Senior Travelers: Take a Look at Maps

Feb 9th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

I have a  little variety in my travel blog for you to have a little fun today. I admit it… I’m a “mapaholic” and love maps and geography.  I can spend hours just looking at world maps. Each year I try to follow the national contest for students called the National Geography Bee.  Thousands of schools in the United States participate in the Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject, and increase public awareness about geography. Schools with students in grades four through eight are eligible for this entertaining and challenging test of geographic knowledge.  It is fun to take some of the sample questions and to see just how much we know about world geography on this site.

Being a former teacher of French for a good number of years, I took the quiz on France.  Surprised me.  I didn’t do all that well even though I spent an academic year in France, have my MA from the Sorbonne (Univ. of Paris) and have traveled back 31 times…  and I still missed these: The Eiffel Tower is covered in brown paint every seven years with 60 tons of paint.  Each rider in the Tour de France burns 5,900 calories per day.  Under the Opera house in Paris is a subterranean lake.  I guessed a Pet Cemetery!  I did okay on the others.  Give it a try.  Now you will get at least three correct.

One can spend innumerable hours at this USGS site  that focuses on maps and atlases of all types.  Bing Maps aren’t bad either.  Goggle Maps has a special new feature called Explore the world with Street View.  I recall that Google got into some trouble making these Street Views as many famous folks did not want their street and home to appear online.  The same for some other countries in the world.  I have seen pictures of the van with the camera sticking out the top going down a street making the necessary recordings to work with Google Street Views.  They are quite fascinating and takes one right to the site.

Need a postal code for a another country?  Here they are.  And of course, Wikipedia is everywhere and for your information, Chicago is located at N 41° 19′ 59” W 88° 19′ 59” 41.3333 / -88.3333.  It’s all there. Check out Bolivar in Bolivia too.  Great aerial maps here.  I think that this may be enough deepening of your map interests… and mine, so let’s move on.

The GeoNamesgeographical database covers all countries and contains over eight million place names that are available for download free of charge. It contains over eight million geographical names.   GeoNames is already serving up to over 11 million web service requests per day. GeoNames is integrating geographical data such as names of places in various languages, elevation, population and others from various sources. All lat/long coordinates are in WGS84 (World Geodetic System 1984). Users may manually edit, correct and add new names using a user friendly wiki interface. GeoNames has Ambassadors in many countries who assist with their help and expertise.  jeb

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