Planet Earth: In the beginning…

So where did the Earth and all its fellow planets come from? In the beginning, the universe and all the matter in it essentially sprang from absolutely nothing, a minute “singularity” which erupted in a “big bang” to produce the expanding universe we see today. All this happened 14 billion years ago, and this was […]

The lunar crater Daedalus photographed by Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969. Terraces of slumped material are visible in the walls of this 93km impact structure.

How the Moon was made

There is one satellite that does not need me to tell you who discovered it, because at an early age, you discovered it for yourself. The Moon has been recorded – to begin with, in carvings on animal bone – for over 20,000 years. It affects our lives in too many ways to describe, and […]

The one that didn’t make it

Not all the matter in the solar system has been swept into the Sun or the planets. There are many other objects out there, such as comets, meteorites and asteroids, although their combined mass is trivial, less than half the mass of the Moon. In the main, these do not concern us here; however, there […]

Planet Earth: What is a planet?

The basic definition of a planet is simple enough. A planet is too small and cool to be a star, but massive enough to form a solid globe. Many, such as the big outer planets of our solar system, hide this solid surface beneath a dense atmosphere. All the planets we know are in orbit […]

The dullest debate in science

“I have found your Planet X” said Clyde Tombaugh to Vesto Slipher on 18 February 1930. Tombaugh was a humble observer, while Slipher was a top astronomer, and Tombaugh's boss at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. But finding Pluto put Tombaugh into the record books and ensured that he is probably better known today than […]

Flat Earth?

Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) led the first expedition to circumnavigate the Earth (although he died on the journey). He said he knew the Earth was round because he had seen its shadow on the Moon, during a lunar eclipse. He added that although the Church said the Earth was flat, he would rather trust […]


Some excerpts to get you started . . . Bell-birds by Henry Kendall (1869) By channels of coolness the echoes are calling, And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling: It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges. Through breaks of the […]


'In offering this little tract to the public it is equally the writer's wish to conduce to their amusement and information.' As opening sentences of great books go, that doesn't quite match 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times'; 'The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there'; […]


These are Australia's top-selling periodicals . . . The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) 657 000 copies a week The Sunday Herald-Sun (Melbourne) 617 000 a week The Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 552 000 a week The Herald-Sun (Melbourne) 527 000 each weekday The Herald-Sun Saturday 515 000 Women's Weekly 491 500 a month The Sun-Herald (Sydney) 462 […]


The top-selling books since 1990: Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. […]


'Down Under', Men at Work (1982) The narrator, a backpacker, finds Australia is so fashionable in Europe that a man in Brussels gave him a Vegemite sandwich. He mocks the stereotype of a land where 'women glow' and 'men chunder'. 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport', Rolf Harris (1960) A dying stockman gives instructions to his […]


AC/DC, rock band ('Highway To Hell'), 1970s– Peter Allen, pop singer/composer ('I Still Call Australia Home'), 1960s–92 The Angels, rock band ('Take a Long Line'), 1970s–80s Australian Crawl, rock band ('Boys Light Up'), 1980s Jimmy Barnes, rock singer ('Working Class Man'), 1980s– The Bee Gees, pop group ('Spicks and Specks'), 1960s–90s Graeme Bell, jazz bandleader […]


Whispering Jack, John Farnham (1986)* Come On Over, Shania Twain (1997) Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette (1995) Innocent Eyes, Delta Goodrem (2003)* Music Box, Mariah Carey (1993) Thriller, Michael Jackson (1983) Savage Garden, Savage Garden (1997)* Falling Into You, Celine Dion (1996) Abba Gold, Abba (1992) Immaculate Collection, Madonna (1990) Recurring Dream, Crowded House (1996)* […]


Finding Nemo (2004) Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2002) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2003) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2003) Monsters Inc. (2002) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2006) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) Lord of the Rings: Return of the King […]


Homicide, Melbourne cop drama (7), 1964–75 Blue Heelers, drama about cops in rural Victoria (7), 1994–2006 The Secret Life of Us, gritty soap (10), 2001–04 The Mavis Bramston Show, satirical sketch series (7), 1964–68 SeaChange, adult comedy soap (ABC), 1998–2000 Underbelly, fact-based crime drama (9), 2008– McLeod's Daughters, rural soap (9), 2001–09 The Comedy Company, […]


The most watched programs of all time Diana Spencer's funeral (channels 9, 7, 10, ABC), 1997 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies (7), 2000 Wedding of Charles and Diana (9, 7, 10, ABC), 1981 Cathy Freeman's Olympic gold run (7), 2000 Olympic swimming events (7), 2000 The World of the Seekers (9), 1968 The Sound of […]


Crocodile Dundee (1986), box office total $48 million Australia (2008), $37 million Babe (1995), $37 million Happy Feet (2006), $32 million Moulin Rouge (2001), $28 million Crocodile Dundee II (1988), $25 million Strictly Ballroom (1992), $22 million The Dish (2000), $18 million The Man from Snowy River (1982), $17 million The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen […]


These are the films seen by the greatest number of Australians still alive in the 21st century, based on box office earnings adjusted for changing ticket prices: The Sound of Music (1965) 'There is nothing more irresistible to a man than a woman who's in love with him.' Crocodile Dundee (1986) 'That's not a knife. […]


The ones we watch: (In order of match-attendance and popularity on TV) AFL (Australian Football League, aka Aussie Rules, preferred in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia) NRL (National Rugby League, preferred in Queensland and New South Wales) Cricket Tennis Horse racing Motor sports Rugby union Basketball Soccer Netball The ones we do: Walking: 18 […]


Anybody who goes to an art gallery is a wanker, right? There are 3.6 million wankers in Australia. Only geeks go to libraries, so this country has 5.4 million geeks. Dance performances are for poofs and fag-hags, and now we know Australia has 1.6 million people like that. Outside of school projects, you wouldn't go […]

A Final Word

BECOMING A KIWI Pubs The New Zealand way of life is quite different from the British. Until recently there were no cosy pubs where you could wind down at the end of the day, or enjoy an entertaining evening out. A few smaller pubs have now started to appear but on the whole the pubs […]

Leisure Opportunities

In 2002, 1,955,700 people travelled to New Zealand to holiday or visit family and friends. AROUND AND ABOUT THE NORTH ISLAND The Bay of Islands Starting in the 'winterless north' there are so many beautiful beaches you would find it hard to choose which was the best. The Bay of Islands, with Paihia the most […]

Women in New Zealand

THE STORY OF AN EARLY WOMAN SETTLER According to family historian Anne Folkema, Jane Udy was pregnant with her fifth child when she landed on the beach at Te Whanganui a Tara (Port Nicholson) in February 1840. Pito-one pa (Maori Meeting House) lay to the west; Hikoikoi was the mouth of the river estuary to […]

The Government and the Economy

NEW ZEALAND'S CONSTITUTION New Zealand's constitutional history can be traced back to 1840. Under the Treaty of Waitangi, the Maori people exchanged their sovereignty for the guarantees of the treaty and New Zealand became a British colony. New Zealand is today an independent state, a monarchy with a parliamentary government. Queen Elizabeth II has the […]

Living Under the Law

HOW THE LEGAL SYSTEM WORKS New Zealand has inherited the British tradition of an independent judiciary, seen as a protection against unnecessary intrusion by the state into the lives of citizens. The Judicature Act 1908 and the Constitution Act 1986 contain a number of key provisions, designed to ensure judicial independence. Judges (including those who […]

Health and Welfare

HOW HEALTH CARE IS ORGANISED The New Zealand health system is made up of public, private and voluntary sectors which interact to provide and fund health care. Department of Health The Department is the principal adviser to the Minister of Health on health issues. It administers relevant legislation, funds programmes and ensures the provision of […]

Housing and Living

BUYING A HOUSE Whilst writing this book my family and I rented a house in a Wellington suburb. It was high on a hilltop with delightful views of the surrounding hills and with a glimpse of Wellington Harbour. The views were great and so we thought was the house, for which we paid NZ$220 per […]


EDUCATIONAL REFORM In 1987 the then Government, the Labour Party, led by David Lange as Prime Minister and self-appointed Minister of Education, named a task force to review education and its administration. Since then nearly every aspect of the administration of education in New Zealand has been reviewed. The task force found that structures that […]


MORE MIGRANTS NEEDED New Zealand welcomes applications from people wishing to come here, whether it is to visit, study, work or live. New Zealand needs people who are 'keen to make a go of it', people with qualifications and experience, who would not be a drain on our resources. It will cost you money to […]

Making the Big Decision

INTRODUCING THE COUNTRY We have established that New Zealand is not just another part of Australia. It is also as far away from England as you can go without finding yourself on the way back again! It is 1,600 kilometres east of Australia and it consists of two major islands, the North Island and the […]

Poland Looks Ahead

Memorization of places, dates, and names is like fool's gold, someone once stated, because it is so easy to mistake them for the real thing: knowledge. Yet, when we study nations and cultures, we often commit exactly this mistake. A long list of kings and generals is supposed to provide us with thorough insight into […]

Living in Poland Today

Poland is not a small country, and, as in any sizable country, pronounced regional differences exist. The study of these spatial variations is what makes geographers ideal students of nations and cultures. Unlike other scientists, geographers identify the significance of a place or region as it relates spatially to a larger whole. This type of […]

Poland’s Economy

The collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent changes that swept Eastern Europe were seen as a very positive transition for Poland. The country was in position to open its economic system and follow the rules of a market economy. Previously, it had labored under a politically manipulated, centrally planned economy. Poland […]

Poland: Government and Politics

After striving for many years to be in charge of their own affairs, Poles managed to topple the Soviet-­supported authoritarian regime that ruled the country for several decades. In theory, Poland was an independent country pursuing its own destiny. In reality, its political leadership received instructions from Moscow. Puppet regimes often face popular discontent, and […]

Poland: People and Culture

The chapter on the people of Poland and their culture (way of life) serves as the main focus in the review of this modern world nation. To this point, we have covered the physical landscapes and historical geography of Poland. Here, the emphasis is on what people are doing and why, as well as the […]

Poland Through Time

When describing the earliest history of particular countries, historians often have little to say because of the lack of documented historical evidence of names and dates. Most scholars prefer political history to cultural history in general, where they can discuss key leaders and events—­kings, wars, and dynasties, for example—­but pay little attention to the lives […]

Poland: Physical Landscapes

A country's physical environment can offer opportunities and challenges to its people. Poland's natural conditions are no exception. Nature provides the canvas upon which people paint their own unique cultural landscapes—­the human imprint on Earth's surface. People are guided by their particular needs, as well as by the financial and technological resources they command. The […]

Introducing Poland

To celebrate their national identity, many people have myths that begin with the phrase, “When God was distributing the land, our people received. . . .” For the Poles, such a myth should begin “God awarded us with prime property in a bad neighborhood, located right between two neighboring bullies who constantly fight.” For a […]

The Future of Ireland

Each chapter of this geography of Ireland has told a story about Ireland's physical, cultural, historical, economic, and political, geographies. Knowing more of Ireland through these stories may have changed some perceptions of the country while strengthening others.Visitors to Ireland would experience many of the stories told in this book and would also form new […]

Living in Ireland Today

Fado, fado, the Celts began the tradition of storytelling in Ireland. Storytelling today is just one aspect of Irish culture and daily life that is celebrated in annual festivals throughout the country. Irish festivals can last one or two days, or even a month. Among the most notable festivals are the storytelling festivals in the […]

Ireland’s Economy

Fado, fado, Ireland's economy was at the simplest and most basic level of development. The ancient Irish hunted the land, fished the lakes and streams, and foraged the forests in order to find the foods they needed to survive. Interestingly, they never turned to the sea as a major source of food. A huntinggathering (and […]

Government and Politics of Ireland

Fado, fado, the Celts ruled Ireland as a multitude of kingdoms, with one overall, high king. When the Anglo-Normans came to Ireland, they ruled the area within their own kingdoms, building castles throughout the land. During British colonization, the Irish had little control over their land. As the colonizer, the United Kingdom ruled the land […]

Irish People and Culture

Fado, fado, Ireland was populated by people from the Eurasian landmass. Racially, the Irish are linked to Western Europe and Scandinavia. The Celtic culture came to envelop Ireland during the years of Celtic domination. Saint Patrick and Christian missionaries brought the Catholic religion to Ireland. Vikings intermarried with the Irish resulting in some genetic changes. […]

Ireland: Culture History and Cultural Landscape

Fado, fado, with the end of the Ice Age, 12,000 years ago, the glaciers retreated. They left Ireland covered with glacial debris and tundra vegetation. It was a barren land, with limited varieties of plant and animal life. This is the setting in which Ireland's changing culture history and cultural landscape takes place. Over the […]

Ireland’s Physical Environment

Fado, fado, Ireland's geologic roots began with the formation of Western Europe. The island of Ireland today is a direct result of the earth-building forces that created Eurasia over two billion years ago. Over time, layers of sediment accumulated on the floor of ancient geologic seas, creating limestone. A mixture of this limestone and lava […]

Ireland: Introduction

Perception is a key to understanding the geography of Ireland. Images or perceptions can be created from pictures and stories about Ireland or from family, television, books, and newspapers. For many people, Ireland is perceived as a land of eloquent poets, renowned writers and playwrights, lyrical musicians, and creative dancers.Among these many talented literary and artistic […]

Iceland Looks Ahead

For twelve centuries the people of Iceland have struggled against countless obstacles and won. There is ample reason to believe that they will continue to do so in the future. The country's natural resources are meager, yet on this small, remote, rugged island nation, Icelanders have developed one of the world's most enviable standards of living. […]

Visiting Iceland

Iceland has been discovered by visitors. The ease and relatively low cost of air travel, and the country's marvelous physical and cultural environments, have placed the island country on the map of tourist destinations. In this chapter, you will view Iceland through the eyes of a guest traveler. GETTING THERE Almost everyone who travels to […]

Economy of Iceland

Iceland's Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic and similar to that of the United States and Canada. In addition, an extensive modern welfare system is in place. This covers the medical needs of the Icelandic people, with extensive medical, dental, and eye-care benefits. Free education (from preschool to the university level), guaranteed retirement pay, and high […]

Iceland’s People and Their Way of Life

Icelanders enjoy one of the world's highest standards of living and longest life expectancies. As has been mentioned, it is one of the world's most literate societies, with nearly 100 percent of all adults able to read and write. Surveys suggest that it is also one of the most honest countries, with very little crime […]

Iceland Through Time

In this chapter, our primary focus is on Iceland's culture—as created by its people and their past. The country has a fascinating and somewhat contradictory history. Among major world nations, for example, it was one of the very last countries to be settled. In this respect, it has a very brief history, although its governing […]

Iceland: Landscapes of Fire and Ice

Iceland's physical geography can be summarized in three words: fire, ice, and sea. The island country rose from the sea as molten volcanic material. Today, approximately one-eighth of Iceland remains buried under glacial ice or permanent snow cover, but volcanic activity continues to be an omnipresent threat to the island's people and property. As in […]

Iceland: A Unique Land and People

By almost any measure, Iceland is one of the world's most unique lands. It is a remote, far northern island country that holds many mysteries and contradictions. Physically, it is a land whose features have been shaped and reshaped by the opposing agents of fire and ice. Its first inhabitants were Irish monks who sought […]

Germany Looks Ahead

Charlemagne is often recognized as the founder of the French nation, but he was also responsible for the creation of the Holy Roman Empire and the development of the many small states within the Kingdom of Germany. Somewhat ironically, another French leader, Napoleon, was responsible for the fall of the Holy Roman Empire. From this […]

Living in Germany Today

Between 1945 and 1990, Germany was divided into a prosperous capitalist West Germany and a poorer Communist East Germany. Nonetheless, people in East Germany lived better than those in other Eastern European countries. Most had a television, a refrigerator, and a car even if they were of poorer quality and came with a high price […]

Germany’s Economy

Typical of modern industrialized countries, Germany has fewer than 3 percent of its workforce engaged in extractive industries. The North Sea has been a traditional fishing ground with herring being the most important catch. However, over-fishing has resulted in a decline in the fishing industry, and Germany now relies on imported fish to meet its […]

Germany: Government and Politics

The modern political history of Germany is usually considered to have begun in 1871, when the German Empire was formed. It will be remembered that prior to this time, Germany consisted of hundreds of very small states that had been gradually unified into the 39 states of the German Federation. In 1848, representatives were elected […]

Germany: People and Culture

Given the devastation of two world wars, it might be expected that the population of Germany would be relatively small. In fact, with slightly more than 82 million people, Germany's population is nearly 20 million larger than that of any other European country except Russia. This chapter examines the people of Germany—their demographic makeup, economic […]

Germany Through Time

Remains of the earliest people known to have lived in the area of present-­day Germany were found in the Neander Gorge near the city of Dusseldorf in 1856, thus they were called Neanderthals. They were cave dwellers who lived more than 30,000 years ago. Although a human species, Neanderthals were not entirely identical to present-­day […]

Germany: Physical Landscapes

Germany has an area of 137,847 square miles (357,021 square kilometers). It stretches about 520 miles (840 kilometers) north to south, reaching from 47 to 55 degrees north latitude, and 385 miles (620 kilometers) east to west, between 6 and 15 degrees east longitude. The terrain can be divided into three regions that increase in […]

Introducing Germany

A review of twentieth-­century history would be incomplete without reference to Germany. During the past century, Germany was involved in two world wars. Following its defeat in World War II, its division into East and West became a major symbol of the larger division of the postwar world, just as its reunification in 1990 served […]

Future of Croatia

Although its recent past has been quite troubled, Croatians are optimistic about their country's future. But it is up to them to ensure that the future is, indeed, bright. The country shares many of the same problems that hinder stability and development in most other former Eastern European socialistic states. Achieving political and economic stabilization […]

Croatia: Regions and Cities

Geographers often divide the world and its various areas into regions. A region is an area that is united in some way by one or more elements. In the United States, for example, people often speak of the “South,” or the “Midwest.” Croatia is divided into several regions. Chapter 2 discussed Croatia's three basic land […]

Croatia: Government and Economy

Since 1990, when the one party socialist system was eliminated, Croatia has existed as a parliamentary democracy. A national constitution was approved in December 1990, and independence was proclaimed on June 25, 1991. The country's flag has horizontal bands of red, white, and blue upon which appears the Croatian coat of arms that includes symbols […]

Croatia: People and Culture

Who are the Croats? What are they like? How do they live? What do they do? These are just some of the questions that will be answered in this chapter. Croatian People Almost every nation has a legend about its origins, and the Croats are no exception. According to Croat legend, in the distant past […]

Croatia Through Time

Croatia, as is true of all countries in Eastern Europe, has a long and complex history. This chapter discusses the past and the people, cultures, and events that have shaped present-day Croatia. In the Beginning Archaeological evidence suggests that humans inhabited the area of what today is Croatia as early as 100,000 years ago. More […]

Croatia: Physical Environment

Croatia: Physical Environment

In terms of its natural environment, Croatia is a tourist's dream come true. The country shares many similarities with California. Both are blessed with a very mild and pleasant Mediterranean climate. They both have long coastlines that rank among the world's most scenic. Each location has varied terrain, contributing to diverse landscapes and ecosystems. Unlike […]

Introducing Croatia

A map of Europe looks much different today than it did just a decade or two ago. In the late 1980s, Europe was divided into two political spheres—the democratic West and the Sovietdominated East. Only a few countries were neutral in this Cold War, or ideological conflict, between Eastern and Western Europe. Today, the Soviet […]

Belgium Looks Ahead

The author has been careful to emphasize the difference between Belgium and what is now increasingly referred to in Europe as “Brussels.” The former is the country and its people, and “Brussels” is a term often used for the huge controlling bureaucracy that is the European Union (EU). This powerful entity is not to the […]

Living in Belgium Today

It is sometimes said that many people in Europe hold a rather negative image of Belgium. Undoubtedly, the country is sharply divided by language. This division causes a seemingly endless separation of people, politics, government, administration, media, and other aspects of society and culture. It is a densely populated country and one that is often […]

Belgium’s Economy

Belgium is located in one of the most industrialized areas of Europe. Because of its industrial strength—­ and hence, employment opportunities—­it is also one of the most densely populated. The per capita gross national product (GNP) for the Flemish and Central regions ranks among the highest in the entire European Union (EU); the average figure […]

Belgium: Government and Politics

Belgium is a federal state in which amendments to the Constitution that were made in 1993 have resulted in a further reduction in the power of national government. What were formerly national powers have now been granted, at least to some degree, to regional and community governments. First, however, let us examine the various levels […]

Belgium: People and Culture

Few countries are so equally divided by language and other aspects of culture as Belgium. Yet, despite the conflicting interests of the two main population groups, the country has achieved a unity that does not appear to be seriously threatened. Although there have been, and still are, significant separatist and nationalist movements, especially among the […]

Belgium Through Time

The area of Europe that includes Belgium lies open and exposed on the European plain. It has often been referred to as the “Battlefield of Europe.” Bloody and seemingly endless wars between different European powers were repeatedly fought here. It was not always a single nation known as Belgium; the country's name derived from that […]

Belgium: Physical Landscapes

Belgium: Physical Landscapes

Belgium has a land area of 11,787 square miles (30,528 square kilometers), which, as already has been noted, is roughly equivalent in size to Maryland. Most of the country's territory lies on a huge lowland plain that stretches from the Pyrenees eastward to the Urals. In this chapter, we will look at Belgium's land areas, […]

Welcome to the Kingdom of Belgium

The small country of Belgium hugs the coast of the North Sea in northwestern Europe. It is bordered by Germany to the east, the Netherlands to the north, and France to the south and southwest. The smaller Grand Duchy of Luxembourg borders Belgium's southeast corner. There, the dense forests and rolling hills of both countries […]

Canada Looks Ahead

To more clearly see where Canada is going, it is beneficial to remember from where it has come. Its rich history commemorates, celebrates, and teaches valuable lessons not to be forgotten. Canada's identity has been shaped and ornamented by the contributions of diverse peoples. Referred to as a cultural mosaic, millions of Canadians live side […]

Living in Canada Today

Canadians are proud of their diverse heritage and achievements. Its proximity to the United States often means that they are perceived as similar societies, but the two countries do have many differences. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, highly esteemed by the Canadian public, once stated, “Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which […]

Canada: Economy

For seven consecutive years—from 1994 to 2000—Canada held the distinction of being the best country in the world in which to live. The annual ranking by the United Nations assesses such things as life expectancy, adult literacy, and economic prosperity. Canada's life expectancy is 79 years, with a literacy rate of 97 percent. These high […]

Canada: Government

Geographic and cultural diversity offer unique challenges in governing the expansive country of Canada.Dilemmas arise from ongoing issues, such as Quebec's desire for secession, and newer issues, such as the self-governing of Nunavut. Being prepared to meet such challenges responsibly is an ongoing task of the Canadian government. In this chapter, you will read about […]

Canada: Faces and Places

Few people are permanent residents of any one place.Migration (movement from one location to another) occurs for various reasons for various people and involves a host of push-andpull factors. Push-and-pull factors are those reasons why a person feels “pushed” from a present home and “pulled” to the attracting qualities of a different home. Consider factors […]

Canada Through Time

The self-governing Dominion of Canada—comprised of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia—was established on July 1, 1867. But is this date the real beginning of Canada as a country? At this point in the young country's life, Canada still maintained ties to the British crown. (This unique connection will be further discussed in Chapter […]

Canada Map

Canada: Physical Landscapes

Canada is a vast country with a great variety of impressive scenery. The natural environment, or physical landscape, provides the stage upon which human cultures play out their ways of living. In this regard, Canada is blessed in countless ways—its land regions, weather and climate, ecosystems, water features, and other natural resources offer much diversity […]


Introducing Canada

Imagine you are hiking on a meandering trail through one of Canada's spectacular national parks. As you breathe in deeply, smelling the natural perfume of the evergreens surrounding you in this particular location, you pause to wonder,“Have I experienced Canada before?” If you have eaten a crisp, juicy McIntosh apple (cultivated in Ontario in 1811 […]

Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Antarctica: Industrialization Sparks Change

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Some of the largest employers in Southeast Asia are makers of athletic shoes. They provide much-needed jobs for Southeast Asians, but many observers have accused the companies of abusing workers. For example, in 1995, Lap Nguyen began working at a shoe factory in Vietnam. In February 1996, she was promoted to team leader. […]

Aboriginal Land Claims

Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Antarctica: Aboriginal Land Claims

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE In 1972, the Australian government denied the claims of some Aboriginal people trying to regain ancestral lands. In response, Aboriginal protesters erected a tent on the lawn of Old Parliament House in Canberra and named it the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. They called it an embassy to symbolize their treatment as foreigners in […]

Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE In 1788, Great Britain founded Sydney, Australia, as a penal colony—that is, a place to send prisoners. By the end of the 20th century, Sydney had overcome its origins and earned a reputation as a fun and fascinating international city. That has been due, in part, to a unique combination of physical […]

Cultural Regions of Oceania


A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Noah Idechong has fought to protect the sea life of Palau, an archipelago east of the Philippines. Palauans have always earned their living by fishing, but in the 1980s, many species of fish were in danger of extinction because they were such popular menu items in Asian restaurants. Idechong began to study […]

Colonies in Southeast Asia, 1895

Southeast Asia

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Much of Southeast Asia is haunted by its colonial past. One example is the divided island of Timor. The Netherlands ruled Western Timor, later part of Indonesia. Portugal ruled East Timor. In 1975, East Timor declared itself an independent state (even though some people living there wanted to join Indonesia). In response, […]

Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Antarctica: Human–Environment Interaction

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE In May 2000, the Smithsonian Institution honored Mau Piailug for preserving traditional navigation skills. Mau was born in Micronesia. When he was four years old, he began to sail with his grandfather, who taught the boy how to navigate without using instruments. Those methods of navigation were similar to those used by […]

Australia’s Unique Life Forms

Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Antarctica: Climate and Vegetation

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE During the Vietnam War, American troops were sent to fight in unfamiliar Southeast Asia. Among the hardships they endured was the tropical climate. Few had ever lived in a place that had a monsoon season with constant rain. One soldier wrote to his wife, “We live in mud and rain. I'm so […]

Southeast Asian Mountains and Rivers

Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Antarctica: Landforms and Resources

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE The Aeta people of the Philippines lived on the volcano Mount Pinatubo for generations. They knew this volcano so well that they timed the planting and harvesting of their crops by the amount of steam rising from a vent on its slope. In 1991, the Aeta noticed changes in the mountain and […]

East Asia: Population and the Quality of Life

Because East Asia has changed so much, it's hard to imagine how different the region looked 50 years ago. Today, some of the countries and cities of the region are among the most prosperous in the world. In Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the statistics on per capita income, length of life, and literacy are […]

Exports from Jakota Triangle Countries

East Asia: Trade and Prosperity

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE At the beginning of the 1990s, the economies of East Asia were growing very rapidly. Unfortunately, there was a dark side to this prosperity. In 1995, UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund) reported that more than half a million children in East Asia were working in factories or begging on the streets. […]

The Ring of Fire

East Asia: The Ring of Fire

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE On January 17, 1995, at 5:46 A.M., a severe earthquake rocked Kobe, Japan's sixth largest city. When the dust settled and the last of the fires burned out, about 6,000 people lay dead, and more than 40,000 suffered injuries. The government quickly began rebuilding the port city, but psychologists warned that reviving […]

Japanese Empire, 1942

East Asia: Japan

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE The Japanese flag shows a red sun against a white background. The red sun symbolizes Amaterasu, the sun goddess. According to myth, the Japanese emperor and his family are descended from the goddess. The Japanese call their country Nippon, which means “source of the sun.” The name Japan may have come from […]

The Korean War, 1950–1953

The Koreas: North and South

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Korea is surrounded by water on three sides and by mountains on its northern border. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Korea chose self-protected isolation and became known as “the hermit kingdom.” This isolation has continued in North Korea, which has little contact with other nations even today. However, that may be […]

The Mongol Empire, 1294

East Asia: Mongolia and Taiwan

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE The Mongols of the Asian steppe lived their lives on horseback. In 1206, a great leader named Temujin (later called Genghis Khan) united the Mongol clans and led them in conquering much of Asia. He is reported to have said, “Man's greatest good fortune is to chase and defeat his enemy, seize […]

East Asia: China

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE In ancient times, China had been open to attack from nomadic horsemen who roamed the plains of northern China and Mongolia. Around 220 B.C., the emperor Shi Huangdi decided to build the Great Wall of China by closing the gaps between smaller walls built by earlier rulers. Hundreds of thousands of peasants […]

East Asia: Human–Environment Interaction

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Hundreds of thousands of Chinese died in floods in the 20th century. Most of these deaths were caused by the flooding of the Chang Jiang and the Huang He rivers. These vast river floodplains are home to, and help feed, hundreds of millions of people, and this makes people vulnerable to the […]