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.

COUNTRY                                                         CAPITAL
ANGOLA                                                            LUANDA
THE BAHAMAS                                               NASSAU
BULGARIA                                                        SOFIA
COSTA RICA                                                     SAN JOSÉ
ESTONIA                                                           TALLINN
FIJI                                                                      SUVA
MOROCCO                                                        RABAT
OMAN                                                                 MUSCAT
QATAR                                                               DOHA
ZAMBIA                                                              LUSAKA

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?