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ANTARCTICA

Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent, underlying the South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.0 million km2 (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) in thickness.

Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland. There are no permanent human residents but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including penguins, seals, nematodes, Tardigrades, mites, many types of algae and other microorganisms, and tundra vegetation.

Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis (“Southern Land”) date back to antiquity, the first confirmed sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Mikhail Lazarev and Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen. The continent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of resources, and isolation. The first formal use of the name “Antarctica” as a continental name in the 1890s is attributed to the Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew. The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by twelve countries; to date, forty-six countries have signed the treaty. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, supports scientific research, and protects the continent’s ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists of many nationalities and with various research interests.

Geography

Centered asymmetrically around the South Pole and largely south of the Antarctic Circle, Antarctica is the southernmost continent and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean; alternatively, it may be considered to be surrounded by the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, or by the southern waters of the World Ocean. It covers more than 14,000,000 km2 (5,400,000 sq mi), making it the fifth-largest continent, about 1.3 times as large as Europe. The coastline measures 17,968 km (11,165 mi) and is mostly characterized by ice formations, as the following table shows:

Coastal types around Antarctica (Drewry, 1983)
Type Frequency
Ice shelf (floating ice front) 44%
Ice walls (resting on ground) 38%
Ice stream/outlet glacier (ice front or ice wall) 13%
Rock 5%
Total 100%

Climate

Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth. The coldest natural temperature ever recorded on Earth was −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) at the Russian Vostok Station in Antarctica on 21 July 1983. For comparison, this is 11 °C (20 °F) colder than subliming dry ice. Antarctica is a frozen desert with little precipitation; the South Pole itself receives less than 10 cm (4 in) per year, on average. Temperatures reach a minimum of between −80 °C (−112 °F) and −90 °C (−130 °F) in the interior in winter and reach a maximum of between 5 °C (41 °F) and 15 °C (59 °F) near the coast in summer. Sunburn is often a health issue as the snow surface reflects almost all of the ultraviolet light falling on it.

East Antarctica is colder than its western counterpart because of its higher elevation. Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent, leaving the center cold and dry. Despite the lack of precipitation over the central portion of the continent, ice there lasts for extended time periods. Heavy snowfalls are not uncommon on the coastal portion of the continent, where snowfalls of up to 1.22 metres (48 in) in 48 hours have been recorded.

Antarctica is colder than the Arctic for two reasons. First, much of the continent is more than 3 kilometres (2 mi) above sea level, and temperature decreases with elevation. Second, the Arctic Ocean covers the north polar zone: the ocean’s relative warmth is transferred through the icepack and prevents temperatures in the Arctic regions from reaching the extremes typical of the land surface of Antarctica.

 Given the latitude, long periods of constant darkness or constant sunlight create climates unfamiliar to human beings in much of the rest of the world. The aurora australis, commonly known as the southern lights, is a glow observed in the night sky near the South Pole created by the plasma-full solar winds that pass by the Earth. Another unique spectacle is diamond dust, a ground-level cloud composed of tiny ice crystals. It generally forms under otherwise clear or nearly clear skies, so people sometimes also refer to it as clear-sky precipitation. A sun dog, a frequent atmospheric optical phenomenon, is a bright “spot” beside the true sun.
 

Flora and fauna

The climate of Antarctica does not allow extensive vegetation. A combination of freezing temperatures, poor soil quality, lack of moisture, and lack of sunlight inhibit plant growth. As a result, plant life is limited to mostly mosses and liverworts. The autotrophic community is made up of mostly protists. The flora of the continent largely consists of lichens, bryophytes, algae, and fungi. Growth generally occurs in the summer, and only for a few weeks at most.

 There are more than 200 species of lichens and about 50 species of bryophytes, such as mosses. Seven hundred species of algae exist, most of which are phytoplankton. Multicolored snow algae and diatoms are especially abundant in the coastal regions during the summer. There are two species of flowering plants found in the Antarctic Peninsula: the Antarctic hair grass and the Antarctic pearlwort.
 
Few terrestrial vertebrates live in Antarctica.  Invertebrate life includes microscopic mites. Recently ancient ecosystems consisting of several types of bacteria have been found living trapped deep beneath glaciers. The flightless midge Belgica antarctica, just 12 millimeters (0.5 in) in size, is the largest purely terrestrial animal in Antarctica. The Snow Petrel is one of only three birds that breed exclusively in Antarctica.

A variety of marine animals exist and rely, directly or indirectly, on the phytoplankton. Antarctic sea life includes penguins, blue whales, orcas, colossal squids and fur seals. The Emperor penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica, while the Adélie Penguin breeds farther south than any other penguin. The Rockhopper penguin has distinctive feathers around the eyes, giving the appearance of elaborate eyelashes. King penguins, Chinstrap penguins, and Gentoo Penguins also breed in the Antarctic.

Antarctic territories

Antarctica, Argentina territorial claim.svg Antarctica, Australia territorial claim.svg Antarctica, Chile territorial claim.svg Antarctica, France territorial claim.svg Antarctica, New Zealand territorial claim.svg Antarctica, Norway territorial claim.svg Antarctica, United Kingdom territorial claim.svg
Argentina Australia Chile France New Zealand Norway United Kingdom
Main article: Antarctic territorial claims
Date Country Territory Claim limits
1908  United Kingdom  British Antarctic Territory 20°W to 80°W
1923  New Zealand Ross Dependency 150°W to 160°E
1924  France French Southern and Antarctic Lands Adélie Land 142°2’E to 136°11’E
1929  Norway  Peter I Island 68°50′S 90°35′W / 68.833°S 90.583°W / -68.833; -90.583 (Peter I Island)
1933  Australia Australia Australian Antarctic Territory 160°E to 142°2’E and
136°11’E to 44°38’E
1939  Norway  Queen Maud Land 44°38’E to 20°W
1940  Chile Antártica Chilena Province Antártica 53°W to 90°W
1943  Argentina  Argentine Antarctica 25°W to 74°W
None Unclaimed territory
(Marie Byrd Land)
90°W to 150°W
(except the Peter I Island)

The Argentine, British, and Chilean claims all overlap, and have caused friction. The areas shown as Australia’s and New Zealand’s claims were British territory until they were handed over following the countries’ independence. Australia currently claims the largest area. Australia and New Zealand both recognise the British claim, and vice-versa.

Countries interested in participating in a possible territorial division of Antarctica

This group of countries participating as members of Antarctica Treaty have a territorial interest in the Antarctic continent:

  •  Brazil has a designated ‘zone of interest’ that is not an actual claim.
  •  Peru has formally reserved its right to make a claim.
  •  Russia has reserved its right to claim “territories discovered by Russians”, which potentially may refer to the entire continent.
  •  South Africa has formally reserved its right to make a claim.
  •  Spain has formally reserved its right to make a claim.
  •  United States has formally reserved its right to make a claim.

-Let’s discover more interesting things about Antarctica!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlweOV6U4Vs&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpFUJlm7_fo&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFd-SfZN1X0&feature=related

OCEANIA

Oceania (sometimes Oceanica) is a geographical, and often geopolitical, region consisting of numerous lands—mostly islands in the Pacific Ocean and vicinity. The term “Oceania” was coined in 1831 by French explorer Dumont d’Urville. The term is also sometimes used to denote a continent comprising Australia and proximate Pacific islands, and is one of eight terrestrial ecozones.

The boundaries of Oceania are defined in a number of ways. Most definitions include Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea, and all or part of the Malay Archipelago. Ethnologically, the islands that are included in Oceania are divided into the subregions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

Extent

Oceania is traditionally understood as being composed of three regions: Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. As with any region, however, interpretations vary; increasingly, geographers and scientists divide Oceania into Near Oceania and Remote Oceania.

Most of Oceania consists of island nations comprising thousands of coral atolls and volcanic islands, with small human populations. Australia is the only continental country but Indonesia has land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. If the Australia-New Guinea continent is included then the highest point is Puncak Jaya in Papua at 4,884 m (16,024 ft) and the lowest point is Lake Eyre, Australia at 16 m (52 ft) below sea level.

Territories and regions

Descriptions of the regions and constituents of Oceania vary according to source. The table below shows the subregions and countries of Oceania as broadly categorised according to the scheme for geographic subregions used by the United Nations.  These territories and regions are subject to various additional categorisations, of course, depending on the source and purpose of each description.

Name of region, followed by countries
and their flags
Area
(km²)
Population Population density
(per km²)
Capital  
Australasia
 Australia 7,686,850 22,028,000 2.7 Canberra  
 New Zealand 268,680 4,108,037 14.5 Wellington  
Dependencies/Territories of Australia:
 Christmas Island 135 1,493 3.5 Flying Fish Cove  
 Cocos (Keeling) Islands 14 632 45.1 West Island  
Australia Coral Sea Islands 3        
 Norfolk Island 35 1,866 53.3 Kingston  
Melanesia
 Fiji 18,270 856,346 46.9 Suva  
 Indonesia (Oceanian part only) 499,852 4,211,532 8.4 Jakarta  
 New Caledonia (France) 19,060 240,390 12.6 Nouméa  
 Papua New Guinea 462,840 5,172,033 11.2 Port Moresby  
 Solomon Islands 28,450 494,786 17.4 Honiara  
 Vanuatu 12,200 240,000 19.7 Port Vila  
Micronesia
 Federated States of Micronesia 702 135,869 193.5 Palikir  
 Guam (USA) 549 160,796 292.9 Hagåtña  
 Kiribati 811 96,335 118.8 South Tarawa  
 Marshall Islands 181 73,630 406.8 Majuro  
 Nauru 21 12,329 587.1 Yaren  
 Northern Mariana Islands (USA) 477 77,311 162.1 Saipan  
 Palau 458 19,409 42.4 Melekeok  
United States Wake Island (USA) 2     Wake Island  
Polynesia
 American Samoa (USA) 199 68,688 345.2 Pago Pago, Fagatogo  
 Cook Islands (NZ) 240 20,811 86.7 Avarua  
 Easter Island (Chile) 163.6 3,791 23.1 Hanga Roa  
 French Polynesia (France) 3,961 257,847 61.9 Papeete  
 Hawaii (USA) 28,311 1,283,388 72.8 Honolulu  
 Niue (NZ) 260 2,134 8.2 Alofi  
 Pitcairn Islands (UK) 5 47 10 Adamstown  
 Samoa 2,944 179,000 63.2 Apia  
 Tokelau (NZ) 10 1,431 143.1  
 Tonga 748 106,137 141.9 Nukuʻalofa  
 Tuvalu 26 11,146 428.7 Funafuti  
 Wallis and Futuna (France) 274 15,585 56.9 Mata-Utu  
Total 9,037,695 38,894,851 4.3  
Total minus mainland Australia 1,350,845 17,844,851 13.2

 -Enjoy the following videos about Oceania!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMOZ2j21VZo 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE1eT-zaa4g

ASIA

Asia is the world’s largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.6% of the Earth’s total surface area (or 29.9% of its land area) and with approximately 4 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world’s current human population. During the 20th century Asia’s population nearly quadrupled.

Asia is traditionally defined as part of the landmass of Eurasia — with the western portion of the latter occupied by Europe — located to the east of the Suez Canal, east of the Ural Mountains and south of the Caucasus Mountains (or the Kuma-Manych Depression) and the Caspian and Black Seas. It is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Given its size and diversity, Asia — a toponym dating back to classical antiquity — is more a cultural concept incorporating a number of regions and peoples than a homogeneous physical entity.

The wealth of Asia differs very widely among and within its regions, due to its vast size and huge range of different cultures, environments, historical ties and government systems. In terms of nominal GDP, Japan has the largest economy on the continent and the second largest in the world. In purchasing power parity terms, however, China has the largest economy in Asia and the second largest in the world.

Physical geography

Medieval Europeans considered Asia as a continent a distinct landmass. The European concept of the three continents in the Old World goes back to Classical Antiquity, but during the Middle Ages was notably due to 7th century Spanish scholar Isidore of Sevilla. The demarcation between Asia and Africa (to the southwest) is the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea. The boundary between Asia and Europe is conventionally considered to run through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian Sea, the Ural River to its source and the Ural Mountains to the Kara Sea near Kara, Russia. While this interpretation of tripartite continents (i.e., of Asia, Europe and Africa) remains common in modernity, discovery of the extent of Africa and Asia have made this definition somewhat anachronistic. This is especially true in the case of Asia, which has several regions that would be considered distinct landmasses if these criteria were used (for example, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia).

In the far northeast of Asia, Siberia is separated from North America by the Bering Strait. Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean (specifically, from west to east, the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal), on the east by the waters of the Pacific Ocean (including, counterclockwise, the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk and Bering Sea) and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Australia (or Oceania) is to the southeast.

Some geographers do not consider Asia and Europe to be separate continents, as there is no logical physical separation between them. For example, Sir Barry Cunliffe, the emeritus professor of European archeology at Oxford, argues that Europe has been geographically and culturally merely “the western excrescence of the continent of Asia.” Geographically, Asia is the major eastern constituent of the continent of Eurasia with Europe being a northwestern peninsula of the landmass – or of Afro-Eurasia: geologically, Asia, Europe and Africa comprise a single continuous landmass (save the Suez Canal) and share a common continental shelf. Almost all of Europe and most of Asia sit atop the Eurasian Plate, adjoined on the south by the Arabian and Indian Plate and with the easternmost part of Siberia (east of the Cherskiy Range) on the North American Plate.

In geography, there are two schools of thought. One school follows historical convention and treats Europe and Asia as different continents, categorizing subregions within them for more detailed analysis. The other school equates the word “continent” with a geographical region when referring to Europe, and use the term “region” to describe Asia in terms of physiography. Since, in linguistic terms, “continent” implies a distinct landmass, it is becoming increasingly common to substitute the term “region” for “continent” to avoid the problem of disambiguation altogether.

Given the scope and diversity of the landmass, it is sometimes not even clear exactly what “Asia” consists of. Some definitions exclude Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia while only considering the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent to compose Asia, especially in the United States after World War II. The term is sometimes used more strictly in reference to the Asia-Pacific region, which does not include the Middle East or Russia, but does include islands in the Pacific Ocean—a number of which may also be considered part of Australasia or Oceania, although Pacific Islanders are not considered Asian.

Political geography

Name of region and
territory, with flag
Area
(km²)
Population Population density
(per km²)
Capital
Central Asia:
 Kazakhstan 2,724,927 15,666,533 5.7 Astana
 Kyrgyzstan 198,500 5,356,869 24.3 Bishkek
 Tajikistan 143,100 7,211,884 47.0 Dushanbe
 Turkmenistan 488,100 5,179,573 9.6 Ashgabat
 Uzbekistan 447,400 28,268,441 57.1 Tashkent
Eastern Asia:
 Hong Kong 1,092 7,008,300 6,417.9
 South Korea 98,480 49,232,844 490.7 Seoul
 Japan 377,835 127,288,628 336.1 Tokyo
 Macau[18] 25 460,823 18,473.3
 Mongolia 1,565,000 2,996,082 1.7 Ulaan Baatar
 North Korea 120,540 23,479,095 184.4 Pyongyang
 People’s Republic of China 9,640,821 1,322,044,605 134.0 Beijing
 Republic of China 35,980 22,920,946 626.7 Taipei
Northern Asia:
 Russia 17,075,400 142,200,000 26.8 Moscow
Southeastern Asia:
 Brunei 5,770 381,371 66.1 Bandar Seri Begawan
 Burma (Myanmar) 676,578 47,758,224 70.3 Naypyidaw
 Cambodia 181,035 13,388,910 74 Phnom Penh
 East Timor (Timor-Leste) 15,007 1,108,777 73.8 Dili
 Indonesia 1,919,440 230,512,000 120.1 Jakarta
 Laos 236,800 6,677,534 28.2 Vientiane
 Malaysia 329,847 27,780,000 84.2 Kuala Lumpur
 Philippines 300,000 92,681,453 308.9 Manila
 Singapore 704 4,608,167 6,545.7 Singapore
 Thailand 514,000 65,493,298 127.4 Bangkok
 Vietnam 331,690 86,116,559 259.6 Hanoi
Southern Asia:
 Afghanistan 647,500 32,738,775 42.9 Kabul
 Bangladesh 147,570 153,546,901 1040.5 Dhaka
 Bhutan 38,394 682,321 17.8 Thimphu
 India 3,287,263 1,147,995,226 349.2 New Delhi
 Maldives 300 379,174 1,263.3 Malé
 Nepal 147,181 29,519,114 200.5 Kathmandu
 Pakistan 803,940 167,762,049 208.7 Islamabad
 Sri Lanka 65,610 21,128,773 322.0 Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte
Western Asia:
 Armenia       Yerevan
 Azerbaijan 86,660 8,845,127 102.736 Baku
 Bahrain 665 718,306 987.1 Manama
 Cyprus 9,250 792,604 83.9 Nicosia
 Georgia     64.06 Tbilisi
 Iraq 437,072 28,221,181 54.9 Baghdad
 Iran 1,648,195 70,472,846 42.8 Tehran
 Israel 20,770 7,112,359 290.3 Jerusalem
 Jordan 92,300 6,198,677 57.5 Amman
 Kuwait 17,820 2,596,561 118.5 Kuwait City
 Lebanon 10,452 3,971,941 353.6 Beirut
 Oman 212,460 3,311,640 12.8 Muscat
 Palestine 6,257 4,277,000 683.5 Ramallah
 Qatar 11,437 928,635 69.4 Doha
 Saudi Arabia 1,960,582 23,513,330 12.0 Riyadh
 Syria 185,180 19,747,586 92.6 Damascus
 Turkey       Ankara
 United Arab Emirates 82,880 4,621,399 29.5 Abu Dhabi
 Yemen 527,970 23,013,376 35.4 Sanaá
Total 43,810,582 4,162,966,086 89.07
Note: Part of Egypt (Sinai Peninsula) is geographically in Western Asia

-Finally, enjoy these activities and videos about Asia!

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/asia3i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/asia_oc3i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/asia2i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/asia2icap.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/asiaorog2i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/asiacostes2i.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyAbxf4kM0Q&feature=related (Geography: Asia [Part 1 of 2])

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njTCXIgs0v8&feature=related (Geography: Asia [Part 2 of 2])

 

AFRICA

Africa is the world’s second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth’s total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area. With a billion people (as of 2009, see table) in 61 territories, it accounts for about 14.72% of the World’s human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent has 54 states, including Madagascar, various island groups, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a member state of the African Union whose statehood is disputed by Morocco.

Africa, particularly central eastern Africa, is widely regarded within the scientific community to be the origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes), as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors, as well as later ones that have been dated to around seven million years ago – including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated to ca. 200,000 years ago.

Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.

Geography

Africa is the largest of the three great southward projections from the largest landmass of the Earth. Separated from Europe by the Mediterranean Sea, it is joined to Asia at its northeast extremity by the Isthmus of Suez (transected by the Suez Canal), 163 km (101 miles) wide. (Geopolitically, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula east of the Suez Canal is often considered part of Africa, as well.) From the most northerly point, Ras ben Sakka in Tunisia, to the most southerly point, Cape Agulhas in South Africa, is a distance of approximately 8,000 km (5,000 miles); from Cape Verde, the westernmost point, to Ras Hafun in Somalia, the most easterly projection, is a distance of approximately 7,400 km (4,600 miles). The coastline is 26,000 km (16,100 miles) long, and the absence of deep indentations of the shore is illustrated by the fact that Europe, which covers only 10,400,000 km² (4,010,000 square miles) – about a third of the surface of Africa – has a coastline of 32,000 km (19,800 miles).

Africa’s largest country is Sudan, and its smallest country is the Seychelles, an archipelago off the east coast. The smallest nation on the continental mainland is The Gambia.

 According to the ancient Romans, Africa lay to the west of Egypt, while “Asia” was used to refer to Anatolia and lands to the east. A definite line was drawn between the two continents by the geographer Ptolemy (85–165 AD), indicating Alexandria along the Prime Meridian and making the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa. As Europeans came to understand the real extent of the continent, the idea of Africa expanded with their knowledge.

Geologically, Africa includes the Arabian Peninsula; the Zagros Mountains of Iran and the Anatolian Plateau of Turkey mark where the African Plate collided with Eurasia. The Afrotropic ecozone and the Saharo-Arabian desert to its north unite the region biogeographically, and the Afro-Asiatic language family unites the north linguistically.

Climate

The climate of Africa ranges from tropical to subarctic on its highest peaks. Its northern half is primarily desert or arid, while its central and southern areas contain both savanna plains and very dense jungle (rainforest) regions. In between, there is a convergence where vegetation patterns such as sahel, and steppe dominate.

Politics

The African Union (AU) is a 53 member federation consisting of all of Africa’s states except Morocco. The union was formed, with Addis Ababa as its headquarters, on 26 June 2001. In July 2004, the African Union’s Pan-African Parliament (PAP) was relocated to Midrand, in South Africa, but the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights remained in Addis Ababa. There is a policy in effect to decentralise the African Federation’s institutions so that they are shared by all the states.

The African Union, not to be confused with the AU Commission, is formed by an Act of Union, which aims to transform the African Economic Community, a federated commonwealth, into a state under established international conventions. The African Union has a parliamentary government, known as the African Union Government, consisting of legislative, judicial and executive organs. It is led by the African Union President and Head of State, who is also the President of the Pan African Parliament. A person becomes AU President by being elected to the PAP, and subsequently gaining majority support in the PAP.

The powers and authority of the President of the African Parliament derive from the Union Act, and the Protocol of the Pan African Parliament, as well as the inheritance of presidential authority stipulated by African treaties and by international treaties, including those subordinating the Secretary General of the OAU Secretariat (AU Commission) to the PAP. The government of the AU consists of all-union (federal), regional, state, and municipal authorities, as well as hundreds of institutions, that together manage the day-to-day affairs of the institution.

There are clear signs of increased networking among African organisations and states. In the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire), rather than rich, non-African countries intervening, neighbouring African countries became involved (see also Second Congo War). Since the conflict began in 1998, the estimated death toll has reached 5 million.

Political associations such as the African Union offer hope for greater co-operation and peace between the continent’s many countries. Extensive human rights abuses still occur in several parts of Africa, often under the oversight of the state. Most of such violations occur for political reasons, often as a side effect of civil war. Countries where major human rights violations have been reported in recent times include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Côte d’Ivoire.

Territories and regions

The countries in this table are categorised according to the scheme for geographic subregions used by the United Nations.

Name of region and
territory, with flag
Area
(km²)
Population Density
(per km²)
Capital
Eastern Africa: 6,384,904 316,053,651 49.5
Burundi Burundi 27,830 8,988,091 322.9 Bujumbura
Comoros Comoros 2,170 752,438 346.7 Moroni
Djibouti Djibouti 23,000 516,055 22.4 Djibouti
Eritrea Eritrea 121,320 5,647,168 46.5 Asmara
Ethiopia Ethiopia 1,127,127 85,237,338 75.6 Addis Ababa
Kenya Kenya 582,650 39,002,772 66.0 Nairobi
Madagascar Madagascar 587,040 20,653,556 35.1 Antananarivo
Malawi Malawi 118,480 14,268,711 120.4 Lilongwe
Mauritius Mauritius 2,040 1,284,264 629.5 Port Louis
Mayotte Mayotte (France) 374 223,765 489.7 Mamoudzou
Mozambique Mozambique 801,590 21,669,278 27.0 Maputo
Réunion Réunion (France) 2,512 743,981 296.2 Saint-Denis
Rwanda Rwanda 26,338 10,473,282 397.6 Kigali
Seychelles Seychelles 455 87,476 192.2 Victoria
Somalia Somalia 637,657 9,832,017 15.4 Mogadishu
Tanzania Tanzania 945,087 41,048,532 43.3 Dodoma
Uganda Uganda 236,040 32,369,558 137.1 Kampala
Zambia Zambia 752,614 11,862,740 15.7 Lusaka
Middle Africa: 6,613,253 121,585,754 18.4
Angola Angola 1,246,700 12,799,293 10.3 Luanda
Cameroon Cameroon 475,440 18,879,301 39.7 Yaoundé
Central African Republic Central African Republic 622,984 4,511,488 7.2 Bangui
Chad Chad 1,284,000 10,329,208 8.0 N’Djamena
Republic of the Congo Congo 342,000 4,012,809 11.7 Brazzaville
Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo 2,345,410 68,692,542 29.2 Kinshasa
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea 28,051 633,441 22.6 Malabo
Gabon Gabon 267,667 1,514,993 5.6 Libreville
São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe 1,001 212,679 212.4 São Tomé
Northern Africa: 8,533,021 211,087,622 24.7
Algeria Algeria 2,381,740 34,178,188 14.3 Algiers
Egypt Egypt 1,001,450 83,082,869 82.9 Cairo
Libya Libya 1,759,540 6,310,434 3.6 Tripoli
Morocco Morocco 446,550 34,859,364 78.0 Rabat
Sudan Sudan 2,505,810 41,087,825 16.4 Khartoum
Tunisia Tunisia 163,610 10,486,339 64.1 Tunis
Western Sahara Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic 266,000 405,210 1.5 El Aaiún
Spanish and Portuguese territories in Northern Africa:
Canary Islands Canary Islands (Spain) 7,492 1,694,477 226.2 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria,
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Ceuta Ceuta (Spain) 20 71,505 3,575.2
Madeira Madeira Islands (Portugal) 797 245,000 307.4 Funchal
Melilla Melilla (Spain) 12 66,411 5,534.2
Southern Africa: 2,693,418 56,406,762 20.9
Botswana Botswana 600,370 1,990,876 3.3 Gaborone
Lesotho Lesotho 30,355 2,130,819 70.2 Maseru
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe 390,580 11,392,629 29.1 Harare
Namibia Namibia 825,418 2,108,665 2.6 Windhoek
South Africa South Africa 1,219,912 49,052,489 40.2 Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Pretoria
Swaziland Swaziland 17,363 1,123,913 64.7 Mbabane
Western Africa: 6,144,013 296,186,492 48.2
Benin Benin 112,620 8,791,832 78.0 Porto-Novo
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso 274,200 15,746,232 57.4 Ouagadougou
Cape Verde Cape Verde 4,033 429,474 107.3 Praia
Côte d'Ivoire Côte d’Ivoire 322,460 20,617,068 63.9 Abidjan,Yamoussoukro
The Gambia Gambia 11,300 1,782,893 157.7 Banjul
Ghana Ghana 239,460 23,832,495 99.5 Accra
Guinea Guinea 245,857 10,057,975 40.9 Conakry
Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau 36,120 1,533,964 42.5 Bissau
Liberia Liberia 111,370 3,441,790 30.9 Monrovia
Mali Mali 1,240,000 12,666,987 10.2 Bamako
Mauritania Mauritania 1,030,700 3,129,486 3.0 Nouakchott
Niger Niger 1,267,000 15,306,252 12.1 Niamey
Nigeria Nigeria 923,768 149,229,090 161.5 Abuja
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK) 410 7,637 14.4 Jamestown
Senegal Senegal 196,190 13,711,597 69.9 Dakar
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone 71,740 6,440,053 89.9 Freetown
Togo Togo 56,785 6,019,877 106.0 Lomé
Africa Total 30,368,609 1,001,320,281 33.0

 -Do you like to know more about Africa? Enjoy these activities!

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/africa3i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/africa2i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/africa2icap.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/africaorog2i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/afririus2i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/africostes2i.html

CENTRAL AMERICA

Central America  is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. Most of Central America is considered to be part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot.

Geography

Central America has an area of 524,000 square kilometers (202,000 sq mi), or almost 0.1% of the Earth’s surface. As of 2009, its population was estimated at 41,739,000. It has a density of 79 people per square kilometer or 206 people per square mile.

Physiographically, Central America is the tapering isthmus of southern North America, extending from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico southeastward to the Isthmus of Panama where it connects to the Colombian Pacific Lowlands in northwestern South America. Alternatively, the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt delimits the region on the north. Central America has an area of some 592,000 square kilometres. The Pacific Ocean lies to the southwest, the Caribbean Sea lies to the northeast, and the Gulf of Mexico lies to the north. Most of Central America rests atop the Caribbean Plate.

The region is geologically active, with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occurring from time to time. In 1976 Guatemala was hit by a major earthquake, killing 23,000 people; Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, was devastated by earthquakes in 1931 and 1972, the last one killed about 5,000 people; three earthquakes devastated El Salvador, one in 1986 and two in 2001; one earthquake devastated northern and central Costa Rica in 2009 killing at least 34 people; in Honduras a powerful earthquake killed 7 people in 2009.

Volcanic eruptions are common in the region. In 1968 the Arenal Volcano, in Costa Rica, erupted and killed 87 people. Fertile soils from weathered volcanic lavas have made it possible to sustain dense populations in the agriculturally productive highland areas.

Central America has many mountain ranges; the longest are the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, the Cordillera Isabelia and the Cordillera de Talamanca. Between the mountain ranges lie fertile valleys that are suitable for the people; in fact most of the population of Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala live in valleys. Valleys are also suitable for the production of coffee, beans and other crops.

Human geography

Geopolitically, Central America has traditionally consisted of the following countries:

Name of territory, with flag

Area (km²) Population (July 2009 est.) Population density (per km²) Capital

Official language

 Belize 22,966 307,000 13 Belmopan English
 Costa Rica 51,100 4,579,000 90 San José Spanish
 El Salvador 21,040 6,163,000 292 San Salvador Spanish
 Guatemala 108,890 14,027,000 129 Guatemala City Spanish
 Honduras 112,090 7,466,000 67 Tegucigalpa Spanish
 Nicaragua 130,373 5,743,000 44 Managua Spanish
 Panama 78,200 3,454,000 44 Panama City Spanish
Total 523,780 41,739,000 80  

Many modern definitions of Central America include Belize, and Panama, which did not exist upon the formation of the Federal Republic of Central America, a short-lived union created after most of the region gained independence from Spain in 1821. The territory now occupied by Belize was originally contested by the United Kingdom and the Spanish Empire and, later, Guatemala (which has considered it, wholly or partially, an eastern department); it became a British colony (British Honduras) in 1871 and gained independence in 1981.

Panama, situated on the Isthmus of Panama, is sometimes regarded as a transcontinental territory. Because of the Panama Canal, it is considered part of both North America and South America. For much of its post-Columbian history, Panama was culturally linked to South America. Panama was a possession of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, and then, following independence, became a part of la Gran Colombia (Greater Colombia). Only after independence from Colombia in 1903 did some begin to regard Panama as a North or Central American entity.

-Enjoy these funny exercises about Central America!

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/americentral3i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/americentral2i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/americentral1icap.html

NORTH AMERICA

North America  is the northern continent of the Americas,  situated in the Earth’s northern hemisphere and in the western hemisphere. It is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southeast by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by the North Pacific Ocean. To the southeast lies South America.

North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 4.8 percent of the planet’s surface or about 16.5 percent of its land area. As of July 2008, its population was estimated at nearly 529 million people. It is the third-largest continent in area, after Asia and Africa, and the fourth-largest in population, after Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Geography and extent

North America occupies the northern portion of the landmass generally referred to as the New World, the Western Hemisphere, the Americas, or simply America (which is sometimes considered a single continent and North America a subcontinent). North America’s only land connection to South America is at the Isthmus of Panama. The continent is generally delimited on the southeast by the Darién watershed along the Colombia-Panama border, or at the Panama Canal; according to other sources, its southern limit is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico, with Central America tapering and extending southeastward to South America. Before the Central American isthmus was raised, the region had been underwater. The islands of the West Indies delineate a submerged former land bridge, which had connected North America and South America via what are now Florida and Venezuela. Much of North America is on the North American Plate.

The continental coastline is long and irregular. The Gulf of Mexico is the largest body of water indenting the continent, followed by Hudson Bay. Others include the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Gulf of California.

There are numerous islands off the continent’s coasts: principally, the Arctic Archipelago, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, the Greater and Lesser Antilles, the Aleutian Islands (some of which are in the eastern hemisphere proper), the Alexander Archipelago, the many thousand islands of the British Columbia Coast, Newfoundland and Greenland, a self-governing Danish island, and the world’s largest, is on the same tectonic plate (the North American Plate) and is part of North America geographically. Bermuda is not part of the Americas, but is an oceanic island which was formed on the fissure of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge over 100 million years ago. The nearest landmass to it is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and it is often thought of as part of North America, especially given its historical, political and cultural ties to Virginia and other parts of the continent.

Human geography

The prevalent languages in North America are English, Spanish, and French. The term Anglo-America is used to refer to the anglophone countries of the Americas: namely Canada (where English and French are co-official) and the United States, but also sometimes Belize and parts of the Caribbean. Latin America refers to the other areas of the Americas (generally south of the United States) where the Romance languages, derived from Latin, of Spanish and Portuguese (but French speaking countries are not usually included) predominate: the other republics of Central America (but not always Belize), part of the Caribbean (not the Dutch, English or French speaking areas), Mexico, and most of South America (except Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana (FR), and The Falkland Islands (UK).

The French language has historically played a significant role in North America and retains a distinctive presence in some regions. Canada is officially bilingual. French is the official language of the province of Quebec and is co-official with English in the province of New Brunswick. Other French-speaking locales include the province of Ontario (the official language is English, but there is an estimated 500,000 Franco-Ontarians), the French West Indies and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, as well as the U.S. state of Louisiana, where French is also an official language. Haiti is included with this group based on historical association but Haitians speak Creole and French. Similarly there remains small segments in Saint Lucia and the Commonwealth of Dominica that speak unique French and creole languages alongside their English speaking majorities.

Socially and culturally, North America presents a well-defined entity. Canada and the United States have a similar culture and similar traditions as a result of both countries being former British colonies. A common cultural and economic market has developed between the two nations because of the strong economic and historical ties. Spanish-speaking North America shares a common past as former Spanish colonies. In Mexico and the Central American countries where civilizations like the Maya developed, indigenous people preserve traditions across modern boundaries. Central American and Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations have historically had more in common due to geographical proximity and the fact that, after winning independence from Spain. Northern Mexico, particularly cities such as Monterrey, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and Mexicali are strongly influenced by the culture and way of life of the U.S. Immigration to the United States and Canada remains a significant attribute of many nations close to the southern border of the U.S. As the British Empire and its influences declined, the Anglophone Caribbean states have witnessed the economic influence of northern North America increase on the region. In the Anglophone Caribbean this influence is in part due to the fact that the majority of English-speaking Caribbean countries have populations of less than 200,000 people and many of these countries now have expatriate diasporas living abroad that are larger than those remaining at home.

Economically, Canada and the United States are the wealthiest and most developed nations in the continent, followed by Mexico, a newly industrialized country; the countries of Central America and the Caribbean are at various levels of development. The most important trade blocs are the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the recently signed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)—the last of these being an example of the economic integration sought by the nations of this sub-region as a way to improve their financial status.

Demographically, North America is a racially and ethnically diverse continent. Its three main racial groups are Whites, Mestizos and Blacks (chiefly African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans).  There is a significant minority of Native Americans and Asians among other less numerous groups.

Countries and territories

North America is often divided into subregions but no universally accepted divisions exist. Central America comprises the southern region of the continent, but its northern terminus varies between sources. Geophysically, the region starts at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico (namely the Mexican states of Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán). The United Nations geoscheme includes Mexico in Central America; conversely, the European Union excludes both Mexico and Belize from the area. Geopolitically, Mexico is frequently not considered a part of Central America.

Northern America is used to refer to the northern countries and territories of North America: Canada, the United States, Greenland, Bermuda, and St. Pierre and Miquelon. They are often considered distinct from the southern portion of the Americas, which largely comprise Latin America. The term Middle America is sometimes used to collectively refer to Mexico, the nations of Central America, and the Caribbean.

Country or
territory
Area
(km²)
Population
(July 2008 est.)
Population density
(per km²)
Capital
Anguilla Anguilla (UK) 102 14,108 138.3 The Valley
Antigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda 443 84,522 190.8 St. John’s
Aruba Aruba (Netherlands) 193 101,541 526.1 Oranjestad
The Bahamas Bahamas 10,070 307,451 30.5 Nassau
Barbados Barbados 431 281,968 654.2 Bridgetown
Belize Belize 22,966 301,270 13.1 Belmopan
Bermuda Bermuda (UK) 53 66,536 1255.4 Hamilton
British Virgin Islands British Virgin Islands (UK) 153 24,041 157.1 Road Town
Canada Canada 9,984,670 33,212,696 3.7 Ottawa
Cayman Islands Cayman Islands (UK) 262 47,862 182.7 George Town
France Clipperton Island (France) 6 0 0.0
Costa Rica Costa Rica 51,100 4,195,914 82.1 San José
Cuba Cuba 110,860 11,423,952 103.0 Havana
Dominica Dominica 754 72,514 96.2 Roseau
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 48,730 9,507,133 195.1 Santo Domingo
El Salvador El Salvador 21,040 7,066,403 335.9 San Salvador
Greenland Greenland (Denmark) 2,166,086 57,564 0.027 Nuuk
Grenada Grenada 344 90,343 262.6 St. George’s
Guadeloupe Guadeloupe (France) 1,780 452,776 254.4 Basse-Terre
Guatemala Guatemala 108,890 13,002,206 119.4 Guatemala City
Haiti Haiti 27,750 8,924,553 321.6 Port-au-Prince
Honduras Honduras 112,090 7,639,327 68.2 Tegucigalpa
Jamaica Jamaica 10,991 2,804,332 255.1 Kingston
Martinique Martinique (France) 1,100 436,131 396.5 Fort-de-France
Mexico Mexico 1,923,040 109,955,400 57.2 Mexico City
Montserrat Montserrat (UK) 102 5,079 49.8 Plymouth; Brades
United States Navassa Island (USA) 5 0 0.0
Netherlands Antilles Netherlands Antilles (Netherlands) 960 225,369 234.8 Willemstad
Nicaragua Nicaragua 120,254 5,785,846 48.1 Managua
Panama Panama 78,200 3,309,679 42.3 Panama City
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (USA) 8,870 3,958,128 446.2 San Juan
Saint Barthélemy Saint Barthélemy (France) 21 7,492 356.8 Gustavia
Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Kitts and Nevis 261 39,817 152.6 Basseterre
Saint Lucia Saint Lucia 616 159,585 259.1 Castries
Collectivity of Saint Martin Saint Martin (France) 54 29,376 544.0 Marigot
Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France) 242 7,044 29.1 Saint-Pierre
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 389 118,432 304.5 Kingstown
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago 5,128 1,047,366 204.2 Port of Spain
Turks and Caicos Islands Turks and Caicos Islands (UK) 430 22,352 52.0 Cockburn Town
United States United States 9,826,630 303,824,640 33.2 Washington, D.C.
United States Virgin Islands U.S. Virgin Islands (USA) 346 109,840 317.5 Charlotte Amalie
Total 24,646,412 528,720,588 22.9

-Finally, here you will find suitable activities about America!

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/amnor3i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/amnor2i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/amerinor2icap.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/amnororog2i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/amerinorios2i.html

http://www.xtec.net/~ealonso/flash/amnorcostes2i.html

THE HYDROLOGIC CYCLE

Cycling Water

Water water everywhere and always moving around. Even the smallest water molecule at the bottom of the ocean is moving. It just moves really slowly. We’re going to talk about the hydrologic cycle. This is the path water takes when it moves through the oceans, through the sky and through life on land. It’s a never ending cycle that keeps life on Earth alive.

Just Flowing Through

Water cycles and flows through ecosystems. Water is recycled on a global scale. It’s actually a cycle through the biosphere, not just through local ecosystems. It may flow from one ecosystem to another on its way from the air to the land and back to the oceans. Also, a great amount of fresh water below the surface of the Earth that is cycled over long periods of time.

The Overview

Even though there is no real starting place, we’ll start the cycle in the atmosphere. Water in the atmosphere is found in clouds and water vapor. Slowly the entire atmosphere circulates around the planet. When weather is created one of the most common results is precipitation. Precipitation is the process of water condensing in the atmosphere. It could be rain, snow, drizzle, fog, dew, or hail. Whatever path, the water comes out of the atmosphere and makes it to the surface. Scientists also use the term hydrological cycle to when discussing water’s movement through the biosphere.

Once on the surface, water is still moving around. Snow can melt and become rivers that flow into the oceans. Water can collect underground (groundwater). Water can collect in the oceans. Over 60% of the surface of the planet is covered by water. Beyond collecting, water can return to the atmosphere. Water moves from the ground or oceans into the atmosphere through a process called evaporation. It’s a process that happens on a molecular level when the molecules of water are really energized and rise into the air.

Now you’ve got water in the air and water on land. Organisms all over the Earth need water to survive. Although it’s a small amount when compared to oceans, every living creature is filled with water. Our cells are mainly composed of water. The human body is 80% water. Eventually, when an organism dies, the water is returned to the system, but you should know that living things borrow water on a regular basis.

Life Of A Water Molecule

So you’re a water molecule. Chances are you’ll stay a water molecule and won’t ever be broken down. The world likes to keep its water around. You’re moving through the hydrologic cycle. You evaporate, fall in rain, and drain in a river. Not a lot of excitement. But how much time does it take? Scientists think that if you are lucky enough to be evaporated into a cloud that you spend about ten days floating around the atmosphere. If you’re unlucky enough to be at the bottom of the ocean, or stuck in a glacier, you might spend tens of thousands of years without moving. 

-Finally, enjoy these activities and videos about the water cycle!

http://www.sweetwater.org/education/watercycle.swf

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/kids/flash/flash_watercycle.html

http://www.actewagl.com.au/education/_lib/Flash/Water_cycle/water.swf

http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/earthguide/diagrams/watercycle/watercycleq.html

http://apps.southeastwater.com.au/games/education_kidsroom_wcactivity.asp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YswL4dIDQuk (The water cycle song)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYBjPE0wekw&feature=related (The Earth’s Water Cycle)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LQ1tbZCQ94&feature=related (Water cycle lesson)

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