by Jill Robinson with Greenheart Travel

vector-world-mapI could spend hours looking at a map. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Southwest Airline napkin highlighting their airport locations or a wall-size illustration of all the countries in the world. The visual of so many places, cultures and landscapes will occupy my imagination for hours as I run my fingertips over sketches of mountain ranges and shades of dark blue where the ocean sinks to depths I can’t comprehend. This can be overwhelming at times, thinking there are so many places to explore and not enough time (or money) to accomplish such lofty travel goals. Even if these adventures won’t Image from Cartophiliamaterialize in the near future,  is important to be aware of all the different countries, traditions and topography. Respecting the fact that we are just one of over 6 billion people on this planet might trigger a little more empathy, a greater sense of awe and curiosity and hopefully an urge to make an emotional connection with others instead of harboring fear for cultures we don’t understand.

To set our minds in motion with thoughts of new travel, here are a few geographical brain teasers:

1. This country is the home to the driest desert in the world, the Atacama. It is also the home to the famous poet Pablo Neruda, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.     Answer

2. The Massai culture lives in this country, and are known for their elaborate, upper body adornment and jewelry. This country is also home to leopards, elephants and rhinoceros and borders the Indian Ocean, sitting along the equator.     Answer

3. This country in the Pacific ocean is an island the shape of a sweet potato and baseball is its national sport. The famous film director, Ang Lee, was born here.     Answer

4. This country is only a short distance from the world’s largest coral reef and its capital city is Canberra.     Answer

5. With almost ten thousand closed bodies of water covering more than  2.47 acres each, this country has one of the highest numbers of lakes in the world. Famous composer Frederick Chopin also born here.     Answer