Celebrating Valentine’s Day, Geographer Style

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What better way for geographers to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” than with geography?

Nature supplies us with plenty of heart-shaped topography found around the world. Cordiform islands, vegetation, and lakes make up this love themed geography article.  Explore these heart-shaped features found naturally on Earth.

Galešnjak Island

Galešnjak Island in Croatia erupted in popularity when Google Earth siteseers flagged this island for its unusual heart shape back in February of 2009.  The privately owned island is also known as the Island of Love, Lover’s Island, and Otok za Zaljubljene.  The island is fairly tiny, with a total area of 0.132 km2 and is uninhabited.  Napoleon’s cartographer Charles-François Beautemps-Beaupré was the first to record the existence of the island in his 1806 atlas of the Dalmatian coast.

The heart-shaped island of Galešnjak.  Photo: JAXA, ESA
The heart-shaped island of Galešnjak. Photo: JAXA, ESA

Tupai Atoll

The heart shaped Tupai Atoll is located in French Polynesia located about 20 km north of Bora Bora.  The small atoll is only only 11 km² in area.  A popular destination for romantic minded couples, the atoll has no permanent residents other than works from the coconut plantation.  This image was captured by the International Space Station.

Tupai Atoll photographed from the International Space Station.  Photo: NASA, public domain.
Tupai Atoll photographed from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA, public domain.

Tavarua Island

Tavarua Island in Fiji is another heart shaped island located off the coast of Viti Levu.  The island is about 29 acres in size and is surrounded by coral reefs.  The island contains a resort offering surfing, sport fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking.

Aerial view of Tavarua Island Resort.  Photo: Tavyland, MediaWiki Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
Aerial view of Tavarua Island Resort. Photo: Tavyland, MediaWiki Commons, under license CC BY-SA 3.0

Trnovačko Lake

Trnovačko Lake is found in northern Montenegro.  The heart-shaped glacial lake is located near the border with Bosnia & Herzegovina.  The lake is surrounded by mountains (Maglić, Volujak, Vlasulja, Bioč, and Trnovački Durmitor), leading many to describe the amphitheater-like effect of the lake’s surroundings.  Access to the lake is not easy but it’s
a favorite destination of hikers.

View of Lake Trnovacko.  Image: Milisavljevic02, Mediakwiki Commons, under license CC BY-Sa 4.0
View of Lake Trnovacko. Image: Milisavljevic02, Mediakwiki Commons, under license CC BY-SA 4.0

Heart in Voh

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Located in New Caledonia, a province of France located in the Pacific Ocean, Heart in Voh was made famous by photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand who used the image of the heart shaped mangroves as the cover image for his book, Earth from Above.

Heart of Voh - Earth from Above.

Guandu Nature Park

A heart shaped wetland area can be found in Guandu Nature Park in Taipai City, Taiwan.  The park is located southwest of the Guandu Plain in Taipei Basin, where the Keelung River joins the Danshui River. The natural park was created to help preserve the natural resources of the area and contains natural water sources (freshwater ponds, brackish water ponds, and swampland) along with rice paddies with its 57 hectares.

Heart Reef, Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays

Heart Reef, in the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays, is a naturally heart shaped formed coral reef.  The Great Barrier Reef is biggest single structure made by living organisms and is found in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.  Heart Reef is located in Hardy Reef off Arlie Beach near Whitsunday Islands.

Heart Reef. Photo: Tobias Begemann, 2005, CC BY 2.0
Heart Reef. Photo: Tobias Begemann, 2005, under license CC BY 2.0

Heart Shaped Lake on Spitsbergen Island

Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, is home to this heart shaped lake.  The lake was created by retreating glacial ice that caused the ground to cave in, forming this romantic shape.  A picture of the heart shaped lake was captured by French photographer Bruno Mazodier. The island is 620 miles from the North Pole and is the most northerly inhabited place on earth.

Valentine’s Day Themed Mapping

If you want to take a step beyond heart shaped earth features and venture into Valentine themed mapping, then check out these two options.

Over on the Google LatLong blog you can access this KML file that will take you on a Valentine themed exploration of Google Earth.  The file highlights spots around the world shaped as hearts.

Google offers their “Map Your Valentine” app around Valentine’s Day (unfortunately, they close up shop during the rest of the year) that commemorates a special location for you and your sweetheart.  Fill out the To and From, name your special place, and a type up a note.  Google will do the rest by emailing the message with a heart border of the map to your sweetie.

Map Your Valentine
Map Your Valentine from Google.

Related Geo Valentine’s Day Articles

This article was originally published on February 13, 2013




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