- GeoGuessr Modes
- Fundamental Techniques
- Highway Numbering Systems
- General Clues
- License Plates
- How To Identify Every Country In North America
- How To Identify Every Country In Europe
- How To Identify Every Country In Oceania
- How To Identify Every Country In Africa
- How To Identify Every Country In Asia
- How To Identify Every Country In South America
This article is for everyone from the GeoGuessr novice to expert. It begins with the basics then covers all the important elements including identifying: license plates, bollards, utility poles, languages, highway signs, highway numbering systems, camera generations, visible Street View cars and much, much more. The lower section of this article provides the key clues and idiosyncrasies that will help in recognising each country in the (GeoGuessr) world. This article is regularly updated with new tips, tricks and techniques.
An Introduction to GeoGuessr
GeoGuessr (https://geoguessr.com/) is a game in which a semi-random Google Street View location is presented to you. You are permitted to move along the street akin to Google Street View and must use Sherlock-esque logic (not the type of logic used in the recent poorly executed ‘Holmes and Watson’ movie that has a generous 10% on Rotten Tomatoes) to decode precisely where on earth your initial Street View location is. On an adjacent map, you are required to click a location and your guess’s proximity to your actual Street View position is awarded with points. The point score will range from 0 for an antipodean guess, which is hard to achieve in itself, to a maximum 5000 points for a guess within about 150 metres for the standard GeoGuessr game. A GeoGuessr game consists of 5 rounds and if my abacus is calibrated correctly, that means a potentially perfect score of 25,000 awaits.
The primary purpose of GeoGuessr is that it is (everyone say this in unison) “fun and educational”. Other reasons to play involve lauding your geographical superiority nous over your friends or couples settling disputes about who is better at giving directions whilst driving. In pragmatic terms, GeoGuessr may only be useful if you are kidnapped and taken blindfolded to a random location on earth with the captor providing you the chance to escape once your blindfold is removed if you can identify your location accurately to within 150 metres. The captor must then proceed to take you to 4 other locations and repeat said process. I smell a new reality TV show MTV. Incidentally, MTV if you are reading this I copyright this concept; saying copyright counts as copyright, right?
Before embarking on a standard GeoGuessr game, you are presented with various options on a screen that looks uncannily like a smirking face, aware of the difficult locations that await you. Challenging others by clicking on the predictably named ‘challenge’ button will allow you to invite friends or foe to play the same map against you to see who really is superior in a very esoteric task that has very little real-world purpose.
By ticking the ‘use default settings’ box you can play moving GeoGuessr at your own leisurely pace. There are other GeoGuessr variants that are played around the four corners of the round globe. Before starting a game, untick ‘use default settings’ and like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you will be transported to a magical world with talking animals, mythical beasts and more restrictive GeoGuessr settings (at least one of these three things is true). The settings include: viewing a still Street View image in which any moving, zooming or panning is forbidden and shall be punishable by death. This is the most challenging version of GeoGuessr and if the image provided is of a grass hill, then good luck in recognising the individual blades of grass if your name isn’t MrBeardedBread (the Roger Federer of GeoGuessr). Another version of GeoGuessr allows users to pan left, right, up and down but moving and zooming are prohibited. A further version of the game allows panning and zooming but no moving; something akin to being dropped in a location with binoculars whilst your legs are tied up.
It is frowned upon to use external websites whilst playing GeoGuessr (although this website you are reading now should be used). Everyone has a shady cousin whose scent whiffs of recreational drugs that they claim is a new deodorant, flirts with the legal-illegal line and possibly flirts with other cousins too- this is the type of person I would expect to use external help in GeoGuessr but lie and tell people they have suddenly memorised every road name in Ghana.
- Country Streak
- USA State Streak
- Career Mode
- Battle Royale- Countries
- Battle Royale- Distance
- City Streaks
- The Daily Challenge
- GeoGuessr Pro
You can play GeoGuessr in one of several variations. Firstly, by clicking on the ‘Classic’ tab you will be presented with a range of themes. The most commonly played is the world map which may come as a surprise to some Americans. Other popular maps include: Famous Places, United States (I take back my previous remark), The European Union and European Stadiums. If you search for your city/state/country, there will likely be a map for your location- note: this may not be true for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The standard version of GeoGuessr allows players to navigate along roads for an infinite period of time. In theory, you could be provided a location in Eastern Russia and spend a fun 3 week period on your computer clicking along Siberian roads until you reach a recognisable Paris and thus trace your path back during another fun-filled 3 week period resulting in 5000 points but on the flipside, 6 weeks will be lost from your life. It’s a tough decision. I occasionally dabble in this version of the game but my impatience means that I prefer timed version of GeoGuessr. You are permitted to enter a time limit per round of somewhere between 10 seconds to 10 minutes. This will ensure that rounds don’t surpass the age of the observable universe.
Another variant of GeoGuessr is Explorer Mode. Once inside Explorer Mode (which can be found in the ‘Classic’ section), click on a country to play that specific map. To earn a bronze medal you must score above 5,000 points, silver requires 15,000 plus and the elusive gold requires a score of 22,500 or more. Are the point requirements for medals seemingly arbitrary numbers? Yep. Is it fun to play Explorer Mode, excluding the featureless Mongolian map? Absolutely. Once you complete a country, scoring above the aforementioned thresholds, the country will turn the appropriate colour on the map. Certain countries in Explorer Mode (such as Mongolia) are virtually impossible to earn gold on unless you play through all of the locations and memorise them (or take notes and wait for repeats).
Perhaps the only positive to come out of the year 2020 is the GeoGuessr Country Streak mode. The GeoGuessr ‘streak modes’ can be found on the home page beside an apocalyptic-looking (and 2020 appropriate) lightning bolt. The challenge is to correctly identify each country you are placed in to form your longest possible correct streak. There is a slight loophole in this challenge- if you notice an unfamiliar flag, you can click on a country on the guessing map to match the flag. There is a skewed distribution of countries that appear in this version as evidenced by the below map.
USA State Streak
The assortment of fine folk at GeoGuessr HQ have gifted us another GeoGuessr variant, this time in the form of the ‘US State Streak’ mode. US State Streak mode can be found on the homepage in the ‘Streaks’ section. US State Streaks doesn’t describe a potential future challenge for GeoWizard in which he must streak across each US state. Rather the true US State Streak premise is simple- you must continually determine which US state you are placed in to accumulate a streak. There are a number of things you will need to learn to be certain of which state you are in.
For this mode, the most important section of this article to read, memorise and perhaps get tattooed on your body is the US Highways section. Learn how the US road network numbering system operates and commit to memory the unique state highway shield of each US state. The next key to success in the US State Streak mode is to be aware of the identifiable USA Plates and to know which US states require just rear plates vs both front and rear. Finally, read the USA section of this article that provides further potentially useful tidbits such as the various landscapes across the US. I yearn for the day that GeoGuessr add a ‘Mongolian Province Streak’ mode in which players must correctly identify which of the 21 Mongolian provinces or ‘aimags’ they are placed in.
Under the ‘Career’ tab you will find arguably the most exciting (and stress-inducing) versions of GeoGuessr. These are Battle Royale Countries, Battle Royale Distance and City Streaks. These are all variants of GeoGuessr in which you battle against players in real time.
The career mode ranking system hierarchy goes (from less experienced players to experts):
It is quite ironic that the goal of GeoGuessr is to be as accurate as possible down to the correct street however in the ranking system you want to try and avoid street and aim for global.
Each of the above six divisions has 4 tiers with tier 1 being the best. Each tier contains 100 ranks with rank 100 being the best and 1 being the not-so-best. The highest ranking you can achieve in Career mode is 100 Global Division, Tier 1.
Battle Royale Countries
In Battle Royale Countries, you can play against friends (under the appropriately named ‘Play With Friends’ tab) or engage in a game versus a motley assortment of GeoGuessr-philes from around the world. Contrary to the name, Battle Royale Countries isn’t a ferocious fight to the death between Prince Harry and Prince William in which the last prince standing inherits the throne (although I would pay money to see this). The GeoGuessr Battle Royale Countries mode entails using your geographic knowledge to identify the country you are placed in. The last player standing is the victor.
There are some tactics to increase your chances of winning. Firstly, be aware that not all countries are included in GeoGuessr. There is a map slightly further down this article in the ‘Fundamental Techniques’ section that depicts the countries included in GeoGuessr. Minus Taiwan, this map largely reflects the countries included in Battle Royale mode.
There are gameplay tactics that you should utilise in Battle Royale. If there are a large number of players left and you are unsure of your location, wait until others have made their guesses. The flags of the incorrect countries guessed will be displayed in the top right corner- you can exclude these countries thus hopefully increasing your chances of victory. Always keep an eye out for these flags- you don’t want to guess a country that has already been excluded. In the first round, there is no hurry to make your guess as all the players will go through if they guess correctly before the stress-inducing timer runs down.
If you can definitively narrow down the location to three or less countries, then there is no point waiting- quickly make the three guesses. For example, if you are certain the location is South Africa, New Zealand or Australia, then quickly guess these places rather than heading off down the road in search of kangaroos. During the early rounds with less experienced players, you can afford to take your time. If you are down to two or three players, it is often worth locking in a guess before the timer commences. I always lock an intuitive guess in before the timer commences when there are 2 or 3 players left. As each round is loading, you can see a blue-coloured version of the next location. Use this time to examine the location and hopefully ascertain subtle clues. Save the 50-50 feature for a location where you are unsure, have used up two incorrect guesses or have explored and are running low on time. Many members in the community frown upon using the 50/50 option when you are down to the last 2 players.
When you are down to your last opponent and know the location, it is often worth waiting until the yellow section almost runs out before locking in your guess. This will reduce the chances that your opponent will make a guess solely because you have locked in one early. On any occasion that you lock in your guess before the timer commences, keep moving around rather than waiting to see if you guessed correctly. More advanced Battle Royale techniques to be aware of are listed in the ‘flag trick’ section further down this article.
If you are situated indoors or at a location that isn’t on a road, there is a reasonable chance you are in India. Try to specialise in quickly recognising the quirks of all the Battle Royale relevant countries. Each country has idiosyncrasies that can lead to it being promptly recognised. The bottom section of this article describes what to look for in order to quickly and correctly identify every country in the world.
Battle Royale is restricted to people who have paid for GeoGuessr Pro. If you have a free account, then you can still join Battle Royale games if someone that has GeoGuessr Pro invites you. Alternatively, there are almost always people on Twitch streaming who will post the link to their game. Non-GeoGuessr Pro players can join these games and play Battle Royale for free.
There are variants of Battle Royale Countries that provide a different time limit, a different number of guesses per round and/or no moving, panning or zooming (NMPZ) restrictions.
Battle Royale Distance
The GeoGuessr developers have gifted us another Battle Royale variant, this one is known as Battle Royale Distance. This version of the game could easily be used in cardiologists’ offices in which patients’ hearts need to be monitored whilst performing a stressful activity. Battle Royale Distance begins with a maximum of ten people who have no idea of the distress that awaits them. Each player must place a pin on the map where they believe the Street View location is situated. From the ten players, the person whose pin is furthest from the actual location after one minute has elapsed is eliminated. This process repeats until there is one person standing who shall be crowned the victor (and also crowned the person with the sturdiest heart).
You begin Battle Royale Distance with a certain number of guesses depending on the variant. For each round you advance, you are gifted an extra guess. Extra guesses are also awarded for being close and guessing the correct country. Like Formula-1 qualifying, once you have placed a guess, you can sit back and watch whether others have made a closer guess and thus whether you need to make further guesses to avoid elimination.
Your username will be displayed among the live leaderboard for each round. Above your name will be a number indicating how many kilometres the person positioned ahead of you is closer to the actual location. Beneath your name will be a number showing how many kilometres the person positioned behind you trails you by. These numbers can be useful if you are weighing up whether to make more guesses to ensure that you advance to the next round. Be mindful that if you are only 30km behind the first person in Russia, you likely have made a sufficient guess. If you are 30km behind the first person in Andorra, you have likely made a poor guess (and you may also be a liar as Andorra’s width is less than 30km).
Before making your second, third, fourth guesses, be aware of where you are on the leaderboard and the gap between you and the person above you. If your subsequent guesses reduce your gap, it is a clue as to which direction your future guesses should be in. If you subsequent guesses don’t reduce the gap then avoid that direction and opt for guesses in a different direction.
Try to avoid waiting until the last 10 seconds to make your first guess. If your first guess happens to be inaccurate, you will have little time left to make another guess. I like to look around for the first half of the time limit (especially in urban rounds or areas that may provide directional signs) then make a guess. I then try and determine whether I need to make a subsequent guess and where this guess would be, depending on my confidence in the location and where I am ranked. Throughout each round you should always be considering where you will make another guess if need be. At present, there seems to be a disproportionate number of capital cities being represented in Battle Royale Distance. For example, if you are in a city in Ukraine, it may be worth guessing Kiev.
Tactically speaking, the only aspect to focus on in Distance Battle is not being last (although I generally recommend guessing if you are second last and in many instances third last). Once you are down to the last few players, you can use up your stash of saved guesses. In the latter rounds, if you are certain that you are in a specific country and have few other clues to go on, it may be wise to disperse your guesses around the country, whilst looking at the leaderboard to see if you are getting closer or further away hence tailoring your future guesses. Only your closest guess will count. This is akin to dating lots of people at the same time and hoping that one is a reasonable human being (and interested in GeoGuessr).
If you only have a few saved guesses in the very last round versus an opponent who has a glut of guesses, it may be worth waiting until the last 15 seconds (or less) to use your guesses. If you use them early, your opponent’s distance to you will be displayed enabling them to gauge whether their future guesses are getting closer to the actual location.
There are variants of Battle Royale Distance in which you start with a different number of guesses, have a different time limit per round and/or no moving, panning or zooming (NMPZ) restrictions.
When you hear the words ‘new variant’ it is natural to shudder. City Streaks is however a good new variant this time from the GeoGuessr world. You are placed in a city location and tasked with selecting your city on the adjacent map. For each city you guess correctly, you are awarded one lightning bolt (personally, in the real world, I try and avoid collecting lightning bolts). You begin City Streaks with a certain number of lives depending on the version and at certain points you will receive life refills. Your aim is to correctly guess more cities than your opponents in a specified time limit.
Tactically speaking, if you are unsure where you are located, look for clues, (e.g. you may see Spanish writing) then look on the map at the set of available cities to select from. In this example, there may only be one or two Spanish cities to guess from, thus helping you work out where you indeed are located. At the start of the game, you want to conserve lives so if you are really unsure where you are, search for more clues. Towards the end of the time limit, you should try and speed things up and not worry as much about lives. Remember to keep your eyes on the leaderboard to gague how quick and risky you need to be with your guesses.
There are variants of City Streak in which you start with a different number of lives and/or there is a different total time limit.
The Daily Challenge
Each day there is a new and addictive Daily Challenge game in which you can test yourself against other GeoGuessr-philes. There is a 3 minute time limit, you are permitted to move and will be situated somewhere on the planet that is widely known as earth. There are no strict and formal rules for the Daily Challenge meaning you technically aren’t forbidden from Googling however you will be frowned upon by some players if you do.
From the dawn of time to August 2019, GeoGuessr was a free game with almost all the features (besides to ability to make maps) available to the masses. GeoGuessr are required to pay Google a small fee each time a player uses Street View or Google Maps. Google recently increased this ‘small’ fee by 1400% and this has forced GeoGuessr to make some changes. Personally I’m boycotting Google and will be reverting to search engine Alta Vista…. Okay, I’m reliably informed by that Alta Vista no longer exists.
The post August 2019 version of GeoGuessr requires players to become ‘Pro’ users to utilise the range of features and this costs US$1.99-$2.99 a month. Using the Pro service you can make maps and play all maps to your heart’s content.
For those unable or unwilling to pay this Pro fee, GeoGuessr can still be played. On the main page you can scroll down and click ‘Play for free’. You don’t need to make a free account and can delve straight into playing a 2-D, inferior version of this game that degrades the good name that is GeoGuessr. Quite frankly this version is unplayable and in terms of enjoyment levels and game play is on par with the 1970s video game Pong.
A better alternative is to create a free account. By signing up for a free account you will be granted one free game every 24 hours on any map. The ‘Daily Challenge’ can additionally be played and appears on the homepage. With a free account, challenges on all maps can be freely played. Click ‘join challenge’ on any of the hundreds of challenges on the GeoChallenges subreddit and presto, you can continue to play for free to your heart’s content.
Personally I believe the right to play GeoGuessr is a basic human liberty akin to having water, food and shelter. *Insert a rant involving something to do with the Geneva Convention*. Hopefully GeoGuessr will last for a long time into the future, surviving any impending nuclear war, outliving the cockroaches and even the Kardashians.
- GeoGuessr Coverage
- Prevalence of Location
- Poor Picture Quality
- The Sun
- Left vs Right Driving
- Speed Limits
By now you have listened to far too much of my ramblings that are perhaps more suited to graffiti on a toilet wall. I will finally start detailing the techniques required to be victorious in GeoGuessr.
There are large pockets of the world that aren’t covered by Street View and thus being cognizant of these locales will improve your GeoGuessr game. The map below indicates what countries are covered by Street View and thus likely GeoGuessr. There are some caveats to the below map. Firstly, I have never seen a street in Antarctica on the game and in fact I was unaware that Antarctica was a thriving metropolis that has frequent traffic jams. Some countries including China appear in the game but only as landmarks and the streets aren’t fully navigable thus you should be able to determine that you are in these countries. Other places such as India occasionally pop up but typically you can’t traverse far either in these areas. For a detailed explanation of which places Street View covers and to what extent, see the link here. If you are an even more hard-core GeoGuessr player, then this linked map showing GeoGuessr location based on a certain number of game simulations may be pleasing to your eyeballs. A lower section of this article features maps showing more specific coverage within each continent.
Prevalence of Location
Whilst playing the GeoGuessr world map, it is important to be aware of the distribution of countries. If you perpetually select Eswatini, whilst neglecting the rarity of Eswatini appearing, then you will score poorly. Russia, the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Norway and the rest of Europe account for a significant portion of GeoGuessr locations. This is crucial information. Learning the idiosyncrasies of these countries is imperative. Also, when tossing up between countries, skew your guess to one of these aforementioned areas.
For all of the glory of GeoGuessr and its founder Anton Wallén (all hail Mr. Wallén), the disproportionate nature of countries appearing can make some rounds rather repetitive (I now have a useless knowledge of obscure Russian roads taking up space in my brain). There are egalitarian GeoGuessr maps that can be fun to play that contain a more equal distribution of countries, less poor quality locations and typically hand-picked places. Think of these maps as the communism of GeoGuessr, if that communism is a computer game involving geography largely outside of communist countries.
- The Diverse World map can be played here.
- The Balanced World map can be played here.
- The Improved World map can be played here.
- A Pinpointable World map can be played here.
- The AI Generated map (providing further evidence that computers are plotting to take over the world) can be played here.
If trying to distinguish between different shades of grass and different bitumen road laying techniques isn’t your thing whilst playing GeoGuessr’s largely rural maps, then perhaps strictly urban maps will be more to your liking. You will get to decipher clues within only cities; from written languages, cars, people and cultures to muggings.
- The Urban World map can be played here.
- The Urbanguessr map can be played here.
- The Famous Places map (which also features some famous rural areas) can be played here.
Poor Picture Quality
Have you ever played GeoGuessr and then a place pops up causing you to make an appointment with an optometrist? Intermittently you will come across a location on GeoGuessr with image quality that looks like it has been photographed by a Nokia 3315 phone. This is doubly remarkable for this phone considering it didn’t have a camera. As annoying as these locations are (they typically don’t exist on the Diverse World map) they do provide some insights other than being somewhere that employs blurry sign writers. The blurry locations in GeoGuessr are almost certainly in the USA or Australia. Further information can also be deduced from these places. They will likely be a more remote region; often in the central corridor of the USA and not a large city. In Australia, the blurry locations are normally outback areas and away from the major cities (this still includes most of Australia). Why the economically deprived country of Botswana has crystal clear images whilst the filthy rich countries of Australia and USA have blurred photos is largely due to the outdated cameras used on the Street View car in the USA and Australia from several years ago. Also, horror movies portray these areas as dangerous and no-one from Google will sign up to drive through these regions for Street View; a movie idea- A Street View driver captures their own death on Halloween as they are killed by monsters. Trademark.
The sun isn’t just useful for helping sustain life on earth but is also one of the key instruments in GeoGuessr. Which of these traits is more useful is debatable. In Street View, if the sun is clearly in the Northern Hemisphere then you are probably in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. There is a compass in the corner of the GeoGuessr game that always orientates you north at the start of every round. The red end of the compass indicates north and rotating your computer around won’t move this compass. My first process when playing GeoGuessr is to determine which hemisphere I am in. The easiest way to do this is by looking at the shadows. If the tip of a shadow is pointing south then you are likely in the Southern Hemisphere and if a shadow tip points north then you are probably in the Northern Hemisphere.
If the shadows are unclear then panning up to the sky to find where in the sky the sun is can be useful. Often the sun is shrouded in clouds however a bright patch of sky can be observed (make sure the sun is in the centre of your screen for accuracy). If the sun is in the Northern Hemisphere then you are in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. In some scenes, the sun and shadows are obscured but part of a rolling hill or building is illuminated and you can thus determine where the sun likely is. This sun-hemisphere determination process akin to some ancient civilisation’s infatuated worshipping of the sun, can be problematic. The closer the sun is to the northern or southern horizon, the more accurate guide it is. On some occasions the sun will appear overhead and you will then possibly be between the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer. There are few guarantees with the sun due to the variance in season that the Street View location was photographed.
Another technique I use if the sun is obscured is to exploit society’s addiction to TV and search for visible satellite dishes. These almost universally point towards a satellite orbiting above the equator in geostationary orbit. If a satellite dish points south then you are likely in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa. A satellite dish pointing directly upwards means you may be near the equator. On occasions I have played a timed round and stumbled across a satellite dish in Brazil and its angle has helped me determine an approximate latitude. I for one stand against streaming services such as Netflix due to their potential destruction of TV satellite dishes potentially jeopardising future usage of satellite dishes for GeoGuessr rounds.
Left vs Right Driving and Miles vs Kilometres
Another key clue to pinpoint the country you are placed in within GeoGuessr is to note the side of the road that vehicles are driving on. This of course ignores drunk drivers, hoons and those overtaking the chug-chug steady paced Google Street View car. As a general rule, countries of British origin (not Canada) drive on the left hand side of the road as well as island countries (not the Philippines or Iceland). Most other countries drive on the right-hand side of the road. Finding a left-hand side of the road car in GeoGuessr is akin to finding a dragon’s egg, wrapped in unicorn hair in the possession of a justifiably famous Kardashian.
Within the restricted versions of GeoGuessr and in some remote locations, cars aren’t visible (they aren’t invisible, there are just no cars around). In these instances other clues must often be attained to determine what side of the road the drivers are using. A fairly accurate indicator is to look for signposts. They tend to lie on the side of the road that drivers drive on. For instance a ‘warning Lannister army approaching’ sign situated by the right hand side of the road (from your perspective) will likely mean that drivers in that country or fictional HBO world drive on the right side of the road.
In some areas, an antenna is visible on the back of the Street View car (behind the camera). Also, on many rounds, if you look down, the side mirrors of the car are visible by shadow. These are in front of the Street View camera. By using either of these entities, you can determine if the Street View car is driving on the left or right of the street.
Look at these nice round numbers: 1 mile equals 1,760 yards or 5,280 feet or 63,360 inches. In contrast, look at these arbitrarily and hodgepodge numbers: 1 kilometre equals 1000 metres or 100,000cm. For some reason only the sensible USA, UK and the might of Liberia and Myanmar use miles. In contrast, every other country on earth uses kilometres. When will the other countries catch up to these four avant-garde areas? Nonetheless, signs on Street View often denote speed limits or distances using kilometres or miles. If you see miles, then you are probably in the USA or UK. This technique is especially useful for distinguishing Canada from the USA. The below map shows what countries drive on the left vs right and what countries use kilometres vs miles.
If the road is one way, you suspect a drunk driver is not obeying the country appropriate side-of-road driving law or cars are parked facing both directions then a handy tip is to look for what side of the car the steering wheel is situated; a left side of car steering wheel (from the driver’s perspective) indicates a right side of the road driving country and vice versa.
To most muggles, roads are made from asphalt and concrete. Enter the magical world of GeoGuessr where so much more information can be gained from glancing at the road. Line markings are particularly useful in determining what region you are in. Yellow centre lines are prevalent from the top of North America to the base of South America (an exception is that most of Chile has white lines). The odds are if you see a yellow centre line you are somewhere on the American continents. A faded yellow middle line normally indicates Mexico or a country south of this. South Africa also has the occasional yellow centre line as does Japan. White centre lines are more predominant throughout Europe and Australia.
Dashed white lines on the edges of roads are quite common in the countries of Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden. Norway tends to have yellow centre lines and Sweden tends to have white centre lines. Finland often has centre yellow lines and centre white dashed lines; it doesn’t have dashed lines on the edges of its roads. Russia has a road line that is thinner than other country’s road lines. There are of course exceptions to these rules. One such exception is that parts of France occasionally pop up with dashed white street lines. Another exception is the Dutch islands south-west of Rotterdam that are connected to the Netherlands via road bridges. This area mainly has dashed white lines on the sides of their roads.
The four countries of South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho tend to have simultaneous yellow edge road lines and white road centre lines for their major roads.
The condition the road is in tells us information about the type of country we find ourselves. The richer a country, the better maintained their roads are on average. Russian’s lengthy road network can sometimes be easy to detect due to the crumbling roads. Another road quirk I’ve noticed involves the typical width of roads in certain regions. European roads tend to be fairly narrow, contrasting the wide roads of the USA and Canada. Although roads in Turkey are often wide with many lanes.
If there is one thing I like looking at more than roads, it’s guardrails. These guardrails can also provide clues to your whereabouts. Russia and the Ukraine tend to have black and white coloured stripes painted on their guardrails over areas such as rivers or on twisty roads. Guardrails in the majority of the remainder of Europe tend to be simply silver.
One final road quirk I will mention is the ‘rumble strip’. Despite the name suggesting this is someone named Rumble’s strip club, the term actually refers to a long series of raised stripes on the side of the road to alert inattentive drivers to their veering off the road/failed GPS systems directing the driver into fields. I have mainly encountered these Rumble strips in Canada and the USA. On occasions I have seen them somewhere else such as Sweden. The Rumble Strip appearing below is the typical the type I have observed. Note that the image below comes from Asphalt Magazine (I struggle to believe that a whole magazine can be dedicated to such a substance. Sand I can understand, even concrete but asphalt!)
Whether you are trying to win a game of chess, attempting to rig a FIFA World Cup vote or trying to score highly in GeoGuessr, tactics are required. When the location loads it is often a good idea to initially analyse your surroundings and rotate around 360 degrees. On occasions, a player who races off down the street will miss a sign behind their back or some other clue. This patience and rotation is also useful in timed games and the various GeoGuessr modes. *Insert more updated tortoise and hare reference*.
Firstly I will mention some basic gameplay tactics. To move one step at a time, click on one of the two white arrows that appear below you (more arrows will appear at junctions).
There is a quicker way to move in GeoGuessr- The location on the road you place your computer’s cursor will show up with a circle containing an arrow akin to a symbol resembling some superheroes logo (GeoGuessr Man- He doesn’t save lives but improves people’s esoteric geographical knowledge slightly). As you hover this logo further down the road, the circle will become narrower. As soon as you click, you will be transported to this location. If the superhero logo becomes a parallelogram in shape and you click, you won’t be able to move forward to your desired location, instead you will probably move forward just the one space. To move a great distance, place the circular superhero logo as far down the road as you are permitted, making sure it doesn’t transform into the parallelogram and then click.
The flag icon on the left of screen takes you back to the start point and is useful for attaining a perfect score once you have moved around and worked out your general location. When you do move, remember the path you have taken and direction you have moved in; this will come in useful when retracing your path or if you find a familiar sign.
If you are the type of person who listens to podcasts on quantum mechanics at 4x speed then you can probably skip this paragraph. There are some GeoGuessr keyboard short cuts to shave seconds off your game play time. In case you are using a laptop, press + and – to zoom in and out of Street View. The left and right arrows are used predictably to pan left and right. Previously in GeoGuessr I was acting like an elderly person who crosses the road absentmindedly then gets honked at by an obstructed car and then takes a prolonged time to turn around to examine said car by which time said car has long passed. The left and right arrows have changed this. The up and down arrows are useful in moving back and forward in case you have just narrowly passed a sign and want to go back and look at it. Double clicking on the map will zoom in to that location faster than the conventional zoom buttons on the map.
Using a mouse makes GeoGuessr gameplay much easier and efficient. The mouse wheel of the non-rodent variety can be used to zoom in quickly on Street View signs as well as the map. Playing on a laptop touchpad is disadvantageous and akin to not having one of those secret motors some cyclists use in races. If you aren’t sure what specific buttons to press with your setup then I recommend pressing random buttons and observing what happens, much like how this article has been written.
When decided on the direction to travel, heading towards nearby signs, houses, shops, major roads, towns and around corners can be useful. When faced with a dilemma as to which way to travel, think of yourself as a lazy, hitchhiking busker- they will want to travel downhill, towards a town and preferably onto a main road. The downhill aspect of travelling is important as interesting things seem to lie at the bottom of hills such as towns, rivers, bridges and key roads. There are the occasional exceptions. Sometimes you will be stuck in a town or city and unable to work out where you are. In these instances, it can be beneficial to exit the town/city to find its name or other useful signs.
If you see the name of a towns on a sign, eg XYZ 6 km away and ABC 56 km away then generally search the map for the town further away (or preferably both towns) as the further away town is likely to be bigger and easier to spot on a map. Depending on how far you have narrowed down your region, it can be sensible to even search for tiny towns on the map. This is often contingent on the region’s size. For instance, if I notice a Dutch town name, I know the Netherlands is small and I can zoom quite far in on the map and look for towns matching the name I have found. Contrastingly, this won’t work well in vast Russia.
When I am uncertain on a country whilst playing a timed version of GeoGuessr, I brainstorm a handful of countries that I think might match where I am and try and work through each of them- looking at how well they fit the environment around me.
The zoom feature in the form of the plus sign in the GeoGuessr Street View format is one of the most useful tools in the game. It turns what are optometry tests in the form of signs that are illegible into slightly easier optometry tests. Zooming in to view any writing anywhere in Street View is key to working out clues to tessellate together.
Zooming into the map can make more information appear. For instance, you often need to zoom in a specific amount to see the name of states. The below image shows a dotted border, indicating a state border. Zooming in to the correct level will reveal street names, house shapes and if you zoom in the maximum amount and then use an electron microscope, you may be able to just make out my integrity.
If you are not quite sure on the precise location and want to click somewhere, try and match the road direction you are on to one going the same way on the map. You can always determine the road direction by using the compass. Cue my defacing of a perfectly good photo.
The most accurate way to determine the true direction of the road is to pan down completely and face north.
If you are keen for a perfect score and have narrowed down the street, try counting houses to get to your precise start location and match this with houses visible on the map. If no houses are around, try and survey your surroundings and match up a bend in the road with where you are or some other feature.
When travelling, make a map in your head of the general path you are moving from the starting point. When you start a round, take note of any distinguishing features of your starting location: this may include rivers, lakes, bridges, railway tracks, specific shop names etc. doing both of these things will come in useful if you have to pinpoint in a timed round. For instance, you may work out the town you are in or near and now know what direction you travelled to get to the town. If you started on a bridge, you can probably pinpoint rather easily unless you are in Venice.
After you have made your guess and found out how far you are from the real location, take some time to zoom in to the actual location so you can learn what the real place looks like on the map. Also, try and see if you missed any clues near the real location such as towns or geography that you can learn from. Essentially, try and learn from your mistakes every round.
If you are after a perfect score and are trying to pinpoint the final place on a flat stretch of road with no markers, one technique is to count the number of forward clicks required to move to the nearest notable feature eg a bend in the road. Do this for both directions then work out the ratio you are away from each feature in order to make an accurate guess.
Always remember to drop a pin down in time games. It is easy to be so engrossed in a game of GeoGuessr that time seems to fly by (the opposite of what happens during school). As soon as I have a general idea of the area, I zoom in and place a ‘safety pin’ down before I try and narrow down the region further. By developing this habit you won’t have to worry about getting zero points thanks to being timed out.
It can often be challenging to determine where in a country you should place your pin. If I see French bollards and houses that look slightly Belgian, I will place the pin somewhere in France near the Belgium border. By looking at many types of clues and balancing them, you should begin to develop an idea of where in a country to place pins. Use this technique whilst looking at the colours on the map corresponding to certain landscapes. Also use the general weather as a guide i.e. if you see a blue sky in Japan, you are probably in southern Japan, closer to the equator as opposed to the cold northern Japan.
Scoring well in the 3 minute Daily Challenge involves several techniques (this version passes in about 10 seconds for me due to my slow Australian internet. It seems that everything on the screen goes slowly for me….besides the countdown clock). Firstly, the key is to have fast internet. Secondly, travel at the speed of an F1 driver (who isn’t driving on wet roads) searching for a city sign or highway sign. Whilst travelling, try to pick up clues as to what country you are in. Try and recall the route you have taken in order to quickly pinpoint if you later spot a useful sign. I’ve linked to several GeoGuessr experts’ YouTube videos at the end of this section and watching them play the Daily Challenge is a good guide to the best techniques in GeoGuessr.
The most sure-fire way to improve at GeoGuessr is like most other things (skydiving not included) by failure. By making mistakes and learning, your game will consistently improve. Also, don’t compare yourself to people getting 25,000 point perfect scores in 10 second world rounds. Some of these people cheat. There is a way to cheat in GeoGuessr that I won’t describe here that gives you the co-ordinates for the location and these high scorers cheat. They are the athletics dopers of the GeoGuessr world. Having said that, there are some genuine GeoGuessr geniuses (or is it spelt genuses?) out there. These supernatural beings with eidetic memories are capable of identifying familiar patches of road; I’m looking at you Granis (the Tony Hawk of GeoGuessr). These rare humans are capable of a genuine 25k score in quick rounds.
Practicing GeoGuessr and familiarising yourself with what different regions and countries look like is key to the game. Another excellent way to improve your game is to watch YouTube videos of GeoGuessr experts playing. For light hearted fun I recommend watching GeoGuessr Wizard’s YouTube channel, found here.
To improve your GeoGuessr game, I recommend those channels that show players getting perfect 25k scores or close in the Daily Challenge. Other useful videos include those attaining ridiculously long country streaks.
- RadoX1988 has his channel here.
- Geography Challenges GeoGuessr videos can be viewed here.
- Granis has his GeoGuessr videos that can be viewed here.
- Killer Mapper’s GeoGuessr videos can be viewed here. Despite his homicidal name, Killer Mapper’s dulcet French tones make for relaxing listening.
- RC’s channel is here.
- Simi’s YouTube is here.
- Chicago Geographer can be found here on YouTube.
- SubSymmetry’s YouTube videos are here.
- The GeoGuessr Esports videos are here.
The GeoGuessr subreddit has many challenges in which you can compare yourself to the best players in the world.
Although you aren’t technically driving the Google Street View car, you are obeying the speed limit as you move down the road (thanks to slow internet loading the page). In reality, you will encounter many speed limit signs whilst playing GeoGuessr. Being aware of the maximum speed limit in certain rural areas can help you narrow down your GeoGuessr guess if you notice a speed limit sign whilst playing the game. Note that high speed limits listed are typically for rural areas, not urban areas unless ‘Need for Speed’ is being played. The below map shows these maximum speed limits. The key for the map shows the km per hour as surrounded by a red circle and the equivalent miles per hour written on a black and white sign. The actual signs you see won’t necessarily match these shapes and colours. Notice that the bulk of the eastern USA states and western USA coastal states have a maximum speed of 70 miles per hour. The central USA states typically have 75 or 80 miles per hour. New Zealand appears on the below map as having a maximum speed limit of 110km/h however this limit only applies to a small portion of Kiwi road totalling less than 100km; the maximum speed limit for most of the country is 100km/h.
Highway Numbering Systems
- USA Highways
- Canadian Highways
- Mexican Highways
- Brazilian Highways
- European E-Roads
- General European Road Numbering Signs
- Russian Federal Highways
- Great Britain Highways
- Spanish Roads
- Norwegian Roads
- Swedish Roads
- Finnish Roads
- Japanese Highways
- Warning Signs
Any serious GeoGuessr player will get slightly aroused when they encounter a road sign. These are perhaps the most important clues within the entire GeoGuessr game. Those teenagers that have a stolen a ‘Booger Hollow Rd’ sign and hung it up in their bedroom should be themselves hanged by the country on account of depriving GeoGuessrs’ their rightful signpost clues.
The crème de la crème of signs in this game are place names. Often a larger city with a direction sign will help narrow down your region. Local street names or highway numbers may further tighten your search. Even if a location name isn’t known by you, if it is large enough population-wise, you may be able to find it whilst searching on the map. The street names and locations on signs should help you to at least determine the country or region you are in. I will elaborate on languages in a subsequent section.
Often you will encounter signs with a place name followed by a number e.g. New York 42. This indicates the distance until you reach the place. In this instance you are 42 miles away from New York. (Be mindful of the kilometres vs miles differentiation depending on the country). Using the compass in a situation that you encounter a sign like New York 42 is vital. You can determine the general direction the road is travelling using the compass (don’t rotate and then drop your computer) and then work out approximately which road approaching New York you are on and estimate about 42 miles along this road.
Highway Number Signs
Most countries on Street View tend to have some form of highway numbering system. If you are in Japan and see a highway 112 sign, then by zooming in on the map you will see Japan’s numbered highway network. Sometimes it takes some time to pinpoint the precise highway on the map but persistence is key. Actually scrap that- intelligence is key. Maybe ingenuity is key. Let’s say decisiveness is key. Try and determine the pattern of the country’s highway system you are searching. If you are looking for highway 112, then finding highways number 110-120 might lead to the adjacent or intersecting highway 112. I will detail some specific (and Pacific) highway numbering systems in this section.
As a handful of countries make up most of the GeoGuessr locations, it’s important to be familiar with their highway signs and how to pinpoint these numbers on the map.
Warning: prepare to be bored.
USA County Highways: As an alien to the USA, the highway system took me some deciphering akin to Egyptian hieroglyphics. Apparently there is something logical to this system. Firstly, the smallest highways that are numbered in the USA are county highways. County Highway signs typically have the word “county” on them as seen below. These highway signs appear on the map as bland rectangular shapes also as seen below. County highways are largely useless unless you recognise the name of the county. The amount of zooming in required on the map makes county highways often useless to GeoGuessr players without further information.
Texas Farm Roads: These are essentially the Texas equivalent of County Highways. They provide more useful information than standard county highways as they tell you explicitly that you are in Texas with flashing lights (really just the word printed as ‘Texas’). A typical Texas farm road sign appears below. Each Texas road has a unique number (sometimes with a letter) making them useful for zooming in on the map and detecting. They appear on the GeoGuessr map as bland rectangular shaped signs. You need to zoom in quite significantly on the map to see these signs.
State Highways: These types of highways traverse a solitary state (not liquid, gas or solid). Virtually each state has its own unique state highway sign with a few exceptions: Iowa, Mississippi, Delaware and New Jersey (the cultured area that gifted the world the TV show Jersey Shore). These four states share the same state highway sign that is essentially a black background enclosing a white circle. Also the proximate states of Maine and Massachusetts have signs that I can’t distinguish between featuring a white square with a thin black border. On the GeoGuessr map, the state highway numbers appear as quasi round white shapes. In order to notice the state highways on the map, you will be required to do some zooming but not quite as much as the aforementioned County Highways. State Highway shields are useful to spot in GeoGuessr as they narrow down your map search to a single state. If you see a state highway sign that you don’t recognise, it may be the outline of a state which you can determine by matching it up with the map.
United States Highways: These highways cross more than one state and the signs appear as a white shield with a black number and black outline to the shield. These highways appear on the map as the same design as the signs. US Highways appear on the map as yellow roads. There is a numbering system to US Highways (hallelujah!) that enables you to not waste time (let me change that to ‘more time’ as according to muggles playing GeoGuessr wastes time). Odd numbered US highways typically run in the general direction north-south. Contrastingly, even numbered US highways normally run in an approximate east-west direction. If you spot a US highways sign numbered ‘40’ you immediately know that it runs across at least a couple of US states in an east-west general direction.
US Highways are numbered with 1, 2 or 3 digits. Highways numbered with 1 or 2 digits eg 7 or 49 are major US Highways. Routes numbered with 3 digits eg 160 are spur roads. These spur roads veer off from their parent road inheriting their 2nd and third digits from their parent road. US highway 160 spurs off from US highway 60 in Missouri. US 260 spurs off from US 60 in Oklahoma, US 360 veers off from US 60 in Texas and US 460 and US 560 spur off from US 60 in New Mexico.
There is a numbering system to US highways amongst all this craziness. Odd numbered US highways increase in number from east-west. Remember that odd numbered US highways are north-south running. Given this information, US highway 1 is north-south running and hugging the east coast. Contrastingly, US highway 97 runs through the western states north-south.
Even numbered US highways tend to increase in number from north to south. Remember that even numbered highways run east-west. Given this information, US highway 2 snakes just below the Canadian border and runs east-west. US highway 98 runs east-west through the southern states of Alabama and Florida.
If I haven’t bored you by running through the US highway numbering system, I will try and provide a technique to remember this information. I remember the fact that US highways that are even run east west by thinking of the Canadian-US border and thinking that the line is very even. Everything parallel with this line is also even. I remember that US highway that are odd run north south by thinking of the rugged coastline of the US as being uneven or ‘odd’. I remember the method of the increasing number that the US highways follow by thinking of the state of Maine which is in the north east corner of the US. This is the corner where the lowest number for both east-west and north-south highways originate. Every highway west of Maine increases in number and every highway south of Maine increases in number.
USA Interstates: Congratulations if you managed to read through the last section. Now onto the El Chapo of US roads- interstates. These freeways run across the country. Signs are conspicuously blue and red and explicitly and creatively state ‘Interstate’. On the map they appear identically as blue and red shields and can be viewed fairly far out without much zooming in required.
Interstates that are odd numbered run north south and even numbered interstates run east-west. This is the same directional system as the previous section: US highways. What is slightly confusing is that Interstates are numbered in the opposite manner to US highways. In other words, even numbered (east-west running) interstates contain low numbers in the south and increase as you head north to the higher numbers near the Canadian border. Odd numbered interstates (north-south running) contain low numbers on the west coast and increase in number towards the east coast. I remember this interstate numbering system by thinking of California as the state with the lowest numbers both odd and even. Every interstate to the north increases and every interstate to the east increases.
Another key facet to interstate roads is the exit numbers. If a road runs off an interstate, then it will be numbered and appear on the map. If you know the interstate number, you can then zoom in on the map and follow the interstate until you intersect with the exit number road.
To elaborate on the memory side of things: US highways with a black and white shield have lowest numbers in Maine. Interstate highways with a blue and red shield have lowest numbers in California. Both of these road types have odd numbers north-south running (like the uneven US coast) and even numbers east-west running (like the even Canada border).
Trans-Canada Highways: as the name suggests, these highways span across the country of Canada. They are denoted by a marijuana leaf (I’m reliably informed that it’s actually a maple leaf) of white colour on a green background. The state is also sometimes listed on Trans-Canada Highway signs.
Provincial highways: Like the USA, Canada has an array of highway types that are bamboozling. Each state has its own unique highway shield that is valuable within the GeoGuessr game and these can be viewed below. They appear on the map typically in a similar fashion to their real world appearance (I went outside and experienced this ‘real world’ once). Often there is no state provincial shield visible but rather a white trapezium shaped sign with a black outline. The map matches the real world mostly in these cases.
Federal highways in Mexico feature a black and white shield with a number and the word Mexico at the top of the shield. These highways are easily visible when zooming in on the map. Nonetheless, the numbering system of these highways starts in the north-west of Mexico and increases towards the south-east. North-south running federal highways are odd and east-west federal highways are even numbered (the same pattern as the aforementioned US). Essentially don’t worry too much about learning this system as the federal highways of Mexico aren’t like playing Where’s Wally/Waldo.
State highways in Mexico have a slightly different shield; with straight as opposed to curvy sides. The state abbreviation is written at the top of Mexican state highways which can prove particularly helpful. If you zoom into the map of Mexico to the right level, the states are named and it is fairly self-explanatory to correlate the state highway abbreviation to the associated state. The only slight room for confusion with Mexican state highways involves the state of Mexico which surrounds Mexico City. State highways here are abbreviated on signs as ‘MEX’ and shouldn’t be confused with the federal Mexican highways which have ‘MEXICO’ written on them.
I love Brazil. Its highway system is easier to explain than some previous countries *Cough USA Cough *.
Brazilian Regional Highways: These highways are numbered xx-yyy with the xx denoting the name of the state that the highway is running in and the yyy representing a number. An example is highway SP-280 which means the highway is in the state of São Paulo. Conveniently, the Brazilian states are listed on the GeoGuessr map (as well as the state initials) so you don’t require an in depth knowledge of them and can simply match up the initials with the state names. You can view the state’s names and initials at different levels of being zoomed in on the map. The below chart indicates what state the initials for each Brazilian regional highway represent. You don’t really need to memorise these as they are fairly self-explanatory and can be worked out in the spur of the moment whilst playing GeoGuessr.
DF= Federal District
AC= State of Acre
AL= State of Alagoas
AP= State of Amapa (an appropriate name)
AM= State of Amazonas
BA= State of Bahia
CE= State of Ceara
ES= State of Espirito
GO= State of Goias
MA= State of Maranhao
MT= State of Mato Grosso
MS= State of Mato Grosso do Sul
MG= State of Minas Gerais
PA= State of Para
PB= State of Paraiba
PE= State of Pernambuco
PR= State of Parana
PI= State of Piaui
RJ= State of Rio de Janeiro
RN= State of Rio Grande do Norte
RS= State of Rio Grande do Sul
RO= State of Rondonia
SC= State of Santa Catarina
SE= State of Sergipe
SP= State of Sao Paulo
TO= State of Tocantins
I’m in a state of disbelief that Brazil has so many states. After this poorly given, impromptu Brazil geography lesson, I should emphasise again that all of these Brazil regional highway abbreviations can be matched on the map using initials and without memorising the above list. Just remember to zoom in the appropriate amount to view state initials and zoom in slightly further to see the full state names.
Brazil National Highways: These are the highways that span multiple Brazilian states. They are named with the structure BR-xxx. BR denotes the country of Brazil and it can be handy to see these signs when playing GeoGuessr and immediately knowing what country you are in. The xxx doesn’t denote something rude but rather three numbers. There is a reasonably logical numbering system concerning these Brazil National Highways. Any number from:
000-099 denotes a highway travelling radially from the capital, Brasilia. In other words, think of Brasilia as a sun and any rays from the sun are these highways.
100-199 denotes highways running north-south.
200-299 denotes east-west running highways.
300-399 denotes diagonally running highways. Odd numbered highways run in the direction south-west to north-east whilst even numbered highways run south-east to north-west.
400-499 denotes a highway that connects two other highways.
Unlike every other thing in the world that begins with a single ‘E’, the ‘E’ in E-Roads doesn’t stand for ‘electronic’, nor does the name represent the outdated TV show ‘E Street’. Now I’ve mentioned what E-Roads are not, I’ll say what they are. E-Roads are a network of roads that stretch across Europe. Some numbered E-road span several countries. In tandem with E-roads, every country in Europe has their own localised road numbering system with non-E-roads.
Even numbered E-roads (eg E-34) are typically East-West running. Odd numbered E-roads (eg E-37) are typically North-South running. The numbering of E-roads increases as you progress in a southerly and easterly direction. This means that E-1 appears in Ireland and Portugal as these are the westerly parts of Europe. E-99 appears in Turkey as this is an eastern part of Europe. For the even numbers, E-4 appears in Sweden and E-98 appears in Turkey. E-roads that end in a 0 or a 5 are cross-continental European roads.
E-Roads that contain 3 digits (eg E-451) are connecting roads known technically as class-B roads. The exception to this is odd numbered 3 digit E-roads numbered 101 or greater- these are major, E-roads. E-road signs are green with white lettering.
General European Road Numbering Signs
Russian Federal Highways
Ah yes, we meet again my old foe. Russian highways are confusing partially due to some being renamed/renumbered and the original signs still being in place. Russian Federal Highways have either an M, A or P/R prefixing the road number.
M: Roads numbered M-1 to M-10 connect Moscow with a neighbouring country or connect Moscow with a Russian administrative centre.
P/R: Roads with a ‘P’ prefix are actually written in Russian with the ‘R’ symbol due to their writing system of Cyrillic. These ‘R’ symbols as they will appear in Russia are followed by a number. ‘R’ roads link administrative centres in Russia. I have noticed on a map that these roads tend to be numbered with lower numbers further north (numbers less than 120 being north of Moscow typically) and higher numbers further south of Moscow (above 120) but I haven’t read of this system online so be skeptical of my possibly crazy ramblings.
A: Access roads in Russia have the prefix ‘A’. Once again, be skeptical of my observations but roads numbered A100-A110 seem to commonly be cyclic roads around the outskirts of Moscow. Roads A146-A164 seem to be in the south-west corner of Russia.
These 3 types of Russian roads are the best maintained types of roads in the country and are normally paved and relatively well maintained. In the far east of Russia some of these roads may still be gravel. A map of Russian Federal Highways can be found here.
Road Markers: Fortunately, amidst the geographical and language barriers of Russia there are some further clues. Poles (the objects not the nationality) on the side of the Russian roads with blue signs have numbers on them. These numbers indicate the distance to the start/end of the road. The numbers are printed on both sides of the poles e.g. 6 and 31. In this instance you can determine the road is 37 kilometres long and you are 6 kilometres from one end and 31 kilometres from the other end. In this case it is usually wise to travel towards the closest road end e.g. the 6 kilometre one and to try and gain information at the roads end/junction. An important stipulation with Russian km markers; as you approach a sign and read it as the driver of a vehicle, it tells you how far you have travelled on the highway, the other side of the sign which you have to turn around to see once passing it tells you how far you have left on the highway. For instance, if you are travelling on a 100km highway and have travelled 99km and are only 1km away from the end, the marker will say 99km. Contrastingly, if you have just started driving on the 100km highway and have travelled only 1km, the sign will say 1km. If a Russian road has numbers above 1000km on it, the road is likely the one to Vladivostok (the city situated just slightly north-east of North Korea).
Great Britain Highways
Motorways on the island of Great Britain start with an ‘M’ followed by a number eg M23. These motorways are major roads that are fairly easy to find on the map. Nonetheless, there is a method to their numbering system. The first digit of M roads indicates what region of GB the road resides in. For instance, if you are on the M53, then you focus on the first digit of 53 which is 5. On the below map, the M53 road must be in the zone marked ‘5’.
A and B Roads
‘A’ and ‘B’ roads in Great Britain are typically harder to find on the map than M roads and thus you should read this section more carefully than the previous section (I should have put this before the previous section). Roads that start with an A or B prefix will follow with a number eg A606. The first digit of this number will determine where in GB this road can be found. The below map indicates these zones. You need to learn, nurture and perhaps even grow to love the below map.
It should be noted that Northern Ireland’s road numbers and letters resemble Great Britain’s road numbers and letters but they in fact have their own system. Be mindful that if you are spending an inordinate amount of time looking for a road in GB, it may actually be in Northern Ireland.
Anagram the country ‘Spain’ and you end up with ‘pains’. This is an apt description of their seemingly complexly numbered road network. Despite their challenging veneer, pinpointing roads in Spain can be done before you can say Don Quixote, just read ahead (and keep reading the rest of the article unless you for some reason are just a Spanish road aficionado).
Interurban motorways in Spain typically start with A or AP followed by a number eg AP-71. Radial motorways (R roads) and National roads (N roads) are two more types of roads in Spain. European roads (E roads) are clearly labelled and easy to find across Spain and indeed all of Europe. These European roads are doubly unique in Spain as they appear on signs with a dash between the E and the number eg E-90. This contrasts most of Europe that has no dash between the E and the number eg E25. This can make recognising or excluding Spain easy just by looking for the dash on E roads.
Many road numbers in Spain start with the letter(s) representing their region. Eg ‘EX-202’ for a road in the region of Extremadura. The following is a list of road code abbreviations and their corresponding Spanish province.
AC= A Coruna
BI/GI= Basque Country
CM= Castile-La Mancha
CS= Castellon de la Plana
CV= Valencian Community
LR= La Rioja
MA= Balearic Islands
MU/RM= Murcia (How Americans pronounce “America”)
SC= Santiago de Compostela
There are some more Spanish road prefixes e.g. for Andalusia, the ‘A’ prefix exists with green or orange signs, contrasting the blue ‘A’ signs for interurban motorways.
The Spanish regions don’t appear on the GeoGuessr map. Despite this, memorising the Spanish regions isn’t necessary as on most occasions the region is named after the major city within the region. If you see a road sign eg TO-22, then look at the GeoGuessr map for large Spanish cities starting with ‘T’ or ‘To’. You will notice the city of Toledo just south of Madrid and within a few seconds you will see the road: TO-22.
LZ, FV, GC, TF, HI, LP, GM/CV before a number indicates the specific island a road is on within the Canary Islands: LZ= Lanzarote, FV= Fuerteventura, GC= Gran Canaria, TF= Tenerife, HI= El Hierro, LP= La Palma, GM/CV= La Gomera.
Norway! The country that brought the world IKEA, ABBA and Swedish meatballs. I’m now informed this wasn’t Norway. Something Norway definitely did bring the world is Norwegian National roads. Signs for these roads look similar to E-roads without the E. The signs have a green background and white lettering. National roads contain between 1 and 3 digits. The first digit denotes where in Norway the road is located.
Primary county roads in Norway contain between 1 and 3 digits. The signs are white with black lettering. The first digit also denotes where the road is situated.
By simply looking at the first number of the National or primary county road, you can determine the region in Norway you are located. I created the child-like quality map below to provide a general idea of the zones of the first digits of Norway’s roads. There are the occasional exceptions to the zoning number rules such as routes 12 and 17 appearing in the North of Norway as opposed to where they should occur around Oslo (if you are reading this Norway government, please change these roads. Also, I would like to thank your country for IKEA, ABBA and Swedish meatballs.). It’s a good idea to get a general idea of the Norway road number zoning system so you can quickly zoom into the map in the right area.
If stereotypes are true, the Swedes produce attractive roads (and people). It is these attractive roads that I’ll be focusing on today. National roads in Sweden are denoted by blue background signs with white lettering. National roads will contain 1 or 2 digits and always be less than 100. Locating national roads in Sweden is fairly easy. The numbers gradually increase from low numbers in the south of Sweden to high numbers in the north of Sweden. If you see National road number 9 in your travels, you know to focus on the southern part of Sweden on the map to find the corresponding road. If you see National road number 99 then you know to look at the northern part of Sweden. If you see number 9 and ¾ you are playing the wrong game and should be playing Harry Potter.
Swedish county roads have the same signage as the national roads- blue background and white lettering. The Swedish county roads are unique as they contain 3 digit numbers as opposed to the national roads’ 2 digit numbers. Swedish county road numbers range from 100 to 404. Incidentally, this 404 number seems to pop up regularly on my computer screen. Like the national roads, the numbers increase the further North you travel. This means road number 100 is in the south of Sweden and road number 404 is in the north of Sweden.
The efficient and simple road numbering system in the Nordic countries comes to a grinding halt (or a ‘Finish’) when we encounter the Finnish. The 1st class main roads in Finland are denoted by red signs with white lettering. These 1st class roads range in number from 1 to 39. The 1st class roads in Finland connect the major Finnish cities. The 1st class roads numbered 1-7 radiate away from Helsinki with the numbers increasing in a clockwise direction. 1st class roads 8-10 radiate in a clockwise order away from the city of Turku and 11 and 12 radiate in a clockwise order away from Tampere. The remainder of the 1st class roads- 13 up to 39 begin in other large Finnish cities.
The 2nd class main roads in Finland are denoted by signs with yellow backgrounds and black lettering. These roads range in number from 40 to 99. 2nd class main roads connect regional centres in Finland. As a general rule, 2nd class main roads in Finland increase the further north you travel. This means roads numbered closer to 40 will typically be in the south of Finland and roads numbered closer to 99 will normally be in the north of the country.
The third type of road in Finland are regional roads. These roads contain 3-digits ranging from 100 to 999. Regional roads are denoted by signs with a white background and black lettering. These roads increase in numbering as you travel north. This means road number 100 is at the South of Finland and road number 999 is at the north of the country. This must be somewhere so unimaginably cold that I can’t use a metaphor to imagine it as it’s unimaginable.
The last type of GeoGuessr relevant road in Finland are connecting roads. These road numbers contain 4-digits ranging from 1000-9999. The Finns really are fond of using numbers instead of road names aren’t they. Connecting roads feature a sign with a blue background and white lettering. Connecting roads increase in numbering as you travel north. This means that road number 1000 is at the south of Finland and road 9999 is at the north of Finland. These 4-digit connecting roads often stem from the aforementioned 3-digit regional roads. In other words roads 5511, 5512, 5513 and 5514 will all be near regional road number 551 as they share the first 3 digits of 551. Based on this, if you see a sign for road number 4576, it may be worth looking for the regional road 457 and hopefully 4576 will be somewhat nearby. I have now reached the ‘Finnish line’ for this section
In Japan, prefectural roads are denoted by a blue hexagonal logo containing a number. These are difficult to find on the map without more markers and if you decide to search for these numbers on the map without any clues, say goodbye to your weekend.
The most useful road numbers in Japan are the national highways. Their logo features a blue ‘triangle’ with rounded edges. *Cue hordes of mathematicians shaking their calculator carrying fists at me for calling the shape a triangle.*
These national highway numbers can normally be found on the map but often after some significant time searching. There is a method to finding national highway numbers on the map more efficiently. Below appears a table explaining the numbering mechanism of these national highways aka curved triangle roads.
The top section of the table details 1 and 2 digit national highway roads whilst the bottom section explains where to find 3 digit national highway roads. The right half of the table refers to roads on the northern island of Hokkaido and the left column of the table refers to the remainder of Japan. The place names e.g. Aomori to Okinawa explain where a specific road is found. Aomori is on the northern part of the main island and Okinawa Island is south of the main island. Using the table to find road numbers can take a bit of practise. If we see road number 338 within a ‘triangle’ in GeoGuessr we look at the table to see where it fits. “338-390 Aomori- Okinawa, direction of increase N-S”. This information tells us that road number 338 will appear near Aomori at the northern tip of the main island. The road numbers will get larger until road number 390 is found near Okinawa at the southern part of Japan. A road numbered half way between 338 and 390 e.g. road 365 will be found approximately half way between these points.
Other Countries Highways: If anyone is actually reading this article and has read this far then you deserve a congratulations. I won’t go through any more countries highway systems at present. If you would like the highway numbering system of a country poorly explained by me then please leave a comment and I’ll update this article to include a new country. Some other countries highway shields can be found here.
Mile and Kilometre Markers
Mile and Kilometre Markers: I have already touched on the kilometre markers used in the vastness of Russia but many other countries also have signs with numbers on the sides of their highways. There is no universal rule for these numbered signs and even within the same country, different types of numbered signs indicate different things. Some countries have markers indicating how far the nearing exit road is, how far the nearest state is, how far the nearest county is, how far until the end of the road and various other listings. These mile and kilometre markers can be useful to GeoGuessr players as you decide which way to move in the game, it’s often sensible to move towards a zero marker indicating a new road/state or some other potential information. Also you may decide to change direction if you see mile marker 999 then 998 then 997 unless you want to spend the foreseeable future travelling on a desolate road.
Junctions are sometimes the fantasies of GeoGuessr players. JCT is often the abbreviation used on signs which much to my surprise doesn’t stand for a new RnB group but the word ‘Junction”. These JCT signs pop up typically around 400 metres away from an intersection.
Warning Signs: An object whose purpose is to inform citizens of impending danger has positive connotations within GeoGuessr. Warning signs that are diamond shaped and yellow are ubiquitous in North and South America, Australia (and New Zealand if you count it as a real country), Ireland (it’s very useful for picking Ireland from the rest of Europe), Japan and South-East Asia. If you spot a triangular warning sign with a red outline and a yellow colouring then you are in luck; not because you may be perilously close to a cliff but because only a handful of eclectic countries use these warning signs. These countries include: Greece, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, North Macedonia and South Korea. These yellow coloured and red bordered signs are useful for distinguishing Finland, Sweden and Iceland from the white coloured and red bordered signs of Norway and Denmark. Other shaped signs (such as circle-shaped signs) in Finland, Sweden and Iceland also have this unique red outer and yellow colouring. Poland is unique as it has the red outline and yellow filling but the red outline is very thin. Virtually the rest of the GeoGuessr world uses the standard triangle with a red border and white centre to warn of foreboding doom.
- Utility Poles and Bollards
- Flag Trick (Battle Royale)
- Internet Domain Name Suffixes
- Other Clues
Geography isn’t just a subject you choose at school if you want to bludge. It’s also a useful aspect to navigating and pinpointing locations within GeoGuessr. If you see what resembles the sea to your East and you are in the USA, then you know you are probably on the east coast of the country gazing wishfully into the Atlantic Ocean. If you see a mountain range to your north and you are in some obscure and tiny European country then placing the pin on the map just south of the mountain range is sensible. Even if you just see the semblance of a hill in the background, you can use this knowledge to your advantage. The map on GeoGuessr, when zoomed in to the precise amount will show mountains. Forests are also clearly visible on the map and this is another factor to consider when placing yourself.
One of the most important aspects to GeoGuessr is to match up the colours of the grass and plants you are looking at in GeoGuessr with the colours on the map. For instance, if you think you are in the USA and you see lush, green surrounds then look on the map for what parts are coloured dark green; the eastern and far western parts of the country. If you see dry grass around you that is tinged yellow then click on the map where there is yellowish colours such as the central and western parts of the USA. This process holds true for the entire world when the map is relatively zoomed out- match the grass colours in GeoGuessr with the colours appearing on the map. Once you zoom in on the map to the point that the colour yellow vanishes, the meaning of the colour green changes to represent forests and national parks.
Becoming aware of the types of houses in different countries and regions is of the utmost importance in GeoGuessr. A general guide to determining what country you find yourself in is to evaluate the expensiveness of the houses. If you have a mansion in front of you then it’s unlikely you are in the midst of Uganda, unless it’s some warlord’s house. Are we still doing the stop Kony movement? Poorer and smaller houses are typically scattered across Eastern Europe and Russia. A different style of poorer houses occupies everything south of the USA, including Mexico (Mexico sometimes has colourful houses) and South America.
A key point to remember in GeoGuessr is that if you see a red house or several red houses then you are probably in a Nordic country (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland or Denmark). These coloured houses are seldom found elsewhere. The UK has its own distinctive style of houses that are closely packed together, in drab colours and often double storey. In the country specific section further down this article, I’ve posted the features to look for to identify of each country’s housese.
Navigating within the USA, I have found that the houses are heterogeneous enough to provide a reasonable location accuracy. For instance, Colonial style houses litter the north-east part of the USA. Ranch style houses often appear in the southern USA states. California bungalows appear (as the name suggests) through California. Conch houses are found in Florida. Significant information can be gained by examining the local houses. Whilst Playing GeoGuessr, opening the door in your mind to the different house styles of regions is key (much like the key itself).
I won’t pretend to know anything about trees/plants (I know so little that I can’t think of any more categories of flora to list). If you do have a botanical-bend then I doth my fedora to you. Birch trees are found only in the northern hemisphere and if you are in the USA and see a bunch of birch trees then you are probably fairly northern. Eucalyptus trees are found almost exclusively in Australia and they can be useful for identifying this country on bland expanses of road (if you are interested in how not to rescue a koala from one of these trees, read my experience here).
Pine trees are mainly found in the northern hemisphere. Fir trees AKA Christmas trees are located in the northern hemisphere with colder northern areas and mountain regions home to these trees in abundance. A good general rule to determine your location using coniferous trees is to examine the density of these trees in the region. If you have wall to metaphorical wall of these trees then you are probably close to the Arctic region. If these trees are intermingling with other trees then you are likely further south. Savanna trees have a unique look especially the umbrella thorn acacia and point to you being in Africa. Trees with leaves matching the colourful hues of the sunset are found mainly in North-Eastern USA and South-Eastern Canada in Autumn months. Many tree types that have been mentioned here are the genus names for a large number of specific species of trees. If you can work out the individual tree types then you should be able to pinpoint your location.
The palm tree as seen above has many variations that typically include a similar type of leaf. To fellow tree ignoramuses they should stand out and can be useful in pinpointing your location. The below map shows the distribution of palm trees across the world. They are mainly found in South America, Central America, Florida and California, Africa, Southern Asia and Northern Australia.
If you actually understand trees then the below map may be of interest to you. It shows the woodland and forested areas on this pale, blue dot we call earth. It also indicates the specific type of tree found in each area. Warning: you may need to be a tree expert or someone treading the fine line between tree enthusiast and tree lover to interpret the map.
Stereotypically, ppl who rite lyk dis are car enthusiasts. These types of people are useful to have around in GeoGuessr but not necessarily in other aspects of life. Much in the same ilk as being ignorant about trees, I have a similar blind spot for cars so please forgive any inaccuracies that I write. Within the GeoGuessr game, there is an assortment of things blurred out; sometimes this extends to car logos. Such is my automobile naivety, I struggle to identify specific car brands without the logos.
In the USA I have noticed a large amount of ‘expensive utes’ also known as personal trucks. Excluding major cities, a high portion of cars I see while moving along the street are these ‘expensive utes’. These ‘expensive utes’ are often Ford F150s and indeed this is the best-selling car in most parts of the USA, excluding coastal states. Canadians like the Ford F-Series. Brazil has the Chevrolet Onix as their most popular car whilst Argentina has the Toyota Hilux. Australia and South Africa also have an abundance of Toyota Hilux. Japan likes Toyota Aqua cars and Koreans enjoy Hyundai cars (as well as Korean food).
European cars are typically smaller than cars in the USA and cover an assortment of European car brands. In France there is an abundance of Renaults, in Sweden Volvos rule, Norway= Volkswagen, Finland= Skoda, Denmark has many Peugeots, in Italy there are plenty of Fiats and in Spain, Romania and Bulgaria there are lots of Dacia Sanderos. Russians have a penchant for Hyundai cars and typically Russia and Eastern Europe have rectangular shaped cars as more prevalent as opposed to curved cars. I personally mainly zoom in to determine car brands when I’m in Europe as this can help pinpoint or narrow down possible countries quite dramatically. South-east Asia has motorbikes as their primary transport. If you spot people on bicycles then the location is more likely to be Western Europe as opposed to North America. Below are maps showing the most popular cars for areas
Utility Poles and Bollards
Utility poles look different depending on where you are in the world. It is often possible to use utility poles to work out where in the world you are. Some more info on utility poles can be found here.
In Japan, there is a common feature of red and white striped arrows attached to utility poles. To my surprise, these abundant poles don’t indicate to the curious masses the direction of the core of the earth. The unique arrows instead have some purpose regarding snowfall and traffic. The arrows are typically found on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Sometimes the arrows will also appear on the main island of Honshu near mountains.
An assortment of countries use concrete utility poles with holes in them as seen below. They are typically found in Romania (with an identifiable yellow marking), Hungary and Poland. France also sometimes has them although they appear with more holes in France and are rarer. They are also found sparsely around the world but I haven’t kept a running checklist of these countries. Keeping a record of countries with a specific type of esoteric utility pole is only a step away from keeping a rock as a pet. In the future I may keep this checklist and alas the obligatory rock as a pet. Update 1: In the bottom section of this article, I’ve now added each country’s most common utility pole. Update 2: My pet rock is doing well.
There is now a folder on my computer named “Distinguishable utility poles from around the world”. What a shameful day for my family if they discover this… I won’t post all the utility poles here. In the bottom section of this article that lists every country’s identifiable features, I’ve posted these poles.
Bollards (that my autocorrect keeps changing to bollocks) are also useful indicators in determining where you are. More notable bollards are mentioned lower down this article in the country specific section. A Google Spreadsheet document showing the bollards used in every country can be viewed here. It was created by Mahbows on reddit. Bollards are most useful in Europe for identifying countries.
There are many state and national flags flying around the world that serendipitously pop up in GeoGuessr. Being aware of the flags of the world (or at least flags of GeoGuessr countries) is vitally important. The national colours of countries also make frequent appearances on Street View. These appearances can include anything from the colours of chairs, colours of signs to writing on advertisements. For instance, if you know you are in Europe and spot a red, white and green setup of chairs then you may be in Italy, Bulgaria or Hungary.
Being aware of the USA state flags can also be of importance in GeoGuessr as these are often visible. Below is a map featuring these state flags:
Flag Trick (Battle Royale)
If you are engaging in an epic Battle Royale mode GeoGuessr skirmish to the death, there are some unscrupulous techniques some players use to reign victorious. Think of it as kicking someone in the nether regions whilst in a fight- it’s a frowned upon, cheap trick. The incorrectly guessed Battle Royale countries are denoted by flags in the top-right corner of the screen. Before making your guess, you will likely check the flags to ensure you don’t guess an already deemed incorrect country.
What certain countries lack in creative flag designs is sometimes exploited by GeoGuessr players. For example, if a player is certain they are in Ireland, they may select the Ivory Coast on their first guess. The flags are so similar, many of the other players will be confused and thus avoid guessing the correct country of Ireland. Although this is a real jerk move that ostracizes the flag-trickster from other players and is tantamount to cheating… normally these sentences end in a positive. I’ve thought of one- people may be forced to brush up on their flag knowledge.
I only mention the ambiguous flags trick in order for players reading this article to be aware that other players (not me) may try this dirty trick (once again not me). It’s important to be cognizant of these other dodgy characters (not me) playing GeoGuessr who are fixated on winning at all costs (once again, I emphasise- not me). The ambiguous flags are listed below.
Internet Domain Name Suffixes
Another useful clue in the game is finding internet suffixes on buildings or signs. The letters after .com. indicate the country of the domain name. For instance www.google.com.au means you are in Australia with the AU suffix. Some suffixes of note that are conspicuous for their letters not matching the country’s name in English or not being 100% clear are: .at= Austria, .ch= Switzerland, .de= Germany, .ee= Estonia, .es= Spain, .hr= Croatia, .ie= Ireland, .is= Iceland, .sz= Eswatini.ua= Ukraine and .za= South Africa.
Below are all of the internet domain name suffixes for the GeoGuessr relevant countries. The list is in alphabetical order according to the domain name suffixes.
.ad = Andorra
.ae = United Arab Emirates
.al = Albania
.ar = Argentina
.as = American Samoa
.at = Austria
.au = Australia
.bd = Bangladesh
.be = Belgium
.bg = Bulgaria
.bo = Bolivia
.br = Brazil
.bt = Bhutan
.bw = Botswana
.ca = Canada
.ch = Switzerland
.cl = Chile
.co = Colombia
.cr = Costa Rica
.cz = Czechia
.de = Germany
.dk = Denmark
.do = Dominican Republic
.ec = Ecuador
.ee = Estonia
.es = Estonia
.fi = Finland
.fo = Faroe Islands
.fr = France
.gb = Great Britain
.gh = Ghana
.gi = Gibraltar
.gl = Greenland
.gr = Greece
.gt = Guatemala
.gu = Guam
.hk = Hong Kong
.hr = Croatia
.hu = Hungary
.id = Indonesia
.ie = Ireland
.il = Israel
.im = Isle of Man
.in = India
.is = Iceland
.it = Italy
.je = Jersey
.jo = Jordan
.jp = Japan
.ke = Kenya
.kg = Kyrgyzstan
.kh = Cambodia
.kr = South Korea
.kw = Kuwait
.la = Laos
.lb = Lebanon
.lk = Sri Lanka
.ls = Lesotho
.lt = Lithuania
.lu = Luxembourg
.lv = Latvia
.mc = Monaco
.me = Montenegro
.mg = Madagascar
.mk = North Macedonia
.mn = Mongolia
.mo = Macau
.mp = Northern Mariana Islands
.mt = Malta
.mx = Mexico
.my = Malaysia
.ng = Nigeria
.nl = The Netherlands
.no = Norway
.nz = New Zealand
.pe = Peru
.ph = The Philippines
.pl = Poland
.pr = Puerto Rico
.ps = Palestine
.pt = Portugal
.re = Reunion
.ro = Romania
.rs = Serbia
.ru = Russia
.se = Sweden
.sg = Singapore
.si = Slovenia
.sj = Svalbard & Jan Mayen Islands
.sk = Slovakia
.sm = San Marino
.sn = Senegal
.sz = Eswatini
.th = Thailand
.tn = Tunisia
.tr = Turkey
.tw = Taiwan
.ua = Ukraine
.ug = Uganda
.uk = Ukraine
.um = United States Minor Outlying Islands
.us = The United States of America
.uy = Uruguay
.va = Vatican City
.vi = US Virgin Islands
.vn = Vietnam
.za = South Africa
Richer countries are more likely to have better maintained roads and thus you can use this information to include or exclude certain countries from your calculations. Also the general levels of poverty are worth noting. If you spot any people in GeoGuessr then use their appearance to match up to a mental list of possible countries of origin.
As you zoom into a city on the map, the name of the city written on the map is typically where the centre of the city is.
It is generally possible to use ratios to determine where you are if you see distances to towns that you can locate on the map- see the images below.
Photospheres are locations in GeoGuessr that haven’t been captured by the Google Street View car but rather a real humanoid (apparently they exist). These locations often appear at monuments, attractions or indoors e.g. at shops. Some of my favourite aesthetically pleasing GeoGuessr locations have been at photospheres of lakes. Often these human captured photospheres mean that you can’t move.
There are a few tips to be aware of if you encounter a photosphere. Firstly, you can tell that it is indeed a photosphere because the photographer’s name appears in the bottom right corner of the picture (as opposed to the words ‘Google’ and a year). This provides a big clue into the location of the photosphere. Try working out the language origin of the photographer’s name. If they aren’t on vacation, then you are well set to make your guess. For instance, the photosphere below has the photographer’s name: Casper Van Hooren. This tells us that he is likely Dutch and thus we are likely in the Netherlands (we are actually in New York so this was probably a bad example). It also tells us that he either legally changed his name to Casper to honour the 90s movie ghost franchise or Casper is his real name. On the whole, photosphere locations are typically places not covered by Google Street View and thus they are places that don’t regularly pop up on GeoGuessr. India seems to have a high proportion of all photosphere locations.
If you are situated in a remote area, unsure of which direction to travel, then it may be worth keeping an eye out for tyre marks stemming from any driveways- do they turn left or right?. These tyre marks will likely lead in the direction towards civilisation. Another trick in remote areas is to determine which direction the Street View car came from. This is more likely to be a main road than the direction it is heading. If you can’t determine the direction the Street View car came from, you may be able to look for dirt that the car has stirred up, which will be at its rear.
Street View Car Hints
Certain events have occurred in the historical competitive arena that aren’t in the “spirit of the game”. These include Australia’s Trevor Chappell rolling a cricket ball along the pitch to a New Zealand batsman who couldn’t get under the ball to hit it over the fence. Another such incident occurred in a Major League Baseball game in which the St. Louis Browns signed up a player with dwarfism, Eddie Gaedel, who stood 3 feet 7 inches high to bat for their team. His strike zone was so small, the pitcher couldn’t pitch into this area and he walked to first base. This not in the “spirit of the game” conundrum hits GeoGuessr too. This comes in the form of various, different looking Street View cars being visible and a range of cameras being used helping lead to country identification.
In a handful of countries, if you pan down to look at the ground under the car, the Street View car you are driving in has 4 ends of bars that protrude from the car. The countries these bars are almost certainly visible in are: Guatemala, the Faroe Islands, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Senegal, Ghana and Kenya. South African national parks also have bars visible (at least the bars aren’t around the animals; am I right guys?) Curaçao, a Dutch, Caribbean island, also has bars visible. Some further countries also have the 4 bars visible but only in certain regions of their country, such as Bangladesh and Nigeria. Also the couple of small towns in Laos that are covered by Street View outside of Vientiane will have bars. Many players use this knowledge to their benefit whilst playing GeoGuessr despite these metal bars not being a fixture of the environment. Being a more honest player, I accidentally bang my arm causing a reflex action that results in my right hand fingers serendipitously parting and hitting the laptop touchpad and click button simultaneously resulting in the GeoGuessr view panning down to reveal bars or no bars on the Street View car.
Ghana has black pieces of tape around one of the four bars.
The Kenyan Street View car also has this black protrusion protruding from the front left corner of the car. This is often visible without having to pan down.
In Uganda, the sides of the Street View car are visible. This isn’t true in the small sections of Ugandan National Parks that occur in GeoGuessr. Ugandan Street View coverage is centred around Kampala.
Mongolia can be recognised thanks to the bars appearing underneath the car in tandem with either red coloured side mirrors or something resembling camping equipment under the car. Kyrgyzstan has the bars underneath the car with only black/white coloured side mirrors.
There are a number of countries that have a transparent, ghostly, floating part of the Street View car visible. In Argentina this floating, ghostly part of the car is the front part of the Street View and is almost always black. In newer coverage it appears white in Argentina however this is rare. For most purposes, black ghost car= Argentina. Uruguay also typically has the black car. These countries stand out from the rest of the Americas which largely have a white car although Peru and Colombia sometimes have the black car.
Much of the South Americas can have the back of their ghostly car as white coloured or perhaps this is the first indisputable proof caught on camera that ghosts are real. I tend to note it most commonly in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia.
Ecuador can typically be recognised thanks to the car having a short antenna. This can often be hard to see so don’t think you will fail an eye-test if you can’t always see it.
Large parts of Chile can be recognised thanks to something resembling a white vacuum cleaner that is actually the back of the Street View car.
The southern African countries of South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana almost always have the white Street View car visible. The remainder of Africa largely doesn’t.
If you pan down, most of Ukraine has a red car with a long antenna, visible. This can be particularly useful if you are pondering whether you are in Ukraine or Russia.
The majority of Russia has a ghostly, black car visible as well as an aerial.
Norway and Denmark typically have a blue Street View car that is normally only visible if you look rather carefully. On some occasions, the blue is so faint that by recognising it, you would be worthy of being on one of those ‘Superhuman’ TV shows.
Vietnam is easily recognisable thanks to the Street View coverage being recorded on a motorbike. So you need to pan down and you will see the motorbike or blurred outline of one. Now jump on one leg and spin around. Now stop following my instructions.
Distinguishing between Jordan and the United Arab Emirates can be challenging on landscape alone. If you pan down in Jordan, you will see a black car whilst if you pan down in the UAE, you will see a white car.
The Dominican Republic is recognisable thanks to the bars on the Street View car containing thick, centred, black, parallel lines.
Japan and Switzerland’s Street View car is recognisable thanks to two reasons- 1. If you can see some semblance of its shape, it appears wider than the normal Street View car. 2. The cameras are lower to the ground. Rarely this low camera is also used in Taiwan.
Sri Lanka is easy to recognise due to its Street View car resembling the French flag- blue, white and red stripes.
Alok has produced the goods and created an excellent map indicated the colour/type of Street View car visible in certain countries around the world. This can be valuable information when it comes to determining where you are located.
If you wish to play GeoGuessr the way it was intended, without an unnaturally occurring car beneath you, there is a script you can use to place a giant blob over the Google Street View car. This can be found here.
If you pan up in Senegal, you should see a few things. The first of these is a majestic sky (sometimes covered in clouds), that obscures the vastness of the mysterious universe. You should also see giant lines- a remnant of the Street View images being morphed together. Which of these two things is more awe-inspiring is debatable.
You should also see the giant rifts across almost all (but not quite all) of Montenegro. I have made a map documenting where you will and won’t see the rift in Montenegro.
Albania also has rifts in seemingly random positions throughout the country. Other than Senegal, Montenegro and Albania, you shouldn’t generally see rifts in the sky other than for very minuscule areas of some countries. These include: Portugal, UAE, Croatia, Serbia, Uruguay and the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. Once again, these latter areas generally won’t have rifts except for the rarest locations.
The Escort Car
There are three countries in GeoGuessr that can have a 4-wheel drive/SUV following the Street View car. If you feel paranoid in these countries and come to develop the belief that you are being followed- then you are right to be paranoid. You are being followed. What is technically happening is that you are being given a private escort (of the car variety) throughout these countries. In almost all of Nigeria, almost all of Tunisia and large parts of Kenya, the car will be following you. Sometimes it will be a few metres behind you, on other occasions it will be up to 100 metres behind you. On rare occasions it will be in front of you.
In Alaska they double-booked the Street View car. They didn’t follow the 4 Seasons Total Landscaping methodology of getting out of double-booking so both cars drove around parts of Alaska. In Alaska you will sometimes see another Street View car down the road from you with an elevated camera on top.
Earlier in this article I mentioned the hotspot locations for really blurry Street View locations (parts of the US, Australia and New Zealand). These were taken with the generation 1 Street View camera. If you encounter a generation 1 camera with poor image quality, the goal should be to reach a more major road than you are currently on; this will hopefully mean more crystal clear images.
There is another clue that can be used when it comes to the Street View camera’s quality of images. Certain generations of Street View camera are used in specific countries. By identifying the camera used (from generation 1 to 4), you can sometimes narrow down you location.
The generation 2 camera sometimes shows up when it produces a halo (not the game) around the sun as seen below. Other features of this camera involve brighter colours and slightly worse picture quality than the typical Street View images (but nothing like the really blurry, generation 1 images). The generation 2 images also lack a visible aerial on the Street View car. If you notice this camera has been used by seeing a halo around the sun or spotting the camera’s other features then you can narrow down the country you are in.
This generation 2 camera is used in large parts of Mexico and is useful for distinguishing this country from the USA in which the generation 2 camera has seldom been used. The generation 2 camera is also used in large parts of Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Additionally Canada, Norway and Finland also have many locations covered by this camera. If you are in the southern part of mainland Africa and note the generation 2 camera then you must be in South Africa as Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho don’t use generation 2. South Africa also uses generation 3. Google will eventually update images in all of these countries so this information will eventually be out-of-date. A Google docs spreadsheet created by Alok details which of the four generations of Street View cameras (or which combination) are used in each country. He also created the map that can be viewed below. Both the spreadsheet and larger version of the map can be viewed here.
If can often be difficult to distinguish between the generation 3 and 4 cameras and it takes practice. This information can prove useful if you are aware of the above map.
- European Plates
- USA Plates
- Canadian Plates
- Australian License Plates
- Asian License Plates
- African License Plates
- South American License Plates
- European License Plate Extras
- Russian License Plate Extras
- USA License Plate Extras
- Canadian License Plate Extras
The Colour of Blurred License Plates
One of the first things I do when facing a location in GeoGuessr is to breathe. After breathing has been established I try and find a license plate. Despite the blurring, the colour of plates is still visible and sometimes the colour of the lettering or a design is also vivid.
If a country isn’t mentioned here, it is not because they have rampant crime due to not using license plates. Rather, they likely use white, non-descript plates that are useless (for GeoGuessr purposes).
Most of Europe have long license plates with a blue vertical stripe on the left end. These plates are clearly visible in GeoGuessr. Only several European countries have yellow license plates which are easy to identify besides the blurring: the Netherlands and Luxembourg have yellow front and rear plate. Contrastingly, the UK, Cyprus and Gibraltar have yellow rear plates and white front plates. France (and Corsica) had yellow rear plates allowed until 2009 so it’s common to spot some yellow rear plates still in these areas. Specifically, southern France Street View imagery is outdated so you are more likely to see yellow plates here. It’s especially lucky to immediately realise you are in Europe and see a yellow plate meaning probably the UK (just yellow, rear plates) or Netherlands. Only commercial vehicles in Hungary and Denmark have yellow plates. I will show images of the significantly coloured license plates from around the world. These will be blurred and appear like they do in GeoGuessr.
Portugal can be recognised because drivers normally have a yellow vertical stripe on the right hand side of the license plates to go with the vertical blue stripe on the left hand side of the plate.
Italy stands out because it has a light blue vertical stripe on both the left and right edges of its license plate. Albania also has a blue vertical stripe on the left and right edges of its license plate.
Some French cars have a thin blue stripe on the right of the plate. This is thinner than the blue stripe on Albanian and Italian plates.
In Belgium, the license plates are in red lettering which can sometimes just be distinguished despite the blurring. The blue vertical stripe may appear on the left (like most of Europe) or the right of the plate.
Whilst most of Europe has the blue vertical stripe on the left of their license plates, some countries lack this idiosyncracy: Iceland, Russia, Switzerland, most of Croatia and parts of North Macedonia plus an assortment of small territories or miniscule countries have no blue stripe. In these areas, it’s the lack of colouring on the license plate that makes them stand out for Europe.
Prior to 2016, Croatia had license plates that were just white. Post 2016, they have the quintessentially European blue, left vertical stripe. Due to this oddity, most cars on Street View in Croatia at present don’t have the blue stripe.
The license plate is a useful way of distinguishing Russia from other Cyrillic writing places. Russia doesn’t have a blue stripe whilst Ukraine often has light blue and yellow in place of the left stripe (which may be hard to detect depending on the blurring).
The second most common license plate in Albania has a red section on the left.
The Isle of Man has a small vertical red stripe on the left side of the plate.
Examining license plates is particularly useful in the USA to determine which state you are probably in. Many USA states do have a range of different looking and different era plates making plate identification sometimes hazy. The following are the license plates that I recognise despite the blurring that deviate from the standard white plate.
Alabama has license plates containing a yellow top horizontal third with the remainder of the plate an inconspicuous light blue and green.
Alaska has 3 types of plates. Most common in Alaska are yellow license plates, second most common are plates with a blue upper horizontal stripe and yellow bottom horizontal stripe and third most common are plates with an orange centre and green/blue outer.
Arizona has a few different plate designs. Their most common appears below.
Californian plates mainly look white however you may be able to see a small amount of red across the top and in the top-right section.
Connecticut has blue on the upper portion of their plates.
Delaware has the wildly imaginative grey coloured plates.
Florida has a big orange coloured orange (the fruit) in the middle of its license plate and it’s recognisable despite the blurring.
Georgia has a number of plates. The most common and distinctive has an orange lower section and green upper section.
Hawaiian plates will often look white. You may be able to make out a faded rainbow on the plates.
Idaho has a brown/maroon horizontal line covering the top ¼ of the licence plate.
Illinois have some blue and white plates in various forms. The blue portion will either appear on top of the white or vice versa.
Iowa has a blue stripe along the top of the plate and a a stripe that appears as yellow when blurred along the bottom of the license plate. The Iowa plate looks similar when blurred to the Pennsylvania license plate.
Kansas mainly has blue plates with a small, white section at the base.
Kentucky has various versions of blue and white plates.
Louisiana has a wide variety of plates. One of their most common plates features black shading.
Maryland’s most common plates appears (thanks to the blurring) to have an orange fire coming from its base.
Most Massachusetts plates have a faint red writing that is visible.
Michigan has a numer of different license plates. One of the most common plates features two blue, vertical lines and blue horizontal line on top. The other most common plate has a blue blotch near the base of the plate.
Minnesota license plates have a light blue, upper, horizontal stripe.
Montana has a number of different plates. One of the most common features a blue glow.
Nebraska has a number of different plates. The plate featuring an orange/gray section near its top is relatively common.
Nevada has some blue plates.
New Hampshire has many partly green plates.
The widespread plates in New Jersey have a yellow upper section.
New Mexico has a mixture of blue and yellow plates.
New York State has gold coloured plates.
North Dakota has bluish plates with especially the top half of the plate appearing blue.
Ohio have some plates with a red top stripe, white middle stripe and blue bottom stripe.
Oklahoma sometimes has the left section of the plate appearing blue.
Oregon has a light green strip running vertically down the middle of the plate.
Pennsylvanian plates have a blue top horizontal strip and yellow bottom horizontal strip. The Pennsylvanian plate appears similar to the Iowa plate.
Rhode Island’s license plates depict a blue sea and wave.
South Carolina has two most common plates. The first has the bottom 2/3rd of the plate horizontally appearing orange. The second has a blue border and white centre.
South Dakota has license plates featuring an outline of Mount Rushmore.
Tennessee plates can appear white but they are actually olive coloured.
Utah has either orange as a horizontal 1/3rd strip across the top of the plate or a large orange pyramid shape.
Vermont has green plates.
Washington State contains many plates with a wispy shaded, light blue colour on the bottom of the plate.
West Virginia has a number of plates. The most common has a blue, solid, upper 1/4 and blue glow elsewhere.
Wyoming normally has an almost all blue plate with yellow across the base and left of the plate.
An image of a USA license plate for every state can be found here.
Canadian provinces have their own unique colouring and design of license plates and these can be found here. Sometimes certain province’s license plates can be recognised despite the blurring. Cars in New Brunswick and Alberta tend to have license plates with red lettering. The lettering on the license plates of Newfoundland and Labrador are also commonly red but this province can be distinguished from New Brunswick due to the lack of front plate for Newfoundland and Labrador. Cars in Saskatchewan normally have green lettering. Nova Scotia typically has plates with blue on them. Manitoba has a distinctive green section on the left and right sides of their plate much like someone who eats healthy food. Plates in Quebec are either white or mainly white with a slightly blue hue in the upper left and upper right sections.
Australian License Plates
Australian license plates also provide clues as to where you are located. About one quarter of New South Wales license plates you see are yellow and clearly visible through the blurriness.
Plates in the Northern Territory have a hint of red.
Asian License Plates
License plates from Indonesia, Malaysia and Macau are commonly black and clearly visible despite the blurring.
The Philippines stands out in Asia for its green license plates.
Laos has yellow license plates.
Bhutan has distinctive red coloured licence plates.
Kyrgyzstan plates typically have a red vertical stripe on the left side of the plate.
Japan often has yellow plates.
Israel has yellow license plates, both front and back. They have a blue vertical stripe on the left of their yellow plates.
The front Sri Lankan licence plates are white and the rear plates are yellow. The initials on the left side of the license plates consist of two letters that indicate the region of Sri Lanka. CP= Central Province, EP= Eastern Province, NC= North Central Province, NE= North Eastern Province, NW= North Western Province, WP=Western Province, SB= Sabaragamuwa Province, SP= Southern Province and UP= Uva Province. Hong Kong and Botswana also have yellow rear plates and white front plates. These are two areas you don’t normally see in the same sentence.
African License Plates
In Africa, Tunisia mainly has black plates that are long and skinny.
Some plates in Tunisia have a red left section whilst the remainder of the plate is black.
Ghana has many yellow plates.
Senegal has blue license plates.
The old license plate style in Kenya was yellow back plates and this is still largely visible across the country.
Ugandan license plates are white for front plates and yellow for back plates. Sometimes the plates are more elongated than the below image.
In Nigeria, plates tend to have a slight greenish colour.
South American License Plates
In South America, Colombia has many yellow plates.
Argentina has plates with a black mark in the middle.
Argentina also has plates with a blue horizontal line on top.
Brazilian trucks often have red license plates.
License Plates Extras
European License Plate Extras
Pray for a glitch in the matrix and the Google algorithm to be flawed in allowing us the heavenly sight of a non-blurred license plate. License plates are often blurred in GeoGuessr but on occasions they are visible to various degrees. If you see a long and skinny license plate with a blue end (often visible despite the blurring) then you are probably in Europe in a country belonging to the European Union. Each European country has its own system of combining letters and numbers for their license plate and a full list of what combination each country has can be found here.
On the left hand side of European license plates (often under the country’s flag or European Union symbol of a blue background and white stars) is a one, two or three letter abbreviation denoting what country you are in. Sometimes it takes looking at cars for a while before you see a license plate that hasn’t got the country symbol blurred out. The following country symbols represent each country:
BIH= Bosnia and Herzegovina
CZ= Czech Republic
RUS= Russia (although this appear on the right of the license plate)
GB= United Kingdom
In many countries around the word, if the heavens part and there is a glitch allowing you to glimpse into the soul of a license plate and read its actual letters/numbers then you can deduce what specific part of a country you are in. For example, the below plate reads: B KJ414. The B indicates that you are in Berlin. A map of all the German district license plate initials and correlating areas can be seen here. This license plate letter deduction process extends beyond Germany to many other countries.
Russian License Plate Extras
Russia has license plates with a small Russian flag on the right hand side. Above this flag is a two digit (occasionally three digit) number denoting what part of Russia the car is from. Cars do move throughout administrative regions of Russia so be aware of this. Seeing a second plate number to confirm the region is rare (although unicorns may appear twice). Some buses and other vehicles have the number printed largely on their rear above the letters ‘RUS’. The map below shows the number (sometimes several numbers) associated with each region of Russia. Only few players have memorised all regions. I’m guessing that SubSymmetry has (the Magnus Carlsen of GeoGuessr).
USA License Plates Extras
Most states in the USA require a front license plate in tandem with a back license plate. There are however a large number of states that don’t require a front license plate. This is a big clue in GeoGuessr in narrowing down where you are in the USA. The states not requiring front license plates are: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and West Virginia. Most of these states are located in the South-East of the USA, with a band across the south of the country excluding Texas and a region stretching north to Michigan and Pennsylvania, excluding Ohio and Virginia.
If you are lucky enough to see a USA license plate that isn’t blurred, then the state’s name may be written on it.
Canadian License Plate Extras
A useful Canadian license plate fact is to be aware of is which provinces have rear only licence plates vs both front and rear. Just 4 Canadian provinces require front and rear plates: British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario. I remember these 4 provinces not by name but by numbers: 1,4,5,7. These are the positions of the provinces starting at British Columbia on the bottom row of Canadian provinces and moving from left to right. The remaining provinces and territories require just rear plates. This is illustrated in the below image/map/thingy.
One aspect of license plate spotting that I should have preceded this entire section with is the fact that cars move. Unlike signs which remain static unless they sound like a humorous word and thus end up in teenagers bedrooms, cars can move between states and countries so be wary of this.
- South America
- Western Europe
- The Nordic Countries of Europe
- North-Eastern Europe
- Eastern Europe (Excluding Cyrillic)
As someone who has a tenuous grasp of my only language: English, the plethora of signs and foreign writing appearing in GeoGuessr was initially overwhelming. You don’t need to understand the meaning of words in other languages within GeoGuessr, often a sufficient task is to be able to identify what language is written eclectically and thus narrow down a specific country. A useful technique to identify a language you have read in Street View is to zoom in on the map to a country where you think this language may originate from and see if the place names use similar letters/symbols. If you are reading this article, then I assume you can read and identify English (unless you are using Google translate) in which case *Google could not translate this very funny joke*.
Japanese: At first glance this language looks similar to Chinese and Korean. Japanese is different in that is uses many simple curved strokes that make up their characters such as ノ, シ, い and く. There are two scripts of Japanese writing: one simple and appearing below and one more complicated and easily confused with Chinese. Some simple Japanese writing appears below:
Korean: The key aspect distinguishing Korean from other East Asian written languages is their usage of circles for instance 요 and 안. Other than the idiosyncratic circles, Korean looks quite blocky and rigid in its writing. Some Korean writing appears below:
Chinese: This language is spoken in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and China. Chinese tends to have more complicated characters than Japanese and Korean. Chinese characters tend to be made up of more strokes than Japanese. For example, 麼 and 名. Some Chinese writing appears below:
Hebrew: This language is spoken in Israel. I identify this language by noting that many of the letters look like a lower case ‘n’ with an extra line added sometimes. Apologies for overwhelming you with these technical language terms. Some Hebrew writing appears below:
Arabic: This language is largely spoken across the middle-east and northern Africa. Its countries include: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. Note than many of these countries aren’t included in GeoGuessr. I recognise this written language due to its similarity to calligraphy and many of the words having a line underneath them. Some Arabic writing appears below:
Thai: Spoken in Thailand, the written Thai Language has many similarities to the Cambodian language of Khmer. I distinguish these languages by the abundant usage of small circles on the ends of most Thai symbols. The Cambodian written language does contain circles but these are far less common and not typically on the end of symbols. Some Thai writing appears below:
Cambodian: The Cambodian language, known as Khmer is quite similar visually (for me at least) to the above mentioned Thai language. I look for the small hooks on the top of almost every Cambodian symbol to recognise the Cambodian language. These hooks point to the right. The Thai written language lacks these ‘hooks’. Some Khmer (Cambodian) writing appears below:
Indonesian: This language is spoken in Indonesia and is distinguishable for its common usage of the letter ‘a’ within words. This letter occurs in a large portion of words sometimes more than once throughout the word. The Indonesian language is also recognisable thanks to the suffixes ‘kan’, ‘an’ or ‘i’ appearing frequently at the end of many words. Visually, Malay, (unsurprisingly spoken in Malaysia) is very similar to Indonesian. Below is an example of some Indonesian writing:
Lao: This language is spoken in Laos. It it fairly similar visually to the Thai language as it contains small circles in some characters. I distinguish it from Thai by looking for curved letters. The Lao written language has virtually every part of every character curved. This contrasts the Thai written language that contains a straight component to almost every character. Below is an example of the Lao written language:
Sri Lankan: The primary language spoken in Sri Lanka is Sinhala. The written letters of this language appear visually to resemble the letter ‘C’ either forwards, backwards, upside-down. There are many smaller C’s branching off from the original larger C’s comprising each letter.
Bangladesh: The main language spoken in Bangladesh is Bengali (also known as Bangla). This is also the official language of some of the far eastern states of India that border Bangladesh however these regions rarely feature in GeoGuessr. Bengali is notable for having a horizontal line over its letters. The letters themselves remind me of musical notes all in the same line. The written language is different from Hindi as it sometimes has small triangles that point to the left.
India: The primary language in India is Hindi. This language is rather similar to Bengali however there are some subtle differences. I recognise Hindi for letters that resemble upside-down and backwards lowercase ‘h’. Hindi also tends to have letters that look like backwards capital ‘F’.
In the real world, South America is home to English, French and Dutch however the countries who speak these languages aren’t included on Street View thus we focus on Portuguese and Spanish.
Portuguese: A key dichotomy in GeoGuessr is the distinction between Spanish and Portuguese. Portuguese is only spoken in Brazil (and Portugal and to a lesser extent Macau). Portuguese contains the ã character, which is a (I’m about to overwhelm you with technical jargon) ‘squiggle’ over the letter ‘a’- note that this is different from an accent. This ã character appears frequently and is in words such as São meaning saint. Ç is also a symbol that appears in Portuguese but not Spanish (it also appears in French). If you notice a word ending in ção, then you can be certain the language is Portuguese. Portuguese also uses the word “do” translated as “of”. Portuguese uses the letter “e” for “and”.
Spanish: This language is spoken in Spain, Mexico, much of Central America and all of the South American GeoGuessr countries excluding Brazil. Spanish doesn’t use the previously mentioned ã but does, like Portuguese, have a similar letter with an accent over the á. Contrasting the Portuguese word “do” meaning “of” is the Spanish word “de” meaning “of”. This shouldn’t be confused with the rarer Portuguese word “de” meaning “in”. In summary, if you see “de” you are likely in a Spanish speaking country. Spanish also has the letter ñ that appears in Portuguese as ‘nh”. In Spanish, the word “and” is represented by the letter ‘y’. This contrasts Portuguese which uses “e” for “and”. Microsoft Word now thinks I speak Spanish so virtually every word is misspelt according to spellcheck.
Europe: Now onto the melting pot continent of languages which is great to celebrate but unfortunately involves some research for GeoGuessr players.
French: This language is spoken across France, in the western part of Switzerland, in the south of Belgium and in Quebec, Canada (and partially in New Brunswick, Canada). It is reasonably easy to recognise if you read the words out loud and they sound French. Letters include the ç (also found in Portuguese), ë, è, é, ï and à.
German: This language is spoken across Germany and Austria, most of Switzerland and South Tyrol: a province in northern Italy. The language, like French is fairly identifiable if you read the words out loud and it sounds German. Letters of German include: ä, ü and ö. In Germany, the letter ß is also used.
Italian: This language is spoken throughout Italy and in the region to the south of the Alps in Switzerland. If you read the language out loud, it sounds Italian. Features of the language include: ì and à as well as ‘gg’ and ‘cc’. Most words end with a vowel in Italian.
Dutch/Flemish: These languages are spoken across the Netherlands and in the northern part of Belgium. Commonly occurring features are the abundance of z and w letters as well as the letter e appearing together as ‘ee’ and i and j appearing together as ‘ij.’
Welsh: This language is spoken only in Wales. The language sometimes appears concurrently with English on signs. The letters ll appear together commonly and there are a high proportion of y, w and c letters occurring.
Basque: This language is spoken in a part of Spain known as Basque country. Basque is spoken in parts of northern Spain and south-west France. The signs that appear in this region often have both Spanish and Basque on them. The letter x appears frequently in this language.
Greek: Although Greece is technically in Southern Europe, I’ll lob it into this section. Greek is spoken only in Greece and the southern region of Cyprus. This language uses the well-known Greek alphabet containing the letters alpha, beta, gamma, delta etc. α, β, γ, δ. Make sure not to confuse it with Cyrillic.
The Nordic Countries of Europe
Swedish: This language is spoken in Sweden and features å, ä and ö.
Finnish: This language is spoken in Finland and contains ä and a plethora of double letters such as aa and ii.
Danish: This language is spoken in Denmark and contains æ, å and ø. This ø is only used in Danish and Norwegian. Ø also means “island” in Danish.
Norwegian: This language is only spoken in Norway and contains æ, ø and å.
Estonian: This language is only spoken in Estonia and has significant parallels to Finnish however Estonian also has the letter: õ.
Latvian: This language is spoken only in Latvia and contains many letters with different accents above or below them. These include: ļ, ķ, ņ with the line below the letter and ā, ē, ī, ō, ū, ž with some form of line above the letter.
Polish: This language is spoken only in Poland and is a fairly easy language to recognise due to its abundance of the letter z (it’s only worth 1 point in Polish Scrabble). The letter z is often paired with other letters such as: rz, sz and cz. Other curious letters used in Polish include: ó, ł, ż, ś, ȩ and ń.
Lithuanian: This language is spoken only in Lithuania. The language is unique as it contains ė as its 9th letter of the alphabet. Essentially this e with a dot above it is only found in Lithuanian. The language also contains: š, ž, ū and č.
Eastern Europe (excluding Cyrillic)
Slovak: This language is spoken in Slovakia. It belongs to the Czech-Slovak group of languages hence is similar to Czech. Slovak uses: á, é, í, ý, č, š and ž. To distinguish the language from Czech, look for ä, ľ, ĺ, ŕ, ô, dz and dž.
Czech: This language is spoken only in the Czech Republic. It contains: á, é, ý, č, š, ž, ě, ů and ř. To distinguish it from Slovak, look for: ě, ř and ů. According to a Czech mate I’ve got, the letter ‘z’ is fairly abundant in this language.
Hungarian: This language is predominantly spoken in Hungary. It contains the letters: é, á, í, ó, ú, ü, ő and ö. Look for the letter ő with italic like lines above the o as this letter is unique to Hungarian.
Slovenian: Not to be confused with Slovak, this language is spoken in Slovenia. Slovenian is littered with the letter j. If you remember the capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana (containing two j’s) then this may help you remember the j and Slovenia link. Slovenian also contains: ž, š and č.
Croatian: This language is spoken in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The language uses: š, ć and č.
Romanian: This language is spoken in Romania and uses: ş, ƫ, ă and ȃ.
Turkish: This language is spoken in both Turkey and the Northern region of Cyprus. The language contains: ö, ı, ğ and ş. Most signs I see in Turkey have the ‘ş’ letter appearing and this helps me confirm that the country I’m in is Turkey.
Albanian: This language is spoken in Albania as well as Kosovo. It features a glut of q and j letters appearing. It also contains ë and ç.
We meet again Cyrillic. If you desire consistently high scores in GeoGuessr then a prerequisite is recognising Cyrillic which is not a language but a writing system. A second requirement for high scores in GeoGuessr is to know how to read Cyrillic; this isn’t as daunting as it sounds and working out how to sound the letters out to read place names can be done including memorisation within 10 minutes. Cyrillic is widely used across Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Countries such as Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia use a writing system that combines both Cyrillic and Latin. Countries using Cyrillic include: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Depending on the country and variant of Cyrillic used, there will often be unique letters/symbols that can help pinpoint your country. The below image shows what letters/symbols are unique vs which ones are shared for certain written languages.
As the above Venn diagram indicates, “Ёё”, “ъ”, “ы” and “Ээ” are Russian letters not used in Ukrainian. Alternately, “Ґґ”, “Єє”, “Іі” and “Її” are Ukrainian letters not used in Russian. Spotting any of these letters can inform you of which country you are in if you are undecided between the two. If you don’t want to remember these obscure symbols that resemble hieroglyphics, the simplest memory technique to distinguish between Russian and Ukrainian written language is to look for the letter “ï” or “i” as this letter only occurs in Ukrainian, not in Russian.
A method teaching how to learn to read Cyrillic in a fun manner is here. The below image indicates the Cyrillic letter on top and the sound it makes below. Most of the letters are the same as English but there are some exceptions you will need to know. An example of this being useful is if you see a sign saying “POCTOB” and you can break it down letter by letter. P=R, O=O, C=S, T=T, O=O B=V hence the sign reads ROSTOV.
If you don’t want to learn Cyrillic, an alternative is to use the GeoGuessr map to make translations of Cyrillic words. If you zoom into Russia on the map, you will see each city with its English name on top and Cyrillic name on the bottom. You can use the map as a translation guide to the Cyrillic word you wish to translate. For instance, if you want to translate the Cyrillic letter ‘B’ then zoom in on the map and look or a Russian city containing a ‘B’ in its Cyrillic name. One city on the map is ПCKOB which has its English translation of PSKOV written above it. You can correlate these letters and determine that the Cyrillic B is the English ‘V.’ Another option in Cyrillic countries if you see a sign for a major city is to simply scan the map, looking at the Cyrillic names of cities to find the city you are seeking.
A flow chart appears below that helps to distinguish European languages by unique letters. A larger version of the chart can be seen here: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/33070800
Should you keep reading this GeoGuessr article? -> Yes or -> Yes.
As I mentioned earlier, I lack language skills full stop (or exclamation mark, I’m not sure) so please forgive any mistakes I’ve made in this section, it serves only as a guide to help you pinpoint places. A more extensive explanation discussing language recognition can be found here.
How To Identify Every Country In The (GeoGuessr) World
If you have read this far into the article then congratulations- I gave up after the first sentence- You must be an obsessive GeoGuessr player. My devotedness to the game has started to provoke instances in my personal life in which the real world and GeoGuessr world intersect. I dub this process ‘The GeoGuessr Effect’. If I see a photo on the wall, on someone’s phone or on TV of a random location in the world; my GeoGuessr instincts kick in and I imagine a world map in my head and I pinpoint the location. Disappointingly, I am seldom awarded with points and instead rewarded with loneliness.
This article is longer than intended and in order to save words and give GeoGuessr the serious respect and worship it deserves, I will try and stop waffling on from now onwards and focus on cold, hard facts.
Many clues have already been mentioned as to how to distinguish one place from another however there are some further hints to help you deduce the continent, country or region within a country. Those countries written in brackets aren’t included in Battle Royale.
How To Identify Every Country In North America
At the beginning of this article I told a lie. I showed a map featuring entire countries covered by Street View and thus GeoGuessr. In reality, only parts of certain countries are typically covered. North American Street View coverage includes USA, Mexico and mainly southern Canada. Guatemala is also covered. Costa Rica is barely covered despite the above image indicating otherwise. It also typically consists of coverage where you are stuck on the footpath. Puerto Rico and the odd Caribbean island are also covered. Bermuda is covered as are Anchorage, Fairbanks and a few other towns are covered in Alaska including paths between these areas. The Dominican Republic has its two major cities covered.
A yellow line in the middle of the road is prevalent in North America in usually distinguishing the continent from Europe (although South America also has a yellow middle line widespread). The street width in the USA and Canada seems to be greater than Europe. That is, if you see wide streets and are tossing up between Europe and North America, then pick a North American location. Adopt-a-Highway signs are prevalent in Canada and the USA. As far as I can determine, they encourage people to take part of the highway bitumen home with them in the hopes someone will care, nurture and even love the bitumen. These signs often have the state/province name on them.
The USA is arguably the most diverse looking country in the world. Mountains are fairly scarce in the USA with a few exceptions. If you notice an amalgamation of desert and mountains then you may be in the Utah-Colorado region. The American Rocky Mountains on the western side of the country tend to be more significant in GeoGuessr as opposed to the Appalachian Mountains on the Eastern flank. The Appalachian Mountains are typically green, tree covered and comprise of rolling hills. Contrastingly, the Rocky Mountains are true to their name and resemble the 1976 boxing movie that I’m reliably informed they are named after. Also they look rocky.
Sometimes there will be sand alongside the road in the South-East corner of the USA such as Florida and surrounding states (AKA the ocean). The South-East corner is also recognisable as it is generally swampy. The prairies in the US run through the central corridor of the US and continue up into the southern part of Canada. These areas lack trees and mainly consists of grass.
A frequent occurrence within the US is to be landed adjacent to a corn field. Knowing a general location of this corn field is useful. Fortunately there is a concentration of corn fields in: Iowa, Illinois and southern Minnesota. Some of the surrounding states have a sprinkling of corn fields including Nebraska however the rest of the country is largely void of corn fields. If the GeoGuessr location is blurry (it looks as it has been captured with a poor quality camera) and is in the northern hemisphere, then try and determine if the land is flat. If so, then flat and blurry= likely North or South Dakota. If you pan down in the USA, you will rarely see the Street View car’s aerial (except in Hawaii where you should typically see it).
An easy way to distinguish the USA from Canada is via their speed limit signs. Signs from the USA explicitly say ‘SPEED LIMIT’ whilst Canadian signs say ‘MAXIMUM’. If you are firmly in North America and tossing up between Canada and the USA, then searching for a symbol of American patriotism in the form of a flag is useful. There are flags scattered across the entire USA in front gardens and on buildings which direct you to a USA location. If you travel through a town and don’t see any American flags then there is a good chance you are in Canada. The USA tends to use metal signs posts with small holes in them. In contrast, white, wooden poles are more prevalent in Canada. In general, Canada has a colder climate and more cold weather trees than the US.
The generation 2 Street View camera is fairly commonly used in the Mexican deserts. This camera is rarely used in the USA. If you see this camera in use and are tossing up between the US and Mexico, you are almost certainly in Mexico. A detailed explanation of the US highway numbering system can be found in the ‘Highway Numbering Systems’ section further up this article. Every identifiable US license plate is also pictured further up this article, in the ‘License Plate’ section.
By looking at street/avenue signs in the USA, you may be able to narrow down your location. The word ‘street’ to indicate the suffix for a road name is largely used in Iowa, southern Minnesota, eastern South Dakota, eastern Nebraska and Kansas. The below map shows the prevalence for different road suffixes across the USA. I’ve noticed a correlation between the above corn map and Street suffix map. Coincidence or conspiracy involving the government’s road naming department, corn growers and aliens?
Spotting a speed limit sign in the USA can be useful in narrowing down the state you are in (it can also be a useful guide in obeying the speed limit). On rural freeways, the maximum speed limit in the western half of the country (not Oregon or California) is 75 or 80. The maximum speed limit in the eastern half of the country is normally 65 or 70. The below map shows the specific maximum speed limits by jurisdiction.
If you are trying to pinpoint your location in the USA, then the small, house satellite dishes may be able to help you. There is a satellite in geosynchronous orbit located just to the south of Texas. USA small satellite dishes almost universally point to this satellite. Using this to exploit higher scores in GeoGuessr isn’t too challenging. If you know you are in the USA and spot one of these small satellite dishes, observe which direction it’s pointing. If a dish is pointing south east, you on the west side of the country, if a dish is pointing south west, you are on the east side of the country and if a dish is pointing south, you are in the centre of the country. Also, observe not just the east-west general direction that the dish is pointing but the north-south direction. This can place you in one of the northern states or southern states (the dish will pointing close to east-west).
There are numerous regions in the USA that resemble Canada and vice versa. This air of ambiguity regarding the USA vs Canada has a few clues leading to resolution. One key tidbit I use is to look at the pole holding up any form of road sign. Canada normally uses wooden poles, often painted white. Contrastingly, the USA typically has metal poles holding up their signs. Spotting signs showing the speed limit can another clue to determining if you are in Canada or the USA. The USA has signs saying ‘SPEED LIMIT’ and Canada has signs saying ‘MAXIMUM’. Additionally, the USA uses miles and Canada uses kilometres. In general, Canada is colder and has more cold-climate trees.
There are swampy areas of land around Saskatchewan and partially neighbouring provinces. The prairie provinces in Canada are: Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These areas especially in the southern parts consist of typically just grass. The western province of British Columbia is very mountainous as is the western part of Alberta. The eastern provinces tend to be flatter and a mixture of grassland and trees.
In Canada, if you look up and see a number of white spots floating in the sky and often some large black spots, you are probably somewhere remote in the northern part of the country. Alternately, you may have a dirty computer screen. If you pan down in Canada, you will rarely see the Street View car’s aerial. The Canadian province of New Brunswick is bilingual so you may spot signs in French and English. Contrastingly, Quebec is an only French speaking province. The Canadian highway system is explained in detail in the ‘Highways Numbering Systems’ section further up this article.
Pinpointing which Canadian province or territory you are in can be done relatively easily through license plates.
Canadian Front and Rear Plates
British Columbia: Front and rear plates + white (or small red section).
New Brunswick: Front and rear plates + red lettering.
Manitoba: Front and rear plates + distinct green triangles on left and right edges.
Ontario: Front and rear plates + white. Distinguished from British Columbia as British Columbia is largely mountainous.
Canadian Just Rear Plates
Saskatchewan: Just rear plates + green lettering.
Alberta: Just rear plates + red lettering.
Quebec: Just rear plates + white plates or slightly blue in the upper left and upper right sections. French makes Quebec stand out in general.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Just rear plates + red lettering. These areas can be distinguished from Alberta as Alberta is partly a prairie province whilst Newfoundland and Labrador has long sea coasts. (It should also be noted that Labrador- the continental part of this province essentially isn’t covered in Street View so only focus on Newfoundland).
Nova Scotia: Just rear plates + partly blue coloured.
The northern Canadian territories stand out for then environment rather than their plates. I haven’t listed the province of Prince Edward Island here, either for a long running grudge I have against this island or because their license plate set up is a bit too diverse (although they do have just rear plates).
Most cars in Puerto Rico lack a front license plate, the area looks tropical and Spanish is the dominant language.
The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has coverage just around Santo Domingo and Santiago de Los Caballeros. The country can be recognised thanks to the bars beneath the Street View car that contain thick black, parallel lines (only parts of Mongolia also have these thick black lines on the bars). The Dominican Republic has many peach coloured buildings. The Spanish language is spoken and the license plates are typically only on the rears of vehicles and consist of a yellow top half and white bottom half. The word ‘PARE’ is written on their stop signs. This contrasts Mexico and Guatemala which use the word ‘ALTO’ on their stop signs.
There is no Street View car coverage in Costa Rica and coverage is limited to a person walking around with the Street View camera. As a result, you will be restricted to footpaths in Costa Rica and won’t be able to travel onto the road. The limited coverage is centred around San Jose and the odd small section of Costa Rica such as a small part of the western coast.
Mexico has quite a diverse landscape. The southern parts of the country are tropical and resemble the thick jungles of Guatemala. The northern parts of the country are desert. A generation 2 camera was used to capture large parts of the Mexican desert. This camera was seldom used in the US hence this can be a good method to distinguish the deserts between these countries.
Guatemala and Mexico both have the word ‘ALTO’ written on their stop signs. This can distinguish the countries from South America where the word ‘PARE’ is used on stop signs. In Mexico there is an abundance of signs with the letters “S.A de C.V.” written on them, typically after a company name. If you spot these initials, you are in Mexico. Mexico City is noticeable for its fleet of pink coloured taxis.
There are lots of powerlines in Mexico and their most common utility poles resemble crucifixes. In more remote areas of Mexico, it’s common to see Eiffel Tower-like structures holding up the power lines. Mexican towns and cities have houses that typically are made of concrete. There tends to be a very narrow footpath separating the walls of these houses from the roads. Spanish is spoken in Mexico. Most of the country (apart from the desert) consists of undulating land. The details of the Mexican highway system can be found in the ‘Highway Numbering Systems’ section further up this article.
There are numerous other Mexican states with recognisable license plates however each Mexican state tends to have a wide variety of plates. A document made by Harvd with potentially identifiable Mexican plates can be viewed here. You can test your ability to identify Mexican license plates in this map made by Bullfrogggy.
Guatemala has bars beneath the Street View car and the side view mirrors are also visible. The country is very hilly and even the urban areas are often undulating. Urban areas in Guatemala typically have a grid pattern. The Guatemalan jungle is lush, green, dense and tropical.
US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands is easy to identify thanks to the bulky ute that is visible if you pan down. The front of the ute is very wide, the mid-section contains visible bars and the rear contains a large tray. Nowhere else on Street View uses this car. The northern two islands of St Thomas and St John have a white version of this ute whilst the southern and main island of St Croix uses a red version of the ute.