Any self-respecting trivia fan can tell you the largest country on Earth and most likely the smallest, but do you know the most rectangular? What about the most circular?
What's the most rectangular country in the world?
As explained on his blog, Australian statistician David Barry came across a friend’s Facebook comment saying that Turkey was "a remarkably rectangular country." Realizing there was no definitive source of “very straight-edged countries” on the internet, he launched his own project to compare the so-called “rectangularness of countries.”
According to his research, the most rectangular country in the world is Egypt, which has a border that’s a 95.5 percent match with a rectangle.
In order of rectangularness, this is followed by Vatican City, Sint Maarten, Lesotho, Yemen, Ghana, North Macedonia, Côte d'Ivoire, Poland, and Nauru.
Turkey, the original inspiration behind the project, was actually down the list in 15th place.
The US is also trailing down the list, ranking as the 169th most rectangular country in the world with a 73.5 percent match. However, this primarily seems to be a result of Alaska, Hawaii, and offshore territories throwing things off.
Barry admits his work isn’t perfect. The algorithmic method he used in the research means that some errors might have crept in, especially when looking at countries that feature borders made up of many smaller islands.
“Eyeballing the table below, Italy looks like the biggest country that might be wrong, but there are probably small errors scattered throughout. Countries that consist of many small islands could be horribly wrong – in these cases it's up to me to manually choose which island [to] start the search from, and I didn't work too hard on these choices,” he wrote.
What's the most circular country in the world?
Barry's work on the “rectangularness of countries” caught the eye of Gonzalo Ciruelos who was inspired to use similar statistical methods to answer another lesser-asked question of geography: what’s the most circular country?
According to a post by Ciruelos, the most circular country in the world is Sierra Leone, which has a roundness of 93.4 percent. This was followed by Nauru, Zimbabwe, Vatican City, Poland, the disputed Scarborough Reef territory, Côte d'Ivoire, Suriname, Swaziland, and Uruguay.
What can we take from all this? Well, probably very little, but if you ever appear on a gameshow or take part in a pub quiz, rest assured you have some extremely obscure geography knowledge to offer.