Seven Natural Wonders of the World

To define the official seven natural wonders of the world was not a hard task, even though many other “Seven natural wonders” exist. The most famous are the following:

Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon, an exceptionally deep canyon in the state of Arizona in the United States, is excavated by the Colorado River, which began to erode app. 6 million years ago. The Grand Canyon is 446 km long, up to 29 km wide, and more than 1500 m deep. Sections of the canyon and close areas are preserved in the Grand Canyon National Park, which receives approximately 4 - 5 million visitors each year and so forms the local economy which concentrates on tourism. The first Europeans to see the canyon were members of a group headed by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1540. In the middle of the 19th century the United States Army explored the canyon and the surrounding area. The construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona in 1963 dramatically reduced the natural flow of sand and nutrients down the Colorado River and into the Grand Canyon.

Paricutin
The volcano Paricutin is situated about 320 km south from Mexico City giving the modern world since 1943 its first opportunity to witness the birth of a volcano, which is also the reason why Paricutin is among the seven natural wonders of the world. Within a year, the volcano's cinder cone reached 335 meters. The next year its lava buried almost the same named town of Paricutin.

The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro
Portuguese explorers discovered this narrow opening in the cost line on New Year’s Day 1502 believing it is a mouth of a huge river and named it traditionally after the month discovered on – the river of January – Rio de Janeiro. Nowadays the area is covered by one of South America’s larges metropolis.

Victoria Falls
One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world is formed as the entire flow of the Zambezi River on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The water drops app. 100 meters down between two cliffs. In 1855 Missionary David Livingstone tagged the falls Victoria after the British queen. A railroad bridge, completed in 1905, spans the gorge below the falls. With the conflict in South Africa finally resolved and the region politically more stable, tourism is developing rapidly. New activities are constantly emerging and the industry is becoming more and more sophisticated.

Mount Everest
Mount Everest - Chomolungma (trans. Goddess Mother of the world) to the Tibetans, and Sagarmatha (trans. Forehead in the sky) to the Nepalese, is the highest mountain in the world, with a height of 8,850 m rises in the Himalayas on the frontier of Nepal and Tibet. Everest has been the dream of almost every climber since the middle of the 19th century. Today many restrictions on access are placed from the Chinese and Nepalese side. The first recorded men on the highest peek of the word are New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the pinnacle on May 29, 1953. During the 1990’s was discovered Mount Everest rises every year several millimeters due to geological forces. The difficulties of climbing Mount Everest are legendary. Massive snow and ice avalanches are a constant threat to all expeditions of which app. 150 people died trying to climb this mountain. The large number of trekkers and climbers who visit Nepal and the Everest region contribute to the local economy but also cause serious environmental impact. Such impact includes the burning of wood for fuel, pollution in the form of human waste and trash, and abandoned climbing gear. These impacts on the nature led the Nepalese government to establish a national park and charge the climbers fees.

The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef, seen here in an aerial view, is the largest known coral deposit in the world. It extends for about 2010 km off the eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. The reef is made up of the skeletons of generations of marine polyps. The Great Barrier Reef is home to a remarkable number of organisms. The reef protects the channel from the harsh wind and waves of the Coral Sea. Water in the channel is calm and shallow. Since the early 1960s crown-of-thorns starfish have invaded parts of the reef. These animals feed on coral and can destroy large portions of a coral reef. The Australian government has made efforts to limit the destruction. The reef is a major tourist attraction.
Northern Lights
Northern Lights are luminous atmospheric phenomenon occurring most frequently above 60° North or South latitude, but also in other parts of the world. The southern and northern light shows are connected by the earth's magnetic fields. They are named specifically, according to their location, aurora borealis (northern lights) or aurora australis (southern lights). The term aurora polaris, polar lights, is a general name for both. The auroras are, on average, less intense when the sun is most active. The auroras appear in endless variety or forms. Auroras have also been observed in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Only the northern auroras are considered one of the world natural wonders.
The world's natural wonders differ from the other grouping of wonders in that they were not made or improved upon by humans. All of above mentioned wonders were discovered in the past centuries, most of them during the 18th and 19th. Even though the natives knew about the “wonders” since millenniums, to the European and American culture the mountain, lights, harbor, volcano or a canyon are new and as the settlers explored new continents new wonders appeared to them. Throughout the millions of years the nature changed the “face” of this world and the process is not finished. The list of the seven natural wonders is probably not definite. The best example is the Paricutin in Mexico. This youngest wonder exists only since 1943. Maybe in 300 years none of the wonders above will be on the list of “The Seven Natural Wonders of the World”.

Sources:
· Encarta Encyclopedia CD Rom
· Britannica Encyclopedia
· Seven natural wonders by Robert J., Jr. Moore

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