The home of Mount Everest and possessing a total of eight of the ten tallest mountains in the world, Nepal enjoys one of the fastest growing economies worldwide. If Mount Everest wasn’t enough to put Nepal on the map, this country is also the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. He was born in Lumbini in southern Nepal. A land rich in folklore with strong ties to Tibet, this independent country was once a buffer state between Imperial China and British India.
With 23 established species of macaque monkeys, this group of primates has considerable variety. The tails come in all lengths from long to medium to short and finally no tail at all. The range of macaque monkeys is quite broad including Asia, North Africa and southern Europe. Each troop has a strict, hierarchical structure, giving a lot of power to those at the top. Bullying occurs, taking food away from those in lesser positions and even infant-stealing. Highly intelligent, macaque monkeys are often used in scientific experiments. They are not recommended as pets since these monkeys can carry diseases fatal to humans.
Ural Mountains of Russia
Dividing Russia into its European and Asian parts, the Ural Mountains are the backbone of the country. Full of valuable ores, coal, gold and precious gems, the Ural Mountains have long played an important part in Russia’s economy. The home of the ancient Bashkirs people, of Turkic origin, the Ural Mountains are comprised of pristine rivers and rugged, boreal forests.
A beautiful, large owl with as much as a five-foot wingspan, the Ural owl is named for the Ural Mountains of Russia in which it lives. The Ural owl can also be found as far west as Scandinavia and as far east as Japan. Though not considered endangered, biologists and conservationists have worked to protect this species. The introduction of special nesting boxes has helped the process. The Ural owl is now rated ‘of least concern’ in terms of extinction issues.
Half the population of Luxembourg is made up of foreigners from 170 different countries. An important founder of the European Union and one of the smallest countries in Europe, Luxembourg was motivated to combine interests with other nations. Two world wars saw Luxembourg invaded by Germany. The sharing of economic interests helps protect the boundaries of nations. With over a hundred castles in Luxembourg, many of them like fairytales, this beautiful country is a favorite of tourists.
Fearless. That’s the word to describe badgers. They will stand up to bears and wolves, to coyotes, hyenas and jackals. The honey badger, native to Africa, India and southwest Asia, will defend itself valiantly against a pride of lions. Nature has given the badger a host of self-defense attributes like powerful jaws. A badger will eat the bones of its prey. Badgers are amazingly immune to venom. A badger’s skin is so loose, rubbery and strong that most predators ignore this animal as a food source.
Situated in the heart of the Midwest, Kansas has given us many notable and famous people like musician Melissa Etheridge, aviator Amelia Earhart, actors Kirstie Alley, Annette Bening, Hattie McDaniel and Buster Keaton as well as President Dwight Eisenhower and activist Erin Brockovich. Kansas was a place where the buffalo roamed so it’s no surprise that the American classic, Home on the Range, was written by a Kansan. Numerous Native American tribes lived and thrived in Kansas for centuries before the arrival of the Europeans. In Cold Blood was a story of Kansas as well.
Sweetly affectionate by human standards, prairie dogs of the same family group interact through ‘kissing’, that is oral contact, and through grooming. These rodents are native to the grasslands of the Midwest and give a warning cry like a dog’s bark, hence the name. Relatives of the ground squirrel, they are in no way related to canines as a species. Prairie dogs live in large communities called ‘towns’ that can cover hundreds of acres and are highly social as a species.
Prince Edward Island Canada
With a pastoral landscape, Prince Edward Island has idyllic rolling hills, beautiful woodlands, sand dunes, salt water marshes, reddish-white sand beaches, ocean coves and gorgeous red sandstone cliffs. And of course, the author Lucy Maud Montgomery was inspired by the island for the setting of her classic novel Anne of Green Gables.
If you’re visiting Ottawa and stumble across a delicacy called ‘beaver tails’, don’t worry, these are merely pastries made in the shape of beaver tails. Ottawa is the capital of Canada and located a few hours drive from the U.S. border. It’s original name was ‘Bytown’, named after Lieutenant Colonel John By and was founded in 1826. The name was changed to Ottawa when the city was incorporated in 1855.