After more than a year of staying put and exploring our own backyard, do we still know our way around the globe? Here is a quiz to test your knowledge of our world’s geography! Answers at the bottom.
1. This landmark is 6 inches taller in summer than in winter, it was supposed to have been torn down and sold for scrap 20 years after it was built, and the man who designed it also designed the interior framework of the Statue of Liberty.
2. What European capital is below sea level?
3. It has a navy with several thousand sailors, even though it is one of only two landlocked countries in South America. Thirty-one different men served as president between 1904 and 1954; most were removed by coup. Duelling is still legal here – as long as both parties are registered blood donors. Name this country.
4. Thanks to a mistake by Ferdinand Magellan, this South American region's name means, roughly, 'Land of the People with Big Feet'. What are we referring to?
5. Are all the '-stan' countries – Afghanistan, Kazakhstan etc. – contiguous, or does any 'stan' stand alone?
6. Named for King Philip II of Spain, this nation invented karaoke, and is considered to be the text-messaging capital of the world, with its population of 92 million people sending, by some estimates, 350 million a day – more than the U.S. and Europe combined. Hint: it is not Japan.
7. Which river begins in the Black Forest region of Germany, flows across central Europe and the countries of Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Yugoslavia, and empties into the Black Sea?
8. This country has set aside a wilderness reserve for the yeti – otherwise known as the abominable snowman – has issued a postage stamp with a functioning, 4-inch CD-ROM on it and measures its output in Gross National Happiness.
9. Which country only has borders with neighbours that did not exist (or changed name) prior to 1990?
10. A visitor to Turkey can hit the beach on the shores of four different seas. Name them.
11. What European country is bordered by Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria?
12. What are the Benelux countries?
13. Its national railway is the world's largest employer, with more than a million people on the payroll. Its film industry cranks out movies at the rate of almost three a day. It is the only country in the world with a bill of rights specifically for cows.
14. This has the highest average elevation of all the continents (7,500 feet) and is also the driest of them all; it gets, on average, only 2 inches of precipitation a year.
15. If you are sailing in the Mediterranean and want to get out, you have four exits. What are they? Three are pretty obvious, but you might have trouble with the fourth. You will also need a fairly small boat to pull it off.
16. Which European country has the longest total coastline?
17. The basic design of the locks used in the Panama Canal (and most other canals and rivers) dates back to the Renaissance; it was dreamed up by a very clever fellow better known for other things. You might even call him the original Renaissance man.
18. True or false: there is a Rome on every continent except Antarctica.
19. Not only is this the world's smallest sovereign state, with a population of about 1,000, but it is pretty likely to stay that way: year after year, the birth rate is zero.
20. Uzbekistan is one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world (a landlocked country surrounded by other landlocked countries). What is the other one? Hint: you will find it in Western Europe, and it is so small that the entire nation can be rented for corporate events.
1. The Eiffel Tower. This is a natural physical phenomenon called thermal expansion. Heat causes an increase in volume that makes the tower a few centimetres taller. This expansion also causes the tower to tilt slightly away from the sun. The sun only hits one of the four sides of the tower, creating an imbalance with the three other sides that remain stable, thus causing the Eiffel Tower to lean. The sun’s movement over the course of a clear day can cause the top of the tower to move in a circular curve of approximately 15 centimetres in diameter.
2. Amsterdam. The Netherlands literally means “low country” and for good reason; only about 50% of the country sits above sea level and the lowest part of Holland is a whopping 6.7 metres below it.
4. Patagonia. Magellan somehow got it into his head that it was populated by giants with enormous feet. 'Pata' means 'foot' in Portuguese; where the rest of the name came from is something of a mystery.
5. They are contiguous. The suffix -stan has the meaning of 'a place abounding in' or 'a place where anything abounds' in Persian language. There are seven countries in Central Asia with the suffix '-stan': Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
6. The Philippines.
7. The Danube River. It also forms the border between Romania and Bulgaria. At 2,850 km, the Danube is one of the most significant commercial waterways in all of Europe.
9. Poland. It was bordered by the Soviet Union to the east, Czechoslovakia to the south, and East Germany to the west. It is now bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north.
10. The Black, Aegean and Mediterranean seas and the Sea of Marmara.
11. Landlocked Hungary is bordered by seven countries: Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. It is no coincidence, perhaps, that Hungary has suffered through many invasions and unwanted occupations over the years – with so many neighbours to keep track of.
12. The Benelux is an economic union comprising three neighbouring monarchies: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
13. India. Note that Sweden, possibly along with other countries, has a bill of rights that covers all farm animals.
14. Antarctica. Most of the elevation is due to an icecap a mile thick.
15. 1. The Strait of Gibraltar gets you into the Atlantic Ocean. 2. The Suez Canal connects to the Red Sea. 3. Through the Aegean Sea to the Dardanelles (also known as the Hellespont) in Turkey takes you into the Black Sea, via the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus Strait. 4. If your boat isn't too big, you could enter the Canal du Midi at Sete, France, west of Marseille, and follow it all the way to its end at the Garonne River, which spills into the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic.
16. Famously a punchline in Douglas Adam's book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, all the fiddly fjord-bits around the coast mean that Norway wins this European award.
17. Leonardo da Vinci.
18. True. There is at least one place called Roma on every continent except Asia and Antarctica: Italy, Sweden, Texas, Peru, Lesotho, Queensland, and a few other places where Roma is part of the name.
19. Vatican City. The people living there are bishops and clergymen.
20. Liechtenstein, which shares borders with landlocked Switzerland and Austria. Uzbekistan, in case you were wondering, is bordered by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, none of which has a single mile of coastline.
Discover (or re-visit) some of these places, and more, on Special Travel International’s tours; please check our website for details: