Here’s a trivia challenge for you regarding countries and their capitals. How many countries can you think of which have the same number of letters as their capital cities?
There’s a link to the answers at the end of this page, but first some tips and some background information.
This is a different mental challenge to most of those involving geographical information, which become more straightforward if you are familiar with one or two lists (for example EU countries, former parts of the Soviet Union or US States and their Capitals). In this case you’ll need to be familiar with country names and capital cities but you’ll also need to count and compare the number of letters in each.
This challenge has been playing on my mind for a few years, prompted by a question about capital cities on the BBC1 show “Who Dares Wins”. A couple were trying to name a specific number of capitals with 6 or fewer letters. They nearly made it but came up with an incorrect answer, miscounting the number of letters in Beijing (there are 7, not 6). That same weekend a Guardian Crossword also featured a number of capital cities with short names, such as Bern (Switzerland), Minsk (Belarus) and Kiev (Ukraine). I started playing with lists of capital cities and countries, and found that there are 80 capitals with 6 or fewer letters (14 with 4 letters; 20 with 5; 46 with 6). There were lots of unfamiliar names there but most of them are more familiar now.
For this specific challenge (countries and capitals with the same number of letters) there are 30 countries, if you include city states and those countries where the capital has the same name as the country itself. And interestingly there are 31 (not 30) different cities. One of our answers has both a legislative and an official capital, both with the same number of letters as the country name. Just to clarify, we are dealing here with names in their English form.
A reasonable level of general knowledge should give you at least 10 answers, with a bit of thought. If you get all 30 then you’re some kind of super-quizzer: congratulations, and here’s a final bonus question for you. Can you name the island that is an Australian external territory (not a country in its own right) and its main city, both of which have 16 letters (including spaces)?