Maybe you’ve just discovered the Google Maps version of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” and are disappointed at how soon it was over/how easy it was. Maybe you’re a geography nerd looking to hone your skills. Maybe you’re just bored and looking for a lightly educational way to waste some time. No matter, you’ve come to the right place: the Internet is full of ways to learn more about the world we live in.
1. Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? on Google Earth
This classic game has recently been revived by Google Earth as a short adventure through several world cities. If you were hoping for an actual challenge, you may be disappointed here: the campaign only takes a few minutes to play through completely, and the clues aren’t at all tricky to figure out, but it does induce some nostalgia, and it might whet your appetite for more geography!
Ever want to get dumped onto a road in the middle of nowhere and have to figure out where you are using only the information you can glean from your surroundings? If you’re not sure how you’d feel about that, you can find out on GeoGuessr, a game that randomly picks locations on Google Street View and asks you to guess where in the world you are. It’s well-designed, plays smoothly, and comes with lots of features, challenges, and even leagues for playing against others. It does have an unfortunate habit of dropping you into the middle of forests, though, so you may have to do some travelling before coming across street signs or signs of life.
Part trivia, part “can you find it on the map” game, SmartyPins works on a simple premise: you get a clue about the city, then you have to find that city on the map and drop the pin on it. It sounds simple, but the questions can get tricky. Every time you pick the wrong destination, the difference in kilometers between where you thought you were and where you are will be subtracted from your score until you hit zero. It seems like it may have been abandoned by developers, though, as the Google Map API hasn’t been updated in a while. It also includes some very specific questions about Australia for some reason.
4. Sporcle Geography Quizzes
Sporcle isn’t just for geography – it’s a general quiz website – but their geography section is excellent. The huge selection of quizzes will test you on pretty much any geographical category you can imagine, and you’ll probably run into more than a few that make you question whether you have the right to call yourself a geography geek.
Do you like finding things on maps? Seterra has many maps and many things to find, so it’s worth checking out if you get a rush out of correctly identifying every region of Colombia. They also have apps for Android and iOS.
6. Language Squad
If you’re into geography, chances are you also enjoy dipping your toes into other languages. Language Squad is a minimalistic but very usable site that challenges you to identify a language using either an audio clip or its alphabet. Think you can tell the difference between Bengali and Tamil? Lao and Thai? Good luck with that!
This site promises to teach you “every country, state and province on earth,” which may be a bit of a grandiose claim, but if learning names of places through determination and repetition is your thing, you’ll love the format on this site. When I started I could identify about half of South Korea’s provinces. I will now never forget the difference between North and South Chungcheong, even though I feel like they should have gone with “East and West Chungcheong.”
Can’t Travel? You Can Still Learn!
Booking tickets and putting your feet on the ground will always be the best way to really get to know an area, but if that’s not exactly in your money or time budget, an Internet connection can still take you a long way from home! GeoGuessr lets you explore parts of the world you wouldn’t even think to go see in person, Sporcle will make you an absolute beast at maps and trivia, and Language Squad will introduce you to more alphabets and languages than you probably knew existed. Who knows – all that knowledge might come in handy one day if you get kidnapped and/or threatened by a roaming gang of geography nerds whose only weakness is correctly naming Central Asian capitals.
Image credits: World Map Internet