6 Countries That Have Banned McDonald’s

(THIS  ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Countries That Have Banned McDonald’s

As one of the biggest restaurant chains in the world, with over 37,000 locations worldwide, McDonald’s is pretty easy to find just about anywhere on the globe. However, it is absent in several countries, and that absence hasn’t always been a choice left up to McDonald’s. Here are six countries that have banned the fast-food mega chain.

Bermuda

Credit: wwing / iStock

This island paradise has had a ban on foreign fast-food restaurants since the 1970s. Despite this ban, however, there was a McDonald’s built in Bermuda in 1985 – on the U.S. Naval Air Station located on the island. When the base closed in 1995, the McDonald’s left with it.

Despite this setback, McDonald’s made another attempt to plant the golden arches in Bermuda in 1999. This time, however, the fast food ban was upheld, and the McDonald’s was never built.

Iran

Credit: silverjohn / iStock

Iran was home to a McDonald’s at one point, but the country began to distance itself from Western culture following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Tense relations in the decades since make the prospect for a new location unlikely.

Should McDonald’s ever regain a foothold in Iran, however, they may find fierce competition. In their absence, an imitator chain known as Mash Donald’s has been selling burgers for years.

Bolivia

Credit: benedek / iStock

Bolivia is the only country in Latin America besides Cuba without a McDonald’s. While there is no outright ban on McDonald’s in Bolivia, the Bolivian people and government have not welcomed the burger franchise. In fact, there was a location in La Paz until 2002, but poor sales and pushback from locals, who expressed a desire to buy their burgers from locations not owned by an international business, forced the franchise to close.

After the location had closed, the former president of Bolivia stated that corporations like McDonald’s are “not interested in the health of human beings, only in earnings and corporate profits.”

North Korea

Credit: Omer Serkan Bakir / iStock

One of the least surprising countries to appear on this list, North Korea’s aversion to foreign interests has kept the country culturally insulated since the end of the Korean War.

While North Korea may have zero McDonald’s franchises, South Korea has over 850. This led to a famous incident in 2011 when North Korean elites used the national airline to smuggle McDonald’s burgers across the border.

Iceland

Credit: patpongs / iStock

There were three McDonald’s locations in Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik until 2009. Unfortunately, the currency of Iceland, the krona, collapsed when the economy faltered, and all three closed their doors in rapid succession.

Iceland is one of the healthiest countries in the world, and the government has been wary of the consequences of allowing the fast food giant to re-establish itself. An Icelandic fast food chain has popped up in McDonald’s absence, serving locally-sourced meat and produce.

Montenegro

Credit: GoodLifeStudio / iStock

Government concerns about the impact of a McDonald’s franchise on the health of the population caused the closure of a small McDonald’s in the capital city of Podgorica. The local media supported the departure of the country’s only McDonald’s location, favoring the opportunity for local restaurants to serve the community.

However, the public relations department of the government of Montenegro refuted that claim. Stating that “no company, not even McDonald’s, is ‘forbidden’ to do business in Montenegro.” Despite that lukewarm welcome, however, there are still no McDonald’s location in Montenegro.

These are not the only countries without a single McDonald’s, however. There are dozens of countries without McDonald’s, primarily because the corporation has deemed the local economy or political environment too unstable to support a successful franchise. In fact, many economists consider the arrival of a McDonald’s franchise in a developing world an indicator of economic stability.

Kashmir on agenda during President Kovind’s visit, says Swiss government

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Kashmir on agenda during President Kovind’s visit, says Swiss government

Ahead of the presidential visit, the Swiss government in a release said the situation in Kashmir will be among the issues that will be on the agenda during the meetings between the top leadership and Kovind.

INDIA Updated: Sep 07, 2019 06:18 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

New Delhi
President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”
President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”

President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”, especially in view of terror incidents this year, including the Pulwama attack.

Asked if President Kovind during his talks with the leaders there will also brief them on Kashmir, ministry of external affairs secretary (west) A Gitesh Sarma did not give a direct reply and said “when leaders meet, there is a structure in which regional, international, global, multilateral and issues of national concern” are discussed.

Ahead of the presidential visit, the Swiss government in a release said the situation in Kashmir will be among the issues that will be on the agenda during the meetings between the top leadership and Kovind.

Briefing reporters on the nine-day visit, Sarma said, “We always use these opportunities to brief each other. Just as we have issues, each of these countries have their own concerns. So this is a very good setting to hear it at the highest level what our perspective is and what is theirs. So, we will certainly use these opportunities as we can to acquaint them of our concerns.”

On J&K, these countries are very sympathetic to India with respect to the terror incidents earlier in this year, he said and added that they all understand that we all need to work together.

“This year also in the context of the Pulwama attack, their sympathies have been with India. Even though they have themselves not faced such challenges as we continue to face, they are nevertheless aware that they need to work closely with india,” he said. There is a very good understanding on most of these issues, he said.

President Kovind will first arrive in Iceland on September 9 and will hold talks with Iceland President Gudni Johannesson and Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdottir. The President’s next stop will Switzerland from September 11-15 where he will meet President Ueli Maurer and members of the Swiss cabinet, Sarma said. He will arrive in Slovenia on September 15. During his visit there, Kovind will hold extensive discussions with Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Slovenian PM Marjan Šarec.

First Published: Sep 07, 2019 05:18 IST

Bright Green Aurora Bird Takes Flight with a Running Rabbit Over Iceland (Photo)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

Bright Green Aurora Bird Takes Flight with a Running Rabbit Over Iceland (Photo)

Astrophotographer Miguel Claro captured this spectacular vertical panorama or the aurora borealis from the Arctic Circle. Can you see the shape of a bird flying with a running rabbit?

(Image credit: Miguel Claro)

Miguel Claro is a professional photographer, author and science communicator based in Lisbon, Portugal, who creates spectacular images of the night sky. As a European Southern Observatory Photo Ambassador, a member of The World At Night and the official astrophotographer of the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, he specializes in astronomical “skyscapes” that connect Earth and the night sky. Join him here as he takes us through his photograph “Bright Greenish Aurora Shapes a Bird Flying with a Running Rabbit in an Epic Scene over Iceland.”

Brilliant, green springtime auroras dance above snow-capped mountains in this night-sky photo taken from the Arctic Circle.

March is a great time to spot the northern lights, because Earth tends to be more geomagnetically active around the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. Auroras happen when the stream of charged particles flowing from the sun, or solar wind, breaks through Earth’s magnetic field and interacts with the atmosphere, which causes it to glow.

Related: Aurora Photos: Amazing Northern Lights Display from Solar Storms

Scientists aren’t quite sure why this happens more around the equinoxes, but one of the most prevailing hypotheses — known as the Russell-McPherron effect— suggests that during those times, more cracks are opening in the Earth’s magnetic field, allowing the solar wind to penetrate more easily.

On March 27-28, a network of holes in the sun’s atmosphere was facing Earth, “spewing a filamentary stream of solar wind in our direction,” according to Spaceweather.com. I captured this photo of the northern lights on March 26.

Auroras can be seen in a wonderful variety of colors combined in different ways, forming beautiful and phantasmagoric shapes that can last for several minutes. The vertical panorama above seems to reveal one of these epic moments with the incredible shape of a bird flying with a running rabbit. In the background sky, the constellation Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) is well visible in the top center, with the star Alioth marking the “eye” of the bird. Below is an annotated version of the image with lines drawn over it, which helps to reveal this personal interpretation of the scene.

An annotated version of the image with lines drawn over it helps to show a personal interpretation of the scene, as viewed from the author’s point of view, revealing an incredible shape of a bird flying with a running rabbit.

(Image credit: Miguel Claro)

The vertical panorama consists of three frames captured with a  Nikon D810a DSLR camera, using a wide-angle 14 mm lens set to f/2,8, with an ISO 2500 and an exposure time of 15 seconds.

Editor’s note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you’d like to share with us and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at [email protected].

To see more of Claro’s amazing astrophotography, visit his website: www.miguelclaro.com. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

Iceland commemorates first glacier lost to climate change

(This article is courtesy of the Hindustan Times of India)

 

Iceland commemorates first glacier lost to climate change

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson are also due to attend the event.

WORLD Updated: Aug 18, 2019 09:47 IST

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Reykjavik
This combination of Sept. 14, 1986, left, and Aug. 1, 2019 photos provided by NASA shows the shrinking of the Okjokull glacier on the Ok volcano in west-central Iceland.
This combination of Sept. 14, 1986, left, and Aug. 1, 2019 photos provided by NASA shows the shrinking of the Okjokull glacier on the Ok volcano in west-central Iceland.(AP)

Iceland on Sunday honors the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change, as scientists warn that some 400 others on the subarctic island risk the same fate.

A bronze plaque will be unveiled in a ceremony starting around 1400 GMT to mark Okjokull — which translates to “Ok glacier” — in the west of Iceland, in the presence of local researchers and their peers at Rice University in the United States, who initiated the project.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson are also due to attend the event.

“This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world,” Cymene Howe, associate professor of anthropology at Rice University, said in July.

The plaque bears the inscription “A letter to the future,” and is intended to raise awareness about the decline of glaciers and the effects of climate change.

“In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,” the plaque reads.

It is also labelled “415 ppm CO2,” referring to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere last May.

“Memorials everywhere stand for either human accomplishments, like the deeds of historic figures, or the losses and deaths we recognise as important,” researcher Howe said.

“By memorializing a fallen glacier, we want to emphasize what is being lost — or dying — the world over, and also draw attention to the fact that this is something that humans have ‘accomplished’, although it is not something we should be proud of.”

Howe noted that the conversation about climate change can be abstract, with many dire statistics and sophisticated scientific models that can feel incomprehensible.

“Perhaps a monument to a lost glacier is a better way to fully grasp what we now face,” she said, highlighting “the power of symbols and ceremony to provoke feelings”.

Iceland loses about 11 billion tonnes of ice per year, and scientists fear all of the island country’s 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200, according to Howe and her Rice University colleague Dominic Boyer.

– Stripped in 2014 –

Glaciologists stripped Okjokull of its glacier status in 2014, a first for Iceland.

In 1890, the glacier ice covered 16 square kilometres (6.2 square miles) but by 2012, it measured just 0.7 square kilometres, according to a report from the University of Iceland from 2017.

In 2014, “we made the decision that this was no longer a living glacier, it was only dead ice, it was not moving,” Oddur Sigurdsson, a glaciologist with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told AFP.

To have the status of a glacier, the mass of ice and snow must be thick enough to move by its own weight. For that to happen the mass must be approximately 40 to 50 meters (130 to 165 feet) thick, he said.

According to a study published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)in April, nearly half of the world’s heritage sites could lose their glaciers by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate.

Sigurdsson said he feared “that nothing can be done to stop it.”

“The inertia of the climate system is such that, even if we could stop introducing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere right now, it will keep on warming for century and a half or two centuries before it reaches equilibrium.”

Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park, which was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in early July, is home to, and named after, the largest ice cap in Europe.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

First Published: Aug 18, 2019 09:12 IST

3 Volcanoes You Can Hike

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Volcanoes You Can Hike

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to reach the summit of a volcano on foot and stare down into its crater? Achieving this entry on your bucket list is surprisingly a lot easier than you might imagine. And your reward for completing the adventure is unrivaled views, spectacular sunsets and a true edge-of-the-world sensation. Here’s three volcanoes that you can hike in a day.

Atitlán Volcano, Guatemala

Credit: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock.com

Soaring to a height of 11,598 feet, the Atitlán Volcano is the tallest point of a chain of volcanoes that tower over Lake Atitlán. This dormant stratovolcano has erupted over a dozen times since 1469, with the last activity recorded in 1853. Guided hikes depart from the lakeside town of San Lucas Tolimán and you can opt to return the same day or camp overnight. Gear up to hike amid coffee plantations, corn fields, a cloud forest, and craggy, arid landscapes. At the summit you can warm your hands over thermal steam and then sit and admire the views. Gaze over the rolling Guatemalan Highlands and down to Lake Atitlán. Spot the peaks of San Pedro Volcano and Tolimán Volcano. Keep an eye open for azure-rumped tanager and horned guan, among other rare bird species.

The best time to hike Atitlán Volcano is during the dry season between November and May.

Find more information about hiking Atitlán Volcano.

Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland

Credit: Peter Wemmert/Shutterstock.com

Eyjafjallajökull gained notoriety in 2010 when its eruption sent volcanic ash flying across North Europe and brought air travel to a standstill. Things have since calmed down at this 5,417-feet-tall ice-capped stratovolcano and it is among Iceland’s most popular summer hikes. So strap on your hiking boots and prepare to witness an authentic snapshot of Iceland’s dramatic countryside. The 8-hour trek takes you up mountainsides, along streams and to the top of glaciers. You’ll traipse through snow and ash before arriving at the about 2-mile-diameter crater. Views take in the Mýrdalsjökull and Tindfjallajökull glaciers and the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. On your return, rest up in the Seljavallalaug outdoor swimming pool.

The best time to hike Eyjafjallajökull is from March to September. Outside of these months temperatures can become dangerously low.

Find more information about hiking Eyjafjallajökull.

Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand

Credit: travellight/Shutterstock

Made famous as Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings, Mount Ngauruhoe stands at the heart of Tongariro National Park on the North Island. This 7,516-feet-tall behemoth is an active stratovolcano, although the last registered eruption was in 1977. A 90-minute hike brings you to the base of the volcano and the first section is suitable for all ages. After this is a challenging section up a 45-degree incline, over rocky terrain and across ice caps and lava flows. At the summit, you can walk around the outer rim of the crater and enjoy unsurpassed views of Mount Ruapehu and Mount Tongariro. The first section is part of the 12-mile-long Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which passes lakes, springs and volcanic craters.

Mount Ngauruhoe and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing are accessible year-round but you should prepare for snow and sub-zero temperatures at all times.

Find more information about hiking Mount Ngauruhoe.

‘Unprecedented’ wildfires ravage the Arctic

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘Unprecedented’ wildfires ravage the Arctic

Wildfire smoke is spreading from Alaska across parts of Canada.

Story highlights

  • The wildfires come as the planet is on track to experience the hottest July on record
  • Wildfires contribute to global warming by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere

(CNN)More than 100 intense wildfires have ravaged the Arctic since June, with scientists describing the blazes as “unprecedented.”

New satellite images show huge clouds of smoke billowing across uninhabited land in Greenland, Siberia and parts of Alaska.
The wildfires come after the planet experienced the hottest June on record and is on track to experience the hottest July on record, as heatwaves sweep across Europe and the United States.
Since the start of June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which provides data about atmospheric composition and emissions, has tracked more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle.
Pierre Markuse, a satellite photography expert, said the region has experienced fires in the past, but never this many.
Satellite images show smoke billowing across Greenland and Alaska as wildfires ravage the region.

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at a faster rate than the global average, providing the right conditions for wildfires to spread, according to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at CAMS.
“The number and intensity of wildfires in the Arctic Circle is unusual and unprecedented,” Parrington told CNN.
“They are concerning as they are occurring in a very remote part of the world, and in an environment that many people would consider to be pristine,” he said.
See how Europe is dealing with an extreme heatwave

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See how Europe is dealing with an extreme heatwave 01:34
The average June temperature in Siberia, where the fires are raging, was almost 10 degrees higher than the long-term average between 1981–2010, Dr Claudia Volosciuk, a scientist with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) told CNN.
Parrington said there seemed to be more wildfires due to local heatwaves in Siberia, Canada and Alaska.
The fires themselves contribute to the climate crisis by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
They emitted an estimated 100 megatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere between 1 June and 21 July, almost the equivalent of Belgium’s carbon output in 2017, according to CAMS.
Volosciuk said wildfires are also exacerbating global warming by releasing pollutants into the atmosphere.
“When particles of smoke land on snow and ice, [they] cause the ice to absorb sunlight that it would otherwise reflect, and thereby accelerate the warming in the Arctic,” she said.

5 Northernmost Capitals in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Northernmost Capitals in the World

Looking to go somewhere a little different for your next vacation? Consider a visit to one of the world’s northernmost capital cities and see a bit of a different world. We’ve placed together five world cities with the most northern latitudes in order to help travelers plan a new kind of trip.

Reykjavik, Iceland (Latitude 64.13)

Credit: patpongs / iStock

While technically Longyearbyen, Svalbard is the northernmost administrative settlement, governing over the Norwegian Arctic unincorporated area of Svalbard. Reykjavik takes the official title, as it is part of a sovereign state and Longyearbyen is not. Reykjavik is located on Iceland’s coast and is also its largest city. There is plenty to do there, from swimming in one of the city’s famous thermal pools to visiting its many museums and galleries. You can also check out some of its most impressive natural sites, like those found in the Golden Circle. And, as one might expect, the climate is almost always on the cool side, with highs of 58 degrees Fahrenheit in July and lows of 28 degrees in February.

Helsinki, Finland (Latitude 60.17)

Credit: Vladislav Zolotov / iStock

Coming in at second, Reykjavik’s Nordic neighbor Helsinki has a population of just over 643,000 people and sits on one of the country’s peninsulas, jutting out into the Gulf of Finland. The city has a vibrant nightlife, beautiful lakeland labyrinthsand plenty of culture in the form of museums, medieval castles and a historical nature center. Helsinki is also known for its Christmas market, which is why it has the nickname “The Christmas City.” The temperatures get as low as 19 degrees in February and as high as 71 degrees in July.

Oslo, Norway (Latitude 59.95)

Credit: Damien VERRIER / iStock

Oslo is often cold and rainy, but there is no shortage of things to do in this city. It has been modernized quite a bit over the last few years, and some of its notable attractions include its ski museum, the Edvard Munch museum, the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet and the TusenFryd Amusement Park. In addition, Oslo presents the Nobel Peace Prize to its recipient each and every year. The climate of Oslo fluctuates quite a bit, from temperatures as low as 23 degrees in January and February to as high as 73 in July.

Tallinn, Estonia (Latitude 59.43)

Credit: visualspace / iStock

Tallinn, Estonia, is known for its Old Town area as well as its tower Kiek in de Kok. Tourists are encouraged to get off the beaten path and enjoy the other areas of Tallinn, such as Kadriorg and Kalamaja. The street art is especially impressive in Tallinn, and every year, the city holds the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration, which is an enormous cultural festival. Tallinn is also where most visitors who go to Estonia start off their journeys, so it is a great way to begin ones’ experience of the excitement and flavor of the country. Visitors in Tallinn should expect to see snow between the months of November and April, with lows in January and February in the high teens. However, temperatures rise to a high of 75 degrees in July, allowing for a good display of the seasons.

Stockholm, Sweden (Latitude 59.32)

Credit: scanrail / iStock

Stockholm is made up of an archipelago of 14 islands that are connected by over 50 bridges. The city itself is both futuristic and deeply historical, offering fine dining and culture mixed with chill island lifestyles. Tourists are encouraged to visit the Nationalmuseum, the ArkDes Skeppsholem or the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design within the Modern Museum of Art in Stockholm, and its woodland cemetery, Skogskyrkogården, the architecture of which is unparalleled. Stockholm also hosts the Nobel Prize ceremony every year. The average climate of Stockholm sees lows of 25 degrees in February with highs of 73 degrees in July, a perfect experience of the seasons all in one vibrant, island town.

5 Great Places That Are Now Off Limits Because Of Tourism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5

Places That Are Now Off Limits Thanks to Tourists

Over tourism is a problem in a lot of places around the globe. Natural places, especially, are susceptible as they can easily see negative human impacts. Some places simply aren’t built to handle so many people, and can be effectively ruined by our simple presence. Of course, littering is another big reason certain places are heavily impacted. Here are five places that are now off limits thanks to tourists.

Mt. Everest Base Camp, Tibet

Mt. Everest Base Camp, Tibet

Credit: Scott Biales/Shutterstock

The Chinese base camp is accessible by car, and has been closed to tourists without hiking permits because of the increased amount of waste left by visitors. The Nepalese base camp is only accessible by a two-week hike, making it difficult to reach for a typical tourist. That’s why so many head to Tibet. Or that’s why they did, at least. Only 300 permits will be issued each year, and with the recent deaths of 11 climbers, it’s not unreasonable to think that number could be chopped down.

Boracay Island, Philippines

Boracay Island, Philippines

Credit: haveseen/Shutterstock

While this island in the Philippines has reopened, it’s still undergoing restoration and is under the threat of closing once again. It closed in 2018 to visitors for about six months to recover from heavy tourism and utility issues like sewage running into the ocean from nearby hotels. It was used as a party island, essentially, since the 1980s, and saw 1.7 million visitors in a 10-month span in recent years, many of them from cruise ships passing through. It has strict new rules like “don’t vomit in public.” There are also bans on pets, grilling meat, fireworks after 9 p.m., casinos and single-use plastics.

Komodo Island, Indonesia

Komodo Island, Indonesia

Credit: Thrithot/Shutterstock

With the island’s famous inhabitants, the Komodo dragons, being stolen and sold on the black market in recent years, Indonesia’s Komodo Island has been closed to tourists through at least January 2020. Millions of visitors to an island that can’t handle that impact has also been an issue. Other islands that are part of Komodo National Park remain open.

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Maya Bay, Thailand

Maya Bay, Thailand

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Famous for being in Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach (2000), Thailand’s Maya Bay saw a massive increase in visitors after the film. Before, it only had some 100 people on its shores every day. By 2018, it was 5,000 a day. In June 2018, the country’s department of national parks, wildlife and plant conservation announced they would be closing the beach temporarily — maybe a couple of months. However, the damage was so severe that it’s still closed today, having been indefinitely off limits to visitors since October 2018. Authorities may not have a set reopen date but are working to determine the true capacity of the beach, which will make human impact more minimal.

Fjadrárgljúfur Canyon, Iceland

Fjadrárgljúfur Canyon, Iceland

Credit: oneinchpunch/Shutterstock

The most recent victim of overtourism is Iceland’s stunning Fjadrárgljúfur Canyon. Blame Justin Bieber. More than 1 million people visited the area since the pop star released a music video filmed there in 2015. The country itself has also received a massive uptick in visitors — up to 2.3 million in 2018 from 600,000 just eight years ago. With that in mind, Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, the Minister of the Enviroment, said it is “a bit too simplistic to blame the entire situation on Justin Bieber.” But we’re going to anyway, because he added: “Rash behavior by one famous person can dramatically impact an entire area if the mass follows.” And it did. The canyon also requires only a half-mile or so of hiking to reach the panoramic views. Fences, signs and park rangers are in place to keep people out, but the number of people who try to go is still overwhelming.

The 10 Happiest Countries In The World (Hint: The U.S. Is Not One Of Them)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Happiest Countries in the World

10

Happiest Countries in the World

The United Nations recently released its World Happiness Report for 2019. The report took into account a number of factors, including social support, freedom, corruption and life expectancy. The results seem to prove that having a healthy work-life balance and a strong sense of community often lead to happiness. And since happy countries are great places to visit, you may want to put some of these countries on your bucket list. Here are the 10 happiest countries in the world.

Austria

Austria

Credit: Olga_Gavrilova/iStock

In 2019, Austria jumped two spots to finally make the top 10 list of happiest countries in the world. This may be due to the fact that Austrians are simply satisfied with their lives, according to the OECD Better Life Index. Getting outdoors, including hiking and skiing, is relatively easy since 62% of the country is covered by the Alps. And since Austria is firmly situated between many countries, Austrians have access to the rest of Europe on their dependable high-speed railways.

Canada

Canada

Credit: MJ_Prototype/iStock

Canadians are known to be some of the nicest people in the world, and it appears that nice people are also happy people. Although it fell from the seven spot, Canada remains in the top 10 with a population of friendly, hockey-loving residents. And with its growing population of immigrants, Canada is becoming a more culturally diverse country. When you add beautiful national parks, universal health care and an abundance of outdoor activities, Canada becomes more appealing by the second.

New Zealand

New Zealand

Credit: primeimages/iStock

Consistently ranked as one of the friendliest places in the world, New Zealand is also one of the happiest. Residents of New Zealand are notoriously laid-back, which helps them achieve a healthy work-life balance. It probably helps that New Zealand is an island paradise that contains an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities, like mountain-biking, skiing and hiking.

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Sweden

Sweden

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The long winters and cold climate doesn’t seem to be a happiness deterrent for the Swedes. Home to a mixed economy, the Swedish government plays a large role in controlling the country’s industries. While this does make taxes rather high, Swedes do benefit in a number of ways. From the average five weeks of paid vacation to 480 days of parental leave, the people of Sweden take advantage of some nice perks.

Switzerland

Switzerland

Credit: bluejayphoto/Shutterstock

The Swiss may have a reputation for staying neutral, but that doesn’t stop them from being happy. Or maybe they’re happy because of their neutrality? Switzerland hasn’t taken part in a war for 172 years, which means the country’s coffers haven’t been emptied for military expenses. And as a country renowned for its top-notch skiing and breathtaking vistas, it certainly must be a nice place to live. Best of all, with an average 35.2-hour work week, the Swiss have more time to get outside and enjoy life.

Netherlands

Netherlands

Credit: Olena_Znak/iStock

The Netherlands’ high ranking in the happiness index may be attributed to a healthy work-life balance. Ranked number one in this category by the OECD Better Life Index, the Dutch people are the best at juggling commitments between work, family and personal life. Since almost everyone uses a bicycle to commute, the Dutch have endorphin-producing exercise ingrained into their everyday habits. Add in a low crime rate and a relaxed café culture, and it’s clear that living in the Netherlands has its perks.

Iceland

Iceland

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Iceland’s happiness doesn’t solely depend upon monetary success. In fact, the financial meltdown of 2008 didn’t hurt the overall happiness of Icelanders, even though many of them came upon hard times. Whether it’s because they’re descendants of Vikings, or because they get enough omega-3 from all the fish they eat, the people of Iceland are resilient. This trait, when paired with the country’s optimism, has created a tight-knit national community.

Norway

Norway

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As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Norway is quite well-off. Even though the country is known to be dark and cold, Norwegians have a surprisingly upbeat attitude about life. A common saying in Norway goes “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,” which shows how a little positivity can go a long way.

Denmark

Denmark

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The Danish concept of hygge has recently taken the world by storm and is a notion that speaks volumes about the country’s culture. Roughly translated to “cozy,” hygge is a lifestyle trend abided by the people of Denmark. Indulging in a cup of hot cocoa after playing outside in the snow or curling up with a good book while rain pitter-patters on the roof — these moments of “intentional intimacy” define hygge, according to LiveScience. Have you ever heard that it’s the little things in life that make you happy? For the people of Denmark, this seems to be true.

Finland

Finland

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Ranked the happiest country in the world for two straight years, the people of Finland are quite content. And this happiness isn’t limited to the born-and-bred Finnish people. Finland’s immigrants also rank the happiest in the world. As the co-editor of the World Happiness Report, John Helliwell, said, “It’s not about Finnish DNA. It’s about the way life is lived.” Another Scandinavian country that places community and work-life balance at the forefront of its priorities, Finland’s equal society and supportive networks are chief in finding happiness.

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SCIENCE MAGAZINE)

 

An 72-meter ice core drilled in the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in the Swiss Alps entombs more than 2000 years of fallout from volcanoes,  storms, and human pollution.

NICOLE SPAULDING/CCI FROM C. P. LOVELUCK ET AL., ANTIQUITY 10.15184, 4, 2018

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’

Ask medieval historian Michael McCormick what year was the worst to be alive, and he’s got an answer: “536.” Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe. Not 1918, when the flu killed 50 million to 100 million people, mostly young adults. But 536. In Europe, “It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” says McCormick, a historian and archaeologist who chairs the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past.

A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says.

Historians have long known that the middle of the sixth century was a dark hour in what used to be called the Dark Ages, but the source of the mysterious clouds has long been a puzzle. Now, an ultraprecise analysis of ice from a Swiss glacier by a team led by McCormick and glaciologist Paul Mayewski at the Climate Change Institute of The University of Maine (UM) in Orono has fingered a culprit. At a workshop at Harvard this week, the team reported that a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Iceland spewed ash across the Northern Hemisphere early in 536. Two other massive eruptions followed, in 540 and 547. The repeated blows, followed by plague, plunged Europe into economic stagnation that lasted until 640, when another signal in the ice—a spike in airborne lead—marks a resurgence of silver mining, as the team reports in Antiquity this week.

To Kyle Harper, provost and a medieval and Roman historian at The University of Oklahoma in Norman, the detailed log of natural disasters and human pollution frozen into the ice “give us a new kind of record for understanding the concatenation of human and natural causes that led to the fall of the Roman Empire—and the earliest stirrings of this new medieval economy.”

Slivers from a Swiss ice core held chemical clues to natural and human made events.

NICOLE SPAULDING/CCI FROM C. P. LOVELUCK ET AL., ANTIQUITY 10.15184, 4, 2018

Ever since tree ring studies in the 1990s suggested the summers around the year 540 were unusually cold, researchers have hunted for the cause. Three years ago polar ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica yielded a clue. When a volcano erupts, it spews sulfur, bismuth, and other substances high into the atmosphere, where they form an aerosol veil that reflects the sun’s light back into space, cooling the planet. By matching the ice record of these chemical traces with tree ring records of climate, a team led by Michael Sigl, now of the University of Bern, found that nearly every unusually cold summer over the past 2500 years was preceded by a volcanic eruption. A massive eruption—perhaps in North America, the team suggested—stood out in late 535 or early 536; another followed in 540. Sigl’s team concluded that the double blow explained the prolonged dark and cold.

Mayewski and his interdisciplinary team decided to look for the same eruptions in an ice core drilled in 2013 in the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in the Swiss Alps. The 72-meter-long core entombs more than 2000 years of fallout from volcanoes, Saharan dust storms, and human activities smack in the center of Europe. The team deciphered this record using a new ultra–high-resolution method, in which a laser carves 120-micron slivers of ice, representing just a few days or weeks of snowfall, along the length of the core. Each of the samples—some 50,000 from each meter of the core—is analyzed for about a dozen elements. The approach enabled the team to pinpoint storms, volcanic eruptions, and lead pollution down to the month or even less, going back 2000 years, says UM volcanologist Andrei Kurbatov.

Darkest hours and then a dawn

A high-resolution ice core record combined with historical texts chronicles the impact of natural disasters on European society.

530530550640650660540540550560570580590600610620630640650660536Icelandic volcano erupts, dimming the sun for 18months, records say. Summer temperatures drop by1.5°C to 2.5°C.536–545 Coldest decade on record in 2000 years. Crops fail in Ireland, Scandinavia, Mesopotamia, and China.540–541 Second volcanic eruption. Summer temperatures drop again by 1.4°C–2.7°C in Europe.541–543 The “Justinian” bubonic plague spreads through the Mediterranean, killing 35%–55% of the population and speeding the collapse of the eastern Roman Empire.640 After declining in the mid-500s, a surge in atmospheric lead signals an increase in silver mining because of economic recovery.660A second lead peak reflects silver mining, probably at Melle, France, tied to a switch from gold to silver for coins and the beginnings of the medieval economy.
(GRAPHIC) A. CUADRA/SCIENCE; (DATA) C. P. LOVELUCK ET AL.ANTIQUITY 2018; M. SIGL ET AL., NATURE 2015; M. MCCORMICK

In ice from the spring of 536, UM graduate student Laura Hartman found two microscopic particles of volcanic glass. By bombarding the shards with x-rays to determine their chemical fingerprint, she and Kurbatov found that they closely matched glass particles found earlier in lakes and peat bogs in Europe and in a Greenland ice core. Those particles in turn resembled volcanic rocks from Iceland. The chemical similarities convince geoscientist David Lowe of The University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, who says the particles in the Swiss ice core likely came from the same Icelandic volcano. But Sigl says more evidence is needed to convince him that the eruption was in Iceland rather than North America.

Either way, the winds and weather systems in 536 must have been just right to guide the eruption plume southeast across Europe and, later, into Asia, casting a chilly pall as the volcanic fog “rolled through,” Kurbatov says. The next step is to try to find more particles from this volcano in lakes in Europe and Iceland, in order to confirm its location in Iceland and tease out why it was so devastating.

A century later, after several more eruptions, the ice record signals better news: the lead spike in 640. Silver was smelted from lead ore, so the lead is a sign that the precious metal was in demand in an economy rebounding from the blow a century before, says archaeologist Christopher Loveluck of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. A second lead peak, in 660, marks a major infusion of silver into the emergent medieval economy. It suggests gold had become scarce as trade increased, forcing a shift to silver as the monetary standard, Loveluck and his colleagues write in Antiquity. “It shows the rise of the merchant class for the first time,” he says.

Still later, the ice is a window into another dark period. Lead vanished from the air during the Black Death from 1349 to 1353, revealing an economy that had again ground to a halt. “We’ve entered a new era with this ability to integrate ultra–high-resolution environmental records with similarly high resolution historical records,” Loveluck says. “It’s a real game changer.”

Peter A Bell

Thinker. Listener. Talker. Reader. Writer.

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