Can You Figure Out Which of These Things Doesn't Belong?

By: Zoe Samuel
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Geography is the study of our world, from its topographical features to its climate to its civilizations to its flora and fauna. Despite being incredibly interesting and tied to economics, politics, history, and more, it is one of the worst-taught topics in schools.

It's entirely possible to go through one's education without actually remembering how a mountain is formed, how climate change works, or simply how many continents there are and which countries are where. Fortunately, you can learn a lot of this stuff under your own steam by reading books, paying attention to news sources, traveling, and talking to people who are informed - and while you may not be an expert, you can still be pretty up to date.

Sure, not everyone can list all 196 countries in alphabetical order while drawing maps of their outlines, but most of us have a handle on roughly where things are and what's in them. We also have a fair idea of the difference between a volcano and an earthquake, or a mountain range and mere hills. Some of us go further, of course, and can easily rattle off some really arcane details and facts. So let's find out whether you are merely an ordinary geographer or a hardcore expert!

Which of these mountain ranges is not in North America?

Three of these mountain ranges are in the United States. The Maya range is in Central America.

Which of these was never part of Yugoslavia?

These are all former Yugoslavian nations, except Slovenia, which was never part of Yugoslavia. The Balkan states are now mostly peaceful and sovereign, with Kosovo being the most recent one to achieve independence.

Three of these capital cities are not the biggest city in their country. Which one is a city that is biggest in its country?

Canberra, Ottawa, and Ankara are all capital cities that are not the largest city in their country. Paris is the capital of France as well as its largest city.

Which is not a river in Africa?

Africa has excellent rivers but the Uruguay is not one of them.

Three of these are ways of mapping the sky, but one is for mapping land. Which is it?

A contour line is a line that joins all places of the same height above or below sea level, so it measures the ground. Streamlines, isobars, and isallobars all measure different lines of air pressure, airflow, or wind movements, so they measure the air.

Which is not a river in Asia?

These are great rivers of Asia - except for the Congo, which is one of Africa's most important waterways. The Yangtze, Ganges, and Indus rivers are the main thoroughfares around which the civilizations of Asia rose.

Which of these is not a damp climate?

While all four of these describe localized climates, three of them can combine to create a single one: temperate, humid, and subtropical. Arid just means straight up dry.

Which of this is not one of the Baltic states?

All four of these are former republics under the USSR - that is, communist Russia - but unlike the other three, Belarus is not a Baltic state. It is abundantly clear that Vladimir Putin's government sees all four of them as errant provinces, meaning these days, they have to be on their toes to ensure their continued independence.

Which of these is not a city on the Rhine River?

Vienna is on the Danube River. The other three cities are on the Rhine.

Which of these was never an African empire, just a place in Africa?

These are all powerful empires in Africa - except for Niger, which is one of the great rivers of Africa.

Which of these landlocked countries is not in Asia?

Three of these four landlocked countries are in Asia. The other one, Bolivia, is in South America.

Three of these are about measuring land. Which is about measuring people?

​Geographic, topographic, and cartographic are all either things that physically exist or ways to portray these physical features (e.g. the equator is not a real line on the planet but it is on maps). Demographic means the study of people and populations.

In which of these is the water standing still?

These are all regional names for a small stream - except for pool, which is a small area of standing water.

Which of these is not a kind of forest?

Tropical, temperate, and boreal are all types of forests, as defined by where on the planet they are and what sort of climate is around them. Woodland is a generic name for an area with lots of trees.

Which of these is not a city in Germany?

Strasbourg sounds German, but it isn't! It's in France.

Which of these nations with Guinea in the name is not in Africa?

There are a lot of guineas, it's true - but only one of them is part of the Pacific Rim. The other Guineas are in Africa.

Which city doesn't have a counterpart with the exact same name in both the US and Europe?

All these cities have an American counterpart named for them - except York, which has a counterpart that acknowledges it is not the original: New York.

Which of these is not on land?

An ice sheet, snowpack, or glacier is on land. An ice shelf floats on the ocean.

Which of these empires was not Islamic?

That's right - three of these are Islamic empires, two of which existed in the Golden Age of Islam and one (Ottoman) lasting into and through World War I. The Songhai Empire in Africa was nominally Islamic, but only the court really adopted the faith: the people retained their other pre-Islamic religions and traditions.

Three of these categories describe how (or whether) a tree loses leaves. One is just a type of tree. Which is it?

Evergreen, deciduous, and coniferous are ways of describing how a tree gains or loses leaves. Broad-leaved is a type of tree - usually deciduous.

Three of these wide open areas have a name that tells you how much rain they get. The other just tells you what's growing there. Which is it?

Grassland is a generic name for a large grassy area (obviously). The others are all wide open spaces where the name tells you something about how much rainfall they get.

Which of these deserts is not hot?

All of these are deserts, as defined by how much moisture comes from the sky - but Antarctica is the only cold one. That said, it gets less rain than the Sahara.

Which of these city states is not in Europe?

Three of these are independent city states within Europe. Singapore is also a city state, but it is in Asia.

These are all volcanic terms - but while three describe what's in a volcano (or coming out of it), one describes the process of a volcano going off. Which one is it?

This one is all about volcanoes. Three of these are specific things that come out of a volcano. The other one - an eruption - is the general name for when a volcano starts blowing its top.

Which of these states was not named for a British royal person?

Three of these states were named to honor European royalty: Queen Elizabeth I of England, Charles IX of France (and later Charles I and II of England) and Mary I of England. Connecticut is named for its Native name.

Which of these is not a name for a particular kind of really big, scary storm?

Three of these are names for the same phenomenon - a hurricane. A gale is a generic word for any stormy weather that goes above the average. It is not a technical term.

Which of these is not a kind of wind, but instead an absence of wind?

Three of these are wind systems that move air around the planet. The doldrums, however, is​ a low-pressure area where there is virtually no wind.

Which of these natural disasters is the only one that can occur underground?

These are all natural disasters, but three of them occur in the atmosphere while earthquakes take place underground.

Three of these are on the surface of the Earth, and one is below. Which is it?

Once magma reaches the surface, it's lava! The others are all cooled lava.

These are all really big mountains on land - except one, which rises straight out of the sea. Which is it?

Three of these are mountains that are the tallest in the world (ranked 1-3) measured from the base - that is, sea level. However, Mauna Kea is an island, which means arguably its base is the sea floor nearby, and in that case, it is the "tallest" - that is, it has the highest elevation relative to the surrounding ground.

Which of these seas is not currently drying up?

Three of these seas are drying up, as they are inland seas. The Red Sea is just fine though.

Which of these is not a Central or South American empire?

Yep, the odd one out is the Beaker people! Inca, Olmec, and Aztec are all great American civilizations that predate the arrival of white people. Ruins of their great cities speckle the continent. The other especially notable civilization of the region is the Maya.

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