How do human live in extreme environments?


Humans have found a way of living in some of the most inhospitable environments on Earth – including the scorching deserts, the icy Arctic, and the steamy rainforests. Desert dwellers have to cope with the daily problem of finding water. In the Arctic, the challenges are keeping warm and finding food to eat. The rainforests are full of life, but many of the animals are dangerous, and some of the plants are poisonous.


The frozen Arctic is one of the toughest places on Earth to survive. There are no plant foods, so Arctic people came to rely on hunting seals, walruses, whales, birds, and fish. Without timber, they used skins and bones to build shelters, sleds, and boats. Modern inventions, such as the snowmobile, have made life in this frozen wilderness easier.


Unlike the Arctic and the desert, the South American rainforest has a wide variety of animals and plants. The problem is that many of the animals and birds suitable for eating live high up in the canopy. Hunters scan the trees above for prey, such as monkeys, and then shoot them down using blowpipes firing poison darts.


The extremes of temperature faced in the desert – extremely hot during the day, and very cold at night – is the main problem desert dwellers face. They are constantly on the move, searching for fresh water supplies, sometimes using the flight of birds and insects as their guide. Having found water, they must make sure that not a drop is wasted.

Ostrich egg: The San people of the Kalahari Desert, in southern Africa, fill ostrich eggs with water and bury them for using later.

Camels: Bedouins travel using camels, which can go without water for long periods thanks to the fat stored on their backs.

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Can you describe the cities?


Cities have existed since ancient times, when they functioned as trading hubs, often at the heart of sprawling empires. By the early 20th century, one in 10 people lived in a city. Industrialization has led to massive urbanization, and more than half the world’s population are now city-dwellers. Modern cities are centres of commerce, culture, and government.


In Ancient Greece, it was common for cities to establish themselves as independent states, with their own political systems. By the 5th century BCE, there were hundreds of city-states, and Athens was one of the most important. Today, Athens is the Greek capital.


The first high-rise buildings, now known as “skyscrapers”, were constructed in the 1880s. With limited space in city centres, building upwards became the solution. Today, more than 7,000 skyscrapers tower above the city of Hong Kong.


Towns and cities were often built next to rivers, to take advantage of the trading opportunities and transport links they offered. Founded by the Romans, the city of London now spreads far and wide on both sides of the River Thames.


Some cities are important religious sites. Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, is sacred to Muslims as the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad. All Muslims should make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime.


When a city expands to merge with neighbouring towns, it becomes one huge urban area called a conurbation. The world’s largest conurbation is Tokyo, Japan, with currently 37 million inhabitants.


Until 1960, the capital of Brazil was Rio de Janeiro on the east coast. However, the government wanted to encourage growth and development in the centre of the country, and so a brand new capital was purpose-built in the interior – the modern capital of Brasília.


Until recently, the majority of the world’s population lived in rural areas. Today, most people live in cities, where they have migrated in search of work and opportunity. In many cities, such as Mumbai in India, this has led to overcrowding as temporary shelters spring up on the outskirts.


The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has listed sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance in order to preserve them. Called World Heritage Sites, these include cities such as Djenne in Mali, with its large mud brick mosque.


At night, the lights of Las Vegas shine out across the Nevada Desert, USA. Las vegas means “the meadows” because the vast city was once just a place where travellers stopped for water as they crossed America.


Few city-states remain today, but one exception is the Vatican City in Rome, Italy, home of the Pope and the centre of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican remains a city-state with its own flag, coins, national anthem, and postage stamps.

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What is the importance of festivals in life?


Across the world, people celebrate festivals for a range of reasons. Though many form part of religious worship, others were created to mark a change in seasons, to focus on cultural traditions, or to celebrate an important milestone in history. Some festivals take place on the same day every year; others are based on ancient calendars or a new moon, so the dates change. Special food is almost always a part of each festival.


This Christian festival celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, and is celebrated in most countries on 25 December. Traditions include decorating fir trees, exchanging gifts, attending church, and waiting for a visit from Santa Claus.


During this Mexican festival, held on 1 November, families believe that the souls of dead relatives are able to return to the land of the living for one night. They decorate altars in homes and cemeteries with candles and flowers.


This North American festival is held on the fourth Thursday of November in the USA and the second Monday in October in Canada. Families get together to give thanks for the first good harvest of the European settlers more than 400 years ago.


This festival is celebrated in East Asia. According to legend, when a Chinese official named Qu Yuan drowned in a river, people rowed out on boats with dragon-head prows and dropped parcels of rice wrapped in bamboo (zongzi) into the water to divert the hungry fish away from his body.


This East Asian celebration, which dates back more than 3,000 years, falls near the traditional harvest, when the Moon is at its lightest and brightest. Family and friends gather in the evening to eat mooncakes, rich rounds of pastry with lotus-seed fillings.


Each year, on 13 December, people in Sweden and Norway celebrate the feast of Saint Lucia (a Christian girl who died for her faith). Early in the morning, a young girl dressed in white (often the youngest daughter in the house) takes a tray of hot saffron buns to her family.


This Muslim festival marks the end of Ramadan, a month-long fast. The celebration lasts for three days, starting with the sighting of the new moon. People dress in their best clothes and go to the mosque.


Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil. Hindu families light oil lamps and put them on ledges and balconies. They also send cards with wishes for a good year.


In March or April, Jews celebrate Passover to remember when Moses led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Passover lasts for seven or eight days and includes a special meal called a seder. Each part of the meal has a symbolic meaning.


The Christian festival of Easter recognizes the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his death. It falls between late March and April each year. People attend church and exchange Easter eggs.

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Which are the major Religions in the world?


A religion is a set of beliefs that helps explain life’s mysteries. People seek guidance from their religion on how they should live their lives. Most people with religious faith believe in either one God or many gods. They express their faith through rituals, such as gathering together with others to worship, and by studying sacred books. There are many different religions, but those included here have the most followers around the world.


One of the oldest religions, Hinduism began 5,000 years ago in India. Hindus believe in a supreme spirit, Brahman, who reveals himself through hundreds of gods and goddesses. Hindus practise their faith in different ways, but share a belief in reincarnation – the idea that a person’s soul has lived before and will live on after death in another form.

Krishna This popular Hindu god is thought to bring great happiness to believers.

Ganesh Hindus pray to Ganesh, the elephant god of wisdom and help, when facing a new challenge.

Water shaker In one Hindu ritual, priests sprinkle water over the worshippers.

Om is a sacred Sound, Om, spoken after Hindu prayer.


Muslims believe that God revealed his words through an angel to the prophet Muhammad, who collected them in the Qur’an, the holy book. The faithful try to live by the rules in this book. The most important duties are the Five Pillars: prayer, helping the needy, fasting for one month a year, making a pilgrimage to Mecca, and showing faith in God.

Islamic scribe Because the Qur’an is believed to contain God’s exact words, great care is taken when Muslim scribes recreate them.

Prayer beads God, or Allah, is thought to have 99 names. This string of 99 prayer beads can be used to remind Muslims of the many names of the one God.

Qibla Muslims must face the holy city of Mecca when they pray, five times a day.


Christianity is based on the belief that Jesus Christ is God’s son. The Bible, Christianity’s sacred book, contains the story of Jesus’s life and how he was put to death. Christians believe his sacrifice means that followers will have an eternal life with God.

Chalice In the ritual of Holy Communion, bread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus. The wine is often served in a chalice.

Icon of Christ Paintings remind Christians that God lived as a human through Jesus.

Cross Because Jesus died on a cross, it is a powerful symbol of the Christian faith.


Unlike most religions, Buddhism is not based on worshipping a god or gods. Instead, it is based on the teachings of the Buddha, who showed his followers how to live a good life and avoid sufffering by controlling their desires. Buddhists hope to achieve true wisdom, known as enlightenment.

Buddha The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, was born in what is now Nepal in 563 BCE.

Statues of Buddha are often made of gold to show his importance

Merit sharing Buddhists believe that if they live caring lives, they will build up merit (good will) and have a better next life. They can pass on merit to others in a merit-sharing ceremony.


This is the religion of the Jews, also called Hebrews. Judaism was the first successful religion based on the idea that there is only one God, and it formed the basis for both Christianity and Islam. Central to Jewish belief is that God chose the Jews as a special holy nation, and gave them a set of laws to follow. The story of the first Jewish people is told in the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament).

Chanukiah A nine-branched candlestick is used to celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of light. The central branch holds the candle used to light the others.

Prayer wheel and prayer Buddhist prayer wheel turns, a mantra (a blessing or prayer) written on a scroll inside “repeats” itself over and over again.

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Who are the 45 US Presidents in order?


The United States is a superpower, dominating global affairs. The nation’s head of state, the president, is regarded as one of the most powerful people in the world. Presidential elections are followed closely by other countries, as political decisions made by the US president can impact the rest of the world. The president serves a term of four years, and today can hold office for a maximum of two terms.


A passionate opponent of slavery, Lincoln led the Union States to victory in the Civil War of 1860-65. His speech at Gettysburg, on the principles of human equality, is one of the greatest in American history.


The twentieth US president was James Garfield, an army general. In 1881, he was assassinated after less than four months in office.


Grover Cleveland is the only president to have served two non-consecutive terms in office, 1885-89 and 1893-97. His second term was plagued by industrial strikes.


Electricity was first installed in the White House during the Harrison presidency (1889–93) – his wife would not touch the switches, fearing electrocution.


The Hoover presidency saw the Great Depression of 1929, and public opposition to prohibition (the banning of alcohol). He did not win a second term.


Called to office after Nixon’s resignation in 1974, Gerald Ford is the only president not to have been elected either president or vice-president.


“FDR” served a record four terms in office from 1933–1945. He brought an end to the Depression with a “New Deal” to bring relief to the unemployed, and took the USA into World War II.


During Carter’s term of office, the USA was beset by crises. At home, there was recession. Abroad, US citizens were taken hostage in Iran.


Truman saw the USA through a difficult postwar period. The Cold War (period of tension with communist Russia) began and the country went to war with Korea (1950-53).


Shortly after taking office in 1981, former Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt. He went on to cut taxes, increase national defence, and improve relations with Russia.


The first to campaign using advertising techniques, McKinley won the 1896 election promising to tax foreign goods.


A reformer, Roosevelt promised a “Square Deal” for all. The teddy bear is named after Roosevelt, who refused to shoot a bear on a hunting trip.


Coolidge believed the government should not control too many aspects of people’s lives. A man of few words, he was nicknamed “Silent Cal”.


Known as “Ike”, Eisenhower launched the race between the USA and Russia to explore outer space.


In 1961, “JFK” became the youngest elected US president, aged 44. Kennedy’s leadership inspired hope. His assassination in 1963 left the country shattered.


In 1974, Nixon became the only president to resign, because of his involvement in the Watergate scandal (illegal spying in the opposition party’s headquarters).


George Bush became president in 1989. From 1990-91, he led an alliance of troops in the Gulf War, in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.


A long period of economic growth meant that, despite allegations of scandals, Bill Clinton always remained popular.


The 44th president of the USA, Obama was the first African-American to hold the office and served for two continuous terms.

George Washington   1789-97

John Adams                 1797-1801

Thomas Jefferson        1801-09

James Madison           1809-17

James Monroe            1817-25

John Quincy Adams   1825-29

Andrew Jackson         1829-37

Martin Van Buren        1837-41

William Harrison           1841

John Tyler                     1841-45

James Knox Polk         1845-49

Zachary Taylor             1849-50

Millard Fillmore             1850-53

Franklin Pierce              1853-57

James Buchanan        1857-61

Abraham Lincoln         1861-65

Andrew Johnson          1865-69

Ulysses S Grant              1869-77

Rutherford Hayes          1877-81

James Garfield.             1881

Chester Arthur               1881-85

Grover Cleveland         1885-89

Benjamin Harrison         1889-93

Grover Cleveland         1893-97

William McKinley           1897-1901

Theodore Roosevelt     1901-09

William Taft                    1909-13

Woodrow Wilson           1913-21

Warren Harding            1921-23

Calvin Coolidge           1923-29

Herbert Hoover             1929-33

Franklin D Roosevelt     1933-45

Harry Truman                 1945-53

Dwight Eisenhower       1953-61

John F Kennedy            1961-63

Lyndon B Johnson        1963-69

Richard Nixon               1969-74

Gerald Ford                   1974-77

James Carter                1977-81

Ronald Reagan            1981-89

George Bush                 1989-93

William Clinton              1993-2001

George W Bush             2001-09

Barack Obama             2009-17

Donald Trump               2017

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