Known is the best translation. Familiar has its own translation (spelled exactly the same as the English).
I would disagree. In the context known and familiar mean the same thing. You can be familiar with a place only if you know it
True, but it also means familiar in the same sense as conocido/a.
"This area is known" is a strange sentence in English. Perhaps "This area is well known or famous" is a more accurate translation.
It's a strange sentence to stand on its own, but within a paragraph it could be ok. For example, pointing to a map -- this area is known, but this other area is still to be explored.
Having done these "lessons" once already, I must confess that I don´t know what "participle" is, why it is important, how it is used, or how any of this is demonstrated in the given examples. Feedback appreciated ! :-)
I think you might find these explanations and examples better than what I've written, but I'll give it a shot anyways: https://www.google.com/search?q=define+participle https://www.google.com/search?q=define+past+participle https://www.google.com/search?q=define+present+participle
You might notice that a lot of the new words in this section end with "-ido" or "-ida", or "-ado" or "-ada". These words are in "past participle" (or past participular) form. We see this form in English with our "-ed" ending (though we also use "-ed" as our normal past-tense ending), like when you used the term "demonstrated" in your comment ("...how any of this is demonstrated..."). We also see it with words like "given", like when you said "in the given examples".
[The "present participle" ending, according to https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participio, is "-nte", but I'm not as familiar with it in Spanish. I think it's the equivalent of English's "-ing" ending.]
You'll notice participles when we're using verbs in "non-verby" ways; that is, as adjectives or as nouns (or in English, as members of compound verbs; e.g., "are going").
Examples (most of these should be right, but I might confuse present participles and gerunds):
"The Giving Tree", "Gone with the Wind", "Taken", "Tangled";
"never-ending story", "fleeting pleasures", "the arriving guests", "the walking dogs";
"broken toy", "cooked food", "rotten eggs", "molten lava" (apparently molten is the ancient past participle of "melt");
"I'm bored", "she's embarrassed", "he's taken";
"The imprisoned are taken and shot", "The rocking rolling beings were rocked and rolled around", "Walking and talking are tiring".
how are you supposed to distinguish in the spoken text between (opera) "aria" and área?
This thing says square dekameter could be a potential answer, so I put it in for fun, but it was marked as incorrec.Not sure if I should report this...
"Esta área es conocida por tener muchos vagos"
To extend the sentence does the above configuration make sense or would it be said another way?
Yep. Although it means that the area is famous for having bums, and not that it happens to have many bums. "Se sabe que esta area tiene muchos vagos" would be better if you were explaining to a friend that it has bums.
This site has helped me a lot with the grammar. Check these links out for the differences and when to use each: http://spanish.about.com/cs/verbs/a/servsestar.htm
You're probably thinking about the present participle (gerund).
Past participle gets used with the perfect tenses (some form of "haber"), but can also be used as an adjective or noun just like any other.
Sometimes DuoLingo says conocida is "known" and other times "well known". How do we know when it is which?
When you state that something is conocido in general, you usually translate that as "well-known" in English, i.e. many people know it.
If you say something is conocido to a person, in English you express it as "it is known to the person" or "the person knows it".
In this particular sentence, both "known" and "well-known" are good translations.
In another exercise the same verb was used to mean familiar. "This area is familiar" made sense and, following the earlier exercise, seemed legitimate