1/1110 World Water Landmarks
Known as the River of Life, the Ganges originates in the Himalayas, winds through India’s great plains, and finally drains—1,559 miles later—into the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges is considered the holiest of all rivers and Hindus ritually bathe in it despite its appalling pollution. Here, in Varanasi, Hindus burn their dead on the riverbank.
2/1110 World Water Landmarks
The Sendai Coast
In 2011, a tsunami, triggered by one of the five most powerful earthquakes ever recorded, reached a height of 133 feet and traveled up to 10 miles inland, devastating the Japanese city of Sendai, and causing a number of nuclear accidents still affecting the coastline.
3/1110 World Water Landmarks
In this French town, legend has it that in 1858 a young girl named Bernadette saw an apparition of a white-robed lady in a grotto. The lady told Bernadette to drink from the spring, but with no flowing water visibile, Bernadette dug into the earth to create a puddle. This quickly grew into a pool and then a sacred spring. Today, every year some five million pilgrims bathe in Lourdes’ holy water.
4/1110 World Water Landmarks
The Larsen B Ice Shelf
One of five ice shelves—huge masses of ice that are floating extensions of the ice sheets covering the land—the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen B has been steadily shrinking because of climate change: a 36.5 Fahrenheit rise in average temperatures.
5/1110 World Water Landmarks
From 1941 until 1990, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) diverted excessive amounts of water from Mono Basin streams, causing Mono Lake to drop 45 vertical feet, lose half its volume, and double in salinity. Activitists successfully litigated to stop water diversion. Today Mono Lake is returning to a healthy state, having risen 20 feet from its historic low.
6/1110 World Water Landmarks
New York’s Hudson River
The iconic 315-mile waterway, first explored in the 16th century by English navigator Henry Hudson, flows north to south through eastern New York, and has been immortalized by many famous artists, such as Frederic Edward Church of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. The river is now the scene of much conflict: Activists are fighting against such river-adjacent nuclear power plants as Indian Point, whose radioactive waste reportedly leaches into the Hudson.
7/1110 World Water Landmarks
The Trevi Fountain
Built in 1732 by Nicola Salvi, this iconic Roman fountain, centered around a statue of the underwater god Neptune, is associated with its appearance in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita. The fountain draws millions of people from all over the world each year, many of whom drop a coin into the water to make a wish.
8/1110 World Water Landmarks
Crossing the border of Argentina and Brazil in a subtropical jungle, this is one of the largest waterfalls in the world—and it’s often lauded as the most beautiful. Immortalized in such movies as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Wong Kar-Wai’s cult classic Happy Together, the falls encapsulate for many the beauty and force of natural water.
9/1110 World Water Landmarks
The Mississippi River
About 2,500 miles long, this North American river supplies about 18 million people with water. But the Old Man River, the central motif of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, also serves as a dumping ground for waste, carrying trash through several states.
10/1110 World Water Landmarks
The Amazon River
The world's largest river basin and the source of one-fifth of all free flowing freshwater on Earth, the Amazon River also supports the rainforests, home to one-tenth of all known species on Earth. Rapid deforestation and unsustainable agriculture are polluting the river, threatening the native pink dolphin, the giant otter, and numerous other mammals and fish.
11/1110 World Water Landmarks
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