Worker resting on bales of cotton, Thonakaha, Korhogo, Ivory Coast. Cotton crops occupy approximately 335,000 square klilometers worldwide, and use nearly one quarter of all pesticides sold.
Flock of sheep, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. After the missionary period, between gold fever and the first drillings for oil, sheep-raising became the chief activity in the north of the main island, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. The local cabanas (sheep pastures) are huge sheep farms with 3.5 acres of land per head of livestock.
Mountainous countryside near Maelifellssandur, Myrdalsjökull Region, Iceland. Once the young lava fields of Iceland cool down, life begins anew little by little. Ice, wind and water flatten and carve out shapes to begin with, then, during the summer, bacteria, lichen and fungi prepare the soil for plants, in particular mosses which adapt to an environment which remains difficult. These plants colonise the most favourable sites and terrain little by little, forming a new ecosystem.
"Tree of life", Tsavo national park, Kenya. This acacia is a symbol of life in the vast expanses of thorny savanna, where wild animals come to take advantage of its leaves or its shade. Tsavo National Park in southeastern Kenya, crossed by the Nairobi-Mombasa road and railway axis, is the country's largest protected area (8,200 square miles, or 21,000 square kilometers) and was declared a national park in 1948.
Elephants in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta, flooding seasonally, and is populated by five ethnic groups of people, sharing it with hundreds of species of animals.
Crowd in Abengourou, Ivory Coast. Africa has a population of 800 million, making up 13 percent of the human race. This colorful crowd, enthusiastically waving to the photographer, was photographed in Abengourou, in eastern Ivory Coast.
Gosse's Bluff meteor crater, Northern territory, Australia. Approximately 135 million years ago a meteorite fell on Australian soil, devastating more than 8 square miles (20 km2) in what is now the Northern Territory. Today a crater 3 miles (5 km) in diameter and 500 feet (150 m) deep remains, called Gosse's Bluff; it is known as Tnorala to the Aboriginal people.
Iraqi tank graveyard in the desert near Al Jahrah, Kuwait. This graveyard of tanks will bear witness for many years to the damage that war causes both to the environment and to human health. In 1991, during the first Gulf War, a million depleted uranium shells were fired at Iraqi forces, spreading toxic, radioactive dust for miles around. Such dust is known to have lasting effects on the environment and to cause various forms of cancer and other serious illnesses among humans.
Tsingy of Bemaraha, Morondava region, Madagascar. A Nature reserve covering 853 square kilometers, it was established as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990.
Village in the Rheris Valley, Er Rachidia region, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco. Fortified villages are frequently seen along the valley of the Rheris, as they are on most rivers of southern Morocco, inspired by the Berber architecture built to protect against invaders. Today, with the threat of raids now gone, the close clustering of dwellings, small windows, and roofs covering houses and narrow streets serve the purpose of protecting occupants from heat and dust. The flat, connecting roofs also provide a place for drying crops.
The Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada. These oil deposits make up the largest reservoir of crude bitumen in the world, and as recently as 2006, produced over 1 million barrels of crude oil per day.
Village on stilts in Tongkil, Samales Islands, Philippines. The southern Philippines, and in particular the Sulu Archipelago that includes the Samales Islands, is home to the Badjaos. The Badjaos belong to a Muslim minority who make up 5 percent of the Philippine population and are concentrated mostly in the south of the country. Known as "sea gypsies", they fish and harvest shellfish and pearl oysters, and they live in villages on stilts. A channel carved out of the coral reef allows them to reach the open sea.
Autumn forest in the region of Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada. The hills of the Charlevoix region along the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec province are dominated by a mixed forest of deciduous trees and conifers. In 1988 UNESCO declared 1,800 square miles (4,600 km2) of this region a Biosphere Reserve. The Quebec forest, boreal in the north and temperate in the south, covers nearly two thirds of the province and has been exploited for lumber since the end of the 17th century. Today it contributes to the economic prosperity of Canada in the worldwide production of newsprint paper, paper pulp, and timber, as well as Christmas trees and maple syrup.
Rice field north of Pokhara, Nepal. The Himalayan mountain chain runs north of Nepal, separating it from its giant neighbor, China. The mountains crown Nepal with a string of eight peaks - out of a world total of fourteen - higher than 26,232 feet (8,000 m). The economy is based on agriculture, which employs 80 percent of the working population and accounts for 41 percent of the gross domestic product of one of the world's poorest countries. Generations of farmers have tamed the mountainsides and prevented erosion by cutting terraces. Rice paddies thus rise in tiers as high as 9,800 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, covering 45 percent of Nepal's cultivated land.
Road interrupted by a sand dune, Nile Valley, Egypt. Dunes cover nearly one-third of the Sahara, and the highest, in linear form, can attain a height of almost 1,000 feet (300 m). Barchans are mobile, crescent-shaped dunes that move in the direction of the prevailing wind at rates as high as 33 feet (10 m) per year, sometimes even covering infrastructures such as this road in the Nile Valley.
Town of Koh Pannyi, Phand Nga bay, Thailand. The south-western coast of Thailand offers a series of beautiful bays lined with many islands. Phang-nga Bay's special formations were created after the thawing of ice 15,000 years ago. Rising waters then submerged arid calcareous mountains, leaving only their peaks visible to the eye. The bay was turned into a marine park in 1981. One of its popular attractions is the village of Koh Panyi, which was built on piles two centuries ago by Muslim sailors coming from Malaysia. The inhabitants make a living via traditional fishing and tourism. Preserved by its configuration, the bay floor of Phang-nga Bay suffered much less from the tsunami of December 26, 2004 than nearby sites.
Barrios, Caracas, Venezuela. Caracas has grown enormously in the last 40 years, attracting people from all over South America, filling its narrow valley and climbing up the steep sides of the surrounding hills. These new districts, known as barrios or ranchos are home to more than 50 percent of Caracas's 3.8 million inhabitants.
American cemetery north of Verdun, Meuse, France. Covering some 40 hectares (100 acres) at Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Verdun, the American cemetery was dedicated in 1935 by the American Battle Monuments Commission. The commission was created in 1923 at the request of General Pershing, who had taken part in the American offensive of 1918. Its aim was to undertake architectural and landscape studies in order to restructure American cemeteries and commemorative monuments in Europe. Whereas the French army chose to build permanent cemeteries where temporary cemeteries had been made during the hostilities, the American army opted to create a single cemetery. Some 25,000 American tombs scattered around Verdun were then brought together at Romagne where, after almost half the bodies were repatriated to American soil, 14,246 soldiers have lain ever since.
Icebergs and an Adelie penguin, Adelie Land, Antarctica. Antarctica, the sixth continent, is a unique observation point for atmospheric and climatic phenomena; its ancient ice, which trapped air when it was formed, contains evidence of the Earth's climate as it has changed and developed over the past millions of years.
Darul Aman Palace, in Kabul, Afghanistan. First built in the 1920s by King Amanullah Khan, the palace has been destroyed (by fire and warfare) and rebuilt many times. Its re-reconstruction is in the planning and fundraising stage right now.
A whale swims off the Valdes peninsula, Argentina. After summering in the Arctic, whales return to the southern seas each winter to reproduce. From July to November, whales mate and bear their young along the coasts of the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina. Until the 1950s, this migratory marine mammal was extensively hunted for its meat and the oil extracted from its fat, which brought it to the edge of extinction. Protective measures were adopted after international attention was focused on the problem in 1937. In 1982 a moratorium was declared on whale hunting for commercial purposes, and in 1994 the southern seas became a whale sanctuary. After decades of protection, 7 of the 13 whale species, of which only a few thousand remain (10 to 60 times fewer than in the early 20th century), are still endangered.
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