How Well Do You Really Know the World?


By: Jonnathan Chadwick

6 Min Quiz

Image: Image Source / Image Source / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Earth, aka the Blue Planet, aka Mother Earth, is the most mysterious phenomenon known to man. How in the world did the perfect amount of gravity pull together the perfect quantity of particles and elements to create the perfect planet positioned a perfect distance from the Sun full of the perfect amount of land, water and air? If gravity had been one iota stronger or weaker than it is, none of this would have happened. If the atmosphere was full of hydrogen and helium instead of oxygen, life as we know it wouldn't exist. If the moon never formed, oceans would never rise and fall. If microorganisms never formed out of non-living matter, the planet would be barren.

Modern humans have roamed Earth for about 200,000 years, which is a blip on the planet's radar. We weren't the first humans to roam the planet and it makes sense to believe we won't be the last, but whatever the case, we only have one Earth. It has sustained life for billions of years. Species have come and gone, wars have killed, disaster has destroyed, humans have depleted, but Earth is still standing strong, and it's not fantasy to think it will be standing long after we're gone. What do you really know about this planet that we call home?

The first human remains date back millions of years. How old is Earth?

After the Big Bang, gravity began pulling gasses and materials together to form planetary bodies and one of those bodies was Earth. The oldest rocks recovered from Earth are about 4 billion years old, and meteorite samples on Earth date back almost 4.9 billion years.


A baby is born every few seconds. What is the human population of the planet?

As of 2019, the human population of the world was 7.56 billion with one person being born every eight seconds and one person dying every 11 seconds. The population has a net gain of one person every 17 seconds.


The planet is covered with water. Which of these is not one of the five major oceans?

The five major oceans are Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and the Southern Ocean, which is also known as the Antarctic Ocean. They are all interconnected, creating the World Ocean. The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest.


There are seven continents on Earth. What is the largest one?

The seven continents, in order of largest land size, are Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe and Australia. Asia is also home to the most-populous countries in the world: China and India.


How many people live in the world's smallest country?

The smallest and least-populated country in the world is Vatican City measuring less than a quarter of a square mile and holding about 800 residents. It does, however, see close to 20,000 tourists a day during travel seasons.


Most of Earth's surface is covered by water. What percentage of Earth is covered by land?

According to the United States Geological Survey, about 71% of the planet is covered by water, leaving 29% covered by land. One popular theory in science circles is that all the land on Earth was once connected and formed the super-continent known as Pangaea.


There are billions of people on Earth. Which quadrant of the planet is the most populous?

The most-populous quadrant of the world is the northeastern hemisphere, where almost all of Asia, Europe and a good portion of Africa sit, totaling more than 5 billion people. North and South America combined equals just 1 billion people.


There are thousands of different languages in the world. How many countries are in the world?

The United Nations recognizes 195 countries: 193 that are members and two that are observers. The five largest countries in terms of land size are Russia, Canada, the United States of America, the People's Republic of China and Brazil.


North America has 23 countries. Which continent has the most countries?

Africa has the most countries of any continent with 54 UN-recognized countries. There are also two disputed territories and several independent nations. Europe has 50 recognized countries and Asia is third with 48.


The oceans are sprinkled with thousands of islands. What is the biggest island in the world?

Although Australia, Antarctica, Africa and the Americas are islands in the sense they are surrounded by water, they are so big that they're considered continental landmasses instead of islands. The largest island in terms of land size is Greenland with 822,000 square miles.


What is the most populous island in the world?

The most populous island in the world is Java with more than 141 million people. Java is an Indonesian island in the Indian Ocean and is home to more than half of the Indonesian population as well as the country's capital, Jakarta.


Everyone knows that what goes up must come down. Who discovered gravity?

In 1687 Isaac Newton published his groundbreaking research "Principia" where he presented his law of universal gravitation. The law states that every "thing" attracts to everything in the universe. It's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the premise.


A body of water heated by underground volcanic activity is a hot spring. Where is the world's largest hot spring?

The largest natural hot spring in the world is Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand. It's more than 600 feet wide and 60 feet deep at its largest spots. The second- and third-largest springs are Boiling Lake on the island of Dominica and the Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park.


There are deserts all over the planet except for Europe. What is the biggest desert in the world?

The five largest deserts in the world are Antarctica, the Arctic, Sahara, the Australian Desert and the Arabian Desert. Antarctica is 5.5 million square miles, the Sahara is more than 3.3 million square miles and the Arabian Desert is about 900,000 square miles.


Fairyflies are the smallest insects in the world. What is the biggest fish in the world?

The whale shark is the largest fish in the world weighing in at 41,000 lbs and growing between 18 and 33 feet long. It is said that a whale shark's average lifespan is about 70 years but can live up to 130 years old.


A sailfish can swim up to 70 miles per hour. But what is the fastest flying animal?

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird in the world and can reach speeds up to 240 miles per hour. It is found almost all over the world and mostly lives among mountains, valleys and coastlines. The Golden Eagle is the second fastest bird and can reach speeds up to 200 mph.


Which of these animals are not vegetarian?

Foxes are not vegetarians and they usually eat small mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, fish and some vegetables. Gorillas, rhinos and panda bears are some of the strongest and most dangerous animals in the world and are rather strict vegetarians.


Mountains form when tectonic plates smash together and pile up. What mountain rises highest above sea level?

Mount Everest is the tallest mountain above sea level in the world at more than 29,000 feet tall. Some people argue that Mauna Kea is technically the tallest mountain in the world. It rises almost 14,000 feet above sea level, but submerges nearly 20,000 feet under the Pacific Ocean, which technically means it's almost 34,000 feet tall.


More than six thousand languages are spoken around the world. What is the most spoken language?

The top five spoken languages in the world, from most to least, are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindustani, Spanish and Arabic. There are more than 1.1 billion Chinese speakers. There are fewer than 1 billion English speakers and less than half a billion Arabic speakers.


Earth weighs 13.1 septillion pounds. What is the circumference of Earth?

The equatorial circumference of Earth is 24,901 miles. When the planet is measured longitudinally, from pole-to-pole, the circumference is 24,860 miles, which means Earth isn't a perfect sphere but an oval. The technical term for the shape is called an oblate spheroid.


There's more than 4,000 religions worldwide. What religion has the most members?

The top five religions in the world, in descending order, are Christianity, Islam, Non-religious, Hinduism and Buddhism. There are about 2.4 billion members of Christianity and more than 1 billion members of Hinduism. Buddhism has about half a billion members.


It takes eight minutes for light from the Sun to reach Earth. How far away is the Sun?

The Sun is 93 million miles away from Earth, although this number fluctuates between 91 and 94 million miles as the Earth orbits the Sun. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second, so it takes eight minutes for sunlight to reach Earth. That means when you look at the Sun, you are seeing what the Sun looked like eight minutes ago.


The moon is said to have formed when a meteorite smashed into Earth and broke off a chunk. How often does the moon orbit Earth?

The moon orbits Earth once every 27.3 days. As the moon orbits Earth, it also spins on its axis. The moon is Earth's only natural satellite and is 238,900 miles away. It takes at least three days in a rocket ship to reach the moon. It took four days in 1969.


The geological time scale measures time in eons and epochs. What eon are we living in?

We are currently living in the Phanerozoic Eon, which spans 544 million years ago to present day. The geological time scale is similar to the time scale we normally use, but instead of using the century, year, month and day, it uses the eon, era, period and epoch. Today we live in the Phanerozoic Eon, Cenozoic era, Quaternary period and Holocene epoch.


Rivers usually form from streams running downhill. What is the biggest river in the world?

The longest river in the world is the Nile River in Africa at 4,132 miles long. It flows through 11 countries from Egypt all the way down to Tanzania. The Amazon River is the second-longest river in the world at 3,977 miles long.


There are 118 elements on the periodic table. Which of these isn't one of the four major elements of Earth?

Iron, magnesium, silicon and oxygen make up more than 90% of Earth's mass. There are 92 naturally occurring elements on Earth, but the other 88 make up less than 10% of Earth. About 98% of all the elements that have ever existed were created within minutes of the Big Bang.


The earliest forms of life were created from non-living matter. Where did life begin on Earth?

Anywhere between 3.5 and 4.5 million years ago, life on Earth began via the process of abiogenesis, which is the formation of life from non-living matter. Abiogenesis occurred in the ocean when underwater geysers spewed atomic particles and those particles interacted with water, carbon and oxygen to form microorganisms like bacteria.


Several species of human have roamed Earth. What species of human roamed the longest?

Homo Erectus (Upright man) is the longest-living species of man having roamed Earth for about 2 million years. The first Homo Sapiens (Wise man aka modern humans) appeared on Earth about 200,000 years ago. We've been around for 1/10th as long but as of about 10,000 years ago, we are the only species still roaming.


How many moons in our solar system are bigger than Earth's moon?

Earth is the fifth-largest moon in our solar system. Jupiter has three moons that are bigger than our moon and Saturn has one. Our moon has a diameter of 2,158.8 miles. Jupiter's largest moon (the largest in the solar system) has a diameter of 3,273.5 miles.


What is the largest animal on the planet?

The Blue whale is the largest animal on the planet, weighing in at 300,000 pounds and measuring about 80-feet long. They are also the loudest animal on Earth. Its tongue weighs more than an elephant and its heart weighs 2,000 pounds.


Earth is both spinning on its axis and orbiting the Sun at any given moment. How fast is Earth spinning?

Earth is spinning on its axis at more than 1,000 mph at its fastest spots. If you're standing on the equator (the widest spot) you'll spin faster than someone standing on the North or South pole. It's like a basketball spinning on a finger. The Earth orbits around the sun at about 67,000 mph.


Mt. Everest is home to the tallest spot on Earth. Where is the deepest spot on Earth?

The deepest location on the planet is the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean at 36,070 feet deep. That's close to seven miles deep or more than 13 Burj Khalifas. It is a crescent-shaped trench that is about 1,580 miles long and more than 40 miles wide.


Earth has undergone drastic changes over billions of years. How many mass extinctions have occurred on Earth?

There have been five major extinctions in Earth's history where at least 70% of all species went extinct. The worst extinction was the Permian–Triassic extinction (aka the Great Dying) when 96% of all species went extinct. The last to occur was the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction when 75% of all species went extinct, including the dinosaurs.


Thousands of people are born every day. What is the average life expectancy of a person worldwide?

The worldwide average life expectancy of a person is 71.5 years. Men are expected on average to live for 68 years and 4 months and women are expected to live for 72 years and 8 months. Japan has the longest life expectancy at 83.7 and Sierra Leone has the shortest at 50.1 years. The world average in 1900 was 31 so it has more than doubled over the last century.


How much does Earth weigh?

The planet Earth weighs 13 septillion, 170 sextillion pounds or 13,170,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds. That's 13 followed by 24 digits. In 1798 scientist and philosopher Henry Cavendish famously calculated the density of Earth. His experiment was called the Cavendish experiment.


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