It happens every two years and it encompasses the world over. It may not be as popularized as the National Spelling Bee, but the National Geographic World Championship is just as important in its message and difficult in its preparation.
Wednesday, July 27, the Russian team, comprised of three 16-year-olds Egor Shustov, Masha Samoletova and Alexander Bondarchuk, took home the gold medal in the “brain Olympics” and beat out 16 other competing countries.
Want to see if you could have come up with the winning answer? Here’s the question that decided which of the final three teams, Canada, Russia and Chinese Taipei, would win the World Championship: which island has a population of about 57,000 people, with most settlements on its West coast and little of the large island fit for faming?
The answer is Greenland.
This World Championship was believed to pack some of the toughest questions heard in the entire span of the competition. Game show host, Alex Trebek, presided over this year’s competition held on Google’s campus in Mountain View, California.
Throughout the competition, the teams had to identify countries and regions of the world by a variety of factors including economics, politics, latitudes, rare species of animals like owls, tortoises and porcupines, as well as more clues from video clips of Google Earth interactive online atlas, tribal drums and recordings of dying languages. Color us impressed.
“Geography is really about the world and understanding it,” National Geographic chief executive John Fahey said after the championship. “Even though this looks like just a quiz show kind of thing, it is really about having the basic understanding that you need to address some really big issues that we all face,” he elaborated.
Trebek had similar reasoning as to why geography and a competition like this is so important.
“If you have not traveled, you tend to think your country is the center of the universe,” He, too, said after the championship. “If you know geography, you know how civilizations developed in this or that part of the world and if you can understand them, you stand a better chance of getting along with them,” he continued. “That is why geography is so important.”