Earth Day 2011: 22 Most Fascinating Facts about the Earth


In preparation for earth day tomorrow, we’re discovering what makes our planet unique! Here are 22 facts about our Earth!

- Earth is more than 4.5 billion years old. The oldest rocks that have been found are in northwestern Canada near Great Slave Lake and in West Greenland.

- On September 13th, 1922, the highest recorded temperature was taken in El Azizia, Libya at 57.8º Celsius (136º Fahrenheit).

- The coldest temperature ever measured on Earth was -89º Celsius (-129º Fahrenheit) at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983.

- The driest place on Earth is Arica, Chile, which gets just 0.76 millimeters (0.03 inches) of rain per year.

- The wettest place on Earth is Lloro, Colombia, which averages 13 meters (523.6 inches) of rainfall a year. That's about 10 times more than moderately wet, major cities in Europe or the United States.

- The longest river is the Nile River in Africa, which stretches for 6,695 kilometers (4,160 miles).

- According to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 1,000 tons of space dust enters the atmosphere every year and reaches the Earth’s surface.

- 97.5% of all water on Earth is salt water. Only 2.5% of that is fresh water.

- Glaciers hold 75% of the world’s fresh water supply.

- The total surface area of our planet is about 510,100,000 square kilometers (196,950,711 square miles).

- 70% of the Earth is covered by water. The Pacific Ocean is the largest body of water and covers 165 million square kilometers (64 million square miles).

- Because it is about 93.1 million miles away from the sun, our planet is able to support the liquid form of water and life as we know it.

- The planet isn’t a perfect sphere: it actually bulges in the middle and has more of a pumpkin shape.

- In 1999, scientists discovered that molten material in and around Earth's core moves in vortices that swirl like tornadoes and hurricanes.

- There are over 6.6 billion people on Earth. At the current pace of growth, the human population could reach 9 billion by the year 2050.

- Experts say that there could be anywhere between 5 to 100 million species living on Earth. Only 2 million are known so far.

- A third of the land on our planet is covered by deserts. The largest hot desert is the Sahara Desert, which covers about 3 million square miles. It snowed in the Sahara Desert on February 18th, 1979.

- The distance from the surface of Earth to the center is about 6,378 kilometers (3,963 miles).

- The Great Wall of China was constructed over 2,500 years ago and is more than 5,000 kilometers long.

- There are about 1500 active volcanoes on Earth. The world’s largest active volcano is Mauna Loa in Hawaii. It stands 13,677 feet (just under 4 meters) above sea level.

- It takes sunlight 8 minutes and 3 seconds to reach Earth.

- The moon completes one orbit around our planet every 27.32 days.