WASHINGTON (May 23, 2005)–Twenty teams of the brightest geography students from around the globe will meet in Budapest, Hungary, from July 10-15, 2005, to take part in the seventh National Geographic World Championship. The international contest, organized by the National Geographic Society, will be sponsored by the Hungarian National Tourist Office.
Each team will comprise three students who have excelled in their national geography competition. The teams will meet to answer questions on physical, cultural and economic geography in two levels of competition. The current world champion, the United States, will defend its title against teams from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom.
On July 11, teams will take a written test; the following day they will battle each other in a challenging outdoor activity. The three teams with the highest scores from the written test and geography activity will meet at Budapest’s Palace of the Arts on July 14 for the championship finals. They will answer questions in a game-show format, moderated by Alex Trebek, host of the U.S. television quiz show “Jeopardy!”
Some support for the event is provided by the Budapest Marriott.
The Hungarian National Tourist Office is planning an exciting geographical experience for the World Championship participants. Among other activities, the students will enjoy a boat trip to Lake Balaton, visit the famous china factory of Herend, watch an equestrian show at Domony, visit the World Heritage Site of the village of Hollókó and the cave spa in Miskolctapolca in northern Hungary. The program will end with a candle-lit dinner on board a boat on the Danube River.
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 in Washington, D.C., was won by Canada, which bested teams from eight other countries. The fourth competition, held in Toronto, Canada, in 1999, was won by the United States, which also won the 2001 contest, in Vancouver, Canada, and the 2003 contest, at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Fla. Eighteen countries took part in the 2003 championship.
“Promoting geography education is at the heart of the mission of the National Geographic Society,” said John Fahey, Society president and CEO. “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 team is the international geography champion. Each student gains knowledge of the other competing regions’ cultures and becomes a better global citizen for the experience.”
“The Hungarian National Tourist Office is especially proud of standing behind the most prestigious international geography competition in the world,” said Gábor Galla, director general of HNTO. “We are glad to take this invaluable opportunity to show Hungary’s values to the world with the help of our young talents, just as we are about to launch our new ‘Talent for Entertaining’ campaign promoting tourism to Hungary. The National Geographic World Championship is an exceptional opportunity for us to shape the image and boost the popularity of Hungary in the world.”
National Geographic Channel Europe will televise a behind-the-scenes documentary on this year’s National Geographic World Championship. The one-hour special will be broadcast in Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic.
The National Geographic Society expanded its mission to improve geography education in 1989 in response to concern about a lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. And the problem is not yet resolved: A nine-country National Geographic-Roper Literacy Survey in 2002 revealed that Americans aged 18 to 24 scored lower than their counterparts in the other countries surveyed, except Mexico. The highest-scoring countries were Sweden, Germany and Italy.
Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations in the world. It reaches more than 280 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and its four other magazines; the National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; radio programs; films; books; videos and DVDs; maps; and interactive media. National Geographic has funded more than 8,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy.
The Hungarian National Tourist Office is Hungary’s national tourism marketing organization. Its objectives are to market the country’s tourism attractions and services by building and improving the image of Hungary, raising awareness of the country as a tourist destination, providing assistance for Hungarian tourism companies to penetrate domestic and foreign markets, and supporting regional cooperation in tourism marketing. The HNTO provides tourist information to domestic and foreign visitors, potential travelers, decision makers and Hungarian and foreign tourism professionals. Abroad, HNTO has 23 agencies and information offices in 21 countries. They are responsible for raising awareness of Hungary as a tourist destination and improving the image of the country in Hungary’s most important source markets and in emerging markets.
More information about the National Geographic World Championship is available at www.nationalgeographic.com/worldchampionship