Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category

Thick, toxic stifling smog over Beijing   Leave a comment


Beijing sent out its highest level of smog alert on Dec. 16 for the first time this year, suspending schools and restricting cars on the road while the city remains shrouded in a visible—and toxic—fog.

By 5 pm today (Dec. 19), Beijing’s PM 2.5, the fine particulate matter in its air, had reached 460 in some areas, according to the air quality index (AQI). The city’s 21 million citizens are wearing masks and staying indoors to protect themselves against these hazardous levels, which could have serious health effects and are expected to continue until Dec 21 .

Here are some images from a city living under a fog these last few days:





Kids start coughing



Modernization of China, but at what cost?






What is interesting about this photo isn’t just another mask, get a load of the size of that hockey goal.






Population (2015)
 • Municipality 21,700,000
 • Density 1,300/km2 (3,400/sq mi)
 • Urban 18,590,000
 • Metro (2010) 24,900,000
 • Ranks in China Population: 27th;
Density: 4th

Posted December 20, 2016 by markosun in Geography, Winnipeg

Carta Geografica a la Mapa   Leave a comment




From where countries import the most


















High-speed rail map of Europe





Highest grossing movies filmed in each state.



Top selling cars in Europe by country


Posted December 2, 2016 by markosun in Geography, Maps

If desert landscapes appeal to you, this is the resort to check out   Leave a comment


I have always had an attraction to the desert. It may have started by watching the Roadrunner cartoons as a kid. Every time I get into desert country I feel relaxed and find the scenery stunning. This Utah resort is on my bucket list.

A modernist marvel of architecture and design in the wild and wind-swept landscape surrounding Utah’s Lake Powell, Amangiri hotel is a clean-lined sandstone monument to luxury that blends into its stark and striking natural surroundings. The hotel’s centrepiece, a dramatic pool, is built around a jutting rock formation at the base of a mesa. It’s all very relaxing and decadent, with a Navajo-inspired spa, gourmet restaurant and absolutely perfect service.





















Butte crossing on a swinging bridge.



Posted December 1, 2016 by markosun in Geography

Magical Ha Long Bay, Vietnam   Leave a comment


Hạ Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City, Cẩm Phả town, and is a part of Vân Đồn District. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes. Hạ Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long Bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà Island to the southwest. These larger zones share a similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate and cultural characters.

Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. Hạ Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.





















Footage for the upcoming movie Kong Skull Island was shot at Ha Long Bay.


Posted November 18, 2016 by markosun in Geography

Historical Populations of Selected Countries   Leave a comment







United States




1610 350
1620 2,302
1630 4,646
1640 26,634
1650 50,368
1660 75,058
1670 111,935
1680 151,507
1690 210,372
1700 250,888
1710 331,711
1720 466,185
1730 629,445
1740 905,563
1750 1,170,760
1760 1,593,625
1770 2,148,076
1780 2,780,369
1790 3,929,214
1800 5,308,483
1810 7,239,881
1820 9,638,453
1830 12,866,020
1840 17,069,453
1850 23,191,876
1860 31,443,321
1870 38,558,371
1880 50,189,209
1890 62,979,766
1900 76,212,168
1910 92,228,496
1920 106,021,537
1930 123,202,624
1940 132,164,569
1950 151,325,798
1960 179,323,175
1970 203,211,926
1980 226,545,805
1990 248,709,873
2000 281,421,906
2010 308,745,538






Population of Germany in 1939 was 67 million.







United Kingdom







Ayres Rock, Australia: A Kangaroo warning road sign in the desert near Uluru

Ayres Rock, Australia: A Kangaroo warning road sign in the desert near Uluru








Posted November 14, 2016 by markosun in Demographics, Geography

Trump election: Wall with Mexico ‘to be part fence’   Leave a comment



US President-elect Donald Trump has said his planned wall along the Mexican border could be partly fence.  In some areas, “a wall is more appropriate”, he told US broadcaster CBS, but “there could be some fencing”,

Mr Trump repeatedly promised during his election campaign to build a wall to keep out illegal migrants. He said he planned to deport or jail up to three million undocumented migrants with criminal records, such as gang members and drug dealers.

Other undocumented migrants would be assessed once the border was secured, Mr Trump added.

Forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall became a rallying cry among Trump supporters during the campaign.

Their candidate caused outrage by suggesting Mexicans were exporting “their rapists” to the US, along with drugs and other crime.

Trump’s Great Wall






‘The Donald’ negotiating with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.



The Republican defeated Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s presidential election, shocking many who had expected the Democratic candidate to win following favourable opinion polls.

In his first major interview to a US broadcaster since the election, Mr Trump told CBS: “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.”

Posted November 13, 2016 by markosun in Conspiracy Theories, Geography, Geopolitics

The petite communities of Arizona and Dallas, Manitoba   Leave a comment


The name of a U.S. state and major city, humble little communities in the central Canadian province of Manitoba. Dallas and Arizona are not exactly thriving communities, but they are home to a few souls.







Major shindigs at the community hall!



On the other side of the trees is the residential district.



Looks like a bachelor pad.


Dallas, Manitoba





At the Dallas MandiMart.




Posted November 12, 2016 by markosun in Geography

Photo Taken an Hour ago at the Canadian Border   Leave a comment



Posted November 9, 2016 by markosun in Geography

The Spanish Cities of North Africa   Leave a comment

Unbeknownst to me there are two cities in North Africa that belong to Spain. I discovered this a few days ago. It is European colonization that dates back to the fifteen hundreds. Ceuta and Melilla.

Ceuta is an 18.5-square-kilometre (7.1 sq mi) Spanish autonomous city located on the north coast of Africa, sharing a western border with Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies along the boundary between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta, along with the Spanish exclave Melilla, is one of two permanently inhabited Spanish territories in mainland Africa. It was part of Cádiz province until 14 March 1995 when the city’s Statute of Autonomy was passed.

Ceuta, like Melilla, was a free port before Spain joined the European Union. As of 2011, it has a population of 82,376. Its population consists of Christians, Muslims (chiefly Arabic and Berber speakers), and small minorities of Sephardic Jews and ethnic Sindhi Hindus. Spanish is the official language.



Ceuta’s location has made it an important commercial trade and military way-point for many cultures, beginning with the Carthaginians in the 5th century BC, who called the city Abyla; initially, this was also its name in Greek and Latin.  Together with Gibraltar on the European side, it formed one of the famous “Pillars of Hercules”. Later, it was renamed for a formation of seven surrounding smaller mountains, collectively referred to as Septem Fratres (‘[The] Seven Brothers’) by Pomponius Mela, which lent their name to a Roman fortification known as Castellum ad Septem Fratres.


It changed hands again approximately 400 years later, when Vandal tribes ousted the Romans. After being controlled by the Visigoths, it then became an outpost of the Byzantine Empire. Ceuta was an important Christian center since the fourth century (as recent discovered ruins of a Roman basilica show), and consequently is the only place in the Maghreb where the Roman heritage has survived continuously until modern times.

In the 7th century the Umayyads tried to conquer the region but were unsuccessful. Byzantine governor, Julian (described as King of the Ghomara) who was a vassal of the Visigothic kings of Iberia changed his allegiance after the king Roderic raped his daughter, and exhorted the Muslims to invade the Iberian Peninsula. Under the leadership of the Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslims used Ceuta as a staging ground for an assault on Visigothic Iberian Peninsula. After Julian’s death, the Berbers took direct control of the city, which the indigenous Berber tribes resented. They destroyed Ceuta during the Kharijite rebellion led by Maysara al-Matghari in 740.

In 1415, during the Battle of Ceuta, the city was captured by the Portuguese during the reign of John I of Portugal. The Benemerine sultan besieged the city in 1418 but was defeated. Phillip II (King of Spain 1556–1598) ascended the Portuguese throne in 1580 and Spanish kings of Portugal governed Ceuta for 60 years (Iberian Union). During this time, Ceuta attracted many residents of Spanish origin. Ceuta became the only city of the Portuguese Empire that sided with Spain when Portugal regained its independence in 1640, and war broke out between the two countries.

On 1 January 1668 by the Treaty of Lisbon, King Afonso VI of Portugal recognized the formal allegiance of Ceuta to Spain and formally ceded Ceuta to King Carlos II of Spain. However, the original Portuguese flag and coat of arms of Ceuta remained unchanged, and the modern-day Ceuta flag features the configuration of the Portuguese shield. The flag has the same background as that of the flag of the city of Lisbon. The city was besieged by Moroccan forces under Moulay Ismail from 1694 to 1727.

In July 1936, General Francisco Franco took command of the Spanish Army of Africa and rebelled against the Spanish republican government; his military uprising led to the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939. Franco transported troops to mainland Spain in an airlift using transport aircraft supplied by Germany and Italy. Ceuta became one of the first casualties of the uprising: General Franco’s rebel nationalist forces repressed the citizens of Ceuta, while at the same time the city came under fire from the air and sea forces of the official republican government.

When Spain recognized the independence of Spanish Morocco in 1956, Ceuta and the other plazas de soberanía remained under Spanish rule. Spain considered them integral parts of the Spanish state, but Morocco has disputed this point.



The official currency of Ceuta is the euro. It is part of a special low tax zone in Spain. Ceuta is one of two Spanish port cities on the northern shore of Africa, along with Melilla. They are historically military strongholds, free ports, oil ports, and also fishing ports. Today the economy of the city depends heavily on its port (now in expansion) and its industrial and retail centres. Ceuta Heliport is now used to connect the city to mainland Spain by air.



Melilla is a Spanish autonomous city located on the north coast of Africa, sharing a border with Morocco with an area of 12.3 square kilometres (4.7 sq mi). Melilla, along with Ceuta, is one of two permanently inhabited Spanish cities in mainland Africa. It was part of Málaga province until 14 March 1995 when the city’s Statute of Autonomy was passed.

Melilla, like Ceuta, was a free port before Spain joined the European Union. As of 2011, it had a population of 78,476 made up of ethnic Spaniards, ethnic Riffian Berbers, and a small number of Sephardic Jews and Sindhi Hindus. Both Spanish and Riffian-Berber are the two most widely spoken languages, with Spanish as the only official language.

Melilla is officially claimed by Morocco, which considers it “occupied territory”.


The current Berber name of Melilla is Mřič or Mlilt which means the “white one”. Melilla was an ancient Berber village and a Phoenician and later Punic trade establishment under the name of Rusadir.  Rusaddir was supposed to have once been the seat of a bishop, but there is no record of any bishop of the supposed see, which is not included in the Catholic Church’s list of titular sees. As centuries passed, it went through Vandal, Byzantine and Hispano-Visigothic hands. The political history is similar to that of towns in the region of the Moroccan Rif and southern Spain. Local rule passed through Amazigh, Phoenician, Punic, Roman, Umayyad, Idrisid, Almoravid, Almohad, Marinid, and then Wattasid rulers. During the Middle Ages it was the Berber city of Mlila. It was part of the Kingdom of Fez when the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon requested Juan Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán, 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia, to take the city.

In the Conquest of Melilla, the duke sent Pedro Estopiñán, who conquered the city virtually without a fight in 1497, a few years after Castile had taken control of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, the last remnant of Al-Andalus, in 1492. Melilla was immediately threatened with reconquest and was besieged during 1694–1696 and 1774–1775. One Spanish officer reflected, “an hour in Melilla, from the point of view of merit, was worth more than thirty years of service to Spain.”

The current limits of the Spanish territory around the fortress were fixed by treaties with Morocco in 1859, 1860, 1861, and 1894. In the late 19th century, as Spanish influence expanded, Melilla became the only authorized center of trade on the Rif coast between Tetuan and the Algerian frontier. The value of trade increased, goat skins, eggs and beeswax being the principal exports, and cotton goods, tea, sugar, and candles being the chief imports.


The government of Morocco has requested from Spain the sovereignty of Ceuta and Melilla, of Perejil Island, and of some other small territories. The Spanish position is that both Ceuta and Melilla are integral parts of the Spanish state, and have been since the 15th century. Morocco denies these claims and maintains that the Spanish presence on or near its coast is a remnant of the colonial past which should be ended. The United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories does not include these Spanish territories.

The principal industry is fishing. Cross-border commerce (legal or smuggled) and Spanish and European grants and wages are the other income sources.

Melilla is regularly connected to the Iberian peninsula by air and sea traffic and is also economically connected to Morocco: most of its fruits and vegetables are imported across the border. Moroccans in the city’s hinterland are attracted to it: 36,000 Moroccans cross the border daily to work, shop, or trade goods. The port of Melilla offers several daily connections to Almeria and Málaga. Melilla Airport offers daily flights to Almería, Málaga and Madrid. Spanish operator Air Europa uses nearby Nador International Airport for their connections to mainland Spain.

Many people traveling between Europe and Morocco use the ferry links to Melilla, both for passengers and for freight. Because of this, the port and related companies form an important economic driver for the city.


The Melilla border fence aims to stop illegal immigration into Spain.


Spanish territories of North Africa



Posted October 27, 2016 by markosun in Geography, History

The Imminent American Invasion of Cuba   Leave a comment

National Geographic

Here Comes a Wave of Change for Cuba

Warming relations with the U.S. has an upbeat but wary island bracing for a rush of visitors from its Cold War adversary.








A curiosity, a portent, a looming symbol of the impending change: This May, for the first time in nearly four decades, an American cruise ship sailed into Havana Bay.

The first Cuba sighting came Monday morning, just after sunrise. The island is almost 800 miles tip to tip, and for a while there was a horizon shimmer, then hilly outlines against pink sky, and finally: rooftops. A domed shape, maybe a cupola.

The ship’s topmost deck was jammed with television crews; the rest of us mashed up against the railings on the next deck down. Somebody handed out little Cuban and American flags. Now we could make out the Malecón, the seawall and walkway that serves as a collective front porch for people seeking fresh air or respite from overcrowded households. On warm evenings Cubans always populate the Malecón, but this was something new—nine in the morning, and crowds seemed to have gathered, lofting flags of their own, waving. Cheering!

None of us had known what to expect; as we left Miami on Sunday afternoon, there’d been speculation that the first U.S. cruise ship to dock in Cuba in nearly four decades might fire up anti-Castro hostilities. A lone protest motorboat had chugged around with “Democracia” painted in defiant red along the hull, but that was all. And now in Havana the celebrations were so exuberant, once we made our way into the city’s passenger ship terminal, that the currency exchange booth clerk and I shouted at each other in Spanish through the glass.


In a way everything important about this inaugural trip from Miami to Cuba—everything histórico—lay in the visuals, and the anticipation of what comes next. Cruise ships aren’t new to Cuba; giant floating hotels under the flags of other nations have visited for decades. Tourism in general isn’t new to Cuba, in fact. After the Soviet Union collapsed, ending its economic support and kicking off a brutal depression, state ministries approved new beach resorts that have become popular with Canadians and Europeans.

And although the U.S. embargo still prohibits U.S. residents from traveling to Cuba for what the Treasury Department calls “tourist activities,” Americans started arriving in noticeable numbers about five years ago. Even before the December 2014 announcement that diplomatic relations would resume, the Obama Administration was approving tours for “people-to-people educational travel,” a Cuba-specific category that continues to evolve. No lying on beaches all day with rum drinks is the idea, but you may visit the school that teaches violin to the rum-drink mixer’s kids, and it’s become increasingly common to see phalanxes of Americans following guides along beautifully restored streets in Old Havana or into private restaurants or organic farms.

Then this March the administration declared that Americans could start people-to-people traveling on their own, provided they sign affidavits promising to abide by embargo rules. Less than a week later U.S.-based Starwood Hotels and Resorts announced a deal to run three Cuban hotels—“the beginning of the luxury market in Havana,” a company official told me. In late August the first regularly scheduled flights to Cuba began. Even before that, charter flights were leaving Florida so frequently that Miami International Airport departures boards listed Cienfuegos, Cuba, right up there between Chicago and Cincinnati.


A taxi driver gazes across a swath of classic American cars along the Havana seafront. The cars are a consequence of necessity, not nostalgia: Cuba’s 1962 embargo on U.S. imports froze the nation’s auto fleet in time. But some tourists see the cars as part of a preserved bygone era that will soon be lost, describing their trip as a chance to see the country “before it’s ruined.”
Havana’s crumbling buildings charm tourists, who rarely glimpse life on the inside. Like many structures there, the two-story tenement where Caridad Gonzalez lives with her 82-year-old mother and other family members is badly in need of repair. The building has partially collapsed, which is not unusual in the city.

In Cuba resolver is a crucial verb. In its most Cuban sense it means to manage with creative dexterity the challenges of modern Cuban life, improvisando as you go. Among ordinary citizens, it’s a point of national pride that so many have resolved and improvised their way through the post-Soviet crash, through the mismanagement and overreach of their own state ministries, and through the extraordinarily long U.S. embargo. Fishing with a baited piece of line, because your custodian salary won’t cover the price of a rod, is a tiny way to resolver.

And so is cannibalizing parts to keep an ancient car running, not because foreigners love looking at it but because there is nothing else to drive. The paradoxes of tourism are especially loud and perplexing in Cuba now, during these tentative seasons before the tsunami truly rolls. Set aside for a moment political quarrels about whether the American embargo or the Cuban Communist Party is at fault; one of the standard enticements, in tour brochures aimed at Americans, is the islandwide absence of material modernity, of familiar commerce, of Americanness. No McDonald’s—it’s true. No billboards, except those exhorting socialism and good civic behavior. “Frozen in time” is a popular phrase in the brochures; so is “long forbidden.” “Ninety-nine percent of Americans planning to visit Cuba say the same,” Havana architect Miguel Coyula told me. “ ‘I want to see Havana now.’ 

Before “the urban Jurassic Park,” as Coyula likes to joke, becomes … what? Coyula’s not hostile to tourism; accommodating Americans seems to him one obvious growth industry for the biggest island in the Caribbean. The perils of overadoration by visitors are plain to him, and in fact, as the Adonia was rounding Cuba, several dozen academics and officials were meeting at a conference called Turismo Sostenible y Responsable—Sustainable and Responsible Tourism. Among the presentations: A clip from Bye Bye Barcelona, a documentary making the case that hordes of tourists, especially the thousands pouring into the streets from as many as four docked cruise ships at once, have rendered the Spanish city nearly unlivable for its own residents. “A theme park,” complains one angry local.

For an enormous, beachy island 90 miles from the United States, this is not an implausible comparison. Some of the ships now plying the Caribbean can hold six times as many passengers as the Adonia; Carnival Corporation, which owns the ship, has Cuba plans in the works, as does every American touring company with an interest in the Caribbean (including National Geographic Expeditions, which routinely runs people-to-people Cuba trips). On board I asked a Carnival official to guess at the potential of a fully tourist developed Cuba. Well, he replied, Carnival last year delivered nearly a million people to the Caribbean’s Grand Turk Island, which is seven square miles. “Cuba is a few hundred times bigger,” he said. “You can calculate the answer.”

At least three million Americans a year, eventually, is what economists project. Cuba’s population is 11 million, and many still resolver their way to enough powdered milk for the children, a toilet that flushes, a balcony that won’t collapse. How to bring in all those Americans in a way that actually improves Cubans’ lives?

“I’ve thought about this,” said Rafael Betancourt, an economics professor at a Havana university who helped arrange the tourism conference. “There’s always a risk. But I’m basically an optimist. I believe we have a tradition, a very solid culture and history of our own.”


“You say you’re from New York, and they say, ‘America!’ and embrace you,” one passenger recounted, still moved by his encounters with Cubans on the street. He resolved to learn “Guantanamera,” the 1930s folk song that has become a kind of international anthem of Cuba, as the Adonia headed out of Havana Bay.

Posted October 27, 2016 by markosun in Economics, Geography