Long time lurker first time contributor here. I’ve gotten a lot out this forum over the last while and love the discussion that takes place so I wanted to give back a little bit.
I find or have found when i was starting out that the step by step instructions/ examples on how some people implemented their Memory Palaces were very informative so I just wanted to outline how I tackled facts about the countries of the world.
The first thing to mention for any ‘beginners’ (I put in quotations because I very much see myself as a beginner as well) is that setting up a Memory Palace can be very straightforward and easy but sometimes it requires a little bit of forethought about how you will structure it to make things easier for yourself in the long run. That is to say that you may read this and think there is too much ‘work’ involved before you even get to the memorisation part of it, but you can make it as simple as you want, I was just trying to categorise everything in a way that would make it easy for me in the long term to revisit.
Step by Step
Here is my Memory Palace and description of how I learned all the Countries of the World, Capitals, Currency, and Languages and also their location on the map.
I wanted to store the countries in my Memory Palace in accordance with their ‘location’ on the map so I broke the countries down by their United Nations Region and created a separate palace for each continent as I potentially plan on expanding the information at a later stage so i want lots of room.
So in Africa for example there are 5 regions so I need to pick a Palace that has 54 loci spread across 5 distinct areas (eg. 5 different rooms in a house) and in Oceania I need a palace with 4 distinct regions for 14 loci.
Once I had my Palaces chosen I then started on a Continent. I’ll start with South America to just give an example of how I do each country.
When starting an area i will look at a map and trace my finger across the region (SA only has 1 region but i would do this exercise on a region basis rather than a whole continent) in a way that would capture all countries and it gives a nice S shape. In my memory palace I have laid them out as if they are all in front of me and as I enter i can see them all so i enter with Chile and Argentina as the first countries and I can ‘see’ Venezuela and Guyana at the far end of my palace as i follow my ‘trace’ through the palace so to speak. Very intuitive for me.
For Argentina I have an image of an Army Sergeant (Argentina) perfectly dressed up. He has a big industrial fan as a weapon and the fan is blowing cupcakes (cupcakes are called buns in my country) at me like bullets (Buenos Aires- Buns + Air (fan)). In each of my images the population is always underfoot so i know where in each image to find that fact. In this case the population is 45 million and my image for 45 is RaiL so there is a little toy train track that is going around the sergeant’s feet. The currency is the Peso and I have the train carrying a brand of crisps called Tayto (pronounced Tay-toe which sounds a bit like Pay-so which is how Peso is pronounced). I know immediately that relates to currency as I imagine bandits trying to rob the train of its gold like an old western movie. I can skip the language in this instance as i know Argentinians speak Spanish.
For Bolivia I have an image of a massive Bowl (Bolivia). Bolivia has 2 capitals, La Paz is the Government and Sucre is the Judicial capital so i have one person sitting on the rim of the bowl and their lap (la Paz) acts as a diving tower into the bowl and i have an image of a judge inside the bowl standing up but covered in a kind of sugary water (Sucre). The bowl is balanced preciously on a massive Ton weight which is my image for 12 (population of 12 million). Bolivia have 3 languages but i know they speak Spanish so i have left that out. For the other 2 i imagine my 2 people each saying something. One of them starts to speak and Ketchup comes out of their mouth (Quechua pronounced Ketch-oo-a) and the other starts says the words AY—MAAAA (Aymara) like Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers shouting to his mother for meatloaf. Currency is the Boliviano so I imagine the bowl losing its balance on the weight and spilling its contents of Olives (Boliviano) on the ground and the olives rolling around as if the contents of a purse had just been spilled.
How to ‘Locate’ a country in your palace
To showcase exactly how i work with location I’ll show Oceania. According to my table it has 4 regions. Australia/New Zealand, Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia.
My Particular Palace for Oceania is a Caravan park and i have 3 distinct images here. One is a hill that encloses the caravan park, 1 is the outside of the caravan itself and then the inside of the caravan handles 2 regions.
I look at this image and imagine myself walking into the caravan park with everything in front of me so according to the picture it makes sense that i walk in through Australia/New Zealand as that is at the bottom of the picture (imagine putting this image on the ground and walking through it, you would walk into Australiasia first.
On the top of the hill getting into the caravan park I have Australia and on the bottom of the hill I have New Zealand. One region done, easy.
As im walking towards the caravan I come into Melanesia and this region is outside of the caravan. If we look at the countries in Melanesia and imagine ourselves looking at the Caravan then we can see that Papua New Guinea is on the left, then Solomon Islands, then Nauru and then Vanuatu (Fiji is actually in Polynesia so this image is a little off) so just place the countries in that order in my palace. As i walk up to the caravan on my left is Papua New Guinea (i’ll do one last example of my country logic) and that is my father surrounded by pet Guinea pigs. Beside him is Ted Mosley from How I Met your Mother driving a bottle of Port (Port Moresby). He is sitting on a massive bar of soap (my image for 9, the population in millions) and struggling to stay on (maybe because its soap or maybe because hes drunk, every detail makes the image stand out more). The guinea pigs are eating Quinoa (Kina- Currency) off the ground. My father speaks to me in English to get the guinea pigs off him. Ted Mosley starts to taking a pee on a clock on the ground (Tok Pisin- langauge) and while shouting at my friend Harry who rides by on a motorcycle (Hari Moto- language). The image of a drunk man pissing while shouting helps solidify that its a language aspect of my facts.
The other countries are then either in front of the Caravan as i stand outside it or to the right of it but they are laid out in the order they appear on a map.
To finish out Oceania then when I enter the caravan there is a sofa and table to my left (Micronesia- i lay the countries out here from left to right as well according to their position on the map) and the hallway to the bedroom and toilet on my right (Polynesia- same logic here with positioning) and i just space those countries out accordingly.
It’s a lot of detail but you can see how the images are quite distinctive and each aspect plays on each other to reinforce the image. For languages the aspects of my image are speaking to me or making noises that reflect the name of the language. For population i always have it as something on the ground and for currency i have it as a briefcase that spilled open or some concept of lots of little things in the scene like they are coins. Having common themes like that help me instantly know what im looking for in the image.
It does take quite a while to create these images and to really make them vivid in my mind but consider that its 4 images per country minimum (if they only speak one language or have one capital) which makes close to 800 images for the whole world so if you want to try something similar I would accept the fact that it won’t be a speed exercise you undertake. I really like the idea of breaking the countries down into their regions so we have an easy way to locate a country to a particular part of the globe and then you can instantly ‘see’ it in your palace.
Hopefully this will give someone clarity on how exactly to go about creating their own palace and find ways that work for them. When i started out i was so focused on finding the ‘best’ way that someone else had done but reading other peoples guides really helped me figure out what worked for me and how to engage with the process.