Can you find America on a world map?

 | 2 min

National Geographic does a series of surveys of 18-24 year olds in America to test their geographical knowledge. I don't think any of us would be shocked to learn that its pretty abysmal.

First, the results from 2002. (You know, shortly after September 11)

Although nearly 60% knew that the Taliban was based in Afghanistan, only 17% knew roughly where Afghanistan was. At the time of the survey, GW hadn't invaded Iraq yet, he was just making threatening noises about it. So maybe that's why only 13% knew where Iraq was.

A little closer to home, 30% couldn't find the Pacific Ocean. 90% could find California and Texas, but only half could find New York, and only one third could find New Jersey. But perhaps the most shocking of all: 11% of American youth couldn't find America on a world map!

Fast forward four years, has the situation improved?

Despite Dubya's dabblings in Iraq, still only 37% of those surveyed know where it is. Only 66% can even find _one _of Iraq, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Knowledge of Afghanistan's location is down to 12%. If 88% of American youth can't even find the country, it's not so hard to see why Dubya can't find Bin Laden inside the country.

Two thirds overestimated America's population, usually by a factor of 2 or 4. (It's about 300 million) Almost half underestimate China's population, reckoning it to be double the American population, when it is actually four times larger. 70% can find China on a world map though, so that's a positive.

This time around they gave the people a selection of countries and asked them which continent they were on - they didn't even have to pinpoint them exactly. Sadly, it turns out that nearly 20% think the Amazon rainforest is in Africa. Less than half know that Sri Lanka is in Asia, or that Sudan is in Africa.

90% can still find California and Texas, but again only half of the sample can find New York, and only two thirds can locate Louisiana, despite the Katrina publicity.

You know what I think National Geographic should do? Give the test to Dubya. I reckon he can probably find Iran, Iraq and Afganistan just as well as the average young American.