So you think you know your way around the planet, do you?
April 9, 2003 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Geography Humiliation Central: Too many damned What a wonderful diversity of countries! A very annoying stringent set of tests, designed to expose showcase our ignorance knowledge of the political geography of the world we live in. Whether it's Africa, Asia or even Europe, South America or the United States, I seem to know only the really big ones them all. In fact, I've never been so ashamed proud in my life.
posted by Carlos Quevedo (51 comments total)

 
I did pretty well on the Continent/Ocean quiz until it asked me to locate 'undefined'.

The rest, however, leave me wondering what I was doing during geography class in school. At least I can use an atlas and look things up.
posted by jazon at 9:13 AM on April 9, 2003


It's buggy. I don't think they've got the imagemap quite right. Trying to click on small countries like the Gambia or Rwanda gets you errors -- no, that's Senegal; no, that's Burundi -- no it's not. Got to make sure that people aren't making errors because they can't click precisely enough, or that the areas are defined correctly. (Yeah, I have enough faith in my geographical knowledge that I think I can second-guess the quiz.)
posted by mcwetboy at 9:17 AM on April 9, 2003


Carlos, what a perfectly phrased post. I started with Europe, thinking I'd do OK - yowch! I actually wound up, surprisingly, doing better with Asia, thanks, I guess, to more distinctive country shapes, many separated by water. I didn't notice the image-mapping problem (though in fairness, the hot spots would be really hard to get perfectly exact), but then again, when I pulled up the Africa map, I bailed before even trying one. I've been humbled enough for one day.
posted by soyjoy at 9:21 AM on April 9, 2003


In all honesty, I don't see any reason to be embarrassed about not being able to identify countries. Call me a snobbish ethnocentrist if you will, but for all practical purposes geography is worthless knowledge to me. If I need to know about an area for some reason, the information is readily available, but rarely is such information necessary or even remotely useful to me. And along those lines, I don't really care if someone from Lesotho has any clue where the United States is, or if someone from North Carolina could tell you where Wisconsin is for that matter.
That's what maps are for.
posted by Wingy at 9:24 AM on April 9, 2003


Cool post. All the quiz questions I get are "Where is _null_?" Everywhere I click, I'm right! I'm better at Geography than I ever imagined!
posted by zekinskia at 9:25 AM on April 9, 2003


I think I need to practice my stans.
posted by biffa at 9:27 AM on April 9, 2003


I need a new map. I can't even cheat successfully. *Sob*
posted by squealy at 9:31 AM on April 9, 2003


95 on Africa. (Where is Togo? Err..)
75 on Asia. (I don't know my stans either)
posted by dydecker at 9:33 AM on April 9, 2003


jesus, i can't even find delaware on a map. that's what i get for growing up in hawaii.
posted by Hackworth at 9:34 AM on April 9, 2003


So...many...small...New England...states...
posted by GaelFC at 9:36 AM on April 9, 2003


Why do they put Mexico in Central America?
posted by signal at 9:37 AM on April 9, 2003


145/150 on the US.

Not many people realise that Vermont and New Hampshire really are the same place. Same thing with Mississippi and Alabama.

Only 75/111 on Europe. There wasn't a "used to be U.S.S.R." button.
posted by yhbc at 9:40 AM on April 9, 2003


Ditto on the -istans, except for the 51st state of the U.S., of course.
posted by hairyeyeball at 9:42 AM on April 9, 2003


Not many people realise that Vermont and New Hampshire really are the same place.

unless you live there, and then you realize how different the two places are

Vermont: trees and granite and no billboards
New Hampshire: trees and granite and no taxes

I just realized that I know most of the US States by outline, I think it's because of a puzzle I had when I was a kid.
posted by jessamyn at 9:43 AM on April 9, 2003


Man, I remember when Europe was so much easier.
posted by shagoth at 9:44 AM on April 9, 2003


Carlos, what a perfectly phrased post.

Yes indeed. And a nice site too -- I do pretty well with these things (except for Africa, and the -istans) -- but I was annoyed at having to click 'Next Question' every time. Why doesn't the program just send you on to the next question when you answer the current one?

(In a minor way, it's like "Thanks for logging in, you're now ready to jump directly to the index page." Where else does anybody go? Why not just login = go to index page?)

Not many people realise that Vermont and New Hampshire really are the same place. Same thing with Mississippi and Alabama.

Having been to all 48 of the connected states at least five times each, I think it's amazing how different some adjoining states are. VT and NH, also MS and AL, really aren't very alike at all. Nor are ID and MT, OR and CA, WV and VA, LA and TX, IL and IA, and on and on.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:54 AM on April 9, 2003


I know they're different. They're just the ones I missed, that's all.

But, lelilo - wow. That's traveling.
posted by yhbc at 9:58 AM on April 9, 2003


119 out of 150. US.

i found that it was so much easier to identify states i'd actually visited.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:59 AM on April 9, 2003


World: 33/33
Asia: 78/84
Middle East: 75/87
Central America: 38/42
Caribbean: 26/72 (That one was tough!)
Europe: 97/111
South America: 32/39
Africa: 78/147 (another tough one)
Canada: 39/39 (I should hope so, being one of them!)
USA: 127/150 (Many problems with the middle states)
posted by smcniven at 10:02 AM on April 9, 2003


Perfect 150 on the US map...no doubt because of that dang wooden United States puzzle my mother made us put together over and over again. (But hey, I thought Delaware was blue?)

Then I choked on the most of the others! I guess that expression I heard the other day is true: War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.
posted by Dinzie at 10:07 AM on April 9, 2003


Hmm. So, smcniven, I'm better than you. Wait, worse. No wait, better. No, worse. Better. Same. Same!

How come there's no Australia/Pacific option? Bloody Caribbean. Didn't Montserrat explode?
posted by rory at 10:21 AM on April 9, 2003


This map quiz (flash) on the Middle East is a little more forgiving, no score but very timely.
posted by bobo123 at 10:22 AM on April 9, 2003


Yeah, Dinzie, the wooden puzzle sure helps (I didn't have one, but my kids do - we once tested ourselves by turning all the pieces over and putting the country together backward). I did get 150 on the USA, but that's balanced out by the fact that I missed Poland in three tries. Poland, fer chrissake!
posted by soyjoy at 10:24 AM on April 9, 2003


Perfect score on the United States- the only test that matters, though, would be a test of New England states.

Not many people realise that Vermont and New Hampshire really are the same place.

yhbc- sounds like a Masshole thing to say. For anybody not familiar with the term, it's a name given to people who come from Taxachusetts with their ski-rack carrying SUV's.

Just kidding of course, please come to NH and buy liquor, cigarettes, and other items- we need the money to finance our road construction (and education).
posted by crazy finger at 10:27 AM on April 9, 2003


I did OK. I should have written my scores down. I scored perfect on USA and Europe, near perfect on S.America and the Middle East (90% or better), about 80% on Asia (-istan *this*), and lowest on Africa (~60%).

Not bad for a 'merkin.
posted by Cerebus at 10:32 AM on April 9, 2003


Call me a snobbish ethnocentrist if you will, but for all practical purposes geography is worthless knowledge to me.

I won't call you names, but is there such a thing as "worthless knowledge?" I enjoy learning for its own sake, without need of a definite practical application. I agree that there is no reason to be embarrassed.
posted by letitrain at 10:35 AM on April 9, 2003


But, lelilo - wow. That's traveling.

Specifically, I'm up to about 2100 U.S. counties visited, of just over 3000, but since I've mostly to managed to do it without much thinking, and without much understanding of the areas I go through, I don't know if you'd call it traveling. I just call it moving around to avoid reality and/or responsibility.

I've been slacking off for the last 10 years, too, since my son was born, but last month we did a 16-state, 8000-mile car/train/rental car/airplane trip from Down East Maine to the Mohave Desert, around California, and back. As my friend John used to say, "The key is to keep moving."

yhbc- sounds like a Masshole thing to say.

crazy finger, we have plenty of experience with Massholes up here in the summertime, along the coast. But I'm sure nobody on MeFi -- especially not yhbc -- fits that description.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:51 AM on April 9, 2003


Not bad for a 'merkin.

dude, you're not really a merkin... are you?
posted by jessamyn at 10:54 AM on April 9, 2003


I missed Poland in three tries

Well, Poland IS so ephemeral, historically speaking...
posted by small_ruminant at 10:59 AM on April 9, 2003


crazy finger, we have plenty of experience with Massholes up here in the summertime, along the coast. But I'm sure nobody on MeFi -- especially not yhbc -- fits that description.

Just like a Mainiac to defend a Masshole! Seriously though, I mean no offense, although my statism has grow significantly since I've been living by the seacoast AND skiing. I'll be going up to Acadia soon, do you have some term for NH drivers up there? Or do you realize that we do indeed drive with courtesy?
posted by crazy finger at 11:04 AM on April 9, 2003


On this island in the summertime, I'm afraid it's "Drive Free or Die."

p.s. Up here, some people (not me, of course) call your state New Hampster.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:13 AM on April 9, 2003


I aspire to live that kind of life someday, lelilo.

I was surprised once, after my eighth or tenth I-5 trip, to realize that the seemingly arbitrary latitude line cutting Oregon off from California is actually a reasonable approximation of the landscape change. There's a fifty-mile stretch where you can *see* the change from California to Oregon, and the legal border falls a bit towards the Oregon side of it. By contrast, the border between Oregon and Washington - which follows a great big river - is completely meaningless. It's the same terrain, the same culture(s), the same climate on both sides. Given the choice, I'd have split the Oregon Territory vertically, along the Cascades, instead of across the Columbia - there's more difference running east and west than there is north and south.

Nevada is one of the more arbitrarily shaped states, and yet its borders map pretty well to the outline of the range-and-basin country that dominates its interior. I'd be happier if the western border went straight down the crest of the Sierra, since that's what it's really trying to do, and it'd be nice if the eastern border actually skirted the rim of the Great Salt Lake basin instead of dipping into it, but the borders as they stand aren't so bad. You can always tell when you've driven across the Nevada border.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:15 AM on April 9, 2003


I've heard some people describe it as "Live Free, Die Young." That especially applies to motorcycles.
posted by crazy finger at 11:19 AM on April 9, 2003


I'm doing lousy on the US map, because I can't click on the tiny New England states accurately. Damn it, I was NOT clicking on Maryland AGAIN!
posted by headspace at 11:20 AM on April 9, 2003


I aspire to live that kind of life someday, lelilo.

There's no money in it, Mars, but there are some benefits. Like fresh air, and no cubicles. And the more you do it, the more people you meet, and the easier it becomes to sponge off friendly people.

Given the choice, I'd have split the Oregon Territory vertically, along the Cascades, instead of across the Columbia - there's more difference running east and west than there is north and south.

Yep, that makes sense. Ideas for redesigning the states continue to fascinate me. Most recently, WA/OR/CA geography was discussed on MeFi here.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:32 AM on April 9, 2003


And the more you do it, the more people you meet, and the easier it becomes to sponge off friendly people.

As someone with another remote New England homestead and super-low income, I always tell people that this is the entire reason I have a website -- to save money on hotel bills when I travel: "You can see I am trustworthy, I have a website!"
posted by jessamyn at 11:49 AM on April 9, 2003


jessamyn: Laugh at the intentionally self-effacing humor, it's funny.
posted by Cerebus at 11:54 AM on April 9, 2003


I did pretty well on the US one, except for two mixups:

Arizona vs. New Mexico
Indiana vs. Ohio

And the only reason I got N.H. vs Vermont right was that I was looking at a trip there the other day.
posted by smackfu at 12:20 PM on April 9, 2003


Where is Republic of Congo?

*click*

No, that's Democratic Republic of Congo, try again

What?
posted by pnevares at 12:49 PM on April 9, 2003


But do you know where Lizard Point is?
posted by lerrup at 12:57 PM on April 9, 2003


Not surprising you're confused, pnevares - "Republic of Congo" is the nation formerly known as Zaire, formerly known as Congo-Kinshasa, formerly known as the Belgian Congo, or King Leopold's much-exploited backyard the "Congo Free State" (which was neither free nor a state). The other Congo, sometimes called "Congo-Brazzaville" after its capital city, is a former French colony to the north and west of the Congo River. Together they cover pretty the Congo River basin - thus the shared name.

They are alike in their sordid post-independence history full of coups, wars, and dictators...
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2003


I just realized that I know most of the US States by outline, I think it's because of a puzzle I had when I was a kid.
posted by jessamyn at 9:43 AM PST on April 9


I had that puzzle too, I think! The only reason I can tell NH/VT and RI/CT apart is because i drove though them.

As far as geography knowledge goes, I think it's a Good Thing (TM) to be at least reasonably informed about geography. 1) If you understand the arbitrariness of political borders, you can see how retarded a lot of wars are. 2) If you don't realize that the Grand Canyon is in far northern AZ, you'll pack only shorts when you go there in March, and freeze your ass off.
posted by notsnot at 1:24 PM on April 9, 2003


Psst, Mars Saxman: Democratic Republic of Congo = Zaire. And if you can't trust the CIA, who can you trust?
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:11 PM on April 9, 2003


>you'll pack only shorts when you go there in March, and freeze your ass off.

Or pack pants, in August, only to find it 127 degrees at the bottom, like I did. But at least I knew where it was.
posted by krakedhalo at 2:14 PM on April 9, 2003


Oh, good heavens - all that blather and I still got 'em backwards. Thanks, Johnny Assay....
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:28 PM on April 9, 2003


Great post!

33/33 World
135/147 Africa
80/84 Asia
39/39 Canada
150/150 US
79/87 Middle East
36/39 South America
102/111 Europe
42/42 Central America
37/72 Caribbean

The tough part about Europe was the former Yugoslavian states. The Caribbean islands were by far the toughest of all. 733/804 total. Oh , and by the way, in reference to the post above...I am from Mississippi and now live in Alabama. They are not the same...if i ever consider moving back, someone shoot me quick!
posted by insulglass at 9:23 PM on April 9, 2003


Nice quiz this. My scores were as follows :-
33/33 World
147/147 Africa
84/84 Asia
29/39 Canada
150/150 USA
87/87 Middle East
39/39 South America
111/111 Europe
42/42 Central America
19/72 Caribbean

There are a couple of mistakes in it though :-
They missed out East Timor on the map of Asia, I think.
It's the United Kingdom, not Great Britain. Great Britain is the main island of the UK, so Northern Ireland is in the UK but not Great Britain.
Where is Bahrain on the Middle East quiz?

Good to see they call Serbia & Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia) by its new name, though.

An Austalasia/Pacific quiz would be nice too!

Thanks.
posted by plep at 12:25 AM on April 10, 2003


Well, done plep. As for Bahrain, you might as well complain that they left Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City off the Europe test.

I got:
33/33 World
150/150 US (had to think a few seconds on NH vs. VT and AL vs. MS)
107/111 Europe (all those years of playing Diplomacy, and Modern variant Diplomacy, paid off here)
36/39 Canada (I can never keep the maritime provinces straight)
37/42 Central America
35/39 South America
38/72 Caribbean
75/84 Asia (I can keep most of the -stans straight; it's southeast Asia I have trouble with)
78/87 Middle East
85/147 Africa

I didn't have any problems with the imagemap.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:52 AM on April 10, 2003


No Tibet?
posted by jfwlucy at 11:36 AM on April 10, 2003


37/39 Canada
135/147 Africa
83/84 Asia
51/72 Caribbean
108/111 Europe
85/87 Middle East
42/42 Central America
39/39 South America
150/150 USA
33/33 World

Asia: I have to admit, I made some lucky guesses with a few of the Central Asian republics.
Europe: Couldn't keep the Baltic states straight.
Caribbean: Okay, I bombed on that one. Those little islands all look alike when they're just tiny dots on a map.

Some of the imagemap areas are really tiny; you just have to be really careful where you click.

jfwlucy: No Palestine, either, and Pakistan seems strangely truncated in the Kashmir area. It's odd that Kaliningrad has its own question, too, seeing as it's not independent (though autonomous, I think). But I wouldn't ascribe any grand nefarious plot behind it all. I second the motion for an Australia/Pacific quiz.
posted by skoosh at 2:26 PM on April 10, 2003


Late to the thread as usual, but my scores:
USA: 150/150 (rawk!)
Africa: 113/147
Asia: 79/84
Canada: 36/39
Caribbean: 26/72 (Ouch.)
Central America: 38/42
Europe: 108/111 (Damn Bulgaria...)
Middle East: 84/87
South America: 32/39 (I resolutely confuse Paraguay and Bolivia.)
World: 33/33 (duh..)

Didja notice that when you hover over Israel, its name pops up?
posted by Vidiot at 6:27 PM on April 10, 2003


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