CHERRAPUNJI - Cherrapunji, India
Located in the East Khasi Hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya, Cherrapunji is known as the wettest place on earth and holds several Guinness World Records associated with rainfall. Monsoon clouds from the Bay of Bengal fly over hundreds of kilometers of open, relatively flat terrain to reach Cherrapunji before facing a steep rise of the Khasi Hills. In order to climb the hills, the clouds dump most of their moisture on the area, burying it in an average of 450 inches of rain each year. Locals in the area have developed ingenious ways of dealing with the extreme rainfall.
JOE’S SCARECROW VILLAGE - Cap Le Moine, Canada
Ronald Reagan. Margaret Thatcher. KISS members. What do they all have in common? They’ve been turned into scarecrows at Joe’s Scarecrow Village, a creepy roadside attraction in Canada. In the 1980s, Joe Delaney tried to plant a garden in Cap le Moine, Cape Breton, but crows pillaged his vegetables time and time again. Joe’s neighbors didn’t believe he could grow anything in the rocky soil, so they joked that he should grow scarecrows instead. Decades later, Joe has more than 50 scarecrows in his village and is always adding more thanks to local and global donations.
HEAD-SMASHED-IN BUFFALO JUMP - Alberta, Canada
The Blackfoot Indians, thanks to their careful understanding of topography and bison behavior, drove more than 120,000 buffalo over this precipice near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The animals would break their legs upon impact and the Blackfoot would climb down to finish the job. The site was in use for so long - 6,000 years until being abandoned - that researchers have discovered bones nearly 40 feet underground. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, Head-Smashed-In is now home to a museum that celebrates Blackfoot culture and offers hands-on educational workshops in moccasin making and drum construction.
PARKES RADIO TELESCOPE - Parkes, Australia
The 64-meter dish that makes up the Parkes Radio Telescope sits in Australia, but will always hold a special place in American space history. The telescope served as the primary receiver during the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the moon, making it possible for millions to watch as Armstrong took his first steps on the lunar surface. Parkes also picked up images from Voyager 2 as it flew past Uranus and Neptune and from the Giotto probe of Halley’s Comet. In recent years, the Observatory has been most famous for its research on pulsars, rapidly rotating neutron stars that emit highly energetic radiation.
BIR TAWIL - Egypt/Sudan
Tucked between Egypt and Sudan, Bir Tawil is a trapezoid of land that is wanted by neither country. Egypt would like to leave the boundaries as they were drawn in 1899, which would make Bir Tawil Sudanese territory, while Sudan prefers to honor the boundary lines drawn in the treaties of 1902, which would give Bir Tawil to Egypt. Neither nation is interested in Bir Tawil simply because there is nothing there. Land within the borders of Bir Tawil is mostly sand or dry mountains. A well had once been built inside the region, but has since disappeared.