8th-grader is first girl to win geography bee in 16 years

Published May 24, 2007

WASHINGTON - On the wings of a flawless run, 14-year-old Caitlin Snaring, an eighth-grader from Washington state, sailed to victory Wednesday as the first female champion of the National Geographic Bee in 16 years.

"I don't know why more girls aren't interested in geography, " she said after winning.

She beat out nine other finalists who had emerged from the nearly 5-million elementary and middle school students nationwide who competed for the 2007 title.

"I was totally confident that I could do it, " Caitlin said after the competition at National Geographic's D.C. headquarters, clutching her $25, 000 college scholarship prize check. "I want to travel everywhere, so knowing where every place is is a real advantage."

In the final round, Caitlin was running neck and neck with Suneil Iyer, 12, a seventh-grader from Kansas. She clinched the title on this question: "A city that is divided by a river of the same name was the imperial capital of Vietnam for more than a century. Name this city, which is still an important cultural center."

Suneil scribbled down Ho Chi Minh City. Caitlin went for Hue, including the accent over the e.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Fast Facts:

Test examples

Examples of the questions asked in the final rounds:

1. Silbo, a code language whistled across the hilly terrain of a North Atlantic island group, became required learning in schools in order to save it from extinction. Silbo can be heard on the island of Gomera, administered by what country?

2. Name the item that does not belong, and say why: Davis Strait, Strait of Gibraltar, Luzon Strait, Cook Strait, Bering Strait.

3. The second-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa is also the richest Portuguese-speaking country in Africa. Name this country.

Answers: 1. Spain. 2. Cook Strait, the only one listed that is in the Southern Hemisphere. 3. Angola.