The Seven Natural Wonders of the World is a project that was created in 2008 to promote and conserve the original 7 natural wonders of the world. The news network CNN put together the list based on the most commonly accepted sites around the world, although, not all locations are always agreed upon. The only criteria for a natural wonder is that it cannot be created or significantly modified by humans.

This article takes a closer look at each of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is in the US state of Arizona. This 277-mile canyon was carved out by the Colorado River and runs through many locations - notably the Navajo Nation, Grand Canyon National Park, and the Kaibab National Forest. The Grand Canyon is over a mile deep in some spots and spans 18 miles across at its widest location. Researchers estimate that the river began cutting through this area sometime between 5 and 6 million years ago, exposing nearly 2 billion years of geological history.

Today, the Grand Canyon is an important tourist destination and receives around 5 million visitors every year. Visitors here may go hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, or take a helicopter tour over the area.

Parícutin Volcano

The Parícutin Volcano is a scoria-cone, or cinder cone, shaped volcano located in Michoacán, Mexico. It stands at 9,200 feet in elevation and sits on the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. This volcano is considered a natural wonder because it was formed in 1943 and grew 75% of its current size in the same year. This rapid development allowed geologists to research and document its entire 9-year lifespan, making it the first volcano to be witnessed from creation to dormancy.

Between 1943 and 1952, this volcano destroyed 2 towns, damaged 3 others, and caused pyroclastic-based lightning that killed 3 people. Today, Parícutin is part of the Pico de Tancítaro National Park. Visitors may hike or ride horses to the top.

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, is a naturally occurring glowing light display in the sky. Aurora Borealis occurs when photons are released from oxygen and nitrogen atoms after solar winds blow them into the thermosphere, which is approximately 50 miles from the earth’s surface. The colors reflected in the sky are either red and blue from nitrogen atoms or green and brownish-red from oxygen atoms.

Aurora Borealis cannot be predicted. However, most sightings occur near the magnetic pole. The best chances to see this light display are during the equinoxes, from March to April and September to October.

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The source of this waterfall is the Zambezi river which flows over a flat, basalt plateau before falling 354 feet into the 260-foot wide First Gorge below. It is the largest sheet of falling water in the world (a calculation that takes both height and width into consideration). The falls flow at a rate of 38,430 cubic feet per second. This rate is so strong that it creates a spray which reaches 1,300 feet above the surface of the water. This spray can be seen from 30 miles away. Victoria Falls is one of the only waterfalls in the world where a moonbow (similar to a rainbow) can be seen during a full moon.

Harbor of Rio de Janeiro

The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, also known as Guanabara Bay, is in Brazil off the coast of the city of Rio de Janeiro. It is the largest natural deep water bay in the world and reaches approximately 20 miles inland and 88 miles in length. The harbor is surrounded by mountains on three sides: Sugarloaf (1,296 feet), Corcovado Peak (2,310 feet), and the Hills of Tijuca (3,350 feet). Corcovado Peak is home to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

Visitors to the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro can enjoy relaxing and swimming at its beautiful beaches or can take boat rides out into the ocean. Additionally, tourists may take a cable car to the top of Sugarloaf mountain and then a train to Corcovado to visit the Christ the Redeemer.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is located off the coast of Queensland in Australia. It is the largest coral reef system in the world and stretches 1,400 miles, covering an area of 133,000 square miles. It is made up of 2,900 reefs and is so large that it can be seen from outer space. This natural wonder is threatened by global climate change, tourism, the fishing industry, and polluted urban water runoff. Additionally, outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish consume the coral polyps. The Great Barrier Reef has also suffered several occurrences of coral bleaching due to increasing water temperatures. In order to protect this site from further damage, a large portion has been designated as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Mount Everest

Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is the final natural wonder. It is located on the border between Nepal, Tibet, and China, where it makes up part of the Himalayan mountain range. This mountain stands at 29,029 feet above sea level and continues to grow between 1.6 and 3.9 inches per year due to active tectonic plates.

Mount Everest is popular with mountain climbers from around the world and is one of the famous “Seven Summits”. The first successful ascent was accomplished in 1953 by Edmund Hillary, from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay from India. Climbers may choose one of two routes up the mountain, beginning in either Tibet or Nepal, and risk extreme weather, dangerous falls, and altitude sickness on the way up. In fact, there are at least 200 corpses that remain trapped in the ice and snow on this mountain.

Natural Wonders of the World

RankSeven Natural Wonders of the World
1The Grand Canyon
2Paricutin Volcano
3Aurora Borealis
4Victoria Falls
5Harbor of Rio de Janeiro
6Great Barrier Reef
7Mount Everest