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The Royal Geographical Society Puzzle Book

  • Written by  Geographical
  • Published in Quiz
The Royal Geographical Society Puzzle Book
23 Sep
A new book of brain-teasers brings the rich and colourful history and content of the Society to the printed page

Explore hidden routes, decipher geographical details and discover amazing facts as you work through over a century’s worth of geographical wonder – from Shackleton to Livingstone, Charles Darwin to Ellen MacArthur, Felicity Aston to Levinson Wood.

Comprising 50 explorer profiles and expeditions retold through a set of increasingly difficult questions, The RGS Puzzle Book will challenge readers to pit their wits against some of the world’s most legendary explorers and answer questions on the complex nature of exploring and understanding our world. From Shackleton’s three Antarctic expeditions to Ellen MacArthur’s Vendée Globe solo race – test your geographical skills against some of the most experienced cartographers, geographers and explorers of all time.

In the following extracts, we look at a couple of Norway’s favourite sons. Try your hand at the following, brain-teasing extracts to see if you have what it takes to match wits with the two of the country’s biggest names.

(Answers at the bottom of the page. To see them, please make sure to log in!)
Plus, keep reading for a chance to win one of five copies of the book!

Fridtjof NansenFridtjof Nansen in front of the Fram journeying to the North Pole


Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) was a Norwegian explorer and champion skier renowned for his contributions to polar exploration. In 1888, he became the first person to traverse Greenland on skis, earning him a gold medal from the Society. Between 1893 and 1896, Nansen attempted to reach the geographic North Pole during the Fram expedition, falling short but travelling farther north than anyone in recorded history. Among his other achievements, the data he gathered during the Fram expedition provided new assessments of the geography and geology of the Arctic Circle.

Nansen employed revolutionary techniques during the Fram expedition, using a specially designed ship with a rounded hull to withstand the pack ice and drift along with the current. In contrast to previous explorers, Nansen called on Inuit and Sami expertise, using Sami sledges, Inuit shoes and learning the Inuit language.

Work out the latitude and longitude the following explorers reached on their quests to travel as far north as possible by solving the number puzzles below:

Date Explorer(s) Latitude Longitude
1596 William Barentz    
1707 Cornelis Giles   n/a
1806 William Scoresby Sr    
1827 Sir William Edward Parry    
1875 Sir Albert Hastings Markham    
1882 Adolphus Greely    
1895 Fridtjof Nansen    

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After the First World War, Nansen became involved with the League of Nations, the forerunner to the United Nations, and helped to repatriate half a million refugees displaced during the conflict. Nansen devised a document for officially stateless citizens to help them cross borders legally, which became known as the Nansen passport in his honour. Some of the notable holders included Russian-born author Vladimir Nabokov and composer Igor Stravinsky. In 1922, Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian endeavours.

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Amundsen in fur skinsRoald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole


Roald Amundsen (1872–1928) was a Norwegian polar explorer who became the first person to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911. He was also the first explorer to navigate the Northwest Passage – the seaway across the Arctic that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans – by ship, on a voyage that lasted from 1903 to 1906.

Amundsen went missing, presumed dead, on 18 June 1928 aboard a seaplane while undertaking a rescue mission to find the survivors of the Italia airship, which had crashed in the Arctic. In all 17 crew and rescuers perished.

Can you match the correct number to the fact?

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When Amundsen departed Oslo, Norway on 3rd June 1910, only his brother knew that Amundsen intended to reach the South Pole rather than the North, which had been his original intention. In October 1910, while in Australia, Scott received a telegram from Amundsen that read: ‘Beg to inform you Fram proceeding Antarctic – Amundsen.’

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The RGS Puzzle Book

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