There is a difference between islands and continents in terms of geology. Continents are the largest landmass of a particular continental plate; this holds true for Australia, which sits on its own continental lithosphere and tectonic plate (the Australian plate). By contrast, islands are either extensions of the oceanic crust (e.g. volcanic islands), or belong to a continental plate containing a larger landmass; the latter is the case of Greenland, which sits on the North American plate.
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The team is given a mission to collect and safeguard the original power source of the Director, as it will likely be the remaining Faction members' next target. The mission is going smoothly, but the team is ambushed and killed by the Faction. With its very existence in danger, the Director initiates Protocol Alpha – and sends back a Traveler to save the team before they are killed, but the remote location, small time window, and only two host candidates within geographic range makes the probability of success low.
Although the former Soviet republic might seem remote, Uzbekistan once sat at the very center of the world. In the first millennium, no traveler could pass from Asia to Europe without stopping in the Silk Road strongholds of Bukhara and Samarkand, and as a result these cities evolved into rich cultural centers. For intrepid travelers, today’s Uzbekistan is a promised land: a Muslim-majority nation that’s both safe and affordable, with few tourists and an abundance of well-preserved mosques and harems. And since the death of authoritarian president Islam Karimov last year, the new regime has taken steps toward reform that have given both Uzbeks and the international community reason for optimism. Improving relations with Iran could soon bring a rail link to the Persian Gulf, and in 2016, the Afrosiyob high-speed-train line began connecting the country’s major cities. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan should benefit from the so-called Iron Silk Road, or Trans-Asian Railway — a Chinese-funded network of routes knitting together Beijing and Europe — once a segment connecting the country through Kyrgyzstan is completed. Book a customized journey with Exeter International, which specializes in the region. —Heidi Mitchell
Known as the Tibet of Japan, the remote Iya Valley is tucked away in the mountainous interior of Shikoku, the least visited of the country’s four main islands. Tourism to the region took a leap forward when it hosted the World Rafting Championship in 2017 — putting its turquoise Class Four rapids firmly on the adventure-travel map. New ziplines and hiking trails are sprouting up in the canyons, while upgrades have been made to accommodations in the area’s traditional thatched-roof farmhouses, or minkas. Chiiori House is the most luxurious; the property also maintains an excellent portfolio of more affordable options. —Adam Harney Graham
Three high-ranking Travelers are sent back by the Director to put Grace on trial for violating protocols, overwriting a person who was not assigned to be her host, and sabotaging the Grand Plan. Mac and the team must give testimony at the trial that will determine if she should be overwritten or not. Meanwhile, the Faction is trying to replenish its numbers by overwriting people with the stored minds in the Quantum Frame. It transpires the trial was staged by the Director to flush out a Faction member from within the three Travelers judging Grace, which it successfully does, this leading to Mac's team securing the Quantum Frame.
Visitors may want to return to the Belgian capital in 2018 to visit two cutting-edge museums. The Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art opened in the once-infamous Molenbeek district’s old Belle-Vue brewery this past spring, to showcase contemporary art from around the world. There’s also the Citroën Cultural Centre, a new collaboration with Paris’s Centre Pompidou, which will launch its first exhibition in May. The edgy JAM Hotel, an industrial-chic property with exposed brickwork and concrete beams housed in a former art school, is the perfect place for culture-lovers to stay. Don’t leave town without paying homage to Belgium’s UNESCO-recognized beer culture at youthful breweries like Brasserie de la Senne or Brussels Beer Project, both of which are shirking brewing traditions in favor of more experimental microbrewery techniques. —Meredith Bethune
A picture-perfect trio of islands lapped by turquoise waters, the Maltese archipelago has all the charm of nearby Sicily with far fewer tourists. Valletta, the tiny nation’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site, feels like something plucked straight from Westeros. The historic walled city dates back to 1565, and has a vibe that’s Mediterranean with a North African twist. This underrated destination is finally stepping into the global limelight as a 2018 European Capital of Culture. To celebrate the occasion, the city has planned more than 140 projects and 400 events throughout the year. The festivities begin on January 20, with contemporary dance, a choral symphony, and acrobatic performances across the city’s four main squares. Should you miss the grand opening, swing by in February for Carnival, or in June for the Malta International Arts Festival and the Valletta Film Festival. —Diana Hubbell
Last summer, the museum expanded its artistic footprint by over 130,000 square feet, making it the largest contemporary art space in the country. The new Building 6 houses long-term installations by artists like James Turrell, Louise Bourgeois, and Jenny Holzer. Two new museums are still in the works for North Adams, both spearheaded by former Guggenheim director Thomas Krens. At the Global Contemporary Art Museum, curators will work directly with artists to acquire and commission site-specific pieces, while the Extreme Model Railroad & Contemporary Architecture Museum will showcase works by the likes of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, all built in miniature as part of an elaborate model train system. Design is also top-of-mind at Tourists, a modern take on the roadside motel that’s set to open this summer. The resort — situated on 55 acres at the convergence of the Appalachian and Mohawk Trails — will have 48 rooms, each with floor-to-ceiling windows that put the focus on surrounding vistas. —Fiorella Valdesolo
Landlocked Laos might be quieter than Southeast Asian neighbors like Vietnam and Thailand, but 2018 could transform the country into the region’s next hot spot. Wattay International Airport, in the capital of Vientiane, is set to complete a terminal expansion to accommodate more international links next year, but the biggest changes are foot in the UNESCO World Heritage–inscribed town of Luang Prabang, in central Laos. This serene riverside spot lures travelers to its golden Buddhist temples, French-colonial architecture, hiking trails, nearby elephant sanctuaries — and now, glamorous new digs. Last year, the design-forward Azerai opened inside a century-old French-colonial building that was formerly an officer’s quarters. The debut concept from Aman Resorts founder Adrian Zecha has airy, light wood interiors that nod to local culture in their use of batik textiles and Laotian artwork. There’s also an 80-foot swimming pool in a tree-shaded central courtyard. The upcoming Rosewood Luang Prabang aims to be a destination in itself. Opening in mid 2018, this highly anticipated resort will feature pavilion-style villas, luxury tents, and a spa that seems to float above the jungle. —Kate Springer
Beyond offering a glimpse into ancient history, Jordan is also making a name for itself as a luxury destination. Hilton opened the Dead Sea Resort & Spa in March 2017, making it the first Hilton in the country. Located at the lowest point on earth, some 1,345 feet below sea level, the resort offers beach access, Middle Eastern cuisine, and treatments containing the mineral-rich black mud. —Jess McHugh