New Holland and Geographic Synecdoche


In the other article posted here today about the ghost town of Smeerenburg, we learnt that the remote 17th-century whaling station was located on the remote Svalbard island of Amsterdamøya.  Dutch seafarers and merchants would carry the ‘Amsterdam’ around the world during this period of history, including to other remote islands such as Île Amsterdam…

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The Tarim Desert Highway: Growing Bushes in the Desert


One of the most curious highways in the world is the Tarim Desert Highway.  Completed in 1995 across the heart of Xinjiang, China’s Taklamakan, the desert region that occupies the bulk of the Tarim Basin, the 552 km (343 mi) road is the longest road in the world built across a shifting-sand desert, with four-fifths…

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A Look at GPS Alternatives


Around the world, use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) is so commonplace that for many who use GPS-enabled devices (handheld navigation devices, automobile satnav units, cellular phones and tablet computers, geofencing, surveying, and so on), the words ‘GPS’ and ‘GPSed’ have become everyday verbs.  The presence of GPS in modern life is so ubiquitous…

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Counting Down the Ten Largest Empires in History, Nos. 10-6


For number 5 through number 1, click here.  10. Portuguese Empire (1815) – 10.4 million km2 (4.0 million sq mi) Portugal proper is not the largest country on the planet by any means, but its hold on a massive overseas colonial empire existed for nearly six centuries thanks to the maritime kingdom’s place at the…

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