Geography & Country Facts That I Bet You Didn’t Know


Daniel Miller, Staff Writer

The world is an interesting place.  I’ve collected some of the most interesting facts about countries and geography.  Enjoy.

France’s longest border is with Brazil

Don’t forget that France still has an empire.  Although France has given up a large amount of its former territories that it once had in the past, it still retains an amount to have a significant international presence.  French Guiana is located in northern South America, and shares a border with Suriname and Brazil.  French Guiana and France’s various islands are part of “France d’Outre Mer”, meaning “overseas France.”  The people living in these territories live in France, are French citizens, can vote in French elections, and can travel domestically to metropolitan France.  This means that the European Union is not only in Europe, but in South America as well.  The Guiana Amazonian Park is a national park in French Guiana that covers 41% of the region, making it the largest national park in the EU.

South Africa is the only country in the world with three capitals

Each capital is designated for a different branch of government.  Pretoria is the executive capital, Cape Town is the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.

Switzerland doesn’t have an official capital

The de-facto capital is Bern, however, nowhere in Swiss legislation is it stated that Bern is the official capital.  Historically, this makes sense, as Switzerland is a confederation of 26 cantons, and assigning a capital located in one canton would make one canton more important than the others.

Taiwan claims 300x its controlled territory

The Republic of China, also known as Taiwan, has maintained the same territorial claims for decades, which results in “disputed” territories with a total of ten countries.  In reality, Taiwan isn’t trying to take control of parts of Tajikistan, but it still claims that area as its official territory.  The countries with disputed areas include the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mongolia, Myanmar, Bhutan, India, Japan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, and Tajikistan.










Chile and Argentina have their desert and forest regions on opposite ends of their country, despite being right next to each other


The Andes Mountains separating Chile and Argentina cause an interesting effect in the climates of the two countries.  Chile has desert in its north, while Argentina has desert primarily in its south. Chile has forest in the south, while Argentina has forest in the north.


Andorra had two official currencies before the the adoption of the Euro

Andorra is a landlocked country located in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. Prior to the Eurozone, Andorra used both the French franc and the Spanish peseta as its official currencies, as it did not have a currency of its own.


The United States isn’t the only country that uses the US Dollar

Ecuador, El Salvador, Zimbabwe, Timor-Leste, Bonaire (the Netherlands), the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Panama, the British Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos (UK) use the dollar as their official currency. The reasons for this are complex and vary on a case-by-case basis. But in a nutshell, here are a few of the reasons why the dollar is used in those territories. Some countries, like Zimbabwe, Ecuador, and El Salvador, had to ditch their currencies due to an economic crisis. A few islands owned by the Netherlands and the UK use the USD instead of the Euro or Pound due to their close relationship with the US. Small nations like Micronesia, Palau, and Timor Leste have very small economies, which makes currency exchange difficult.

Macau drives on the left and mainland China drives on the right, so this is what they do at the border












China (PRC) only has one timezone

China is a large country that should have five time zones, but it only has one based on Beijing time.  The change was made in 1949 in an attempt to unify the country.  This means that people living in Western China often have to arrive at work at 6 am, when it may still be dark out but bright in Beijing.











Tanzania and Wisconsin look similar











Alberta, Canada, has no rats

Alberta, Iceland, Greenland, and parts of northern Alaska, Canada, and Russia are some of the only places on Earth without any rates.  Starting in 1942, the Canadian province began taking rat and pest control very seriously.  Any suspected infestation is immediately investigated.  It’s also illegal to have a live rat in Alberta, with violators facing a $5,000 CAD fine.