Here Are the 30 Toughest National Geographic GeoBee Questions From the Past 30 Years
Celebrating three decades of budding atlas buffs.
The National Geographic GeoBee has been challenging budding atlas buffs since 1988. The contest is one of the most difficult geography bees in the world and it’s also one of the most competitive. More than 2.6 million students between fourth and eighth grade in the U.S. entered the GeoBee last year, but just 54 advanced to the finals.
Ahead of the 30th GeoBee finals on May 19th, let’s take a look at what the finalists can expect to face. Here, in chronological order, are the winning final questions—in other words, the toughest of the tough—for every year of the GeoBee. See how you stack up. (Warning: They’re not for amateurs!)
Name the flat intermontane area located at an elevation of about 10,000 feet (3,050 meters) in the central Andes.
Hint: It’s the largest non-Tibetan high plateau area on Earth. (GeoBee Year: 1989)
Altiplano (Spanish for “high plain”) spans four countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.
Mount Erebus is a volcano on what continent?
Hint: It’s the only continent without indigenous ants. (GeoBee year: 1990)
But Mount Erebus isn’t the tallest volcano on Antarctica. That distinction belongs to Mount Sidley, which, at an elevation of 14,058 feet, is more than 1,600 feet taller than Mount Erebus.
What type of landform is commonly associated with orographic precipitation?
Hint: Eiger is one of them. (GeoBee year: 1991)
Orographic precipitation occurs when moist air rises over mountains, forming clouds.
Many coastal countries have EEZs, areas extending 200 nautical miles from shore, over which countries have rights for resource exploration. EEZ stands for what?
Hint: They were created in 1982 by the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea. (GeoBee year: 1992)
Exclusive Economic Zone
America has the world’s largest EEZ. It spans nearly 4.4 million square miles. (For comparison, the entire land mass of the United States is less than 3.8 million square miles.)
Tagalog is one of the three main native languages of which island country in Asia?
Hint: It was named after a Spanish king. (GeoBee year: 1993)
Prior to English and Tagalog becoming its predominant tongues, Spanish was the official language of the Philippines for more than 300 years.
The Tagus River roughly divides which European country into two agricultural regions?
Hint: It’s part of the Iberian peninsula. (GeoBee year: 1994)
At 626 miles, the Tagus is the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula.
Pashto and Dari are the official languages of which mountainous, landlocked country in southwestern Asia?
Hint: It’s bordered by five countries, including Pakistan and China. (GeoBee year: 1995)
Afghanistan has an additional six recognized languages, which are Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashai, Nuristani, and Pamiri.
Name the European co-principality whose heads of state are the president of France and the Bishop of Urgell.
Hint: It’s the sixth-smallest country in Europe. (GeoBee year: 1996)
Andorra measures slightly more than 180 square miles in total.
Asia’s most densely populated country has about three million people and an area of less than 250 square miles (402 square kilometers). Name this country.
Hint: It has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil. (GeoBee year: 1997)
Singapore’s population has nearly doubled since this question was asked. It’s now home to approximately 5.6 million people. And before you head out on your next adventure, make sure you know these 15 American Habits That Are Offensive in Other Countries.
More than 80 million people live in the European Union’s most populous member country. Name this country.
Hint: Its flag is black, red, and gold. (GeoBee year: 1998)
The black, red, and gold German flag was officially adopted in 1919.
The condition characterized by unusually cold ocean temperature in the equatorial region of the eastern Pacific Ocean is known by what Spanish name?
Hint: It means “the little girl.” (GeoBee year: 1999)
El Niño is a similar phenomenon, but is marked by unusually warm ocean temperatures.
Name two of the three largest sections of Denmark, which include its mainland peninsula and two largest islands.
Hint: The Great Belt Fixed Link connects the two. (GeoBee year: 2000)
Fyn and Sjælland
The construction of the Great Belt Bridge cost approximately 21.4 billion Danish Krone in 1988 when it was built. Today, adjusted for inflation, that’s about 38 billion Krone, which is approximately $5.8 billion in the U.S.
Below the equilibrium line of glaciers there is a region of melting, evaporation, and sublimation. Name this zone.
Hint: Above it is the accumulation zone. (GeoBee year: 2001)
Zone of Ablation
Lakes and streams on glaciers are typically found in their ablation zones.
Lop Nur, a marshy depression at the east end of the Tarim Basin, is a nuclear test site for which country?
Hint: This country has a population of about 1.4 billion. (GeoBee year: 2002)
While it’s mostly dried up today, back in 1928, Lop Nur once covered 1,200 square miles.
Goa, a state in southwestern India, was a possession of which country until 1961?
Hint: It’s the country where Madeira wine comes from. (GeoBee year: 2003)
Old Goa was Portugal’s capital from 1530 to 1843 and Nova Goa was its capital from 1843 to 1961.
Peshawar, a city in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, has had strategic importance for centuries because of its location near what historic pass?
Hint: It’s part of the Silk Road. (GeoBee year: 2004)
The pass reaches its highest point in the Pakistani town of Landi Kotal.
Lake Gatún, an artificial lake that constitutes part of the Panama Canal system, was created by damming which river?
Hint: It drains into two oceans. (GeoBee year: 2005)
The Chagres is the Panama Canal Watershed’s largest river.
Name the mountains that extend across much of Wales, from the Irish Sea to the Bristol Channel.
Hint: Their highest point is Plynlimon. (GeoBee year: 2006)
Despite multiple proposals, locals in the Cambrian Mountains have repeatedly kept the area from becoming a national park.
A city that is divided by a river of the same name was the imperial capital of Vietnam for more than a century. Name this city, which is still an important cultural center.
Hint: It’s on the Perfume River. (GeoBee year: 2007)
Hué’s impressive citadel, built in the 1800s, remains its most popular attraction.
Cochabamba has been in the news due to protests over the privatization of water supply and autonomy issues. Cochabamba is in what country?
Hint: The country’s president has been Evo Morales since 2006. (GeoBee year: 2008)
Cochabamba’s mild year-round temperatures have earned it the nickname “The City of Eternal Spring.”
Timis County shares its name with a tributary of the Danube and is located in the western part of which European country?
Hint: It’s home to Transylvania. (GeoBee year: 2009)
Timis County is the largest county in Romania, covering 3,358 square miles.
The largest city in northern Haiti was renamed following Haiti’s independence from France. What is the present-day name of this city?
Hint: It used to be called Cap-Henri. (GeoBee year: 2010)
Cap-Haïtien’s vibrant culture once earned it the moniker “The Paris of the Antilles.”
Thousands of mountain climbers and trekkers rely on Sherpas to aid their ascent of Mount Everest. The southern part of Mount Everest is located in which Nepalese national park?
Hint: It shares the Nepalese name for Mount Everest. (GeoBee year: 2011)
The name Sagarmatha combines the Nepali words for “sky” and “head.”
Name the Bavarian city located on the Danube River that was the legislative seat of the Holy Roman Empire from 1663 to 1806.
Hint: It’s home to St. Emmeram’s Abbey. (GeoBee year: 2012)
While Regensburg has a population of approximately 150,000 inhabitants, its hotels welcome more than 900,000 tourists each year.
Because Earth bulges at the Equator, the point that is farthest from the Earth’s center is the summit of a peak in Ecuador. Name this peak.
Hint: It’s an inactive stratovolcano. (GeoBee year: 2013)
It’s estimated that Chimborazo hasn’t erupted in 1,400 years.
The discovery of a major shale oil deposit in the Vaca Muerta formation in 2010 has led to an expansion of oil drilling in the Neuquén province in what country?
Hint: This country declared independence from Spain in 1816. (GeoBee year: 2014)
“Vaca Muerta” means “dead cow” in Spanish.
If completed, the proposed Grand Inga Dam would become the world’s largest hydropower plant. The dam would be built near Inga Falls on which African river?
Hint: It was formerly known as the Zaire River. (GeoBee year: 2015)
The Congo River
Inga Falls has a drop of 315 feet.
Which East African lake that drains into the Ruzizi River contains large quantities of dissolved methane gas that can generate electricity for millions of people?
Hint: It’s bordered by Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (GeoBee year: 2016)
Lake Kivu’s methane composition is thought to be due to volcanic activity.
What large mountain system that stretches more than 1,200 miles separates the Taklimakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau?
Hint: Its peak is Liushi Shan. (GeoBee year: 2017)
The Kunlun Mountains’ highest peak stands more than 23,500 feet above sea level.
Lebanon has a population most similar to which South American country?
Hint: Its main languages are Spanish and Guarani. (GeoBee year: 2018)
Paraguay has an estimated population of just over 7 million people. And for more ways to test your world knowledge, here are 30 Questions You’d Need to Ace to Pass 6th Grade Geography.
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