Seventeen teams of the brightest geography students from around the globe will meet in California’s Bay Area July 24-27, 2011, to take part in the 10th National Geographic World Championship. The 2011 contest is sponsored by Google, and the final round will take place at the company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.
Each team will comprise three students who excelled in their national geography competition. The teams will answer questions on physical, cultural and economic geography. Current world champion Canada will defend its title against teams from Australia, Bulgaria, China, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States. China is participating for the first time.
The students arrived in San Francisco on Saturday, July 23. The competition begins Sunday with each team taking a written test. These scores will be combined with those from a challenging hands-on activity on July 25, after which the top three teams will be announced. Following a day of sightseeing around historic and scenic San Francisco, the top three teams will meet at Google headquarters for the championship finals on July 27. They will answer questions in a game-show format, moderated by Alex Trebek, host of the popular U.S. television quiz show “Jeopardy!”.
The National Geographic World Championship takes place every two years. The first contest, held in London in 1993, was won by the United States, which beat teams from the United Kingdom and Russia. Australia, competing against four other teams, won the 1995 competition at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. The third championship, held in 1997 in Washington, D.C., was won by Canada, which bested teams from eight other regions. The fourth competition, held in Toronto, in 1999, was won by the United States, which also won the 2001 contest in Vancouver, the 2003 contest at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Fla., and the 2005 contest in Budapest, Hungary. The 2007 competition at SeaWorld, San Diego, was won by Mexico, followed by Canada’s 2009 victory in Mexico City.
John Fahey, chairman and CEO National Geographic Society, said the competition was a great way for talented young geographers around the world to match wits against each other and to enjoy a rewarding cross-cultural exchange. “The competition enhances international dialogue and understanding and promotes friendships around the globe,” he said.
“Google has sponsored the U.S. geography competition, the National Geographic Bee, for three years, and we are delighted to not only do the same for this year’s World Championships but also to host these bright students at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., for the finals,” said Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps and Earth. “We were impressed by the caliber of students that made the cut during the national competition and are looking forward to seeing the best of the best from around the world demonstrate their skills as they take a shot at the world title. Through this competition, we hope to inspire the future generation of leaders and innovators to become more geographically literate and have a deeper understanding about the world they live in.”
The National Geographic Society developed the National Geographic Bee in 1989 and the National Geographic World Championship in 1993 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. It has become an annual tradition and celebration of knowledge and passion for learning around the world.