Minnesota Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Serving RPCVs and the Community 

2005 Minnesota RPCV Geography Answers

US and North America

COUNTY FAIR (14 pts): Kings County, New York (Brooklyn), with about 2.5 million residents, is the most populous county on the U.S. east coast—but only #7 in the country. Name the four states that contain the six most populous counties in the U.S. (Bonus points for naming the six counties!) (2 pts. for each state; bonus:1 pt. for each county name)

California, Illinois, Texas, Arizona.
Bonus—county names: Los Angeles, CA; Cook, IL; Harris, TX; Maricopa, AZ; Orange, CA; San Diego, CA

THICK AND THIN (4 pts): Washington, DC had 9378 people per square mile as of the 2000 census. Alaska had 1.1 per square mile, and Hawaii had 189. Among the 48 contiguous states, which state is most densely populated, and which state is most sparsely (least densely) populated? (2 pts. for each)

New Jersey is the most densely populated, with 1135 people per square mile as of the 2000 census.
Wyoming, with 5.1 per square mile, is the most sparsely (least densely) populated.

NOT SQUARE (4 pts): There is a point in the southwestern U.S. where four states meet. Name the four states that form the “Four Corners.” (1 pt. for each)

Answer: Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

ELEVATED STATES (7 pts): Most school kids know that the two big mountain ranges in the U.S. are the Appalachians, older and lower in the East, and the Rockies, younger and higher in the West. There are a number of other named mountain ranges in the U.S. that are less widely known. Match the mountain range on the left with the state on the right that it runs through. (1 pt. for each)


Adirondack – New York

Aleutian – Alaska

Bitterroot – Idaho

Cascade – Washington

Ozark – Arkansas

Sierra Nevada – California

White – New Hampshire

GET YOUR KICKS (8 pts): Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles was continuously paved by 1938, just before World War II began. It played a key role in commercial and recreational transportation in the mid-20th century and was paid tribute to in literature (John Steinback’s The Grapes of Wrath), popular song, and television. List the eight (8) states that Route 66 passes through (1 pt. for each)

Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles passed through the states listed here, from east to west: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

CIVIL SEPARATION (2 pts): As a result of disagreement on seceding from the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War, one state split into two states, with one part admitted as a state in the Union in 1863 and the other joining the Confederacy. The two states remain separate today, although occasional schemes to rejoin are floated. Which two states does this describe? (1 pt each state)

Virginia & West Virginia split during the Civil War in the 1860’s and have never, despite occasional talk, reunified.

NO PORT IN A STORM ( 2 pts): Most major cities grew from a port on either the ocean or an inland waterway. Name the largest North American city not adjacent to or astride a major waterway.

Dallas, TX is the largest North American city that is not adjacent to or astride a major waterway.

Languages and Place Names

LOCAL LANGUAGE (2 pts): In which of these four countries are you more likely to hear Nubian than Berber: Morocco, Algeria, Libya, or Sudan? (2 pts.)

Answer:You are more likely to hear Nubian than Berber in Sudan, rather than in Morocco, Algeria, or Libya, where Berber and Arabic are widely spoken.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (10 pts): As a result of colonization, there are many countries that speak English or French as their main languages, in some cases declaring these languages as an official language of the country. There are only eight (8) countries that have Portuguese as an official language. Name them(1 pt each)

Answers: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe.

Also, which territory of China has Portuguese as an official language? (2 pts)

Answer: Macau

SAINTLY STATES (3 pts): Which three of the following are NOT the names of actual countries (1 pt. for each):

NOT actual countries:
Saint Bernard, San Colombo, Sao Samuelo

Below are names of actual countries:
Three island nations in the Caribbean: Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis
A small country surrounded by Italy: San Marino
An island nation off the African coast: Sao Tome and Principe

STATELY NAMES (10 pts): Many schoolchildren can name most or all of the 50 states. However, the origins of these names are not so widely known. For each description below, name the state. (1 pt. for each)

1. Named for the wife of Charles I of England: MARYLAND
2. Chippewa for “great water,” after a Great Lake: MICHIGAN
3. Name of an imaginary island in a Spanish romance: CALIFORNIA
4. Spanish for “red”: COLORADO
5. French for “green mountain”: VERMONT
6. Named for an English king: GEORGIA
7. Named for a French king: LOUISIANA
8. Named for the first president: WASHINGTON
9. Choctaw for “red man”: OKLAHOMA
10. Dakota Sioux for “sky blue water”: MINNESOTA

LATIN INFLUENCE (5 pts): The names for continents in English mostly come from the language of the Romans. Select from among the following five to match the descriptions below: Africa, America, Antarctica, Asia, Australia (1 pt. each)

“Southern Land” in Latin = Australia
“To rise” (as of the sun) in Latin = Asia
Name for a southwestern portion of the Roman Empire = Africa
A form of the first name of Italian explorer Vespucci = America
Opposite the constellation of the Bear = Antarctica


SANDY SOIL(5 pts): Of the following list of countries, which ones are at least partially covered by the Sahara Desert? (1 pt each)

Answer: Chad, Mali, Morocco, and Sudan are at least partially covered by the Sahara Desert.

Burkina Faso, formerly Upper Volta, is NOT covered by part of the Sahara Desert. This country is mostly Sahel, a semi-arid region south of the Sahara Desert. Since the 1960s it has been afflicted by prolonged periods of extensive drought.

SNOW AND ICE (5 pts): Name the five countries that have the largest percentage of their areas covered in snow and ice year round. (1 pt each)

Answer: Iceland (24.4%), Tajikistan (5.0), Switzerland (3.9), Canada (3.3), and Chile (2.9).

Atlas Geography

CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION (4 pts): Chinese civilization grew in and between the river valleys of two of the world’s seven longest rivers. This area is sometimes called “China Proper.” The Chinese names for the two rivers are Huang in the north, and Chang in the south. What are their names in English? (2 pts. each)

Answer: The Yellow River (Huang in Chinese) in the north, and the Yangtze River (Chang) in the south.

UP NORTH (12 pts):

US: In the following American city pairs, which is farther north? (1 pt. for each)


Columbus, Ohio is north of Columbus, Georgia
Jackson, Michigan is north of Jackson, Mississippi
Portland, Oregon is north of Portland, Maine
Rochester, Minnesota is north of Rochester, New York
St. Joseph, Missouri is north of San Jose, California
Springfield, Massachusetts is north of Springfield, Illinois
Wilmington, Delaware is north of Wilmington, North Carolina

World: Same question as above (1 pt each)
Algiers, Algeria is north of Atlanta, Georgia
Saint Paul, Minnesota is north of Toronto, Canada
Calcutta, India is north of Bangkok, Thailand
Nairobi, Kenya is north of Lima, Peru
Honolulu, Hawaii is north of Khartoum, Sudan           

DOWN UNDER (4 pts): Antarctica covers the South Pole, but besides Antarctica, which continent reaches farthest south? (2 pt.)

Answer: South America

The mainland of which country reaches farthest south?? (1 pt)

Answer: Chile

HIGH AND DRY (10 pts): Name the small, land-locked, U.N.-member countries surrounded by the country or countries listed below (hint: The Vatican is an observer, not a member, of the U.N.) (2 pts. for each)


Austria & Switzerland—Liechtenstein
France & Spain—Andorra
Italy—San Marino
South Africa—Lesotho
South Africa & Mozambique—Swaziland

HILL AND VALE (7 pts): Mountain ranges and rivers are geographic features that often form boundaries. Match the feature on the left with the entities on the right whose borders the feature forms (fully or in part). (1 pt. for each)


Himalayas: NEPAL-TIBET
Rio Grande: MEXICO-U.S.

GREAT LAKES (6 pts): Six of the world’s 10 largest lakes are in or near groups called “The Great Lakes” on two different continents. List the 3 largest of the North American Great Lakes and the 3 largest of the African Great Lakes. (1 pt. each)


In Africa: Lakes Malawi, Tanganyika, Victoria

In North America: Lakes Huron, Michigan, Superior

Politics and Commerce

BALKANIZED (13 pts): The Balkan Peninsula is in southeast Europe, and what happened to the nations there after World War I gave rise to the verb “balkanize,” which means “to break up into small, mutually hostile political units. For each nation listed below, determine if it is a Balkan state or not (1 pt each)

Bosnia & Herzegovina
Serbia & Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia)


Balkan states: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia), Slovenia, Turkey

NOT Balkan states: France, Portugal, Sweden

FAR-FLUNG POSSESSIONS (10 pts): Many nations, including the United States, own territories some distance from the main part of the nation. Some of the following lands are actually not sovereign and belong to another nation. For each of the following, list the nation it belongs to. If it is sovereign, answer “sovereign”. (2 pts. for each)


Gibraltar       UK
Greenland      Denmark
Guadeloupe      France
Guam      US
Guatemala      Sovereign

ARTIFICIAL LINK (4 pts): In order to make the shipping of goods cheaper and more efficient between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, a man-made channel was created connecting the two bodies of water.

Answer: Panama Canal

In which Central American country was the first attempt at creating such a channel undertaken?(2 pts)

Answer: Nicaragua – As early as 1567, King Phillip II of Spain studied the idea. A connection from the San Juan River to Lake Nicaragua was tried and abandoned.

DIVIDING THE NEW WORLD (4 pts): The Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 divided the Americas into two realms, along the 50 degrees west longitude line. One European power had rights to all territory east of the line (which was found to be only part of South America) and the other had rights to everything west. What were the two European powers who were party to the treaty? (2 pt. for each)


Portugal acquired rights to all territory east of the line and Spain acquired rights to everything west. This is why Brazilians speaks Portuguese now and people from Chile to Mexico speak Spanish.


According to the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005, create by Transparency International (http://www.transparency.org), list the 5 most corrupt and 5 least corrupt countries..(1 pt for each country-- 5 point bonus for naming all five in order for either category—20 pts possible)


Most corrupt:
Chad and Bangladesh (tie)
Turkmenistan, Myanmar, Haiti (tie)

Least corrupt:
Finland and New Zealand (tie)



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