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Trivia time: 20 questions on history

Welcome – are you loving Expat Living’s weekly quizzes? How about challenging a friend or family member? You can get together with them over Zoom, Houseparty or Google Hangouts. This week, it’s 20 trivia questions on history.


#1 How long did the 1896 war between Zanzibar and Great Britain last: 24 days; 11 months; or 38 minutes?

#2 In which century did the Dodo become extinct?

#3 When it launched in 1911, the Titanic was the largest manmade moving object on earth. How many funnels did it have?

#4 How did Joan of Arc die?

#5 What kitchen invention was awarded first place at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893?

#6 A ruler of which ancient civilisation is said to have had his slaves smeared with honey to keep the flies away from him? 

#7 What famous music festival was attended by 400,000 people in the US in 1969?

#8 True or false: since the end of World War II, all British tanks have been equipped with tea-making facilities.

#9 Place the following religions in correct order of their development, from first to last: Christianity, Buddhism, Islam.

#10 In what year was the Berlin Wall torn down?

#11 Which type of wireless technology takes its name from a Nordic king?

#12 What famous city once had thoroughfares named Foul Lane, Stinking Lane and Bladder Street, which have since been renamed?

#13 Where is Asia’s oldest university: India, Thailand or the Philippines?

#14 An icon of the “Roaring Twenties” was a woman who wore shirt skirts, flaunted “respectable” behaviour and was referred to as a what?  

#15 Which of the following dictators composed six operas: Kim Jong-Il, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein?

#16 What was the name of the Sherpa who became the first to summit Mount Everest along with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953?  

#17 Which American President rescued 77 people in his first job as a lifeguard: John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan? 

#18 Which civilisation was the first to use paper money?

#19 Only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World remains mostly intact today. Which one?

#20 In 1923, jockey Frank Hayes won a 20-1 upset victory in a horse race in New York. What was unusual about his condition at the finish line?


Who am I?

(If you can answer correctly after the first clue, you get 10 points, but you lose a point for each additional clue you require to identify the person.)

I am a ruler from the ancient world. (10)
My birth name was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, but that’s not how I’m known to history. (9)
I held power from the age of 17 until my early death at age 30. (8)
My mother is alleged to have killed my predecessor, allowing me to fill his spot. (7)
I later had her killed, just to be safe. (6)
I participated in sporting contests while in power, and was awarded first place in every event I entered, even the ones I lost. (5)
I’m a Roman emperor. (4)
I’m said to have “fiddled while Rome burned” (even though fiddles weren’t invented for another thousand years!) (3)
I’m best known by my one-word, four-letter name. (2)
I am N___. (1)

All the answers (no cheating!)

#1 38 minutes
#2 17th century (the last widely accepted sighting was 1662)
#3 Four
#4 She was burnt at the stake (in 1431, at the age of 19)
#5 The dishwasher
#6 Ancient Egypt (Pharaoh Pepi II)
#7 Woodstock (headline acts included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Grateful Dead and The Who)
#8 True
#9 Buddhism, Christianity, Islam (around 2,500 years, 2,000 years and 1,400 years old respectively)
#10 1989
#11 Bluetooth. It’s named after King Harald (10th century), who was nicknamed “Bluetooth” probably on account of a dental issue. The Bluetooth logo combines the two Nordic runes of his initials. (Why name Bluetooth after Harald? Because he was said to be a great communicator who brought people together.)
#12 London
#13 The Philippines (the University of Santo Tomas, in Manila, was founded in 1611 by Spanish Roman Catholic priests)
#14 Flapper (as opposed to a wowser)
#15 Kim Jong-Il
#16 Tenzing Norgay
#17 Ronald Reagan
#18 Chinese (7th century)
#19 The Great Pyramid of Giza
#20 He was dead; Hayes died of a heart attack during the race but his body stayed in the saddle


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