7 Most Earthquake-Prone Cities in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Most Earthquake-Prone Cities in the World

According to the United States Geological Survey, the largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States happened in Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1964. That earthquake measured at the incredible magnitude of 9.2 on the Richter scale. And while earthquakes aren’t unusual for the area, they are usually much less severe. Prince William Sound experiences far fewer earthquakes than a lot of other cities around the world. Some areas in the Pacific measure seismic activity on an almost daily basis thanks to the Ring of Fire. The plate is in almost constant motion, according to CNN, and is home to several volcanoes as well.

But earthquakes aren’t exclusive to the Ring of Fire. They happen all over the world every day. Here are the seven cities where you are most likely to experience an earthquake.

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Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

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According to Earthquake Track, Quito has experienced 15 earthquakes with a magnitude of 1.5 or greater in the last year. And while the majority of those are too slight for most residents to feel, the city is no stranger to major earthquakes. Those earthquakes register 7.0 or more on the Richter scale. According to Reuters, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Peru–Ecuador border, shaking residents in the capital city of Quito. Earthquakes of a similar magnitude killed one person in 2018 and more than 700 in 2016.

Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru

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Earthquake Track reports 14 earthquakes in Lima in the last year, with Volcano Discovery reporting more than 340 for the country as a whole. That’s in line with what Ecuador experiences each year. What’s interesting about Lima’s earthquake history is just how far back it goes. There are records of earthquakes going back to the 16th century. According to Lima Easy, major earthquakes in 1533 and 1555 rocked the capital city. Trip Savvy reports there is a major earthquake in the region about once every six years.

Manila, Philippines

Manila, Philippines

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The Philippines experiences frequent seismic activity because of its location. That’s because the country, and its capital Manila, sits on top of multiple shifting tectonic plates converging in the Pacific Ocean. ABS CBN news network reports that 20 earthquakes each day is an average for the area. While the majority of these earthquakes are not felt on the surface, Manila experiences stronger earthquakes with disturbing frequency. In April of 2019, Manila experienced an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 during Monday’s rush hour.

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Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

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The Hurriyet Daily News reports that the Kandilli Observatory in Istanbul records about 10,000 earthquakes in Turkey every year. The capital city of Istanbul sits near the North Anatolian Fault. Three major universities are warning that things could get worse, according to newspaper Daily Sabah. In a joint-issued study, researchers warn that the city should prepare for a series of earthquakes. They predict three earthquakes measuring higher than 7.0 on the Richter Scale could strike in the near future.

Los Angeles, California, USA

Los Angeles, California, USA

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According to the United States Geological Survey, Southern California experiences about 10,000 earthquakes each year. Los Angeles sits in the middle of a lot of the action. Of all those quakes, though, only about 15 measure at 4.0 or greater on the Richter scale. Earthquakes above the 4.0 mark are usually strong enough that the city’s several million residents feel the tremors. The cause of all these earthquakes lies with the San Andreas fault, according to the Southern California Earthquake Center. This is where the Pacific and North American plates of the earth push together. That friction produces thousands of small earthquakes each year.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

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Jakarta is another city with an unfortunate position on the Ring of Fire. The Straits Times reported that Indonesia experienced more than 11,500 earthquakes in 2018, and those numbers appear to be growing. Previous years averaged around 6,000 earthquakes. While no one can account for the increase in activity, Jakarta is doing its part to get prepared. According to the Jakarta Post, the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency presented a paper on how vulnerable the city is to a massive earthquake and how to mitigate the potential damage. There are over 800 high-rise buildings in the city that would be vulnerable in the event of a major earthquake. Measures are being taken to prepare both the citizens and the infrastructure for the next big quake.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

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According to the Meteorological Agency of Japan, about one in ten earthquakes measured in the world happen in Japan. The country can experience thousands of earthquakes every year, though most of them are too small in magnitude to feel on the surface. The reason the country experiences so many earthquakes is thanks to its direct position over the Ring of Fire, where the tectonic plates below the country are in almost constant motion.

Tokyo has a long history of suffering from earthquake-related damages. The good news is that most households and businesses are prepared for an earthquake to strike. Not only are buildings constructed to withstand the swaying motion of the earth, but most have an earthquake kit on hand. The kits contain enough food, water, and medical supplies to last for several days.

Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on 11 April 2019Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Assange was arrested in London after Ecuador abruptly withdrew its protection in April

Prosecutors in Sweden have dropped an investigation into a rape allegation made against Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange in 2010.

Assange, who denies the accusation, has avoided extradition to Sweden for seven years after seeking refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012.

The 48-year-old Australian was evicted in April and sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions.

He is currently being held at Belmarsh prison in London.

The Swedish investigation had been shelved in 2017 but was re-opened earlier this year following his eviction from the embassy.

In June, the then UK Home Secretary, Sajid Javed, formally approved an extradition request from the US where Assange is wanted on 18 counts related to the mass leak of American secrets.

What did the prosecutors say?

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson took the decision to “discontinue the investigation regarding Julian Assange”, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said.

“The reason for this decision is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question,” it added.

Media caption Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London

Ms Persson said: “I would like to emphasize that the injured party has submitted a credible and reliable version of events.

“Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed; however, my overall assessment is that the evidence situation has been weakened to such an extent that that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation.”

The prosecutors said the decision had been taken after interviews with seven witnesses in the case.

What was the Swedish investigation about?

Assange was accused of rape by a woman and sexual assault by another one following a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010. He has always denied the allegations, saying the sex was consensual.

Media caption Who is Julian Assange?

He also faced investigations for molestation and unlawful coercion, but these cases were dropped in 2015 because time had run out.

7 Places You Didn’t Know Were UNESCO World Heritage Sites

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Places You Didn’t Know Were UNESCO World Heritage Sites

From national parks and natural wonders to ancient cities and historic buildings, World Heritage Sites are selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for being significant places.

As of December 2018, there are 1,092 World Heritage Sites, recognized for their cultural, historical, scientific or natural standing. Italy, China and Spain have the most sites on the list with 54, 53 and 47, respectively.

While every travel destination has some degree of importance, World Heritage Sites are legally protected, promoting their conservation.

Here are 7 places you may not have known were UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

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The capital city of Ecuador, Quito, was one of the first places marked as a World Heritage Site in 1978, mainly due to its pristine historic center, which UNESCO calls the “best-preserved, least altered” in all of Latin America. The integrity of the city’s original configuration is noted as one of its reasons for being included.

Ancient City of Damascus

Ancient City of Damascus

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One of seven Syrian sites on the list that are in danger due to conflict in the region is the Ancient City of Damascus. Founded in the 3rd millennium B.C., it’s one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. It has around 125 monuments from different periods of its history, including the famous 8th century Great Mosque of the Umayyads, which has thus far survived the Syrian Civil War.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

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Also on the World Heritage Sites “in danger” list is South Florida’s Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Home to rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile and Florida panther, the Everglades itself is threatened by the “serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem,” UNESCO announced when it re-added the park to the list in 2010.

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Rock Drawings in Val Camonica

Rock Drawings in Val Camonica

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Located in northern Italy, Val Camonica has one of the world’s greatest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs. There are more than 140,000 symbols and figures carved in the rock over a period of 8,000 years. The valley, located in the Lombardy region, has petroglyphs throughout that depict themes linked with agriculture, duels and deer hunting.

Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal

Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal

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The Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal, Mexico was founded in the year 700 by roughly 25,000 inhabitants. It was selected as a UNESCO site in 1996 because of the layout of its buildings, dated from 700 to 1000, which reveal a knowledge of astronomy. The Pyramid of the Magician — known to the Spaniards as the Pyramid of the Soothsayer — is at the city’s ceremonial center. It is among the high points of Mayan art and architecture.

The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal

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Running from Beijing in the north to the Zhejiang province to the south, the Grand Canal was added as a World Heritage Site in 2014. Construction on the vast Chinese waterway system began in the 5th century B.C. By the 13th century, it consisted of more than 2,000 kilometers of artificial waterways that link five of China’s main river basins.

Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona

Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona

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Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau are listed as a singular World Heritage Site, recognized as “two of the finest contributions to Barcelona’s architecture by the Catalan art nouveau architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.”

4 Best Countries to Retire In

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Best Countries to Retire In

With great exchange rates, beautiful weather, and locals welcoming of U.S. expats, it’s not surprising these four countries to our south stand out as retirement meccas. One of them, Mexico, is so close and so easy to assimilate to, it makes perfect sense to shift your life and assets south of the border for the golden years. Slightly more exotic and further afield, Central American and South American locales with tropical tendencies and inexpensive living round out the righteous retirement roster.

Ecuador

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Straddling the equator on the west coast of South America, Ecuador is where diverse geographies and ecosystems collide, with the Amazon jungle, Andean highlands, and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands all lying within the country’s boundaries. This confluence of land forms equates to excellent weather throughout the entire country, for sunshiny days without the mugginess factor.

The capital, Quito, sits at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet in the Andean foothills, with a moderate mountain climate most of the year. Quito is renowned for its intact Spanish colonial center, palaces, and churches — along with big-city conveniences. Head down to the coast for warm weather all year. With reasonable beachfront real estate prices and low property taxes, retirees get a lot for their money here. Consider that a home on the Pacific Ocean can be had for $150,000, and that home prices and rental rates in the interior are far less expensive than that. So whether you prefer lush green valleys, ocean views, or mountain village life, Ecuador is a retirement dream.

Mexico

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If you are concerned about how far your Social Security earnings might go after retirement — or if you simply want to retire more extravagantly — Mexico is an obvious choice for life after work. The cost of living is so low that you can, in many places, subsist quite substantially on Social Security alone. Factor in the solid exchange rate, and Mexico just makes sense.

Beyond cost, there is the wonderful culture and climate of our southern neighbor to take into account. Sandwiched between the southern U.S. and Central America, Mexico boasts both Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico beaches for miles. The huge, ecologically diverse country also enjoys desert, mountain, and jungle landscapes throughout its many regions. From small beach towns like Cancun to the metropolis of Mexico City, retirees will find a country steeped in the ancient and the modern. Throughout the country are scattered important archaeological sites such as  Teotihuacán and the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá, along with Spanish colonial-era historic towns. Meanwhile, Mexico City’s trendy shops, world-class museums and gourmet dining display modern Mexico.

Costa Rica

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With pristine coastal beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific shores, Costa Rica is a tropical paradise, yet in contrast its interior is a rugged, rain-forested area studded with volcanoes. Much of the country – about a quarter of it – is protected jungle preserves with thriving biodiversity and wildlife, such as spider monkeys and exotic quetzal birds. Areas humans do inhabit are known for wonderful climate, an incredible cost of living, bargain real estate prices, and quality health care.

The capital is San Jose, where the climate is referred to as “eternal spring,” if that gives you an idea how nice it is year-round. The same is true for the rest of the surrounding Central Valley. Coastal beach towns are hot and dry, but benefit from cooling marine breezes, while the lush landscape in the southern part of the country remains moist and temperate. With such great weather, Costa Rico is perfect for outdoor-loving, active retirees into fishing, golf, horseback riding, hiking, diving, or yoga.

Panama

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Look at it this way: Not only is Panama modern and convenient — with close access back to the U.S. to visit the grand-kids — but it’s also a tropical paradise. Even if you choose to live in the capital, Panama City, amidst the modern hustle, your city park is a tropical rain-forest. Taking up the center of the isthmus linking Central and South America, Panama is famous for its Panama Canal, which was sliced through the center of the country in order to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, creating an essential and strategic international trade route.

Panama City’s modern skyscrapers, casinos, and nightclubs are juxtaposed with historic colonial buildings, many in the Casco Viejo district. As mentioned, Natural Metropolitan Park is a large patch of rain-forest preserved in the city. With no taxes on income earned outside of Panama, retirees can keep costs low even in metro Panama City. For even more value, head to more remote mountain and beach towns for pretty scenery and peaceful vibes, places such as Coronado, the Pedasi region and Bocas del Toro, among other retirement gems. No wonder Panama ranked at the top of the 2019 Annual Global Retirement Index.

5 Best Places to See Wild Penguins Beyond Antarctica

(THIS ARTICLE IS CUTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Best Places to See Wild Penguins Beyond Antarctica

Penguins may be rare to see in the wild, but that doesn’t mean you have to go all the way to Antarctica to catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat. There are between 17 and 19 species of penguin that currently exist on the planet, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, the penguin population is declining because of climate change, overfishing, and pollution, all of which have had a drastic impact on the places they call home.

Cape Town, South Africa

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South Africa’s southern tip is home to the African penguin, particularly at Boulders Beach just outside of Cape Town. The African penguin is one of the endangered species, having lost 80 percent of its population over the past 50 years. The penguin colony in Africa, which begins in southern Namibia and goes all the way down to Port Elizabeth in South Africa, began not too long ago, in 1983. They migrated from Dyer Island to reach the plentiful food source at Boulders Beach. Thanks to conservation efforts, there are now more than 3,000 African penguins in the Boulders Beach colony, so plenty to see here where penguins are concerned. Boulders Beach is located inside of Table Mountain National Park, and aside from penguin viewing with magnificent views, the area is also great for swimming, hiking, wind sailing, and plenty of other wildlife viewing opportunities.

Tierra del Fuego, Argentina and Chile

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The Tierra del Fuego archipelago at the southernmost part of South America is separated from the mainland by the Strait of Magellan. Two-thirds of the area is Chilean and one-third is Argentine. The islands of Tierra del Fuego are where Magellanic, Humboldt, Rockhopper, Gentoo, and King penguins can be found in the wild. Penguins can be reached via the southernmost city in the world: Ushuaia, Argentina. From there, you can find day tours to visit the penguins, some even offering the chance to walk among them (in tour groups that never exceed 20 people). Here the penguins, often in crowds of hundreds, waddle adorably along the shore.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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Most penguins don’t live in tropical climates, nor in the Northern Hemisphere; in fact, only the endangered Galapagos penguins do, and they live here year-round. This is unusual for penguins, as they usually migrate with the seasons. The western Galapagos islands have much cooler water, and that is where many of the penguins can be found, namely on Fernandina Island or Isabela Island. No tour of the Galapagos Islands would be complete without visiting the penguins. Likely you will see the penguins from a boat, but if your tour offers swimming, you may very well find yourself in the rare circumstance of being in the water alongside these cute little guys. The Galapagos National Park Service does not allow tourists in certain areas, so before booking a tour, it’s best to determine with them that you will be able to see the penguins from a reasonable distance.

Phillip Island, Australia

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The smallest species of all penguins, called the Little Penguin, live mainly on Phillip Island, about a 90-minute drive from Melbourne (where you can also see koalas, seals, whales, anteaters, and wallabies). The only other place they can be found is in New Zealand. These penguins are about a foot tall and weigh less than 3 pounds. Today, the most typical way to see them is from an elevated viewing platform when they get back from the day’s fishing to feed their young. If you would like to see this grand parade of penguins up-close, there are limited tour options available, allowing people to walk among the penguins on a remote beach.

Sub-Antarctic New Zealand

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While 13 species of penguin have been spotted in New Zealand, only nine breed there, and only three on the mainland. Those three, which people can visit, are the Little Penguin, the Hoiho Penguin, and the Fiordland Crested Penguin. You can see the Little Penguin in the evening or at night when they are on shore in Oamaru, Akoaroa Harbour, Marlborough Sounds, Dunedin, and Stewart Island. At Otago Peninsula, not too far south from Dunedin, you’ll be able to visit the rare, yellow-eyed Hoiho Penguins up-close in their natural habitat. The Fiordland Crested Penguin is one of the rarest of them all, and they live on New Zealand’s South Island in the rainforests of Lake Moeraki, Stewart Island, Fiordland, and Haast. Because these wild penguins are on the decline, many tour operators offer sustainable ecotourism.

Some penguin species are endangered and some aren’t (yet). The best time to pay wild penguins a visit, outside of Antarctica, is during the Southern Hemisphere summer season. During this time these charming tuxedoed creatures spend more time breeding and nesting onshore.

3 Animals You Wouldn’t Think You Could Swim With — But You Can

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Animals You Wouldn’t Think You Could Swim With — But You Can

Swimming and snorkeling with dolphins and sea turtles in tropical locales is wildly popular as a tourist attraction. Diving with sharks has been on the radar of thrill seekers for a while, as well. But there are a few animals that don’t immediately come to mind when swimming with them is concerned. Following is a short list of unexpected animal swimming companions.

Penguins, Cape Town, South Africa

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Most penguins inhabit places you wouldn’t want to swim, like Antarctica. However, one colony of black-footed penguins reside in the more temperate climes of South Africa. Bobbing and torpedoing through the surf off Boulder Beach, near Cape Town, the African penguins are perfectly adapted to the relatively warmer Atlantic waters off the cape. The colony of 3,000-plus birds lives within Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. The waddling, braying penguins are best viewed in numbers from boardwalks and platforms that wind through dense dunes at nearby Foxy Beach, according to the Cape Town tourism website. While you can’t approach the birds, they don’t know the sanctuary boundary and are found on the rocks and in the water near the swimming beach at Boulders Bay, so swimming encounters are perfectly possible.

Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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The Galápagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, lies some 1,000 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The islands are one of the world’s most diverse and best places for viewing wildlife, most famous as the natural laboratory of naturalist Charles Darwin. The area also offers excellent scuba diving for intermediate to advanced divers, who may find themselves up close with the planet’s only water lizard. The marine iguana looks tough, but don’t let its mini-dinosaur looks fool you: Those teeth let the gentle herbivore scrape algae off of rocks. Its body buoyancy and tail shape are perfectly adapted to swimming, and long, sharp claws let it cling to rocks in rough tides. Again, diving Galapagos waters isn’t for beginners, but those with the skills and desire to swim alongside these cool creatures can find information on Galapagos dive outfitters through Galapagosislands.com.

Pigs, Exuma, Bahamas

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An uninhabited island in Exuma, Bahamas, Pig Island is named for the colony of feral but friendly pigs that live there. Pigs aren’t exactly native to tropical islands, and no one is quite sure how they got there. Somehow, at least a couple of pigs made it to shore from a boat. Stories say they were stashed by sailors who never came back for their feast, or that they swam to land from a shipwreck. Either way, the swimming sows are now a tourist attraction in their own right. You won’t need an entire day to check out the playful pigs. Instead, book an Exuma Cays day trip through Exuma Tourist Office. In addition to a stop at Pig Island for swimming and selfies with the snub-snouted swimmers, you will also feed Bahamian rock iguanas, visit Blowhole Beach, enjoy lunch on Staniel Cay, pet a stingray and hold a starfish. All of that is before snorkeling in the Out Islands.

The Oldest Continually Inhabited Cities on Each Continent

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Oldest Continually Inhabited Cities on Each Continent

On every continent we find some of the oldest cities that early human civilizations called home. Successful long-term dwelling habitation occurs from a blending of sources. The region needs a strong economy with quality and consistency in the creation of trade. A perpetual food and water supply, availability of work, enduring infrastructure and uninterrupted peace and harmony are classic explanations.

Maintenance of the ratio of birth and death rates, as well as immigration and migration, must balance the population. All these society-friendly conditions continue to come together in some of the oldest cities on the continents of North America, South America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

North America: Cholula, Mexico

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In North America, the pre-Columbian city of Cholula is found in the state of Puebla, Central Mexico. It is the oldest continuously inhabited city in North America, expanding from a settlement to a village and is now a regional city. The available data regarding the establishment of first-time inhabitants are conflicting, ranging from anywhere from 2000 B.C., between 800 B.C. and 200 B.C., and from the 7th century. The current thinking is that Toltec refugees settled in the area following the fall of Tula. However, other information indicates that the peoples were the children of one of the seven Aztec tribes.

Eighteen neighborhoods make up the city, and each one has a leader. This city is well known for the Iglesias de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sanctuary. The local economy continues to endure, thanks to visitors from all over the world.

South America: Quito, Ecuador

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In South America, the oldest inhabited city is Quito in Ecuador. Located at the Guayllabamba river basin, it is the capital of Ecuador. Sources cite varying dates for first-time inhabitants, stretching from the occupation of the Kingdom of Quito from 2000 B.C. to 980 A.D., or the 13th or 16th century.

Despite earthquakes, there is enough water for residential and industrial use that the city’s population continues to replenish itself. A renewing spirit of culture, economy and environmental resources has engaged the 2 million residents and their government. Rebuilding and renovation projects have included a new airport, the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, an ecologically sustainable Metrobus-Ecovia that links the northern and southern edges of the city and a new subway system.

Middle East: Jericho, West Bank

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Based on archeological support, it is suggested that Jericho is among the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Destroyed, abandoned, re-inhabited and enlarged many times, the city dates back to 11,000 to 9000 B.C. with the walled defenses around 6800 B.C. Researchers have uncovered 20 successive communities.

Located below sea level, Jericho has the distinction of not only being the oldest inhabited, walled city, but also geographically the lowest, located 847 feet below sea level. Local springs found near the city from the nearby Jordan River are a welcome water supply to the nearly 20,000 current residents. Considered the oasis of the Jordan Valley, tourists make a pilgrimage to soak in the unique history of this biblical-era city.

Africa: Luxor (Thebes), Egypt

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The oldest continuously inhabited city in Africa, Luxor is home to about 500,000 residents and situated near the Nile River. Estimates place the time of habitation as 7200 B.C. to 3200 B.C. Luxor was established as a sacred religious capital, yet saw decline during the Roman occupation.

Today, visitors travel the globe to explore this ancient Egyptian city. Ruins and classical artifacts abound within the monuments of the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the West Bank Necropolis, and the ruins of the temples of Karnak and Luxor. Supported by the tourist economy, Luxor continues to contribute to antiquity art, culture and knowledge.

Europe: Plovdiv, Bulgaria

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Assessments place the establishment of Plovdiv at 6,000 years ago. Rich in history, the city was a travel crossroads for the Roman Empire, connecting Western Europe and the Middle East. The survival of thousands of years of conflicts and occupations have left behind a vibrant cultural tapestry. Architectural landmarks, monuments, statues, art and education unite with the Thracian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times. Ethnic diversity is still seen today, as Plovdiv, the second-largest city in Bulgaria, is home to 340,000 inhabitants of Roman, Armenian, Greek, Jewish, and Turkish heritage.

The world’s oldest cities evoke thoughts of faraway places and classical times. Archeological discoveries link us to our common ancestry, and there are many histories yet to be revealed. From the seven hills of Rome to the Americas, communities are the cornerstone of humanity.

5 Must-Visit Places in Quito, Ecuador

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Must-Visit Places in Quito, Ecuador

One of South America’s best-kept secrets, Quito is Ecuador’s capital, built high in the foothills of the Andes Mountains above the ruins of an ancient Incan city. Blessed with a moderate year-round climate and well-preserved architecture with few crowds, the remote city sits at more than 9,000 feet in elevation. Quito draws from ancient indigenous, Moorish, and European colonial histories for its distinct heritage—all of which make it the perfect destination for intrepid travelers not afraid to leave the beaten path.

The Old Town

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Quito’s European influences shine especially bright in its Old Town district, offering visitors a visual feast of historic homes, picture-postcard plazas, and ornate churches along quaint cobblestone streets. Must-see plazas include the Plaza Grande and Plaza San Francisco. Also, make sure to check out the Compania de Jesus Church, where you’ll gawk at its immaculate, gold-leaf interior.

La Floresta Neighborhood

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Laying just beyond the city center is the trendy La Floresta neighborhood, the name of which translates to “the verdant grove.” One of the first areas of the city to branch out from the colonial center during the 1920s, La Floresta attracted artists and musicians. This, along with its location near a university, means its energy is appropriately young and vibrant, with colorful murals lining the streets. Simply wander around and soak in the atmosphere while checking out historic tile-roof gardens, crafts shops, and galleries of local art. Or stake out a spot at one of the area’s many cafes and restaurants to people-watch and enjoy a drink or meal. For Ecuadorian cuisine, diners can enjoy Él Esmeraldas and Lo Nuestro, or try Italian fare with vegetarian options at La Briciola.

El Panecillo Viewpoint

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On clear days, the distant El Panecillo—perched high on a hill above Quito—is visible throughout much of the city. Conversely, the entire city is visible from the viewpoint, which is marked by a monument to the winged Virgin of Quito. It is here, from the base of the statue, that panoramic shots of the city below come into view. Mornings are the best bet for views unobstructed by clouds or fog. For an even better vantage, visitors can pay a nominal fee to climb up to the first platform on the statue, all the better to take in the colorful hues of the city below. For logistics and safety, the best route to the viewpoint is by car, since the hiking route can be treacherous.

Calle La Ronda Neighborhood

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Ironically, neglect and a bad reputation in the past have made La Ronda one of Quito’s best-preserved and most popular neighborhoods today. Calle La Ronda, the main street, is the city’s oldest thoroughfare, now lined with carefully restored, vividly colored buildings. As Quito grew, it seems, La Ronda gradually lost some of its original luster, and its population declined, making way for criminals and vagrants. Precisely due to this, its old buildings were never bulldozed for redevelopment. A late 20th-century restoration movement resulted in today’s romantic ambiance and bohemian feel, enhanced by flower-draped balconies along lamp-lit streets, where a series of doorways opens to reveal courtyards containing galleries, shops, and elegant restaurants.

Bell Tower of the Basilica del Voto Nacional

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Walking beneath the towering Basilica del Voto Nacional, you get an idea of the workout ahead. To obtain a breathtaking view of the Quito, you have to expend some breath along the way. Before getting to that, check out the church, the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas, complete with intricately carved, menacing gargoyles. Located in the historic center of Quito, the basilica’s central locale makes it a great viewpoint. From the roof, visitors begin the real climb, up near vertical steps ascending inside the bell tower, where panoramic views await at the top.

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