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Quiz about The Notorious Darien Gap
Quiz about The Notorious Darien Gap

The Notorious Darien Gap Trivia Quiz


Ever think about driving the entire length of the Pan- American Highway, from Alaska all the way through to the Southernmost tip of South America? It's not so easy. The Darien Gap will stop you in your tracks.

A multiple-choice quiz by robbieh. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Author
robbieh
Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
340,674
Updated
Jul 23 22
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Tough
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
323
Last 3 plays: Guest 107 (3/10), Guest 24 (5/10), Guest 172 (4/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. On one of the many long stretches of road that comprise the Pan-American Highway, there is a very large missing link about 54 miles long, where no road exists. It's known as the Darien Gap. It falls into two countries - on one side is Panama; which country is on the other? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Traversing the Darien Gap is exceedingly difficult. There is jungle, marshland, swamps, tall mountains and many other obstacles. Yet roads have been built in other countries under very challenging circumstances. What is the primary reason that the highway has not been built through the Gap? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. The so-called "Darien Scheme", which began in 1698, was an attempt by a certain European country to colonize the area for trading. The Isthmus of Panama was ideally located for such a venture. The expedition was a dismal failure and cost that country dearly. Which country attempted it? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Although there had been many previous attempts, Britain's Ian Hibell was the first to make a fully overland, wheeled crossing of the Darien Gap. No boats or ferries were involved. How did he accomplish this? Take a guess. Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. There is yet another issue between the two countries within the Gap. It concerns the spread of a particular disease among livestock. It is feared that this disease might spread into Panama if a connecting road is built. What disease is it? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. Most travelers attempting to cross the Darien do so from the Panama side, and permits to enter the area must be obtained. What is the position of the Panamanian government concerning over-land expeditions through the Darien Gap? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. The Darien Gap is now considered one of the most dangerous places in the world. The several countries involved, including the United States State Department, have issued repeated warnings to citizens against traveling there.


Question 8 of 10
8. A little-known chapter in the saga of historical expeditions is the U.S. Darien Exploring Expedition, which began in 1854. What was the purpose of the expedition - what did they hope to accomplish? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. In spite of all the area's problems, the Darien remains a stunningly beautiful place. The diversity of flora and fauna is unsurpassed in all but a few places in the world. It has been designated a "biodiversity hot-spot" by Conservation International. What does this mean? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. The Embera-Wounaan and the Kuna are indigenous groups whose home was in the Darien jungles. Were these indigenous people still living there in the early 21st century?



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. On one of the many long stretches of road that comprise the Pan-American Highway, there is a very large missing link about 54 miles long, where no road exists. It's known as the Darien Gap. It falls into two countries - on one side is Panama; which country is on the other?

Answer: Colombia

The Darien Gap is an area of swamp, jungle and mountains, which separates Central and South America on the isthmus of Panama. The Colombian side is flat marshland, and half of that is swamp. The Panamanian side is dense rain forest, with some mountains reaching over 6,000 feet at their tallest point.
2. Traversing the Darien Gap is exceedingly difficult. There is jungle, marshland, swamps, tall mountains and many other obstacles. Yet roads have been built in other countries under very challenging circumstances. What is the primary reason that the highway has not been built through the Gap?

Answer: Environmental concerns

While all the above answers are important factors, the single most pressing concern is for the fragile ecosystem within the Darien. Portions of the area are protected park land, and there are political problems between Panama and Colombia as well.

Planning for the construction of the highway began in 1971, and funds were allocated for the project by the United States government. But the project was stopped in 1974 due to concerns about environmental damage. Studies made at the time showed that great damage would result from commercial logging, conversion of the rain forests to cattle ranches and farms, damage caused by mining, and loss of wildlife habitat and destruction of the area's many unique plant species.
3. The so-called "Darien Scheme", which began in 1698, was an attempt by a certain European country to colonize the area for trading. The Isthmus of Panama was ideally located for such a venture. The expedition was a dismal failure and cost that country dearly. Which country attempted it?

Answer: Scotland

The attempt by Scotland to establish a colony in the Darien was a disaster. The undertaking was doomed by lack of adequate planning and leadership, and it was abandoned after an attack by Spanish troops in 1700. As the expedition was financed by a quarter of the money circulating in Scotland at the time, its failure left Scottish financial backers in economic ruin.
4. Although there had been many previous attempts, Britain's Ian Hibell was the first to make a fully overland, wheeled crossing of the Darien Gap. No boats or ferries were involved. How did he accomplish this? Take a guess.

Answer: On a bicycle

The Englishman Ian Hibell was first to accomplish this feat, traveling completely overland from Cape Horn to Alaska on a bicycle. It took him two years, 1971-1973, to make the entire trip.

He published an account of his adventure in his 1984 book "Into the Remote Places". Hibell is widely recognised as the first to cross the the Darien Gap entirely on wheels (although there are some locals who dispute this, alleging there may have been some use of canoes).

There have been many expeditions of the Darien, but all used some type of boat to cover large parts of the crossing. The Darien Gap has been successfully crossed several times, most often by well-equipped and staffed expeditions, all using boats for some part of the journey. There are probably as many books about attempted crossings as there are actual attempts.
5. There is yet another issue between the two countries within the Gap. It concerns the spread of a particular disease among livestock. It is feared that this disease might spread into Panama if a connecting road is built. What disease is it?

Answer: Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot and mouth disease (also known as hoof and mouth disease) which affects cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals, is wide-spread in Colombia, and Panama has naturally been anxious to avoid it. By the early 21st century, foot and mouth disease had not been seen in Panama or any other Central American country since 1954.
6. Most travelers attempting to cross the Darien do so from the Panama side, and permits to enter the area must be obtained. What is the position of the Panamanian government concerning over-land expeditions through the Darien Gap?

Answer: Attempts to cross are strongly discouraged

The Panamanian town of Yaviza is the last outpost before one attempts to enter the Darien from the south. There is a strong military presence there, and permits are issued for travelers to continue from Yaviza. But a permit is difficult to obtain. Many people have been lost in the jungle, never to be seen again.

Many others have been kidnapped or murdered by FARC guerrillas or by other factions. The Panamanian military is not particularly anxious to set out into the jungle to search for reckless adventurers, as it is equally dangerous for them. So permits are not easy to come by.
7. The Darien Gap is now considered one of the most dangerous places in the world. The several countries involved, including the United States State Department, have issued repeated warnings to citizens against traveling there.

Answer: True

Many travel-adventurers are interested in the challenge the area presents, and it is a fascinating destination indeed. But the Darien Gap, in addition to the perils of nature, is also a sanctuary for drug traffickers and rebel guerrilla groups. It is a very dangerous place by all accounts. Colombia's infamous guerrilla group, known as FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), now has a large presence in the Darien. Illegal activities such as kidnapping, drug smuggling and murder have created an atmosphere of terror for adventurers wishing to explore the beauty of this amazing area.
8. A little-known chapter in the saga of historical expeditions is the U.S. Darien Exploring Expedition, which began in 1854. What was the purpose of the expedition - what did they hope to accomplish?

Answer: To find a viable ship canal route

In the mid 1850s, United States President Franklin Pierce authorized an exploration to the Isthmus of Darien in Panama, with the intention of finding an Atlantic to Pacific canal route. The Suez Canal was being built right around this time and the Isthmus of Panama seemed the perfect place to construct a similar and badly needed canal.

In 1854 the United States Darien Expedition, led by Naval Lieutenant Issac Strain, set off on the mission, but were totally misled by erroneous maps drawn by previous explorers, and they soon became lost.

The Strain party went around in circles, split up, were plagued by deteriorating equipment, unreliable and sometimes dangerous native guides, heat, hunger, parasites and tropical diseases. Six of the twenty-seven men died of starvation.

Still, the expedition contributed to future land routes, the building of railroads, and the eventual construction of the Panama Canal. The Canal was completed in 1914, some sixty years after Lieutenant Strain's courageous and ill-fated expedition.
9. In spite of all the area's problems, the Darien remains a stunningly beautiful place. The diversity of flora and fauna is unsurpassed in all but a few places in the world. It has been designated a "biodiversity hot-spot" by Conservation International. What does this mean?

Answer: It is under threat from humans

A biodiversity hot-spot is a region with a significant amount of biodiversity under threat from humans. To qualify as a biodiversity hot-spot a region must contain at least 1,500 species of endemic vascular plants, and must have lost at least seventy percent of its primary vegetation. Worldwide, more than 25 areas qualify under this definition.

The Darien Gap rain-forest, on the Pacific side of the Isthmus, has been described as a laboratory of biodiversity, and is a crucial bridge for the interchange of plant and animal species between North and South America. There are now many protected areas within its borders, and the Darien National Park in Panama is considered the most important, with over half million hectares of wildlife and rain-forest flora. The Park is a UNESCO Heritage site, and Cana, a former mining area, is now an outstanding bird-watching location. In 1994, The Los Katíos National Park in Colombia, also in the Darien, was declared a World Heritage Site.
10. The Embera-Wounaan and the Kuna are indigenous groups whose home was in the Darien jungles. Were these indigenous people still living there in the early 21st century?

Answer: Yes

These tribes are opposed to any encroachment into their homeland, and have been known to use violence to run people off. The Embera-Wounaan and the Kuna are a semi-nomadic people who live in the Darien along the banks of the many rivers there, and usually travel by dugout canoe.
Source: Author robbieh

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