30 Sep 2010

San Pedro de Atacama


San Pedro de Atacama is a Chilean town and commune in El Loa Province, Antofagasta Region. It is located east of Antofagasta, some 106 km (60 mi) southeast of Calama and the Chuquicamata copper mine, overlooking the Licancabur volcano. It features a significant archeological museum, the R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, with a large collection of relics and artifacts from the region. Native ruins nearby now attract increasing numbers of tourists interested in learning about pre-Columbian cultures. Tourists also visit for other popular activities including sandboarding and stargazing, with the views of the stars from the Atacama unrivalled across the continent.

San Pedro de Atacama grew, over centuries, around an oasis in the Puna de Atacama, an arid high plateau, its first inhabitants were the Atacameños who developed basketworks and ceramic pottery crafts that can be now be appreciated by tourist in the several souvenir shops as typical products of San Pedro de Atacama. The town lies at an average of 7,900 ft and visitors often experience mild altitude sickness such as dizziness, lethargy and headaches. The local climate is extremely dry and mild, with daytime temperatures between 25-30 degrees Celsius (77-86°F) in the summer (December to February) and 18-25 degrees Celsius (64-77°F) in the winter (June to August). Nighttime temperatures routinely drop below zero and can reach as low as -10°C (14°F) in the winter.

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest


The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in northern Georgia comprises two United States National Forests, the Oconee National Forest and Chattahoochee National Forest. The combined total area of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is 865,855 acres (3,504 km2), of which the Chattahoochee National Forest comprises 750,502 acres (3,037 km2) and the Oconee National Forest comprises 115,353 acres (467 km2). The county with the largest portion of the forest is Rabun County, Georgia, which has 148,684 acres (601.7 km2) within its boundaries.

28 Sep 2010

Hannover, Germany


Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, in their dignities as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg (which title was later called the Elector of Hanover at the end of the historical period known as Early Modern Europe). After the Napoleonic Wars ended, the Electorate was enlarged and made into the capital of the Kingdom of Hanover. In addition to being the capital of Lower Saxony, Hanover was the capital of the administrative area Regierungsbezirk Hannover (Hanover region) until Lower Saxony's administrative regions were disbanded at the beginning of 2005. Since 2001 it is part of the Hanover district (Region Hannover), which is a municipal body made up from the former district (Landkreis Hannover) and city of Hanover (note: although both Region and Landkreis are translated as district they are not the same).

With a population of 522,944 (1 February 2007) the city is a major center of northern Germany, known for hosting annual commercial expositions such as the Hanover Fair and the CeBIT. Every year Hanover hosts the Schützenfest Hannover, the world's largest Marksmen's Fun Fair, and the Oktoberfest Hannover, which is the second largest Oktoberfest in the world. In 2000, Hanover hosted the world fair Expo 2000. The Hanover fairground, due to numerous extensions, especially for the Expo 2000, is the largest in the world. Hanover also has regional importance because of its universities and medical school, its international airport, and its large zoo. The city is also a major crossing point of railway lines and highways (Autobahnen), connecting European main lines in east-west-direction (Berlin - Ruhr area) and north-south-direction (Hamburg - Munich et al.).

Belgrade, Serbia


Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. The city lies at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. With a population of 1,630,000 (official estimate 2007), Belgrade is the fourth largest city in Southeastern Europe, after Istanbul, Athens and Bucharest. Its name in Serbian translates to White city. Belgrade's wider city area was the birthplace of the largest prehistoric culture of Europe, the Vinča culture, as early as the 6th millennium BC. In antiquity, the area of Belgrade was inhabited by the Thraco-Dacian tribe of Singi who would give the name to the city after a fortress was founded in the 3rd century BC by the Celts, who named it Singidun (dun, fortress) It was awarded city rights by the Romans before it was permanently settled by Serbs from the 7th century onwards. As a strategic location, the city was battled over in 115 wars and razed to the ground 44 times since the ancient period by countless armies of the East and West. In medieval times, it was in the possession of Byzantine, Frankish, Bulgarian, Hungarian and Serbian rulers. In 1521 Belgrade was conquered by the Ottomans and became the seat of the Pashaluk of Belgrade, as the principal city of Ottoman Europe and among the largest European cities. Frequently passing from Ottoman to Austrian rule which saw destruction of most of the city, the status of Serbian capital would be regained only in 1841, after the Serbian revolution. Northern Belgrade, though, remained a Habsburg outpost until the breakup of Austria-Hungary in 1918. The united city then became the capital of several incarnations of Yugoslavia, up to 2006, when Serbia became an independent state again.

Belgrade has the status of a separate territorial unit in Serbia, with its own autonomous city government. Its territory is divided into 17 municipalities, each having its own local council. It covers 3.6% of the territory of Serbia, and 24% of the country's population lives in the city.[14] Belgrade is the central economic hub of Serbia, and the capital of Serbian education and science.

26 Sep 2010

Sea of Galilee


The Sea of Galilee, also Lake Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, Sea of Tiberias or Tiberias Lake (Hebrew: ים כנרת‎, Arabic: بحيرة طبرية‎), is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately 53 km (33 miles) in circumference, about 21 km (13 miles) long, and 13 km (8 miles) wide. The lake has a total area of 166 km², and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m (141 feet). At 209 metres below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake). The lake is fed partly by underground springs although its main source is the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south.

The Kinneret is situated in Northern Israel, near the Golan Heights, and deep in the Jordan Great Rift Valley, the valley caused by the separation of the African and Arabian Plates. Consequently the area is subject to earthquakes and, in the past, volcanic activity. This is evident by the abundant basalt and other igneous rocks that define the geology of the Galilee region.

25 Sep 2010

Post Office in Huaian

Last winter I visited this city in the North of Jiangsu Province, East China and took this picture of this post office located in the center of the city.

23 Sep 2010

Galaţi, Romania


Many thanks to Valentin for the third card from her hometown!

21 Sep 2010

Nice, France


Nice is a city in southern France on the Mediterranean coast. The city is nicknamed Nice la Belle (Nissa la Bella in Niçard), which means Nice the Beautiful. It is the largest city of the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur), the 5th largest city of France with a population of 348,721 in 2007 and the fifth-largest urban area after those of Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Lille with a population of 955,000.

Nice is the capital city of the Alpes Maritimes Département, and the second biggest city of the Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur after Marseille. The area of today’s Nice is believed to be among the oldest human settlements in Europe. One of the archaeological sites, Terra Amata, displays evidence of a very early usage of fire. Around 350 BC, Greeks of Marseille founded a permanent settlement and called it Nikaia, after Nike, the goddess of victory.

19 Sep 2010

FDC from Hong Kong: Biodiversity

Many thanks to Hiu Fan for this nice FDC from Hong Kong!Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or on an entire planet. Biodiversity is one measure of the health of biological systems. Life on Earth today consists of many millions of distinct biological species. The year 2010 was declared the International Year of Biodiversity.Biodiversity is not consistent across the Earth. It is consistently rich in the tropics and in specific regions such as the Cape Floristic Province; it is less rich in polar regions where conditions support much less biomass.

Rapid environmental changes typically cause extinctions. 99.9 percent of species that have existed on Earth are now extinct. Since life began on Earth, five major mass extinctions have led to large and sudden drops in Earthly biodiversity. The Phanerozoic eon (the last 540 million years) marked a rapid growth in biodiversity in the Cambrian explosion—a period during which nearly every phylum of multicellular organisms first appeared. The next 400 million years was distinguished by periodic, massive biodiversity losses classified as mass extinction events. The most recent, the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, occurred 65 million years ago, and has attracted more attention than all others because it killed the nonavian dinosaurs. The period since the emergence of humans has displayed an ongoing reduction in biodiversity. Named the Holocene extinction, the reduction is caused primarily by human impacts, particularly the destruction of plant and animal habitat. In addition, human practices have caused a loss of genetic diversity. Biodiversity's impact on human health is a major international issue.

17 Sep 2010

15 Sep 2010

Braga, Portugal


Braga, a city in the Braga Municipality in northwestern Portugal, is the capital of the Braga District, the oldest archdiocese and one of the major cities of the country. Braga is the oldest Portuguese city and, one of the oldest Christian cities in the World. With an urban population of 175,063, Braga is the seventh largest municipality in Portugal by population (including the city and suburban parishes, the municipality had a total of 62 parishes and 177,183 inhabitants as of 2009). Braga is also the center of the Greater Metropolitan Area of Minho with a population of 826,833 (2007) one of the fastest growing urban areas in the European Union.[citation needed] Under the Roman Empire, as Bracara Augusta, it was capital of the province Gallaecia. The urban area extends from the (river) Cavado to the (river) Este. Braga is serviced by regional and fast trains to Porto and Lisbon. The city of Oporto (Porto) is about 53 km. The present Mayor is Francisco Soares Mesquita Machado, elected from the Socialist Party.

14 Sep 2010

FDC's from Macau: Largo de Santo Agostinho


Largo de Santo Agostinho is a UNESCO Site located in Macau.

13 Sep 2010

Ubudiah Mosque


Masjid Ubudiah is Perak's royal mosque, and is located in the royal town of Kuala Kangsar, Malaysia. It is often regarded as Malaysia's most beautiful mosque. Masjid Ubudiah - ranking high on the list of Malaysia's most beautiful mosques, the Masjid Ubudiah (or Ubudiah Mosque) stands proudly and majestically in Kuala Kangsar, with its golden dome and minarets creating a spellbinding sight, from near and afar. The mosque was designed by Arthur Benison Hubback, a government architect who is notably credited for the design of the Ipoh railway station and the Kuala Lumpur railway station.

Built in 1917 during the reign of the 28th Sultan of Perak, Sultan Idris Murshidul'adzam Shah 1, the Masjid Ubudiah is located beside the Royal Mausoleum on Bukit Chandan. It was commissioned on the orders of the Sultan, who vowed that he would build a mosque of great beauty as thanksgiving for recovery from an illness which plagued him in those early days. The construction of the mosque was not without difficulties. Work was interrupted several times, once when two elephants belonging to the sultan's and Raja Chulan were fighting and ran over and damaged the imported Italian marble titles. The mosque was finally completed in late 1917 at a total cost of RM200,000- quite an astronomical figure for those days. It was officially declared open by Sultan Abdul Jalil Karamtullah Shah, successor to Sultan Idris. This imposing structure is now a symbol of great pride to all Muslims in the state of Perak Darul Ridzuan, the Land of Grace.

12 Sep 2010

Kingston, Canada


Kingston, Ontario is a Canadian city located in Eastern Ontario, about 200 kilometres (124 miles) from Ottawa, Ontario on Lake Ontario where the St. Lawrence River, flows out of the lake, near the Thousand Islands. Originally a First Nations settlement called "Katarowki," (Ga-ta-row-key) the growing European exploration in the 17th Century made it an important trading post. In order to control the fur trade, French explorer LaSalle founded Fort Frontenac in 1673.

Located midway between Toronto and Montreal, Kingston was named the first capital of the Province of Canada on February 15, 1841, by Governor Lord Sydenham. While its time as a political centre was short, Kingston remained an important military installation. Kingston is the county seat of Frontenac County. According to the 2006 Canadian census, the population of the city proper was 117,207, while the population of the metropolitan area was 152,358. Kingston is nicknamed the "Limestone City" because of the many historic buildings built from the local limestone. Also because most of the city is built on a bedrock of Limestone, which would explain why many historic building were constructed from this material.

11 Sep 2010

FDC from Austria: Johann Joseph Fux

Johann Joseph Fux (1660 – 13 February 1741) was an Austrian composer, music theorist and pedagogue of the late Baroque era. He is most famous as the author of Gradus ad Parnassum, a treatise on counterpoint, which has become the single most influential book on the Palestrina style of Renaissance polyphony. Almost all modern courses on Renaissance counterpoint, a mainstay of college music curricula, are indebted in some degree to this work by Fux.

Fux was born to a peasant family in Hirtenfeld in Styria. Relatively little is known about his early life, but likely he went to nearby Graz for music lessons. In 1680 he was accepted at the Jesuit university there, where his musical talent became apparent; and he was organist at St Moritz until 1688. Sometime during this period he must have made a trip to Italy, as evidenced by the strong influence of Corelli and Bolognese composers on his work of the time. By the 1690s he was in Vienna, and attracted the attention of Emperor Leopold I with some masses he composed; the emperor was sufficiently impressed by them to assist him with his career after this point. In 1698, Leopold hired him as court composer. Fux traveled again to Italy, studying in Rome in 1700; it may have been here that acquired the veneration for Palestrina which was so consequential for music pedagogy. Fux served Leopold I until his death, and two more Habsburg emperors after that: Joseph I, and Charles VI, both of whom continued to employ him in high positions in the court. He was famous as a composer throughout this period, his fame being eclipsed only later in the 18th century as the Baroque style died. Although his music until recently never regained favor, his mastery of counterpoint influenced countless composers through his treatise Gradus ad Parnassum (1725). Haydn largely taught himself counterpoint by reading it and recommended it to the young Beethoven. Mozart had a copy of it that he annotated. The Baroque age in music in Austria ends with Fux.

10 Sep 2010

Gold State Coach


The Gold State Coach is an enclosed, eight horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family. It was built in the London workshops of Samuel Butler in 1762 and has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since George IV. The coach's great age, weight, and lack of maneuverability have limited its use to grand state occasions such as coronations, royal weddings, and the jubilee of a monarch.

The coach weighs four tons and is 24 feet (7.3 m) long and 12 feet (3.7 m) high. It is gilded and features painted panels by Giovanni Cipriani and rich gilded sculpture including three cherubs on the roof (representing England, Ireland and Scotland) and four tritons, one at each corner (representing Britain's imperial power). The body of the coach is slung by braces covered with Morocco leather and decorated with gilt buckles. The interior is lined with velvet and satin. The Gold State Coach is pulled by a team of eight horses wearing the Red Morocco harness. Originally driven by a coachman, the horses are now led by riders walking alongside them. When not in use the coach is kept at the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace.

9 Sep 2010

Sugi on the island of Yakushima


Cryptomeria is a monotypic genus of conifer in the cypress family Cupressaceae formerly belonging to the family Taxodiaceae; it includes only one species, Cryptomeria japonica (syn.: Cupressus japonica L.f.). It is endemic to Japan, where it is known as Sugi (Japanese: 杉). The tree is often called Japanese Cedar in English, though the tree is not related to the cedars (Cedrus). In Darjeeling district and Sikkim in India, where it is one of the most widely growing trees, Cryptomeria japonica is called Dhuppi and is favoured for its light wood, extensively used in house building. It is a very large evergreen tree, reaching up to 70 m (230 ft) tall and 4 m (13 ft) trunk diameter, with red-brown bark which peels in vertical strips. The leaves are arranged spirally, needle-like, 0.5–1 cm (0.20–0.39 in) long; and the seed cones globular, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter with about 20–40 scales. It is superficially similar to the related Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), from which it can be differentiated by the longer leaves (under 0.5 cm in the Giant Sequoia) and smaller cones (4–6 cm in the Giant Sequoia), and the harder bark on the trunk (thick, soft and spongy in Giant Sequoia). Sugi (and Hinoki) pollen is a major cause of hay fever in Japan.

8 Sep 2010

Cover from France

Many thanks to Mathieu for this nice cover!

7 Sep 2010

Pančevo, Serbia


Pančevo is a city and municipality located in the southern part of Serbian province of Vojvodina, 15 km northeast from Belgrade. In 2002, the city had a total population of 77,087, while municipality of Pančevo had 127,162 inhabitants. It is the administrative center of the South Banat District of Serbia. Pančevo is also the most important port on the Tamiš river, which flows near the city.

After 1716, the city was under Habsburg rule, and was included into Habsburg military province named Banat of Temeswar. In 1751, the northern parts of the province were placed under civil administration, while the southern parts (including Pančevo) were included into Military Frontier (Banat Krajina). In 1848/1849, Pančevo was part of the Serbian Voivodship, a Serb autonomous region within Austrian Empire, but in 1849 it was returned under administration of the Military Frontier. In 1873, the Banatian Military Frontier was abolished and the city was included into Torontal county. According to the 1910 census, the population of the city was 20,808, of whom 8,714 spoke Serbian language, 7,467, German language, 3,364 Hungarian language, etc. In 1918, Pančevo and the Banat were ceded to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later renamed to Yugoslavia). According to the 1921 data, the population of the city was 19,362, of whom 9,422 were Serbs, 7,237 Germans, 887 Hungarians, etc. Between 1918 and 1922, the city was part of the Banat county, between 1922 and 1929 it was part of the Belgrade oblast, and between 1929 and 1941 it was part of the Belgrade city administration.

6 Sep 2010

Agia Napa


Agia Napa, also Ayia Napa is a resort at the far eastern end of the south coast of the island of Cyprus, famous for its sandy beaches. In recent years, apart from being a family holiday destination, it has become a 'party capital' similar to Ibiza, Rimini and Mykonos. As of late, it has become particularly popular with UK Grime, House and Garage artists/MCs for holidays and gigs in its clubs and other venues.

According to local legend, the now renowned original icon was accidentally discovered by a hunter in hot pursuit of his prey. Upon discovery, the icon of Virgin Mary was called Virgin Mary of Napa, eventually shortened and now know as Ayia Napa. The present monastery, built in 1500, was built around the cave, in honour of the Virgin Mary of Ayia Napa. According to local tradition, until 1790 no-one lived within close vicinity of Ayia Napa. The first inhabitants who actually appeared and settled were twenty men from Salonica, Greece, and so began the village of Ayia Napa.

5 Sep 2010

Cover from Argentina

Many thanks to Viviana for this nice cover from Argentina!

4 Sep 2010

Beijing No.8 Middle School


It's a campus card showing Beijing No.8 Middle School,which is a highly prestigious public beacon secondary school (Grade 7-12) located in Xicheng District, Beijing, People's Republic of China.