National Geographic News
Final round of the 2013 National Geographic World Championship held in St. Petersburg Russia.

Competitors from the U.S. team show off their winning gold medals after the 2013 National Geographic World Championship held in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Rebecca Hale/National Geographic

Jaclyn Skurie

National Geographic

Published July 31, 2013

Do you know from which country the Fang people come? Here's a hint: This country's capital city is located on an island off Africa's west coast, and the national flag includes six small stars representing the mainland and five offshore islands.

If you guessed Equatorial Guinea, congratulations! You may have the brains to compete against geography geniuses from around the world.

This trivia is similar to the final questions the United States team answered to win first place at the 11th National Geographic World Championship, held Wednesday at the Russian Geographical Society in St. Petersburg, Russia and sponsored this year by Google.

(See "National Geographic Bee: Do You Have What It Takes?")

The victorious team defeated Canada and India in the final round; the runners-up came in second and third, respectively, after a close tiebreaker. The United States was represented by three young geography students: captain Gopi Ramanathan, 14, from Minnesota; Asha Jain, 13, from Wisconsin; and Neelam Sandhu, 14, from New Hampshire.

"It feels great. I am actually still sort of in shock right now," said Sandhu just hours after winning the championship.

"We went to a local chocolate museum in St. Petersburg to celebrate, and now we are planning on hanging out and enjoying the moment," she said.

After beating 14 other teams in preliminary activities on Sunday and Monday—a scavenger hunt around St. Petersburg and a written team test—the United States, Canada, and India advanced to the finals. Other competitors came from Australia, Bulgaria, China, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Poland, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom.

Moderator Alex Trebek—also host of the television show Jeopardy!—quizzed the young geography buffs on physical, cultural, and economic geography in a game-show format.

(See "Alex Trebek: On Hosting the National Geographic Bee.")


 Students compete in the National Geographic World Championship.
Students on the Nigerian team participate in a scavenger hunt around St. Petersburg, one of the problem-solving tasks included in the geography World Championship.

Photograph by Rebecca Hale, National Geographic


This is the sixth time the United States has taken home the gold since the first competition in 1993. Mongolia and Indonesia were first-time competitors. Russia won top honors at the last championship, held at Google's company headquarters in San Francisco in 2011.

Twenty years ago, National Geographic started the World Championship in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. John Fahey, chairman and CEO of the National Geographic Society, said the competition was a rewarding cross-cultural exchange.

"The competition enhances geo-literacy, international dialogue and understanding, and promotes friendships around the globe," he said. "The National Geographic World Championship competitors embody the spirit of curiosity about our planet that has defined the National Geographic Society for 125 years."

Past Winners of the National Geographic World Championship:

  • United States, 2013

  • Russia, 2011

  • Canada, 2009

  • Mexico, 2007

  • United States, 2005

  • United States, 2003

  • United States, 2001

  • United States, 1999

  • Canada, 1997

  • Australia, 1995

  • United States, 1993

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John C.

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