Portal:Geography/Featured article/archive/2007

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This is the archive of articles featured on the Geography portal in 2007.

January 2007
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Lake Burley Griffin is a lake in the centre of Canberra, Australia's federal capital city. It was created in 1963 after the Molonglo River, which runs through the city centre, was dammed. It is named after Walter Burley Griffin, the architect who won the design competition for the city of Canberra.

The lake is located in the approximate geographic centre of the city, according to Griffin's original designs. Numerous important institutions, such as the National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia, National Library of Australia and the High Court of Australia lie on its shores, and Parliament House is a short distance away. Its surrounds are also quite popular with recreational users, particularly in the warmer months. Though swimming in the lake is uncommon, it is used for a wide variety of other activities, such as rowing, fishing, and sailing.

The lake's flow is regulated by the 33 metre tall Scrivener Dam, which is designed to handle a once in 5000 year flood event. If required in times of drought, water levels can be maintained through the release of water from Googong Dam, located on an upstream tributary of the Molonglo River. (more...)


February 2007
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The City of Dawson Creek is a small city in north-eastern British Columbia, Canada. It covers an area of 20.66 square kilometers with a 2004 population of 11,394 people. Dubbed "The Capital of the Peace", it is the service center for the rural areas south of the Peace River and the seat of the Peace River Regional District. Four provincial highways from north and south Alberta and British Columbia meet in Dawson Creek.

Dawson Creek derived its name from the creek that runs through the city called Dawson Creek. The creek was named after George Mercer Dawson by a member of his land survey team when they passed through the area in August of 1879. The city is best known as the "Mile 0 City", a nickname created because of its location at the southern end of the Alaska Highway. (more...)


March 2007
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Isan, also written as Isaan, Isarn, Issan, or Esarn; (Isan/Thai: อีสาน) is the northeast region of Thailand. It is located on the Khorat Plateau, bordered by the Mekong River to the north and east, and by Cambodia to the south. To the west it is separated from Northern and Central Thailand by the Phetchabun mountain range.

Agriculture is the main economic activity, but due to the socio-economic conditions and hot, dry climate output lags behind that of other parts of the country. This is Thailand's poorest region.

The main language of the region is Isan (which is similar to Lao), but Thai is also spoken by almost everyone. Khmer (the language of Cambodia) is widely spoken in regions near the Cambodian border. Most of the population is of Lao origin, but the region's incorporation into the modern Thai state has been largely successful.

Prominent aspects of the Culture of Isan include mor lam folk music, Muay Thai boxing, cock fighting and Isan food, in which sticky rice and chillies are prominent. Sticky rice is a staple of Thai Northeastern cuisine, and accompanies almost every meal. (more...)


April 2007
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Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation. Models referenced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict that global temperatures are likely to increase by 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) between 1990 and 2100. The uncertainty in this range results from two factors: differing future greenhouse gas emission scenarios, and uncertainties regarding climate sensitivity.

Global average near-surface atmospheric temperature rose 0.74 ± 0.18 °Celsius (1.3 ± 0.32 °Fahrenheit) in the last century. The prevailing scientific opinion on climate change is that "most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations," which leads to warming of the surface and lower atmosphere by increasing the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases are released by activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing, and agriculture. Other phenomena such as solar variation and volcanoes have had smaller but non-negligible effects on global mean temperature since 1950. A few scientists disagree about the primary causes of the observed warming. (more...)


May 2007
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Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park, established in 1885, in the Canadian Rockies. The park, located 120 kilometres (80 mi) west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, encompasses 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbours to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast. The main commercial centre of the park is the town of Banff, in the Bow River valley.

The Canadian Pacific Railway was instrumental in Banff's early years, building the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise, and attracting tourists through extensive advertising. In the early 20th century, roads were built in Banff, at times by war internees, and through Great Depression-era public works projects. Since the 1960s, park accommodations have been open all year, with annual tourism visits to Banff increasing to over 5 million in the 1990s. Millions more pass through the park on the Trans-Canada Highway. As Banff is one of the world's most visited national parks, the health of its ecosystem has been threatened. In the mid-1990s, Parks Canada responded by initiating a two-year study, which resulted in management recommendations, and new policies that aim to preserve ecological integrity. (more...)


June 2007
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Chennai (Tamil: ெசன்ைன), formerly known as Madras About this sound pronunciation , is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and is India's fourth largest metropolitan city. It is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. With an estimated population of 6.91 million (2006), the 368-year-old city is the 34th largest metropolitan area in the world.

Chennai is the third largest commercial and industrial centre in India, and is known for its cultural heritage and temple architecture. It is also a hub for south Indian classical music and dance performances. Chennai is considered the automobile capital of India, with a major percentage of the automobile industry having a base here and a major portion of the nation's vehicles being produced here. This has led to Chennai being referred to as the Detroit of South Asia. It has also become a major centre for outsourced jobs from the West. The 12-kilometre long Marina Beach forms the city's east coast. The city is known for its sport venues and hosts an ATP tennis event, the Chennai Open. Chennai is also one of the rare cities to accommodate a national park, the Guindy National Park, within its city limits. (more...)


July 2007
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Minneapolis (pronounced: /ˌmɪniˈæpəlɪs/) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Hennepin County. The city lies on both banks of the Mississippi River, just north of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Saint Paul, the state's capital. Known as the Twin Cities, these two cities form the core of Minneapolis–St. Paul, the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, with about 3.2 million residents. The city of Minneapolis' population is estimated at 372,811 people as of 2005.

Once a hub for timber and flour milling, Minneapolis is the primary business center in the vast expanse between Chicago and Seattle. The community has a long tradition of charitable support through progressive public social programs and through private and corporate philanthropy.

Public park systems are modeled after Minneapolis, where lakes are used for recreation year-around, and a park is within one-half mile (.8 km) of every home. Regional theater was pioneered at the city's Guthrie Theater and is part of a strong local tradition in the performing arts.

The name Minneapolis is attributed to the city's first schoolmaster, who combined Minnehaha and mni, the Dakota word for water, and polis, the Greek word for city. Minneapolis is nicknamed the City of Lakes and the Mill City...


August 2007
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Cape Horn (Dutch: Kaap Hoorn; Spanish: Cabo de Hornos; named after the city of Hoorn in the Netherlands) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile.

It is widely considered to be the southern tip of South America. Cape Horn is the most southerly of the great capes, and marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage; for many years it was a major milestone on the clipper route, by which sailing ships carried trade around the world. However, the waters around the cape are particularly hazardous, due to strong winds, large waves, strong currents and icebergs; these dangers have made it notorious as a sailors' graveyard.

The need for ships to round the horn was greatly reduced by the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. However, sailing around the Horn is widely regarded as one of the major challenges in yachting, and a few recreational sailors continue to sail this route, sometimes as part of a circumnavigation of the globe, almost all of these choosing routes through the canals to the north of the actual Cape, though many take a detour through the islands and anchor to wait for fair weather to actually visit Horn Island or even sail around it to replicate a rounding of this historical point. Several prominent ocean yacht races, notably the Vendée Globe, sail around the world via the Horn, and speed records for round-the-world sailing follow the same route.


September 2007
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Mount St. Helens is an active stratovolcano in Skamania County, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is 96 miles (154 km) south of Seattle and 53 miles (85 km) northeast of Portland, Oregon. Mount St. Helens takes its English name from the British diplomat Lord St Helens, a friend of explorer George Vancouver who made a survey of the area in the late 18th century. The mountain is in the Cascade Range and is part the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes. This volcano is well known for its ash explosions and pyroclastic flows.

Mount St. Helens is most famous for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, which was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (300 km) of highway were destroyed. The eruption caused a massive debris avalanche, reducing the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 to 8,365 feet (2,950–2,550 m), and replacing it with a mile-wide (1½ km) horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles (2.3 km³) in volume.

As with most other volcanoes in the Cascade Range, Mount St. Helens is a large eruptive cone consisting of lava rock interlayered with ash, pumice, and other deposits. The mountain includes layers of basalt and andesite through which several domes of dacite lava have erupted. The largest of the dacite domes formed the previous summit and off its northern flank sat the smaller Goat Rocks dome. Both were destroyed in the 1980 eruption.


October 2007
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Darjeeling (Nepali: About this sound दार्जीलिङ्ग , Bengali: দার্জিলিং) is a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is the headquarters of Darjeeling district, in the Shiwalik Hills on the lower range of the Himalaya, at an average elevation of 2,134 m (6,982 ft). The name "Darjeeling" is a combination of the Tibetan words Dorje ("thunderbolt") and ling ("place"), translating to "The land of the thunderbolt." During the British Raj in India, Darjeeling's temperate climate led to its development as a hill station (hill town) for British residents to escape the heat of the plains during the summers.

Darjeeling is internationally famous for its tea and beer industry and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tea plantations date back to the mid 19th century as part of a British development of the area. The tea growers of the area developed distinctive hybrids of black tea and fermenting techniques, with many blends considered among the world's finest. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connecting the town with the plains was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 and is one of the few steam engines still in service in India.

Darjeeling has several British-style public schools, which attract students from many parts of India and neighbouring countries. The town, along with neighbouring Kalimpong was a major centre for the demand of a separate Gorkhaland state in the 1980s, though the separatist movement has gradually decreased over the past decade due to the setting up of an autonomous hill council. In the recent years the town's fragile ecology is threatened by a rising demand for environmental resources, stemming from growing tourist traffic and poorly planned urbanisation.


November 2007

Ahmedabad ([અમદાવાદ Amdāvād] error: {{lang-xx}}: text has italic markup (help), Hindi: अहमदाबाद About this sound Ahmadābād ) is the largest city in the state of Gujarat and the seventh-largest urban agglomeration in India, with a population of almost 53 lakhs (5.3 million). Located on the banks of the River Sabarmati, the city is the administrative centre of Ahmedabad district, and was the capital of Gujarat from 1960 to 1970; the capital was shifted to Gandhinagar thereafter. The city is sometimes called Karnavati, a name for an older town that existed in the same location; in colloquial Gujarati, it is commonly called Amdavad.

The city was founded in 1411 to serve as the capital of the Sultanate of Gujarat, by its namesake, Sultan Ahmed Shah. Under British rule, a military cantonment was established and the city infrastructure was modernised and expanded. Although incorporated into the Bombay Presidency during the British rule in India, Ahmedabad remained the most important city in the Gujarat region. The city established itself as the home of a booming textile industry, which earned it the nickname "the Manchester of the East." The city was at the forefront of the Indian independence movement in the first half of the 20th century. It was the epicentre of many campaigns of civil disobedience to promote workers' rights, civil rights and political independence.

With the creation of the state of Gujarat in 1960, Ahmedabad gained prominence as the political and commercial capital of the state. Once characterised by dusty roads and bungalows, the city is witnessing a major construction boom and population increase. A rising centre of education, information technology and scientific industries, Ahmedabad remains the cultural and commercial heart of Gujarat, and much of western India. Since 2000, the city has been transformed through the construction of skyscrapers, shopping malls and multiplexes. However, this progress has been marred by natural calamities, political instability and outbreaks of communal violence.


December 2007

Kochi (About this sound pronunciation ; Malayalam: കൊച്ചി [koˈʧːi]); formerly known as Cochin) is a city in the Indian state of Kerala, located in the district of Ernakulam, about 220 kilometres (137 mi) north of the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. It has an estimated population of 600,000, with an extended metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, making it the largest urban agglomeration and the second largest city in Kerala after the capital. According to data compiled by economics research firm Indicus Analytics on residences, earnings and investments, the best city in India to reside is Kochi. Interestingly 4 other Kerala cities Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and Kannur also found place in the top ten list. Indicus considered six parameters -- health, education, environment, safety, public facilities and entertainment -- for preparing the 'reside-in' index.

Since 1102 CE, Kochi was the seat of the Kingdom of Cochin, a princely state which traces its lineage to the Kulasekhara empire. Heralded as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi was an important spice trading centre on the Arabian Sea coast from the 14th century onwards. Ancient travellers and tradesmen referred to Kochi in their writings, variously alluding to it as Cocym, Cochym, Cochin, and Cochi. Occupied by the Portuguese in 1503, Kochi was the site of the first European colonial settlement in India. It remained the capital of Portuguese India until 1530, when Goa became the capital. The city was later occupied by the Dutch, the Mysore and the British. Kochi was the first princely state to willingly join the Indian Union, when India gained independence in 1947.

Kochi experienced decades of economic stagnation from independence until 2003, when it entered a period of economic growth, leading to a spurt in the city's development. A growing centre of information technology, tourism and international trade, Kochi is the commercial hub of Kerala, and one of the fastest growing second-tier metros in India. Like other large cities in the developing world, Kochi continues to struggle with urbanisation problems such as traffic congestion and environmental degradation.

Successive waves of migration over the course of several millennia have made Kochi a cultural melting pot. Despite the risk of overdevelopment, the city retains its distinct colonial heritage and a blend of tradition and modernity.