How to Remember Countries And Their Capitals
If only my geography teacher had pointed out that one way to remember that Canberra is the capital of Australia is to look at the shape of the country. Australia is shaped somewhat like a camera, which helps me to remember its capital, Canberra.
If my teacher had said that the way to remember the difference between the Arctic and Antarctic was to think of looking up at an arch and down at an ant, then I might have found their geographical positions less confusing.
Mnemonics are a great way to remove the drudgery of learning by rote as they provide chains of links between pieces of information that can easily be retraced and therefore recalled at a later date. It’s almost as if short-term memory is bypassed as the data gets transferred straight into long-term memory where it is cemented with vivid, symbolic, associated imagery.
Exercise For Memorizing Countries and Capitals
Take a look at the following pairs of lists and, using imagination and visualization, try to make a link between each country and its capital. I have deliberately avoided the more familiar countries to make this exercise more of a challenge.
For example, to remember that Tallinn is the capital of Estonia I picture a lady I know called Esther walking into an Inn with a tall entrance. When I see the word Estonia again I will be reminded of Esther, which will lead me to the tall Inn and the capital, Tallinn. Remember, all you require is a trigger to help you to recall the data. The images you choose do not have to be exact matches.
THE BAHAMAS NASSAU
COSTA RICA SAN JOSÉ
Now find out how well you made those links by answering the following questions in your notebook.
1 What is the capital of Fiji?
2 Lusaka is the capital of which country?
3 What is the capital of The Bahamas?
4 What is the capital of Qatar?
5 Tallinn is the capital of which country?
6 Muscat is the capital of which country?
7 What is the capital of Angola?
8 San José is the capital of which country?
9 What is the capital of Bulgaria?
10 Rabat is the capital of which country?
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A typical score for someone who has read through these geographical facts just once without using any memory devices would be around 30 points. The information would need to be read over and over again before a perfect score could be achieved. However, the little time you spent in creating associations between these countries and their capitals should have enabled you to absorb the information much more effectively, resulting in a higher score. If you scored more than 60 points, then your memory is shaping up very well indeed.