Sideglances
by SARAH GREENE
Feb 28, 2014 | 1146 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print


A TRIVIA QUIZ is something I have never been able to resist, even though they often make me feel exceedingly stupid. The latest to come to hand was inspired by the review of a book by Susan Jacoby on reading while watching TV, “The Age of American Unreason.”

The answers were given on the last page. I didn’t cheat, but looking up the answers after I had finished was a sobering experience.

HERE ARE A few of the answers I missed:

The youngest American city is Jacksonville, NC, not Killeen, TX as I had guessed

The tenth most spoken language in the world is German, not my choice, Portuguese.

What Grenada and Costa Rica have in common is that they have no army.

Ouagadougou is the capital of which African country? Djibouti, was my uninformed pick, instead of Burkina Faso. (I suspect that many Americans, such as I, had never heard of either the country or its capital.)

Rwanda and El Salvador are still not members of the United Nations, I had guessed, Wrong. Taiwan was the correct answer.

The second longest coastline in the world, after Canada, is in Indonesia, not Australia.

Libya, not Tajikistan, has the world’s longest official name: Al Jumahiriya al Arabiyah al Libiyah ash Shabiyah al Ishtirakiyah al Uzma.

SOME OF those I got right were interesting as well. Here are some of those:

MTR is the name of Hong Kong’s metro system.

Trabazon, Turkey is bordered by the Black Sea.

You can drive on the left in Ireland and Nepal.

The prime meridian runs through Europe, Asia and Antarctica.

The Shard, based in London, is Europe’s tallest building at 72 floors.

The Nile River is the longest in the world at 4,160 miles, but the Amazon is the second longest, I guessed correctly, even though the Yangtze and the Congo seemed likely as well. The Hunang He River? Never heard of it.

The geography quiz was introduced by this provocative paragraph:

The Planet Earth is  strange and wild place. But it gets even stranger, when you do what human beings do: create countries out of the land, name them, add dates to them.
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