Where On Earth

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 22, 2022

There’s a saying in the Real Estate business that, in considering the value of a property, only three things really matter: Location, Location, and Location. But, if that means where a place actually is, many factors enter into play – such as what it’s near, and not near. We are often reminded that “it’s a small world” – but of all the locations on our globe, approximately 71% are covered by oceans – to say nothing of all the other bodies of water, forming altogether, what’s called the “Hydrosphere.” 

So, in terms of livable land, any search for a good location already has its scope to some extent limited purely by good old H2O – not surprising, really, because even our bodies are 60% water. 

OK, most of us would agree that, for residential purposes, we would prefer to be on dry land. But then, by far the major part of all that acreage is, by ordinary human standards, scarcely habitable, consisting of deserts of various kinds, some icy cold, as at the poles, some sandy and hot, some rocky and arid. In fact, you need only look at any map of population distribution to realize just how little of our Earth’s surface is considered livable by most people.

As a species, we need water, and a way to get food. That’s why rivers, like the Nile and Euphrates, have been attractive locations for settlement and eventual civilization. And trade, travel, and climatic considerations have made coastal areas where rivers meet the sea particularly popular places. An excellent illustration of this phenomenon is the continent of Australia, which is mostly desert, and where the vast majority of the population live in densely-inhabited areas of settlement on the coasts.

Speaking of climate, this can be a matter of personal preference – though that can also largely depend on the conditions in which one grew up. My own experience led me elsewhere. My early years were spent in England, where I always found the winters miserably damp and cold, and in Washington, D.C., with its notoriously hot, humid summers. At some point, I came to realize that, for me, the ideal climate was what is classified as the “Mediterranean” type, with its warm dry summers and mild moist winters. In geography class at school, I learned that, besides the Mediterranean itself, there are only a few, relatively small, areas in the world with that kind of climate. They are all on the western coasts of large land masses, and all about the same distance north or south of the equator. One is around Santiago, Chile, on the west coast of South America. One is around Cape Town, on the west coast of South Africa. One is around Perth, on the west coast of Australia. And one is where I have now spent half my life, in Southern California, which of course is on the west coast of North America. 

But, apart from climate, one thing that makes a place important is what happened there. It might have been a battle – and unfortunately, there are too many of these historic battlefields dappled around the world. Our own country is thick with them, especially from the Revolutionary War and of course the Civil War, which made places famous, like Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which would otherwise today probably still be a sleepy country town instead of a major tourist attraction.

Then there are birthplaces, whose fame seems somewhat absurd, since the great person who was born there had nothing to do with the selection of that spot. Strangely, we are not so keen on deathplaces, unless the death was particularly dramatic, such as that of a President getting assassinated.

But there are locations with more pleasant associations, like being where some great invention was developed, or some famous work of art or literature created.

Some cities, like London and Paris, take pride in such connections, and often put up plaques on buildings where some noted historical figure lived and worked. Sometimes a local historical society will take great pains to re-create the quarters once inhabited by a long-dead great person.

And location remains an important issue. While latitude was fairly easy to determine, it took centuries to find a means of fixing longitude, and pinpoint exactly where you were. In the end, it came down to producing a reliable seaworthy clock. But, even today, as any traveler will tell you, no matter where you go on this planet, there is something very special about everywhere.  


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