Manda and I were watching TV last night and the show we were watching said "now on in 120 countries." This prompted a discussion between us about something Amanda had heard from some TV talking head somewhere saying "Most Americans would be hard pressed to name 120 countries."
First of all, I think most people in the world would be hard pressed to name 120 countries, regardless of their nationality. There are apparently only 202 countries. Regardless of that, we took it as a challenge. So, being the wild and crazy couple that we are, we spent a healthy chunk of our night doing our best to name 120 different countries. In the end, the final total of actual countries that we named:
I'll tell you, though, it was hard. The biggest problem is that we can name a ton of countries from stable regions in the world, but there are a lot of countries that spring up, change names, divide, etc. in more chaotic regions of the world and it's hard to know what they are right now.
For instance, we were both surprised to discover that both Zaire and Yugoslavia are no longer countries. While we were familiar with their replacement countries (Democratic Republic of the Congo and Serbia), we didn't know their old namesakes no longer exist. We both also found ourselves desperately wanting to name certain cities as countries, even when we knew it was wrong. My brain was insisting (despite repeated attempts to get it to shut up) that Heidelberg was a country. We both also kept wanting to say that Nairobi was a country, even though we both knew all along that it's just a Kenyan city.
What annoyed me most were the moments when my brain latched onto names that weren't even places, but simply decided they sounded like countries. Mallomar, Cacao, and Lusitania are each a cookie, a tree, and a sunken ship, respectively.
Still, we got there in the end and I'm proud of us. Interestingly, most of the countries we hear about in the news weren't the ones first on our list. Iraq and Afganistan didn't come to us until No. 58 and 60 which means that Cameroon and Lietchtenstein were both further at the forefront of our mental country inventory. Albania beat out North Korea and Papua New Guinea came to us before Sudan, Rwanda, Isreal, or Palestine.