Every four years, athletes from around the world gather to compete in the Summer Olympic Games. While the athletes are competing to win gold, the games give kids a chance to learn more about the events the athletes are competing in, as well as the part of the world where the games are held. This year, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games are being held in Rio de Janeiro, the second most populous municipality in Brazil. Despite the controversy surrounding the games and their location, there are a lot of reasons to get excited. We’ve rounded up some fun facts about the 2016 Summer Olympic Games to help get kids excited too.
1. Rio de Janeiro is the first South American city to host the Olympic Games. For a fun geography activity, look up the locations of previous Olympic games and mark them on a world map.
2. Over 10,000 athletes will compete in the games. The U.S. will bring over 500 of those athletes, which you can learn about on Team USA’s website.
3. It will cost Rio de Janeiro over $9.5 billion to host the Summer Olympic games.
4. Golf will be played at the 2016 Olympics. The sport has not been part of the Summer Games for over 100 years.
5. In many countries, the competition just to make the Olympic team was tough. Queen Harrison, a hurdler, missed qualifying for the U.S. team by two one-hundredths of a second.
6. Over 45% of the athletes in Rio will be female. That’s a higher percentage of females than ever before.
7. Dipa Karmakar will compete as the first Indian female gymnast in 52 years to qualify for the Olympic games.
8. Yusra Mardini, an 18-year-old swimmer, will compete under the Olympic flag as part of the first team of refugee athletes.
9. Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik will be the first set of triplets to compete in the same Olympic sport. They are marathon runners from Estonia.
10. Simone Biles, the most decorated female gymnast in history, is the shortest member of Team USA at 4’8″ tall.
11. To prepare for the Olympics, workers in Rio de Janeiro built 43 miles of new roads and planted thousands of trees.
12. Canadian horse-jumper, Ian Miller, will compete in his 11th Olympic Games. He’s 69 years old.
13. Michael Phelps, the most-decorated Olympian of all time, will attempt to increase his medal count at the 2016 Games. He currently has 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold.
14. The country of Kosovo will compete in its first Olympics this year, sending eight athletes to the Games.
15. Nino Salukvadze and Tsotne Machavariani, shooters from the country of Georgia, are the first mother-son duo to compete at the Games.
16. Singer Katy Perry released her first single in two years, a song called “Rise,” which will be used as an anthem for the Olympic Games.
November 15-21 is Geography Awareness Week.
Geography is an integral part of any Social Studies class. Making connections between a region’s geographic features and their history and culture can broaden students’ understanding of history. Some facts about geography will not only add flavor to a social studies unit, but will also wow the students with unexpected answers and fun visuals.
Did you know…
#1. The smallest country in the world is Vatican City at only .2 square miles. The headquarters of the Catholic Church is located entirely in the city of Rome. Vatican City isn’t just the smallest country in land area, it is also the smallest country by population. Only about 600 people live there permanently, almost all of whom are clergy or members of the Swiss Guard, responsible for protecting the Pope.
#2. Unsurprisingly, the largest country in the world is Russia. What you may not know is Russia, with an area of 6,592,735 square miles, is almost twice the size of the second largest country in the world Canada, that comes in at 3,855,081 square miles. Over 60% of the land in Russia is forest, while over 4000 miles of the nation is tundra.
#3. Brazil is 11% larger than the contiguous 48 states of the United States of America. As a matter of fact, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. It is so big, that all of non-Russian Europe could fit inside of its borders!
#4. Asia is the largest continent in land area in the world. It is larger than North and South America combined! More people live in Asia (over 4 billion) than the rest of the world’s continents combined (almost 3 billion).
#5. The most common city name in the United States is Franklin, with 31. There are 26 cities in the world with a single letter as its name, two of which are located in America: B, Ohio and Y, Alaska. The original name of Los Angeles was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula. Transllated in English it means The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Porciúncula River.
#6. Africa includes 54 countries and over 2000 languages spoken. There are over 500 languages in Nigeria alone! The most widely spoken language is Hausa, which is the first language to over 35 million Africans and another 15 million people in other parts of the world.
#7. Canada contains over 300,000 islands, some of which are available for purchase for less than $1 million. The largest of these islands include Vancouver Island and Newfoundland.
#8. About 90% of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere. The only Southern Hemisphere nations that contain more than 50 million people are Indonesia and Brazil, at 227 million and 192 million, respectively.
#9. The Amazon rainforest represents more than half of the world’s rainforests and produces more than 20% the world’s oxygen supply, contains 20% of all of the world’s plant and birds, and 10% of the world’s mammal species. 10% of the forest has been lost to agriculture in the last 50 years, with some forecasting the loss of the entire rain forest by 2030.
#10. The color red appears on the most national flags with 155. White is a close second with 144, and green is a distant third with 97. Purple appears in only six flags. Some national flags are almost identical due to a shared history. For example, blue, white, and red are common color combinations in Slavic nations, and many African nations use red, yellow, and green.
Use these facts as an introduction to a fun Geography Awareness Week lesson that can include a Fun Fact Scavenger Hunt. Ask your students to locate silly and surprising facts about each continent.
What other fun geography facts do you know? Leave them in the comments section!