Amazing Facts: Oak Tree

Oak belongs to the genus Quercus of the beech, or Fagaceae, family.

There are approximately 600 extant species of oaks.

One of the oldest Britain's coins (six pence) has an oak engraved on one of the surfaces.

Oak trees are native to the Northern hemisphere.

Most species of oaks live over 200 years. There are certain trees that can survive over thousand years. Oak tree planted during the reign of King John managed to survive 800 years and reign of 35 other rulers.

Oak trees are found from cool temperate to tropical latitudes in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and North Africa.

Most species of oak trees are deciduous with only a few of evergreen forms.

The usual lifespan of an oak is about 200 years, but some live over 1,000 years.

Oak is also used in army ranking. Silver leaf indicates Lt. Colonel while gold leaf indicates Lt. Commander.

The Pechanga Great Oak Tree, oldest oak tree in the United States, possibly in the world. It is estimated to be up to 2,000 years old.

Oak trees grow to an average height of about 15 to 21 meters (50 to 70 feet) and have a spread of as much as 15 meters (50 feet) from branch to branch when fully grown.

Oak is national plant of many countries including USA, England, France, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Serbia. It symbolizes strength and endurance.

The white oak is the tallest oak species. The tallest known white oak is 44 meters (144 feet) tall. It is not unusual for a white oak tree to be as wide as it is tall.

Oaks have spirally arranged leaves, with lobate margins in many species; some have serrated leaves or entire leaf with smooth margins.

Oak is also used in the manufacture of barrels for storing of vine, whiskey, brandy and other liquors. Oak wood adds special aroma to these beverages.

In spring, a single oak tree produces both male flowers (in the form of catkins) and small coon flowers (female flowers). Oak trees have male flowers on one part of their branch, and female flowers on another part of the same branch.

Wood of oak is very strong and hard. It is used in the manufacture of ships, furniture, floorings and Yamaha drums.

The fruit is a nut called an acorn, borne in a cup-like structure. Production of acorns starts at the age of 20 to 50 years. Each acorn contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes 6–24 months to mature, depending on their species.

Young acorns, leaves and buds contain tannic acid which induces toxic effects in cattle. Tannic acid may induce formation of ulcers in the stomach, damage in kidneys and result in malformation in the newly born cattle.

One oak produces more than 2000 acorns every year, but only one in 10 000 acorns will manage to develop into oak tree.

Wildlife that consume acorns as part of their diets includes jays, pigeons, duck, pigs, bears, deer, squirrels, mice …

Oaks produce more than 2000 acorns every year, but only one in 10 000 acorns will manage to develop into oak tree.

The leaves and acorns of the oak tree are poisonous to cattle, horses, sheep, and goats in large amounts due to the toxin tannic acid, and cause kidney damage and gastroenteritis.

Oaks are keystone species in a wide range of habitats from Mediterranean semi-desert to subtropical rainforest.

Fruit of the oak is called acorn. Production of acorns starts at the age of 20 to 50 years.

Many species of oaks are under threat of extinction in the wild, because of the habitat destruction, over exploitation, diseases and introduction of invasive species.

Oaks produce both male and female flowers. Male flowers are arranged in clusters called catkins. Female flowers are much smaller.

Oak wood has great strength and hardness. The wood is very resistant to insect and fungal attack because of its high tannin content. It is used in the manufacture of ships, furniture, floorings and Yamaha drums.

Oaks have leaves that can be lobed, serrated or flat on the edges. Certain species have leaves with bristles.

Also barrels in which wines, sherry, and spirits such as brandy, Irish whiskey, Scotch whisky and Bourbon whiskey are aged are made from European and American oak. Oak barrels contribute to the color, taste, and aroma of the contents, imparting a desirable oaky vanillin flavour to these drinks. The use of oak in wine can add many different dimensions to wine based on the type and style of the oak.

Due to its large dimensions, oak requires large amount of water per day. It can absorb 50 gallons of water each day.

A number of kinds of truffles, including the two well known varieties, the black Périgord truffle and the white Piedmont truffle, have symbiotic relationships with oak trees.

The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of many countries. Oak is national tree of USA, Germany, Serbia, Cyprus, England, Estonia, France, Moldova, Romania, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Wales and Bulgaria.

One of the biggest oaks is located in Goose Island State Park. This oak is 45 feet tall, 35 feet wide, with crown that has 90 feet in diameter.

In Greek mythology, the oak is the tree sacred to Zeus, king of the gods.

In the Bible, the oak tree at Shechem is the site where Jacob buries the foreign gods of his people (Gen. 35:4). In addition, Joshua erects a stone under an oak tree as the first covenant of the Lord (Josh. 24.25–7). In Isaiah 61, the prophet refers to the Israelites as “Oaks of Righteousness.” Absalom’s long hair (2 Samuel 18:9) gets
caught in an oak tree, and allows Joab to kill him.

The badnjak is central tradition in Serbian Orthodox Church Christmas celebration where young and straight oak, is ceremonially felled early on the morning of Christmas Eve. The badnjak is brought into the house and placed on the fire on the evening of Christmas Eve.

Oak trees are usually large in size. They can reach 70 feet in height and 9 feet in width. Their branches can reach 135 feet in length.

In Republican Rome a crown of oak leaves was given to those who had saved a life of a citizen in battle; it was called the “civic oak”

The Emancipation Oak is designated one of the 10 Great Trees of the World by the National Geographic Society and is part of the National Historic Landmark district of Hampton University.

Although it is rarely reached, the symbol of an 80th wedding anniversary is oak.

Oaks are more likely to be struck by lightning than other trees. This enhances their significance for Druids who seek ‘arwen’ or inspiration which they believe can come through lightning. They call this ‘courting the flash’.

In Britain, an oak tree image is engraved in a six pence coin. It is one of the oldest Britain’s coins.

Oak branches are displayed on some German coins, both of the former Deutsche Mark and the current Euro currency.

The Royal Oak is the third most common pub name in Britain.

Amazing Facts: Volcano

Volcano is a vent in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows material warmer than its surroundings to escape from its interior.

Ninety percent of the world's earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.

When this material escapes, it causes an eruption. An eruption can be explosive, sending material high into the sky. Or it can be calmer, with gentle flows of material.

These volcanic areas usually form mountains built from the many layers of rock, ash or other material that collect around them.

On Earth, the erupted material can be liquid rock (“lava” when it’s on the surface, “magma” when it’s underground), ash, cinders, and/or gas.

Volcanoes are classified into many types. These types are composite volcanoes, cinder cone volcanoes/ ash cinder volcano, shield volcanoes, lava domes/ domes, fissure volcano, and caldera volcanoes.

Earth has over 1500 active volcanoes.

Volcanoes can be active, dormant, or extinct.
• Active volcanoes are volcanoes that have had recent eruptions or are expected to have eruptions in the near future.
• Dormant volcanoes no longer produce eruptions, but might again sometime in the future.
• Extinct volcanoes will likely never erupt again

There are probably millions of volcanoes that have been active during the whole lifespan of the earth. During the past 10,000 years, there are about 1500 volcanoes on land that are known to have have been active, while the even larger number of submarine volcanoes is unknown.

The largest active volcano is the Mauna Loa in Hawaii which is over 13, 600 feet above sea level.

A volcanic eruption is an awesome display of the Earth’s power. Yet while eruptions are spectacular to watch, they can cause disastrous loss of life and property, especially in densely populated regions of the world.

There are three different categories of volcanoes: active, dormant, and extinct.

The danger area around a volcano covers approximately a 32-kilometer (20-mile) radius however some danger may exist 160 kilometers (100 miles) or more from a volcano.

About 350 million or one in 20 people live within danger range of an active volcano.

The greatest number of the Earth’s volcanoes occur on the ocean floor.

The Ring of Fire is a 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) horseshoe shaped area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes).

Eruptions are what cause a volcano to get bigger.

Between 10 and 20 volcanoes are erupting somewhere on Earth every day.

Hiding beneath the massive Antarctic Ice Sheet lies one of the densest clusters of volcanoes in the world. In total, 91 new volcanoes were discovered from a recent study, adding to the 47 already identified volcanoes.

Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that form the Island of Hawaii in the U.S. state of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. It is the world’s largest and one of its most active volcanoes. Mauna Loa is 4,170 meters (13,680 feet) above sea level. From its base below sea level to its summit, Mauna Loa is taller than Mount Everest. At 90 kilometers (60 miles) long and 50 kilometers (30 miles) wide, it makes up half of the entire island.

There are volcanoes on the ocean floor that create new sea floor.

The world’s largest underwater volcano, Tamu Massif, is the size of New Mexico.

Parícutin is one of the seven natural wonders in the world and is located in Michoacan state, Mexico. It is the youngest volcano in the Western Hemisphere and the reason for being named a “wonder” – its birth was witnessed and studied by people.

An erupting volcano can cause other natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis to occur.

Volcanoes can form over mantle plumes which are areas of hot rock under the surface of the Earth.

In 1883 Krakatau in Southeast Asia erupted, releasing 200 megatrons of energy, the equivalent of 15,000 nuclear bombs! This generated the loudest sound reported in history.

Volcanic eruptions can send ash high into the air, over 30 kilometers (17 miles) above the Earth’s surface!

Over 75% of the world's volcanoes are located in the Ring of Fire.

The temperature of lava when it is first ejected from a volcanic vent can vary between 700 and 1,200 degrees °C (1,300 to 2,200 °F).

Located in East Java, Indonesia is a volcano that spews blue colored flames. Sulfur combusts on contact with air to create stunning blue lava-like rivers of light in the Kawah Ijen crater.

In order for a volcano to erupt, it must be over a hot spot.

Volcanic lightning is a weather phenomenon that is related to the production of lightning in a volcanic plume. It is one of nature’s most epic displays. A study in the journal Science indicated that electrical charges are generated when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles in a volcanic plume collide and produce static charges, just as ice particles collide in regular thunderstorms.

The Ring of Fire is a ring of volcanoes that circle the Pacific Ocean.

Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near modern Naples, in Italy. Pompeii was destroyed and buried under 4 to 6 meters (13 to 20 feet) of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The eruption occurred on 24 August 79 AD one day after the religious festival to Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.

The word “volcano” is derived from the name of Vulcano, a volcanic island in the Aeolian Islands of Italy whose name in turn comes from Vulcan, the god of fire in Roman mythology.

The study of volcanoes is called volcanology, sometimes spelled vulcanology.

Magma is molten rock inside the volcano and lava is when the molten rock comes out of the volcano.

Many ancient accounts ascribe volcanic eruptions to supernatural causes, such as the actions of gods or demigods. To the ancient Greeks, volcanoes’ capricious power could only be explained as acts of the gods, while 16th/17th-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler believed they were ducts for the Earth’s tears.

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and is also a dormant volcano.

Active volcanoes in the U.S. are found mainly in Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington, but the greatest chance of eruptions near areas where many people live is in Hawaii and Alaska.

The enormous volcano sitting beneath Yellowstone National Park and is sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. It has an enormous crater that measures about 55 by 72 kilometers (34 by 45 miles).No one really knows when the Yellowstone supervolcano is going to erupt again. The last three big eruptions at Yellowstone were 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 630,000 years ago.

It may come as a surprise, but the largest known volcano in the solar system is actually on the planet Mars. It’s called Olympus Mons and is also the highest point on on the planet Mars. It measures a whooping 600 km (373 miles) wide and nearly 22 km (13.6 miles) high.

Delicious Facts: Doughnut

A doughnut or donut is a type of fried dough confectionery or dessert food.

The Dutch referred to donuts as olykoeks, which means oily cakes.

Donuts are one of the most popular foods of all time: sweet, delicious & can be eaten on the go.

National Doughnut Day is June 5th. It was established to celebrate the Salvation Army donut bakers who made donuts for the soldiers during World War I.

The origin of the doughnut is heavily debated. The concept of fried dough is not exclusive to one country or culture and variations of the doughnut can be seen across the globe. The exact place where the first donuts were made is unknown and nobody knows who made the very first doughnut.

The history of the doughnut goes back centuries, long before the discovery of the New World. In ancient Rome and Greece, cooks would fry strips of pastry dough and coat them with honey or fish sauce.

The earliest origins to the modern doughnuts are generally traced back to the olykoek (“oil(y) cake”) Dutch settlers brought with them to early New York (or New Amsterdam) in the early 18th century. These doughnuts closely resembled later ones but did not yet have their current ring-sized shape.

The first cookbook to mention donuts was an 1803 English cookbook with an appendix of American recipes.

The habit of police officers going to donut shops began in the 1950s when they would go to donut shops to do their paperwork late at night. Donut shops were often the only businesses open at that hour and the owners were happy to have police presence so late at night.

Hanson Gregory, an American, claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 aboard a lime-trading ship when he was 16 years old. Gregory was dissatisfied with the greasiness of doughnuts twisted into various shapes and with the raw center of regular doughnuts. He claimed to have punched a hole in the center of dough with the ship’s tin pepper box, and to have later taught the technique to his mother.

By the mid-19th century, the doughnut looked and tasted like today’s doughnut, and was viewed as a thoroughly American food.

In 1920, Russian-born immigrant Adolph Levitt created the first automated doughnut machine. By 1925, the invention earned him $25 million a year and it was a fixture in bakeries across the country. The machine-made doughnut was a hit of the 1934 World’s Fair in Chicago.

In France donuts were once called 'Pet de Nonne' which translates to nun's farts.

The origin of the name of doughnut is up for debate. Some believe it refers to the nuts that were added to the dough to add flavor. Others believe that the name comes from a recipe where by hazelnuts or walnuts were placed in the center of the cake as that part rarely cooked properly. Placing of the nuts in the middle of the dough avoided having an uncooked center. A third thought is that related to the shape of the doughnut. The dough was often tied in a knot style, a dough knot evolved into doughnut.

The donut with a hole in the center was likely created because the center was never able to fully cook and it would lead to stomach issues. Cutting the center out allowed the donut to fully cook more evenly and eliminate raw dough.

Doughnut vs. Donut: The Official Dictionary Spelling of the word in question—if you’re into that sort of thing—is “doughnut.” The expedited, simplified, Americanized spelling of “donut,” as Grammarist tells us, has been around since at least the late 19th century. It didn’t catch on, though, until late in the 20th century.

There are two types of doughnuts, those made from a yeast-based dough for raised doughnuts, or those made with baking powder or baking soda for cake doughnuts.

In Boston there is one donut shop for every 2480 people.

After frying, ring doughnuts are often topped. Raised doughnuts are generally covered with a glaze (icing). Cake doughnuts can also be glazed, or powdered with confectioner’s sugar, or covered with cinnamon and granulated sugar. They are also often topped with cake frosting (top-side only) and sometimes sprinkled with coconut, chopped peanuts, or sprinkles.

The filled doughnut is a flattened sphere injected with fruit preserves, cream, custard, or other sweet fillings, and often dipped into powdered sugar or topped off with frosting.

There were donuts made with potato starch instead of flour and they were called spudnuts. Spudnuts was the first fast food chain to open in Los Angeles but it is closed now as a franchise.

There are approximately over 10 billion doughnuts made in the United States each year.

Dunkin’ Donuts is the largest donut chain, with 11,000 stores in 33 countries serving more than 5 million customers per day. The first Dunkin’ Donuts was opened in 1950, a revamp of William Rosenberg’s coffee-and-doughnut shop Open Kettle.

The world record for eating 47 cream-filled glazed donuts was set in 2007.

In Oregon a donut shop called Voodoo Doughnut once offered donuts coated in Pepto Bismol or Nyquil. The FDA eventually put a stop to it.

The most iconic donut shop in Hollywood is Randy's Donuts. It has appeared in many movies including Crocodile Dundee and Iron Man 2.

There are more doughnut shops per capita in Canada than anywhere else on the planet. Canadians eat more doughnuts than any other country’s citizens. Although the doughnut is often seen as an American icon, it has become Canada’s unofficial national snack.

The cronut, which is a croissant-donut combination, contains about 1330 calories.

National Doughnut Day, or National Donut Day – celebrated in the United States, is on the first Friday of June of each year, succeeding the Doughnut event created by The Salvation Army in Chicago in 1938 to honor those of their members who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. The holiday celebrates the doughnut. Many American doughnut stores offer free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day.

The first mention of donuts in print was by Washington Irving, the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

By now, the stereotype of the doughnut-loving cop is well-established — but how did it start? The short answer is that police officers have long worked odd hours, but the options for food in the wee hours haven’t always been plentiful. The option to pick up a doughnut dates to the years after World War II.

Salvation Army volunteers would take donuts and coffee to soldiers in France in the trenches during World War I.

Krispy Kreme created the world’s most expensive doughnut. The £1,000 (around US$1400) tower of sweet decadence was created with a royalty of gilded leaves, a gold dusted Belgian chocolate flower and edible diamonds, all for a good cause. Krispy Kreme unveiled the world’s most expensive donut at Selfridges department store in UK in 2014. The confection was created to mark National Donut Week — a fundraising effort benefiting the UK Children’s Trust charity.

Canada makes only 1 billion donuts a year but has more donut shops per capita than any country around the world.

The largest doughnut ever made was an American-style jelly doughnut weighing 1.69-tonne (3,739-lb), which was 4.9 m (16 ft) in diameter and 40.6 (16 in) high in the center. It was made in Utica, New York, USA on January 21, 1993.

The largest box of doughnuts is a Krispy Kreme box weighing 135 kg (297 lb 10 oz) and was produced by The Kuwait Food Co. Americana (Kuwait), in Kuwait, Kuwait, on 30 May 2009. The box was filled with 2,700 pieces of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The enlarged box was an exact replica, even down to the labels. The box was 5.9 m (19 ft 4 in) long, 4.10 m (13 ft 5 in) wide and 87 cm (2 ft 10 in) deep.

Renee Zellweger ate 20 donuts a day to help her gain weight for the movie Bridget Jones.

Every year in the United States more than 10 billion donuts are made.

The world record for donut eating in 2002 was 49 glazed donuts consumed in only eight minutes.

The largest doughnut mosaic was created with 7,040 doughnuts at the Lviv Pampykh Festival in Lviv, Ukraine, on 07 Jan 2012 The attempt took place on Ukrainian Christmas day (7 January) as part of their Pampukh Festival.

The longest line of doughnuts is 3,453.41 meters (11,330.07 feet) and was achieved by Hamburg Enhanced Recreation Organization (H.E.R.O.) (USA) at the Manly Bennett Memorial Park in Hamburg, Michigan, USA, on 19 June 2015.

The largest serving of doughnuts weighs 856 kg (1,887 lb 2.56 oz) and was achieved by Television Company “ERA” 7 Channel (Kazakhstan) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 7 September 2014.

In 1933 donuts were given the title the 'Hit Food of the Century of Progress' at the Chicago World's Fair.

The most sugared jam doughnuts eaten in 3 minutes, without licking the lips is 6 and is held by Lup Fun Yau who equalled the record at The Sun Offices, London, UK on the 2 May 2007.

Amazing Facts: Brazil

Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America as well as the world’s fifth-largest
country by both area and population.

Major agriculture in Brazil includes coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, citrus, cocoa and its major livestock is beef.

The official name is the Federative Republic of Brazil.

Located in eastern South America along the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil borders Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Brazil's natural resources include gold, iron ore, nickel, phosphates, tin, platinum, uranium, petroleum, bauxite, and manganese.

The official language is Portuguese.

As of 1 January 2016, the population of Brazil was estimated to be 208,846,074 people.

There are approximately 75.8 million people in Brazil with internet access.

Brazil occupies 47.3% of South America and covers 3 time zones.

Brasília, inaugurated as Brazil’s capital in 1960, is a planned city distinguished by its white, modern architecture, chiefly designed by Oscar Niemeyer. It is a masterpiece of modernist architecture listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Brazil is a popular tourist destination with millions of visitors arriving each year for vacation.

The largest city in Brazil is Sao Paulo. Other major cities include Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Fortaleza.

The Corcovado Mountains in Rio de Janeiro are one of the most famous mountains in the world. On its summit there has been a 98-feet-tall statue of Christ the Redeemer since 1931.

The highest point in Brazil is Pico da Neblina at 2,995.3 meters (9,827 feet) above sea level.

The Amazon River, which runs through Brazil, is the second longest river in the world. The Nile is the longest.

The coastline of Brazil measures 7,491 kilometers (4,655 miles), which makes it the 16th longest national coastline of the world.

A considerable number of geographical features can be found all through the coastal areas, like islands, reefs and bays. The beaches of Brazil (2095 in total) are famous in the world and receive a great number of tourists.

Copacabana is a bairro (neighbourhood) located in the South Zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is known for its 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) balneario beach, which is one of the most famous in the world.

There were 77 founding members of the United Nations. Brazil was one of them.

Ipanema shares a border with Copacabana, but this world-class beach destination is more poised than its south Rio counterpart. Like a samba that swings so cool, this neighborhood is known for culturally enriching contributions and nonstop parties.

Brazil is so large that there are three time zones in the country.

One of Brazil's most famous attractions is Rio Carnival. It is a major celebration that can take a year to prepare for and it attracts a large number of tourists every year.

Brazil has around 70 national parks and 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Christ the Redeemer is a statue that was built as a symbol of Brazilian Christianity. The statue has also become a cultural icon of both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, and is listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Every country in South America borders Brazil except for Ecuador and Chile.

The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro is located in Brazil and was created by erosion from the Atlantic Ocean and is also known as Guanabara Bay. It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Brazil gained its independence in 1822. Brazilians celebrate their Independence Day on September 7th each year.

The exquisite Iguazu Falls are also known as the Iguassu Falls and the Iguaçu Falls. The magnificent spectacle of these 275 individual drops has awed tourists, locals and indigenous inhabitants for centuries. They originate from the Iguazu River and are located on the border of Brazil (in the state of Paraná) and Argentina.

When the Portuguese arrived in the Brazilian region in 1500 they claimed the land for Portugal.

The Amazon River, over half of which lies within Brazil,the largest river by discharge of water in the world, and the second in length. It is 3,977 miles (6,400 km) long and during the wet season it can become over 48 kilometers (30 miles) wide.

Approximately 60% of the Amazon Rainforest is located within Brazil's boundaries.

There are 13 cities in the country of Brazil with more than one million residents.

The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world.20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon. Around 60% of the Amazon Rainforest is located in Brazil

Brazil's capital city is Brasilia and its largest city is Sao Paulo.

The Amazon Theatre is an opera house located in Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. It was assembled in 1896 from panels shipped from overseas. It has an iron frame built in Glasgow, Scotland; 66,000 colored tiles from France; and frescoes painted by the Italian artist Domenico di Angelis.

Other major cities in Brazil include Fortaleza, Salvador, and Rio de Janeiro.

One of Brazil’s most famous attractions is Rio Carnival. It is a festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723.

Brazil has 4,655 miles of coastline.

Of all Brazilian music styles, samba is undoubtedly the best known. Both abroad and in Brazil, samba has become a symbol of the Brazilian nation and its people. Modern Samba music dates from the 19th century when the crude tones of the slaves met with the stylized European sound of Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil derives its name from brazilwood tree. In Portuguese brazilwood is called pau-brasil.

The Brazilian national dish is feijoada, a black bean stew with dried, salted, and smoked meat.

Brazil encompasses an area of 3,287,612 square miles, equal to almost half of South America (47%).

The Brazilian national drink is the caipirinha which is cachaca (sugarcane liquor) mixed inside a glass with sugar, ice, and crushed lime slices.

By both population and land area, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. In 2012 the population was approximately 194 million.

On Brazil’s modern flag, the green represents the forests of Brazil, the yellow rhombus reflects its mineral wealth, and the blue circle and stars depict the sky over Rio de Janeiro on the morning of November 15, 1889, when Brazil declared itself a republic. Across the blue circle is a white banner that reads, “Ordem E Progresso,” that translates in English to Order and Progress.

Brazil has more than one national animal. They are the Jaguar, the Macaw and a Rufous-Bellied Thrush.

There are an additional 180 native languages spoken in Brazil.

Football is the most popular sport in Brazil with the national team consistently among the best in the world, winning the World Cup a record 5 times.

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be the first time a South American country has the right to host them.

Brazil’s economy is the world’s 7th-largest by GDP as of 2015.

Brazil has been the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years.

The official language in Brazil is Portuguese. Brazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world.

Brazil has the 2nd highest number of airports in the world, after the U.S.

Brazil is the world’s first country to ban tanning beds.

There’s an Island in Brazil where civilians are forbidden to go: it has up to 5 snakes per square meter (10 square feet).

Indonesia has the world’s highest rate of deforestation, with Brazil as a close second.

4% of Brazil's rainforests are being destroyed each year because of ranching, logging, and slash-and-burn agricultural practices.

Brazil’s Capital, Brasilia, looks like an aeroplane from above.

The name Brazil originates from a tree called the brasilwood. It is a dark rosewood tree that was originally Brazil's main export. Exporting Brazilian rosewood is now illegal.

Rio de Janeiro was once the capital of Portugal, making it the only European capital outside of Europe.

Logging, mining and agriculture are a serious threat to Brazil's environment.

The biggest Japanese community outside of Japan is in Brazil.

There’s a prison in Brazil that allows inmates to pedal stationary bicycles, providing electricity to a nearby city in exchange for reduced sentences.

Brazilian prisoners can reduce their sentence by 4 days for every book they read and write a report on.

There are many different species of animals in Brazil including armadillos, pumas, jaguars and tapirs.

Brazilian athletes funded their trip to the 1932 Olympics by selling coffee along the way.

Brazil was the only independent South American country to send ground troops to fight in WW2, with over 25,000 soldiers.

Diamonds were first discovered in India and then in Brazil.

There’s a 10,000-seat replica of Solomon’s Temple in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Soccer is Brazil's most popular sport.

The largest population of Catholics in the world is in Brazil: 123 million, 64% of its population.

Amazing Facts: Leopard

Leopards are part of the cat family, Felidae. The scientific name for a leopard is Panthera pardus.

Main predators of leopard cats are leopards, tigers and wild dogs.

Leopards grow from 92 to 190 centimeters (3 to 6.2 feet ) long. Their tail adds another 64 to 99 cm (25 to 39 inches) to their length. Males and females vary in weight. Females typically weigh 21 to 60 kilograms (46 to 132 pounds) and males usually weigh around 36 to 75 kg. (80 to 165 pounds),

The lifespan of a leopard is between 12 and 17 years in the wild, and up to 23 years in captivity.

Leopard cats are territorial animals. Males occupy territory of 1.4 square miles. Females live on a territory of 0.81 square miles. Male's territory overlaps with territories of few neighboring females. Leopard cats mark their territories with urine, feces and scratch marks.

Leopards are well known for their cream and gold spotted fur, but some leopards have black fur with dark spots.

Leopards are mostly nocturnal, hunting prey at night.

Leopards are carnivores, but they aren’t picky eaters. They will prey on any animal that comes across their path, such as Thomson’s gazelles, cheetah cubs, baboons, rodents, monkeys, snakes, large birds, amphibians, fish, antelopes, warthogs and porcupines.

Leopards are renowned for their agility. They run up to 58 km/h (36 mph) and can leap 6 meters (20 feet) horizontally and 3 meters (10 feet) vertically. They are also very strong swimmers.

Leopard cats have slightly webbed toes which facilitate swimming and movement on the slippery ground. These cats are also excellent climbers.

Leopard cats can survive up to 13 years in the captivity.

Adult leopards are solitary animals. Each adult leopard has its own territory where it lives and, although they often share parts of it, they try to avoid one another.

Leopard cats are solitary creatures except during the mating season which takes place from March to April in the northern parts. Leopard cats that inhabit areas with warm climate can reproduce all year round.

Leopards are astoundingly strong. They are pound for pound the strongest of the big cats.This means if all the big cats where the same size and weight, the leopard would be the strongest.

They are able to climb trees, even when carrying heavy prey, and often choose to rest on tree branches during the day. One reason why leopards sometimes take their prey up in the trees is to ensure lions or hyenas can’t steal them.

Leopard cats have small head, narrow muzzle, slender body and long legs.

Leopard cats are nocturnal animals.

Pregnancy in females lasts 60 to 70 days and ends with 2 to 4 kittens. Babies are blind and helpless at birth. They spend first few weeks of their life in the hidden den.

The leopard is the most elusive and secretive of the large felids. They are extremely difficult to trace and locate in the wild.

When female leopards are ready to mate they will mate with many of the dominate males near her territory. This takes away the risk of the cubs being killed by one of the rival dominate males because they will think that the cubs are theirs.

Leopards have a gestation period of approximately 3 months and typically give birth to a litter of 2 to 3 cubs.

Color of the fur depends on the geographic region. It can be yellowish-brown (southern populations) or silver-grey (northern populations). Leopard cats are covered with black spots, arranged in the form of rosettes (like in leopards) or scattered all over the body. Throat and belly are white colored. Tail is covered with several black bands and it ends with black tip.

Leopard cats can interbreed with domestic cats. Created hybrid is known as Bengal cat. People around the world keep Bengal cats as house pets.

Leopard cubs are born blind and are completely dependent on their mothers. Their eyes begin to open after about ten or more days and for the first few months their eyes are bright blue.

Leopard cubs will stay with their mothers for approximately two years, this is how they learn to hunt and survive on their own.

Leopard cat can reach 15.3 to 30 inches in length and 1.2 to 16 pounds, depending on the subspecies.

Leopard cats reach sexual maturity at the age of 18 months.

The name “leopard” comes from the Greek word leopardus, which is a combination of leon (lion) and pardus (panther).

Leopards don’t need much water. They survive from the moisture they get from eating their prey.

Leopards’ ears can hear five times more sounds that the human ear.

Unlike other cat species, males participate in rearing of kittens.

The leopard’s spots are called rosettes because they look like roses.

The leopard is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because leopard populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and are declining in large parts of the global range.

Throughout history, leopards have been depicted in artwork, mythology and folklore in numerous countries. They are also now commonly used as an emblem in sports in much of Africa.

Leopard cats are carnivores. Their diet consists mainly of rodents, shrews, hares, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and eggs. They hunt both on the ground and in the trees.

Young leopard cats are ready to eat solid food at the age of 4 weeks, but they stay with their parents until the age of 8 to 10 months.

Some people believe that the bones and whiskers of leopards can heal sick people. Many leopards are killed each year for their fur and body parts and this is one reason why the leopard is an endangered animal. While they were previously found in the wild in a number of areas around the world, their habitat is largely restricted to sub-Saharan Africa with small numbers also found in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, China and Indochina.

Amazing Facts: Lionel Messi

Two of the musical genres that Messi enjoys listening to are Samba and Cumbi.

Messi is the sixth youngest soccer player to score a goal in a World Cup games.

His family is of middle-class Italian origin. While his father Jorge was a factory worker, his mother Celia was a part-time cleaner.

He was offered a place in the national team by Spain which he did not accept. He wanted to wear blue-and-white Argentinian jersey, a chance he first got in 2004.

Messi shares his birthplace with the Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevera.

Messi has won six La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World

He was offered a place in the national team by Spain which he did not accept.

Messi is a devout Roman Catholic and he met Pope francis at the Vatican in 2013. "Without a doubt, today was one of the most special days of my life. We have to excel on and off the field," Messi said about the meeting.

Messi holds two passports - Argentina's and Spain's. He became a Spanish citizen in September 2005.

He is featured on the front covers of the video games Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 and is also involved in promotional campaigns for the games.

Barcelona was so impressed with Messi's skills that they offered to pay his medical bills and move the family to Spain just to sign him when he was 13. That probably explains why the contract was first signed on a napkin.

Messi inherited the No. 10 Barca jersey from another great footballer Ronaldinho in the summer of 2008.

Messi was not very healthy and nutritious in his childhood days like the other boys around. He was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency which was stopping his normal growth rate at a tender age of 11. His parents could not afford his treatment, which was $900 a month.

During the 2005-2006 season, Messi began being paid as a first team member.

Japanese jeweller Ginza Takana used a cast of Messi's left foot to create a solid gold replica, weighing 25 kilograms (55 lb), which went on sale
in Japan in March 2013 to raise funds for victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. It was valued at $5.25 million.

Messi holds two passports - Argentina's and Spain's. He became a Spanish citizen in September 2005.

Messi supports a number of charities through his Leo Messi Foundation. He also works for people suffering from Fragile X Syndrome (a disease related to autism). He is also a a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

He won an Olympic gold medal, along with the Argentinian football team, at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing.

He was detected with a growth hormone deficiency at the age of 11. His parents could not afford his treatment, which was $900 a month.

At the age of 17, he made his league debut against RCD Espanyol and became the third youngest person ever to play on Barcelona. At that time he
was also the youngest player to ever score for Barcelona.

Between his contract and endorsements, he makes about $128,000 per day.

His 2005 international debut lasted 47 seconds when he received a red card after coming on as asubstitute.

Messi shares his birthplace with the Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevera. Both were born in Rosario, Argentina.

One of Lionel's nicknames is "The Flea" due to his speed and agility.

Barcelona officials were quick to spot his footballing skills. They offered to pay for Messi's medical bills and the family shifted to Spain.

Messi's first contract with Barcelona was detailed out on a paper napkin! FC Barcelona sporting director Carles Rexach was so impressed with
Messi's skills that he wanted to make a contract immediately and there was no paper available at that time.

Messi inherited the No. 10 Barca jersey from another great footballer Ronaldinho in the summer of 2008.

Lionel Messi also made his debut in the Spanish First Division league. Out of his seventeen League appearances he scored six goals. He scored one goal in six for the Champions League.

Messi is also the Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

In 2009, he won his first Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. He followed this up by winning the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010, and then again in 2011 and 2012.

Along with England's Vivian Woodward (who accomplished the feat in the early 1900s), Messi is the only player to have scored 25 goals in a
calendar year during international competition with both his club and his country.

Amazing Facts: Nile River

The River Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world.

The length of the Nile River is approximately 6,850 kilometers (4,256 miles).

The Nile is an international river as its water resources are shared by eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.

The drainage basin of the Nile encompasses about 10 percent of the area of Africa.

The Nile River’s average discharge is about 300 million cubic meters (10.5 billion cubic feet) per day.

The first dams were built on the Nile in 1861 in order to raise the river levels for easier navigation and increased irrigation. Major dams on the Nile today include Aswan Dam, Roseries Dam, Sennar Dam and Owen Falls Dam.

The Nile has two major tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile.

A third river, the Atbara, flows into the Nile in the Sudan but it contributes less than 1% of the total water flow.

The White Nile is considered to be the headwaters and primary stream of the Nile itself.The White Nile is longer and rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, with the most distant source still undetermined but located in either Rwanda or Burundi. It flows north through Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Uganda and South Sudan.

Today the Nile remains a vital pathway that is essential to millions of African farmers. Egypt still imports 40 percent of its grain by means of the Nile.The Blue Nile, however, is the source of most of the water and fertile soil.The Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and flows into Sudan from the southeast.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped the Nile as one of their gods (the god Hapi) and made sacrifices solely for the Nile’s sake.

Only 22% of the river passes through Egypt, the other countries through which Nile passes are Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Zaire, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The two rivers meet near the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

The northern section of the Nile flows north almost entirely through the Sudanese desert to Egypt, then ends in , a large delta and empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

The Nile flows south to north, beginning in the highlands of Ethiopia and Rwanda heading toward the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria, Egypt.

Near the Mediterranean Sea the river splits into two branches, the Rosetta Branch (to the west) and also the Damietta (to the east). And both of these rivers flow into the Mediterranean Sea.

The Nile Delta is one of the world’s largest river deltas.It is around 160 kilometers (100 miles) in length and spreads out over 240 kilometers (149 miles) of coastline.It is rich in agriculture and has been farmed for thousands of years.

Around 5000 B.C., the first great Egyptian civilization was founded in the northern Nile Valley. The Egyptians came to rely heavily on the Nile and its annual summer floods for irrigation, agriculture and transportation.

The source of the White Nile is the springs of Mount Bigugu in Rwanda. The source of the Blue Nile is Sakala Springs above Lake Tana in Ethiopia, which contributes to more than 50 percent of the river’s flow. The water’s volume from the Blue Nile increases tremendously in the monsoon season, from July to September.

Around 40 million people (half of Egypt’s population) live in the Nile Delta region.

Before stopped by dams the Nile would overflow every year.The Aswan High Dam was built in 1960. Other major dams are the Roseires Dam, Sennar Dam, Owen Falls Dam.

The vast river system of the Nile includes two main tributaries: the White Nile (so named for its milky, silt-filled appearance), and the Blue Nile, which joins the White Nile in Sudan on its way to the sea.

The Nile has flooded seasonally over millennia to provide life-giving fertile soils and irrigation for Egypt’s people.

The Nile River has certainly played a critical role in the history of ancient Egypt.Most of Ancient Egypt’s historical sites are located along the banks of the Nile River including cities such as Luxor and Cairo.

The people who lived along the Nile in ancient times used the river for agriculture and transportation. That hasn't changed, although the methods of agriculture and transportation have. Steam ships are still used in Egypt and Sudan, to transport goods.

The cities that Nile flows past are Cairo, Khartoum, Gondokoro, Aswan, Karnak, Thebes and the town of Alexandria.

It was by the banks that one of the oldest civilizations in the world began. The ancient Egyptians lived and farmed along the Nile, using the soil to produce food for themselves and their animals.

Upper Egypt was known as Ta Shemau which means “the land of reeds” referring to the papyrus that grew on the banks of the river in great abundance. Papyrus was the symbol of Lower Egypt whilst the lotus flower was recognised as the symbol of Upper Egypt.

In 1787, the famous Rosetta stone was found in the Nile Delta in the city of Rosetta. This Ancient Egyptian artifact played a key role in modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The River Nile runs through Egypt, creating a fertile green valley across the dessert.

Many varieties of fish are found in the Nile system. Notable among those found in the lower Nile system are the Nile perch (which may attain a weight of more than 80 kilograms (175 pounds)), the bolti, the barbel, several species of catfish, the elephant-snout fish, the tigerfish or water leopard, lungfish and eel.

The Nile crocodile, found in most parts of the river is one of the largest crocodiles in the world.

The River Nile is about 6,670 km (4,160 miles) in length and is the longest river in Africa and in the world. Although it is generally associated with Egypt, only 22% of the Nile’s course runs through that country.

Other reptiles found in the Nile basin include the soft-shelled turtle, three species of monitor lizard, and some 30 species of snakes, of which more than half are venomous.

The hippos, once common throughout the Nile system, is now found only in the Al-Sudd region and to the south.

Its average discharge is 3.1 million litres (680,000 gallons) per second.

The Nile is famous as the longest river in the world. The river got its name from the Greek word Neilos, which means valley. The Nile floods the lands in Egypt, leaving behind black sediment. That's why the ancient Egyptians named the river Ar, meaning black and "Rivers of Life".

The entire Nile River Delta is estimated to drain an area of 1,293,000 square miles. This area is so vast that is has a number of different climate areas. North, in Egypt and Sudan, rainfall is sparse. More to the south, in and around Ethiopia, rainfall is heavy, contributing to the floodwaters that rush downstream and eventually create the wonderfully fertile soil that supports so much of life in Egypt and Sudan. Dams, the most notable being the Aswan High Dam, have been built along the route to prevent massive flooding of populated areas.

The name Nile is derived from the Greek Neilos (Latin: Nilus), which probably originated from the Semitic root naḥal, meaning a valley or a river valley and hence, by an extension of the meaning, a river.

The ancient Egyptians called the river ‘Ar or Aur‘ meaning “Black,” in allusion to the color of the deposits carried by the river when it flooded.

Hapi was the god of the annual flooding of the Nile in ancient Egyptian religion.Hapi was greatly celebrated among the Egyptians.

The Nile River Delta is home to many species of animals, including crocodiles, turtles, baboons, wildebeest, and more than 300 species of birds, including fishing eagles, ibis, and the Nile Valley Sunbird.

The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that “Egypt was the gift of the Nile“.

The source of the river is debatable since it is commonly known that the source of the river is Lake Victoria, which is the biggest lake in Africa, but it is observed that on the northern side of the lake there is a waterfall called Ripon Falls, which has a small opening and seemingly that is where the water in the River Nile comes from but then this cannot be held as the ultimate truth since there are many rivers that flow into Lake Victoria therefore which one of these or if all of them are the sources of The Nile. Presently River Kagera and its tributary, which is called Ruvubu whose headwaters are in Burundi, are considered to be the source of the River Nile.

Lake Nasser is the second largest man-made lake in the world. Lake Nasser is where the waters of the Nile are held back by the Aswan High Dam.The lake produces 25,000 tons of fish a year.

Nile also played an important in the building if the famous Pyramids since the blocks of stone, which were used to make these pyramids, were actually transported from the source to the site with the help of Nile.

It’s only recent that the first known navigation team successfully followed the river from beginning to its end.

Amazing Facts: Sunflower

Sunflowers originally came from the U.S.

Sunflowers are the state flower for Kansas.

The scientific name of sunflowers is Helianthus, from the Greek word helios for sun and anthus meaning flower.

Sunflower needs a lot of sun and follows the sun’s movements across the sky from east to west, this phenomenon is called heliotropism.

There are two kinds of sunflower seeds- black and stripe

Each sunflower is actually made of thousands of teeny flowers called florets. The iconic yellow petals and fuzzy brown centers are actually individual flowers themselves. As many as 2000 can make up the classic sunflower bloom.

Sunflowers are a great choice for planting to attract birds to your yard.

Each sunflower can contain as many as 1000 to 2000 seeds.

Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base. The large petals around the edge of a sunflower head are individual ray flowers which do not develop into seed.

There are two kinds of sunflower seeds. Oil is made from black seeds and snacks are made from striped seeds. Sunflower seeds are also used to feed birds.

Sunflowers have been cultivated and harvested by many cultures for at least 4,500 years.

Sunflower seeds are rich in oil, which they store as a source of energy and food. Sunflower seeds are crushed to give us oil. We can use sunflower oil for cooking.

The sunflower is native to the America’s and was used extensively by Native American Indians for food, as oil, in bread, medical ointments, dyes and body paints.

There is only one flower on each sunflower stem.

Sunflowers are one of the fastest growing plants. They can grow 8 to 12 feet tall in rich soil within six months.

The sunflower is native to North America and was used by the Indians for food and oil. Some farmers use it to feed their livestock.

We use sunflower seeds to make oil, bird seed and for snacking. They have lots of calcium and 11 other important minerals. They do have 50% fat, BUT it is mostly polyunsaturated linoleic acid.

The tallest sunflower on record was 9.17 m (30 ft 1 in)

Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings featuring and called Sunflowers.

The Netherlands grew the tallest sunflower at 25' 5.5" tall in 1986 by M. Heijmf.

Sunflower seeds are also used to feed birds.

Sunflowers have been planted to help soak up nuclear radiation. They can extract toxin such as lead, arsenic and uranium from contaminated soil.

Tsar Peter the Great was so fascinated by the sunny flowers he saw in the Netherlands that he took some back to Russia.

The former Soviet Union grows the most sunflowers. The sunflower is the national flower of Russia.

A well-known sunflower characteristic is that the flowering heads track the sun's movement, a phenomenon known as heliotropism.

It require only 90 to 100 days from planting to maturity.

The sunflower is the national flower of Russia.

The largest gathering of people dressed as sunflowers consists of 748 people achieved by Karnevalsgesellschaft “Bleib treu” (Germany) in Boke, Germany, on 14 May 2015.

The daily orientation of the flower to the sun is a direct result of differential growth of the stem. A plant-growth regulator, or auxin, accumulates on the shaded side of a plant when conditions of unequal light prevail. Because of this accumulation, the darker side grows faster than the sunlit side. Thus, the stem bends toward the sun.

There are more than sixty different kinds of sunflowers in the U.S.

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