LANGUAGE AND RELIGION
What are the most commonly spoken languages of the world?
Mandarin Chinese is spoken by 1.05 billion people. This is followed by English, with 1 billion people; Hindustani (Hindu and Urdu), with 650 million speakers; Spanish, with 500 million speakers; and Arabic, with over 400 million speakers.
What is the difference between a lingua franca and a pidgin?
A lingua franca is a language used between people who do not have a common language. English is often used as a lingua franca in international business transactions. A pidgin is a language that has a small vocabulary and is a combination and distortion of two or more languages. For example, pidgin English, a combination between English and indigenous languages, is used in Papua New Guinea between English-speaking and indigenous people. Most pidgins are lingua francas but not all lingua francas are pidgins.
Dancers performing in a Buddhist temple on Sukhumvit Road in the capital city of Bangkok, Thailand. Buddhism is the world's fourth most-practiced religious belief (photo by Paul A. Tucci).
The Wailing (or Western) Wall (foreground) in Jerusalem, and the Dome of the Rock (background) are holy sites of Judaism and Islam, respectively (photo by Paul A. Tucci).
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, built in 1958, stands in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. It is a beautiful example of the domed architecture seen in many mosques (photo by Paul A. Tucci).
Which religions are practiced by the most people?
Christianity has the most adherents, with 33.32 percent of the world's population practicing some form of this faith. This is followed by Islam (21.01 percent), Hinduism (13.26 percent), and Buddhism (5.84 percent).
How many religions have holy sites in Jerusalem?
Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all regard Jerusalem as a very holy city. The Western Wall, the remaining wall of the Second Temple, is the holiest site in Judaism. Islam's third-holiest site is the Dome of the Rock and the mosque, both located in Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a holy Christian site.
Why do mosques have domes?
The onion-shaped domes of Islamic mosques and other religious buildings of eastern religions were an architectural style borrowed from the Byzantine Empire. One of the world's most famous onion-domed buildings, St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square, was built in the mid-sixteenth century.
DEALING WITH HAZARDS
Is childbirth still a significant cause of death for women?
From the beginning of time until the mid-twentieth century, a leading cause of death for young women was complications during childbirth. Now, in developed countries, there is almost no risk of death during pregnancy and labor.
How did the Black Plague affect the world's population?
Spread by fleas, the bubonic plague, also called the Black Plague, raged through Europe, Asia, and North Africa between the years 1346 and 1350. Though cities attempted to curb the spread of this highly infectious disease by quarantining cities, the fleas easily spread from city to city. Estimates of those killed reach into the tens of millions. In Europe and Asia, more than half of the population died of the Black Plague during those four years. Many more died of starvation in the famine that followed because of the staggering depletion of the work force.
Is there enough food to feed the world?
Though there is enough food produced in the world to feed everyone, logistical and political problems make its distribution inefficient. At the current rate of world population growth, we may soon have to change our eating habits and eat more grain and less meat. There is a limited amount of grain that the Earth can produce. Currently, much of this grain is consumed by cattle, rather than humans. If humans were to eat the grain instead of eating the cattle, the calories from the grain would be twenty times more efficient than those from beef.