Sunday, 4 May 2008

World-Record Destinations

Discover some of the largest, longest and tallest wonders of the world, both natural and man-made.

World’s Largest Pool: The San Alfonso del Mar Resort, in Algarrobo on Chile’s southern coast, is home to the world’s largest pool, which opened in 2006. While an Olympic-sized pool measures about 50 yards by 25 yards, this 20-acre, man-made pool is 1,000 yards long and 115 feet deep at its deepest point. It holds 66 million gallons of salt water at an average of 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

World’s Tallest Skyscraper: The Taipei 101 Building in Taipei, Taiwan, is a 101-story landmark that rises 1,670 feet in the air and features five underground floors. However, this building is soon to be surpassed by the Burj Dubai building, currently under construction in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Though the tower’s height is being kept a secret to avoid competition, it is estimated that when its construction is completed in late 2008, the Burj Dubai will stand 2,684 feet tall and have 162 floors.

World’s Largest Private Home: At 175,000 square feet and more than 250 rooms, the Biltmore House (now a museum), is the largest privately owned home in the world. Built in Asheville, N.C., in the late 1880s by George Washington Vanderbilt II, of the elite Vanderbilt family, the estate remains family-owned. It first opened to the public in 1930, when it sprawled over 125,000 acres; today, it spans 8,000 acres and is classified as a National Historic Landmark.

World’s Largest Rain Forest: The Amazon rain forest is the largest in the world, producing more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen and housing more than one-third of all living species in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The rain forest is spread out over more than 1.5 million square miles, with its basin covering about 40 percent of South America over eight countries. It is the source of one-fifth of the Earth’s river water.

World’s Tallest Roller Coaster: Located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster, is also the world’s fastest. The roller coaster is 456 feet tall – 45 stories – and zooms from 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds (producing 5 g’s of maximum force). The ride, which opened in 2005, lasts less than 51 seconds.

World’s Tallest Geyser: Located in the Norris Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, more than 7,550 feet above sea level, the Steamboat Geyser has eruptions lasting from three to 40 minutes long that throw water more than 300 feet in the air. With an unpredictable frequency that can vary from a few days to years, catching sight of a major eruption is a matter of chance. However, the geyser frequently produces minor eruptions that can reach 6 to 40 feet high.

World’s Longest River: The Nile River flows through nine countries in Africa and measures 4,132 miles in length. (Though the Nile is generally accepted as the world’s longest river, there is continued debate about the length of the world’s second-longest river, the Amazon.) The Nile originates just south of the equator, flows through northeastern Africa and eventually drains into the Mediterranean Sea.

World’s Airport Serving the Most International Travelers: Serving more than 67 million passengers each year, London Heathrow Airport offers flights to more than 180 destinations in over 90 countries. The majority of travelers are headed outside the U.K., giving Heathrow the distinction of being the airport with the largest number of international travelers in the world. (Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport serves the most passengers annually, with nearly 85 million in 2006.)

World’s Largest Theme Park/Resort: Containing four theme parks, two water parks and 22 Disney owned-and-operated resorts, the Walt Disney World Resort is the largest and most-visited theme park/resort in the world. Located just southwest of Orlando, Fla., the park is set on 25,000 acres of property, which The Walt Disney Co. acquired in the early 1960s after Walt Disney decided he wanted an East Coast version of California’s Disneyland. The park opened in 1971.

World’s Largest Museum Complex: Housing more than 142 million items in its various collections, the Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum complex. Though the majority of its 19 museums and nine research centers (as well as the National Zoo) are located in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian also has sites in New York, Virginia and Panama and receives more than 24 million visitors annually.

World’s Largest Coral Reef: Rising off the coast of northeastern Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s biggest marine sanctuary and the largest structure on the planet built by living organisms. Named by CNN as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the reef is made up of at least 2,800 individual coral reefs. It is more than 1,250 miles in diameter, covers more than 135,000 square miles and can be seen from outer space.

World’s Tallest Waterfall: Angel Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall, can be seen in Venezuela’s Canaima National Park in the Gran Sabana region of Bolivar State. With a clear drop of more than 2,400 feet to the river below and an overall height of more than 3,000 feet, the waterfall is more than 15 times higher than Niagara Falls.

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