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The Top 10 Countries Most People Have Never Heard Of

Where in the World?

geography-wants-youNational Geographic once conducted a survey among people ages 18-24 in nine countries to test their geography skills. Of those 9 countries, Mexico came in last, but rounding out the bottom rungs were The U.S., Canada and the UK.  Don’t we all feel like Super-Powers now?  In an attempt to catch us all up and repair our wounded sense of superiority, here’s my list of countries no one has ever heard of.  I hadn’t heard of most of these countries either.  I had to look them up, which isn’t easy when you don’t know what you’re looking for.

10. Cape Verde

9.  Vanuatu

8.  Nauru

7. Wales

6.  Kiribati

5. São Tomé & Príncipe

4. Tuvalu

3. Benin

2. Lesotho

1. Palau


June 9, 2009 - Posted by | Wistful Lists | ,


  1. The International Date Line runs through Kiribati, I think.

    Comment by Busey's Acolyte | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  2. I only knew Wales (that’s a surprise on this list) and Tuvalu… which I only know of because I once heard that selling the “.tv” domain is making them money.

    I also think I’ve heard of Palau. Didn’t he marry Mary Kay Letourneau?

    Comment by baby fish mouth | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  3. I’ve been to Benin!

    Comment by shu_shu | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  4. Psssh, I’m a rocket scientist. I never had to learn this geography junk.

    Comment by Cristal Methodd | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  5. I could understand never hearing of São Tomé & Príncipe, but Wales? Really? It’s a decent sized country thats part of the UK. That’s really surprising.

    Comment by blah | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  6. Wales was tongue-in-cheek, but you’d be surprised how few people know where it is. I think that same survey found that a frightening number of people couldn’t locate their own country on a map. 🙂

    Comment by Lily the Pink | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  7. Well if it was on a globe or a photo of earth, a lot of times they seem to photoshop out the lines where the countries divide, so your country can be like, invisible to the naked eye.

    ::chews nails and looks around::

    Comment by baby fish mouth | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  8. I hate it when I see satellite photos of Earth and the borders have all been Photoshopped out, especially when the photo is a NASA photo. It makes me think they have a better ways to waste our tax payer dollars.

    Wait! Now that I think about it, NASA are why we suck at geography. Note Cristal Methodd saying she was a rocket scientist and didn’t need geography. It’s a consipiracy!

    baby fish mouth: I think you’ve uncovered something big…

    Comment by Lily the Pink | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  9. So, when programming rocket guidance systems, do we assume that you leave the actual programming to some ninth grader who won the local geography bee?

    p.s. Isn’t Lesotho one of those completely-surrounded-by-another-country countries? Somewhere in Africa? Also, I’m pretty sure the Nauru are a race in WoW, and not a country. The survey lies. Likewise Vanuatu. Think it’s one of those spell words that Ash screws up in the Evil Dead movie. Definitely not a country. Now excuse me, I’ve gotta go back to folding my map up.

    Comment by Roxydarling | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  10. I think NASA’s the one that coined the phrase “Close only counts in horse shoes and blowing stuff up.” Wait, if we wanted to blow up those places wouldn’t we have heard of them? They must be ok then.

    Comment by Cristal Methodd | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  11. I love that the hags and Cristal and Roxy are going to be comingling over an open bar in 11 days. BRILLIANT!

    Comment by Cait | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  12. What?? There’s a get together and I wasn’t invited?

    People. Have we learned NOTHING about how exclusion hurts people and turns them into barely-functioning shells of their former selves???

    I’ll be in the other room, sulking and composing a passive-aggressive note about this.

    Edited to add (I love this feature!)

    Aaaahhh! THe wedding!! I just put that together. Carry on then.

    Many congratulations and best wishes!! 🙂

    Comment by SeaKat | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  13. I smell trouble! With a capital “T” which rhymes with “P” and which stands for pool.

    Seakat, wanna be my date? You have to put out though.

    Comment by Cristal Methodd | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  14. LOL!

    Fer Sure. Hey, pour a few drinks in me and I’m easy like Sunday morning. 😉

    Comment by SeaKat | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  15. Cristal has a passionate love affair with road tripping to New Orleans. Roxy is a bridesmaid. Stopthemadness is intrigued by the karaoke options on Bourbon Street. Mae is looking for a cupcake in the Big Easy that she won’t instantly hate. Lisa#1 is plotting to take video of said karaoke for an upcoming “Monday Music” post.

    But hey, the more the merrier. 🙂

    Comment by Cait | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  16. Cait — I was totally kidding. I don’t know if you read the random-dome entry about how horrible I am for not inviting every kid in my daughter’s pre-school to a b-day party. The teacher wrote a very pointed note and gave one to EVERY PARENT in the class. I was really just mocking all of that. 🙂

    Hope the big day goes smoothly! Congrats! 🙂

    Comment by SeaKat | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  17. 🙂

    Comment by Cait | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  18. i’ve been practicing my rendition of funkytown.

    you don’t want to know what happens when stm drinks scotch and stumbles to funkytown after making a quit stop to rock down to electric avenue.

    bon temps!

    also, i’ve heard of 4 of those places because of Survivor. they always go to weird ass places. or else they go to the CBS lot which is 3 blocks from my house and tell the contestants they’re in some weird ass place.

    Comment by stopthemadness | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  19. I get to meet some of you peeps AND watch one of my best friends get married??? Rock on. I’ll be the one making faces at the bride (just kidding!) when no one else in the audience can see (not kidding?). Hmmm…

    Comment by Roxydarling | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  20. If only Katie were going to be there:

    “It burns…it burns…”

    Comment by Cait | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  21. Fun fact: Tuvalu made some money by selling the right to the Internet domain “.tv”.

    Comment by Run-DMS | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  22. I think we should have a Hag and wanna-be convention. I vote for a west coast venue, because it’s been a while since I was out there and I had Montezuma’s revenge, so it wasn’t the most enjoyable trip ever.

    Comment by Helen Skor | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  23. So, “Hags” are chicks. For the male counterparts, how about “Dags”? Or “Stags”? Or “Jags”?

    Comment by WhoMee | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  24. Helen, that sounds like so much fun. I could probably afford to go as far as Portland, sadly. 😦

    But if anyone wants to do a convention anywhere between Seattle and Portland, I’ll be there! 🙂

    WhoMee- may I humbly suggest “haggis” (hag-guys) as the male counterpart? 😉

    Comment by SeaKat | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  25. I think male hags had previously been known as hogs, but I have no idea whether this was the official ruling, or a temporary name until someone had the energy to come up with something new.

    Comment by baby fish mouth | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  26. I’ve been to Palau, Nauru and I live in Kiribati. (I’m an American.) EVERYONE around here has heard of Palau, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Nauru!!! Can it be that people in Kiribati know more than most of the world!!! Probably not, but these are all nations in the area known as Pacific Oceania – island nations. Beautiful places and so sad that so many have never heard of them.

    Comment by Nei Diane | June 10, 2009 | Reply

  27. However, if more people had heard of them, they probably wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful (i.e. un-touristed) as they are now.

    Comment by shu_shu | June 10, 2009 | Reply

  28. i want to be nei diane.

    whenever anyone says palau, i think of indian food.

    mmmm…. indian food….

    Comment by DonnaMartin | June 10, 2009 | Reply

  29. Interesting coincidence. I just heard this morning that Palau will accept 17 of the 18 Uighurs (Chinese Muslims) who were captured in the Afghan/Iraq War and are being held in Gitmo today. This is being done for humanitarian reasons, since the Uighurs have been found not to be enemy combatants.

    Comment by WhoMee | June 10, 2009 | Reply

  30. WhoMee: Awesome. You see how quickly Thundersquee! made a difference?

    Comment by Lily the Pink | June 10, 2009 | Reply

  31. Nei Diane: It’s surprising how little even the most intelligent of us know about the world in general. I knew some of the places on that list, Vanuatu, Benin, Lesotho…even Wales! But in creating the list I realized how many places there were that we never hear about, especially in the Oceania area. I’d love to learn more about that area and get a chance to explore it. How did you end up in Kiribati?

    Comment by Lily the Pink | June 10, 2009 | Reply

  32. Lily and Nei,

    TMIMO, At a certain point it becomes a matter of editing the information we try to keep in our heads simply to save our sanity!!

    Is it somewhat ignorant not to know where those places are? Somewhat, yeah. (And I had only heard of Lesotho and Benin, and of course, Wales so I’m including myself in the ig’nant category.) But I have to keep track of a LOT of information in my life: work stuff, birthdays, approximately 8 zillion passwords, my kid’s names… Something has to go.

    And for me, it’s random geographic locations until and if they become relevant to my life.

    Comment by SeaKat | June 10, 2009 | Reply

  33. SeaKat: Yeah, I’m not shaming anyone. There are a LOT of countries in this world and without my globe and the Animaniacs I wouldn’t know most of them. But that area truly is some place I’d like to explore…and by explore I mean “vacation indefinitely.”

    Comment by Lily the Pink | June 10, 2009 | Reply

  34. I’m just some random. I came here googling for music from Kiribati.

    “I hate it when I see satellite photos of Earth and the borders have all been Photoshopped out, especially when the photo is a NASA photo.”
    But you can’t see the borders from a satellite photo normally. Borders are just political divisions saying which government rules what. You can’t actually see them on a map unless someone draws them on.

    Comment by James | August 1, 2009 | Reply

  35. Ok, James is sweet. We need to find him and invite him back. D’ya see how polite he was when he must have thought that we were morons??

    James, thank you. But it was a joke. Sincerely, though – you were very polite. Your parents did a good job w/you. Kudos.

    Comment by SeaKat | August 1, 2009 | Reply

  36. That was precious, be our friend James, we have candy. 🙂

    Comment by baby fish mouth | August 2, 2009 | Reply

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