The CFHOS Test

23 June 2004
5:33 PM

1 Comment

I'm developing a new mini self test of what's going on in the world. Here are the rules:

  1. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time—let's say 10 minutes.
  2. Name as many current, foreign heads-of-state as you can and their respective countries.
  3. Don't use outside resources. That includes other people, the Wikipedia, and Google. Especially Google.
  4. U.S. President George Bush doesn't count. See rule #2.
  5. Saddam Hussein does not count. See rule #2.

I wonder what the critical numbers for this mini-test would be for the general population of the U.S. What percentage of people could name 4 current, foreign heads of state? How about 6? I think I can name more than most people because I read the newspaper and listen to NPR regularly, plus there are a few obscure leaders on my list that you might not think of.

That said, see what you can come up with. My list is posted as a comment to this entry.


I was able to come up with nine names:

  1. Germany: Gerhard Schr?der, chancelor
  2. Isreal: Ariel Sharon, prime minister
  3. Holy See (Vatican City): Pope John Paul II, chief of state
  4. Mexico: Vicente Fox Quesada, president
  5. France: Jacques Chirac, president
  6. England: Tony Blair, prime minister
  7. North Korea: Kim Chong-il, Chairman of the National Defense Commission
  8. Cuba: Fidel Castro, president
  9. Russia: Vladmir Putin, president

I came up with this list without outside help, and then I checked it for accuracy and spelling using the CIA World Factbook.

My mistakes: I thought Mahmoud Abbas was the prime minister of Palestine. He, however, was replaced by Ahmed Qureia in September 2003. Also, perhaps a notable omission from my list is anyone from Ireland, a country where I lived for 5 months last fall. I had no idea that Mary McAlees is the prime minister or that Bertie Ahern is the president. I guess I don’t pay as close attention as I thought.

In the U.S., our chief of state is the same person as our head of government (both are the president), but most other countries have two separate people fill the roles.