Each year, millions of fourth- through eighth-graders across the United States compete for the chance to participate in the National Geographic Bee finals. Many train for hundreds of hours and can invoke obscure geographic facts—like that the Madaba Map of the Holy Land was made with floor tiles—at a moment’s notice.
The ones that make the cut head to Washington, D.C., to show off their knowledge. They answer exceedingly difficult questions about the world—its history, inhabitants, lands, and seas—in a competition to take home the championship title, which comes with a $50,000 college scholarship and an all-expenses-paid Lindblad expedition, this year to the Galápagos Islands.
After years of watching kid finalists crush the questions, National Geographic staff decided to take a stab at the challenge themselves. Editors, writers, researchers, and producers tried their best to name the desert that extends from Mexico into Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona; the city near the world’s highest concentration of brown bears; and the precise location of Isla de la Juventud.
Some staff knew the answers, but many fell short of their dreams of a championship medal—never mind that they are far above the competition’s age limit.
Think you can do better? Test your geographic knowledge with the quiz below, then share the results to claim your bragging rights.
Jagged peaks of the Andes rise above the Chilean landscape.