Below is a puzzle I made for a university puzzle hunt. The answer is one word.

• Also, I'd appreciate any criticism you happen to have! Commented May 13, 2018 at 21:01
• My only slight criticism (though I have no idea how you'd fix this) is that some of these flags are hard to match. However the country names are obviously important and need to be found so don't know how you'd get round that without giving away the name. Great puzzle though! Commented May 13, 2018 at 21:41
• I'll respectfully disagree -- if you're allowed to use Google, matching flags to countries is actually quite easy using image search.
– ffao
Commented May 13, 2018 at 23:24
• One thing I now noticed: if my answer is correct, try not to mention the answer in your introduction, it can be seen as a bit disappointing when the answer is found.
– ffao
Commented May 14, 2018 at 0:20
• There's some stray dots above and mainly below the first line of text (remnants of some earlier text, perhaps?) that ideally wouldn't be there. Puzzling folk tend to look for oddnesses, and putting in extra oddnesses which are meaningless is distracting. :)
– Rubio
Commented May 15, 2018 at 8:03

Identifying the countries:

Costa Rica -> Bahrain -> Russia -> Malta -> Nicaragua
Armenia -> Colombia -> Australia -> Malta -> Central African Republic
Latvia -> Norway -> Liberia
Singapore -> Costa Rica -> Turks and Caicos -> Singapore

From the starting text,

"Australia is gold, Korea is noble" clues us that we want the ISO alpha-2 codes for the countries -- so Australia would be Au, which is gold, and Korea would be Kr, which is krypton.

Finally,

Draw each path on the periodic table (the mid point of the W is off because it should be in the Ru for Russia -- can't find my original image to edit it now):

These form letters, giving us the final answer of WORLD.

• Yep! I think the middle point of the W is off, but the answer is right. Thanks - I actually hadn't noticed that I'd included the answer in the introduction Commented May 14, 2018 at 1:42

Partial: (I have to go now, here is as far as I got, but someone else can continue...)

The first two letters of each country

represents an chemical compound or element (e.g. AUstralia - Au = gold)

The countries are

COsta Rica -> POland -> RUssia -> MAlta -> NIcaragua