9 School Geography Facts That Are Actually Wrong


Some common “facts” that everyone thinks they know about the world are not true.

Think back to learning geography in school.

Have you ever questioned the “facts” you were taught, or taken them as gospel because you thought you wouldn’t be taught incorrect information?

Prepare to be shocked when you read the following list because you are about to discover that at least ten of those geographic “facts” you thought were true are wrong.

From the Nile Rivernot being the longest river in the world to Geneva which is not actually the capital of Switzerland, you are about to question everything you thought you knew about the world.

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1. You can see the Great Wall of China from space.

Although the Great Wall of China is “often presented as the only man-made object visible from space”the Chinese landmark cannot be seen in space without a camera according to NASA.

2. The Statue of Liberty is located in New York.

Not enough. The famous statue which was assembled in 1875 is geographically located in New Jersey waters. However, the sculpture is technically “part” of New York because the Supreme Court refused to strip the statue of its New Yorker status in 1987.

3. The Nile is the longest river in the world.

It is also false. After a 14-day expedition, Brazilian scientists discovered that the Amazon River is 6800 kilometers long, while the Nile is only 6695 kilometers long.

4. The capital of Canada is Toronto.

Still wrong! Ottawa is in fact the Canadian capital.

Queen Victoria chose Ottawa because it was a good distance from Canada’s border with the United States of America, the central point between Montreal and Toronto, and was along the border between Quebec and Ontario.

5. Iceland is made of “ice” and Greenland is all “green”.

Do not be fooled by the names of these countries, Iceland is not literally made of ice and Greenland is not colored green.

Legend has it that Norse explorer Erik the Red – who was exiled from Iceland – named the land he found Greenland because he wanted more people to live there.

Iceland is said to have been named by a Norwegian called Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson who climbed a mountain to see the next fjord (body of water) full of icebergs.

6. Geneva is the capital of Switzerland.

Incorrect! Contrary to popular opinion, Geneva is not the Swiss capital. Switzerland does not officially have a capital, but the city of Bern is considered its de facto capital.

7. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.

If you ask people around the world to tell you the name of the tallest mountain in the world, they’ll probably tell you “Mount Everest.”

Unfortunately, this is not true, Mauna Kea in Hawaii being 1116 meters higher from base to summit than Mount Everest (8849 meters).

The summit of Mount Everest, however, is the highest elevation above sea level in the world.

8. Antarctica is not a desert.

Did you learn that every desert has to be hot and sandy like the Sahara? This is not the case.

Deserts can also be covered in ice like Antarctica provided they receive little rain.

Antarctica is the largest and coldest desert in the world, spanning 14.2 million square kilometres.

9. Great Britain and the United Kingdom are identical.

Given that the Queen is currently Australia’s head of state, and most of us know the names of the British royal family by heart, it’s time we all learned that the terms ‘Great Britain’ and “United Kingdom” are not synonymous.

The term “Great Britain” includes England, Scotland and Wales. While the “United Kingdom” (its full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is made up of all of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


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