12 'easy' geography questions that middle schoolers can answer, but will probably leave you stumped

Every year, the National Geographic Society sponsors a geography contest called The National Geographic Bee, wherein students in the fourth through eighth grades compete to see whose geographic knowledge will reign supreme.

National Geographic Society’s website features an online study tool that helps prepare participants for the annual event. INSIDER has compiled a sample test of 10 questions from topic areas that frequently appear in the Geobee, courtesy of the National Geographic Society – and they’re surprisingly difficult.

See if you can pass all 12 questions listed down below.


1. In May 2002, an invasive species of predatory fish was found in a pond about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the Chesapeake Bay, alarming scientists and wildlife managers in which state?

Wie146/Wikimedia CommonsThe fish in question.

a. Michigan

b. Maryland

c. Maine


Hint: The TV series “The Wire” is based in this state’s capital.

HBOThe Wire.

Barack Obama has cited “The Wire” as one of his favourite television shows.


The answer is… Maryland!

Madeleine Deaton/FlickrA Maryland licence plate.

In July 2002, an angler caught the fish in question: commonly referred to as a snakehead fish, they are able to breathe air, travel across land, and eat native species.


2. Which of these cities is the most populous?

a. Quito

b. Buenos Aires

c. Asuncion


Hint: This city was actually founded twice.

Milosz Maslanka/ShutterstockThis city was founded twice.

The first time was in 1536; the second time, in 1580.


The answer is… Buenos Aires!

The estimated population of Buenos Aires in 2016 was 2,891,000.


3. Which country on the Scandinavian Peninsula is largest in area?

Scandinavian Heritage Park/FacebookA Scandinavian heritage park.

a. Sweden

b. Norway

c. Finland


Hint: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded here.

Richard Stonehouse/Getty ImagesKailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

So far, 16 women have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


The answer is… Norway!

Anna Jedynak/ShutterstockA woman riding her bike in Oslo, Norway.

Norway occupies a total area of 148746.6 square miles.


4. The highest mountain in Papau New Guinea has the same name as the last kaiser, or emperor, of Germany. Name this peak?

Voigt T. H./Wikimedia CommonsThe emperor in question.

a. Mount Wilhelm

b. Mount Scherhorn

c. Mount Ingolstadt


Hint: A commonly used stock sound effect of a man screaming also shares the same name.

Chris Haston/NBCScreaming.

The stock scream was first used in the 1951 film, “Distant Drums.”


The answer is… Mount Wilhelm!

Emperor Wilhelm II ruled the German Empire and was the King of Prussia from 1888 to 1918.


5. The Potala was the home of the Dalai Lama until he fled into exile in 1959. The Potala overlooks what Himalayan city?

Feng Li/Getty ImagesThe Potala Palace.

a. Thimphu

b. Lhasa

c. Kathmandu


Hint: This city’s name translates to “the Land of Gods.”

Sander Bos/ShutterstockTibetan monks in the city.

It is also often called “The City of Sunshine.”


The answer is… Lhasa!

Lian Deng/ShutterstockThe Potala Palace at night.

Lhasa is widely considered to be the hub of Tibet’s economic, cultural, political, and religious activities.


6. Which of these Canadian provincial capitals lies in a major oil- and gas-producing region?

Harold Stiver/ShutterstockA scene from the city.

a. Edmonton

b. Halifax

c. Victoria


Hint: This city is sometimes called Canada’s “Gateway to the North.”

Nick Fox/ShutterstockA sun set over the downtown section of the city.

A member of the city council in the region wanted to change its slogan from Canada’s “Gateway to the North” to “The Portal To The Universe” in 2014.


The answer is… Edmonton!

Ronnie Chua/ShutterstockTwo pumpjacks in rural Alberta, Canada.

Check out this list of the 100 largest oil and gas producers in Canada.


7. Impressionist painting was developed by painters such as Monet and Renoir in which European country?

Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesPierre Renoir.

a. Russia

b. Ireland

c. France


Hint: The capital of this country is commonly referred to as “The City of Lights.”

Catarina Belova/ShutterstockA street in the famous city.

The country’s capital also has no stop signs.


The answer is… France!

Viacheslav Lopatin/ShutterstockThe Eiffel Tower.

Impressionism developed in Paris in the 1860s.


8. Which state is not a leading copper producer for the US?

Williams SonomaA copper mug.

a. New Mexico

b. Kansas

c. Arizona


Hint: Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” lived here.

MGM screengrab via MovieClipsDorothy and her companions.

The region is also nicknamed “The Sunflower State.”


The answer is… Kansas!

Joseph Sohm/ShutterstockSignage welcoming visitors to Kansas.

Check out the top five mineral-producing states here.


9. Which country, made up of more than 13,000 islands, has the second largest area of tropical rain forest after Brazil?

HuxleyMedia/ShutterstockA rainforest.

a. Malaysia

b. Indonesia

c. Brunei


Hint: The country will celebrate 73 years of independence in August of 2018.

Cocos.Bounty/ShutterstockA temple in one of the country’s islands.

The country is also the 4th most populous nation in the world.


The answer is… Indonesia!

Zephyr_p/ShutterstockBali, Indonesia.

In the early 21st century, Indonesia was the most populous country in Southeast Asia.


10. “Agriculture and Commerce” is the motto of which southern state that is home to much of the Cumberland Plateau?

Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia CommonsThe Cumberland Plateau.

a. Kentucky

b. Tennessee

c. Mississippi


Hint: This state’s capital is known as the “Music City.”

ESB Professional/ShutterstockThe Music City.

The capital has also been called “The Athens of the South.”


The answer is… Tennessee!

jiawangkun/ShutterstockThe Tennessee State Capitol.

The state motto was officially adopted in 1987.


11. For more than a century, tango dancers have poured into the streets of the working class neighbourhoods of Montevideo, the capital city of what South American country?

a. Argentina

b. Uruguay

c. Chile


Hint: This country is named after a river that starts in Brazil and ends in the Rio de la Plata Basin.

It’s also the South America’s second smallest country.


The answer is… Uruguay!

David Haykazyan/ShutterstockTango dancers perform in the streets of Montevideo.

Montevideo is Uruguay’s most populous city, with an estimated population of 1.3 million residents in 2019.


12. What small country bordered by Germany, France, Italy, and Austria is a confederation of 26 cantons and has four official languages?

Roman Babakin/ShutterstockZurich is one the cantons.

a. Belgium

b. Luxembourg

c. Switzerland


Hint: Maria from “The Sound of Music” lived here.

20th Century FoxMaria Von Trapp sings amid the scenery of the Alps.

Unfortunately, the glaciers of the Alps have been melting due to climate change in recent years.


The answer is… Switzerland!

Fedor Selivanov/ShutterstockA scenic snapshot of Bern, Switzerland during the winter.

The four “national” languages include German, French, Italian, and Romansh.

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