Culture

10 Mind-Boggling Geography Facts To Pull Out At Your Next Dinner Party

Did you know that Australia is wider than the moon?

There’s only so much David Attenborough can teach us on Planet Earth.

To learn more, we often have to consult the depths of the Internet to learn about the great big world we live in, and thankfully users on this Reddit thread have been more than happy to share some mind-bending facts about the planet.

Like, did you know Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents? Or that Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined? Or that there’s a city called Rome on every continent? Facts are fun, hey?

Here are 10 more from Reddit that are bound to help you out at trivia.

#1 Australia is wider than the moon

Add this one to the #moreyouknow file: Australia’s diameter is 600km wider than the moon’s. The moon sits at 3400km in diameter, while Australia’s diameter from east to west is almost 4000km. The moon, as a sphere, has more surface size, but it’s still pretty amazing.

#2 More than half the world’s population lies inside this circle

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Image: reddit

This eye-opening take on population sizes comes from redditor valeriepieris. Even more mind-blowing is the realisation that the circle pulls this feat off while being mostly water and including the most sparsely populated country on earth, Mongolia.

(And, yes, technically speaking the “circle” in the image isn’t actually a circle, based on the projection of the map and the relative shape/size/location of the countries in real life, but hey, it’s pretty cool anyway.)

#3 In the Philippines, there’s an island in a lake in an island in a lake in an island…

No, this isn’t some riddle. In fact, a tiny piece of land called Vulcan Point Island exists in a crater lake on Volcano Island in Lake Taal on the Philippine island of Luzon. If you’re interested (or just really bored) try zooming in and out of the dot on Google Maps – it’s worth it, I promise.

#4 The Pacific Ocean is so massive, it’s essentially its own hemisphere

One redittor pointed out that the Pacific Ocean is a lot larger than we think it is.

“There are a few points [on earth] where if you started in the Pacific Ocean, and [travelled] directly through the centre of the earth (through the core), and popped out on the opposite side of the planet, you’d still be in the Pacific Ocean,” says DoWnhillll. We think of it as smaller than it is because a lot of 2D maps split the Pacific in half.

#5 North America is a lot further south than you think it is

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It’s all got to do with the Gulf Stream, a powerful and warm Atlantic Ocean current that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up to Newfoundland before crossing over towards Europe. The Gulf Stream influences the climate of the east coast of North America and the west coast of Europe.

What this means is that, if you were to look at a city like Toronto, you’d automatically assume it was in line, latitudinally, with a city like Oslo or Stockholm, simply because of the climate. But in fact, Toronto is in line with Florence in Italy, a city notorious for its vineyards and Tuscan sun. The same goes for New York City, whose European latitude twin is Madrid, not Berlin or Paris like the weather would suggest.

#6 China encompasses five time zones, despite the entire country only using one

Despite the fact that its geography spans five geographical time zones, all of China follows a single standard time offset (that of UTC+8:00). In 1918, the Central Observatory of the Republic of China divided the country into five different time zones, but following the Chinese Civil War in 1949, they were abolished to make room for one single time zone called Beijing Time, or China Standard Time, internationally. As a result, crossing over to the Afghan border on China’s west means a three and a half hour time difference.

In terms of daylight hours, January sees the westernmost point of Tibet observing daylight from about 9:41am to 7:49pm, compared to the easternmost point of Heilongjiang which sees daylight from 6:54am to 3:18pm. Similarly in July, Tibet has daylight time from 7:40am to 9.50pm, and Heilongjiang from 3:05am to 7:08pm.

#7 Even though Russia and the US are only 4km apart geographically, there’s a 21-hour time difference between them

The two islands where this distance is measured are the Diomede Islands, which consist of a Russian island called Big Diomede, and an American island called Little Diomede. As the islands are located in the middle of the Bering Strait between mainland Alaska and Siberia, they’re separated by the International Date Line. Big Diomede is almost a day ahead of Little Diomede – as a result the islands are sometimes called Tomorrow Island (Big Diomede) and Yesterday Isle (Little Diomede).

#8 You only have to cross one country on land to get from North Korea to Norway

And that country is Russia, the gigantic landmass that it is. Road trip, anyone?

#9 There are only two countries in the world where you need to cross at least two countries to reach the sea

All others need to cross only one other country, or none at all. The countries in question? Uzbekistan and Liechtenstein. There is some contention over Uzbekistan however, as it all depends on whether you would consider the Caspian Sea an actual sea, or just a really big lake.

#10 Outside of Antarctica, there’s only one other area considered to be truly terra nullius

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Image: WonderWhy / Flickr

The term terra nillius is a latin expression for “nobody’s land,” and is used in international law to describe territory which has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state.

The area in question is Bir Tawil, a 2060-square-kilometre patch of land along the border of Egypt and Sudan which is uninhabited and claimed by neither country. Apparently neither nation is interested in Bir Tawil simply because there’s nothing there; land between the borders is mostly sand and sparse dry mountains.

In 2014, an American man tried to claim property of Bir Tawil so that his daughter could become a real life princess.

Check out Qantas flights and begin your next adventure.

[h/t reddit]