The world is a big, mysterious place, where sometimes facts defy logic. Here are some mind-bending geography facts that might surprise you.
1. AFRICA IS IN A PRETTY CENTRAL LOCATION.
Africa is the only continent that is in all four hemispheres: north, south, west, and east. It’s therefore also the only continent to have land on the prime meridian and the equator.
2. ALASKA IS BOTH THE WESTERNMOST AND EASTERNMOST STATE.
Alaska is the westernmost and northernmost state in the United States, which makes a lot of sense when you look at a map. But more surprisingly, the state manages to be the easternmost state as well. Parts of Alaska are so far west that the state actually stretches into the eastern hemisphere. Longitude lines converge at the top and bottom of the globe, so Pochoni Point, Alaska, has the easternmost longitude of any point in the country.
3. THERE ARE THREE COUNTRIES THAT ARE COMPLETELY LANDLOCKED BY ANOTHER COUNTRY.
Lesotho, San Marino, and Vatican City are the only countries to be surrounded by just one other country. Lesotho is landlocked within South Africa while San Marino and Vatican City are surrounded by Italy.
4. RENO, NEVADA, IS WEST OF LOS ANGELES.
Even when looking at a map, this fact is hard to wrap your head around. Despite being in Nevada (and nearly 300 miles from the ocean), Reno is roughly 86 miles farther west than the coastal city Los Angeles.
5. MAINE ISN’T AS FAR NORTH AS YOU THOUGHT.
Estcourt Station, Maine, is the northernmost community of New England. Despite being the highest town in the contiguous United States east of the Great Lakes (and therefore associated with frigid winters), it’s surprisingly farther south than other cities across the Atlantic. London, for example, is nearly 300 miles north of the small Maine community, and Estcourt Station is also farther south than Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels.
6. CANADA HAS A LOT OF LAKES.
Canada is the second largest country in the world, so it may not come as a surprise that it has a lot of lakes. But it might shock you that the country has more than half of all the natural lakes in the world. An impressive nine percent of the country is covered in fresh water.
7. THE ENTIRETY OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION COULD EASILY FIT IN TEXAS.
If the entire world were as densely populated as New York City, the whole population would only cover 250,404 square miles. That means the entire world could fit into the state of Texas. For comparison, if the world had the same population density as Houston, Texas, it would cover 1,769,085 square miles. Even then, being able to hypothetically fit over 7 billion people in an area smaller than half the United States is pretty impressive.
8. AUSTRALIA MAY BE SURROUNDED BY WATER, BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE THE WORLD’S LONGEST COASTLINE.
Being its own continent and completely surrounded by water, you’d think Australia would easily have the honor of being the country with the longest coastline. However, that title goes to Canada. Canada has 152,100 miles of coastline, compared to Australia’s measly 16,000 miles. In fact, Australia ranks seventh on the list of the world’s longest coastlines, coming in behind Indonesia, Greenland, Russia, Philippines, and Japan.
9. MT. CHIMBORAZO IS CLOSER TO SPACE THAN MT. EVEREST.
Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth, so it would stand to reason that the top of the mountain would be the highest point on Earth (and therefore closest to space). But when you remember that Earth is slightly oval-shaped, things get interesting. Our planet is slightly inflated around the equator, meaning countries like Ecuador and Kenya have a bit of an edge. With this added elevation, the top of Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo (which is only 20,564 feet tall) is closest to the stars.
10. ANTARCTICA IS HOME TO ALMOST ALL OF THE WORLD’S FRESH WATER.
At 14 million square kilometers (about 5,400,000 square miles), the ice sheet in Antarctica is the largest solid ice mass on the planet. The enormous frozen structure contains about 90 percent of all the fresh water on Earth.
11. CHINA AND RUSSIA ARE BOTH BORDERED BY 14 COUNTRIES.
Although China is just a little more than half the size of Russia—the largest country in the world—they share the same number of land neighbors. The 14 countries bordering China are: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Nepal.
Armed with this new knowledge, you just may be smart enough to take on the pint-sized geniuses featured on Child Genius: Battle of the Brightest (but probably not…). See where you stack up by tuning in to the premiere of Child Genius: Battle of the Brightest on Thursday, January 7th at 8/7c on Lifetime.