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.

Amazing Facts: Uranus

It's windy on Uranus. The wind speeds sometimes reach 250 meters per second on Uranus. This would be equal to 900 km per hour winds or 560 miles per hour on Earth.

Uranus, named after the the father of the Roman god Saturn, is the seventh planet in the Solar System and third of the gas giants. It is the third largest planet by diameter, yet fourth most massive.

It’s not visible to the naked eye, and became the first planet discovered with the use of a telescope.

William Herschel wanted to name Uranus after King George III, as Georgian Sidus.

Uranus was first seen by William Herschel in 1781 during a survey of the sky using a telescope. In 1782 George III appointed Herschel as Astronomer Royal.

Herschel also discovered 2 of Uranus’ moons with a larger telescope.

The mass of Uranus is about 14.5 times the mass of Earth and 63 Earths can fit inside Uranus.

Uranus has a slow orbit. It takes 30,685 Earth days for it to orbit the sun completely.

Uranus mass is 86,810,300,000,000,000 billion kg, which is equal to 14.536 times the Earth's mass.

Uranus rotates on its axis once every 17 hours and 14 minutes. Like Venus, it turns in a retrograde direction which is opposite to the direction Earth and the other six planets turn.

It takes Uranus 84 Earth years to orbit the Sun. Its axis is at 98 degrees, which means it almost lies sideways as it orbits the Sun. This means that the north and south poles of Uranus lie near where the equator is on Earth. During parts of its orbit one or other of the poles directly face the Sun which means the planet gets around 42 years of direct sunlight followed by 42 years of darkness.

A collision may have caused the unusual tilt of Uranus. The theory is that an Earth-sized planet may have collided with Uranus which forced its axis to drastically shift.

The 13 rings of Uranus were discovered in 1977 (first 9) at the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, in 1986 (2 more) by the Voyager 2, and in 2005 (another 2) by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Many Asian languages translate Uranus into sky king star.

Uranus is often referred to as an “ice giant” planet. Like the other gas giants, it has a hydrogen upper layer, which has helium mixed in. Below that is an icy “mantle, which surrounds a rock and ice core. The upper atmosphere is made of water, ammonia and the methane ice crystals that give the planet its pale blue color.

Uranus is the first planet to be discovered by the use of a telescope.

The north and south poles of Uranus are located where the equator lies on most other planets. This is because it tilts sideways on its axis rotation.

In 1690, Uranus was recorded as a star, named 34 Tauri by John Flamsteed.

Uranus hits the coldest temperatures of any planet. With minimum atmospheric temperature of -224°C (-371ºF) Uranus is nearly coldest planet in the solar system. While Neptune doesn’t get as cold as Uranus it is on average colder. The upper atmosphere of Uranus is covered by a methane haze which hides the storms that take place in the cloud decks.

William Herschel, who discovered Uranus, originally believed it was a comet.

The moons of Uranus are named after characters created by Alexander Pope and William Shakespeare.

Uranus has the second most dramatic set of rings in the Solar System. Unlike Saturn’s particles which are made of bright ice, the rings of Uranus are very dark. They’re also narrow, only measuring a few km wide. Astronomers think that the rings of Uranus are very young, and probably formed relatively recently, and not with the planet.

Although Uranus is more than 14 times the mass of Earth, it is the smallest of the giant planets.

Uranus is named after the Greek mythological figure Ouranos, the God of the sky.

Uranus has a total of 27 moons, most of whom are named after characters in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. The five major moons are called Titania, Oberon, Miranda, Ariel and Umbriel. Umbriel is not from Shakespeare but is the “melancholy sprite” in a poem by Alexander Pope.

Uranus was originally called “George’s Star”.

Uranus has 13 rings, 9 of which are narrow rings, 2 of which are dusty rings, and 2 of which are outer rings.

William Herschel was paid a yearly amount of 200 pounds by the Royal Family to move to Windsor and let the royals look through his telescopes.

Uranus' equatorial circumference is 159,354 km.

Uranus experiences seasons, while most other planets do not.

Only one spacecraft has flown by Uranus. In 1986, the Voyager 2 spacecraft swept past the planet at a distance of 81,500 km. It returned the first close-up images of the planet, its moons, and rings.

It might be hard to sleep all night on Uranus, if people could live there, as some parts of the planet experience night for over 40 years.

There is a proposal to launch another mission to evaluate Uranus that would launch between 2020 and 2023, taking approximately 13 years to reach Uranus.

The wind speeds on Uranus can reach 900 km/h (560 mph).

The surface temperature on Uranus is -197 degrees Celsius, sometimes being as low as -224 degrees Celsius. It is the coldest planet in our solar system.

The chemical element Uranium, discovered in 1789, was named after the newly discovered planet Uranus.

The closest investigation of Uranus was done in 1986, by the Voyager 2. It had been launched in 1977.

There have been 27 moons discovered around Uranus so far.

Amazing Facts: Paris

There are approximately 9,057 open terrace eateries in Paris.

It is expensive to live in Paris. It is ranked as the fifth most expensive city in luxury housing, but 62% of the buildings date back before 1949.

Paris is the capital and most populous city in France.

It is located along the Seine River in northern central France.

The population in 2016 is estimated to be as much as 2.34 million. The population of the city of Paris reached a historic high of 2.9 million in 1921 but then declined; between 1954 and 1999 it declined at every census, falling to 2.15 in 1999, but after that it began to climb again.

Paris covers an area of 105 square kilometers (41 square miles).

Paris is spread widely on both banks of the river Seine and includes two islands, the Île Saint-Louis and the larger Île de la Cité, which form the oldest part of the city.

Overall, the city is relatively flat, and the lowest point is 35 meters (115 feet) above sea level. Paris has several prominent hills, the highest of which is Montmartre at 130 meters (427 feet).

There are still a few houses from the Middle-Ages in Paris. They were restored in the 1970s and date back to the 1400s.

Paris was founded around 250 BC by the Parisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones. They settled on the Île de la Cité and on the banks of the Seine, built bridges and a fort, minted coins, and began to trade with other river settlements in Europe.

In 52 BC, a Roman army led by Titus Labienus defeated the Parisii and established a Gallo-Roman garrison town called Lutetia.

The population of Paris peaked in 1921 at 2.9 million. Today this number is less, with approximately 2.2 million residents living in the city.

The town was Christianised in the 3rd century AD, and after the collapse of the Roman Empire, it was occupied by Clovis I, the King of the Franks, who made it his capital in 508.

In 987 AD, Paris became the capital of France.

During the French Renaissance period, from the late 15th century to the early 17th century, Paris became a center of art, architecture and science.

Paris' oldest bridge is the Pont Neuf. Pont Neuf means 'New Bridge' in English.

In the mid-1800s, Napoleon III hired civic planner Georges-Eugene Hausmann to modernize Paris. Hausmann’s designs gave the city wide, tree-lined boulevards, large public parks, a new sewer system and other public works projects.

From 1940 to 1944, the city of Paris was occupied by the Germans. By 1942, there was a massive deportation of French Jews and by 1944, the city of Paris is liberated by the Allied Forces.

The last Nazi commander in charge of Paris famously claimed he saved the City of Light from an insane Hitler who wanted it flattened. A French historian, however, told The Local that version of events is pure fantasy from the self-aggrandizing former general.

The name “Paris” is derived from its early inhabitants, the Celtic Parisii tribe.

During WWII the Mosque of Paris gave Jews Muslim IDs to help them avoid being murdered by Nazis.

Paris is often referred to as The City of Light (La Ville Lumière), both because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment, and more literally because Paris was one of the first European cities to adopt gas street lighting. In the 1860s, the boulevards and streets of Paris were illuminated by 56,000 gas lamps.

The city of love, fashion capital, literary paradise, a city know by many monikers.

Classic, innovative and offbeat, the capital offers a unique cultural journey through 1,803 monuments, 173 museums and many other exceptional places.

The Eiffel Tower may be the most famous monument in the world and is certainly the most emblematic of Paris. It’s hard to believe that the structure was dismissed as a monstrosity when it was first unveiled. The Eiffel Tower was designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel and built for the Paris Exhibition of 1889, which marked the centenary of the French Revolution. The tower consists of 15,000 steel sections held together by 2.5 million rivets. This innovative structure is now considered a masterful architectural feat and is one of the top tourist attractions in Paris.

When Hitler arrived in Paris during WWII the French did not want him visiting the top of the Eiffel Tower so they cut the lift cables. If he wanted to reach the top he would have had to climb more than 1000 steps. He chose not to make the climb.

Most people in Paris rent, with only 33% of Parisians owning a home in the city.

The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is the most visited and famous museum in the world. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is undoubtedly one of the most famous pieces of art in the Louvre, with people from all walks of life travelling to the museum to catch a glimpse of the world famous painting.

Paris has approximately 1,784 bakeries. The Parisians are known for their pastries and cuisine.

Notre-Dame Cathedral stands in the heart of Paris on the Ile de la Cité. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it is among the largest and best-known church buildings in the Catholic Church in France, and in the world. Built between 1163 and 1345, the Notre Dame Cathedral is also one of the most visited religious buildings in the world: it has more that 13 million visitors per year!

Paris has 6,100 streets. The shortest street is Rue des Degres at 5.75 meters.

Only one STOP sign exists in Paris. People are expected to give the right of way to the person on the right.

The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It is dedicated to the victorious French armies of the Revolution and the First Empire. The triumphal arch is in honor of those who fought for France, in particular, those who fought during the Napoleonic Wars. Built between 1806 and 1836, it’s iconic in style and sculpture to the decoration popular at the first half of the 19th century and visitors can admire its delicate design and engravings.

Paris' City Hall has been at the same location since 1357.

The tree-lined Avenue des Champs-Elysees is Paris’s most famous street and has even been described as the most beautiful avenue in the world. Almost two kilometers (1.2 miles) long, the boulevard connects the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. Life in Paris centers around the Champs-Elysees. It’s an avenue lined with restaurants, upscale boutiques, museums and night clubs. It’s home to the Bastille Day military parade and the end of the Tour de France.

Paris has a mild but moderately wet climate, but it does experience extreme heat on occasion.

The Musée d’Orsay is a national museum in Paris, on the left bank of the Seine opposite the Louvre and facing towards the river. The museum is internationally renowned for its collection of impressionist art and is one of Paris’ top attractions.

Each year approximately 22.4 million tourists visit Paris.

One of the most noticeable landmarks in Paris is the striking white-domed basilica of the Sacre-Coeur. It is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. This stunning basilica draws many tourists every year to see its marble architecture and gorgeous interior.

The Louvre Museum in Paris is the most visited art museum in the world.

There are 37 bridges within Paris. The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge in Paris. It was built with interruptions in the work, from 1578 to 1607.

The French Revolution started in Paris.

There are about 6,100 streets in Paris. The Rue de Vaugirard, which at 4.3 kilometers (2.7 miles) is the longest street in Paris. At 3.3 metres (10.8 feet) wide and 5.75 metres (18.7 feet) long the Rue des Degrés in the 2nd arrondissement has the distinction of being the shortest street in Paris.

There are also 450 parks and gardens in the city, spread out across more than (485 Hectares) 1,200 acres. The two most famous are the Tuileries Garden and the Luxembourg Garden.

There are 470,000 trees in Paris, and every single one of them is documented, measured and referenced.

There are more than 400 movie screens in Paris, a hundred of which are operated by France’s government art program, Art et Essai.

Paris is home to some of the top bakeries in the world. There are approximately 1200 bakeries in Paris.

Famous landmarks in Paris include the Pyramid of the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Palace of Versailles, the River Seine, and the Eiffel Tower.

In Paris, the baguette is an indispensable part of everyday life.

Paris has an estimated 40,000 restaurants!

In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris based in Paris.

Fluctuat nec mergitur is a Latin phrase meaning “Tossed by the waves but never sunk”. The motto has been used since at least 1358 by the city of Paris.

In the 1860s, an artistic movement known as French Impressionism emerged, featuring the work of a group of Paris-based artists that included Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Paris is often referred to as the 'City of Lights'.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s Paris was one of the world’s most important hotbeds of experimentation in art and literature. Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and the “Lost Generation” of English-speaking writers like Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound make Paris their home.

More than 20 million people in total are said to come to this city each year.

A dozen or so Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what’s become known as “Paris syndrome.” That is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations. The experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown.

Cool Facts: Orchids

Orchids (Orchidaceae family) are the largest and most diverse of the flowering plant families, with over 800 described genera and 25,000+ species.

There are also over 100,000 hybrids and cultivars produced by horticulturalists, created since the introduction of tropical species to Europe.

Lifespan of orchid depends on the species. Certain species can survive up to 100 years.

Orchids are found on all continents except Antarctica.

The great majority are to be found in the tropics, mostly Asia, South America, and Central America. Some are found above the Arctic Circle, in southern Patagonia, and even on Macquarie Island, close to Antarctica.

Orchids are very old plants. According to the fossil evidences, orchids exist on the planet around 100 million years.

Orchids can live on the ground (terrestrial forms), attached to woody plants (epiphytic types) or even thrive under the ground.

A majority of species are epiphytic types. These are anchored on other plants, mostly trees, sometimes shrubs. However, they are not parasites.

Vanilla is one of the best known and widely used flavors. It is extracted from the pod of Vanilla planifolia, which is a species of orchid.

Orchids do not have classic root. They have rhizome, tuber or aerial roots.

Size, shape and texture of leaves depend on the habitat. Orchids that live in dry climate have thick leaves covered with wax, while species that live in warm and humid areas have thin, elongated leaves. Certain species of orchids do not have leaves at all.

Some orchids have single flowers, but most have a racemose inflorescence, sometimes with a large number of flowers. Each flower is bilateral symmetric, which means that it can be divided in two equal parts.

People use orchids for numerous purposes. Substances isolated from orchids are used in industry of perfumes, spices and in traditional Asian medicine.

All orchids have inferior ovaries which develop into a capsule with (usually six) compartments containing up to millions of microscopic seeds. Only few seeds will develop into mature plant.

The flowers are pollinated by insects, in some cases by birds, and it is common for flowers to have petals modified into perches or guides for their pollinators. Orchids have a dizzying array of pollination syndromes, some fantastically complex.

Seed of orchids does not have endosperm which provides nutrients required for the germination. Because of that, all orchids (including non parasitic forms) live in symbiosis with fungi during germination. Germination can last from couple of weeks to 15 years.

About a third of orchid species deceive insects into pollinating them. The reproductive parts of many orchid flowers are shaped and colored to look like the kind of insect they hope to attract. Once the insect is interested, the orchid’s pollen sticks to the bug until it flies off to find another orchid that it mistakes
for a mate.

Orchids produce several millions of miniature seeds. Only few seeds will develop into mature plant.

Orchid species can differ greatly from one another, with extreme variations in size, weight and color.

Flower of orchid can survive from few hours to 6 months, depending on the species.

The world’s smallest orchid flower has been identified by a botanist in Brazil, measuring just half a
millimeter (0.02 inches) . The tiny bloom was initially mistaken for a fungus before being examined under a microscope at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in the south of the country.

Due to high specialization of pollination, extinction of insect means extinction of orchid (there is no one else who can pollinate it in the wild).

Bond between orchids and certain species of insects is tight and highly specialized. Petals have similar shape and color like female insects to attract males and ensure pollination.

The previously recorded smallest orchid flower was identified in 2009, measuring 2.1 mm (0,08 inches) and was discovered in the mountain forests of Ecuador.

Certain species of orchids are parasitic. They are not able to produce food (sugar) using the sunlight and carbon dioxide (like other plants). Instead, they obtain food from fungi that live inside their roots.

Grammatophyllum speciosum, also called giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid or queen of the orchids, is the world’s largest orchid. Its cylindric pseudobulbs can grow to a length of 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) . It can grow to gigantic clusters weighing from several hundred kilograms to more than one ton. Each raceme can grow to a height of 3 meters (9.8 feet) , bearing up to eighty flowers, each 10 cm (3.9 inches) wide.

Orchids do not have classic root. They have rhizome, tuber or aerial roots.

Shenzhen Nongke Orchid, most expensive flower ever sold – This orchid flowers only blooms once every 4 to 5 years and takes its name from the university at which it was developed. Scientists spent 8 years creating the delicate bloom which fetched a staggering $200,000 at auction in 2005. It remains the most expensive flower ever sold.

Orchids can live on the ground (terrestrial forms), attached to woody plants (epiphytic types) or under the ground.

Priceless Orchid – Few living things are both as poetic and ephemeral as the Kadupul flower, a fleeting beauty from Sri Lanka that blooms as infrequently as once a year. And when it does bloom, it does so in the dark of night and withers away before dawn … so transient, it simply can’t be purchased.

Size, shape and texture of leaves depend on the habitat. Orchids that live in dry climate have thick leaves covered with wax, while species that live in warm and humid areas have thin, elongated leaves. Certain species of orchids do not have leaves at all.

Flower of orchid can survive from few hours to six months, depending on the species.

Many orchid plants bloom only once a year, though some varieties bloom a few times.

Lifespan of orchid depends on the species.

Orchids can have single flower or racemose inflorescence. Each flower is bilateral symmetric, which means that it can be divided in two equal parts.

Healthy plants that have been cultivated with a consistent fertilizer and watering regimen will survive in a garden for 20 years or longer.

Some wild orchids have been known thrive for as long as 200 years.

Orchids have a reputation for beauty and mystery and have long been cultivated.

Orchids have been cultivated for over three thousand years, starting in China.

Size of orchids depends on the species. They can be tiny as a penny or extremely large, weighing couple of hundred pounds.

Vanilla is one of the best known and widely used flavors. It is extracted from the pod of Vanilla planifolia, which is a species of orchid.

The scent of orchids is frequently analysed by perfumers to identify potential fragrance chemicals.

Orchids have been used in traditional medicine in an effort to treat many diseases and ailments. They have been used as a source of herbal remedies in China.

Biologists at Harvard University have identified the ancient fossilized remains of a pollen-bearing bee as the first hint of orchids in the fossil record, a find they say suggests orchids are old enough to have coexisted with dinosaurs. Their analysis in the journal Nature, indicates orchids arose some 76 to 84 million years ago, much longer ago than many scientists had estimated.

Many wild orchid species are threatened by people collecting them for sale to orchid fanciers and nurseries. Many are also threatened by the destruction of their habitat by logging and forest clearing.

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