Can You Correctly Name These Countries From an Outline?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo
Image: Darwinek via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Are you ready to have your world turned upside-down and inside-out? Let's go globetrotting while you bump up your knowledge of the most uniquely-shaped countries!

There are no two countries that look the same, but definitely more than a few that look similar. For some countries, their borders have rarely (if ever) been contested, while even today, others simply cannot agree on borders.

When you look at a world map, there are certain countries that really stand out because of their sizes, such as Russia, Canada and Australia. Then there are countries like Italy, Cuba and Sri Lanka that are small yet easily recognizable due to their distinctive shapes! 

So what are you waiting for? Jump right into this quiz!

One of the most easily recognizable countries because of it’s “boot” shape, Italy is widely considered the food capital of Europe. It’s the home of pizza, lasagna, tiramisu and many kinds of cheese (more than 450 varieties!). When Italy’s first McDonald’s opened in Rome in 1986, food purists gave away free spaghetti outside the restaurant to remind fellow Italians of their culinary heritage.

This island nation is made up of more than 6,800 islands, although about 97 percent of the land area consists of the country’s four largest islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. Despite its relatively small size, Japan is the world’s 10th most-populated country. It also has one of the world’s longest life expectancy: 81 years for men and 88 years for women.

With its unusual shape, it’s not surprising that Chile is the world’s longest country from north to south. Chile has been the site of many reported UFO sightings and is one of the few countries with a UFO research organization supported by the government. There’s even a 19-mile “UFO trail” through the Andes Mountains where supposedly the plateaus make good landing pads for spaceships.

Though almost 80 percent of Greenland’s land area is covered in ice and glaciers, the ice-free land is roughly the same size of Sweden. Greenland’s ice sheet is between 400,000 and 800,000 years old, according to scientists. Greenland is the world’s least densely populated country and 1/3 of its small population of approximately 56,400 people reside in the country’s capital, Nuuk.

Thailand is home to many record-breaking things. In this Southeast Asian country, you can find the largest restaurant, largest crocodile farm, largest gold Buddha statue, and the tallest hotel. The previously mentioned restaurant is the Royal Dragon restaurant located in Bangkok, which has seating for 5,000 diners and serves more than 1,000 different dishes.

In Jordan you can find Petra (also called “The Rose City”), an ancient city carved directly into a rock face, and built perhaps as early as the 5th century BC. This beautiful city is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab nations out of 22 to have made peace with Israel.

In New Zealand there are seven times more sheep and three times more cows than people. Prior to the 1980s, the island nation’s economy was mainly agrarian, but has since become a much more diverse economy. New Zealand was one of the last landmasses to be settled in, first by Polynesians in the 13th century, then the Dutch in the 17th century.

Argentina is the second-largest South American country by area and has the third-largest economy in the continent. Argentina’s name is derived from “Argentum,” the Latin word for silver. In the 1500s, European settlers believed the country was full of silver, and there was even a myth about a mountain made of silver!

With its near-perfect teardrop shape, Sri Lanka is well-known for its unique shape. Sri Lanka is nicknamed the “pearl of the Indian Ocean” because of its varied biodiversity (the highest in all of Asia) and the fact that there is an abundance of precious gemstones, which are often exported. The country’s main export, however, is tea. Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth largest exporter of tea.

As the palindrome goes: “A man, a plan, a canal; Panama!” Construction of the Panama Canal began in 1881 by the French but (due to engineering difficulties) it ceased and the United States took over, completing and opening the canal in 1914. In that first year, annual traffic was roughly 1,000 vessels, and in 2017, it was almost 12,000! The Panama Canal is widely considered one of the Seven Wonders of the modern world.

Sweden is one of the largest weapons-producers in the world but hasn’t taken part in any war for nearly 200 years (including World Wars I and II). Swedes have invented many popular and important items, such as the computer mouse, the refrigerator, the pacemaker, ultrasound, marine propeller and astronomical lens.

Due to its unique shape, Haiti has the second-longest coastline in the Caribbean: 1,771km. This is despite it consisting of only 3/8 of Hispaniola (the island it shares with the Dominican Republic) and being four times smaller than Cuba, the Caribbean island with the longest coastline. Haiti was also the site of the first European settlement in the Americas, “La Navidad,” in the 1490s.

Because most families in Taiwan live in apartments and thus don’t have outside trash bins for garbage trucks to pick up weekly, garbage trucks operate nightly and people throw their garbage straight into the trucks. In a similar fashion to American ice cream trucks, garbage trucks in Taiwan play music to announce their arrival (usually a high-pitched version of Beethoven’s Fur Elise).

Croatia is the location of the world’s smallest town recognized by the Guinness World Records – Hum – which has a population of only about 20 or 30 people. Surrounded by meadows and forests, Hum is enclosed by walls on the western side with houses on the other sides built into the defensive walls. The town has a church, bell tower and a museum displaying some of the oldest examples of Glagolitic literature.

With an area of 643,801 km2, including its overseas territories of French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Guadeloupe and Réunion Island, France is the largest country by size in Europe. Did you know that France has the third largest tourism income in the world? As one of the most visited countries in the world, it receives roughly 75 million tourists every year.

Mount Everest may be the tallest mountain measured from sea level, but the tallest mountain measured from the seafloor is in the United States of America – on the island of Hawaii to be specific. Mauna Kea is over 10,000 meters tall (though most of this height is underwater – above sea level the mountain’s peak is 4,207 m). In comparison, Mount Everest’s highest point is 8,848 meters above sea level.

Indonesia is truly unique among the world’s nations in that its land area is shared among more than 13,000 islands. Indonesia is both the world’s largest island nation and overall 14th largest country. Its also the fourth most populous country (behind China, India and the United States respectively) and contains Java, the most populous island (where more than half of Indonesia ‘s population lives.)

The steel pan, Trinidad and Tobago’s national instrument, was invented in this island country and is the only acoustic instrument to be invented in the 20th century. They are often also called steel drums – referring to the drum containers the pans are made out of – though they are not drums in the musical sense, but are idiophones (a category of instruments that includes castanets and the triangle.)

The origin of many items and machines can be attributed to Spain. It is where the quill pen, mop, and first fully operative military submarine were developed. Spain is also the site of the oldest known cave painting, located in northern Spain’s Cave of El Castillo. Spain’s Cave of Altamira is also referred to as the “Sistine Chapel” of cave painting.

Annually, Greece attracts roughly than 1.5 times tourists than its population –16.5 million versus 10.7 million. Did you know that many English words originate from the Greek language? Sometimes it is directly from Greek, while other times, it is from Latin (via Roman adaptation of Greek words) to English. Some of these words include “alphabet,” “typhoon,” “marathon,” “apology” and “academy.”

Pakistan’s official languages are Urdu and English, but Punjabi is most commonly spoken and the first language of 48 percent of the population (in comparison, Urdu is the first language of only 8 percent of Pakistan’s population). Pakistan also faces challenges of illiteracy among the population, as the literacy rate is roughly 58 percent and Pakistan’s education expenditure is among the lowest in South Asia.

The DRC’s official languages are French, Swahili, Lingala, Kikongo and Tshiluba. French is the most widely spoken language and the country’s capital, Kinshasa, is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. It’s also the most populated country that has French as an official language – even more than France itself.

Germany has the second-largest beer consumption per capita worldwide, behind only the Czech Republic. In Bavaria, a federal state of Germany, beer is not officially considered alcohol but rather defined as a staple food, like bread. Germany also makes 300 kinds of breads, and more than 1,500 kinds of sausages.

Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country and the largest Portuguese-speaking nation (as well as the only one in the Americas.) This South American country is home to more than half of the massive Amazon River, which is the largest river in the world by volume. Furthermore, Brazil has one of the world’s largest population of Catholics – roughly 65 percent of its population (another 22 percent is made up of Protestants.)

Finland is called the "Land of a Thousand Lakes," but that’s quite the understatement. This European nation has more than 160,000 lakes! It is also referred to as the Land of the Midnight Sun because during summer – June and July in particular – in the north of the country, the sun always stays above the horizon. However, far north in the winter, the sun won’t rise at all for a while.

It may sound unbelievable, but Malaysia has 65,877 km of highway – quite a bit more than Earth’s circumference of 40,075 km. Malaysia is also the location of the world’s biggest roundabout. It’s found in Putrajaya, the federal administrative center of Malaysia, and is 3.5 km in diameter!

Filipinos have set some rather odd, yet interesting, records. For example, the world’s largest pair of shoes were made in 2002 in Marikina City and they measured 5.3 m in length, 2.4 meters, and almost 2 meters in height. Manila was also the site where the world record for most women simultaneously breastfeeding – 3,541 women – was set in 2006, and a Filipino diver discovered the world’s largest pearl ever in 1934.

Did you know that India is where chess originated? Chess’s original name is “chaturanga,” which is a Sanskrit word that means “four members of an army.” In addition to this, India has made many contributions to various areas of mathematics, such as trigonometry and calculus. The concept of the number zero is also attributed to India.

Cuba is the largest Caribbean island both by size and population and, because its shape resembles an alligator or crocodile, Cuba is often referred to as “El Caimán” and “El Cocodrilo” respectively in Spanish. Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world at 99.8 percent.

Australia is the world’s sixth largest country by area and it sure lives up to its status. The Great Victoria Desert in Australia is bigger than the United Kingdom, the biggest property in Australia is bigger than Belgium, and a cattle ranch in southern Australia is bigger than Israel! Australia is also home to the world’s longest golf course, which is more than 1368 km long.

Barbados is surrounded completely by the Atlantic Ocean and is classified as an Atlantic island, but is included as a Caribbean island. The small island nation is a popular tourist destination and 40 percent of tourists are from the United Kingdom, with numbers from Canada and the U.S. not far behind. George Washington also visited the island, and that trip was reportedly his only one outside of the United States of America.

The United Kingdom is also referred to as “Great Britain” or simply “Britain,” which is derived from the Brythons, the name of a Celtic tribe. Additionally, England comes from “Angle-land” – land of the Angles, a Viking tribe that settled on the island. In the 1700s, at its most powerful, the British Empire contained one-quarter of the world’s population and one-fifth of the world’s surface.

In Vietnam, motorcycles are much more popular than cars and other large vehicles – 37 million registered motorcycles versus just 2 million registered cars. This is because vehicle taxes in Vietnam are very expensive (anywhere between 50 percent and 200 percent, depending on how many liters the car holds), so motorcycles are much more economical for most citizens.

In ancient times, Egyptians stopped exporting papyrus to Turkey because they feared that the library in the city of Pergamum would grow larger than the one at Alexandria (which was the largest library in the world at the time). How did the Turks deal with it? They invented parchment. Papyrus was made from the papyrus plant, while parchment was made from calfskin.

Can you believe that the Colonel-in-Chief of Norwegian King’s Guard is a penguin? Specifically, a king penguin named Sir Nils Olav (that’s right, he was officially knighted)! The name “Nils Olav.” and associated ranks. have been passed down through three penguins – the current Colonel-in-Chief being Sir Nils Olav III. He even has a 1.2-meter-high bronze statue in the Edinburgh Zoo where he lives.

Construction on Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower (formerly known as the Kingdom Tower and Mile-High Tower) began in 2014 and is projected to be completed in 2020. When it is completed, it will not only become the tallest building in the world (winning over the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai which stands at 829.8 m), it will also become the first structure in the world to reach a height of one kilometer!

It’s a well-known fact that Russia is ridiculously massive, but did you know that this country has roughly the same surface area as Pluto? In 1957, Russia (then known as the USSR) launched Sputnik 1, the first satellite into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The USSR was also the country to launch the first person to space – Yuri Gagarin – in 1961 in the Vostok spacecraft.

Ice hockey is Canada’s most popular sport and the sport’s modern version was developed in Canada in the 1870s. Basketball’s origin also has ties with Canada. Dr. James Naismath (a Canadian physical education instructor teaching at the YMCA Training School in Massachusetts) wanted some sort of indoor game his students could play on rainy days, and thus he invented the now-popular sport.

We all know that China is the most populous country in the world, with a population of a whopping 1.404 billion, but it really puts it into perspective when you realize that roughly one in every five people in the world is Chinese. China is only slightly smaller than the United States of America, but its population is four times that of the U.S.

Mexico has historically been the location of many ancient civilizations, such as the Olmec, Aztec, Maya, Zapotec and Inca. Mexico’s first great civilization were the Olmecs who worshipped a god that was half human half jaguar (the jaguar is actually the largest wildcat in North America and can be found in southern Mexican jungles.) The Zapotecs are credited with inventing the first writing system in the Americas.

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