CHARLOTTE, NC. Geography is always a great topic for trivia buffs because it offers so many odd little twists that are surprising. Cable TV shows like to label such odd little twists as geographic oddities. That’s at least one reason why today’s edition of Myth Trivia looks at some of these interesting facts and factoids to help you get your beer bets down this weekend.
Geographic oddities: A trio of quickies for starters
Let’s begin with a trio of quickies to see how things measure up:
- New York drifts away from London about 1 inch every year.
- The Himalayas get higher by 0.6 inches every year.
- Mexico City sinks 4 to 6 inches a year because its founders built it over a lake. The city has sunk around 32 feet in the last 60 years.
Now that we’ve warmed up, we travel to Africa…
Moving on to more detailed information, did you know that Africa is the only continent that is present in all four hemispheres of the globe? That means it is also the only continent to have land on both the prime meridian and the equator.
…before heading to some “marginal” US states
This next group of All-American geographic oddities is probably worth calling Uber for a ride home without having to pay a penny for your libations at your local neighborhood watering hole. Can you name the northernmost, westernmost and easternmost states in the United States?
Some folks might choose Maine to capture the trophy for the north, and that would be a good guess, even though it’s wrong. Actually that great big western wilderness called Alaska gets the award.
Heading back west, most betting individuals would probably select Hawaii as their westernmost choice for much the same reason they opted for Maine. But Alaska wins the west as well.
Truth be told, parts of Alaska are so far west that the state actually stretches into the eastern hemisphere. Since longitude lines converge at the top and bottom of the globe, that means only one thing. Pochoni Point, Alaska, also boasts the easternmost longitude of any point in the country. Enjoy those free drinks and don’t forget to thank Myth Trivia.
Speaking of Maine, Estcourt Station gets the trophy as the northernmost community in the contiguous United States east of the Great Lakes. However it is surprisingly farther south than other cities across the Atlantic. London, for example, is nearly 300 miles north Estcourt Station, which is also farther south than Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels. In fact, Rome is on the same latitude as Boston, Massachusetts.
To tell the truth, most of us in North America are shocked to learn that Canada is the second largest country in the world.
Obviously, being so vast and so far north, it should shouldn’t surprise us that Canada also has a lot of lakes. While that bit of trivia might raise your eyebrows, the land of the red maple leaf also claims more than half of all the natural lakes in the world is. A jaw-dropping statistic, eh? Considering its size, an impressive nine percent of Canada finds itself submerged in fresh water.
Texas: Still bigger and better?
Continuing with the big stuff, it would be inappropriate to leave Texas out of the discussion. To gain a sense of proportion as to just how huge the Lone Star State really is, try this comparison. If the whole world was as densely populated as New York City, its population would only cover 250,404 square miles. That means population of the entire world could fit into the state of Texas.
By comparison, if the world had the same population density as Houston, it would cover 1,769,085 square miles which would theoretically still fit over 7 billion people into an area smaller than half the United States.
Some mountainous geographic oddities
Now let’s make a molehill out of a mountain. Almost everyone knows Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on earth. By extension, that would logically lead most people to believe that the highest point on the planet is, therefore, closest to space.
However, since the earth is slightly oval-shaped, the planet is also somewhat inflated around the equator. Speaking of geogrphical oddities, this means countries like Kenya and Ecuador are more above sea level than some of the other high places we might think of. With this added elevation, we find that the top of Ecuador’s Mt. Chimborazo, only 20,564 feet tall, stretches to the stars and farther from the center of the earth than the storied Mount Everest.
Antarctic ice vs. world coastlines?
Our parade of geographic oddities continues. Here’s another cold one. Covered by a sheet of ice measuring approximately 5,400,000 square miles, Antarctica serves as the largest solid ice mass on the planet. Consequently, this enormous frozen structure contains nearly 90 percent of all the fresh water on earth.
Here’s even more information to ponder. As the only continent that is an island, it stands to reason that we would expect Australia to have the longest coastline in the world. However, if you recall, we mentioned earlier in this article that Canada is the second largest country in the world.
With that in mind, don’t be shocked to hear that Canada is numero uno in this category as well. What we find surprising however: the Canadian coast is almost ten times bigger than Australia’s. We’re talking 152,100 miles compared to only 16,000 miles Down Under.
Perhaps more stunning is that Australia only ranks seventh on the list of the world’s longest coastlines. It comes in behind Canada, Indonesia, Greenland, Russia, the Philippines and Japan.
Russia and China agree: size matters
Wrapping up today’s journey through geographic oddities, here’s one just in case you find yourself puzzled about just how much size matters. Though Washington may hate to admit it, Russia is the largest country in the world. But it does share one interesting factoid with China, which is only slightly more than half its size. Both nations border a whopping total of 14 other countries.
For China, the 14 countries are: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.
So your homework assignment for this week is to get out your map, figure out which 14 countries border Russia and find how many of them are the same as those that touch China. Report back in our comments section. Look for it below all the ads.
—Headline image: Map of the world as of February 2016. Robinson projection, standard parallels 38°N and 38°S. US government image, in the public domain.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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