The finals of the nationwide Geography Bee begin today in Washington, D.C. Fifty-seven students from a field of some 5 million participants (4th- through 8th-graders) will compete for a $25,000 scholarship. Public TV stations will air the proceedings (check local listings) from the National Geographic Society, which sponsors the bee. These questions are from last year's contest:
1. Which city has built subway and light rail lines in an effort to reduce heavy traffic and smog: Los Angeles or Albuquerque, N.M.?
2. Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of what country?
3. Wall Street, site of the New York Stock Exchange, was named for a defensive wall built by Europeans in the mid-1600s on what island?
4. Name the most populous city in the Southern Hemisphere.
5. If you sailed north through the Bosporus, you would enter what sea?
6. Priests called Brahmans have traditionally held the highest social rank among followers of what religion?
7. To escape the fighting in their homeland in March 1997, thousands of Albanians sailed west to what country?
8. In February 1997, the US government agreed to allow several US news organizations to open bureaus in which Caribbean country for the first time since the 1960s?
9. What is the term for the boundary that separates the major drainage basins of a continent?
10. A logging method that removes all the trees from an area may contribute to landslides on steep mountain slopes after heavy rains. What is the term for this logging method?
11. Dijon mustard and brie, a kind of cheese, are named for places in which European country?
12. Which US Gulf Coast state has political divisions called parishes rather than counties?
13. Name the European country that occupies the northern part of the Jutland Peninsula.
14. Namibia gained its independence from what country in 1990?
15. Favorable tax and banking laws attract many corporations to the smallest landlocked country in the European Alps. Name this country.
16. The Han make up more than 90 percent of the population in which country on the mainland of Asia?
17. One of the world's first civilizations developed near a river that flows from Tibet to the Arabian Sea. Name this river.
18. The first West African country to gain independence from Great Britain takes its name from an early African empire. Name this country.
19. Name the largest country located entirely in Europe.
20. What is the official language of Angola and Mozambique?
1) Los Angeles; 2) Israel; 3) Manhattan; 4) So Paulo, Brazil; 5) Black Sea; 6) Hinduism; 7) Italy; 8) Cuba; 9) Continental Divide; 10) clear-cutting; 11) France; 12) Louisiana; 13) Denmark; 14) South Africa; 15) Liechtenstein; 16) China; 17) Indus River; 18) Ghana; 19) Ukraine 20) Portuguese.