Great European Cities PARIS Paris is the capital and largest city of France, situated on River Seine. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is visited by more than eight mil
lion tourists every year. The most popular place for tourists is the Eiffel Tower, the famous symbol of Paris. One of the world’s largest art galleries, the Louvre, is also located in Paris. The city is also located in Paris. The city is also famous for its restaurants, cafes and theatres. About two-thirds of France’s artists and writers live in Paris. BARCELONA Barcelona is the second largest city of Spain and is situated on the northeast coast, about five hundred kilometres east of the Spanish capital, Madrid. One of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks is the Church of Sagrada Familia, which was designed by an architect called Antonio Gaudi. Gaudi worked on the project from 1882 until his death in 1926. The church hasn’t been finished yet! FLORENCE Florence is an Italian city which became famous because of the Renaissance, a great artistic movement which began in the 1300s and lasted for three hundred ears. During the Renaissance, some of the greatest painters of all time lived and worked in Florence. Many of Florence’s most beautiful paintings and sculptures were produced by great artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Florence is visited each year by about a million tourists who come to see the art galleries, churches and museums. The Uffizi Palace is the most famous art gallery in the city. ATHENS Athens, the capital of Greece, is known as the birthplace of western civilization. Two thousand four hundred years ago, it was the world’s most powerful city. Buildings such as the Parthenon on the Acropolis Hill were built during this period. Greece’s best writers lived in ancient Athens. Their work has influenced other writers ever since. The Human Development Report In the year 2000, 147 world leaders agreed to work together to reduce poverty by 2015 or earlier. From this agreement came the Human Development Report. One of the most important sections of this report is the Human Development Index. This examines the achievements of 175 countries. The Index measures a country’s achievements in three ways: life expectancy (how long people usually live), education and income. The index has some surprises. Norway is at the top of the list, while the US is at number 7. The other top five countries are: Iceland(2), Sweden(3), Australia(4), the Netherlands(5). The UK is in the thirteenth position, while China is in the middle of the list. The bottom ten countries are all African countries, with Sierra Leone(in West Africa) at the bottom of the list. The report describes eight Development Goals. The most important goals are to: Reduce poverty and hunger; Make sure that all children have education up to the age of 11; Fight AIDS and other diseases; Improve the environment of poor people, e.g. make sure they have safe drinking water; Encourage developed countries to give more help to other countries. The 2003 Human Development Report gives examples of successful development. For example, in nine years, China increased life expectancy by 13 years. In the last ten years in China, 150 million people moved out of poverty. However, the challenges are still great. Every day 799 million people in developing countries are hungry. Over half of these are in South Asia or Africa. Although more than 80% of children in developing countries go to primary school, about 115 million children are not being educated. More than 1 billion people in developing countries do not drink safe water. However, in other regions of the world, e.g. Eastern Europe, water is now mostly safe to drink.
The report shows that we are making some progress but that we need to make greater efforts. Although developed countries give some financial help, they need to give much more. Interestingly, the countries that give the most money are the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. These are among the five richest countries in the world , so it is right that they should do so. The Violence of Nature What is a Tornado? A tornado is a rotating column of air from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent have winds of more than 400 kilometres per hour. Almost all of them occur in the US, in the area from Texas in the southeast to South Dakota in the north. Tornadoes can pick up cars, trains and even houses and put them down in the next street—or even in the next town. They can tale the fur off the back of a cat and the feathers off a chicken. They can destroy houses, but leave the furniture inside exactly where it was. On average, there are 800 tornadoes in the us each year, causing about 80 deaths and 1500 injuries. The worst tornado of all time occurred in 1925, affecting three US states: Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. By the time it ended, more than 700 people had been killed and 2700 had been injured. What Is a Hurricane? Hurricanes are strong tropical storms, and they usually occur in the southern Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. There are violent winds of 120 kilometres per hour or more, which cause huge waves, heavy rain and floods. There are on average six Atlantic hurricanes each year and they usually affect the east coast of the US from Texas to Maine. The worst hurricane disaster of all time occurred on the 8th September 1900 in Galveston, Texas. Winds of 200 kilometres per hour and five-metre-high waves hit the city. The disaster killed 6000 people in a population of 37000 and destroyed 3600 buildings. An Extraordinary Event This is a story about the 1900 Galveston hurricane. Charles Coghlan was a nineteenth-century Irish actor who went to live in Canada. He then moved to New York, where he became famous. By the late 1890s, he had moved to Galveston, where he died in 1899, a year before the hurricane struck. The cemetery where Goghlan was buried was destroyed by the hurricane and Goghlan’s coffin ended up in the sea. Eight years later, the coffin was found by fishermen in the sea near his home on Prince Edward Island in the east of Canada. The Gulf Stream had carried it 3000 kilometres up the eastern US coast to Prince Edward Island. Coghlan traveled back to Canada—after he had been buried in Texas! Sandstorms in Asia Sandstorms have been a major disaster for many Asian countries for centuries. Scientists have tried many ways to solve this problem and in China, a mass campaign has been started to help solve it. Sandstorms are strong, dry winds that carry sand. They are often so thick that you cannot see the sun, and the wind is sometimes strong enough to move sand dunes. The four main places in the world where there are sandstorms are Central Asia, North America, Central Africa and Australia. Ren Jianbo, from Inner Mongolia described a terrible sandstorm he experienced as a child in the desert. “To have been caught in a sandstorm was a terrible experience,” he said. “There was nothing to be done. It was the most frightening and the most dangerous situation I’ve ever been in. You just had to hope you’d survive. I thought I was going to disappear under the sand.” Northwest China is part of the sandstorm centre in Central Asia. Sandstorms begin in desert areas. Sandstorms in China appear to have increased in recent years as a result of “destertification”. This is a process that happens when land becomes desert because of climate changes and because people cut down trees and dig up grass. Sandstorms sometimes affect Beijing. Citizens wake up to an orange sky and strong winds that cover the city in a thick, brown-yellow dust. The storms sometimes continue all day and traffic moves very slowly because the thick dust makes it difficult to see.
The Chinese Central Weather Station can forecast a sandstorm some weeks before it arrives in Beijing, but the strength of the storm sometimes surprises people. When a sandstorm arrives in the city, weather experts advise people not to go out. Huang Xiaomei, who lives in Beijing says, “To be cycling in a sandstorm is frightening. The winds are very strong. It’s difficult to breathe and the dust makes me ill. So if you want to go out, you’d better wear a mask.” The desert is only 250 kilometres away to the west of Beijing. To prevent it coming nearer, the government is planting trees. Already the government has planted more than 30 billion trees and plans to continue planting for the next five years. Philosophers of Ancient China Ancient China was a place where states were often at war with each other. But it was also a time when there were many great philosophers. Confucius is the philosopher whose influence has been the greatest. He stressed the importance of kindness, duty and order in society. Chinese society was influenced by these ideas for more than 2000 years. Mencius was a thinker whose teachings were very similar to those of Confucius. Mencius was born in 372 BC. His father died when he was young, and he was brought up by his mother. He became a student of Confucius’s ideas, and was then given an important position in the government of a state. However, when he saw that the ruler was not following his advice, he resigned. For many years he traveled from state to state, teaching the principles of Confucius. He then became an adviser to another ruler. He spent his last years preparing a book of his teachings called the Book of Mencius. Mencius believed that the reason why man is different from animals is that man is good. He taught that if the government was kind, then people would be good. He believed that people were more important than rulers, and hated the state when it treated people badly. Mozi was another teacher who was very influential. Born in 476 BC, he came from a family which was very poor. He became famous for his unusual clothes and behaviour. Mozi founded the philosophy called Mohism. In some ways, his beliefs were similar to those of Confucius. For example, he considered that government was most important. As a result, he spent many years trying to find a state where people would follow his teachings. Mozi believed that all men were equal. His ides of love was different from the Confucian idea of kindness. Mozi taught that we should love all human beings and look after those who are weaker than ourselves. He hated the idea of war. Mozi died in 390 BC. The Three Gorges Dam “Walls of stone to hold back clouds and rain” Mao Zedong wrote a poem in which he dream of “walls of stone to hold back clouds and rain till a smooth lake rises in the narrow gorges”. Now his dream has come true. The power of the Yangtze River, which is the world’s third longest river, has been harnessed by the Three Gorges Dam. The Three Gorges Dam, which is the biggest construction project in China since the building of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal, has been built to control flooding and provide hydro-electric power for the central region of China. The dam is nearly 200 metres high and 1.5 kilometres wide. It is the largest hydro-electric power station and dam in the world and has cost more than any other construction project in history. Sun Yan-sen, who was the leader of the 1911 Revolution, first suggested the idea of a dam across the Yangtze River in 1919. Three quarters of China’s energy is produced by burning coal. In 1993, China used 1.2 billion tons of coal for heating and generating electricity. Unfortunately, burning coal causes serious air pollution and increases global warming. The dam will generate electricity equal to about 40 million tons of coal without causing so much air pollution. The reservoir has flooded 2 cities, 11 counties, 140 towns and more than 4000 villages. More than a million people who lived in the region have moved from their homes. Now they’re living a happy new life in different areas. The Three Gorges area is one of the most beautiful areas of China and the project has flooded some of China’s
most famous historical sites, including the Qu Yuan Temple, the Han Watchtower and the Moya Cliff carvings. About 800 historical relics have been submerged. Some of them are being removed and some are being put into museums.
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