"Explore, Love, Get to Know the Country": What the Geographical Dictation Was Like at the Central Venue

Фото: пресс-служба РГО/Анна Юргенсон
Фото: пресс-служба РГО/Анна Юргенсон

The Geographical Dictation, which took place for the seventh time in 2021, was taken on November 14 at the Central Venue – the Moscow Headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society. About ten thousand people were able to test their knowledge of geography remotely. The President of the Society Sergei Shoigu, members of the Governing and Academic Councils of the RGS, and other honorary guests answered the questions of the international educational campaign in an in-person format at the Media Studio of the RGS.

"We are growing. This year we have a 60% increase in the number of venues where the Dictation is taken. There are now 8600 of them, and 107 countries are taking part in this event. This is a large and serious program, supported by so many. And most importantly, there is no obligatory participation. Those who love our country, who love geography, those who want to learn more about it, test their knowledge, take part in the event,” Sergei Shoigu stressed in his welcoming speech.

The President of the Russian Geographical Society joked that because of the pandemic, perhaps, for the first time, everyone would be able to show just their own knowledge, since the participants today were sitting at a distance of 1.5 meters in accordance with sanitary standards. "Kotlyakov will not copy from Chilingarov. They are after all, academicians, but nevertheless, when they sat next to each other in Moscow State University, they looked at each other’s answers," Shoigu admitted.

However, social distance does not prevent one from loving geography, to which the President of the Society urged all participants. He reminded that now this subject would become mandatory for admission to many faculties of Moscow State University. The example of a leading university should be followed by other universities in Russia. It is simply a shame not to know the geography of their homeland for the residents of the country, which is the discoverer of Antarctica and the Northern Sea Route, washed by 13 seas and has 11 time zones. "Therefore, I urge everyone to actively participate in the Geographical Dictation!" said Shoigu.

The President of the Russian Geographical Society reminded that many Russian politicians, public figures, leading scientists will take the Dictation in an in-person format and online. Servicemen of the Russian army and navy traditionally join the event with great enthusiasm.

"I congratulate you all on this outstanding event! If anyone is not ready, raise your hand, we will wait. But I hope everyone is ready. So, go ahead!" the President of the Russian Geographical Society finished his speech.


Фото: Вадим Савицкий
Фото: Вадим Савицкий

For the first time in history, the award ceremony for the honorary badge "Honored Geographer of the Russian Federation" took place before the Dictation at the Central Venue. This title was introduced at the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The first badge "Honored Geographer" from the hands of Sergei Shoigu was received by the Honorary President of the RGS, academician Vladimir Kotlyakov, who recently turned 90 years old. It was also awarded to the First Vice-President of the RGS, academician Nikolai Kasimov; Chairman of the Vologda Regional Branch of the RGS Nadezhda Maksutova; Head of the Scientific Archive of the RGS Maria Matveeva; Vice-President of the RGS Vladimir Kolosov; member of the Academic Council of the RGS Vladimir Razumovsky; Vice-President of the RGS Kirill Chistyakov. The presentation of the badge to the First Vice-President of the RGS, Chairman of the Council of Regions of the RGS Artur Chilingarov would take place later at the State Duma, Shoigu noted.

The President of the Russian Geographical Society also presented the silver medal of the International Olympiad in Geography, held in Istanbul in an online format, to Elena Agapova from St. Petersburg.


Фото: пресс-служба РГО/Анна Юргенсон
Фото: пресс-служба РГО/Анна Юргенсон

The 45 minutes allotted for the tasks flew by unnoticed. The test turned out to be really interesting. At the end of the event, the event moderator, Russia-1 TV channel host Andrei Petrov, congratulated the winners of the competition for the best question for the Geographical Dictation: Gleb Vinogradov from Chelyabinsk, Tamara Ivanova from Veliky Novgorod, Tatyana Lozhanova from Novosibirsk, and Andrei Ostapenko from Vologda Oblast. They will receive gift certificates from the Russian Geographical Society for a trip to Karelia.

According to Sergei Shoigu, many of the Dictation's questions were related to the modern activities of the Russian Geographical Society: expeditions, discoveries, monuments. There were many clues, "but they could be noticed by the ones who knew". The tasks showed that geography is not as boring as it seems to a person who was never immersed in it.

"People think that this is a school curriculum, contour maps. Boredom, and that's all. In fact, this is an incredibly interesting science. And most importantly, an incredibly interesting activity, especially when you start to dive a little deeper into some things," admitted the President of the RGS.

Sergei Shoigu expressed gratitude to everyone who took part in the preparation and conduct of the Geographical Dictation. He expressed the hope that the next international event of the Russian Geographical Society will set new records both in the number of participants and in the number of venues.

"But the most important thing is to increase people's interest. Explore, love, get to know our country!" stressed the President of the Russian Geographical Society.


Фото: Вадим Савицкий
Фото: Вадим Савицкий

In 2021, about nine thousand venues for the international educational campaign of the Russian Geographical Society were registered around the world. Even the Russian “Progress” and “Mirny” stations in Antarctica have joined it. This is an absolute record in the entire history of the Dictation.

Participants from Canada and Bolivia, Norway and France, Algeria and South Africa, as well as Australia, India, Japan and other countries made an intellectual journey across Russia – the Geographical Dictation was taken in 106 foreign countries.

The Central Venue of the Dictation – 2021 was traditionally organized at the Moscow Headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society. An individual link was sent to each participant of the remote testing. This format first appeared in 2020 due to the pandemic.

All in-person venues made their own decision whether to conduct the event in-person or remotely, taking into account the orders of the regional Rospotrebnadzor. For safety reasons, the Russian Geographical Society recommended that open in-person venues (where any participant can register) transfer the Dictation to the Internet.

For people with visual impairments, the organizers have developed a separate Dictation format. Visually impaired participants could be tested at special libraries and regional branches of the All-Russian Association of the Blind.

Every year, the tasks of the Dictation are voiced by outstanding people of art, culture, and public figures. This time, the intellectual journey across Russia took place in the company of TV presenter Leonid Yakubovich, press secretary of the President of Russia and chairman of the Media Council of the Russian Geographical Society Dmitry Peskov, and singer Pelageya.

As before, the questions of the Dictation are divided into simple and more complex ones, which require the participants to be concentrated  and well-rounded. Most of them appeared as a result of the national competition "Write a question for the Geographical Dictation". In several months, the RGS received over 500 interesting tasks, many of which were included in the final version of the Dictation.


Alexander Zhirnov