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

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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

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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

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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.

4 Strangest Greetings From Around the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

4 Strangest Greetings From Around the World

How do you say hello? If you’re in the United States, this typically means saying “hello”. If you don’t know the person very well, you shake hands. And if you do, you probably hug. Of course, there are variations, as a cheek kiss is common among many subcultures within the American fabric, like Hispanic Americans and Southerners. But we know that depending on the country you call home, greetings can vary. You typically bow in countries like Japan, China or South Korea, or present praying hands in countries like Thailand, India, and Malaysia. But there are a few cultures that have a truly unique way of saying hello.

Sticking Your Tongue Out (Tibet)

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In the west, this isn’t the nicest way to greet someone. Typically, sticking your tongue out at someone is seen as an act of menace or something that children do to each other to show displeasure. But in Tibet, there’s a real reason why this greeting is considered positive. As the story goes, King Lang Darma ruled during the ninth century. However, he was a cruel leader and as if straight out of a storybook, had a black tongue to boot.

Because Tibet is a Buddhist nation, they believe strongly in the concept of reincarnation. So, as time passed, the people began the custom of briefly sticking out their tongue as a salutation. While it may seem odd to a westerner, this is meant to prove that the person you’re encountering is a friendly individual and not King Lang Darma reincarnated.

Hongi (New Zealand)

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While the Hongi is attributed to New Zealand, it’s important to clarify that this greeting isn’t performed by all Kiwis (New Zealanders). It has its origins in the indigenous Māori culture but has slowly been adopted by other Kiwis. The Hongi is a forehead press of sorts where you press your forehead down to your nose with another person. The greeting has mythological origins, stemming from the story of the creation of women. According to legend, after the Māori god Tāne-Nui-a-Rangi created the first woman (Hine-ahu-one) from the earth, he breathed life into her by pressing his forehead and nose to hers. Hence, the Hongi is often referred to as the breath of life.

Today, the Hongi can be performed for practically any occasion from a standard greeting on a regular day to an emotional one say, at a funeral or a wedding. And outside of Māori culture, the greeting is often seen at diplomatic events between New Zealand and friendly nations.

Adumu—The Jumping Dance (Masai)

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The Adumu is not a greeting in the traditional sense of the word. It is a traditional dance that is performed only by the Masai people of Kenya and Tanzania. And while they often perform the Adumu for traveling safari guests who are part of tour groups, it’s not a standard greeting for everyday occasions. In the Masai culture, the Adumu is a rite of passage dance that is meant to show that young men are now coming of age after completing 10 years of living apart from the rest of their community. So, in a sense, it is a greeting into adulthood.

The dance involves the new men showing off their prowess by performing a series of very athletic jumps with serious height—not just for the village elders, but for the eligible (and unmarried) women. And if they complete the dance they then re-enter the general Masai society as men and can marry and begin families of their own.

Kunik (Inuit)

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You’re probably more familiar with the Kunik greeting than you think. Most westerners know it by its lay name “Eskimo kisses”—but avoid using this term. The word “Eskimo” is considered disrespectful because it represents a time when European explorers labeled all of the indigenous people from Alaska, Canada, and Greenland under one name. Instead, call the indigenous people Inuit. The Kunik is more than just a nose rub though. It involves pressing your nose and upper lip onto another person’s forehead, nose or cheek and breathing in their scent.

However, the Kunik is an intimate greeting, so don’t expect to see perfect strangers performing it with each other. Instead, it’s usually reserved for family. Contrary to popular belief, the Kunik isn’t a replacement for “normal” kisses. And the weather isn’t so harsh up north that you can’t kiss someone on the mouth. Also, the Kunik isn’t meant to be romantic and is most often seen between a mother and her child.

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.

Landscapes Around the World You Won’t Believe Exist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

Landscapes Around the World You Won’t Believe Exist

Earth is home to some spectacular natural vistas – dense forest, raging rivers and rugged mountains are sights we are all familiar with. But there are a few places that you may be surprised that you can even visit on this planet. Here are some landscapes from around the world that you won’t believe exist.

DAILY QUESTION

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

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This expansive salt flat covers over 4,000 square miles high in the Bolivian Andes. Formed by the slow growth, reduction, and disappearance of many different lakes over the last 50,000 years, Salar de Uyuni is like no place on Earth. While the unending plain of snow-white salt is something to see on its own, the real show begins after a rain has passed over and transforms Salar de Uyuni into the world’s largest mirror.

Lake Baikal, Russia

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The largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal holds more water than all the Great Lakes combined. But it becomes much more than just a massive lake during the winter, when the lake freezes over for five months. The frozen water is so clear that you can see almost 150 feet below the surface. In March, as temperatures begin to rise, the icy crust begins to crack, and ice shards are pushed above the surface. Sunlight streams though the blocks of ice and shines in an unearthly shade of turquoise.

Waitamo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

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There are over 300 limestone caves in the Waitamo region of New Zealand. One has been capturing the imagination of visitors for generations – the Waitamo Glowworm caves. The roof of this cave is home to a massive population of Arancamoa Luminosa, glow worms that bathe the cave in pale greenish blue light as visitors glide across the shallow waters of the cave.

Mount Roraima, Venezuela

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This flat-top mountain sits at the intersection of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. It has inspired both the native South Americans and visitors to the region for centuries. Somewhat more recently, the unique landscape served as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s inspiration for his novel, The Lost World.

In the novel, Sir Doyle imagines a world apart from the rest of the planet, cut off and inaccessible, still inhabited by dinosaurs and other creatures from bygone eras. If you have a chance to see Mount Roraima’s flat, 12-square mile summit towering above the clouds, surrounded by cliffs over 1,000 feet high, you’ll understand how Sir Doyle envisioned a world where life could continue undisturbed.

Zhangjiajie, China

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Deep within the Wulingyuan scenic area of China’s Hunan province lies the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. Abundant greenery hides the true star of the park – freestanding pillar formations that were carved out over centuries of physical erosion. These pillars also served as the inspiration for a famous science-fiction setting: the alien jungle of James Cameron’s film Avatar. It was modeled after the Zhangjiajie forest.

Zhangye Danxia, China

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The Zhangye National Geopark consists of natural rock formations with fabulous bands of color streaked through them. The formations are the result of more than 20 million years of sandstone and other minerals depositing in the area. The deposits were then twisted to their current angle by steady tectonic movements, which give them the striking appearance they have today.

Valley of the Ten Peaks, Canada

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High in Canada’s Banff National Park lies Moraine Lake, an Alpine destination where crystal-clear waters are bordered by a tall evergreen forest, which is in turn dwarfed by ten imposing peaks, all of which are over 10,000 feet. The lake can be easily reached by road, which means you can visit one of the most awe-inspiring destinations in North American with little more than a long drive.

The world’s 6 rainiest cities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

The world’s rainiest cities

Do you love the rain? Read on! You’re about to learn some great destinations that’ll give you all the rain you can handle. Do you hate the rain? You should read on too! You’ll get a good sampling of locations to absolutely avoid the next time you plan a trip. Love it or hate it, keep reading to hearing about the world’s wettest, rainiest, and soggiest cities. (Rainfall data courtesy of World Atlas.)

6. Debundscha, Cameroon

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Average annual rainfall: 10,299 mm (405 inches)

First on our list (though sixth in overall ranking), we have the African village of Debundscha. This region is among the wettest places in the world for two reasons: its position near the equator (providing a long rainy season) and its proximity to Mount Cameroon. This massive mountain tends to block rain clouds from drifting away, forcing them to dump copious amounts of rain on Debundscha every year.

5. San Antonio de Ureca, Bioko Islands, Equatorial Guinea

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Average annual rainfall: 10,450 mm (411 inches)

Like Debundscha, the African village of San Antonio de Ureca features a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons, which contributes significantly to its overall rainfall. The small region receives a staggering 411 inches of rainfall each year, making it the wettest place on the entire African continent.

4. Cropp River, New Zealand

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Average annual rainfall: 11,516 mm (453 inches)

Heading across the globe, we have New Zealand’s Cropp River. Running over 6 miles before connecting with the larger Whitcomb River, the Cropp region receives copious rainfall each year, with its record-breaking downpours once reaching over 41 inches in a 48-hour period. Of course, few residents live in the mountainous Cropp River region, so locals aren’t fazed by these drastic downpours. And fortunately, this surplus of water plays a big role in New Zealand’s economy, so you aren’t likely to hear anyone here complain about the rain.

3. Tutunendo, Colombia

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Average annual rainfall: 11,770 mm (463 inches)

Earning the title as wettest region in South America, residents of Tutunendo, Columbia, are no stranger to the damp. Over 463 inches of rainfall drench the region each year, even during the not-so-dry “dry” season, when rain falls nearly 20 days per month. Like many others on this list, Tutunendo’s proximity to the equator and tropical climate are the culprits behind its record-holding precipitation rate. Combined with its consistently high temperatures and high humidity, Tutunendo’s tropical rainforest climate isn’t for the faint of heart.

2. Cherrapunji, India

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Average annual rainfall: 11,777 mm (464 inches)

Let’s head east to the Indian subcontinent to visit the runner-up for rainiest city in the world: Cherrapunji. Located in the eastern Indian state of Meghalaya, Cherrapunji receives an average annual rainfall of 464 inches, outstripping nearly every other city on Earth. Its heavy rainfall is a result of its location; situated in a highland climate with monsoonal seasons and nestled close to the elevated Khasi Hills, the combination of subtropical climate and geography creates the perfect storm for precipitation. Unfortunately, and ironically, locals have a tough time finding water in Cherrapunji. The encroaching pressures of deforestation and soil erosion have created serious dryness problems in the area, despite its regular rainfall.

1. Mawsynram, India

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Average annual rainfall: 11,871 mm (467 inches)

At the very top of our list, we have Mawsynram—an Indian village located just miles from Cherrapunji. Mawsynram sees a record-setting 467 inches of rainfall per year and is regularly reported to be the wettest city in the world. The geography of Mawsynram is quite similar to Cherrapunji, with many of the same subtropical conditions and regular monsoons contributing to its near-constant rainfall. In fact, there’s some debate about which one of these Indian cities is the real wettest city, as annual rainfall scores between the two tend to fluctuate. But whichever town takes the crown, it’s clear that this region of India experiences some of the heaviest rainfall you’ll see anywhere on earth.

New Contenders for Wettest City?

Due to how much variance there can be in annual rainfall totals, the globally-recognized “wettest city” tends to change over time. The above Indian cities have consistently received the most rainfall over the years, but other regions, such as Mount Waialeale in Hawaii, have received even more in years past—as much as 683 inches back in 1982!

Thus, it’s hard to say with certainty which region is truly the rainiest. But despite these fluctuations, it’s clear that the insane rainfall experienced by these cities is hard for any region to match.

5 Southernmost Capitals in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Southernmost Capitals in the World

All of the world’s top five southernmost capitals are located in the temperate zone of the southern hemisphere, and nearly all are oceanic. These cities, by and large, enjoy milder climates than regions at higher latitude and experience winters from June to September. Trade, education, and multiculturalism are hallmarks of the southernmost capitals of the world, which make them must-see sites for those with wanderlust.

5. Cape Town, South Africa

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The oldest city in South Africa is also one of the world’s southernmost capitals. The coastal “Mother City” is known for its harbor and as a destination for expats and immigrants. It is the oldest urban center of South Africa, dating back to 1652 when it served as a supply station for Dutch ships. The region was first described in writing by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, and little is known of its first inhabitants. The nation’s end to Apartheid was marked in the 1990s, and the city currently serves as a multicultural hub. South Africans predominantly speak English with Afrikaans and Xhosa following in second and third.

4. Buenos Aires, Argentina

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The city of “fair winds” is the fourth southernmost capital in the world. As of 1994, an Argentinian constitutional amendment in the wake of a long political battle granted the city autonomy through federalization. As such, it is no longer part of the province of the same name. Quality of life in Buenos Aires is ranked among the highest in Latin America for its multicultural citizens. It is a “World City” or “alpha city,” referring to its significance in global trade, and is home to European architectural influences as well as a rich cultural heritage.

3. Montevideo, Uruguay

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Montevideo is the third southernmost capital city in the world and the southernmost in the Americas. The City’s history dates back to 1724 when Bruno Mauricio de Zabala of Spain founded the city as a strategic move in the Spanish-Portuguese regional dispute. The name of the city remains a subject of debate to this day, though there is agreement that “Monte” refers to the hill “Cerro de Montevideo” across the bay. The capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is the ninth-highest income-earning city in the world, serving as an economic, cultural, and technological hub. Montevideo is home to many of the nation’s top institutes of higher learning and the nation’s chief port.

2. Canberra, Australia

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The capital of Australia, in addition to its being located at one of the lowest latitudes among capital cities, also makes the top ten list for largest cities in the world. In fact, it was the size of Canberra that led to its selection as a capital in 1902 over rivaling-sized Melbourne. Similar to Brasilia and Washington, D.C., the development of Canberra was entirely planned. Although the first World War and the Great Depression affected world trade to the extent of hindering initial plans for the Australian capital, modern Canberrans enjoy the influences of the garden city movement with large expanses of natural vegetation as well as geometric design motifs like circles, triangles, and hexagons.

1. Wellington, New Zealand

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With a little over 400,000 residents, Wellington is the most populous urban area of New Zealand. Situated between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range, Wellington is both the world’s southernmost capital and the windiest city in the world. Home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the New Zealand Ballet, and the world’s largest wooden building (the Government building), Wellington has served as New Zealand’s capital since 1865. Though the city serves as the nation’s chief port, most of Wellington’s economy is service-based with a focus on business, finance, and social services.

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What was named the happiest country in 2019? Hint: It Definitely Not The U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

What was named the happiest country in 2019?

Finland

48%

Sweden

33%

United States

2%

New Zealand

16%

Source: CNN | Date Updated: June 11, 2019

Learn More: While it’s obviously not an easy thing to nail down, the world’s happiest country is Finland, according to the World Happiness Report. The Finns must be doing something right, as this is the second year in a row that they’ve claimed the title. In fact, happiness seems to be common in the Nordic countries, as Denmark and Norway placed second and third, respectively. The rankings take into consideration factors such as income, trust, healthy life expectancy, generosity, social support, and freedom.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

New Zealand: Truth Knowledge And History Of This Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

New Zealand

Introduction The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about A.D. 800. In 1840, their chieftains entered into a compact with Britain, the Treaty of Waitangi, in which they ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria while retaining territorial rights. In that same year, the British began the first organized colonial settlement. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the defeat of the native peoples. The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the UK militarily in both World Wars. New Zealand’s full participation in a number of defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.
History New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major land masses. The first settlers of New Zealand were Eastern Polynesians who came to New Zealand, probably in a series of migrations, sometime between around AD 800 and 1300.[4] Over the next few centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into Iwi (tribes) and hapū (subtribes) which would co-operate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Māori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their own distinct Moriori culture.

The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642.[10] Several of the crew were killed by Māori and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook’s voyage of 1768–71.[10] Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost all of the coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Māori timber, food, artefacts and water. On occasion, Europeans traded goods for sex.[11] Māori agriculture and warfare were transformed by the potato and the musket, although the resulting Musket Wars died out once the tribal imbalance of arms had been rectified. From the early nineteenth century, Christian missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Māori population, who had become disillusioned with their indigenous faith by the introduction of Western culture.

Becoming aware of the lawless nature of European settlement and increasing interest in the territory by the French, the British government sent William Hobson to New Zealand to claim sovereignty and negotiate a treaty with Māori.[i] The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in the Bay of Islands on 6 February 1840. The drafting was done hastily and confusion and disagreement continues to surround the translation. The Treaty is regarded as New Zealand’s foundation as a nation and is revered by Māori as a guarantee of their rights. Hobson initially selected Okiato as the capital in 1840, before moving the seat of government to Auckland in 1841.

Under British rule, the islands of New Zealand had been part of the colony of New South Wales. In 1840 New Zealand became its own dominion, which signalled increasing numbers of European settlers particularly from the British Isles. At first, Māori were eager to trade with the ‘Pakeha’, as they called them, and many iwi (tribes) became wealthy. As settler numbers increased, conflicts over land led to the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s and 1870s, resulting in the loss of much Māori land. The detail of European settlement and the acquisition of land from Māori remain controversial.

Representative government for the colony was provided for by the passing of the 1852 New Zealand Constitution Act by the United Kingdom. The 1st New Zealand Parliament met for the first time in 1854. In 1856 the colony became effectively self-governing with the grant of responsible government over all domestic matters other than native policy. Power in this respect would be transferred to the colonial administration in the 1860s. In 1863 Premier Alfred Domett moved a resolution that the capital transfer to a locality in Cook Strait, apparently due to concern the South Island could form a separate colony. Commissioners from Australia (chosen for their neutral status) advised Wellington as suitable because of its harbour and central location, and parliament officially sat there for the first time in 1865. In 1893, the country became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. In 1907, New Zealand became an independent Dominion and a fully independent nation in 1947 when the Statute of Westminster (1931) was ratified, although in practice Britain had ceased to play any real role in the government of New Zealand much earlier than this. As New Zealand became more politically independent it became more dependent economically; in the 1890s, refrigerated shipping allowed New Zealand to base its entire economy on the export of meat and dairy products to Britain.

New Zealand was an enthusiastic member of the British Empire, fighting in the Boer War, World War I and World War II and supporting Britain in the Suez Crisis. The country was very much a part of the world economy and suffered as others did in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The depression led to the election of the first Labour government, which established a comprehensive welfare state and a protectionist economy.

New Zealand experienced increasing prosperity following World War II. However, some social problems were developing; Māori had begun to move to the cities in search of work and excitement rather than the traditional rural way of life. A Māori protest movement would eventually form, criticising Eurocentrism and seeking more recognition of Māori culture and the Treaty of Waitangi, which they felt had not been fully honoured. In 1975 a Waitangi Tribunal was set up to investigate alleged breaches of the Treaty and in 1985 it was enabled to investigate historic grievances. In common with all other developed countries, social developments accelerated in the 1970s and social and political mores changed. By the 1970s, the traditional trade with Britain was threatened because of Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community. Great economic and social changes took place in the 1980s under the 4th Labour government largely led by Finance Minister Roger Douglas, and commonly referred to as “Rogernomics.”

Geography Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia
Geographic coordinates: 41 00 S, 174 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 268,680 sq km
land: 268,021 sq km
water: NA
note: includes Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands
Area – comparative: about the size of Colorado
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 15,134 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: temperate with sharp regional contrasts
Terrain: predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Aoraki-Mount Cook 3,754 m
Natural resources: natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone
Land use: arable land: 5.54%
permanent crops: 6.92%
other: 87.54% (2005)
Irrigated land: 2,850 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 397 cu km (1995)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.11 cu km/yr (48%/9%/42%)
per capita: 524 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity
Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; native flora and fauna hard-hit by invasive species
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Antarctic Seals, Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: about 80% of the population lives in cities; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world
Politics Government

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Although it has no codified constitution, the Constitution Act 1986 is the principal formal statement of New Zealand’s constitutional structure. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and is titled Queen of New Zealand under the Royal Titles Act 1974. She is represented by the Governor-General, who she appoints on the exclusive advice of the Prime Minister. The current Governor-General is Anand Satyanand.

The Governor-General exercises the Crown’s prerogative powers, such as the power to appoint and dismiss ministers and to dissolve Parliament, and in rare situations, the reserve powers. The Governor-General also chairs the Executive Council, which is a formal committee consisting of all ministers of the Crown. Members of the Executive Council are required to be Members of Parliament, and most are also in Cabinet. Cabinet is the most senior policy-making body and is led by the Prime Minister, who is also, by convention, the Parliamentary leader of the governing party or coalition. The current Prime Minister is Helen Clark, the leader of the Labour Party.

The New Zealand Parliament has only one chamber, the House of Representatives, which usually seats 120 Members of Parliament. Parliamentary general elections are held every three years under a form of proportional representation called Mixed Member Proportional. The 2005 General Election created an ‘overhang’ of one extra seat, occupied by the Māori Party, due to that party winning more seats in electorates than the number of seats its proportion of the party vote would have given it.

Since 17 October 2005, Labour has been in formal coalition with Jim Anderton, the Progressive Party’s only MP. In addition to the parties in formal coalition, New Zealand First and United Future provide confidence and supply in return for their leaders being ministers outside cabinet. A further arrangement has been made with the Green Party, which has given a commitment not to vote against the government on confidence and supply. Since early 2007, Labour has also had the proxy vote of Taito Phillip Field, a former Labour MP. These arrangements assure the government of a majority of seven MPs on confidence votes.

The Leader of the Opposition is National Party leader John Key. The ACT party and the Māori Party are also in opposition. The Greens, New Zealand First and United Future each vote against the government on some legislation.

The highest court in New Zealand is the Supreme Court of New Zealand, which was established in 2004 following the passage of the Supreme Court Act 2003. The act also abolished the option to appeal to the Privy Council in London. The current Chief Justice is Dame Sian Elias. New Zealand’s judiciary also includes the Court of Appeal; the High Court, which deals with serious criminal offences and civil matters at the trial level and with appeals from lower courts and tribunals; and subordinate courts.

New Zealand is the only country in the world in which all the highest offices in the land have been occupied simultaneously by women: Queen Elizabeth II, Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, Prime Minister Helen Clark, Speaker of the House of Representatives Margaret Wilson and Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias were all in office between March 2005 and August 2006 (also of note New Zealand’s largest listed company: Telecom New Zealand had a woman – Theresa Gattung as its CEO at the time).

People Population: 4,173,460 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.9% (male 446,883/female 424,240)
15-64 years: 66.5% (male 1,390,669/female 1,385,686)
65 years and over: 12.6% (male 238,560/female 287,422) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 36.3 years
male: 35.6 years
female: 37.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.971% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.09 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.99 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.62 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.33 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.24 years
male: 78.33 years
female: 82.25 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.11 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Samoa: Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Samoa

Introduction New Zealand occupied the German protectorate of Western Samoa at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. It continued to administer the islands as a mandate and then as a trust territory until 1962, when the islands became the first Polynesian nation to reestablish independence in the 20th century. The country dropped the “Western” from its name in 1997.
History Contact with Europeans began in the early 18th century. Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutchman, was the first European to sight the Samoan islands in 1722. This visit was followed by a French Explorer by the name of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, the man who named them the Navigator Islands in 1768. Contact was limited before the 1830s which is when English missionaries and traders began arriving. Mission work in Samoa had begun in late 1830 by John Williams, of the London Missionary Society. By that time, the Samoans had gained a reputation of being savage and warlike, as they had clashed with French, British, German and American forces, who, by the late nineteenth century, valued Samoa as a refueling station for coal-fired shipping.

As the Germans began to show more interest in the Samoan Islands, the United States laid its own claim to them. Britain also sent troops to express its interest. There followed an eight-year civil war, where each of the three powers supplied arms, training, and in some cases combat troops, to the warring Samoan parties. All three sent warships into Apia harbor, and a larger-scale war seemed imminent, until a massive storm damaged or destroyed the warships, ending the military conflict. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Tripartite Convention partitioned the Samoan Islands into two parts: the eastern island group became a territory of the United States (the Tutuila Islands in 1900 and officially Manu’a in 1904) and is today known as American Samoa; the western islands, by far the greater landmass, became known as German Samoa after Britain vacated all claims to Samoa and accepted termination of German rights in Tonga and certain areas in the Solomon Islands and West Africa. The first German Governor was Wilhelm Solf who later went on to become Secretary for the Colonies of Imperial Germany. New Zealand troops landed on ‘Upolu unopposed on 29 August 1914 and seized control from the German authorities, following a request by Britain for New Zealand to perform their “great and urgent imperial service.”

From the end of World War I until 1962, New Zealand controlled Samoa as a Class C Mandate under trusteeship through the League of Nations. There followed a series of New Zealand administrators who were responsible for two major incidents. In the first incident, approximately one fifth of the Samoan population died in the Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. In 1919 The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Epidemic concluded that there had been no epidemic of pneumonic influenza in Western Samoa before the arrival of the ‘Tahune’ from Auckland on the 7th November, 1918 [which was allowed to berth by the NZ administration in breach of quarantine]; that within seven days of this ship’s arrival pneumonic influenza had become epidemic in Upolu and had then spread rapidly throughout the rest of the territory.

The second major incident arose out of an initially peaceful protest by the Mau (literally translates as “Strongly held Opinion”), a non-violent popular movement which arose in the early 1920s in protest against the mistreatment of the Samoan people by the New Zealand administration. The Mau was initially lead by Olaf Nelson, who was half Samoan and half Swedish. Nelson was eventually exiled during the late 1920s and early 1930s but he continued to assist the organization financially and politically. In following the Mau’s non-violent philosophy, the newly elected leader, High Chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi, led his fellow uniformed Mau in a peaceful demonstration in downtown Apia on December 28, 1929. The New Zealand police attempted to arrest one of the leaders in the demonstration. When he resisted, a struggle developed between the police and the Mau. The officers began to fire randomly into the crowd and a Lewis machine gun, mounted in preparation for this demonstration, was used to disperse the Mau. Chief Tamasese was shot from behind and killed while trying to bring calm and order to the Mau demonstrators, screaming “Peace, Samoa”. Ten others died that day and approximately 50 were injured by gunshot wounds and police batons. That day would come to be known in Samoa as Black Saturday. The Mau grew, remaining steadfastly non-violent, and expanded to include a highly influential women’s branch. After repeated efforts by the Samoan people, Western Samoa gained independence in 1962 and signed a Friendship Treaty with New Zealand. Samoa was the first country in the pacific to become independent.

In 2002, New Zealand’s prime minister Helen Clark, on a trip to Samoa, formally apologised for New Zealand’s role in these two incidents.

In July 1997, the constitution was amended to change the country’s name from Western Samoa to Samoa, as it had been designated by the United Nations since joining the organization in 1976. The U.S. territory of American Samoa protested the move, asserting that the change diminished its own identity. American Samoans still use the terms Western Samoa and Western Samoans to describe the independent State of Samoa and its inhabitants. While the two Samoas share language and ethnicity, their cultures have recently followed different paths, with American Samoans often emigrating to Hawaiʻi and the U.S. mainland, and adopting many U.S. customs, such as the playing of American football and baseball. Western Samoans have tended to emigrate instead to New Zealand, whose influence has made the sports of rugby and cricket more popular in the western islands. Travel writer Paul Theroux noted that there were marked differences between the societies in Samoa and American Samoa.

Geography Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 13 35 S, 172 20 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 2,944 sq km
land: 2,934 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Rhode Island
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 403 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; rainy season (November to April), dry season (May to October)
Terrain: two main islands (Savaii, Upolu) and several smaller islands and uninhabited islets; narrow coastal plain with volcanic, rocky, rugged mountains in interior
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mauga Silisili (Savaii) 1,857 m
Natural resources: hardwood forests, fish, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 21.13%
permanent crops: 24.3%
other: 54.57% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons; active volcanism
Environment – current issues: soil erosion, deforestation, invasive species, overfishing
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: occupies an almost central position within Polynesia
Politics The 1960 Constitution, which formally came into force with independence, is based on the British pattern of parliamentary democracy, modified to take account of Samoan customs. Two of Samoa’s four princely titles (paramount chiefs) at the time of independence were given lifetime appointments to jointly hold the office of head of state. Malietoa Tanumafili II had held this post alone since the death of his colleague (Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole) in 1963. Malietoa Tanumafili II died 11 May 2007. He was the oldest living monarch at the time of his death. Since this moment Samoa became a republic. The next head of state Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi was elected by the legislature on the 17 June 2007 for a 5-year term.

The unicameral legislature (Fono) consists of 49 members serving 5-year terms. Forty-seven are elected from territorial districts by ethnic Samoans; the other two are chosen by non-Samoans with no chiefly affiliation on separate electoral rolls. Universal suffrage was extended in 1990, but only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the Samoan seats. There are more than 25,000 matais in the country, about 5% of whom are women. The prime minister is chosen by a majority in the Fono and is appointed by the head of state to form a government. The prime minister’s choices for the 12 cabinet positions are appointed by the head of state, subject to the continuing confidence of the Fono.

The judicial system is based on English common law and local customs. The Supreme Court of Samoa is the court of highest jurisdiction. Its chief justice is appointed by the head of state upon the recommendation of the prime minister.

People Population: 217,083
note: prior estimates used official net migration data by sex, but a highly unusual pattern for 1993 lead to a significant imbalance in the sex ratios (more men and fewer women) and a seeming reduction in the female population; the revised total was calculated using a 1993 number that was an average of the 1992 and 1994 migration figures (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 37.9% (male 41,834/female 40,343)
15-64 years: 56.5% (male 64,402/female 58,257)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 5,481/female 6,766) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 20.6 years
male: 20.8 years
female: 20.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.322% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 28.2 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.84 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -9.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 25.04 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 29.56 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.29 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.58 years
male: 68.76 years
female: 74.55 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.18 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Samoan(s)
adjective: Samoan
Ethnic groups: Samoan 92.6%, Euronesians (persons of European and Polynesian blood) 7%, Europeans 0.4% (2001 census)
Religions: Congregationalist 34.8%, Roman Catholic 19.6%, Methodist 15%, Latter-Day Saints 12.7%, Assembly of God 6.6%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.5%, Worship Centre 1.3%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.9%, unspecified 0.1% (2001 census)
Languages: Samoan (Polynesian), English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.6%
female: 99.7% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2001)
Education expenditures: 4.3% of GDP (2002)
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