December 14, 1998 Vol. III, No. 8

Student Answers Some of Geography's Most Asked Questions

Matthew Rosenberg's Web Site Attracted Publisher, Who Asked Him to Write A Book

What is the most common street name in the United States? How much rice does China produce? Who is a peon?

You can find the answers to these and hundreds more geography questions in a new book by Cal State Northridge graduate student Matthew T. Rosenberg, "The Handy Geography Answer Book," published by Visible Ink Press.

"It's a very handy, interesting book with the answers to all sorts of geography questions," said I-Shou Wang, chair of CSUN's Geography Department, where Rosenberg is a full-time student in the master's program.

"It's very impressive that a student was not only able to get all this information together but also get it published," Wang said. "We are very proud of him."

Rosenberg, who is specializing in urban geography, said he enjoyed putting the 462-page book together.

"I started out just brainstorming and came up with a couple hundred topics of questions people tend to have about geography," he said. "I asked my colleagues here, and then took out all the basic geography books in the library."

The Santa Clarita resident said he got a lot of the questions for his book from his web site,, a popular on-line service that answers a lot of geographical queries.

Rosenberg, who is currently doing mapping work for the city of Santa Clarita as an intern, said he was asked by Visible Ink Press to write the book because of the popularity of his web site.

"A lot of people have a lot of questions about geography, and they thought I could help answer them," he said.

He credits much of the book's production to his wife, Jen, a graduate student in CSUN's history department.

"It was a lot of fun, and kind of overwhelming," Rosenberg said. "The Handy Geography Answer Book" hit the bookstores last month.

Rosenberg said he does not know how the book's sales are doing overall, "but I do know it's sold out at the Border's Bookstore in Northridge."

Copies of "The Handy Geography Answer Book," can be purchased in the Geography Department.

By the way, if you are wondering what the answers are to the questions at the top of this story, they can be found in Rosenberg's book. But if you can't wait to get your own copy, here they are:

What is the most common street name in the United States?
It's not Main Street. Park is actually the country's most common street name, followed by Washington, Maple, Oak and Lincoln.

How much rice does China produce?
China is the world's leading rice producer, and is responsible for over one-third of the world's rice, about 190 million metric tons. Thailand, however, is the world's leading rice exporter; it ships about a third of the world's rice exports.

Who is a peon?
A peon is a farm laborer in Central America who works on large farms known as haciendas.

-Carmen Ramos Chandler

December 14, 1998

Return to the top of the page