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Top 10 travel destinations in the world 2011
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The United States of America (also referred to as the United States, the U.S., the USA, or America) is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also possesses several territories in the Caribbean and Pacific.
At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 308 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and the third largest both by land area and population. It is one of the world\'s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The U.S. economy is the world\'s largest national economy, with an estimated 2010 GDP of $14.799 trillion (23% of nominal global GDP and 20% of global GDP at purchasing power parity)
France, officially the French Republic, is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is often referred to as l\'Hexagone (\"The Hexagon\") because of the geometric shape of its territory. It is bordered (clockwise starting from the northeast) by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Monaco; with Spain and Andorra to the south. France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel. In addition to these borders on the European continent France has land borders with Suriname and Brazil through French Guiana, as well as with the Netherlands through the Collectivity of Saint Martin. It is the largest west-European country and it possesses the second-largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering 11,035,000 km2 (4,260,000 sq mi), just behind that of the United States (11,351,000 km2 / 4,383,000 sq mi).
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Western and Central Europe. Germany is a federal parliamentary republic of sixteen states. The capital and largest city is Berlin. It covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With 81.8 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state and the largest economy of the European Union. It is one of the major political powers of the European continent and a technological leader in many fields.
A region named Germania, inhabited by several Germanic peoples, was documented before AD 100. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which lasted until 1806. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation while southern and western parts remained dominated by Roman Catholic denominations. The different German states became first unified in 1871, with the inception of the German Empire. The Weimar Republic was proclaimed in 1918, followed by the Third Reich in 1933. The latter period was marked by a dictatorship and the initiation of World War II in 1939. After 1945, Germany was divided by allied occupation, and evolved into two states, East Germany and West Germany. In 1990 Germany was reunified.
Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Its mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar; to the north by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the northwest and west by the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal.
Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, that border Morocco. Furthermore, the town of Lli\'via is a Spanish exclave situated inside French territory. With an area of 504,030 square kilometres (194,610 sq mi), it is the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union after France.
Because of its location, the territory of Spain was subject to many external influences since prehistoric times and through to its dawn as a country. Spain emerged as a unified country in the 15th century, following the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs and the completion of the reconquest, or Reconquista, of the Iberian peninsula in 1492. Conversely, it has been an important source of influence to other regions, chiefly during the Modern Era, when it became a global empire that has left a legacy of over 500 million Spanish speakers today, making it the world\'s second most spoken first language.
Russia, officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation, is a state in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the People\'s Republic of China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the United States by the Bering Strait. At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one eighth of the Earth\'s inhabited land area. Russia is also the ninth most populous nation with 143 million people. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning nine time zones and incorporating a wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world\'s largest reserves of mineral and energy resources. It has the world\'s largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world\'s fresh water.
South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea, is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People\'s Republic of China (Mainland China) to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China (Taiwan) to the south. South Korea lies in a humid continental and humid subtropical climate region with a predominantly mountainous terrain. Its territory covers a total area of 99,392 square kilometers and has a population of almost 50 million. The capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of 10,421,782.
Archaeological findings show that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by the Lower Paleolithic period. Korean history begins with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by the legendary Dan-gun. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea under Silla 668 AD, Korea went through the Goryeo Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty as one nation until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910, when Korea was annexed by Japan. After liberation and occupation by Soviet and U.S. forces at the end of World War II, the nation was divided into North and South Korea. The latter was established in 1948 as a democracy, though political turmoil, and periods of military rule and martial law, were to characterize much of the period until the foundation of the Sixth Republic in 1987.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a unitary parliamentary republic in south-central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia along the Alps. To the south it consists of the entirety of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia—the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea—and many other smaller islands. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, whilst Campione d\'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers some 301,338 km2 (116,347 sq mi) and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.6 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populous country in Europe, and the 23rd most populous in the world.
Rome, the capital of Italy, was for centuries the political centre of Western civilisation as the capital of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy endured numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Byzantines and later, the Normans, among others. Centuries later, Italy became the birthplace of the Renaissance, an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain) is a sovereign state off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country is part of an archipelago and includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea.
The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city of London. It is a country in its own right and consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are three devolved national administrations, each with varying powers, situated in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh; the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively. Associated with the UK, but not constitutionally part of it, are three Crown Dependencies and fourteen overseas territories. These are remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in 1922, encompassed almost a quarter of the world\'s land surface and was the largest empire in history. British influence can still be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former territories.
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world\'s second largest country by total area. Canada\'s common border with the United States to the south and northwest is the longest in the world.
The land that is now Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years\' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.
India, conventional long name Republic of India, is a state located in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; Bhutan, the People\'s Republic of China and Nepal to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; in addition, India\'s Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four of the world\'s major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism—originated here, while Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region\'s diverse culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early 18th century and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid-19th century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence which was marked by non-violent resistance and led by Mahatma Gandhi.
May 30, 2011