What City’s Streets Are Stairways?

The Inca civilization was flourishing in South America when the first Spanish explorers reached the New World. The greatest city of the Incas was Cuzco, in what is now the nation of Peru. After the arrival of the Europeans, it was learned that another great Inca city was located somewhere in the Andes Mountains. But … Read more

Where can you find Giant Plants?

If you’re looking for giant plants, there’s no better place on earth to find them than Brazil. A palm tree that grows in Brazil, the Amazonian bamboo palm, has the largest leaves of any plant on earth. The fronds, or leaves, of this palm can be close to 70 feet long and 19 feet wide! … Read more

Which Sports Stadium has a Moat?

The largest football stadium in the United States in the 1980s was the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, which could hold 106,721 people. Imagine a stadium so large that it can hold almost twice as many spectators as even the largest American football field! One soccer stadium in Rio de Janiero, one of the largest … Read more

Who Were the Master Road Builders?

From the 13th to the 16th centuries, the Inca Indians built an empire in South America. The Inca empire extended around 2,500 miles, from Colombia to Chile. Most of it was located in the lofty Andes Mountains. The Incas built a network of roads, bridges, and tunnels through the mountains to unite their domain. These … Read more

Which piece of land was bought for $1 Billion?

In 1967, an American businessman named Daniel Ludwig bought a huge piece of land in Brazil, north of the Amazon River near the Atlantic Ocean. This property, about the size of Connecticut, lay near the Equator in a region of dense jungle. The American planned to turn the land into a vast plantation, producing wood … Read more

Who Survived for 133 Days Aboard a Raft?

Poon Lim was a 25-year-old Chinese sailor aboard the British ship Ben Lomond. On November 23, 1942, the Ben Lomond was struck by a German torpedo in the Atlantic Ocean. The ship quickly sank, taking with it the entire crew except for Poon Lim. He had been blown off the deck by the force of … Read more

How Big Can Snakes Get?

A snake 2 feet long would surely not be unusual. But could you imagine a snake so large that its head was 2 feet long? A French scientist claimed to have shot such a snake In the jungles of Brazil, a reptile that measured some 75 feet in length! Another explorer in Brazil reported shooting … Read more

Which Country Has More Farmland Than All Europe?

Brazil is the fifth largest country on earth, with an area of almost 3.3 million square miles. Europe is slightly larger, with an area of about 4 million square miles. Even so, there is more farmland available in Brazil than in all the nations of Europe combined! With so much farmland, Brazil is naturally one … Read more

What Is the Puzzle of Pacoval?

Marajo is a large island at the mouth of the Amazon River. Scientists have been puzzled by a group of 60 man-made hills at one site on the island, called Pacoval. These hills were constructed so that their tops would be above water during periods of flood or very high tide. Some of the hills … Read more

Where Is the Widest Street in the World?

Monumental Axis is a 11.5 mile long boulevard in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. But it’s not the length of Monumental Axis that makes it a remarkable street, it’s the width. The street, which consists of six lanes of traffic running among strips of park, is 819 feet wide, wider than any other street in … Read more

Is There A Resort City for Snakes?

The Butantan Institute is a research center that covers about 700 acres in the city of Sao Paulo. Part of this center looks like a “resort” for snakes, with green lawns, trees, flowers, pools, and only snakes to enjoy them. The snakes even have their own “apartments,” domes with holes cut in them. Each dome … Read more

Where can you find an Inland Island?

If an island is a body of land completely surrounded by water, how can there be such a thing as an “inland” island? That’s easy. An inland island is a body of land completely surrounded by rivers. The Araguaia is a 1,360-mile-long river in Brazil whose waters empty into the ocean near the mouth of … Read more

Do Killer Bees Really Exist?

In 1956, a doctor at a medical school in Sao Paulo brought 175 queen bees to Brazil from Africa. He hoped to breed the fierce African bees with the tamer Brazilian bees and produce bees that would give more honey. But about two dozen of the African bees escaped. They began to breed with the … Read more

Which Animal Lives the Longest?

The Galapagos Islands is an archipelago of 12 islands and hundreds of smaller islets, lying on the Equator about 650 miles of the coast of Ecuador. The name of the islands comes from the Spanish word for tortoise. Indeed, great numbers of these creatures once lived on the islands. Many of the animals that live … Read more

Where can we find people living in the Stone Age Today?

The area drained by the Amazon River, and the 15,000 smaller rivers and streams that flow into it, is the largest river basin on earth. It’s also the largest wooded area and the largest unexplored region left in the world. The Amazon Basin is a region of jungles. Few people have entered these jungles. Most … Read more

What Statue Has the Right Name but the Wrong Face?

The Ecuadorian poet Jose Olmedo was born in 1780 in the city of Guayaquil. Sometime after Olmedo’s death, a statue was erected in a plaza in Guayaquil to honor him. You would expect that a statue in honor of Jose Olmedo would depict Olmedo himself, wouldn’t you? But the Guayaquil statue actually depicts the English … Read more

Where is Devil’s Island?

The French Empire once included many Pacific and Caribbean islands, the Indo-china region of Southeast Asia, and more than fifteen modern-day African nations. Today, French possessions overseas include only a few islands and French Guiana in South America,the only remaining French colony on the mainland of any continent. French Guiana includes a small island off … Read more

Which Is the Smallest Nation in South America?

Did you know that there’s a country in the Americas where a quarter of the people are Hindus, a quarter are Muslims, and Dutch is the official language? This is Suriname, located on the Atlantic Coast of South America between Guyana and French Guiana. Originally called Dutch Guiana, Suriname was first settled by the Dutch … Read more

In Which Country Can You Find Brown Gold and Green Gold?

Coffee grows best in a warm climate with plenty of rain, and coffee flourishes at higher altitudes. Colombia has all the ingredients to make it a leading coffee producer. Some of the world’s best coffee grows here, in the rich soil on the slopes of the Andes Mountains. Today, Colombia is the world’s second leading … Read more

Was Loys’s Ape a Hoax or an Amazing Discovery?

In the 1920s, the respected French scientist Francis de Loys was exploring the jungle region along the border between Venezuela and Colombia. Two apelike creatures suddenly invaded his camp and threatened the explorer and his crew. One of the creatures was shot dead, and the other was wounded and escaped into the jungle. Loys was … Read more

Where Is the Realm of Gold?

The earliest explorers to reach South America heard tales of a magnificent city of gold that lay somewhere in the mountains of Colombia. According to legend, the king of this city was sprinkled with gold dust before he bathed in a mountain lake. One Spanish explorer, Sebastian de Belalcazar, named this legendary king El Dorado, … Read more

Who Built the Terrifying Statues of San Agustin?

In a densely forested region of Colombia, near the town of San Agustin, explorers have discovered a group of ancient stone statues that defy explanation. About 300 statues have been found. They guard a group of half- buried temples and tombs. The statues, some of which are more than 20 feet high, have terrifying faces … Read more

What’s the difference between Colombia or Columbia?

The city of Columbia in South Carolina, the District of Columbia, and the Columbia River in the United States are all spelled with a but the nation of Colombia is correctly spelled with an “o”. Colombia is in the northwestern corner of South America, where that continent joins Central America. Central America separates the Atlantic … Read more

Who Was the Great Liberator?

When Simon Bolivar was born in 1783, all of Spanish-speaking South America and Central America was ruled by Spain. In fact, Spain had been ruling there for almost 300 years. By the time Bolivar died in 1830, all the Spanish-speaking nations of this region had won their independence. The man who was most responsible for … Read more

What is the Most Common Metal in the World?

Aluminum is the most abundant metal on the surface of the earth, making up about 8 percent of the earth’s crust. Although it was used in combination with other metals for many centuries, aluminum was not isolated until the nineteenth century. That’s because aluminum is never found alone in nature, it always appears in ores … Read more

What Is the Pearl of the Antilles?

Antilia was a legendary island in the Atlantic that appeared on European maps before the discovery of the New World. Sometimes described as a large island, sometimes as a small isle, and sometimes as a chain of islands, Antilia was said to have been colonized by Christians fleeing the Muslim invasions of Spain and Portugal … Read more

Who Really Discovered Bermuda?

Bermuda, or the Bermuda Islands, lie in the Atlantic Ocean, about 570 miles east of North Carolina. Their name supposedly came from Juan de Bermudez, a Spaniard who made the first recorded visit to the islands in 1515. The only trouble with this story is that the islands appeared on some maps, bearing the name … Read more

What is the Longest Highway in the World?

Did you know that except for a short gap in Central America, it’s possible to drive from Alaska all the way to the southern end of South America, on one road? The Pan-American Highway, or Inter-American Highway, is the longest single road on earth. It begins in Alaska, passes through Canada, the United States, Mexico, … Read more

What’s a Zonian?

Before the construction of the Panama Canal began, the United States bought a ten-mile-wide strip of land across Panama. Since 1903, this piece of land, which A stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and cuts Panama in two, has been an American possession, known as the Panama Canal Zone. The Panama Canal Zone … Read more

Who Made “the Great Balls” In Costa Rica And Why?

In the 1930s, workers clearing land for a plantation in Costa Rica discovered dozens of stone balls. Some of these balls were so perfectly rounded that they could only have been man-made. The granite spheres ranged from the size of a baseball to huge balls 8 feet in diameter, weighing more than 16 tons! They … Read more

Which Nation was named “Rich Coast” by Christopher Columbus?

During his last voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus landed on the shore of Central America. He called part of that shore Costa Rica, or “Rich Coast,” because of the gold jewelry worn by Indians of the region. About twice the size of Maryland, Costa Rica is sometimes called the “Switzerland of Central America” … Read more

What’s the Difference Between El Salvador and San Salvador?

The Central American nation of El Salvador, only about the size of Massachusetts, is the smallest nation on the mainland of North or South America. But with a population of 4.3 million in the 1980s, it’s also the most densely populated nation on the American mainland. El Salvador’s population density was about 527 persons per … Read more

Which Country Eats the Most Fruit?

Christopher Columbus’s explorations of the New World took him to the islands of the Caribbean. He never set foot in what is now the United States, but on his fourth and last voyage to the Americas, Columbus did set foot in Central America. He landed first at a cape that is now part of the … Read more

Who Fought the “Soccer War”?

In the late 1960s, Honduras and its neighbor El Salvador were not on friendly terms. Disputes arose over the two nations’ common border and the thousands of people from El Salvador who had moved into Honduras. In July, 1969, when the national teams of the two countries met in a soccer match, fights broke out … Read more

Who Made the “Skulls of Doom”?

Among the most amazing ancient objects ever unearthed are two beautifully sculptured human skulls made of pure quartz crystal. Who made these skulls, when, and for what purpose remain a mystery, and so do the details of their discovery. One of the skulls is now in a museum in London. This crystal skull was supposedly … Read more

Which Central American Nation Has the Most People?

The Mayans were American Indians who built a great civilization before the first Europeans arrived in the New World. The Mayan kingdom was located in what is now southern Mexico and northwestern Central America. Today, there is only one nation whose population is still largely Mayan, Guatemala. About the size of Louisiana, Guatemala is located … Read more

Which Is the Largest Nation in Central America?

Central America is the name given to the part of North America between Mexico and South America. Central America consists of seven countries. These countries all have one thing in common, they are small. Combined, all seven have a total area of just 210,000 square miles, that’s less than the area of Texas! Six of … Read more

What Was Once America’s Greatest City?

On a plateau about 25 miles from Mexico City stand the ruins of the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Centuries before Columbus set sail for the New World, at the time when the Roman Empire was flourishing in Europe, Teotihuacan was the largest city in America. The first settlement at Teotihuacan was built during the first … Read more

Who Was the Bearded White God of Mexico?

Quetzalcoatl, the “Plumed Serpent,” was a major god of the Aztecs who were living in Mexico when the first European explorers reached that land. Some legends depicted Quetzalcoatl as the creator of’ the world. Others described him as the father of civilization, a bearded white god who had come to Mexico from across the sea … Read more

Who Lost Their Heads for a Sport?

The Aztecs, Mayas, and other peoples who lived in America before the first Europeans arrived played spectator sports just as we do today. The most popular of these sports, called tlachtli by the Aztecs, was something like a cross between volleyball, soccer, and basketball. But to some players, tlachtli could be much more dangerous than … Read more

What Was the Not So Great Escape?

In 1975, prisoners at a jail in Saltillo, Mexico, began to dig a tunnel that would take them beyond the prison walls to freedom. They labored long and hard on the project, and in April 1976, it was completed. When the would-be escapees came up out of the tunnel, however, they found themselves in the … Read more

Where Can You Draw Your Address?

The city of Merida in the Yucatan region of Mexico was founded in the sixteenth century on the site of an Indian town. The Mayan Indians have lived in this region for centuries, and even today many of them speak no Spanish. Signs’ bearing the names of streets in Merida wouldn’t be very helpful, because … Read more

What Is the Legend of the “Smoking Mountain”?

Popocateptl, a volcano about 50 miles from Mexico City, is the fifth highest mountain in North America, at 17,887 feet. The volcano hasn’t erupted since 1802, but it still belches smoke occasionally, and its name means smoking mountain. According to Indian legend, Popocateptl was once a giant, the lover of another giant named Ixtaccihautl. But … Read more

Where Should You Go to Mine for Silver?

After gold, silver has historically been the second most valuable metal, and it remains very valuable today. Silver is attractive, and it is easy to work with, one ounce of it can be stretched into a wire 30 miles long! It’s also an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, and it is essential in almost … Read more

What Is the Second Largest City on Earth?

The Second Largest City in the World in 2008 was Mumbai, India, with a population of 13.5 million people. In 1985, Mexico City ranked as the second most populous city on earth, after the Chinese city of Shanghai, and the second most populous metropolitan area, after New York. Back then, Mexico City had a population … Read more

When Is California Not in the United States?

When it’s Baja California! Baja means “low” in Spanish. Baja California is the peninsula of Mexico that extends southward from the border with the state of California. Also known as Lower California, the peninsula measures 760 miles in length and is up to 150 miles wide, with a total area of some 55,000 square miles. … Read more

What City Holds a Radish Festival?

On December 23, the people of the Mexican city of Oaxaca celebrate a rather odd festival, the Feast of the Radishes. During the radish festival, which has been held for almost 200 years, Mexicans carve huge radishes into the shape of people and animals. They award prizes for the best radish carvings! You didn’t know … Read more

What’s the Name of This Place, I Don’t Understand You?

The Yucatan is a peninsula of about 55,000 square miles that makes up the most easterly part of Mexico. The Mayan Indians once built great cities in the Yucatan. But the Mayans themselves never called the Yucatan by that name. In 1517, a Spanish explorer named Francisco de Cordoba left Cuba on a search for … Read more

What Country Celebrates Christmas Blindfolded?

When we think of Christmas, we think of evergreen trees, snow, and winter. But in much of Mexico, the weather is warm in December. The Mexicans have different Christmas weather and different Christmas customs, too. Part of the Mexican Christmas are the rituals called the Posadas, or “resting places,” which recall the journey of Mary … Read more

What Is The Largest Bay In The World?

The Hudson River is in the United States, but to find Hudson Bay, we must go to Canada. Hudson Bay is an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, connected to the ocean by Hudson Strait. It’s so far north that it’s sometimes completely frozen over! Both the bay and the strait were named after Henry Hudson, … Read more

What Is the “Demon Metal”?

Nickel is one of the most useful metals known to man. Because it resists rust and tarnishing, nickel is often used to plate other metals. Nickel is strong, but it’s soft enough to be easily shaped. It’s used to make coins, tableware, and various utensils, but by far its greatest use is in the manufacture … Read more

Does Canada have a Loch Ness Monster?

The Loch Ness monster is probably the most famous lake-dwelling “monster.” But Canada has its share of huge lake creatures, too, including one known as Ogopogo. Lake Okanagan is a narrow, 75-mile-long lake in British Columbia, Canada. The first settlers in this region heard from the local Indians about a large creature that lived in … Read more

What is the Longest Street in the World?

There are highways in the United States and some other nations that stretch more than 1,000 miles. But could you imagine a street that long? When Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada was first laid out in 1976, it had a length of 34 miles. In the years since, it has become one of the main … Read more

Why Does the Leaning Tower of Pisa Lean?

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a marble bell tower at Pisa, Italy. Even though the tower has been leaning since it was under construction, it has stood for hundreds of years, despite the fact that it looks as if it might fall any minute. The tower was begun over 800 years ago, in 1173, … Read more