The highest peak in Africa (5,895 m) is situated only 300 kilometres south of the Equator. However, it is capped with snow and ice (which has been dated at 11,700 years) which is the consequence of winds from the Indian Ocean that ascend when meeting with Kilimanjaro, resulting in the condensation of water vapour in the air masses, producing rain and snow.

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The top of Kilimanjaro is losing its snow cap. Since 1912, 82% of its ice field has melted and the rest will disappear within the next few years, a prediction made in the results of research conducted in 2002 by researchers at Ohio State University. On the basis of data supplied by the automatic meteorological station implemented at the top of Kilimanjaro, they have computed that the only iceberg in Africa is melting at an ever increasing rate. Its area, amounting to 12 square kilometres at the beginning of the 20th century, is now five times smaller, with the ice cap at the summit retreating by half a meter each year. This phenomenon is a source of worry not only to climatologists, but also to the government of Tanzania. Mountain icebergs are the source of water for a significant part of the country's river network. A lack of them will result in a crisis in tourism and problems in agriculture.

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From a geological point of view, Kilimanjaro is a volcanic summit – it is not extinct, just inactive (the crater is about eight kilometres in diameter). Its greatest eruption, which destroyed everything within many kilometres, was three hundred and sixty thousand years ago. The last eruption occurred in the 1940s.

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The first disabled Pole to reached the peak of Kilimanjaro was 43 year-old Jan Luber from Gilowice in the vicinity of Żywiec, who suffered from inert legs after a bout of poliomyelitis. He reached the peak of the White Crown of the Black Land, moving with the help of crutches, at the beginning of the 1990s. Bolesław Pawica recorded a short documentary about the expedition entitled “Kilimandżaro” (1993).

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The first blind Pole to reach the peak of Kilimanjaro was 26 year-old Paweł Urbański, a student of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Gdańsk. Along with a group of his friends he climbed to the peak of the Crown of Africa on the 12th of February, 2008. “It was a magical moment. I was at the top, I felt cold wind on my face and I wanted to scream, nothing but scream. I had two critical moments on the way, but you forget quickly. It is important not to give up at such moments and keep going through with it,” he told journalists after his return to Poland from the expedition.

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The Kilimanjaro National Park has its own airport. Its terminal serves 20,000 tourists each year.

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Only 25% of the total number of people who climb Kilimanjaro reach its peak. The main reason they fail is a lack of acclimatisation, rushing too quickly up the ascent and the small number of days that tourists assign to the climb. In good weather, about 300 people climb to the peak.

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The local inhabitants used to say that those who wanted to reach the White Crown of the Black Land succumbed to demons: When climbing, they felt unbearable pain, their lungs and muscles did not obey, and sometimes they even died. In reality these are the symptoms of altitude sickness. Most people suffer this after crossing an altitude of 4,000 m.

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The time record for reaching the White Crown of the Black Land belongs to Bruno Brunod. In 2001, the Italian covered the distance from Marangu Gate – the entrance gate to Kilimanjaro National Park – to Uhuru Peak in 5 hours, 38 minutes and 4 seconds.

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The fastest woman to cover that distance was the British woman, Rebecca Rees-Evans (21st May, 2005) – 13 hours, 14 minutes, 37 seconds.

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The record for fastest ascent and descent of Kilimanjaro belongs to Simon Mtuy. On the 26th of December 2004, the Tanzanian covered the route in both directions within 8 hours and 27 minutes.

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The youngest man in the world to reach the White Crown of the Black Land is Jordan Romero, a 7-year-old American who lives at Big Bear Lake in California (on the 23rd of July, 2006).

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10-year-old Irishman Sean McSharry from Stillorgan is the youngest European to have reached the summit (on the 2nd of May, 2008).

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The oldest person to reach the Roof of Africa – according to the Guinness Book of Records – is the American Carl Haupt. He climbed Kilimanjaro in 2001, at the age of 79. According to many experts in the field, the record should belong to the 87 year-old Frenchman Valtée Daniel. His ascent to the White Crown of the Black Land, however, was not accepted by the Guinness World Records panel.

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The location of Kilimanjaro is a source of dispute between Kenya and Tanzania. Even if the Roof of Africa lies immediately on the territory of Tanzania, each country advertises it as its own tourist attraction. “It is unacceptable!” the Tanzanians protest. The inhabitants of Kenya answer calmly: “Those who ascend to the top of Kilimanjaro will see both Kenya and Tanzania from there. So Kilimanjaro belongs to both our countries”.

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Nearly forty million inhabitants of Tanzania (in Suahili “Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania”; in English – “the United Republic of Tanzania”), where Kilimanjaro is situated, communicate in nearly one hundred languages, mainly from the Bantu family (Nigerian and Kenyan tribes). Suahili is used in primary schools, and English in higher education.

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The highest peak of Africa has inspired many artists. In 1936, the book “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” by Ernest Hemingway was published. In 1952, a film was produced on the basis of the book. In the film of the same title, directed by Henry King, the main roles were played by Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck. The Roof of Africa became the topic of a piece by British comedians from the “Monty Python” group entitled “Kilimanjaro Expedition”. “Moje Kilimandżaro” is also the title of a song by the Polish band “Lady Pank”.

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Kilimanjaro is a place over which, as ufologists say, unidentified flying objects appear. A UFO was observed for the first time there in 1971 by Jack Bicknell, the captain of a plane flying from London to Nairobi. Mysterious whirling points of light, suspended for 17 minutes by the mountain side at an altitude of about 4,000 m, were also seen by the passengers. However, none of them had a camera, so the extraordinary phenomenon was not recorded.

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