Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do you know the population of your country?

(United Nations HQ, New York)

Recently in my ESL class we had a conversation about what basic facts everyone should know about their own country. This came up because we discovered that at least half of our class members, from different countries and continents, had almost no idea of the population of their own nation - their guesses were often 50% off, and the rest of us were pretty surprised.

I can tell you the population of Australia, but not the size (although I can tell you it's the second least densely populated nation after Mongolia) (OK, I just checked this Wikipedia list and it's now third, after Namibia). I can give you an approximate population for each of our major cities, I can explain our system of government and how its representatives are elected, I can chat for a while about our major exports. I certainly don't consider myself an expert on Australian facts and figures at all, but I figure I should be able to tell people a few basics, especially if I'm travelling.

What basic facts do you know about your country? And what do you expect other people to know? Let me know in the comments because I'm curious if I just think this way because I'm a teacher, or if it is the responsibility of a traveller to know at least the basics about their own nation, to share with people they meet along the way.


  1. okay - so I was 5 1/2 million off!!

  2. Thanks for being honest, Karls!! 5.5 million off is quite a bit when you're talking only ... 21 million? Now I don't know if I'm right, let me go check ... OK Wikipedia says 22 million for the 2010 estimate, oops.

  3. Got a lot of discussion about this on Facebook, in summary (names left out for anonymity):

    E: Hungary , I think around 11 million.

    Me: Wikipedia says 10 but I say that's a good job, E!!

    P: Colombia 36 million. I think so.

    J: The Czech Republic 10.6 million. I hope! And you're right, it's quite sad...

    Me: J, very accurate! Wikipedia says 10.5 but you could be right anyway.
    P ...maybe you have been away too long, Wikipedia says 45 million in Colombia. Maybe you are too Australian already :-)

    Y: About 40.5 million people in Korea.

    T: less than 7 millions in switzerland... 6.5!

    Me: Y, you're missing a few. Wikipedia says 48.5 million. T, also missing a few, Wikipedia says 7.5 to 7.7 million. But close ...


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