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Natural Wonders of the World

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Are you most impressed by the Northern Lights or the Grand Canyon? Another natural wonder? Click through the slideshow and see.

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The northern lights, aurora borealis, is an event that occurs mostly at night at high northern latitudes. The show forms when charged particles, "solar wind," from the sun enter the Earth's magnetic field. The particles crash into the earth's upper atmosphere above the polar regions causing the atmosphere to emit a radiant, multicolored glow.

The scientific name, aurora borealis, means "red dawn of the north" in Latin and was first used by scientist Galileo Galilei.

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Off the eastern coast of Australia the Great Barrier Reef is the Earth's largest natural feature. It is actually a whole ecosystem of over 3000 individual reefs and 900 islands. It's so big it can be seen from outer space! The Reef holds one of the world's most diverse marine ecosystems but over-fishing, oil drilling and pollution are threatening its health.

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Don't stand too close to the edge! The Grand Canyon is the largest gorge in the world averaging one mile deep and 290 miles long. It was created by the Colorado River and is located in northern Arizona.

President Teddy Roosevelt said of the Grand Canyon, "Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see."

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The falls are 5600 feet long-- that's more than 15 football fields! It is known as the biggest single curtain of falling water in the world. Flowing from the Zambezi river, the waterfall straddles Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa and attracts more and more tourists each year.

Fun Fact: Although she was its namesake, Queen Victoria of Britain never saw Victoria Falls in person.

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On the eastern coast of Brazil, the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro joins the Guanabara Bay, mountains and Atlantic ocean to create this breathtaking view. "Rio de Janeiro" means "River of January" in Portuguese, named because explorers who found the bay thought they had reached the mouth of a great river.

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The tallest mountain in the world, Everest towers over Nepal and is part of the Himalayan mountain range.

Scientists believe Everest was formed 60 million years ago and naturally rises a few milimeters each year. Hundreds have lost their lives attempting the summit, which was first reached by Sir Edmund Hilary in 1953.

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One of only two modern volcanoes, this Mexican pile of lava is said to have sprung up in a a farmer's cornfield in 1943. The farmers noted rumbling and a deep gash in the ground that very quickly gave way to a real volcano, complete with lava spewing out.

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