My mother recently found an old puzzle I made over 20 years ago. It's a Finnish-language word search with a geography theme. (Note that we have a precedent for allowing non-English puzzles here.) There was also a word list provided, but I've left that out to make it a little harder. If only 19-year-old me knew that his little puzzle would one day be posted online for tens of people to see!

The final answer is the name of a place and is made up of three words. The puzzle is dated June 2003, but even if it wasn't, you might be able to guess approximately when it was made based on the answer.

Solve on Penpa+

Word search grid

Minor errata:

- One answer is a little anachronistic for 2003 (by <10 years).
- One answer can be found in two different places in the grid. Pick the one that's not fully inside another answer.
- The placement of one answer is slightly ambiguous. You'll know you picked wrong if you end up with an extra letter in the final answer.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Tens? There are dozens of us! Dozens! $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Commented Apr 30 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Bass Baker's dozens! $\endgroup$
    – Jafe
    Commented May 1 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


The country whose name is hidden in the grid is:

SERBIA JA MONTENEGRO (or 'Serbia and Montenegro', as it was said in English), a country which has not existed in this form since 2006 (it is now two separate states - one of Serbia, the other of Montenegro) but did exist back in 2003 when this puzzle was created by a younger Jafe!

The solved wordsearch grid looks like this:

Solved wordsearch grid

And the full word list (with English equivalents) is:

ALGERIA (Algeria)
AUSTRALIA (Australia)
BELGIA (Belgium)
BHUTAN (Bhutan)
BOSNIA (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
GHANA (Ghana)
GIBRALTAR (Gibraltar)
INDONESIA (Indonesia)
INTIA (India)
IRAK (Iraq) - also appearing backwards in UNKARI, hence the errata
ITALIA (Italy)
KANADA (Canada)
KENIA (Kenya)
KIINA (China)
KONGO (Republic of Congo)
KROATIA (Croatia)
KUUBA (Cuba)
LAOS (Laos)
LATVIA (Latvia)
LIBYA (Libya)
LIETTUA (Lithuania)
MADAGASKAR (Madagascar)
MALTA (Malta)
MAROKKO (Morocco)
NAMIBIA (Namibia)
NAURU (Nauru)
NEPAL (Nepal)
NIGER (Niger)
NORJA (Norway)
PORTUGALI (Portugal)
RANSKA (France)
SAKSA (Germany)
SUOMI (Finland)
SVEITSI (Switzerland)
TANSKA (Denmark)
TOGO (Togo)
TSAD (Chad)
TURKKI (Türkiye)
UNKARI (Hungary)
VIRO (Estonia)
WALES (Wales)
ZAIRE (now the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as Zaire until 1997, hence being the anachronism mentioned in the errata)
ZIMBABWE (Zimbabwe)

(TOGO is the ambiguous one mentioned in the errata, since the palindromic 'TOGOT' appears in the grid, meaning there are two ways to select it...)

The final answer is revealed by reading off...

...the letters not used in any words, giving us SERBIA JA MONTENEGRO.

Not being a Finnish speaker myself, my way in was to...

...notice several countries whose spelling is identical in English and Finnish (e.g. AUSTRALIA, BHUTAN, GHANA, LAOS, etc.) and others whose spelling sounds almost like it could phonetically be the same (e.g. KROATIA=Croatia, KUUBA=Cuba, MADAGASKAR=Madagascar, etc.). With sports knowledge I have known that SUOMI=Finland in Finnish, and I could also see other countries whose names looked like their own pronunciation in their own language, like ESPANJA=España.

After a while I began highlighting the unused letters, and 'SERBIA' appeared at the top of the grid and 'EGRO' at the bottom - I knew then what the target 3-word country was surely going to be and consulting a useful list like this helped me pick off the last few obscure ones that didn't resemble English, like VIRO (Estonia) and YHDYSVALLAT (the US).

All in all, a fun exercise for a non-Finn!

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ For the record, my solve time on the Penpa+ link was 00:00:26:05:6 (i.e. 26 mins 5.6 seconds) - I'm sure it won't be the fastest solve, but it is what it is :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Apr 29 at 15:42

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