The Raven Journal poses a question with each emailed newsletter. 

Question: Which states originally donated land to help form Washington DC?

Answer: Maryland and Virginia.

Question: Which is the freshwater lake with the greatest surface area in the world?

Answer: Lake Superior, on the United States/Canada border, is named the freshwater lake with the greatest surface area at 31,700 square miles.

Question: How many of the eight countries that have land within the Arctic Circle can you name?

Answer: The land within the Arctic Circle is divided among eight countries: Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United States (Alaska), Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut), Denmark/Greenland, and Iceland (where it passes through the small offshore island of Grímsey).

Question:Which state is bordered by two parallel rivers: the Mississippi and the Missouri?


Question:  Which European River touches more countries than any other river in the world?

Answer: The Danube River passes through or touches the borders of 10 countries: Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine, and Moldova.

Question:  On December 7, 1787, which of the original 13 colonies became the first state to officially join the Union?

Answer: The first state to join the union was Delaware, followed closely by Pennsylvania, and then New Jersey.

Question: Who are the only two presidents born west of Texas?

Answer: Richard Nixon, January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California, and Barack Obama, August 8, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Question: Which is the smallest state by area and which is the smallest state by population?

Answer: Rhode Island is the smallest state at  about 1,214 square miles, and Wyoming has the smallest population count at approximately 577,737.

Question: Which is the only Great Lake that is located entirely within the US border?

Answer: Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes that is entirely within the US. The others form a water boundary between the United States and Canada.

Question: Can you name the seven countries that comprise Central America?

Answer: The seven countries are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Nicaragua.

Question: Which Canadian Province or Territory is both the newest and the largest? 

Answer: The largest (787,155 sq.miles) and newest (officially separated from the Northwest Territories on 4/1/1999) Territory is Nunavut.

Question: What is the name of the longest continental mountain range on Earth, and about how long is it?

Answer: At 4,300 miles long, the Andes Mountains are the longest continental mountain range in the world.

Question: Asia has the largest population of all the continents on Earth. Can you put the rest of the continents in order by population?

Answer: Although the numbers can fluctuate depending on the report, the general consensus  is: Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Oceania, and Antarctica.

Question: The cardinal direction that most of the major rivers in the Great Plains of the US flow is...?  

Answer: Most of the major rivers in the Great Plains flow east.

Question: What is the name of the highest mountain peak in North America, and what is its elevation?

Answer: Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) is 20,310'.

Question: At one time, Sweden, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, and Greenland were are under the rule of which country?

Answer: Denmark

Question: Ceylon is the former name of what country?

Answer: Sri Lanka

Question: Which country has the highest average elevation in the world: A. Bhutan, B. Tajikistan, or C. Nepal?

Answer: A. Bhutan (10,760), then C. Nepal (10,715), and third is B. Tajikistan (10,455').

Question: Angel Falls, the world's highest uninterrupted waterfall, is 3,212' high. In which country is it located? 

Answer: Angel Falls  is located  in Venezuela. 

Question: What is the only Southeast Asian country never colonized by Europeans?

Answer: Thailand.

Question: As of 2018, what are the top six most populated states in the US? 

Answer: In order of population, they are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. 

Question: About what percent of the earth's fresh water is frozen in the ice sheet of Antarctica?

Answer: About 61% of our fresh water is frozen in the ice sheet in Antarctica.

Question: About how long is the Panama Canal ?

Answer: It is 51 miles long.

Question: Which capital city in Europe has the highest elevation?

Answer: At 3,356' above sea level, Andorra la Vella, capital of Andorra, is the highest capital city in Europe.

Question: What was the first year that Earth Day used the Internet as its principal organizing tool?

Answer: 1990

Question: What are the highest and lowest places in the 48 states?

Answer: At 14,505', Mt. Whitney in California is the highest place, and the lowest place, at -282', is Badwater Basin in Death Valley, also in California.

Question: Which state was the last contiguous state to be admitted to the Union?

Answer: Arizona, which was admitted on February 14, 1912.

Question: In what year were the residents of Washington DC granted the right to vote in Presidential elections ?  

Answer: In 1960, the 23rd Constitutional amendment granted the residents of DC the right to vote in Presidential elections. The amendment was ratified in 1961.

Question: At Earth's equator, the speed of Earth's spin is about how many miles per hour ?

Answer: At the Equator, the Earth's spin is about 1000 miles per hour.

Question: In terms of North American agriculture, who are the Three Sisters?

Answer: The Three Sisters are the three main agricultural crops of some Native American groups in North America: maize (corn), winter squash, and climbing beans. Read more about Three Sisters here.

Question: Alaska is the state with the longest saltwater coastline (6,640 miles).  Which coastal state has the shortest saltwater coastline?

Answer: New Hampshire has just 13 miles of saltwater coastline.

Question: Deserts generally receive less than how many inches of precipitation each year?

Answer: In general, deserts receive less than 10" of precipitation per year.

Question: What is the only country situated within all 4 hemispheres?

Answer: Kiribati, a sovereign state in Micronesia in the central Pacific Ocean, has islands in all 4 hemispheres.  You can find it on our Countries of the World map.

Question: The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of how many member states?

Answer:  As of this writing, there are 28 member states. (February, 2019)

Question: What is the flattest state in the US?

Answer: Florida, whose highest point is Britton Hill at 345' and whose lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean, is the flattest state.

Question: Alaska, at 71°50'N, is the northernmost state in the US. Can you name the second?

Answer: Minnesota is the second at 49° 23′ N.

Question: What is the most visited National Park in the United States?

Answer: With more than 11 million visitors in 2016, Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits at the number one spot.

Question: Who was president of the US when the Louisiana Purchase was made?

Answer: The Louisiana Purchase (about 828,000 sq mi) occurred in 1803, when Thomas Jefferson was our third president. 

Question: The only Canadian Province that borders the Great Lakes is...?

Answer: The only province is Ontario.

Question: Russia, with 6,601,670 sq.mi., is the largest country in the world. Which country is second?

Answer: In terms of total area, Canada, with 3,855,100 sq.mi. is second. Antarctica, with 5,400,000 sq.mi., is a continent, but not a country. China is third.

Question: About how long is the world's longest above-water mountain range, and where is it located?

Answer: The Andes Mountains, located on the west coast of South America, is about 4300 miles long. It runs north to south through seven countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.

Question: Which state, if it were a sovereign nation, would  be ranked as the world's fifth largest economy?

Answer: California's  2017 Gross State Product was $2.747 trillion, surpassing the United Kingdom's $2.625 trillion Gross Domestic Product.

Which country is the world's leading producer of gold?

Answer: China (440 metric tons) leads the world, followed by Australia (330).  Russia and the US are very close, with around 255 for Russia and 245 for the US.

Question: What are the two smallest countries in the world?

Answer: Vatican City is 0.17 sq. miles, and Monaco is 0.78 sq. miles. Additionally, Monaco, at a population of over 38,000 is the most densely populated country.

Question: What is the largest island in Europe?

Answer: Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales), at 80,823 sq miles, is the largest.  It is followed by Iceland (40,000 sq. mi.) and Ireland (32,595 sq. mi.).

Question: What is the southernmost state in the United States?

Answer: Hawaii, with a latitude from 18° 55′ N to 28° 27′ N.

Question: What are the top 3 longest river systems in the world?

Answer: 1. Amazon (Ucayali, Tambo, Ene, Apurimac) 4,345 miles, 2. Nile (Kagera) 4,258 miles, 3. Yangtze (Chan Jiang, Long River) 3,917 miles.

Question: The San Francisco Bay drains water from about what percent of California?

Answer: The Bay receives water from about 40% of California, primarily from these rivers:

Sacramento,  San Joaquin, Petaluma, Napa, and the Guadalupe.

Question: The surface of which lake is actually the Earth's lowest elevation on land?

Answer: At 1,412' below sea level, the surface of the Dead Sea, which is by definition a lake, is the Earth's lowest spot on land.

Question: Which National Park has all 5 vowels (excluding y and w) in its name?

Answer: Sequoia. PS - thanks to an observant reader who noticed that The Great Smoky Mountains has all 5 plus a y!

Question: About how long is the Appalachian Trail?

Answer: The trail is about 2,200 miles long.

Question: The city of Rugby claims to be the geographic center of North America. In which state or province is it located?

Answer:Rugby, North Dakota

Question: Which state has the highest and which has the lowest population in the U.S.?

Answer: California (approx. 39,537,000) and Wyoming (approx. 579,000).

Question: Can you name all of the original 13 colonies?

Answer: Using the state names as we know them today: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Question: What are the two most abundant elements in the earth's crust?

Answer: Oxygen 46.6%, Silicon 27.7%, with Aluminum 8.1% and Iron 5% as the next two.

Question: Four state capitals end in the word "City".  Can you name them? 

Answer: Carson City, Nevada - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - Jefferson City, Missouri - Salt Lake City, Utah

Question: Which state derives its nickname from having joined the US one hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence?

Answer: The Centennial State: Colorado.

Question? What mountain range forms the traditional boundary between Europe and Asia?
Answer:  The Ural Mountains form the traditional boundary.

Question: Which US state borders on the most Canadian provinces?
Answer: Montana, which shares a border with British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan

Question: Which president was especially active in the early days of the conservation movement in the United States?

Answer: That president would be Theodore Roosevelt, in office 1901-1909.

Question: Which country has the largest amount of proven oil reserves in the world?  
Answer: The country with the largest amount of proven oil reserves is Venezuela, which only recently surpassed Saudi Arabia.

Question: What is the westernmost point of Alaska?

Answer: Attu Island is the westernmost point of Alaska

Question: The Babylonian map Imago Mundi dates back to the 6th century BCE. Where was Babylon?
Answer: Babylon, the most famous city from Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq, is about 60 miles southwest of Baghdad.

Question: On which continent are the Atlas Mountains located?
Answer: This 1,600 mile long range is located in northern Africa, and it stretches through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

Question: What is the largest peninsula in the world?
Answer:  The Arabian Peninsula is the largest in the world - over 1,250,000 square miles. It includes Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and parts of southern Jordan and Iraq.

Question: What is the number one silver-producing country in the world?
Answer: Mexico, followed by Peru and China

Question: Only one state's postal abbreviation is the same as the last two letters of its name. Can you guess which state it is?
Answer: Kentucky

Question: At its peak, what was the largest empire by land area in the world?
Answer: The British Empire. At its peak in 1920, they claimed almost 24% of the land area on earth.

Question: What are the 5 largest states by land area (including Alaska and Hawaii)?  
Answer:  In order of size, they are: Alaska, Texas, California, Montana, and New Mexico.

Question: Each degree of latitude is about how many miles apart?
Answer: Due to the slightly elliptical shape of the earth, each degree of latitude is about 69 or 70 miles apart. 

Question: Which cardinal direction do most major rivers of the The Great Plains in the United States flow?
Answer: Most of the rivers flow east.

Question: How many states does the Mississippi River either touch or run through?

Answer: The river either touches or passes through ten states:  Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Question:  Where is the deepest river chasm (gorge) in North America?

Answer: Hell's Canyon along the Oregon-Idaho-Washington border is 7993'  deep. The Grand Canyon, by comparison, is about a mile deep.

Question: What are the three largest islands (by area) in the world?

Answer: Greenland - 840,004 sq. miles, New Guinea - 303,381 sq. miles, and Borneo - 288,869 sq. miles 

Question: Which U.S. state is known as The Prairie State, and which is The Land of Enchantment?

Answer:  Illinois is The Prairie State,  and New Mexico is The Land of Enchantment.

Question: In April of 1964, which two African countries merged to become Tanzania?

Answer: Tanganyika and Zanzibar  

Question: Mesopotamia was a historical region whose name meant "between two rivers". To which two rivers does the name refer?

Answer: Mesopotamia was located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

Question: Where is the largest land area in the U.S. retained by a Native American tribe?

Answer: The Navajo Nation has the largest reservation in the country. The reservation straddles the Four Corners region and covers more than 27,000 square miles of land.

Question: How many U.S. state names are only one syllable?

Answer: Only one: Maine.

Question: California contains the lowest place in North America: Badwater Basin in Death Valley. About how many feet below sea level is it?

Answer: Badwater Basin is 282' below sea level.

Question: Which state is known as the Gem State?

Answer: Idaho is the Gem State.

Question: Africa's most populous country is: Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, or Egypt?

Answer: The most populous country in Africa is Nigeria (181,563,000), and the second most populous is Ethiopia (103,764,000).

Question: Which state has only 6 sides, all of which are quite straight ?

AnswerUtah is the state.

Question : About how long are the Rocky Mountains from northern British Columbia to New Mexico?  

Answer: The Rocky Mountains are about 3,000 miles long.

Question: Which of these countries is NOT on the Equator: Brazil, Australia, Kenya, or Indonesia?

Answer: Australia is not on the Equator.

Question: Hispaniola, the second largest Caribbean island after Cuba, is home to which two countries?
Answer:  Hispaniola is comprised of French-speaking Haiti and Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic.

Question: Which state was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution?
Answer: Delaware, in December of 1787, followed by Pennsylvania and New Jersey in that same month.

Question: What is the largest metropolitan area in the Southern Hemisphere? 

Answer: The largest metropolitan area is Sao Paulo (21 million), followed by Jakarta (18 million), and Buenos Aires (12 million). 

Question: Germany was divided into East and West Germany in 1949. In what year was it reunited?
Answer: It was reunited on Unification Day, October 3, 1990.

Question: Canada is divided into 10 provinces and 3 territories. How many of these can you name? 

Answer: The 10 provinces are: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador (one province), New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island. The 3 territories are Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut.

Question: Mt. Etna, a stratovolcano in Italy,  is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Do you know where in Italy it is located? 

Answer: It is on the northeastern side of the island of Sicily.

In the Near East and northern Africa, the term wadi means: a. oasis,  b. valley,  c. plateau,  d. mountain peak.

Answer - Wadi means valley, and in some cases, it may refer to a dry riverbed that occasionally fills with water during a heavy rainy season.

Question: What is a narrow landform, with water on both sides, connecting two larger land areas called?

Answer: An isthmus.

Question: With which six states does Idaho share a border?

Answer: Idaho shares its border with Washington and Oregon to the west, Montana and Wyoming to the east (and southeast), and Nevada and Utah to the south

Question: Which river flows through 10 countries, more  than any other river in the world?  

Answer: The Danube River originates in Germany and flows about 1,670 miles through or touches the border of Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Moldova before emptying into the Black Sea.

Question: The highest capital city in the western hemisphere is 11,942'. Can you name the capital and the country?
Answer: At 11,942' La Paz is the capital, and Bolivia is the country.

Question: Aristotle referred to what weather condition as "the dry sighs of the breathing Earth"?
Answer: Aristotle was referring to the wind.

Question: What is the name of a crater-like basin of a volcano, formed by the cone's collapse, or by an explosion (or eruption)?
Answer: It is called a caldera.

Question: Which state was admitted to the Union on October 31, 1864?

Answer:  That state is Nevada.

Question: What is the most abundant element in the earth's crust?  
Answer: The most abundant element in the earth's crust is oxygen. 

What  country is about 2,670 miles long, yet no wider (east/west) than 217 miles?  

Answer: That South American country is Chile

Question: What is the only continent in all four hemispheres (northern, southern, eastern, and western)? 
Answer: The only continent in all four hemispheres (northern, southern, eastern, and western) is Africa. 

Question: In what year were the residents of Washington, D.C. granted the right to vote in presidential elections?
Answer: The passage of the 23rd amendment in 1961 granted the right to vote in presidential elections to residents of Washington, D.C.

Question: Which two states each have 8 National Parks?  
Answer: Alaska and California each have 8 National Parks.

Question: What is the largest island in the world?
Answer: The largest island in the world is Greenland, followed by New Guinea, Borneo, and Madagascar.

Question: In which states does the Appalachian Trail begin and end?
Answer: The Appalachian Trail (approximately 2,190 miles long)  travels through 14 states, beginning in Georgia and  ending in Maine.

Question: Can you name a canal whose construction began in Rome?
Answer: A canal whose construction began in Rome, New York, was the Erie Canal.

Question: What is the newest country in the world?
Answer: The Republic of South Sudan became independent from the African country of Sudan in 2011.

Question: What is the southernmost place in the 50 states with a population over 25,000?

Answer: The southernmost place is Hilo, Hawaii.

Question: Where is the pole of inaccessibility in North America?

Answer: The pole of inaccessibility (location that is the most challenging to reach due to its remoteness from geographical features that could provide access) in North America is about 7 miles north of Allen, South Dakota.

The hottest, lowest in elevation, and driest places recorded in North America are in the same area in which US state?

Answer: California's Death Valley:1. On July 10, 1913, a record high 134° F was recorded 2. Badwater Basin in Death Valley is 282' below sea level 3. With several mountain ranges between Death Valley and the ocean, it lies in a severe rain shadow and receives an annual rainfall of about 1.5".

What is the state with the largest amount of land (not water and land)  entirely east of the Mississippi River?

Answer - Georgia is the largest state entirely east of the Mississippi River in land area, although Michigan is the largest if water is included in size.

Which way does the earth rotate around its axis?
Answer - The earth rotates west to east or counterclockwise when viewed from the North Pole.

What is the only state flag in the United States that is not rectangular?

Answer - The only state flag in the United States that is not rectangular is the state flag of Ohio

Can you name the original 13 Colonies?

Answer - As they are commonly referred to today, the 13 Original colonies are: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Where is the longest artificially created waterway (canal) in the world?
Answer - Begun in the 5th century BC and still in use today, the 1,104 mile long Grand Canal in China is the longest artificially created waterway in the world.

How many of the 54* countries in Africa are in the African Union?

Answer - All 54* countries in Africa are in the African Union

*This includes all internationally recognized territories and states on the continent by the UN and the African Union.

Which is the largest Scandinavian country in square miles?

Answer - At 173,860 square miles, Sweden is the largest. Norway is second with 148,718, and Denmark is third at 16,576.

Which states have the lowest and the highest average rainfall per year?

Answer - Hawaii has the highest at 63.70", and Nevada has the lowest at 9.54".

What do the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn represent?

Answer - According to Wikipedia - “The Tropic of Cancer is currently 23°26′13.3″ north of the Equator. It is the most northerly circle of latitude on the Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead.  The Tropic of Capricorn is 23° 26′ 22″ south of the Equator. It marks the most southerly latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead.”

Which state is home to the highest point (6,684') east of the Mississippi River?

Answer - Located in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, Mount Mitchell is the highest US mountain east of the Mississippi River.

What is the course or direction of flow of most Russian rivers?

Answer -  Most Russian rivers flow north, eventually into the Arctic Ocean.

What is the longest mountain range on the earth?

Answer - The mid-ocean ridges of the world are connected and form a
continuous mountain range over 40,000 miles long. The world's longest
above-ground mountain range is the Andes (4,300 miles long)

Which state has the highest mean elevation, and which state has the lowest mean elevation?

Answer:  Colorado has the highest mean elevation (6,800'), and Delaware has the lowest (60').

The town of Rugby in which state is considered to be the "Geographic Center of the North  American Continent"?

Answer: North Dakota