How to remember countries and their capital cities
How many countries are there in the world? It's a number that changes from time to time, for instance when a new nation is born as a country divides, or when two nations become one.
As we write this in mid-2020, the world has 195 countries.
How could you possibly remember them all? Well, we're not expecting anyone to do that – but maybe you are studying a particular region of the world and would like to be able to recall its countries, and maybe the capital cities of those countries, too.
So here is the complete Mammoth Memory guide to remembering the countries of the world and their capitals. Some of our ideas are quirky, but our images are memorable, they're fun (mostly), and they work!
And just in case there are some die-hards out there who want to remember EVERY country and capital – maybe as a party trick or just as a personal challenge – there IS a way you can do that.
Take a look at How to Remember the Presidents of the USA in our history section and you'll see how we've converted the number of each president (from number one for the first president, George Washington, right through to the present day) into a word. The words are all based on the method revealed in our Remembering Numbers, Numbers to a Noun section.
Simply apply this same logic to the countries of the world, using words of your own choice from the list we provide in Remembering Numbers, Examples of Numbers from 0-999 (you only need to go as far as 195).
The only other thing you will need to do is decide the order in which you are going to place your list of countries. You could base it on alphabetical order – i.e., start with Afghanistan and finish with Zimbabwe – or sort the countries into continents (e.g., African countries first, followed by Asian countries, and so on). The important thing is that you have a list of 195 countries (unless the number of countries has already changed!) and, from each number, a word or phrase that you have associated with the image we have already provided for each country.
For instance, let's say you decided to use the word tie to represent the number 1 (as we have done for the Presidents of the USA). Take a look at our mnemonic for the first country in your list, say Algeria:
He had algae on his rear (Algeria) and then got algae in his ears (Algiers).
Now, associate tie (1) with the prehistoric man in the image by imagining he is wearing a smart tie around his neck. This is quite anachronistic and bizarre – and that's why it's so easy to remember!
Now, when you think of country number 1, you think "tie", and you see the prehistoric man wearing it, and recall that he also has algae on his rear (Algeria) and algae in his ears (Algiers, the capital of Algeria).
Follow a similar routine for each number and you'll be surprised how well you are able to remember them.