Top 25 Common Geography Mistakes (That You Shouldn’t Believe) 2024

Who still looks at an atlas? Everyone relies on the Internet. But there are completely false things about basic notions of geography circulating there. Here are the 30 geography mistakes that make teachers sigh.

Route 66 is the longest highway in the United States


Of course, Nat King Cole made Route 66 famous with his song The highway that’s the best . But it’s that his name was easier to rhyme with ” get your kicks on Route 66 “. Route 66, or its modern equivalent I-40, is no match for Route 20, which stretches coast to coast for 5,415 km from Boston (Massachaussets) to Newport (Oregon). .

Antarctica has no time zone

Common misconception to believe that Antarctica has no time zone. In fact, thanks to the scientific stations on site, we know that there are rather nine different time zones.

Russia and Turkey are the only two countries present on two continents

You might think that Russia and Turkey are the only two countries that are on two continents. But according to geologists, the Asia-Europe border is the Caucasus watershed, which means that this border also intersects Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

The Statue of Liberty is in New York

If you want to start a debate between people in New York and people in New Jersey, throw that statement out. Make way for disputes! Even though the US Geological Survey has placed Liberty Island in the 8th District of New York, the island actually resides in New Jersey waters and is much closer to New Jersey than to New York.

The Nile is the longest river in the world

This is what has always been written in our geography books: that is why this myth is widely spread! But if you consider, as the studies do, the tributaries, the multiple channels and the rivers, the Amazon with its 6,993 km exceeds the Nile with 6,853 km.

The Mississippi River is the longest in the United States

The Mississippi is famous thanks to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, but it does not win the prize for the longest river in the United States. The Missouri River is 3,768 km long, which is 224 km longer than the Mississippi.

Maine is the easternmost state

This was true until 1959 when Alaska became a state and took that title from Maine. How? The Aleutian Islands in Alaska cross the 180 meridian, which means the islands on the other side of the line are technically located on the longest eastern longitudes in the world.

Florida is the southernmost state

The Florida Keys are a scenic haven for tourists who flock to Key West, the state’s southernmost geographic point. But the southernmost continental point…is actually, Hawaii which reaches almost the 21st latitude, only 1.61 km from the equator.

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All 50 states have daylight saving time

It’s totally false! Hawaiians don’t change their clocks like most other Americans. And Arizona also chose not to recognize daylight saving time. And to complicate matters further, the Navajo peoples of Arizona recognize the time change.

Norway is the northernmost country in the world

Sorry to disappoint you, but the Kingdom of Norway is only the fourth northernmost country. Russia, Canada and Greenland are all moving closer to the North Pole. Kaffeklubben Island, Greenland, is the northernmost land in the world.

Mount Whitney is the highest mountain in the United States

Again, Mount Whitney towered above all other peaks in the United States until Alaska joined the union. Now Alaska has the country’s 10 major mountains, the tallest being Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) at 6,190 meters (20,310 ft).

Florida has the longest coastline of any state in the United States

It seems true. After all, the entire state is surrounded by ocean, so it’s just coastline, right? Yes, but according to the Congressional Research Service, Alaska has 10,696 km of coastline compared to Florida’s 2,173 km.

Alaska has the smallest population in the United States

There was a time when this data was true. But according to a recent estimate, Wyoming has the fewest residents, with 586,000 inhabitants, which ranks it dead last. Vermont follows with 625,000 inhabitants and then Alaska with 742,000.

The longest bridge in the world is the Verrazano Narrows

This bridge – which is the gateway to New York Harbor – may be an American pride, but it’s not even close to being the longest in the world. That honor goes to the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in Beijing, China, which spans just over 164 km and carries the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train. In case you’re wondering, the Verrazano comes in at number 149 on the list of longest bridges.

Orlando is the capital of Florida

It may be the theme park capital of the country, but Orlando is not the capital of Florida. Rather, it’s Tallahassee, near the Florida-Georgia border. Why such a location? It was chosen because it was about halfway between St. Augustine and Pensacola, which were, at the time, the capitals of the Spanish territories of East Florida and West Florida.

The Krakatoa is east of Java

“Krakatoa in East Java” is the title of a thrilling film about the volcano eruption in 1883 that caused the greatest sound ever heard on earth. The problem is that the volcano is rather on the west coast of the island of Java. No one checked this fact before shooting a whole movie about it?

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Kashmir is part of India

Discussing this fact will lead to heated discussions and has even caused wars in this part of the world for many years. Even today, India, Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China claim parts of the region and there is still no agreed border.

The South Pole is in Antarctica

Well, it’s true! But that’s also wrong, because there are four different South Poles on the continent: the Geographic South Pole (where the earth’s axis intersects the Earth’s crust), the Inaccessible South Pole (where Antarctica is the lowest point farther away), the geomagnetic South Pole (where the geomagnetic field intersects the Earth’s surface) and the magnetic South Pole (where the Earth’s magnetic field points upwards). To confuse you further, due to magnetic drift, the magnetic South Pole is constantly moving.

Canada is the largest country in the world

Not even close! Russia is a mass of 17.1 million square kilometers, so big that it has 10 time zones. Canada is a good second with 9.985 million square kilometres, but still has six time zones. Indeed, there is a long gap between Vancouver in the west and St. John’s, Newfoundland, in the east.

The Matterhorn is the highest mountain in Europe

This scenic peak in Switzerland may be the most visually striking mountain in the world, but it doesn’t even come close to being the tallest in Europe. To see it, you have to look towards Elbrus, a roller coaster, which rises 5642 meters in the Caucasus Mountains near the border with Georgia.

Toronto is the capital of Canada

Toronto is Canada’s financial and media center and boasts some of the country’s most impressive cultural icons. The city even has a major league baseball team. The only thing it doesn’t have is the title of the nation’s capital, which is a four-hour drive from Ottawa. The real capital of Canada was ranked, in 2016, as the best place to live in Canada by MoneySense.

Africa is a country

Hardly: Africa is a continent with 54 countries, each with its own languages, cultures and traditions. More and more, the “Dark Continent” is entering an era of light.

Geneva is the capital of Switzerland

Geneva and Zurich may have strong reputations as world cultural centers, but the capital is actually Bern, the country’s fifth largest city. It is worth visiting if only because every international visitor receives a Toblerone chocolate bar as a welcome gift.

Holland is a country

People have always used the terms “Holland” and “Netherlands” interchangeably. However, they do not mean the same thing.

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The Netherlands has 12 provinces, including North Holland and South Holland. But since the country’s major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are in these provinces, people tend to just ignore these details and simply say “Holland”.

Greenland is bigger than Africa

We are all familiar with the Mercator projection, the rather cylindrical school world maps that expand the poles to gigantic proportions. As a result, Greenland looks really huge on these maps, while Africa looks rather modest. In truth, it is not even close to being the size of Africa.

Africa is 30.37 million square kilometers, while Greenland covers only 2.166 million square kilometers.

Britain and the UK are the same thing

We should learn that these terms are not interchangeable.

The United Kingdom is a country that includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is only a part of the island which includes England, Scotland and Wales.

Puerto Rico is a country

Perhaps it’s the fact that Spanish is the island’s primary language that makes Puerto Rico seem like a separate country. But, in fact, it is an American territory. Puerto Rican voters refused to become independent in a vote in 2012 and 2017.

Iceland is covered in ice

Top 25 Common Geography Mistakes (That You Shouldn’t Believe) 2024

Despite its name in English – Iceland – the climate of the small island in the North Atlantic is actually quite mild. Thanks to the nearby warm North Atlantic current, the coasts of Iceland remain ice-free all winter. Sure, there are glaciers, but there are also geysers and lots of volcanic activity, like the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which threw so many centers into the air that it stopped air travel in Europe for days.

Sydney is the capital of Australia

When you think of Australia, you picture the famous Sydney Opera House or think of the Sydney Olympics. It is therefore not surprising to believe that the largest city in the country is also its capital? However, the capital is actually the city of Canberra. It was chosen in 1908 as a compromise between Sydney and its rival city of Melbourne.

Lagos is the capital of Nigeria

It was true, but in 1991 the capital was changed to Abuja. There are at least two benefits to this change: Abuja is closer to the center of the country, and it’s also the location of Wonderland, the country’s first amusement park.

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Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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