downtown Dubai” near Dubai’s business district, office space in the building has sold for thousands of dollars per square foot. The building opened in January 2010, after nearly six years of construction, and holds nearly every height-based record for building size that exists.

Last Updated on Monday, 05 November 2012 17:52

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World’s 5 Largest Master Planned Capital Cities

Brasilia, Brazil (2,606,885)



Brasilia was built in just three years between 1957 and 1960.  Like most other planned capitals, its site was chosen based on its central location.  Rio de Janeiro was the previous capital.  One axis of the city is anchored by Brazil’s capital building and Supreme Court and lined with civic facilities, sporting arenas, ad industrial parks.  Intersecting this is a curved axis along which the main residential and commercial areas are built.  The whole design resembles a bird in flight from above.  There are lots of open spaces throughout the city and the road system was designed to eliminate the need for traffic lights (though it did not succeed) with a series of arterials, ramps, and traffic circles.  The design was largely successful and in 1987 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Today it is a marvel of urban planning and Modernist architecture.  

Helsinki, Finland (588,195)


Helsinki was originally founded all the way back in 1550, when Finland was part of Sweden.  It was intended to be a major trading center in the Baltic region, but it never caught on.  In 1809, the Russian Empire defeated Sweden and annexed Finland.  Czar Alexander I moved the capital to Helsinki, and shortly thereafter the country’s only university was moved there too.  Johan Albrecht Ehrenstrom was tasked with redesigning the city center, and Carl Ludwig Engel was his architect.  Their plan called for wide streets arranged in a grid, with new buildings constructed in the neo-classical style.  At the heart of the city is the Senate Square, lined with neo-classical government buildings with the magnificent Helsinki Cathedral at its center.


Islamabad, Pakistan (689,249)


Karachi was the seat of power in Pakistan upon independence in 1947, however the new country’s leadership thought it would be better for the capital to be in a more centralized and more defensible location.  They eventually settled on a place outside the city of Rawalpindi in north Central Pakistan in the foothills of the Himalayas.  The original plan called for Islamabad to be laid out in a series of 2km x 2km grids, with each zone serving a distinct purpose (housing, civic areas, parks, shopping, etc.).   There was also an urban plan in place for Rawalpindi, but due to rapid growth it was completely abandoned and its chaotic sprawl is in stark contrast to Islamabad.  The two cities have become one of 
Pakistan’s most important metropolitan areas.

Paris, France (2,193,031)


Today Paris is the City of Lights, a popular tourist destination and the world’s capital of romance.  But before the 1860s it was crowded, dirty, and filled with slums.  In 1853 French emperor Napoleon III commissioned Baron Haussman to redesign the city.  The aims were twofold: to create a more pleasant and livable city, and to make it harder for disenchanted citizens to seize control of the city, which was a constant threat.  The first step was to create wide boulevards throughout Paris, with large squares at their intersections.  Two new railroad stations were built, as well as new parks and green spaces.  Magnificent new buildings were built to match the new scale of the city.  Paris’ massive sewer system also came out of this renovation.  The sewers, a marvel of the modern world, greatly improved the city’s sanitation, reduced the threat of disease, and also provided Parisians with fresh drinking water.  Even today the renovation is controversial for the impact it had on the city, but there is little doubt that it has made Paris the world class city that it is today.

Washington, D.C., United States (601,723)


The notion for a planned federal district dated back to the founding of the United States.  The site was chosen because of its central location among the original thirteen states and its position along the Potomac River.  President George Washington commissioned Pierre Charles L’Enfant with the construction and design of the new capital in 1791 (though he was soon replaced, his design was essentially the one that got built).  The streets were to be laid out in a grid, connected by diagonal avenues named after the states and connected by circles.  At the heart of the city was to be a grand boulevard lined with monuments and terminating at the capitol building.  Of course, the plans never really came to fruition and by the start of the twentieth century the city was a jumbled mess.  In 1902, the McMillan Commission was tasked with restoring Washington.  Its greatest contribution was the National Mall, which today one of America’s great attractions.  


Last Updated on Sunday, 04 November 2012 11:06

Hits: 9030


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