Dotting the Pacific Ocean are dozens of islands, some independent, some joined in federation, and many administered by larger countries. This map illustrates the complex political geography of the Pacific and Oceania.
When Europeans arrived in Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island) in on Easter Sunday 1722, they were astonished to find the island already had a native community numbering in the thousands. Famous for the giant stone heads (moai) rimming its coastline, Easter Island not only was the most remote populated island in the world, it was likely one of the last places settled by humans (about 900 years ago). Although culturally part of Polynesia, today Easter Island is administered by Chile.
"The question that dominates my waking hours now is: When Day Zero arrives, how do we make water accessible and prevent anarchy?" says the mayor of Capetown, South Africa, in a recent National Geographic article on Capetown's water crisis. [As I noted in a different post a few weeks ago, Capetown is expected to have to turn off its public water supplies in two months (more or less, depending on the success of water conservation efforts) because the water level in the city's reservoir is approaching, functionally, zero. The army is on standby to maintain order.] This article from the BBC (UK) looks at 11 other major cities likely to run out of drinking water (Cairo? London? Bangalore? Sao Paulo? Beijing? Istanbul?): www.bbc.com/news/world-42982959
New Zealand may become the first country to issue special refugee visas for climate change refugees. (The current 1951 definition of a "refugee" requires that a person have a well-founded fear of persecution in his/her home country; "persecution" doesn't apply in the case of people fleeing climate change impacts.) New Zealand's legislature is considering the new visa class to assist populations of neighboring Pacific islands threatened by rising seas. geographical.co.uk/people/the-refugee-crisis/item/2539-changing-climate
New Zealand's two major islands (the North Island and the South Island) are separated by the Cook Strait. The North Island is home to 3/4 of the country's population, but this map shows even there the population is concentrated in a few specific locations: the population of the green areas rounds to zero people per square kilometer. www.nzherald.co.nz/resizer/FkDilYsUaUOtiuVXuxK5izigfe4=/620x884/smart/filters:quality(70)/arc-anglerfish-syd-prod-nzme.s3.amazonaws.com/public/GLFNE2UDIZHZXEJ4P5OGMO7CZI.JPG
This interesting map considers the world's most isolated cities with a population over 100,000, based on their distance to the nearest city that also has a population of more than 100,000. The top two are American cities: Honolulu at #1 and Anchorage at #2. cityextremes.com/isolated.php
Are politically independent floating city-states part of the geography of the future? Earlier this year, French Polynesia agreed to let construction begin on a floating city off its shores in international waters. "Long the stuff of science fiction, so-called 'seasteading' has in recent years matured from pure fantasy into something approaching reality, and there are now companies, academics, architects and even a government working together on a prototype by 2020." www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/business/dealbook/seasteading-floating-cities.html
Tomorrow is the 80th anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Earhart and her navigator were attempting to fly around the world when their plane went missing. On July 2, 1937, they left Lae, eastern New Guinea (then a British possession governed by Australia), heading east towards Howland Island (a tiny uninhabited coral island administered by the U.S.), where they intended to refuel. They never arrived and are generally assumed to have missed the island -- it's only about 1.75 square miles -- and run out of fuel somewhere in the Pacific. See if you can find Howland Island! www.jarvisisland.info/maps/oceania.gif
Having just sat on an airplane for a long time, I was thinking about the world's longest commercial airline routes. The longest flight, which premiered earlier this year, is from Doha (Qatar) to Auckland (New Zealand) and traverses more than 9000 miles in 16+ hours. This map shows its route. At present, seven of the world's 10 longest commercial flights involve travel to or from the Middle East, reflecting the region's growing influence as an air traffic hub. www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/longest-flight-in-the-world-qatar-doha-auckland/
"Zealandia" has been making the news: is it a new continent or not? A team of geologists has claimed that the mostly submerged chunk of the earth's crust, bigger than the Indian subcontinent and including New Zealand and the French-governed island of New Caledonia to the north, meets all of the requirements for a continent. (At present, the National Geographic Society still considers it a micro-continent.) This article from Geographical (UK) does a nice job summarizing the issue: geographical.co.uk/nature/tectonics/item/2136-zealandia-what-is-a-continent
In keeping with the Valentine's color scheme, this article highlights one of my favorite geographic oddities: pink lakes. High mineral/salt content gives rise to species of algae and/or bacteria that create the pink appearance. traveleering.com/10-best-pink-lakes-world/
Due to tectonic plate activity, navigation maps for Australia need to be updated because the continent has moved about 5 feet since maps were last corrected in 1994 and because GPS-based navigation requires more precision than maps of a generation ago. news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/australia-moves-gps-coordinates-adjusted-continental-drift/
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