With an area of 743,330 km2 (287,000 sq mi), Borneo is the 3rd largest island in the world and the largest in Asia.  It is also the world’s only sea island to be divided by more than 2 sovereign countries.  It contains part of Indonesia, part of Malaysia, and all of the small sultanate of Brunei.  As of 2010, the island is home to 19,804,064, approximately the combined population of Ontario and Quebec.

Borneo’s rainforest, which covers most of the island, is 140 years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests on Earth.  The island’s wildlife is very diverse, with about 15,000 species of flowering plants (including 3,000 species of trees), 221 species of mammals, 420 species of birds, and 440 species of freshwater fish living on the island.


The longest place name in the world is the Thai city of Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit, with 176 letters.  The name, composed of Pali and Sanskrit words, translates to, “city of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra's behest”.  It is often shortened to Krung Thep and in English it’s called Bangkok.

With 85 letters, the longest one-word place name is that of a hill in New Zealand called Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu.  Other long place names include the famous Welsh village of Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch (58 letters), a Massachusetts lake called Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (45), and a South African farm by the name of Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein (44).

With 116 characters in total, the longest official place name in Canada is an Ontario municipality called Corporation of the United Townships of Dysart, Dudley, Harcourt, Guilford, Harburn, Bruton, Havelock, Eyre and Clyde.  The longest one-word place name in this country is Pekwachnamaykoskwaskwaypinwanik, which is a lake in Manitoba and has 31 letters.

At the other extreme, there are also many one-letter place names throughout the world, with names such as A, D, E, O, U, and Y.  In fact, the Vietnamese name for Italy is simply Ý.

Read more: Fun Facts with Daniel - The Island of Borneo and the World's Longest Names

Another course has come to an end! We would like to congratulate the Transition to Life Durham participants for all of their hard work. Participants did an excellent job on their short bio speeches in front of their parents and members of the Autism Ontario Durham Chapter association. 

Thank you to everyone for their involvement in the program. Graduates, please keep in touch! We always love to hear updates on how you are doing. 

Read more: Congratulations to Transition to Life Durham Participants

1. The Dead Sea covers 600 km2 of surface area on the borders on Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank.   It is actually a lake but is so named due to its extreme saltiness which makes it uninhabitable for most life forms.  At 34.2% salinity it is one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth, 9.6 times as salty as the ocean.  The Dead Sea’s shoreline is the lowest land elevation on Earth, at 429 metres (1,407 ft) below sea level.  Since biblical times, the Dead Sea has been a tourism hotspot.  It was a place of refuge for King David and was used by Herod the Great as one of the world’s first health resorts.  The sea’s salt and minerals have been used for a wide variety of practical functions, such as cosmetics, herbal sachets, potash for fertilizers, and asphalt for Egyptian mummification.  The water in the Dead Sea has a density of1.24 kg/litre, which makes it very buoyant.  This novelty effect is popular among tourists, who like to swim in the Dead Sea because they float very easily.

 

2. Despite its prominence in pop culture and presence in many different countries, Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has surprisingly few locations around the world.  While there are 373 stores in 47 countries, there are only 42 stores in the US, which means that many states are completely IKEA-free.  Interestingly, there are 12 locations in Canada which means we have more IKEAs per capita than our neighbours to the south.  We also got our first store before they did (1975 vs. 1985).  While the company was founded in Sweden and is now headquartered in the Netherlands, the country with the most stores is Germany, with 50.  The successful chain was founded in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad, who was only 17 at the time.  The company’s name is an acronym, consisting of the initials of Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Småland, south Sweden).  IKEA has become such a notable and recognizable part of pop culture that there are now plans to turn its first store — located in Älmhult, Sweden— into a museum.

Read more: Fun Facts by Daniel.. The Dead Sea and Ikea

We'd like to extend a big thank you to our volunteers, Brandon, Lauren and Ashley who came out this morning to join in on Christmas Cheer!  You have each made an impact by helping families in our area who are in need this holiday season. 

Read more: Thank you to the Christmas Cheer Volunteers!

1. With 3 national capitals, South Africa has the most capital cities of any country on Earth.  This is due to the fact that different branches of government are located in different cities.  Pretoria is the administrative and executive capital while Cape Town is the legislative and Bloemfontein is the judicial.  While South Africa is the only country with 3 capitals, many countries have 2.  This is often due to the fact that the different government branches or departments aren’t all located in the same city (as is the case in Benin, Bolivia, Chile, Georgia, Malaysia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, and Tanzania) or simply because the official capital is different from the de facto seat of government (as is the case in Ivory Coast, Taiwan, and Western Sahara).  In fact, Taiwan’s official capital, Nanjing, isn’t even located in Taiwan but rather in China, a country which Taiwan (officially named Republic of China) claims sovereignty over.

2. While you may not be able to tell to look at him, Justin Trudeau is actually mixed race.  While he is mostly of French and Scottish descent, one of his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers on his mothers side was an ethnic Malay.  This makes him our first prime minister to have confirmed non-European ancestry.  However, while US President Barack Obama is widely known for being that country’s first leader with non-Caucasian ancestry, most people are likely unaware about Trudeau.  This is likely because Obama is half non-Caucasian while Trudeau is only 1/256th non-Caucasian.  Another interesting fact about Trudeau is that his birthday is Christmas Day.

Read more: WHO KNEW?….Fun Facts by Daniel

Another course has flown by! We cannot believe that tomorrow will mark week 10 of the course at the Trent University campus in Durham. Participants have been working hard on self presentation and employment skills during the last couple of weeks and will start learning about Self Employment this week. 

Read more: Only Three Weeks Left of Transition to Life Durham!