“Australia Is Wider Than The Moon”: 35 Mind-Blowing Geography Facts They Never Taught You In School
Quick, pop quiz! Can you tell me how many square kilometers Canada is? How about the largest state in the US? (Hint: It’s not Texas.) Do you know off the top of your head how large Chile is? Okay, don’t panic. You’re not in high school anymore, and this won’t be graded. But if it’s been a while since you’ve looked at a map or you’ve never gone in depth with your geography studies, you just might learn a thing or two from this list. Reddit user storm1902 reached out asking for the most mind-blowing geography facts readers had, and their answers did not disappoint. Enjoy learning these facts that might give you a new perspective on our beautiful planet, and be sure to upvote all of your favorites. Below, you’ll also find an interview with Luke Kelly, one of the hosts of 80 Days: an exploration podcast. Then if you’re looking to learn even more about our world after finishing this list, you can check out another Bored Panda piece featuring fascinating maps right here.
Not sure it applies but the meteor that brought an end to the dinossaurs was so massive that the crater actually started forming itself before it even touched ground, due to the unbelievable air pressure
Edit: this definitely does not apply as I read geology, and not geography, I’m an idiot
I’m sure you took at least one geography course back in your school days, but let’s break down what the field of geography encompasses for those of us who only remember the basics like landscapes and longitude and latitude. Geography is the study of space and place and is broken down into two categories: human and physical. According to the Royal Geographical Society, human geography focuses on “the dynamics of cultures, societies and economies” while physical geography refers to the “understanding of the dynamics of landscapes and the environment”. Geography bridges the gap between understanding social and physical processes. More recently, human geography has also begun to study the causes of inequalities between places and social groups. Deepening our understanding of geography is a great way for us to better understand our planet, not only through its physical nature but also through its people.
Antarctica is the world’s largest desert, since it doesn’t get all that much rainfall. Also, if you put a cherry on top of it, Antarctica is the world’s largest dessert.
We reached out to Luke Kelly, one of the hosts of 80 Days, a podcast “dedicated to exploring little-known countries, territories settlements and cities around the world” to get some insight from someone passionate on the topic of geography. First, Luke explained to me how 80 Days was born. “We started the podcast in 2016, and the idea was essentially born out of a desire to find out more about obscure places that we’ve all heard of – Gibraltar, Tasmania, Easter Island, etc – but that not too much of us know in depth. For example, we wanted to find out why there’s a country that’s entirely enclosed by South Africa, or why Newfoundlanders sound Irish. It turns out that there was no podcast filling that niche at the time, so we started our own!”
We also asked Luke what the best part of making this podcast is. “Over the years we’ve learned a huge amount about some really weird places,” he told us. “I’d say the best part has been discovering fascinating stories from each of these places. For example we’d all heard of the Pacific island of Nauru, but only when researching the show did we find out that its government once financed a West End musical about Leonardo Da Vinci’s love life, which flopped and lost the nation loads of money.”
We also asked Luke why it’s important for people to have an understanding of the world’s geography. “We are always amazed on our show by how connected even the smallest places in the world have been down the centuries. You’d be amazed at some of the world famous figures we come across. So in that sense, every tiny place has its part to play and its own story to tell. Nowhere is entirely uninteresting.”
When asked to share his favorite geography fun facts, Luke did not leave us hanging. “Liechtenstein is the world largest exporter of false teeth.”
“The Panama Canal charges by the ton for shipping. The lowest toll ever paid to cross it was incurred by Richard Halliburton, who swam the canal in 1928. Halliburton paid just 36 cents.”
“The Isle of Man hosts an annual TT (time trial) motorbike race which is the oldest and most dangerous race of its kind in the world. Competitors travel an AVERAGE of 130 mph through the 37.5 mile long mountain course, and the race has claimed 242 lives in its 107 years of existence.”
If you’re interested in hearing more geography and history fun facts from Luke, be sure to check out the 80 Days podcast right here.
Rubies and Sapphires are in fact, the same mineral, and both of them, as well as Emeralds, are actually rarer then Diamonds.
Having a better understanding of geography tends to encourage us to want to travel more as well. When we start opening up the door of curiosity about the planet, we often want to learn more and more. For example, if you’ve visited Mexico before, you might have experienced a very different culture than you’re used to, depending on where you are from. Part of that culture is influenced by the geography of the country, being in a warm place with a varied landscape of mountains, deserts, beaches and rain forests. Maybe on your next vacation, you’ll travel to Denmark to experience a vastly different climate and embrace a completely different culture. Then you might want to visit Thailand next. Every nation is different, but countries in the same region tend to have some cultural similarities. When we understand where countries lie geographically, we can start to better understand their cultures and their people. Your country might not be used to the idea of a mid-day nap, but in countries like Spain and Vietnam, a siesta is a great way to combat the brutal afternoon heat.
If you took a boat out of Reykjavík and sailed directly south, the first land mass you’d hit would be Antarctica.
Depending on where you are, you might have recently noticed a lot of dust from Africa coating your town.
But dust from the Sahara regularly makes it’s way to the Amazon. In fact, without that dust, the Amazon might not even exist. The soil there is pretty nutrient poor, and that dust acts as a form of fertiliser. Two massive but opposing geological features – one full of life, the other very sparse – yet very strongly connected.
Aside from climate, topography can play a large role in influencing cultures as well. If your country is filled with mountains and receives lots of snow in the winter, you might have known how to ski since you were 3. On the other hand, countries in warmer places filled with lakes and rivers, like Taiwan, might be more invested in water sports and swimming. Topography even influences how we eat, as what food we have access to depends on what we can grow and source close to home. Nordic countries tend to eat a lot of fish, as they have easier access to fish than landlocked nations do. They also have historically eaten more potatoes and root vegetables than countries further south because crops grown underground could survive harsh winters.
The earth is remarkably smooth.
Everest at 8.85km above sea level compared to the Marianas trench at -11kms. A net difference of 19.85kms on a sphere 12,742kms. 0.156% of the planets circumference contains all terrain heights.
The surface of a cue ball (2.25in), has a tolerance for surface finish allowing pits or grooves to be up to 0.005in. 0.222% of its circumference.
Earth is smoother than a cue ball, even if you put Everest next to the Marianas trench or dug the trench another 9km deeper, it would still be within scaled cue ball tolerance for smoothness.
It’s never too late to educate yourself on geography, especially if your school system didn’t do a great job teaching you in the first place. In the United States, for example, one 2018 study of eighth graders found that nearly three quarters of them tested below proficient in geography on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Questions on the exam included topics like locating major cities on a map, discussing the impacts of urbanization, identifying characteristics on a climate graph and using photos to explain human adaptation to climate. 2018 was not an exceptional to the rule either, as similar results were found on the same assessment in 2014 and 1994. Normally, I would not suggest heading to Reddit to learn, but if students aren’t picking up a great understanding of geography in schools, they might as well find it somewhere else.
Not Earth’s geography but Mars’. Olympus Mons (volcano on Mars) is so big that it curves with the curvature of Mars itself to an extent that you cannot see the peak of the volcano if you would stand at the base of it.
Edit 1: changed Mount Olympus to Olympus moms
Edit 2: Changed Olympus moms to Olympus Mons
P. S. As you see I’m phenomenal at typing
The distance between New Zealand and Australia is roughly the same as the distance between The Netherlands and Libya.
Another important reason to understand geography is to better understand the prevalence of climate change. Climate change has already affected the planet’s geography by causing rising sea levels and melting of ice caps, but it also has created natural disasters that have shaped the world. Excess rainfall, wildfires, droughts and heat waves have already begun shifting landscapes, and the rising sea levels are shrinking island nations. The world’s altering geography could have devastating effects, like nations suddenly being unable to produce crops they have relied on for centuries. It’s important that we understand how to limit our carbon footprints and take action to reduce or reverse climate change before it’s way too late.
How far north Europe is. I always pictured Europe as roughly parallel to the US, so northern Europe would be the same latitude as Minnesota and southern Europe as Florida. Not even close. The UK is almost entirely north of the lower 48 states and Rome is further north than New York City.
Doing our own research to learn about geography is also never a bad idea, as we can’t always rely on every map we’ve seen. In fact, there are actually 10 different versions of the world map, according to Times Now. No map will ever be 100% accurate because they’re flat representations of a globe; there will always be some spots that are a little wonky or not fully to scale. The most commonly used map is the Mercator projection, which was designed by cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569, but it’s sometimes criticized for the distortion of countries closer to the North and South poles. For example, Greenland looks much larger on this map than it is in reality.
When I worked for FedEx back in the 90’s one of the reasons why they chose Anchorage as a global hub (apart from the fact that aircraft use less fuel due to it being cooler) was that it is one of the only places in the world that is within 10 hours of the three biggest global markets; North America, Europe and Asia!
Who would have thought that a place considered in the middle of nowhere is actually the centre of the world.
Texas is large enough that I could fit Copenhagen, Brussels, Zagreb, and Warsaw with their real life distances from each other inside the State lines.
The Great Lakes contain enough fresh water to flood an area the size of Great Britain in over 100 meters of water.
Some alternatives to the Mercator projection include the Gall-Peters, the Winkel-Tripel, and the Robinson projections. The Gall-Peters does a better job of portraying the size of nations and is actually promoted by the United Nations. When it comes to the shape of certain places, though, there are distinct distortions. Next we have the Winkel-Tripel projection, which minimizes three major areas of distortion: area, direction and distance. The National Geographic Society even adopted this map in 1998 and began drawing their maps using it, but the projection still includes some distortions, specifically when it comes to angles. The Robinson projection was developed in 1963 with “the primary purpose of creating a visually appealing map of the world”. While it is not entirely accurate on the shape or size of landmasses, it’s sometimes considered a good “compromise” of other older versions.
* The Appalachian mountain range formed before the North American continent broke away from Europe, so there’s a little chunk of the Appalachians in France.
* Relatively speaking, we live on the skin of an apple. That’s about how thick the Earth’s crust is in proportion to its volume.
* The Australian tectonic plate is drifting north at a rapid rate relative to other plates. The whole continent is moving north and slightly clockwise at around 2.7 inches a year, which is fast enough that GPS systems have had to compensate for it to stay accurate. In a few hundred million years, Australia will probably collide with Asia, creating a mountain range even taller than the Himalayas when it does.
* It’s also easy to forget how recent some of our research and discoveries are. Though the idea of “continental drift” was first proposed in 1915, the theory of plate tectonics wasn’t really well developed until the 1950s, continuing into the 1970s. And while we currently understand pretty well that an asteroid impact caused most dinosaurs to rapidly go extinct, down to the exact location of the crater and the size of the asteroid and everything, the asteroid-impact theory wasn’t proposed until 1980.
I don’t know if it’s geography per se but I read somewhere that if the sun was the size of a white
Blood cell, the milk way galaxy would be the size of the continental United States. That made me say woah..
If you’re really passionate about geography, it might be worth considering studying it in university and going on to pursue a career in the field. Those who have studied geography can go down the career paths of environmental specialists, business location/allocation experts, market researchers, cartographers, community development and planning specialists, satellite image analysts, weather forecasters or educators. No matter where they end up, anyone with a geography degree can be sure that their knowledge will be useful in the personal and professional lives.
The country that spans the most different time zones is… France! Because they have so many islands and areas around the world that are considered French soil.
Britain also has a bunch of overseas possessions that belong to the crown, but unlike France they don’t consider these places to be part of the same country.
America and Canada share the longest demilitarized border in the world.
[Point Nemo](https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/nemo.html) is the loneliest point away from any other land (2,688 km away of any other)
The closest people are the ones at the ISS.
We hope you’re enjoying this fascinating list of geography facts and that it’s taught you something you didn’t learn in school. Learning so much about our world is inspiring me to get out and experience a bit more of our planet’s remarkable geography. Remember to upvote all of your favorite facts that you’d like your fellow pandas to see, and let us know in the comments what the most interesting geography fact you know is!
Maine borders exactly one state. Tennessee and Missouri border eight apiece.
Half the world’s population lives within 3,300 kilometers of Mong Khet, Myanmar.
Manila’s population density is more than 100,000 people per square mile. In fact, the three densest cities in the world are all in the Philippines.
The distance between the highest point and the lowest point in the contiguous United States is less than 85 miles.
At high noon in Hawaii when the Sun is directly overhead, the shadows of objects evenly line up to make it look as if there are no shadows being cast, so objects planted in the ground would look like they’re in a poorly rendered video game. This phenomenon is called Lahaina Noon and it happens bi-annually.
Canada has the longest coastline in the world at approximately 243,042 kilometres. It’s estimated that it would take more than 30 years to walk Canada’s coastline at the rate of 19 kilometres a day.
Russia and America are so close. Whenever I look on a map, they are on opposite sides, but they are so much closer irl. I know, I am an idiot.
Although I’m on the other side of the planet, only 1 country separates me from North Korea.
Note: this post originally had 95 images. It’s been shortened to the top 35 images based on user votes.