App-date your geography

  • The free Android and iOS app Geography Quiz Game 3D, in which you answer questions as you race other players around a 3-D cartoon globe

Do you know your Latvia from your Lithuania, and is either one north of Ukraine? What’s the capital of Portugal? If your memory of the globe is rusty, maybe it’s time to refresh your geographical knowledge. The most fun I have had learning geographic facts is with Geography Quiz Game 3D, free on Android and iOS. In this game you answer questions as you race other players around a 3-D cartoon globe.

The idea is to answer faster and more accurately than your rivals. You can also spend some of your in-game points to slow other players or take shortcuts.

gw3 The app National Geographic World Atlas, an iOS-only free app has a globe you can spin, and then tap on countries to bring up information

The quiz has different types of questions. You may get multiple-choice questions, for example, like “What’s the capital city of Azerbaijan?” Another question might ask you where a building is from. Geography Quiz is easy to play and surprisingly good fun. It’s easy to forget you’re actually learning the locations, names and other details of many different nations.

One downside is that the game has pop-over advertisements that you have to tap to dismiss. Still, if you’re looking for an entertaining way to brush up, this is the app to try.

Another gamelike app that could improve your world knowledge is Guess the Place, free on iOS. This game, which is simpler than Geography Quiz, shows you four photos that typify a city or country. To complete each question, you drag the right letters into spaces of the place name.

A similar Android app, 4 Pics 1 City by S Quiz It, has an identical game design, but asks you to guess which global city is shown in the pictures. The number of photos is limited, so the questions are limited, too. But the app is bright and cheerful, and it’s free. Some app store reviewers report bugs, however, like not having enough letter spaces for some city names.

These games presuppose you have a basic knowledge of global geography. If you easily confuse Tallinn with Berlin, you’ll appreciate National Geographic World Atlas. This iOS-only free app is built with National Geographic’s famous high quality and attention to detail, so it has excellent graphics and an easy-to-use interface.

This app’s core feature is a 3-D globe like the one your geography teacher probably had in the classroom. You swipe the globe to spin it and use pinch gestures to zoom in. Tapping on a country brings up information including that nation’s history, population, flag, political status and more.

The National Geographic app isn’t problem-free, however. Displays malfunction occasionally, particularly when the app downloads image data as you zoom in. The level of detail is also limited. Each country has a crude indication of elevation and terrain and is labelled with major cross-country roads and some important cities. But if you’re teaching a child some geographical facts or merely browsing the globe during an idle few minutes, the app is worthwhile.

gw4 The free iOS app Guess The Place, which shows you four photos that typify a city or country, and then you drag the right letters to spell your guess

An alternative presents the CIA’s well-known global database in app form: 2015 World Factbook by Fuzzy Peach. National Geographic’s app has a modern, minimalist design and is written for the average person, while the CIA’s data is presented in a more academic style and covers more aspects of each nation, including net migration rates and health care expenditures. This app is great but costs $1. There’s a similar Android-compatible app, World Factbook by CoolDataApps, which offers the same information on a clean, unfussy interface. It has also been recently updated, so it should work well on an updated Android phone, and it’s free.

Last, check out the Barefoot World Atlas. In a cute and cheerful style, it offers imagery, video and audio content describing famous geographical locations, animals, art and more. The core app is free on iOS, but extras like global quizzes, city details and world art cost $1 each as in-app purchases.

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