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Featured Article: Buddhism
Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion. It encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to Gautama Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries B.C.E., spreading through much of Asia, and at times reaching as far west as (modern day) Afghanistan. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada (Pali: "The School of the Elders") and Mahayana (Sanskrit: "The Great Vehicle"), although a great many other Buddhist paths are known and practiced, including the Vajrayana tradition of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
A statue of the Buddha from Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India
The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806) was the first United States transcontinental expedition. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, the expedition, called the Corps of Discovery, was led by Captain Meriwether Lewis, a frontiersman and personal secretary of Jefferson, and Second Lieutenant William Clark of the United States Army. The expedition sought to provide details about newly acquired lands, specifically if the Mississippi-Missouri river system shared proximate sources with the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. During the two-year overland journey, the explorers discovered some 300 new species, encountered 50 unknown Indian tribes, and confirmed that the Rocky Mountain chain extended thousands of miles north from Mexico.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
The expedition set up diplomatic relations with the Native Americans with the help of the Shoshone Indian woman Sacajawea, who joined the expedition with her French husband and infant child. The explorers dramatically advanced knowledge of the interior of the continent, discovering and mapping navigable rivers, mountains, and other varied landscapes.