Spain still controls parts of continental Africa

While most African nations have gained independence since the end of the colonial age, there are still parts of the continent under foreign control.

Most of these are small islands or archipelagos that are dependent territories of the U.K., France, Spain, Portugal and even Italy, but there are still two cities on the continent itself that are considered European territory.

Ceuta and Melilla are two port cities on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast which have been claimed by Spain for more than 400 years along with a handful of islands that are collectively known as the plazas de soberanía or places of sovereignty.

Ceuta is home to 82,000 people and is about eighteen square kilometers in size. While most people speak Spanish, there is still a sizable Moroccan population and the North African country continues to claim that the city is in its territory.

Melilla is the smaller of the two cities in land area at about 12 square kilometers which is the home to about 80,000 people.

Today, both outposts have become magnets for migrants trying to make their way to the European Union which is why giant fences have been erected around the territories which otherwise rely mostly on fishing and tourism to survive.

Walk the world’s longest beach

Enjoy long walks on the beach? You’re going to be hard-pressed to walk the length of the world’s longest beach. Depending on who’s measuring it, Brazil’s Praia do Cassino Beach runs anywhere from 212 kilometres (132 miles) to 254 kilometres (158 miles) in length from the Brazilian seaport of Rio Grande to the Uruguay border.

You might have more luck if you try to walk the length of the world’s longest freshwater beach, Wasaga Beach which runs a mere 14 kilometres along the southern shores of Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada.

The origins of the world’s airport codes don’t always make sense

The world’s airports are identified by three-letter codes known as IATA station identifiers. You’ve no doubt seen them on your baggage tags when you were flying somewhere.

Some of them are abbreviations of the cities they are located in like MEX for Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez in Mexico City while others are derived from the airport’s name like JFK for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.

Some, however, seem to make no sense, but they are often references to historical names like ORD for O’Hare in Chicago. It’s former name was Orchard Field. And in the case of Canada, it gets complicated with which one has a weather station and which one does not.

It’s all explained on this Wikipedia page.

The world’s shortest international bridge links Spain and Portugal

Plenty of countries are connected by bridges, but none of them are as short as the one that links Spain and Portugal.  The wooden bridge that crosses the stream between Spain’s La Codosera and Portugal’s Arronches stretches a mere 10.4 feet or 3.25 metres. Don’t expect to drive across. It’s for pedestrians only, although it’s okay to cross on your bicycle.

Just say no to camo

Camouflage clothing has crossed over from the military to civilian life as something of a fashion trend. The thing that travellers should know is that it’s illegal for non-military persons to wear it in some countries, particularly in parts of the Caribbean, Africa and Middle East. Specific places where it is banned include, but are not limited to, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saudi Arabia, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Tristan de Cunha is the world’s most remote inhabited island.

Need to get away from it all? Spend some time on Tristan de Cunha in the South Atlantic. It is the world’s most remote inhabited island. The closest inhabited land lies 2,000 kilometres away and that’s the equally remote island of Saint Helena. The nearest continent is 2,400 km away and that is Africa. South America is 3,360 km away. You won’t be alone, though. About 265 people live in the British Overseas Territory.

The world’s longest domestic flights

Technically, the longest, direct, domestic airline flight in the world is between Paris, France and the department of Réunion in the Indian Ocean at 5,809 kilometres. The next longest is New York to Honolulu at 4,983 kilometres. For the longest over land, it’s Adler to Khabarovsk in Russia at 4,287 kilometres.

It’s Netherlands, not Holland

While many English-speakers refer to it as Holland, the lowland country famous for tulips, windmills and wooden shoes is properly named the Netherlands. Nord and Zuid Holland are two of the European country’s 12 provinces.

The musical garbage trucks of Taiwan

It might sound like the music from an ice-cream truck, but if you’re in Taiwan, chances are that’s the garbage truck. By law, you can’t leave your trash on the curb in Taiwan, but have to hand it directly to the garbageman which is why trash trucks play music to alert you that they’re on the way.

Mail a coconut from Hawaii

Even if you never send postcards, you will want to send one when you get to Molokai, Hawaii’s fifth-largest island. That’s because you can mail a coconut from the Hoolehua Post Office to anywhere in the world with a personalized message on it. The coconut is free, but postage isn’t.