Where on a Globe?


How I am going to learn all countries, their capitals, flags and where they fall on a map.

The idea of this project is shy than 20 years, when in 1995 in grade 3, I asked my parents for a globe lamp for Christmas (yes, I didn’t write letters to Santa), to complement my outdated 1989 Atlas and the brand new Larousse Dictionary that had all the flags on the first three pages. The idea was to learn maps, countries, capitals and flags or as many as possible. And that was hardly an unsuccessful project, it is from that time that I know Nepal’s flag is two red triangles and the capital of Bahrain is Manama. It took me couple of more years to learn that Warsaw is the capital of Poland and Oslo is the capital of Norway (for some reason, I confused those two), but I learned to place both countries on my precious globe.

Fast forward 17 years, in 2012 I was sitting on a plane from Doha to Dubai and it occurred to me that I still confused the map of the gulf and naturally, I made good use of the tiny map on the tinier screen of the airplane and decided that recalling off the top of my head all the countries and capitals I know by heart would be a good way to combat the blues of the 18th UN Climate Conference.

The results were interesting, I realized that I knew best the countries, capitals and maps of Europe, Middle East and North and South America. While I knew Central American and far-east Asian countries, I had no idea how to place them on a map and I lacked knowledge of Ex-soviet and Sub-Saharan African countries as well as small island states.

The thing about pointless projects like that is that they tend to fall through the cracks, but they were always on my radar. About a year and a half later it is becoming more of a reality, so why?

While I do enjoy travel and geography, unless I am a sailor or pilot travelling without a control team or the UN Secretary General, knowing all the countries of the world is still relatively pointless. It is obviously more useful in my head than to know all the characters of “House of Cards” for example and will evidently take me less time to learn the world countries, capitals, flags and maps than to watch a TV series, so in that it is justified.

On a more serious note, I come from tiny albeit very “strategic” country and it bugs when people do not know where it is, although you could be coming from the capital of the second largest country in the world and you will still encounter people who don’t know where that is, but I digress.

So having already met people from places as small as Maldives or Tuvalu for example, I had a sense of satisfaction in knowing where those places were.

Also, I would like to know more about Seychelles and Bora Bora the next time I encounter a couple spending half my yearly salary to honeymoon there than that is a place with resorts.

But most importantly, I think it is to remain faithful to a childhood dream and the times my dad read the Atlas for me and my mother quizzed me on flags.


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