196 countries and capitals memorized

Having already learned the locations of most of the countries of the world, I decided to tackle the capitals. I searched and searched online and was unable to find any free mnemonics for learning this, so I decided to make up my own, which it turns out really is the best way. The few that I did find online, I found I was unable to make those stick in my head because I didn’t make them up myself.

If anyone is interested, this is the method I used…

First I printed out an alphabetical list of the countries with their capitals. I started with Afghanistan (CABLE knit AFGHAN :blush:) , and briefly wrote on my printout the mnemonic I was using for each.

This was going great, but I found that throughout my day I wanted to try to practice and I couldn’t recall all the countries, so I changed my tack a bit. I decided that I needed to put the countries in a memory palace. This made things so, so much easier.
After this it went quickly ( worked on it here and there over 7 days). So now, not only can I recall the capitals, I can also name all the countries in alphabetical order.

A word on the memory palace that I used… Originally I had planned on using 10 memory palaces to place historical events. Each decade is at a place that relates to the decade. For instance 00-09 was an apartment I lived In during some of those years. 50-59 is at an ice cream “malt” shop that reminds me of the 1950s. I decided instead to put the countries and capitals in these 10 palaces. Each palace has 10 locations, each location as two countries/capitals.

Another thing I learned during this exercise, is that using people or concrete objects works so much better than trying to use an abstract phrase or idea.

So now I’m starting to make visuals of my mnemonics (don’t know if I’ll finish because that’s a lot of countries). I don’t really know how to attach a picture, but If anyone is interested, I made a separate Twitter account for memory purposes where these can be found @memorizingisfun


Hey Julie! I really love your twitter account :slight_smile: No one in my family is impressed with my passion for memory either.

To be honest I don’t think anyone really benefits from my knowing 100s of digits of pi or that I can remember a deck of cards, but I really want to use my memory to remember things that are useful or that I can teach my children. Other than the country/capital palace, what else were you thinking of learning?

Ha, we sound the same! I’m a mother of 5, ages 10-19. When my youngest was in kindergarten, she was pliable enough that I was able to convince her to memorize the presidents! No one has had an interest since then, but they are impressed.

In the past year or so, I’ve been on memorizing tear! I have not attempted cards at all, but I’ve memorized…

  • PAO based on major system
  • Presidents and their years in office
  • Elements, their atomic numbers, and group
  • 1928-2019 Oscar best picture winners
  • 400 digits of pi
  • 27 baseball players in 500 club
  • 13 Triple crown winners and year
  • Location of countries of the world
  • Canadian provinces and capitals
  • Top 10 tallest mountains
  • Top 10 most populated countries
  • Can calculate the day any date falls on
  • 196 world capitals

It really is a fun hobby. What things have you memorized? I’m looking for my next project— Bones in body maybe? If you have an interest in any of the above, I’d be more than happy to share my spreadsheets :slight_smile:


I’m so impressed! Well my hobby is super simple. It’s just pi, really. My daughter was born on 3/14, and I want to see how many digits I can get to by her third birthday. I’m hoping: 3,141! I’m still ramping up (less than 1000, but I’m getting faster every day, as busy as life is right now). I am also trying to develop a system where I can hold 12 numbers per loci, but I’m not ready yet haha. I am new to memorization, and I will have to work hard to catch up to you!

Here are some things I am interested in:

  1. Chinese History - all major periods, dynasties, auspicious dates
  2. Native North American History - tribes, significant periods, conflicts, tribal mythology, current nation location (United States and Canada)
  3. Great Western Thinkers (political philosophy) - name, location, period, contribution
  4. I would like to retain more information about Astrophysics. For whatever reason, anything that has to do with space never stays in my head. I think my problem is that I can’t easily imagine what I am learning and so much of it is conceptual, that although it’s intriguing, I can never speak intelligently or at length about space. What is a good way to learn and organize information in this field??? It’s my Achille’s heal.

Extra Credit:

  1. Weather/Tower Frequencies for all the airports within 100 miles of San Francisco (I’m a private pilot)
  2. I also really liked The Emperor’s Handbook (Marcus Aurelius) - I would love to commit maybe 30-50 aphorisms.
1 Like

Wow! Good luck on your Pi quest! What a fun thing that will be for your daughter as she grows up!

As you can tell, so far I have only memorized very concrete, listed items. I have not tackled any history, philosophy —or astrophysics, for sure— so I don’t have any tips or know-how for memorizing the abstract. But I do like the idea of that, especially philosophers, and it would be useful in expanding my mind and might make me more interesting in social conversation :grinning:

So I will stay tuned here…if you tackle any new topics, let me know your methods!

1 Like

I’ve read some other posts on learning “wide” topics, and the most intensive part is collecting, organizing, and encoding in a way that is personal. This is extremely time intensive, of course, but I really want to give it a try!

I’ve read so many great books, and I’m so sad I can never remember anything concrete from them after just a few months. I think that I’ll start with the political philosophers (there are not that many) and then Marcus Aurelius. I’ll let you know how it goes!


Hey Julie! Sorry one more thing - do you mind sharing your spreadsheet for:

  1. Table of Elements
  2. Presidents
  3. 196 countries? (did you memorize “territories,” ie Taiwan?)

… If you’re doing the human body, I’m in! Let’s learn together.

Sure! Although you might think I’m crazy when you read them and, as I looked back over things, it might not even be useful to you since I’m sure our number systems differ. For instance, element 22 Titanium…the TITANIC has run into a huge ONION, which is my object for #22. But maybe you can adapt it. So here is my PAO system for reference:

Here is the table of elements.The first 20 I learned from Memorize Academy on youtube, didn’t want to pay for the rest, so I made up my own.Again, makes perfect sense to me, hope it helps you!

The presidents…I learned from a book from the 80s by Jerry Lucas called Ready, Set, Remember. Last year I “attached” the dates that they took office, so that is what is on this spreadsheet–again with my PAO number system. I’m sure you can find the original pictures from Lucas’s book online if interested.

Finally, the countries. There are brief descriptions, and some alternatives because I couldn’t decide which to use, but some make no sense without the context of the memory palace. The one section you might be familiar with is set in the Brady Bunch house (starting with NAURU) :smile: And no territories included here. Will have to tack those on later.

I’m in for human body, too!

Edited to add a distinction (for my own clarity) between the methods I used for the above items…
For the presidents and elements I used a linking, or story, method. I have realized since then that a memory palace journey works really well for me too–I think probably even better, especially for numbered items or items that require years (academy award winners). I memorized the capitals with a combination of the methods since there are two countries/capitals per location, and they do “interact.”


You have excellent achievements, keep it up.

I make sports predictions and remember the dates and results of all signature MMA fights over the past 10 years.

I memorized 4,000 digits of π and can tell the day of the week for each date.

Now I just started to memorize the periodic table.

Also, my daily routine is memorizing the English-Russian dictionary, because I was born in Ukraine.


Oh cool! I was born in Odessa, Ukraine!

1 Like


I’m beyond excited. This is AWESOME!!!

I’m from Dergachi - a suburb of Kharkov.

Thank you! It’s so interesting to see what others like to memorize. No matter the material, I do feel it sharpens the mind.

The English-Russian dictionary habit is a good one!


What a wonderful way to use your memory techniques. I’ve downloaded all your documents and am sure they’ll give me a lot to think about over the coming months.

I use the major system, but have found your list very useful for some of my weaker numbers.

Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us, Julie. And good luck with whatever you choose to tackle in the future.


Thank you! I’m glad you’ll be able to use and adapt the documents to your needs!

1 Like

I was inspired by this post. I’ve always been fascinated with geography, but I only memorised the top ten countries in order of size. Totally unimpressive, so I never told anyone. I read this post and decided to do all countries too. I’m going continent by continent. As of now I have memorised all countries in Asia. Will do Europe next. Thanks for the idea! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Suitably inspired, I’ve begun work on the Periodic Table of Elements. The first 30 were quite easy, but I can see that there are some awkward ones coming up! I suspect my daily total will get smaller and smaller - but thank you, Julie, for starting me on the journey.

And I think that recalling all the abbreviations correctly will also be fun!

1 Like

I just started to memorize the nyc subway map ,about 470 stations


Wow! Good luck!

1 Like

Julia, as I understand it. Do you remember only the seriel numbers of elements? Because now I memorize the serial number of each element and its atomic mass. I expect to see the shock of people who will take the chemistry exam with me xD