How to Lose World Heritage Site Status

A swath of desert just inland from the Arabian Sea coast and a meandering stretch of a major central European river framed by 18th and 19th-century architecture may not seem as though they would have anything in common, but they very much do. Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary and Germany’s Dresden Elbe Valley are the only two…

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Mödlareuth: Little Berlin

‘When the government of East Germany ended travel restrictions between itself and the West on 9 November 1989, residents who had been living in a community divided for decades were finally able to visit the other side. As the two Germanys moved closer to reunification, the wall that split the community in half would cease…

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International Condominiums

For the vast majority of people, a condominium is a suite in a commonly-held apartment building that is owned rather than rented.  Condominiums, however, also exist in international law. Not as apartment complexes lying on international borders, or anything like that. Rather, a condominium is a piece of territory shared equally by two or more…

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Same Name, Other Side of the Border (Part III: Western and Northern Europe)

We continue with Part III of our multi-part look at places around the world where a regional name at-large is used on both opposing sides of the border in the official names of administrative divisions.   Part I (North America) can be found here and Part II (South America) can be found here. Brabant, Limburg, and…

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Elements Named for Places

As schoolchildren, we are all exposed to the periodic table of the elements in our science textbooks and on the walls of our chemistry classrooms.  This organised display of the chemical elements – the pure chemical substances that are the building blocks of all molecules – ingrains the names, symbols, and atomic weights of the…

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Some Google Street View Imagery Notes

For the latest TBG article at Google Sightseeing, it’s an all-toilet related post.  Juvenile, I know (don’t worry, the next one is about Einstein’s birthday.  Seriously).  One Street View image in particular had me worried that the post might actually have to be pulled before it was even published, namely this image of a man…

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The Longest Train Ride in the World

In March 2010, news sites were abuzz with the announcement of a proposed Chinese-backed high-speed Eurasian rail line that could whip passengers between London and Beijing at speeds of up to 345 km/h (215 mph), completing the 17-country, 8 160 km (5 070 mi) journey in just two days. While such a fantastical project is…

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The Dead Olympics: The All-Time Medal Count for Countries That No Longer Exist

When the 2012 Summer Olympics come around, there will be 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participating, one fewer than in 2008 (well, technically, it will be the same, since Brunei didn’t send any athletes but still had, and has, an official delegation).  When the Netherlands Antilles dissolved in October 2010, under International Olympic Committee rules…

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Routes of the World Marathon Majors

Few sports incorporate geography and landscape like the marathon does.  Other than the confines of the standard length of 42.195 km (26 mi 385 yd; a distance that was standardised based upon the course used at the 1908 London Olympics), course designers are free to incorporate any features of the local landscape they desire, whether…

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