1. San Marino claims to be the world’s oldest constitutional republic – it was founded in 301 by a Christian stonemason fleeing persecution under Emperor Diocletian. Its constitution of 1600 is the oldest written constitution in the world. San Marino is pictured above.
2. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is the Longest mountain chain on earth (at 40 thousand kilometers). It is located along the middle of the Atlantic. Iceland is the only part of this chain that is above water.
3. In 1811 and 1812, there were three earthquakes measuring around 8 to 8.9 on the Richter scale. These shocks caused the Mississippi River to flow backward for three days, creating Reelfoot Lake in western Tennessee, and ringing church bells on the East Coast.
4. Thousands of leeches are used for medical emergencies every year. The leech’s blood sucking accelerates healing on any deep wound but especially after re-attaching a severed limb or any other deep wound. The leech feeds off the oxygenated blood that would otherwise cause swelling and gangrene. The sucking assists the flow of blood and an anticoagulant in the leech prevents scabbing. The sucking is painless because the leech releases an anesthetic.
Of the 650 types of leeches, only a small number of Hirudo species are used, the most popular being the Hirudo medicinally. They’re usually sold 20 to a pack, at US$7 apiece.
5. Bank of Italy became the Bank Of America – Amedeo Giannini, son of Italian immigrants to the US, started the Bank of Italy in a converted saloon in San Francisco at 9 am on Monday, October 17, 1904. On the first day, 28 deposits totalled $8,780.
When an earthquake struck in 1907, he ran his bank from a plank in the street – the word “bank” is from the Italian “banca”, meaning a bench or counter. Word quickly spread about his service and by 1916 he had several branches. By 1929, the bank was strong enough to withstand the Great Depression stock crash. Giannini changed the name to Bank of America in 1928 and remained chairman until 1963. The Bank of America would become one of the largest banking institutions in the world but by 2008, due to poor management, had to receive government bailout.