• Weird History

13 Geography Facts That Truly Surprised Us

List RulesVote up the geography facts that genuinely surprise you.

The world is a fascinating and surprising place. As much as we think we might know about it, there always seems to be more to learn - especially when it comes to geography facts

For example: Did you know that there is only one country that is located in all four hemispheres? Or that Mount Everest isn't really the tallest mountain in the world? Or that maps of the United States have the borders of Colorado all wrong?

Those are just some of the facts discussed below. Which of these are the most surprising?

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    Vulcan Point Is An Island In A Lake In A Volcano In A Lake In An Island

    Welcome to Vulcan Point, otherwise known as the island within a lake within a volcano within a lake within an island.

    Let's try to break down the specifics of this geographical and geological oddity, starting with the island of Luzon, which is located in the Philippines. On that island is a large body of water called Lake Taal. The lake contains Taal Volcano - or Volcano Island - which is one of the most active volcanoes in the world (33 recorded eruptions).

    Located on Volcano Island, 10,000 feet above Lake Taal, is Main Crater Lake. And inside of that lake is Vulcan Point Island. So again, that's an island within a lake within a volcano within a lake within an island. Simple, right?

    Except on January 12, 2020, tragedy struck when Taal Volcano erupted, claiming 39 lives. The eruption also led to the Main Crater Lake drying up. So maybe this description no longer quite applies?

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  • Located in the South Pacific areas of Polynesia and Micronesia, about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, the tiny nation of Kiribati (pronounced "keer-ruh-bass") consists of Banaba Island and 32 atolls spread across three groups of islands (the Gilbert, Phoenix, and Line Islands). Boasting an estimated population of slightly more than 100,000, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. Once under the dominion of the United Kingdom, it gained its independence in 1979. 

    But what makes Kiribati so unique is that it is the only country in the world that is located in each of the four hemispheres. The Phoenix Islands are located in the Southern Hemisphere while the Gilbert Islands lie in both the Northern Hemipshere and the Southern Hemisphere. 

    The prime meridian, which separates the Western Hemisphere and the Eastern Hemisphere, cuts through the nation. Kiribati's easternmost point lies in its southern Line Islands, while Banaba Island marks its westernmost point.

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  • Photo: World Data Center for Geophysics & Marine Geology / National Geophysical Data Center / NOAA / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
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    94% Of The 'Continent' Of Zealandia Is Underwater

    Could the world someday have an eighth continent? In 2017, a group of researchers submitted a study arguing that a mostly submerged landmass located east of Australia and covering approximately 1.9 million square miles should be designated as just that - a continent.

    Dubbed "Zealandia," 94% of the landmass is located underwater, with only New Zealand and the island of New Caledonia rising above sea level. In the past, the landmass had been classified as a microcontinent, but the research team arguing that it should be classified as a continent stated that the size of the landmass distinguishes Zealandia from other microcontinents. This research team, led by geologist Nick Mortimer, argued that any landmass that covers at least 386,000 square miles should be defined as a continent.

    Another obstacle for Zealandia to be defined as a continent is that a continent is commontly defined as a landmass surrounded by water - not submerged underneath it. 

    "My judgment is that though Zealandia is continental, it is not a continent,"  Christopher Scotese, a Northwestern University geologist, stated. "If it were emergent, we would readily identify it with Australia, much like we identify Greenland with North America and Madagascar with Africa."

    Mortimer's team argued that being submerged shouldn't keep Zealandia from being defined as a continent, pointing out that if Antarctica weren't covered in ice, much of the western half of that continent would be under water.

    No consensus has been reached yet on whether Zealandia should be classified as a continent. But in 2021, it was determined that the landmass is approximately 1 billion years old - or about twice as old as researchers had previously thought it to be.

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  • Photo: Madereugeneandrew / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
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    The US City Of Point Roberts Can Only Be Accessed By Driving Through Canada

    When the border between the United States and Canada was set at the 49th parallel north in 1846, it intersected a peninsula, resulting in the land becoming part of Canada and part of the States. What would become known as the town of Point Roberts was located on the part of the peninsula that landed on the US side of the border.

    Historian Mark Swenson said the division of the peninsula was deliberate, as the US wanted the valuable fishing and crabbing rights and also could use the property as a military outpost. In 1908, the US government granted the land to settlers.

    Located about 25 miles south of Vancouver, Canada, geographers call Point Roberts a "pene-exclave" - an area of one country that, at least for most people, can only be reached by passing through another country. While it is possible to get to the tiny town (it is home to approximately 1,500 residents) by boat or private plane, it's far more common to drive there from Canada. 

    If someone is trying to get to Point Roberts from somewhere else in the States, they must pass through two international border checkpoints - one to get into Canada, and the other to get back into the US at Point Roberts.

    For years, there have been rumors that, because of the town's inaccessibility, the US Federal Witness Protection Program has relocated dozens of people to the area.

    The unique geography has resulted in Point Roberts being economically devastated by COVID-19. The regulation requiring people to be tested for COVID before visiting Canada was waived for the town's residents in order to allow them to travel through the country to get essential services (there is no hospital or pharmacy in town) - but Canadians, who drive the area's economy, aren't allowed across the border.

    As a result, by early 2021, Point Roberts's business had declined by about 90%, and about half of the permanent residents had left town.

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