Hong Kong, China, 1997Photograph by Michael S. Yamashita "Plying the waters of prosperity, ships in Hong Kong crowd one of the world's busiest harbors, a bridge between China and the international economy. Along the gilded rim of the South China Sea, trade has built cities and fortunes. But dense populations and industry tax the region's environment, and overlapping claims to ocean riches threaten its peace."
St. Elias Mountains, Yukon Territory, Canada, 1997 Photograph by Robert Clark The showy moss campion brightens an isolated Yukon peak. How did the plant species reach this isolated region? Winds likely carried seeds over a glacial landscape.
Vatican City, 1991 Photograph by James L. Stanfield “Scarlet-covered walls surround the vestment of papal white that a new Pope, Pius XII, donned in 1939 in the Room of Tears. When a cardinal’s conclave completes its grueling election task in the adjoining Sistine Chapel, the new pontiff retreats to this modest chamber and selects symbolic garb. Preceded by puffs of white smoke and the cry of ‘Habemus papam!'—'We have a pope!’ he then emerges onto the balcony of St. Peter’s to greet the cheering crowds. Inevitably, joy and sorrow mingle; the room’s name, of uncertain origin, suggests the gravity of the occasion.”
Gujarat state, India, 1988 Photograph by James P. Blair A second- or third-grade student raises her hand at her village school in Vadgam. This village will be submerged under a man-made lake created by the Sardar Sarovar dam, if the project is completed. The Sardar Sarovar dam is one in the series of Narmada River dam projects intended to create sources of electricity, drinking water, and irrigation water.
El Nido, Philippines, 1998 Photograph by Michael S. Yamashita "Restricted by law to hooks, nets, and other handgear, Filipinos fish in a protected area where they are prohibited from using explosives. Elsewhere in the South China Sea, blast and cyanide fishing, pollution, and coastal development endanger 80 percent of coral reefs."
Barcelona, Spain, 1998 Photograph by David Alan Harvey "Designer skyline with glowing pillars and a sculpturesque telephone tower, seen from the Olympic esplanade, reminds strollers of the city's adventurous, multibillion-dollar makeover for the  games."
St. Elias Mountains, Yukon Territory, Canada, 1997 Photograph by Robert Clark "Chilled by creeping darkness, [a] team slogs home from [peaks called] Baldy, far left, and Butterfly Beach, the dark ridge at right. A rope binds them for safety. 'We can see big holes,' says [biologist David] Hik. 'We can't steer clear of snow-covered cracks.' A thousand yards [914 meters] ahead lie camp, dry clothes, and the end of a 16-hour workday.'
Kampong Ayer, Brunei, 1998 Photograph by Michael S. Yamashita "Two girls walk home from school in 'water village,' where 10 percent of Brunei's 300,000 citizens live in houses erected over rivers."
Barcelona, Spain, 1998 Photograph by David Alan Harvey "Perhaps the most design-conscious European city, Barcelona first won aesthetic notice in the late 19th century with its lush modernista architecture, a variant of art nouveau. Antoni Gaudí led the way with dreamlike creations like Casa Batlló."
Great Plains, United States, Early 1900s Photograph by Edward S. Curtis "People tend to envision the Plains Indians [such as the man shown here] as cultures on horseback, traveling those grand open spaces atop painted ponies and running down buffalo at full gallop. ... Hunters often concealed themselves beneath buffalo hides. In certain places, one would try to mingle with a herd and get them moving in the direction he chose. If they followed, this decoy—called a buffalo runner—would pick up speed until the herd was racing behind him. ... other hunters closed in from the sides and rear to funnel the panicked animals onward toward a cliff."
Salmon Valley, Idaho, 1992 Photograph by Joel Sartore "Like mountains looming in the background, the forces of politics and economics are closing in on those who earn their living from the nation's land—in Idaho's Salmon Valley, where a lone rider surveys his ranch, and throughout the rapidly changing West."
Hudson Bay, Canada, 1996 Photograph by Flip Nicklin "After spring mating, fertilized [polar bear] eggs do not begin to develop until fall. Thus a female delays giving birth until midwinter. She emerges with her cubs in spring, when she can hunt newborn seals to replenish her fat reserves. For about two and a half years mothers nurse their cubs with milk containing 35 percent fat—a security blanket for the Arctic winter."
Simen Mountains, Ethiopia, 2002 Photograph by Michael K. Nichols "He barks and lunges in chase. She dodges and shrieks for backup. That's what can happen when female geladas flirt a little. This was an unusually violent pursuit. 'She strayed too close to a bachelor group,' says [biologist Chadden] Hunter. 'But I was shocked to see such a ferocious display by her mate.' Tables will turn on the chaser when other females—screeching spitfires gnashing their teeth and waving their nails—come to rescue one of their own. 'He'll wish he'd never started it,' says photographer [Michael K.] Nichols. 'The females will really go at him.'"
South Dakota, Early 1900s Photograph by Edward S. Curtis "On the bitter cold morning of December 29, 1890, at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, a shot rang out during talks between Col. James Forsyth and the Sioux chief Big Foot. ... Guns and cannon blasted the Indian camp, ripping open tepees and sending women and children running through the smoke, only to be cut down by gunfire. More than 150 Sioux men, women, and children died that morning at Wounded Knee. This 'battle' marked the end of armed resistance by American Indians."
Barcelona, Spain, 1998 Photograph by David Alan Harvey "Grand boulevards such as Passeig de Gràcia radiate from the center city. Most were laid out in the 1800s when Barcelona expanded beyond its medieval core. Spain's second largest city after Madrid and home to 1.6 million people, Barcelona cleaned up to host the 1992 Olympic Games, adding plazas, gardens, and sculpture and restoring its long-neglected seafront."
Pagasa Island, Spratly Archipelago, 1998 Photograph by Michael S. Yamashita "Staking a claim, the Philippines built this airfield to carry troops to a speck of land that China, Taiwan, and Vietnam also call their own. The United States pledges not to intervene in the contested Spratlys."
Kashmir region, Asia, 1998 Photograph by Steve McCurry Pakistani soldiers pray beside artillery used against their Indian opponents in the Karakoram Range of the Himalaya mountains.