U.S. Team Wins National Geographic World Championship

Three geography whizzes put their craniums together to take home the gold.

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


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.

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.