How many countries can you name in under five minutes? Six-year-old Madden Landicho has probably got you beat: He can name them all. Alphabetically.
Starting with Afghanistan and ending with Zimbabwe, it takes him about four minutes, give or take a few seconds to name every country in the world. He can also identify each country’s flag.
Madden’s mom, Kristy Landicho, said her son — wh0 just finished kindergarten — started learning the nations when he was about 3. He began with the countries in South America.
“Before we knew it,” Landicho told The Washington Post, “he was reciting the whole world to us.”
So how did he do it? By song? By repetition? Does he have a photographic memory?
Madden learned the world by watching YouTube videos, on his phone, over and over and over again.
“I never thought I was going to be a parent that would give their kids a phone,” said Landicho, who lives in Winnipeg, Canada. “It’s awesome that he’s actually learning from it as opposed to just watching random cartoons.”
Madden learned the list by watching videos such as “Countries of the World,” in which smiling, blinking, animated country outlines sing their names.
“I think it’s those catchy songs that really catches his attention,” Landicho said.
But when Madden recites them, it’s not in song. Instead, he calmly, carefully and correctly pronounces each name; even the ones with several syllables, like Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
Madden is only just beginning to learn to read, so he learned the countries from listening.
Landicho said that Madden’s talent is not so hidden these days. He likes to recite the countries wherever he goes, and to whomever he is with.
For his 6th birthday in March, Madden’s godmother got him an atlas. That is how, she said, her son learned to match each country with its flag. The atlas also honed his ability to find countries on the map.
She recalled that he once asked her, “Do you know what countries are on the Europe and Asian border?” She didn’t but learned pretty quickly.
Apart from a keen interest in maps and flags, Madden’s mom describes her son as a smart, sweet, kindhearted and carefree boy. When he sees someone fall down, he wants to help. He cares about animals, and likes to swim and play soccer. And like all 6-year-olds, he can be crazy loud and rambunctious, too.
“He’s your typical boy but somehow just really likes geography,” she said.
Madden said his favorite country is Mexico, because of its “waterslides and pools.” The Landicho family, including Madden’s 3-year-old brother Camden, travels every other year to Mexico to stay with Madden’s grandparents at their timeshare unit.
His knowledge of the U.S. map is pretty good, too.
During a phone interview with The Post, Madden said that if he could travel anywhere in the world, he would pick Nevada.
His mom, on speakerphone, asked, “Is that because you want to visit the Grand Canyon?”
He replied innocently but confidently, “The Grand Canyon’s in Arizona.”