Encyclopedia of Sport: Every sport from around the world


Orienteering refers to a family of sports in which participants are required to navigate a course of unfamiliar terrain with a help of a map and a compass. The sport that tests speed and navigational ability was developed as a training exercise for military personnel in Sweden, which later evolved into a competitive sport of its own.

Based on the mode of travel, orienteering is classified into different types, some of which are, Foot orienteering, Car orienteering, Canoe orienteering, Mountain bike orienteering, Mounted Orienteering and Ski Orienteering. The most popular of all are the foot, mountain bike and the ski versions.

An orienteering course consists of multiple control points. Each contestant is handed a orienteering map of scale at least 1:10,000 with start, finish, and all control points aligned in reference to magnetic north. Participants also carry a thumb or protractor compass for aiding in navigation.

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Athletes start and navigate the course individually against a clock, and should visit all control points before reaching the finish point. Each athlete carries a magnetic card which has to be punched at each control point to ensure the course was completed. The athlete to finish the course with the fastest time is the winner.

Orienteering is currently not a part of the Olympics. The highest level of international competition for the sport is the World Games.


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