for National Geographic News
Part of the Digital Places Special News Series
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What's the most populous city in Africa? Are the Mbuti a pygmy group? Which river, the Zambezi or the Nile, empties into the Mediterranean Sea?
Just a few years ago such an onslaught of questions would have sent students scrambling for an atlas and encyclopedia set.
Today anyone with a computer can launch a layer on the desktop globe Google Earth and virtually fly over Africa as they search for the correct answers.
A double-click of the mouse over Cairo, Egypt, zooms in on the bustling city surrounding the famous pyramids. A popup balloon lets viewers know that this is Africa's largest metropolis, where more than 11 million people reside.
The campaign, led by the National Geographic Society, aims to raise geographic knowledge among kids and teens. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)
M. Ford Cochran is director of the society's online mission and education programs, which runs My Wonderful World.
He says Google Earth and other interactive mapping technologies "are putting the power of geography at anyone's fingertips.
"You can now travel around the world in about as much time as it takes to think about where you want to go," he said.
My Wonderful World was launched in response to a report released in May that revealed young adults in the U.S. are falling behind in geographic literacy.
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