You Don't Have to Be a Geography Nerd to Pass This Quiz, But It'll Help



By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Let's be honest: geography is usually taught really badly in schools. We're fed it as if the story of our world is just a random grab-bag of facts, mostly unrelated to each other. There are all sorts of types of clouds and mountains and facts about volcanoes, and then there's something called demographics which is about people and ages and family types, meaning it's annoyingly tied up with history, the other horribly-taught member of the humanities. It's all terribly confusing and not very interesting.

Fortunately, geography is actually extremely interesting - it's just that most of us don't figure this out until after we get out of our formal educations. Geography is about how all the physical factors of the world shape the way that people are able to live in it. The history of how we are able to live in the world is one great big story with all sorts of fascinating elements that inform and shape one another, and that are inextricably linked. It's a story of how oceans prevented wars, changing climates brought down great civilizations, landscapes empowered prosperity, fueled invention, and enabled billions of people to be raised from poverty. How much do you know about this magical world of ours? Let's find out!

What is the third-highest mountain on Earth?

Kangchenjunga is 28169 feet and is a Himalayan peak.


Which is the biggest ocean?

The Pacific is the biggest of the three main oceans on Earth.


What is the deepest lake in the world?

Lake Baikal is 5,387 feet deep and its bottom is 3,893 feet below sea level!


Which is the top layer of the atmosphere?

The exosphere is really high up and you can't breathe there. You find a bit of hydrogen and other very light gases up there, but it's mostly just a super-thin atmosphere-like area.


What is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in parts per million (ppm)?

Carbon dioxide used to be 280ppm. It's now at 410ppm, rising about 2-3ppm a year. At 450ppm, irreversible runaway climate change starts to become quite possible.


When is hurricane season in the United States?

June 1 through Nov. 30 is hurricane season. Due to increased water vapor in the atmosphere above warmer seas, hurricanes are getting worse.


What is the human population of the Earth, in billions?

The world has about 7.6 billion people on it right now, a doubling in 50 years.


Population growth is slowing. When do recent studies show that the population will level off?

Some estimates say peak population may go as late as 2100, but new projections show a peak of around 9 billion in mid-century. This is due to a combination of women getting educated (something that has always been followed by a drop in birthrates) and better contraceptive access and technology.


What is a tornado called when it is over the water?

A waterspout is a terrifying and beautiful thing, as it is basically a whirlpool, but above the sea instead of in it.


What is a population of ants who all live together called?

Ants come in colonies, which are what the residents of an anthill or a nest are called. Colonies are very sophisticated structures with specialized roles for members.


What is the right name for a grassy plain in subtropical or tropical regions, with few trees?

A savanna is a grassy plain. Some savannas are created by animals who knock over trees, like elephants, and thus get rid of forests.


Which country on Earth has the least precipitation?

Egypt gets very little water from the sky but a lot from the Nile. Other dry nations are not so lucky.


Which nation is sovereign over Antarctica?

Nobody is sovereign over Antarctica, though many places tried to claim it at first.


The population of Russia is falling. Including just Russia itself, not nations of the whole former USSR, how big was it at its peak?

Russia's population peaked just below 150m. It is now only 130 million and will drop to 100 million. This is the only nation in world history to record drops like this without major war, plague or famine.


What is a batholith?

A batholith is a sort of cliff-like igneous rocky "intrusion" that can be underground or above.


What is measured on the Richter scale?

Each step on the Richter Scale is 100 times the previous one, meaning a 7 is 100 times the size of a 6. Anything over a 5 can be quite exciting. Anything over 5.5 gets scary though.


What is the difference between soil and dirt?

Soil has bacteria and all kinds of life in it. Dirt is just crushed-up stuff.


What is carbon sequestration?

Carbon sequestration is a necessary part of combating climate change. Farming practices, direct air capture, closed loop burning of plants and other options are all part of the nascent technologies that will keep carbon levels to amounts that civilization can live with.


What is a floodplain?

Floodplains are around rivers. Thanks to sediment and nutrients from the river, they are usually very fertile and lovely places to live. They just flood a lot, that's all.


You've definitely seen one. But: What is a river?

A river is a large channel. A stream is a small one. A river may flow to a lake, sea or other river.


How fast do tectonic plates move, in inches per year?

Plates move a couple inches a year. If they moved 12-24 inches or more per year, it'd be basically impossible to build near a faultline.


Which continent is the only one that is in all four hemispheres?

The equator and the Greenwich meridian both run through Africa, putting it in all four hemispheres.


What percentage of Canada is covered by water?

Canada has an awful lot of rivers and lakes, so many that they cover 9% of its surface!


Which of these countries does NOT share a border with China?

Uzbekistan does not share a border with China. It's on the other side of Tajikistan.


How old is Stonehenge?

Stonehenge is 5,000 years old, and when you look at it, you can tell!


Of the 25 highest peaks in the world, how many are in the Himalayas?

19 of the top 25 peaks are in the Himalayas. The other 6 are scattered around the world.


In Britain, what is a Munro?

Munros are mountains over 3,000 feet. Some are quite big, like Ben Nevis. Others are merely treacherous, though not very big. Serious climbers like to climb all 282 of them!


Which Pacific island state has no capital?

Nauru is a single, quite round-looking island that is one of three massive phosphate rock islands. It has no capital city.


The oldest continuously inhabited city in the world is Damascus. Which city is second?

Jericho has been inhabited for 11,000 years, putting a close second to Damascus.


Null Island is at zero latitude, zero longitude. What body of water is it in?

Null Island is where photos are geotagged if they have no tag. That means that technically, more photos are taken of Null Island than anyplace on Earth - except that it is just a spot in the South Atlantic.


What caused the Tunguska Event?

The Tunguska blast was when a meteor hit northern Russian some 100 years ago. It made a fireball 300 feet wide and flattened 80 million trees!


What are the crystals made of in the Cave of Crystals?

The crystals are tens of feet long and are made of selenite. They are in the Naica mine in Mexico. They were flooded until the mine was pumped out and the air is corroding them, so they are being documented. You can visit them but due to 100% humidity and 90F temperatures, you must wear a special suit.


What is the circumference of the Earth at the equator?

The equator is about 24,900 miles around. Earth is not a perfect sphere, so this number is not easily replicated by measuring vertically or at other locations.


In what body of water are the islands of Big Diomede and Little Diomede?

These two islands are separated by a few miles in the Bering Strait, where the US and Russia's territorial waters meet.


The two most common place names in the US are Washington (88 towns) and Springfield (41 towns). What name is third, with 35 towns?

Franklin is the third most popular place name in the US. Founders' names are always good for a town!


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!