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{22/02/2012}   Countries, travel and geography (with quiz!)

Bizarrely there is controversy over how many countries there are but I am happy to accept a general consensus that there are 196. Including the UK, I have been to 42 countries. I would quite like to go to every country but I suspect I won’t. It seems like an enormous undertaking to visit 154 countries, especially on a limited budget. But wouldn’t it be amazing, to have been to every country. And to know exactly where each country is.

A few years ago, I had a bee in my bonnet about the fact I didn’t know where most countries were. Vaguely, yes, but specifically, no. I then found a small geography book with a page per country detailing a map with all bordering countries and a bit of information, eg capitals and flags. I was appalled by how little I knew, though my geography surrounding countries I’d been to was a lot better. Hence, travelling to every country could well be the answer to my lack of geographical knowledge?!

Around the time I was obsessed with this, my friend Fiona came to stay. It was the January of the snows a couple of years ago. We got snowed-in in Seasalter so spent quite a staggering amount of time testing each other. Here’s how we did it, so you can test yourself if you want. I will put the answers at the bottom!

Iraq. Which SIX countries border Iraq?

Democratic Republic of Congo. Which EIGHT countries border Democratic Republic of Congo?

Maybe your geography is better than mine but I would’ve struggled with that before I did my “studies”, and as that was two years ago, I wouldn’t have got it right now either. But I think I would have been close, which is pretty disgraceful really.

Like a lot of people, I love atlases, globes and maps. I know what countries are on/in which continent, though islands/archipelagos have always slightly baffled me. Hmm, maybe I should focus my next travel plans on islands, all in the name of education mind you! But, I find it disappointing that I don’t think I’ve ever known my countries of the world other than roughly where they are.

I recently printed off a blank map of the world with just country borders marked. I did the same for Africa and the Middle East. I thought I should mark it up with what I thought each country was, check it, horrify myself with how many I get wrong, study an atlas, do it again and amaze myself that I know where all 196 countries are. However, sadly, I am genuinely scared to mark up the blank map as I know that once I’ve labelled all the countries I know for sure, it will slow down and there will probably be over 100 countries that I am a little shaky over. And, like I said, sorry all island nations, I just don’t know which of you is Antigua, Dominica, Kiribati …

I should do it, shouldn’t I? But keep it quiet. Maybe even destroy the evidence of the first attempt!

The Answers

Iraq: Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iran.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Central African Republic, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Angola and Republic of the Congo.

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