World’s Extremes: Natural Structures

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Travel around the world and witness some of the world’s extreme natural structures created by nature.

World’s Largest Desert: Antarctica


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Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland. At its longest length Antarctica is almost 6,000 kilometers and has the longest desert coastline stretching 17,968 km. Antarctica, Earth’s southernmost continent, with an area of 4.0 million km² (5.4 million sq mi) with about 98% of it covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 km or 1.0 mi in thickness. Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.

Largest Hot Desert: Sahara Desert


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The Sahara, ‘The Greatest Desert’ is the world’s largest hot desert. At over 9,000,000 square kilometers (3,500,000 sq mi), it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as the US. The Sahara desert is between 1,200 and 2,000 kilometers north to south and is at about 5,000 kilometers long from east to west.

Largest Iceberg: Iceberg B-15


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The largest recorded iceberg in the world with an area of over 11,000 km sq was Iceberg B-15. It was larger than the island of Jamaica and measured 295 km long and 37 km wide (183-23 mi), with a surface area of 11,000 km² (4,250 mi²). The mass was estimated around three billion tons.

Largest Free Floating Object: B-15A

In March 2000, B-15 broke up into several pieces in 2000, 2002 and 2003, the largest of which, B-15A, was the world’s largest free floating object at 27 x 122 km (17 x 76 mi) with an area of 3,100 km² (1,200 mi², approximately the size of Luxembourg).

Tallest Iceberg

The tallest known iceberg was 168 meters (550 ft) above sea level, making it the height of a 55-story building. The longest iceberg ever recorded was a mammoth 335 km or 208 miles long and 97 km or 60 miles wide. It was spotted in the Ross Sea off the coast of Antarctica in 1965. It was about the size of Belgium

Longest Glacier: Lambert Glacier


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The world’s largest glacier that measures about 60 miles or 100 km wide, over 250 miles (400 km) long, and about 2,500 meters deep is Lambert Glacier. It is located in Antarctica and holds the Guinness world record for the world’s largest glacier. It drains 8 % of the Antarctic ice sheet to the east and south of the Prince Charles Mountains. Basically a glacier is a slow moving mass of ice and what better place to find a slow moving mass of ice than the frozen wastelands in Antarctica.

Longest Fjords: Scoresby Sund


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Scoresby Sund is the longest fjord in the world, stretching for 350 km (217 miles), and also one of the deepest (over 1500 m, 4,900 ft deep). It is located in eastern Greenland. Milne Land is a large island located in the center of the fjord.


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Icebergs at Sydkap in Scoresby Sund, July, 1970

Largest Monolith on Earth: Mount Augustus


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Mount Augustus, known as Burringurrah to the local Wadiari Aboriginal people, is considered the world’s largest monolith. It is located in Australia and stands 1105 m above sea level or approximately 860 m above the surrounding plain, and covers an area of 47.95 km2. It has a central ridge which is almost 8 km long. It is 2 ½ times the size of Uluru and runs 8 km in length.

Largest Limestone: Nullarbor Plain


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Another world record holder from Australia is the Nullarbor Plain, a part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country. It is the world’s largest single piece of limestone, and occupies an area of about 200,000 km² (77,200 square miles). At its widest point, it stretches about 1,200 km from east to west between South Australia and Western Australia.

Longest Arch: Utah, USA


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The longest natural arch in the world with a span of 88.4 m is the Landscape Arch. It is located in the Arches National park in Utah, USA. It is slightly longer than the Kolob Arch in Zion National Park. Large slabs of sandstone have fallen from the thinnest section of Landscape Arch since 1991. Park Service closed the trail that once passed beneath it.

Second Longest Natural Arch: Kolob Arch


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Kolob Arch is the second longest natural arch in the world with a span of 87.6 meters. If Landscape Arch falls down, then Kolob Arch will hold the record for the world’s longest natural arch.

Country with the Longest Coastline: Canada

Longest Common Boarder: Canada & USA


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The country with the longest coastline is Canada, with a total land area of 9,093,507 sq km; it has a coastline stretching 202,080 km long. Canada is the world’s second largest country by total area and shares the world’s longest common border with the United States to the south and northwest.

Longest Natural Bridge: Rainbow Bridge, USA


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The world’s largest natural bridge is the Rainbow Bridge which is located in rainbow Bridge National Monument. This natural bridge has a height of 290 feet or 88 m. It has a span of 275 feet or 84 m. At the top it is 42 feet or 13 m thick and 33 feet or 10 m wide.

Tallest Arch: Tushuk Tash in China


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The world’s tallest arch is Tushuk Tash (Pierced Rock) of China and has an estimated 1,200 feet or 366 m, almost about the height of Empire State Building. It is also known as Shipton’s Arch meaning Hole in Heaven in Chinese. It is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for its exceptional height. The span of the arch is roughly 180 feet.

Longest Beach: Bazaar Cox’s, Bangladesh


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The longest natural sea beach of the world is Cox’s Bazaar located in Bangladesh. Stretching 120 km including mud flats, the beach is located 150 km south of Chittagong It is also known as Panowa which means “yellow flower”. Its other old name was “Palongkee”.

Longest and Deepest Canyon: Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, China


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The world’s longest canyon is the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon. It is also known as the Tsangpo Gorge, a deep, long canyon in China. The canyon has a length of about 150 miles as the gorge bends around Mount Namcha Barwa (7756 m) and cuts its way through the eastern Himalayan range. The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon out canyons the Grand Canyon by 50 kilometers, coming in at 496 kilometers in length.


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The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is also the world’s deepest canyon reaching depths of 5,382 meters compared to 5,133 meters for Arizona’s Grand Canyon.

Largest Cave: Mammoth Cave, USA


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Mammoth Cave, with a confirmed 365 miles of passageways, is the longest cave system known in the world. The official name of the system is the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System for the ridge under which the cave has formed. This World Heritage Site reaches 379 ft deep on 5 levels of passages.

Longest Island Chain: Hawaiian Islands


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Hawaii, which comprises hundreds of islands, is the longest island chain in the world. It stretches 1,523 miles long.

Largest Island: Greenland


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By area, Greenland is the world’s largest island with an area of 2,655 km or 1,650 mile in length. It is also the least densely populated place in the world.

Longest Lake: Lake Tanganyika


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Lake Tanganyika in Africa which extends for 673 km is the longest lake in the world. It has an average width of 50 km and with a depth that reaches 4,710 ft making it for the second deepest lake in the world.

Clearest, Deepest, Oldest, Most Voluminous Freshwater Lake: Lake Baikal


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Lake Baikal holds many world records. It is the most voluminous freshwater lake in the world with an average depth of 744.4 m or 2,443 ft. Of all types of lakes, it is the world’s second most voluminous lake after the Caspian Sea. At 1,642 meters (5,390 ft), Lake Baikal is the deepest and among the clearest of all lakes in the world. At more than 25 million years old, Baikal is also the world’s oldest lake.

Largest Enclosed Body of Water: Caspian Sea


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With a surface area of 371,000 sq km, the Caspian Sea in Russia is the largest enclosed body of water in the world. It has a volume of 78,200 cubic kilometers (18,761 cu mi) and reaches a maximum depth of about 1,025 meters (3,363 ft).

Largest Landlocked Country: Kazakhstan


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With an area of 2,727,300 sq km, Kazakhstan, a country situated in Eurasia, is largest landlocked country in the world

See also

Distinctively Unique Islands in the World

12 Extraordinary Things on Earth

World’s Most Amazing Cliffs and Dunes

Earth’s Amazing Landscapes: Natural Wonders Worth Seeing


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