Pitcairn Island. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Pitcairn Island. Image creditWikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The World’s Most Difficult (and Impossible) Places to Reach

Pitcairn Island. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Pitcairn Island. Image creditWikimedia Commons // Public Domain

It’s easy to take modern air travel for granted. Before a lack of legroom and Wi-Fi ranked among our top complaints, globetrotters had to hunker down for trips lasting upwards of 40 days if they wished to leave the continent. While most locations on the opposite side of the globe can be reached in less than a day now, there are still plenty of places that require an epic trek.

This video from the YouTube channel RealLifeLore highlights some of the world’s most difficult destinations. The list includes remote islands without airports, like the Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean and Pitcairn Island in the Pacific, as well as treacherous mountaintops. Mount Everest may be the highest summit on Earth, but it’s hardly the least accessible. Gangkhar Puensum in Bhutan is in the running for that title: Thrill-seekers are banned from climbing the mountain by the government. For more out-of-the-way destinations that are actually inhabited by people, check out our list of the most isolated towns on Earth.

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geography
Why Macedonia Is Getting a New Name
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For the first time since becoming an independent nation in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia is rebranding itself. As CNN reports, the Balkan nation will soon be called the Republic of Northern Macedonia, a name change that will hopefully help to heal the country's tense relationship with Greece.

Macedonia adopted its former title after gaining independence from Yugoslavia 27 years ago, and the name immediately caused conflict. Its neighbor to the south, Greece has a region of its own called Macedonia. Greece claimed that Macedonia's name suggested a sense of entitlement to territory that belonged to them and took it as an insult.

Even decades later, the bad blood stirred by the decision remained. Greece's issue with the name has even prevented Macedonia from joining the European Union and NATO. The new title, which was agreed upon by Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras on June 11, is meant to be a step towards better relations between the two countries.

"Our bid in the compromise is a defined and precise name, the name that is honorable and geographically precise—Republic of Northern Macedonia," Prime Minister Zaev said at a press conference, as reported by Reuters. Macedonia will hold a popular vote to officially change the name in a referendum later this year.

A country changing its name isn't uncommon, but reasons for the revision vary. In April 2018, the country formerly known Swaziland announced it would be called eSwatini, the name it went by prior to British colonization.

[h/t CNN]

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Big Questions
Why Did Russia Sell Alaska to the United States of America?
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Adam Weymouth:

America bought Alaska from Russia in 1867, a deal negotiated by William Seward, then US Secretary of State. That Russian heritage is still preserved in Alaska, in the surnames of those that live along the Yukon, names like Demoski and Kozevniko and Shaishniko, and in the onion domes of the Orthodox churches in the villages downriver. The U.S. purchase much derided at the time: the press dubbed it 'Seward’s folly," and the new acquisition as Walrussia.

The Russians had exhausted the fur trade after wiping out most of the sea otters, and they had then lost interest in Alaska, believing it had to have few other natural resources. Not sure what to do with their new half-billion acres, the U.S. governed [it] as a far-flung territory, with all the lawlessness that entailed. Statehood would not come until 1959, with the United States capitalizing on Alaska’s strategic military importance vis-à-vis Japan and Russia. But it was in 1967 that Seward’s folly hit pay dirt: The oilfield discovered on the North Slope would prove to be the largest in the United States.

Who can say what the situation would be if the Russians owned Alaska today? Russia would share a land border with Canada. The Russians would have benefited hugely from the 16 billion barrels of oil that have so far been extracted from Prudhoe Bay. The U.S. would have no claim on the Arctic, a place that will have huge political and economic importance as the icecap thaws during this century. It is quite possible that the world would look very different.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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