How The Seven Wonders Of The Natural World Were Chosen

Earth is filled with beauty and wonder, so much so that choosing seven geographical locations as the most wondrous on the planet is no easy feat. Today's seven natural wonders were originally compiled by CNN in 1997, which sounds sort of odd considering the age of said nature. Yet, according to USA Today, the cable news network put together their list as an adjunct to other seven man-made wonders lists, such as the O.G. Seven Wonders of the World and the updated New Seven Wonders of the World.

Fast-forward to 2008 when a grassroots organization called — wait for it — Seven Natural Wonders formed with a mission to protect those natural wonders through public education. The goal is to inspire people to care enough to want to protect and preserve the planet's most unique and beautiful features. 

The Seven Natural Wonders of the World, according to the organization, are Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), Australia's Great Barrier Reef, The Grand Canyon, Mexico's Paricutin volcano, Victoria Falls in Africa, Asia's Mount Everest, and Brazil's Harbor of Rio de Janeiro.

The Seven Natural Wonders were chosen by voters

While the Seven Natural Wonders website explains the sites are chosen by vote, according to Brush Buck Tours, the conservation organization stuck with the one compiled by CNN, but only after being vetted by experts at the top of their fields, which include global explorers and environmentalists.

The winning locations were chosen for their natural uniqueness and/or statistical factors, including "height, width, and volume — but the focus is on unique wonder, beauty, and amazement," per Seven Natural Wonders

Seven Natural Wonders reports that there are two parts to the voting process. Primarily, "experts in related fields" set the stage for which geographical stunners will be considered, and then the vote on those places are put out to the public via the Seven Natural Wonders website. Voters can choose up to seven places but are required to vote for at least three per continent.

Like all things considered beautiful, the list is subjective. A Swiss-based nonprofit, New 7 Wonders, came up with their own "New Seven Wonders of Nature" chosen by more than 500 million internet voters in 2011.

The new seven wonders of nature, according to that tally, are Indonesia's Komodo Island, Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina, Table Mountain in South Africa, the Philippines' PP Underground River, the Amazon River, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, and South Korea's Jeju Island.