Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Cape Floral Region

The Cape Floral Region, one of South Africa's eight World Heritage sites, comprises eight protected areas stretching from the Cape Peninsula to the Eastern Cape, cutting across spectacular mountain and ocean scenery and containing some of the richest plant biodiversity in the world. 

The region was the sixth South African site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Unesco's World Heritage Committee declared the 553 000-hectare Cape Floral Region to be of "outstanding universal significance to humanity", describing it as "one of the richest areas for plants in the world". 
The Cape Floral Region "represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa, but is home to nearly 20% of the continent's flora," Unesco said. "Its plant species diversity, density and endemism are among the highest worldwide, and it has been identified as one of the world's 18 biodiversity hot-spots. "The site displays outstanding ecological and biological processes associated with the Fynbos vegetation, which is unique to the Cape Floral Region. "Unique plant reproductive strategies, adaptive to fire, patterns of seed dispersal by insects, as well as patterns of endemism and adaptive radiation found in the flora, are of outstanding value to science."

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Zimbabwe, the Beautiful

After an hours flight from Johannesburg, we landed in Victoria, Zimbabwe.  The falls was originally name Mosi-oa Tunya but was renamed to Victoria in honor of the British Queen when Scottish Dr. David Livingstone discovered the place.  He was much revered here that even when Zimbabwe regained Independence  almost all traces of British influence were deleted save this place name.

We were lucky to see the double rainbow and enjoy the sporadic spray of heavy mist with the sun shining ever so brightly.  This was moderate rain season so the falls were said to be in their not-so-strong flow. Had we visited during the heavy months, it would have been difficult to appreciate the vista this magnificent place offers.

The Zambesi river cruise the day before the falls was exciting.  It was the first time we saw real river creatures unlike the river safaris we experienced before.  A family of pearly white tusked elephants with their babies on the Zambian side of the river was a sight to behold.  The crocodiles and hippos surrounding our boat added to the excitement.  The setting sun on one side and the rising moon on the other was such a beautiful scene!

Zimbabwe is rich, beautiful and friendly. We fervently hope the people will overcome the vicious cycle of poverty.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Independence Hall

The Declaration of Independence was adopted and the Constitution of the United States of America framed in this fine early 18th-century building in Philadelphia. These events, which took place respectively in 1776 and 1787, were conceived in a national context, but the universal principles of freedom and democracy set forth in these two documents have had a profound impact on lawmakers and political thinkers around the world. They became the models for similar charters of other nations, and may be considered to have heralded the modern era of government. 

Independence Hall was designed by attorney Andrew Hamilton in collaboration with master builder Edmund Woolley to house the Assembly of the Commonwealth (colony) of Pennsylvania. Begun in 1732 and finished in 1753, it is a dignified brick structure with a wooden steeple that once held the Liberty Bell. 

The building has undergone many restorations, notably by architect John Haviland in the 1830s and under the direction of the National Park Service beginning in the 1950s, returning it to its appearance during the years when the new country’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution were debated and signed. In the Assembly Room, the momentous events that occurred there are explained and their international impact as well as the spread of democracy are discussed.

Awesome Jeju Island

Rising 1,950 meters above sea level, Halla-san is the central volcanic mountain peak of Jeju Island. About 360 parasitic volcanoes surround Halla-san's base, the largest number of such volcanoes that has been found around any single mountain peak. Halla-san is famous not only for the uniqueness of its geographical formation but also for its ecological diversity. The combination of high mountain peaks, oreums (parasitic volcanoes), caves, and beaches make for numerous and various environmental habitats. 

A variety of plants and animals can be found on Halla-san, where climates range from the subtropical to the temperate and, even in some areas, polar.
The Geomunoreum Lava Tube system was instrumental to Jeju's selection as a World Heritage site. The Geomunoreum caves were formed by lava pouring down the island's coastline from Halla-san, and both its length and scale make it one of the largest and most distinctive of any such cave systems in the world.

Seongsan Ilchulbong peak is an ideal spot for enjoying the sunrise. As it rose from the sea, the geological history of the formation attracts visitors.

In addition to the designation as Natural World Heritage Site in 2007, Jeju Island has also been appointed to the World Network of Biosphere Reserve in 2002 and the Global Geoparks Network in 2010. Jeju Island is the first spot in the world to receive the UNESCO Triple crown designation. Highlighting these aspects, Korea put a huge effort in the vote for the New 7 Wonders. The island is an unexplored district containing all seven themes; great landscape, island, volcanoes, coast, cave, falls, and forest which were the main required elements for the vote. Unlike other proposed sites, Jeju Island maintains a close connection with the lives of people, offering space for culture and history to co-exist.