ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (July 31, 2013)—Defeating teams from 17 other regions, the United States took top honors at the 11th National Geographic World Championship, held today at the Russian Geographical Society headquarters in St. Petersburg. Canada came in second, narrowly beating third-place India in a tense tiebreaker round. These three teams, which took part in today’s final round of competition, edged out the fourth-place Russian team, champions of the last World Championship, trying to defend their title on their home turf. The biennial competition, in which teams of students answered questions on physical, cultural and economic geography, was presented by the National Geographic Society in partnership with the Russian Geographical Society and sponsored by Google.
The United States has taken part in every World Championship since the inception of the event, capturing its sixth victory this afternoon. The U.S. was represented by captain Gopi Ramanathan, 15, from Sartell, Minnesota; Asha Jain, 13, from Minocqua, Wisconsin; and Neelam Sandhu, 14, from Bedford, New Hampshire.
The Canadians, who took the title in 2009 in Mexico City, were represented by captain Kyle Richardson, 16, from Kitchener, Ontario; Jacob Burnley, 15, from Nanaimo, British Columbia; and Spencer Zhao, 15, from Toronto, Ontario.
The Indian team, making their first-ever appearance in the final round, were represented by captain Apratim Tathagat Singh, 14, from Lucknow; Jayant Abhir, 14, from Hisar; and Utkarsh Gupta, 15, from New Delhi.
Alex Trebek, host of the U.S. television quiz show “Jeopardy!”, moderated today’s finals. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to the first-, second- and third-placed teams.
The United States, Canada and India qualified for the final round after obtaining the highest combined scores in Sunday’s preliminary activity, which included a scavenger hunt-style tour of St. Petersburg, and on Monday’s written team test.
Students earned the chance to be part of the World Championship competition by winning or being a top finisher in the national competitions of their home regions.
The 15 other teams competing were from Australia, Bulgaria, China, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. Indonesia and Mongolia participated for the first time this year.
John Fahey, chairman and CEO of the National Geographic Society, said the competition was a great way for talented young geographers around the world to match wits against each other and to enjoy a rewarding cross-cultural exchange. “The competition enhances geo-literacy, international dialogue and understanding, and promotes friendships around the globe,” he said.
“The National Geographic World Championship competitors embody the spirit of curiosity about our planet that has defined the National Geographic Society for 125 years.”
“Google has sponsored the U.S. geography competition, the National Geographic Bee, for five years, and we were delighted to return as sponsor of the World Championship for the second time,” said Brian McClendon, vice president of engineering, Google Earth and Maps. “We were impressed by the caliber of students during the national U.S. competition and have been amazed at the performances we’ve seen from each of these teams over the past few days.”
The World Championship is held 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 in Orlando, Florida. The third championship, held in 1997 at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., was won by Canada, which bested eight other teams. The United States won the fourth competition against 11 teams in Toronto, Canada, in 1999. The United States also took first place in the 2001 contest in Vancouver, Canada; in 2003 at Busch Gardens, Florida; and in 2005 in Budapest, Hungary. The 2007 competition at SeaWorld, San Diego, California, was won by Mexico. Canada took top honors in 2009 in Mexico City, and Russia beat out 16 other countries in 2011 at Google headquarters near San Francisco, California.
Today’s final question:
The first clue for 5 points:
1. This country’s flag includes six small stars, representing the mainland and five offshore islands.
The second clue for 4 points:
2. This country’s gross domestic product has expanded rapidly due to industrial development, yet few citizens have benefitted economically.
The third clue for 3 points:
3. Before gaining independence from Spain in 1968, parts of this country were occupied by colonists for nearly 200 years.
The fourth clue for 2 points:
4. The Fang people are the country’s largest ethnic group.
The final clue for 1 point:
5. This country’s capital city is located on an island off Africa’s west coast.
Answer: Equatorial Guinea
Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. With a mission to inspire people to care about the planet, the member-supported Society offers a community for members to get closer to explorers, connect with other members and help make a difference. The Society reaches more than 450 million people worldwide each month through National Geographic and other magazines, National Geographic Channel, television documentaries, music, radio, films, books, DVDs, maps, exhibitions, live events, school publishing programs, interactive media and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.
NOTES: Information about the competition is available on the National Geographic press room at www.nationalgeographic.com/pressroom.
Photos can be downloaded at the FTP site: http://bit.ly/NGWC2013 Username & password: press