Can You Score 29/35 on the Toughest World Geography Quiz of All Time?


By: Zoe Samuel

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Geography is one of those subjects that suffers in the popular imagination because it is badly taught. Some of this is that most elementary school geography teachers aren't actually subject matter experts - but a bigger part is that early on, geography (like math and science) is treated like a series of unconnected chunks of information that don't really relate to your real life. That's a very good way to switch off a student.

The truth, of course, is that geography is fascinating. It's all about how our world works, from the physical pieces of it and how they slot together to the ways that these inform the development of human society and then are in turn informed by that development in the form of our cities, carbon emissions, farming and other effects. It's incredibly important in understanding our world. To take a single example of how geography can save lives: Tilly Smith was a 10-year-old British girl on Maikhao Beach, Thailand, when the Boxing Day tsunami struck in 2004. The triggering earthquake was a long way off and nobody really felt it on the beach, but Tilly recognized the signs of an impending tsunami as the water bubbled and then sucked out to sea. She demanded that her parents warn everyone, and grew so insistent that they eventually helped hotel staff to clear the beach. Tourists and locals reached high ground and the safety of the concrete hotel just minutes before the tsunami struck. Neighboring beaches were turned into graveyards, but nobody died on Maikhao Beach. Tilly saved over 100 people. Her source? An elementary school geography lesson taught by teacher Andrew Kearney.

Knowing your geography doesn't just make you more interesting and more educated; it can save your life and others.

What is the capital of Yemen?

Sana'a is one of the highest-altitude capitals in the world.


Two countries in Africa are each surrounded entirely by the same third country. Which are they?

Lesotho and Swaziland are both landlocked countries that are each surrounded entirely on all sides by South Africa.


Where is the deepest point in the ocean?

Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench is 36,070 feet deep!


How much have baseline temperatures risen since pre-industrial times?

Thankfully the answer is only 1.1C. At 1.5C - which will occur within the next 20-50 years, we will start to see sea level rise and increasingly troublesome weather. At 2C, low-lying nations like Kiribati and cities like Miami will be effectively removed from the map. Unfortunately it is probably too late to prevent this, though further damage may be limited by swift economic development now.


Which is the biggest ocean?

The Pacific is by far the biggest ocean.


What is the most southerly point in South America?

Cape Horn is the most southerly point in Chile and has absolutely awful weather due to the fact that there is no other land that far south: the wind can blow unbroken all the way around the planet.


What is a Pole of Inaccessibility?

A Pole of Inaccessibility is the point on any major landmass that is furthest from the nearest coast.


Which US state has the longest coastline?

Alaska is the biggest state and also has the most coastline.


Which island nation has the highest number of islands?

Kiribati has a truly insane number of islands. However since most of them will be underwater by about 2100, sadly they won't be with us much longer.


Which African country's name literally means "lion mountains"?

Sierra Leone literally means "mountains of the lion".


What is the highest mountain in Antarctica?

Vinson Massif is over 16,000 feet tall and is part of the Sentinel Range.


What is the lowest place on earth?

The Dead Sea is way below sea level at around 1412 feet below. If the sea ever broke through the mountains around it, it would be 2500 feet deep.


What is the lowest level of the atmosphere called?

The troposphere is the lowest level and also the one you can breathe!


Which is the most populous Muslim country?

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country, with 261,000,000 residents.


How long is the Arctic night at the North Pole?

At the pole itself, it's 180 days, but the polar night extends down as far as the 66th parallel. The Arctic Circle is defined as the area within which the sun will not clear the horizon for at least one 24-hour period in a year.


Which of these is NOT one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?

The Great Wall is very wondrous indeed, but it's not one of the original seven!


What of the following is the term for a line that joins all places of the same height above sea level?

A contour line is a line that joins all places of the same height above sea level!


Which of these cities is NOT on the Rhine?

The Rhine has a lot of cities on it but Berlin is not one of them.


Which of these is NOT one of Africa's four major rivers?

The Amazon is in South America. The other three are in Africa.


Which is the most significant river in North America?

The Mississippi River is the longest and most important in North America, as it carries the most trade and provides water to the greatest number of people.


What is the biggest tree by volume called?

Other trees are taller, but the giant sequoia known as General Sherman is the biggest in terms of having the most wood in a single stem. General Sherman is nearly 50% biggest than the next competitor.


How many trees are there on earth?

There are about three trillion trees. This seems like a lot until you realize it is only half as many as before agriculture was invented.


What is the tallest cave on earth?

Son Doong is so big you could put a 40-story skyscraper inside it!


What bird took the longest nonstop flight?

Other birds have gone further in total but the shorebird was clocked at a staggering 7.145 miles without stopping to eat or drink.


Which of these is not a body of water?

Ponds, tarns, and fjords are all types of bodies of water. Pampas are a type of fertile grassland found in South America.


Which of these is not a mountain range in South America?

The Cordillera, Tumuk and Andes ranges are all in South America. The Maya Mountains are in Central America.


Which of these is not a type of weather associated with water vapor?

Rain isn't vapor because it doesn't hang in the air. Smoggy, muggy and foggy weather all involve vapor in the air.


Which of these is NOT an archipelago?

Iceland is one big island. The others are all groups of islands known as archipelagos.


What is the correct name for the study of how water moves around the planet?

Hydrology is a way of studying the big pass-the-parcel game that is water's movement around the planet. Some water stays where it is as ice for ages; other water cycles through rain, ocean, clouds, streams and rivers.


Which of these is NOT a layer in a rainforest?

The other layer is called the forest floor. Top layer isn't a thing!


Which of these is NOT a type of farming?

Hilling is a way of planting crops in little molehill-like spots that are extremely friendly to the soil. Tilling is a way of churning up a field to plant crops. No-till farming is a way of getting the crops into the field without churning up the soil, suited to drier areas.


Which of these is NOT a type of grassland?

Tundras and grasslands can be the same thing, but they are not always as they have distinct biomes. Tundra is really about rainfall levels; grassland is about what grows.


What is the trade route called that connected the Mongol Empire to the West?

The Silk Road was a route from Eastern Europe across the mountains all the way around the Gobi desert to Karakorum and then Beijing.


Which of these is NOT one of the main deserts in Africa?

The Atacama is in South America. The other deserts are in Africa.


What is it called when a river suddenly gets diverted into another path and simply abandons its usual path, sometimes temporarily?

When a river goes from one streambed to another, that's actually called river piracy.


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