The backlands away from the Atlantic coastal regions where the Portuguese first settled in South America in the early sixteenth century. Only few were trying to make inroads into the terrifying sertão. Geographically, the sertão consists mainly of low uplands that form part of the Brazilian Highlands. Most parts of the sertão are between 200 and 500 meters above sea level. Two major rivers cross the sertão, the Rio Jaguaribe and the Rio Piranhas further east. Apart from the Rio São Francisco which originates outside the region, other rivers dry out after the rainy periods end. Because the sertão lies close to the equator, temperatures remain nearly uniform throughout the year and are typically tropical. Its rainfall is low, compared to other areas of Brazil. In its natural state, the sertão was covered by a distinctive scrubby caatinga vegetation, consisting generally of low thorny bushes adapted to the extreme climate. Several species of tree in the caatinga have become valuable horticultural plants, such as the cashew nut. Animals like the three-banded armadillo, collared anteater, jaguar and tufted capuchin, survive here, in reduced numbers. Bird species include some of the world’s rarest parrots. Lear’s and Spix’s macaws live in tiny numbers, too.
Over one million square kilometers in size, the Great Chaco forest is the second biggest ecosystem on the American continent, after the Amazon. It stretches across four countries: Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. It is one of the richest areas of biodiversity on Earth. The Chaco is divided into the Humid Chaco to the east, and the Semi Arid Chaco to the west. The forest encompasses areas of diverse ecological characteristics. It has savannah regions and very densely forested areas known as ‘Impenetrables’, in which there is no surface water. Species that live and grow in the Chaco forest tolerate temperatures that soar to above 50ºC in the summer. Species living in the forest include: collared peccaries; brown brocket and red brocket deer; six banded armadillos; parrots; tucans; and bats. There are also many snake species in the area, such as the rainbow boa and the famous lanpalagua boa, which reaches up to ten meters long. The Chaco forest is also home to the giant armadillo, tatú carreta. The honey made by wasps and bees of the Chaco forest is of great quality. Many varieties of precious hard wood trees grow in the Chaco forest, such as the Iron Wood tree, used to make 'sleepers' for railways around the world. Other hard woods include the Algarrobo and the Itin. The Chaco forest is home to jaguars, and panther onca palustris, the top predator on the American continent.
Marajó is an island located at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. It is part of the state of Pará. With a land area of 40,100 km², it is the largest island to be completely surrounded by freshwater in the world. Although its northeast coastline faces the Atlantic Ocean, the outflow from the Amazon is so great that the sea at the mouth is quite unbriny for some distance from shore. The island sits almost directly on the equator. Together with smaller neighboring islands, separated from Marajó by rivers, it forms the Marajó Archipelago, with an aggregate area of 49,602 km². Large parts of the islands are flooded during the rain season, because of higher water levels of the Amazon River along the coast and of heavy rainfall in the interior. The east of the island is dominated by savanna vegetation. There are large fazendas with animal husbandry. This is also the location of Lake Arari. There are large herds of domesticated water buffalos on the island. There are also lots of birds living there, with the Red Scharlachsichler ranking among the most characteristic of them. Furthermore it gives lots of alligators and piranhas. The west of the island is characterized by Várzea forests and small farms. Wood and açaí are produced there. To the north of the large savanna area are palm swamps, mainly with Buriti Palm and Kohl palms. During the rain season, the swamps are flooded one meter high. Little is known about the ecology of these swamps. There are 20 large rivers on the island. Because of oscillating water levels and regular floods, many settlements are built on stilts (Palafitas).
The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean. Wildlife is its most notable feature. It includes: Marine Turtles, Marine and Land Iguanas, Lava Lizards, Frigatebirds, Boobies, the Waved Albatross, the only flightless Cormorant in the world, and the only penguin found in equatorial waters - warm waters. Most of these animals are endemic. The Galápagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The islands are geologically young. They are located in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The closest land mass is the mainland of Ecuador to the east (the country to which they belong). The group consists of 15 main islands, 3 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets. The islands are located at the Galapagos Triple Junction. The oldest of them is thought to have formed between 5 million and 10 million years ago. The youngest islands, Isabela and Fernandina, are still being formed. European discovery of the Galápagos Islands occurred when Spaniard Fray Tomás de Berlanga, the fourth Bishop of Panama, sailed to Peru to settle a dispute between Francisco Pizarro and his lieutenants. De Berlanga's vessel drifted off course when the winds diminished, and his party reached the islands on 10 March 1535. The Galápagos Islands first appeared on the maps, of Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortelius, in about 1570. The islands were named "Insulae de los Galopegos" (Islands of the Tortoises) in reference to the giant tortoises found there.
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, Georgia to the northeast, the Armenian Highland to the east, Mesopotamia to the southeast, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Aegean Sea to the west. Most of the interior of Anatolia consists of a high-altitude plateau that becomes increasingly mountainous as one moves east. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the European mainland. Anatolia is separated from the Armenian Highland to the east by the Euphrates River, and from Syria by the Orontes River. The vast majority of the people residing in Anatolia are Turks. Kurds, who constitute a major community in southeastern Anatolia, are the largest ethnic minority. Albanians, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Bosnians, Circassians, Georgians, Greeks, Jews, Laz and a number of other ethnic groups also live in Anatolia in smaller numbers. Anatolia is the original homeland of several species. For instance, the fallow deer, now common in Europe, was introduced from Turkey in the 17th century. This species comes from the foothills of the Taurus Mountains between Antalya and Adana. Another example is the pheasant which comes from Samsun on Turkey's Black Sea coast. The domestic sheep is a descendant of the wild sheep. Few people are aware that the Anatolia leopard is one of the largest of these graceful cats, and that it was the species used in gladiator fights by the Romans. The tiger is another creature whose original homeland was Anatolia. Moreover birds have taken advantage of Turkey's strategic position as a bridge connecting Europe to Asia and Africa for thousands of years.
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent. The name "Alaska" was already introduced in the Russian colonial period, when it was used only for the peninsula. It is also known as “Alyeska”, the "great land”. The state is bordered by the Yukon Territory and British Columbia in Canada, to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, and Chukchi Sea to the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north. Alaska's territorial waters touch Russia's territorial waters in the Bering Strait. Life zones in Alaska range from grasslands, mountains, and tundra to thick forests, in which Sitka spruce (the state tree), western hemlock, tamarack, white birch, and western red cedar predominate. Various hardy plants and wild flowers spring up during the short growing season on the semiarid tundra plains. Species of poppy and gentian are endangered. More than three million lakes exist here. Mammals abound amid the wilderness. Great herds of Caribou migrate across some northern areas of the state. Moose move within ranges they establish, but do not migrate seasonally or move in herds as do Caribou. Reindeer were introduced to Alaska as herd animals for Alaska Natives, and there are no free-ranging herds in the state. Kodiak, Polar, Black, and Grizzly bears, Dall sheep, and an abundance of small mammals are also found. The sea otter and musk ox have been successfully reintroduced. With its myriad islands, Alaska has nearly 34,000 miles of tidal shoreline. Many active volcanoes are found in the Aleutians and in coastal regions. The chain of volcanoes extends to Mount Spurr, west of Anchorage on the mainland. Geologists have identified Alaska as part of Wrangellia, a large region consisting of multiple states and Canadian provinces in the Pacific Northwest which is actively undergoing continent building.
The Lençóis Maranhenses is located on the east coast of Maranhão state, in northeastern Brazil, just east of the Baía de São José. It involves the cities of Humberto de Campos, Primeira Cruz, Santo Amaro and Barreirinhas, the last being the main gateway to this fantastic natural beauty. Its greatest attraction is the National Park Lencois Maranhenses, rounded by the Preguica River, in Maranhao. It is an area of low, flat, occasionally flooded land, overlaid with large, discrete sand dunes. It encompasses roughly 1000 square kilometers, and despite abundant rain, supports almost no vegetation. Composed of large, white, sweeping dunes, at first glance Lençóis Maranhenses looks like an archetypal desert. In fact it isn't actually a desert. Lying just outside the Amazon basin, the region is subject to a regular rain season during the beginning of the year. These rains are 300 times more than the rains in the Sahara Africa. The rains cause a peculiar phenomenon: fresh water collects in the valleys between sand dunes, spotting the desert with blue and green lagoons that reach their fullest between July and September. The most famous of them are called Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon) and Lagoa Bonita (Beauty Lagoon), famous for their charm and excellent swimming conditions. The area is also surprisingly home to a variety of fish which, despite the almost complete disappearance of the lagoons during the dry season, have their eggs brought from the sea by birds.