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In 1997 US media company CNN, compiled a list of the 'Seven Wonders of Nature' - Among them were America's Grand Canyon, Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Italy's Mt. Vesuvius. A few weeks ago, this list received a total overhaul - One that was not created by a single corporation, but voted in by over a million people, from all over the world.
Spearheaded by Swiss filmmaker and museum curator Bernard Weber, the lengthy process began in 2007. Countries from all over the world were asked to submit their candidates - Over 220 participated, nominating 440 natural wonders. These were whittled down to 28 by the judges of the New7Wonders organization and then, put to vote 'American Idol' style to the general public. The provisional results were announced on 11/11/11 and without further ado here, are the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World!
The Amazon Rainforests of South America
Covering more than a billion acres across Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and the Eastern Andean Region, the Amazon rainforests have often been called the 'Lungs of our planet' thanks to the fact that they are instrumental in producing more than 20 percent of the world's oxygen. If this is not enough to make it a natural wonder than ponder over this - It houses over half of the world's estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects and, one fifth of the world's fresh water!
The Halong Bay in Vietnam
Not as well known as the Amazon forests this hidden gem is located in Vietnam's Quang Ninhprovince. What makes the 1,553 sq. kilometer (600 sq.miles) Halong Bay so unique is the 1969 small islands it encompasses. Some of them are hollow with enormous caves, while others, provide a base for fisherman wishing to seek out the 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks that live inside the bay's shallow waters. What's even more amazing is that many of these tiny islets have their own limestone lakes.
Iguazu Falls In South America
Situated on the border of Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls, which comprises of 275 smaller falls is one world's largest and most spectacular waterfalls. Formed by a volcano, it spreads across the Iguazu River for almost two miles and is twice as wide as Niagara Falls that borders The USA and Canada. What makes Iguazu Falls even more special, is the tropical rainforests that surround it!
Jeju Island in South Korea
Often known as the Hawaii of Asia, the volcanic island of Jeju is characterized by palm trees, sandy beaches and orange orchards. However, its most amazing feature is the Manjanggul - the world's longest system of lava-tube caves! Home to many volcanic mountains, including South Korea's highest peak, Hallasan, the Bay is also a protected nature preserve.
Komodo Island In Indonesia
One of over 17,500 islands that make up Indonesia, this is the home of the Komodo dragon. Only 4,000 of these endangered animals, which are technically the largest lizard species in the world, are known to exist - Most of them reside on this island. If that's not enough to make it a natural wonder, than this should be - It is one of only seven beaches in the world with pink sand!
Puerto Princesa Underground River In The Philippines
Located 50 km north of the city of Puerto Princesa, this 8.2 km river is the world's longest underground navigable river. To paddle across, visitors have to wind through caves which comprise of many large chambers whose sides and ceilings are covered with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
Table Mountain In Cape Town
As the name indicates, this mountain that prominently dots Cape Town's landscape, features a flat top measuring about 3 km from side to side. Flanked on either side are steep cliffs, making for a spectacular scene. Unlike some of the other new wonders, this is already a very popular tourist destination, with hundreds of thousands of people visiting, each year.
This is not the only 'New 7 Wonders' list the organization has changed. In the past they have released a new list of 7 Man-Made Wonders and are now a launching a new campaign for the new 7 Wonders Cities - To read about the others or nominate your city go to www.new7wonders.com.
Resources: wikipedia.org, dailymail.co.uk, new7wonders.com