WASHINGTON (July 7, 2003)—The best and brightest young geography brains from 19 countries will gather in Tampa, Fla., to take part in the sixth National Geographic World Championship on July 15 and 16. Teams from Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States will participate in the international contest hosted by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
Each team will comprise three students who have excelled in their country’s national geography competitions. The teams will meet to answer questions on physical, cultural and economic geography in two levels of competition. The United States is the defending champion.
“Promoting geography education is one of the core missions of the National Geographic Society,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president for mission programs. “Studies have shown an alarming lack of geographic knowledge among the world’s young people. The National Geographic World Championship provides a forum for top geography students from all corners of the globe to pit their wits against each other to determine which country’s team is the international geography champion. Each student gains knowledge of the other competing countries’ cultures and becomes a better global citizen for the experience.”
The competition starts with all teams taking a written test and continues on July 15, when they battle one another in a challenging outdoor map-reading course. The three teams with the highest scores will meet on July 16 for the finals. They will answer questions in a game-show format moderated by Alex Trebek, host of the U.S. television quiz show “Jeopardy!” After the competition, all the participants will experience up-close encounters with a number of exotic animal species at Busch Gardens.
Seven countries that are taking part in the World Championship for the first time this year are Belarus, Bulgaria, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland and Portugal. Many countries have a long tradition of promoting geography education. The Russian competition dates to 1951 — 40 years before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was then known as the Open Moscow State University Geography Olympiad and continues today as the All-Russia Geography Olympiad.
The National Geographic World Championship takes place every two years. The first contest, held in London in 1993, was won by the United States, which beat teams from the United Kingdom and Russia. The Australians, competing against four other teams, won the 1995 competition at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.
The third championship, held in 1997 at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., was won by the Canadian team, which bested teams from eight other countries. The fourth international competition, held in Toronto in 1999, was won by the United States, which also won the 2001 contest, held in Vancouver, Canada, against 11 other teams.
More information about the World Championship is available at the National Geographic Society’s Web site, www.nationalgeographic.com/geographicbee; select the link to World Championship.
Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Its mission is to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical and natural resources. National Geographic reflects the world through magazines, television programs, books, videos, maps, interactive media and merchandise. National Geographic magazine, the Society’s official journal, published in 22 languages, is read by 40 million people each month in every country in the world. The National Geographic Channel reaches more than 200 million households in 25 languages in 146 countries. Nationalgeographic.com averages around 44 million page views per month. National Geographic has funded over 7,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geography illiteracy. For more information, log on to www.nationalgeographic.com; AOL Keyword: NatGeo.
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