A Map Geek’s Tour of the World #2

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Following the bombing of Pan Am flight 103over Scotland, a deal was reached between Ghadaffi of Libya and the British governmentin which the trial of the accused bombers would happen in a neutral country in returnfor the extradition of the accused bombers. The Netherlands agreed to host the trial,and so a portion of the Netherlands, a former NATO base called Camp Zeist, became a pieceof Scottish land in the Netherlands. This land was part of Scotland, with Scottish policeofficers, Scottish judges, and Scottish law.

Thus the court established on the site forthe proceedings was dubbed the Scottish Court in the Netherlands. Following the trial anda subsequent appeal, the land was ceded back to the Netherlands, but for that short time,Scotland was just a tiny bit bigger. Across the channel in the area that’s alwaysScotland, there are two islands called Westerly and Papa Westerly. The airports of these twoislands can boast that between them runs the shortest regularly scheduled commercial flightin the world. It takes a mere minute, costs 17 pounds, and travels 1.7 miles (2.7 km)—roughlythe same distance as the runway of the airport of Edinburgh—the capital of Scotland.There are a number of places also called Edinburgh around the world, but the coolest is Edinburghof the Seven Seas. Located on the British overseas territory island of Tristan da Cunha,Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is considered to be the most remote inhabited place on earth.

The island is 1,200 miles (1,930 km) from the closest other inhabited place, the islandof St. Helena, and 1,500 miles (2,410 km)from the nearest continental land, South Africa.There is no airport and no regular transport links off of the island. The only way the300 residents can reach the rest of the world is by hitching a ride on a fishing boat, andthose only come 8 or 9 times a year. At 64 square miles (103 sq km), Tristin daCunha is the 1060th largest island in the world, but the 8th largest island in the worldis Victoria Island, Canada. On Victoria Island, there’s a lake which is home to an island,which has a lake on it, with one more island. This tiny four-acre island is so remote thatit is thought that no human has ever set foot on it. Victoria Island, the island that holdsthe lake that holds the island that has that lake with this island, is slightly biggerthan Great Britain yet has a population of less than 2,000.Also in Canada, but much farther South is Vancouver. About 22 miles south of downtownVancouver is Point Roberts, Washington, which is part of the United States, however youcannot get to the rest of the USA without crossing into Canada.

This is because PointRoberts lies south of the 49th parallel which constitutes much of the border between thetwo countries. A few thousand miles to the east, the borderisn’t quite as nice and straight. In Detroit, you counterintuitively have to travel southto get Canada, America’s northern neighbor. Also counterintuitively, the westernmost pointof Virginia is actually more westerly than the westernmost point of West Virginia.And to finish off the counterintuitivlies, the eastern end of the Panama Canal flowsinto the Pacific Ocean, the ocean to the west, while the western end of the Panama Canalflows into the Atlantic Ocean, the ocean to the east.While we’re so close to South America, I might as well mention that there are no bridgesover the Amazon River, the second longest river in the world. This is not because theriver is too wide or anything, but rather because pretty much nobody lives around theAmazon. There is actually only one bridge over any of the major tributaries to the Amazonas well. For the few roads there are that cross the Amazon, ferries connect the twosides. And to finish it off let’s head over toAfghanistan, which has a time zone of UTC + 4:30. They’re one of a few nations inthe world that align themselves to a half-hour difference compared to universal time. Afghanistanshares a brief 47 mile (76 kilometer) border with China, which has one time zone for theentire country. This means that if you step across the Afghanistan-China border you travelthree and a half hours into the future, and this is the greatest time-zone change youcan make in one step on earth.

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