The A-Z Geography Challenge

Patrick Hyde

Image: Khatawut Chaemchamras / EyeEm/ Getty Images

About This Quiz

Are you ready for a quiz that will take you across the dusty savannas of Africa to the remote islands of the North Sea? The world is an amazing place, with no shortage of active volcanoes and sprawling capital cities. Think about the city of Lhasa in Tibet, sitting at an elevation of 12,000 feet. It contains red and white palaces with more than 1,000 rooms, carved into the Himalayan mountains. Then contrast this city in the sky with Jericho, a Palestinian city that is at nearly 900 feet below sea level in a desert oasis. 

Learning about geography can inspire your next trip and help you feel more connected to other peoples and cultures. Television personality, traveler and chef Anthony Bourdain once said: "It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be." 

This quiz will expand your sense of the world's enormous breadth of people and places. Travel from the North Pole to Antarctica, from Bali to Mali, from A to Z and see if your geography skills are up to the task for the A-Z Geography Challenge! 

Azerbaijan is a country in the Caucus Mountains with its capital on the Caspian Sea. That city is named ______.

Baku is Azerbaijan's largest city, home to more than 2 million people and a rich cultural tradition dating back to antiquity. It features a Formula 1 Grand Prix, where cars race along the medieval city walls.

Bosnia is a small country that was once a part of larger nations and empires. Which country was Bosnia never a part of?

The Ottoman Empire conquered Bosnia in the 15th century, ruling until they lost control to the Austro-Hungarians in the late 19th century. Following the collapse of that empire in WWI, Bosnia was part of a united Balkan state called Yugoslavia.

China is a vast country with more than 1.3 billion residents. What is its most populous city?

Megalopolis doesn't even begin to describe the enormity of Shanghai, the largest city in the world with more than 24 million urban inhabitants. The waterfront city is home to the delicious xiaolongbao soup dumpling, which is a must-try for any visitors.

Speaking of megacities, which country is home to Dhaka, the world's sixth-largest city?

Dhaka became one of South Asia's most prominent cities during the days of the Mughal Empire in the 17th Century. Today, Dhaka is home to more than 20 million people, most of whom use rickshaws for transportation.

Ethiopia is the purported home of coffee, Rastafarianism, and maybe even humankind. What country does NOT share a border with the country?

Ethiopia is located on the Horn of Africa, a massive peninsula jutting out to the Arabian Sea. It shares a border with Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan, but not Uganda.

France is filled with many fine rivers. Which one does not flow through its borders?

At over 1,000 miles long, the Elbe originates in the mountains of Bohemia and flows northward before emptying into the North Sea by the port city of Hamburg. Many in France were happy when the Allied forces linked up with the Soviet Army at the Elbe in the final days of WWII.

Switzerland recognizes four official languages. Which of the four is spoken in the city of Geneva?

Geneva is part of the la Romandie, the French-speaking area of western Switzerland. The language of Romash is spoken by .5% of the Swiss population and derives from the spoken Latin of Roman times.

Heading over to the Caribbean Sea, Haiti is a country on the island of Hispanola. Name its island neighbor.

Hispanola is the second-largest island in the Caribbean, second only to Cuba. French-speaking Haiti and the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic are the two nations that inhabit the island.

Indonesia is a nation made up of more than 17,000 islands. Which of them is the most populated?

Java is not only the most populous island in Indonesia but the most populous island in the world with around 140 million residents. Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, is located on the island and is the fastest sinking city in the world.

Hopping over to another island nation, on which of the following islands is Tokyo located in Japan?

Tokyo, as well as Kyoto and Mt. Fuji, are located on Japan's main island of Honshu. With more than 104 million residents, it is also the second most populous island in the world, trailing Indonesia's Java.

Now, let's get landlocked. The U.S. state of Kentucky is part of what mountain range?

The Appalachian mountain range is a massive range that stretches across the eastern part of the United States and into Canada. It formed 480 million years ago and the name dates back to a Spanish exploration in 1528.

The hard-to-pronounce capital city of Ljubljana is in which country?

The medieval city of Ljubljana is a tongue-twister for tourists visiting Slovenia. The city gets its name from the emerald Ljubljanica River, which runs through the old city middle.

Popularity contest! Which of the following countries has the highest population?

The African island nation of Madagascar has by-far-and-away the largest population of the group, with more than 25 million inhabitants. Macedonia is the distant runner up with 2 million, while Maldives and Malta are slightly over 450,000 each.

Which of these countries has the smallest population?

The African nation of Namibia has the smallest population of the group, home to about 2.5 million residents. The mountainous South Asian country of Nepal is the largest of the group, with close to 30 million inhabitants.

Canada is made up of 13 provinces. Which of the following cities is located in Ontario?

Toronto is Ontario's largest city, but Ottawa comes in second place. Queen Victoria appointed it the capital of Canada in 1857. Its parliamentary prominence is reflected in the name of its NHL team, the Ottawa Senators.

Patagonia isn't just a clothing brand. It is a region of which of the following countries?

Patagonia is large region in Chile and Argentina, filled with wild expanses of mountains and deserts. Rugged explorers can head down to the Tierra del Fuego which is just off the coast of Antarctica.

The Canadian province of Quebec used to be part of the France's North American empire. It's two largest cities, Montreal and Quebec City, are on what river?

The mighty Saint Lawrence River connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the major commercial waterways in North America. The river is so large that many different species of whales migrate to it every year.

Vikings once sailed out of Reykjavik, a city in which Nordic country?

You learn all about the history of Vikings in Reykjavik, Iceland's coastal capital. It is the world's northernmost capital, home to a large colony of puffins and a great place to view the Northern Lights.

South Sudan is the world's youngest country, declaring independence from Sudan in 2011. What country is second youngest?

The small Balkan nation of Kosovo is the second youngest nation in the world, declaring independence from Serbia in 2008 following decades of hostility. Serbia has yet to recognize its independence.

Time to see who's bigger. Which of the following islands has the largest surface area?

Kids know about the Australian island of Tasmania from the whirlwind troublemaker, Taz the Tasmanian Devil. Tasmanian devils are so named because of their loud screeching and off-putting stench. They can be found all over the 26,410 square-mile island.

Which of the following countries has a capital that begins with the letter 'U'?

That would be Mongolia, whose capital and largest city is named Ulaanbaatar, which means the Red Hero. Nearly half of all Mongolians live in the city, which is part of the reason Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country on earth.

The thundering Victoria Falls are one of Africa's most celebrated natural features. They share a border between Zambia and what other country?

The falls are between the two countries at the end of the alphabet. In their native language, they are called Mosi-oa-Tunya, or The Smoke That Thunders. The falls can be heard almost 25 miles away, and the mist rises high in the air, making good on the name.

Washington state is home to five active volcanoes. Which of the following is not in the state?

Mount Shasta is the odd volcano out, located in California. Mount St. Helens was the most recent of Washington's volcanoes to erupt, going off in 1980 in the most massive volcano eruption in U.S. history.

Xochimilco is a region of Mexico City that borders the old Aztec canals. What other city has canals?

The Danish port city of Copenhagen has extensive canal networks, taking you past the city's many landmarks. Freetown Christiania is a lawless district of squatters along the canals.

Old Faithful erupts like clockwork in Yellowstone National Park. Which of the following states does not contain part of the park?

Yellowstone is a sprawling 3,500 square mile national park atop an active volcano. But you won't find any of it in Utah, which is home to Zion National Park, best known for its imposing red cliffs rising over a river.

The semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar is located off the coast of what area?

Known for its beautiful beaches and the location of the world's shortest war (38 minutes), the island of Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous island off the coast of Tanzania. The African, Arabian, and European influences all combine in the old Stone Town.

Back to the beginning! The country of Albania sits off what sea?

The Adriatic Sea is the northernmost section of the Mediterranean, bordering Italy and the Balkan peninsula. It has been a significant area of control from Roman times to Venice during the Renaissance.

South America sits between the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. Bolivia is one of only two landlocked countries on the continent. Name the other.

The other landlocked country is Paraguay, a relatively small country sandwiched between more prominent players like Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia. The country suffered a devastating loss to a triple alliance of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in the mid-19th century.

Canada is covered in stunning wilderness. Which Canadian province is home to beautiful Banff National Park?

If you have seen pictures of turquoise blue water surrounded by snow-capped mountains, those pictures might have taken in Banff. The park is in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and contains the world-famous Lake Louise.

Danish is part of the Scandinavian language family. Which of the following Nordic countries does not speak a Scandinavian language?

While Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic are all Scandinavian languages, Finnish is part of the Finno-Ugric family. Estonian and Hungarian also belong to this group, as well as languages spoken in several sub-regions of Russia.

England is part of the United Kingdom, an island nation off the coast of Europe. Which of the following bodies of water does it NOT border?

England is separated from Ireland by the Irish and Celtic Seas, from France by the English Channel, and is across the North Sea from Norway. The Baltic Sea borders Sweden, Finland and the Baltic states.

The Faroe Islands are a remote and rugged grouping of 18 islands in what part of the world?

The Faroe Islands are an independent country that belongs to the Kingdom of Denmark and is located in the North Atlantic Ocean. The population of 50,000 lives on remote rugged island, eating fermented food and enjoying excellent bird watching.

Ghana led the charge for African independence. In 1957, it became the first self-governing African country. Where on the continent is it located?

Ghana is located on the Golden Coast of Africa, on the western side of the continent. It is home to Lake Volta, the largest artificial reservoir in the world and was the first African nation to gain independence after WWII.

Honduras is a country in Central America. Which of the following is also in Central America?

That country is Belize, which was known as British Honduras in colonial times. It is home to a barrier reef with many types of fish and abundant marine life. Belize is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, which is surprising for its small size.

Which of the following Italian cities is the farthest north?

There is a big north-south split between Italian culture and politics even following the unification in 1871. Milan, one of the northernmost cities in the country, is a center of fashion and industry.

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