Australia fires kill half a billion animals as crisis mounts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Australia fires kill half a billion animals as crisis mounts

KEY POINTS
  • Wildfires have turned southeast Australia into a charred, apocalyptic nightmare, and threaten to wipe out entire species of animals.
  • An estimated half billion mammals, birds and reptiles have been killed since the bushfires started in September, according to ecologists from the University of Sydney. The actual number is likely much higher.
  • Pictures and images on social media show charred koalas receiving medical attention, bodies of dead animals lying on the ground and kangaroos desperately running from blazes.
GP: Bushfires Sweep Across The Mid North Coast of NSW
A wallaby licks its burnt paws after escaping a bushfire on the Liberation Trail near the township of Nana Glen on the Mid North Coast of NSW, November 12, 2019.
Wolter Peeters | Fairfax Media | Getty Images

Nearly half a billion animals in Australia’s New South Wales state have been killed by raging wildfires in the last couple months, and the devastating death toll is expected to rise.

Roughly 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been affected since bushfires started in September, according to ecologists from the University of Sydney, who add that the actual number is likely much higher.

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Southeastern Australian continues to battle massive brush fires

Wildfires have turned southeast Australia into a charred, apocalyptic nightmare as the country copes with a devastating fire season that is expected to grow worse as the summer months continue. Record high temperatures and drought exacerbated by climate change have ignited blazes that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and nine million acres and killed 18 people.

The blazes, expected to be the worst yet this weekend, threaten to erase entire species in Australia, which already has the highest rate of extinction in the world.

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Heartbreaking footage of kangaroos fleeing has been captured in Monaro, NSW, as bushfires close in.

For more fire updates: http://bit.ly/2Qbknvu 

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Pictures and images on social media show charred koalas receiving medical attention, bodies of dead animals lying on the ground and kangaroos desperately running from blazes. Experts say the fires have likely killed millions of animals including koalas, wallabies, wombats and kangaroos.

“Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food and shelter resources and predation from introduced feral cats and red foxes,” the University of Sydney ecologists said in a statement on Friday.

Roughly 34 species and subspecies of native mammals have become extinct in Australia over the last 200 years.

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In record heat Australia and South Australia, where temperature have risen to 40 degrees, koalas approached cyclists on the road to seek water.

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Australia’s koala population, which is already declining and vulnerable, has been especially devastated by the fires. Government officials estimating that 30% of the region’s species may have died.

Ecologists estimate that about 8,000 koalas have died since the fires started, as the slow-moving animals are unable to escape the flames. The marsupials are one of the country’s most iconic animals, and have contributed between $1.1 billion and $2.5 billion per year to tourism in Australia, according to government data.

“Up to 30% of the koalas in the region may have been killed, because up to 30 percent of their habitat has been destroyed,” Australia’s Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week. “We’ll know more when the fires are calmed down and a proper assessment can be made.”

GP: Australia Wildfires: AUSTRALIA-KOALA-ANIMAL-FIRE
A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie on November 2, 2019, after its rescue from a bushfire that has ravaged an area of over 2,000 hectares.
Saeed Khan | Getty Images

Images of burned koalas prompted people to support a Gofundme page for Australia’s Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. The hospital has received more than $2 million in donations since September, but is still struggling to treat injured koalas.

University of Sydney Professor Dieter Hochuli said that while wildfires are traditionally a normal part of Australia’s ecosystem, the increased frequency and intensity has enormous consequences for the future of plants and animals.

“It’s not just the charismatic well known species that are at risk either. The insects that so many of our ecosystems are reliant on for services like pollination and nutrient cycling are very sensitive to fire,” he said.

“One of the great unknowns is just how, if it all, their populations and subsequently the services they provide will recover.”

There’s a fire in Australia the size of Manhattan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

There’s a fire in Australia the size of Manhattan

Fire crews' life-or-death moments caught on video

(CNN)Three fires have combined to form a single blaze bigger than the New York borough of Manhattan, as Australian firefighters battle what has been predicted to the most catastrophic day yet in an already devastating bushfire season.

The fires joined overnight in the Omeo region in Victoria state, creating a 6,000-hectare (23 square mile) blaze, according to Gippsland’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
In neighboring New South Wales state, a fire in the Wollondilly region south of the capital Sydney remains “out of control,” according to the Rural Fire Service. It has burned 264,000 hectares (1,020 square miles) of land in recent months.
Firefighters tackle a bushfire in thick smoke in the town of Moruya, south of Batemans Bay, in the state of New South Wales on January 4.

Weather conditions are deteriorating rapidly on Saturday, with the country’s Bureau of Meteorology warning that winds are picking up and temperatures increasing. “Today will be a day of severe to extreme fire danger through many districts,” the bureau said.
The death toll is rising as conditions worsen — Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday that 23 people had been killed nationwide, up from 18 from earlier in the week. More than 1,500 homes have also been destroyed since the fire season began in September.
Victoria has declared a state of disaster and NSW has declared a state of emergency — both granting extraordinary powers and additional government resources to battle the fires.
It marked the first time VIctoria has activated these powers since the 2009 Black Saturday fires, the deadliest bushfire disaster on record in Australia with 173 people killed and 500 injured.
On Saturday, Morrison announced the deployment of up to 3,000 Australian Defense Force Reserve troops to affected states. Four planes will also be leased by the government to provide water bombing, while the navy’s largest ship, HMAS Adelaide, will be mobilized to evacuate citizens along the coast.
“Today is about ensuring we deal with the urgent crisis that is existing across fire grounds in four states in particular, to ensure we’re giving everything that is needed on ground without being asked,” Morrison said at a press conference.

Evacuations ahead of deteriorating weather

All three branches of the ADF — the navy, army, and air force — have been working this week to rescue residents from fire-threatened areas and isolated towns cut off by closed roads. On Friday, the navy evacuated about 1,000 people from the Victoria beach town of Mallacoota, Morrison said.
Some residents have chosen to stay and defend their homes, even with authorities urging people to get out while they can. Matt Runko, a homeowner in Moruya, NSW, departed late Friday — but was forced to leave his neighbor behind.
“He’s pretty confident he’s got enough water and resources over there to fend it off,” Runko told CNN — but admitted it’s “definitely a little bit distressing” that his neighbor was staying in the fire threat zone.

Thick smoke blankets southeastern Australia along the border of Victoria and New South Wales on January 1, 2020. An image taken over the same area on July 24, 2019 shows a smoke-free day.

JOSHUA STEVENS/NASA EOSDIS

Saturday’s hot, dry and windy weather is expected to hinder firefighters and worsen the flames, after a brief improvement in conditions on Thursday and Friday.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning on Saturday morning for “damaging winds” in NSW, the state hardest hit by fires so far. A passing cold front is causing temperatures to spike and humidity to drop, and bringing strong gusts up to 90 kilometers per hour (55 miles per hour) across the state’s southeast.
Some of the biggest fires have been burning for months, but the real danger on Saturday is the wind. Not only does it make the fires grow faster and bigger, but the wind can carry embers far distances and start entirely new fires in new locations.
These winds will change directions once the cold front passes — making the fires even more difficult to control. Some rain is expected by the end of the weekend heading into Monday, but won’t be enough to extinguish the large ongoing blazes, according to CNN meteorologists.
Angus Barners, an incident controller at the Rural Fire Service in Moruya, NSW, said he expected “very challenging conditions.”
“We can’t stop the fires, all we can do is steer them around communities,” he told CNN.

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

When deciding where to live, most people consider the weather, job opportunities, and proximity to friends and family. One thing that might not be at the front of your mind is how healthy a particular location is. Health is a complicated analysis, taking into account physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index has done the heavy lifting. They’ve analyzed countries based on reliable indicators of good health such as life expectancy, and penalizing based on indicators of poor health, such as tobacco usage.

Read on to learn more about the seven healthiest countries in the world and what really sets them apart.

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Australia

Australia

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Australia is often thought of as an ideal place to live, from its beautiful beaches to the rustic outback. What isn’t immediately obvious is that Australia is also one of the healthiest places to live. In fact, it is one of the only English-speaking countries to rate in the top seven.

Australia has high marks for physical health. The Global Burden of Disease study ranked it 10th out of 188 countries, based on 33 health-related indicators. It received perfect scores for several indicators including war, malnutrition, water access, sanitation, and malaria.

In addition to several perfect scores, Australia also focuses on providing services for those who need them. Australia has one of the best health systems in the world. Australia also has effective tobacco control measures and a low infant mortality rate. All these factors combined lead to an impressive life expectancy – 80 years for men and 84.6 years for women. That leaves a lot of time for enjoying those beautiful beaches.

Sweden

Sweden

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It is easier for a country to come out on top of health rankings when the government makes healthcare a priority. This is definitely the case for Sweden, which was rated as the most health-conscious country in the world.  Healthcare is virtually free for all citizens until the age of 20.

In addition to great healthcare, Sweden prioritizes family. This begins before the baby is born, with free or subsidized courses for mothers to help them prepare for delivery. Sweden ensures that families can prioritize work and childcare by providing 16 months of parental leave for moms and dads. Even when parents go back to work, Sweden caps child care costs at approximately $150 a month for the first child.

Switzerland

Switzerland

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Similar to other healthy countries, Switzerland has a healthcare system that is highly accessible. Basic healthcare coverage is mandatory in Switzerland and is structured so that everybody living in Switzerland has access to medical care.

A few things that set the Swiss healthcare system apart include:

  • Pre-existing conditions are not a basis for denying coverage
  • Coverage is subsidized by the government for individuals with low income
  • Patients get to choose their providers and do not need referrals to access specialists
  • The health of expectant mothers is prioritized, including prenatal care, delivery, and coverage for postpartum hospital stays and house calls

Switzerland’s prioritization on healthcare also allows it to boast the second highest life expectancy in the world — that’s something worth bragging about.

Japan

Japan

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Only one country can tout a life expectancy higher than Switzerland, and that country is Japan. One factor that may contribute to this longevity is the Japanese diet.

One staple of the Japanese diet is seafood. The consumption of fish has been shown to lower risks associated with heart disease and to increase life span by 2.2 years. To accompany the physical benefits, diets filled with fish also promote mental well-being. Consumption of fatty fish has been shown to elevate mood.

Japan is also one of the top 10 tea drinking countries in the world. Tea, and green tea in particular, provides a multitude of health benefits. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer while also producing higher levels of cognitive function.

Iceland

Iceland

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Iceland is another country that has a diet heavy in fish, meaning the population reaps benefits similar to the Japanese. Where Iceland really shines is in its environment. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development rates Iceland as the top performance in environmental quality, with the best air quality and high levels of satisfaction with water quality.

The beauty of the physical environment also contributes to the health of Icelanders. They are motivated to get outdoors and exercise in such a gorgeous setting. While the citizens of Iceland regularly hit the gym, they also list ice climbing, rock climbing, mountain climbing, and kayaking as popular activities.

Italy

Italy

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When people think of Italy, one of the first things that come to mind might be delicious pizza and pasta. It may come as a surprise, then, that diet is one big contributor to Italy’s status as second healthiest country in the world. The Mediterranean diet is primarily composed of fish, fresh vegetables, fruit, and olive oil. The emphasis on olive oil leads to lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. Another element of the Italian diet with similar benefits is garlic. Garlic has also been tied to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

While the Italian diet doesn’t include much meat, lean meats are the most popular. Even when Italians are consuming dishes that aren’t considered healthy, such as pizza, they prepare it in a more health conscious way. Their pizzas have less toppings and incorporate more fresh, healthy ingredients.

The Italian style of eating also contributes to mental health. Italian meals are focused on bringing families and friends together. Italians are known for maintaining large and healthy social networks. This emphasis on community helps reduce stress and promotes mental well-being.

Spain

Spain

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Spain has the honor of being named the healthiest country in the world. Like Italy, Spaniards follow the Mediterranean diet, with its focus on vegetables, lean meats, and olive oil.

Like Iceland, Spaniards live in a beautiful location, which likely promotes a natural inclination towards healthy, outdoor activity. One thing is for sure, it contributes to mental health, with 84% of Spaniards reporting that they are happy.

All these factors together also lead to the longest life expectancy of any country in the European Union. Even if you can’t move to Spain any time soon, perhaps it’s time to plan a vacation to celebrate this happy and healthy country.

Iran Confirms Detention of 3 Australians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iran Confirms Detention of 3 Australians

Tuesday, 17 September, 2019 – 09:30
FILE PHOTO: Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne speaks during a news conference at Australian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran’s judiciary on Tuesday confirmed the detention of three Australian citizens.

“Two of them had taken pictures in military areas and the third (was detained) for spying for a third country,” Fars news agency quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili as saying.

“The court will decide whether this person (detained for spying) is guilty or not.”

Esmaili did not identify the detained people and gave no details about when they had been arrested.

Australia’s foreign ministry had said it was providing consular assistance to the families of three Australians detained in Iran after Britain’s Times newspaper reported that two British-Australian women and the Australian boyfriend of one of them had been detained in Iran.

Perth-based travel-blogging couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin, who has been documenting their journey from home to Britain on social media, were first revealed as two of those arrested.

Later, the third Australian was identified by her family as Melbourne University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert who specializes in Middle Eastern politics with a focus on Gulf states.

Britain said on Wednesday that it had raised concerns with the Iranian ambassador over the number of dual-nationality citizens detained in Iran and the conditions in which they were being held.

10 Most Educated Countries

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Most Educated Countries

For most countries, the average education level of the population can be an indicator of its financial stability and literacy rates. It can even contribute to how healthy the country is overall. With all of this in mind, do you know which countries rank as the most educated in the world? While you might be able to guess a few, there may be some countries on the list that surprise you. Here are the top 10 most educated countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

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Luxembourg comes in as the smallest country to make the list. The country has only around 615,70 residents. Luxembourg is a landlocked country, surrounded by Germany, France, and Belgium. According to the OECD, 87% of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have completed at least a secondary education (compared to the OECD average of 84%). Also, 54% of residents in this age group have completed at least some level of higher education. Maybe this has something to do with why Luxembourg comes in as the wealthiest country in the world.

Norway

Norway

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It probably comes as no surprise that Norway ranks among the most educated countries. The European nation consistently ranks high for various quality of life factors, including healthcare, environmental awareness, and overall happiness. Colleges in Norway are tuition-free, which gives citizens greater access to higher education. The rate of adults with higher education has been increasing in Norway, and the country saw a 5% jump from 2007 to 2017. In 2017, 48% of adults aged 25 to 34 had some level of tertiary education.

Finland

Finland

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Another country with free education, this Scandinavian nation ranks among the most educated in the world. It’s not just Finnish residents that can take advantage of the free education. Non-native residents can get free schooling, as well. The Finnish education system is a stark contrast to that in the United States. Some key differences are that Finnish children receive 75 minutes of recess every day (as opposed to 27 minutes in the U.S.), there is no mandated testing until the age of 16, and most teachers stick with the same group of students for at least five years. It’s no wonder Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world for two years running.

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Australia

Australia

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The land down under just barely misses the top five when it comes to the percentage of adults who have a higher education. An impressive 52% of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have completed higher education courses. The country also ranks among the highest level of citizens who have a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is despite how Australia has some of the highest tuition rates in the world.

United States of America

United States of America

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Public opinion on the state of the education system in the United States varies, depending on who you ask. The country is known to have an unbelievable amount of student debt, and tuition continues to be on the rise. On the other hand, the United States has some of the best universities in the world and is one of the world’s strongest powers. So it’s probably not surprising that the U.S. comes in smack dab in the middle of the top 10 most educated countries. The U.S. Census estimates that 59% of adults have completed some college.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

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One thing that sets the United Kingdom apart from other countries is its focus on early education. The country sees high enrollment levels for young children. Education is a top priority for citizens as reports have shown a direct correlation between education level and pay. In fact, one study found that residents with upper education earned on average 48% more than their peers without upper education. The United Kingdom is home to two of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

South Korea

South Korea

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South Korea places high demands on its students. Consequently, the country has a high number of adults with upper education. When it comes to students graduating from secondary school, Korea ranks number one. 98% of citizens graduate from secondary education. South Korea also ranks number one for attaining tertiary education, with nearly 70% of its residents completing some higher education.

Israel

Israel

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The education system in Israel is different from those in most of the world, but it still ranks as one of the best. In Israel, most schools are divided by the student’s faith. It is also not uncommon for schools to include weapon training. Because of its strong focus on education, the country has more university degrees per capita than any other country in the world. According to the OECD, nearly 25% of all residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Japan

Japan

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It may be hard to believe, but Japan does not come in at the top spot when it comes to education. Though the country is world-renowned for its education levels, it falls just short of number one. The amount of tertiary schooling comes in at a staggering 60% for adults between the age of 25 and 34. While the country has one of the highest percentages of adults expected to complete a bachelor’s degree, it has one of the lowest levels for doctorate degrees. Just 1% of its citizens are expected to attain a doctorate.

Canada

Canada

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Canada just barely edges out Japan when it comes to adults who will complete some amount of college. A whopping 60.9% of Canadians between the age of 25 and 34 have completed some level of college, whereas that number is 60.4% in Japan. There seems to be some level of correlation between education level and happiness because Norway, Finland, and Canada all ranked among the happiest countries in the world.

Where Is Oceania? 4 Things to Know About This Remote Corner of the Globe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

Where Is Oceania? 4 Things to Know About This Remote Corner of the Globe

Have you heard of Oceania? If not, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. Few people outside of the region are familiar with this remote corner of the world, despite its rich cultural background. Let’s shine some light on the area with four things you might not have known about Oceania.

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Oceania Is the Region Between Asia and the Americas

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First and foremost, where the heck is Oceania? Oceania is the collective name for the islands that rest between Asia, Australia, and North America. The area is generally broken into four parts:

  • Australasia (Australia and New Zealand)
  • Melanesia
  • Micronesia
  • Polynesia

Broadly, this range encompasses most of the tiny islands and archipelagos that dot the Pacific. In fact, Oceania contains over 10,000 islands across its entire geography. But of course, not every island in the Pacific qualifies as part of Oceania.

The islands included in Oceania’s territory are grouped together for their similarities in heritage and cultural traditions. But others in the area, such as Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines, have cultures more firmly rooted in the Asian continent proper. Therefore, common definitions often exclude them from Oceania’s boundaries.

Oceania Contains 14 Different Countries

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Within the above four regions, there’s a surprising amount of political diversity. The Oceania region is home to 14 different countries:

  • Australia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • New Zealand
  • Solomon Islands
  • Fiji
  • Vanuatu
  • Samoa
  • Kiribati
  • Tonga
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Palau
  • Marshall Islands
  • Tuvalu
  • Nauru

In addition to these countries, the greater Oceania region boasts many islands that belong to mainland countries located elsewhere in the world. Many of the countries listed above (like Australia or Fiji) are sovereign nations in their own right, though many of the smaller island nations became independent only recently. Others are even more complicated.

Take Samoa, for example: An archipelago with both sovereign and owned islands. While the western islands of Samoa are self-managed, the eastern island — dubbed “American Samoa” — is an official territory of the U.S. And given just how many islands there are throughout Oceania, it’s fair to say that this region has a more complicated political landscape than other isolated areas.

Oceania’s Economy Is Dominated by Tourism

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Though home to over 40 million people, Oceania is considered somewhat remote compared to many other parts of the world. And though many of its member nations have thriving import/export economies that bring in substantial income, the vast majority of the region’s economy is dominated by a single industry: tourism.

According to state reports, tourism contributed $57 billion to Australia’s economy in 2017/2018. Other regions in the area, such as New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands, report similar figures, with tourism making up substantial portions of their GDP.

Part of the region’s desirability comes from its isolation. Wealthy travelers from Japan, China, the Americas, and the U.K. regularly visit the Oceanic region on holidays, likely because of the area’s unique climate, diverse wildlife, and “beachside paradise” allure. And while tourism is a challenging income source to maintain, it has the potential to bring significant revenue to otherwise impoverished areas.

Oceania Is Home to Ancient Artistic Tradition

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With so many diverse member states and cultural histories making up its foundation, it makes sense that Oceanian art would be rooted in human history. In fact, the longest continuously-practiced artistic tradition in the world is found in Oceania: The rock art of Australian Aboriginal cultures, some of which date back over 40,000 years!

But that’s only the beginning. The Oceanic region is known for artistic works of all kinds, including sculptures, paintings, feather works, tattoos and bark weaving. You might be familiar with one of the region’s most iconic and mysterious artistic creations, the Easter Island Moai.

These giant, monolithic statues were carved by the Rapa Nui people of Polynesia sometime between 1400 and 1650 CE. And while they’re just one of the many amazing cultural artifacts to come out of Oceania, they’re certainly an impressive sight to behold.

The Diverse World of Oceania

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Unlike other regions, Oceania is too diverse to lay claim to a specific culture or set of beliefs. Its constituent nations are diverse, and so are its inhabitants. So if you ever get a chance to get down there and see the area for yourself, we suggest you take it! It’s a remote region of the world unlike any other.

5 Hidden Gems in Australia’s Outback

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Hidden Gems in Australia’s Outback

When we hear mention of the Australian Outback we often picture the geographical desert heart of the country and sacred sights such as Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). But the Outback is actually a term used to describe any remote region of the country’s interior and coastline. From aboriginal sites to canyons, lakes and mountain ranges, there’s a little of the Outback to discover in every state. Here’s our list of some hidden gems to add to your bucket list.

Cape York, Northern Queensland

Cape York, Northern Queensland

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Spread across the narrow peninsula at the northernmost tip of Queensland is Cape York, a grueling 745-mile (1,200-kilometer) journey by 4WD from Cairns. Your reward for making it is jaw-dropping landscapes, superb fishing and memorable cultural encounters, among other things. Spend your days spotting ancient Quinkan rock art and swimming in the transparent waters of Twin Falls. Walk within touching distance of wallabies and crocodiles in Lakefield National Park and kick back on Frangipani Beach.

Lake Gairdner National Park, South Australia

Lake Gairdner National Park, South Australia

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Lake Gairdner is Australia’s third biggest salt lake and home to no less than 200 islands. There’s not many places in the world that you can watch land-speed races and world-record speed attempts on a lake, but this is one of them. Also within the park is Lake Everard and Lake Harris, and the three offer great opportunities for wilderness camping. The dramatic red Gawler Ranges provide a stunning backdrop to the lakes’ white surfaces.

Maralinga, South Australia

Maralinga, South Australia

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The site of British nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and long off-limits to tourists, Maralinga was given back to its traditional owners, the Maralinga Tjarutja people, in 1985. Today you can take guided tours to learn about both its indigenous Australian heritage and nuclear testing era. You can then fly in from the town of Ceduna and keep an eye open for migrating whales, between June and October.

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Mungo National Park, New South Wales

Mungo National Park, New South Wales

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If it is the ethereal landscapes of the Outback that you are in search of then Mungo National Park is the place to be. Its dried-up lakes and petrified sand dunes really seem to be from another planet. This section of the UNESCO-listed Willandra Lakes Region also boasts immense cultural importance. The remains of both the 8,000-year-old Mungo Man and the Mungo Lady were discovered in the park. Don’t miss the sunset over the Walls of China lunettes.

Tarkine Wilderness, Tasmania

Tarkine Wilderness, Tasmania

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Arguably one of our planet’s last great wilderness regions lies on the northwest coast of Tasmania. This is where you’ll encounter Australia’s largest expanse of temperate rainforest and a utopia of unblemished caves, forests, mountains, rivers and waterfalls. You’ll also spot myriad birdlife and possibly catch a glimpse of the menacing Tasmanian devil. Stand at the Edge of the World and you can experience the Roaring Forties winds that helped to carve out Tasmania’s rugged coastline.

Australia: 3 Best Ways to Explore the Outback

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Best Ways to Explore the Outback

The Outback is a remote stretch of land on Australia so vast that it covers 70 percent of the island continent, while holding only 3 percent of its population. It’s one of the world’s largest remaining intact areas home to not only deserts, but woodlands, mountains, and sub-tropical savanna as well. It’s a great place to really step into nature and discover some of the harshest, most beautiful environments in the world. Here are the three best ways to explore the Australian Outback.

In Search of Wildlife

In Search of Wildlife

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The Australian Outback is filled with animals you can only find there, and lots of wildlife in general. The most famous, of course, is the kangaroo, hopping all throughout the country (which, remember, is mostly Outback). Dingoes, friendly lizards like the Blue Tongue Lizard, wild camels, koala bears, wombats, platypuses, wallabies, toads, and just about anything you could think of dwell here, too. It’s also home to some dangerous creatures, such as crocodiles, spiders and, most famously, snakes. There are approximately 170 species of the reptile slithering throughout the country (many in the Outback), and about 100 of them are venomous. While Australia is home to the top three most venomous snakes in the world (Eastern brown snake, Western brown snake, Mainland tiger snake), there are very few fatalities annually. The country’s Outback is also great for bird watching, as parrots, emus, and thousands of other birds can be found all throughout the country.

Leaving the Pavement

Leaving the Pavement

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Going off-road in the Outback is essential to the experience. Yes, it’s already “off-the-beaten-path” no matter which highway you take through it, but getting onto dirt roads and then hiking into areas even further off the beaten track is so rewarding. A few places to start: the Old Telegraph Track, which was once the northern region’s only line of communication and home to many waterfalls and swimming holes; the Simpson Desert French Line, with its frequent dune crossings; and Gibb River Road, which follows a river that offers fresh water gorges, secluded swimming holes and unrivaled Outback landscapes.

Visiting National Parklands

Visiting National Parklands

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Going to national parks in the Outback is the best way to explore it. Doing it overland would be something special, too, because you get to see the thousands of miles in between some of them. But the national parks themselves show that the Outback isn’t all barren deserts. Places like Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory have wetlands and ancient rock art. Kings Canyon, located within Watarrka National Park in central Australia, can be enjoyed from the rim or gorge, deep within the sandstone formation. Mutawintji National Park offers a more “classic outback landscape,” its website says, with dirt roads and rugged gorges and desert stretching to the horizon. Or there’s the wildly remote Culgoa National Park, which has free camping, the largest continuous tract of coolabah trees and a rich cultural history.

6 Longest Highways on the Planet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Longest Highways on the Planet

If you’re used to traveling by car, you’re probably quite familiar with the highways in your local area. These lengthy stretches of empty roadway can seem nearly endless on long trips and are notorious for prompting complaints from the backseat. And while no roadway lasts forever, these six highways come the closest. Buckle up and prepare for an epic road trip.

6. National Highway 010 – China

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First on our list is National Highway 010, the longest highway in China. Also known as the Tongsan Expressway, this highway is over 3,500 miles long and runs through nine of China’s major provinces. A curious feature of this highway is that it’s interrupted by the Qiongzhou Strait, where cars must be ferried across the water to reach the province of Hainan. However, after decades of research, China is finally exploring new ways to subvert this problem and connect Hainan with a dedicated road-rail tunnel.

5. Golden Quadrilateral Highway Network – India

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Completed in 2012, India’s Golden Quadrilateral Highway Network is the newest roadway on this list yet already stands as the fifth-longest highway in the world. Spanning over 3,600 miles, the Golden Quadrilateral Network gets its name from the shape the roads make from connecting four of India’s major metropolitan areas: Delhi in the north, Chennai in the south, Kolkata in the east, and Mumbai in the west. It was an ambitious project that ended up creating a network of highways throughout all 13 of India’s states, and it stands to this day as the country’s primary transit route for commerce, industry, and agriculture.

4. Trans-Canada Highway – Canada

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Ranking as the fourth-longest highway in the world and the second-longest national roadway is the Trans-Canada Highway. This long, interconnected system of roadways extends 4,860 miles, running through all 10 of Canada’s provinces and joining most of the country’s major cities. The Trans-Canada Highway took 21 years to build and required over $1 billion to finish, and the final results are pretty impressive: At the time of its completion, it was the world’s longest uninterrupted highway.

Of course, it wouldn’t hold this title for long, but it does still have a few cool features that others on this list don’t. For example, electric vehicle charging stations were installed along many segments of the highway in 2012, helping owners of electric cars make their trips across the country without relying on gasoline.

3. Trans-Siberian Highway – Russia

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With a total length of over 6,800 miles, the Trans-Siberian Highway is the longest highway in Russia and the Asian continent as a whole. Comprised of seven federal highways that were built separately and combined, the Trans-Siberian Highway runs an impressive distance from St. Petersburg in Western Russia all the way to the eastern city of Vladivostok.

Unlike some other highways on this list, the Trans-Siberian Highway is a dangerous route to travel. Many of the sections are poorly-maintained and extend far into the cold Russian tundra, with few gas stations or rest areas in sight. It’s recommended that drivers make the trip only between June and September when the weather is warm and the conditions are easier—if they must make the trip at all.

2. Highway 1 – Australia

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Runner-up on our list is Highway 1 in Australia. While it’s not the longest highway in the world compared to our first place winner, Highway 1 does bear the distinction of being the longest national highway owned by any single country, so it has that going for it.

Highway 1 is just over 9,000 miles long; a series of interconnected roads that connects to all of Australia’s major state capitals by way of a giant loop that circles the entire Australian continent. Known locally as the “Big Lap,” this long highway certainly isn’t the most direct way to travel around Australia — but it’s a popular route for motorists interested in taking a scenic tour of the country.

1. Pan-American Highway – North/South America

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The longest highway in the world is undoubtedly the Pan-American Highway. This sprawling maze of interconnected roadways spans over 29,000 miles, beginning up north in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and running all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Yep, that’s right—this particular highway runs nearly the entire length of North and South America combined. Motorists who travel the whole length of the highway will pass through 14 countries, two continents, and a diverse array of climates that include forests, prairies, jungles, deserts, and arctic tundra, to name a few. It’s a trip that few can claim to have made, but in terms of sheer length, this highway is second to none.

The World’s Longest Roadways

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Many of these highways are destinations for world travellers who love the road and want a challenge — but be careful on these long trips! Just because these regions are designated as “highways” doesn’t mean that they’re well-kept or safe in all areas. Make sure you do your research and prepare well in advance before tackling any of these.

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7 Beaches Where You Don’t Want to Swim

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Beaches Where You Don’t Want to Swim

Some beaches, while beautiful, have hidden perils, reasons someone sunbathing shouldn’t cool off with a dip. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of beaches where you’ll definitely don’t want to go swimming.

Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai, India

Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai, India

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You might be able to figure this one out for yourself when you’re close up, but despite the many beaches within the city, none are safe for bathing. While Chowpatty Beach is Mumbai’s most popular beach and is the host of the city’s annual celebration in honor of the Hindu god Ganesh, it is littered with waste and debris. Large amounts of untreated sewage reach the coastline and, with steadily increasing pollution levels, any beach-goer is at serious risk of infection.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, U.S.A.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, U.S.A.

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The warm climate and incredible surf at New Smyrna Beach in Florida tempt its visitors to jump in the water. But it’s what’s lurking underneath that’s the trouble. Due to the volume of attacks, the beach has gained the title of “shark capital of the world.” The sharks are attracted by large populations of fish as well as the floating surfboards overhead; it’s the ideal snacking ground. While none of the attacks on humans have been fatal, and die-hard surfers continue to jump in, we wouldn’t recommend it.

Hanakapiai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Hanakapiai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

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The islands of Hawaii are renowned for their glorious beaches, and as idyllic settings go, you can’t get much more perfect than Hanakapiai Beach. A well-known checkpoint in Hawaii, visitors trek a rocky, 3.2-kilometer hiking trail to get there. The temptation to jump in and cool off is overwhelming. However, as the area isn’t protected by any reef, its currents are vicious. Powerful rip currents are capable of pulling even the most experienced swimmers out to sea. With no lifeguards, no hope of rescue and a handmade sign with a death-tally on it as a stark reminder of the water’s power, you’d be mad to chance it.

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Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

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Fraser Island boasts one of the most awe-inspiring beaches in the world, stretching an incredible 120 kilometers along its east coast. While the crystal clear waters try to lure visitors in, there is more than one threat waiting. Underneath the water, nearly invisible box jellyfish are lurking, able to kill a full-grown adult with their sting. If the jellyfish don’t get you, then the many sharks in the bay will be next in line. On top of all that, the tides can be vicious. It seems the beaches on the Island aren’t meant for human paddlers.

Gansbaai Beach, Gansbaai, South Africa

Gansbaai Beach, Gansbaai, South Africa

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While Florida has gained the title for shark capital of the world, Gansbaai is home to the most great white sharks. The sharks are attracted to the area because of the huge colony of fur seals, which live in the water between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. The channel, known as shark alley, is a stretch of water to be feared. If you like to get your adrenaline pumping, you can book a cage dive. You can get up close and personal with the world’s most notorious shark and live to tell the tale.

Playa Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico

Playa Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico

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With a nickname “The Beach of the Dead,” Playa Zipolite is no place for a casual swim. The beach is picturesque, and the dangers are certainly hidden to the naked eye. In fact, they are also hidden to all the naked people; the beach is popular with backpackers and nudists. The danger comes from the giant waves that create extremely dangerous undercurrents. Swimmers are easily pulled out into the water. The introduction of a specialized lifeguard crew has reduced the number of drownings, but you’re safer sunbathing on the sand.

The Black Sand Beaches, Kilauea, Hawaii

The Black Sand Beaches, Kilauea, Hawaii

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The black sand beaches of Kilauea, located in Volcanoes National Park, are certainly beautiful. The sand is an incredible contrast to the golden sands we’re used to elsewhere, and the water looks eerily inviting. However, a beach located next to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mount Kilauea, needs to be approached with caution. The temperature of the water can reach up to about 110 degrees. You’ll want to be careful not to burn your toes. Don’t let that stop you visiting though, having erupted as recently as last year, there are new black sand beaches to explore, and the area needs tourism more than ever.

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