FEBRUARY 2014

The City Of Florence And Its Past

by: Jakob Jelling (reading – 6.1. - 12.1.)

The city of Florence, or Florentia according to its Italian name, was founded in the first century B.C. by the Romans. This way, it has passed through a really great amount of different periods and époques which have caused different influences on it, and meeting this town and its historic buildings can be one of the most amazing experiences a person who enjoys history related activities could have.

In Florence, visitors can be in contact with many different historic periods as well as many important situations and moments from the past. Every building and street of this city contains a piece of history within its structure, and taking a tour through the city can be as taking a tour through the pass of centuries.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, Florence became a free state. During this period of time, the city was ruled and governed by the Medici family, government which was known as the Signoria of the Medici. Also during this period, Florence was at its best moment regarding art and culture in general.

In the middle of 1860s, Tuscany and Florence changed their denomination of Free State since they joined what was the Kingdom of Italy. After that, and for a few years which go from about 1865 to 1871, Florence was named capital city of the Kingdom. This way, this city has gone through several changes through its own history as well as it has incorporated each different period to its own appearance.

Florence allows tourists to easily move from one point of the city to another since it offers a great amount of transportation facilities, among which buses might be the most recommendable. There are many different places which sell bus tickets, allowing visitors to meet the city in a non expensive and efficient way as well as by mixing with local people and their every day lifestyle. Tourists who wish to use taxis instead of buses, should be aware that they might be very expensive, depending on the time of the day and the luggage a person carries. This way, buses are usually much more recommendable than taxis, in case you are not carrying a great amount of luggage or bags.

About The Author

Jakob Jelling is the founder of Eurotomic.com.
If you're planning a trip to Italy please go here: www.eurotomic.com/italy.php.



Overview of Egypt for Travelers

by: Richard Monk (reading – 13.1. - 19.1.)

From Pyramids to the Valley of the Kings, the Arab Republic of Egypt oozes history. If you are considering traveling to Egypt, you should know the following about the country.

Overview of Egypt for Travelers

Egypt has plenty of land, but much of it is sparsely inhabited. This leads to a situation where the vast majority lives within relatively compact urban places. As the most populous Arab nation, nearly all of people live along the Nile River, particularly in Cairo and Alexandria. Cairo in particular is one of the world’s most densely populated cities with a whopping 3,800 people per square mile and roughly 18 million in the extended city. Traffic jams are legendary to say the least.

Travelers to Egypt are almost always going to see the pyramids and various archeological remains of the Pharaohs. Just so you can sound like you know what you are talking about, here is a very brief history on the rule of the Pharaohs.

Around 3,100 BC, Mena united Egypt and became the first Pharaoh. 30 dynasties would follow and are categorized as the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Empire. In 525 BC, the last Pharaoh was overthrown by the invading Persians. The pyramids of Giza were built during the fourth dynasty. The Great Pyramid is the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu. The Valley of Kings that you will visit is only partially an accurate representation. More than a few of the sites were actually moved to higher elevations to save them from flooding caused when the Nasser Dam went into operation.

As for modern times, Egypt covers an area of roughly 386,000 square miles. The capital is Cairo with a population between 16 and 18 million people. The climate is universally dry and hot. Life is sustained almost totally by the Nile.

The people of Egypt are known as “Egyptians.” The total population is over 77 million and growing at a rate of 1.78 percent per year. 94 percent claim to be Muslim. Arabic is the official language although English and French are also spoken. 57 percent of the people are literate and life expectancy is 71 years of age.

As this overview shows, the country is unique in that it is almost totally reliant upon the Nile River. Without the Nile, Egypt would be bereft of its heritage and modern state.

About The Author

Richard Monk is with www.factsmonk.com - a site with facts about everything.
Visit www.factsmonk.com/country_facts to read more about country facts.



About The Origin Of Bonsai

by: Patrick Desnoyers (reading – 20.1. - 26.1.)

Miniature trees are originally rooted in the mountains of China, where only a specific species of plants and trees grow. Because of its hostile weather conditions, the trees were often stunted and contorted. The strong mountain winds also left these trees twisted in ice and the cold. Essentially, it is nature that has rendered the inspiration for the art of potting trees as students of the art do their best to mimic what nature has created. By “training” trees through specialized means of pruning and shaping them to a desired height and structure, these students of the art were able to recreate the sample nature has provided.

Bonsai, a Japanese term for “miniature potted trees”, actually originated from the Chinese. Called “pensai” in China, these miniature trees first appeared in artworks and poems in this Asian country in 200 B.C. Early on, the mini-tree, or rather, the work of art, has already become a symbol of harmony and tranquility. Chinese Monks and the nobles or upper class, who appreciated the beauty and significance of plants and trees or nature in general, cultivated mini-landscapes of mountains, rivers and little tree houses placed on big plates. Sometime in the 15th or 16th century, this artistic hobby grew among the people of Southeast China. Many of them have become master designers and experts of the art of tree potting. What was first known as a hobby for Chinese artists, monks and nobles in those days became a significant part of modern day Japanese tradition.

How this came to Japan was made possible through the officials of the Japanese government, who often come to China at the height of the Tang Dynasty and have brought the art back home. During the Kamakura period, while Zen Buddhism was introduced in Japan, these Zen masters also introduced the hobby of tree potting to its people. As a result, it became widely popular among the wealthy class (daimyos or feudal lords), the merchants and even the Samurais. In addition to this, daimyos even sought pottery masters to employ them, to make one of a kind pots for their miniature plants.

Initially popular among the Japanese priests, the ruling class and those on the upper hierarchy, Bonsai eventually reached popularity with the middle class. As Japanese culture and their way of living dictates it, where the Japanese have always believed in keeping a harmonious relationship with their surroundings as beneficial, miniature gardening became one of Japan's favorite pastimes. The fact that these potted trees took up just a small space inside the house was also compatible with how the Japanese lived. It was during these times too, that the word “bonsai” was coined.

Today, the art of Bonsai is still practiced in China. It is characteristically different from the Japanese versions as they are somewhat bigger than the popular Japanese Bonsai. And while thinking of potted trees, one easily attributes this to Japan, the hobby/art form appeals not only to the people of the East today, but students and enthusiasts all over the world have also become devotees to the art of tree potting.

About The Author

Patrick Desnoyers

Avid full time hobby bonsai grower. Has been practicing bonsai and gardening for more than 8 years. Owner of www.mishobonsai.com , a website with resource for bonsai seeds and tree seeds.



Harvard University

by: Kadence Buchanan (reading – 27.1. - 2.2.)

Harvard University is the oldest and, arguably, the most prestigious university in the United States. In 2005, the Times Higher Education Supplement and the Academic Ranking of World Universities both ranked Harvard University first among the universities of the world. In addition, the US News and World Report rankings placed Harvard at the top of the list in a tie with Princeton. Moreover, with a financial endowment of $25.5 billion in 2005, Harvard is considered the wealthiest university in the United States and in the world.

Located at Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard was founded in 1663, incorporated as "The President and Fellows of Harvard College." It was named Harvard College in 1639 after John Harvard, a young clergyman and the institution's first principal donor. John Harvard, a product of Emmanuel College in Cambridge, left in his will several hundred pounds and a few hundred books to the college, which formed the foundation of its college library collection. On record, the first known official reference to Harvard as a "university" rather than a college was in 1780 in the Massachusetts Constitution.

During his tenure as Harvard president from 1869 to 1909, Charles Park instituted a number of radical changes that made the university into what was then known as the modern research university. Among his reforms were elective courses, small classes and entrance examinations. Owing to its successful implementation of these reforms, Harvard served as the model that influenced the American educational system greatly, both at the college and secondary levels.

In 1999, Radcliffe College, which was originally founded as the "Harvard Annex" for women, was formally merged with Harvard University to form the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Today, Harvard has the fourth largest library collection in the world and the largest financial endowment of any academic institution. It lists over 6,000 undergraduate and 13,000 postgraduate students as well as a staff of 2,300. Its well-known motto is "veritas" or truth. Since 1875, the official school color is crimson and that's also the name given to Harvard sports teams as well as the daily school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson Tide.

About The Author

Kadence Buchanan writes articles for theeducationstop.net/ - In addition, Kadence also writes articles for worldof-science.com/ and 1st-computers.net/ .