Geography: The lost world

September 10, 2007

More than 3,000 young adults in nine countries were tested on their geographical knowledge - with some alarming results.

Despite a deluge of news about the prospect of a war against Saddam Hussein, only 13% of Americans tested could point Iraq out on a map of the world.

Perhaps even more worrying - when confronted with the same map, only 89% of Americans could find their own country!

The surveyors asked the youngsters to answer 56 questions on geographic knowledge and current events.

The results were then graded, using the traditional grading system used in the United States.

Disappointing scores


If young people can't find places on a map and lack awareness of current events, how can they understand the world's cultural, economic and natural resource issues that confront us?

Not a single country managed the 42 points need for an A grade, even top scoring Sweden only got an average of 40 questions right.

They were followed by Italy and Germany, tied on 38 points each. America notched up a D grade with an average of 23 correct answers.

Britain came a disappointing fourth from the bottom and Mexico trailed into last place with an average score of just 21 out of 56.

But America did have some cause to celebrate, as it moved up from the last place it held in the previous survey in 1988.

The survey took place in June and July 2002 as a follow-up to a similar test carried out in 1988 by the National Geographic Society.

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