Two-thirds in U.S. 18 to 24 can't locate Iraq on a map
Dallas Morning News
May. 3, 2006
WASHINGTON - Nearly two-thirds of young adults cannot find Iraq on a map even
after three years of war and more than 2,400 U.S. deaths. And following months
of continuing news coverage of Gulf Coast hurricanes, one-third cannot locate
Those were among the findings of a Roper poll released Tuesday by the National
Geographic Society that detailed an alarming deficiency in geographic literacy.
The survey of 510 participants, ages 18 to 24, shows young Americans cannot find
many countries prominently featured in the news. And their knowledge gap goes
beyond locating nations on a map. Many show little interest in critical
geographic knowledge and relationships about global politics, economics and
The results raised fresh questions about prospects for young Americans to
prosper and be secure in a shrinking world, National Geographic Society
And they underscored the challenges facing the United States if its citizens do
not understand the forces shaping global activity, such as trade, natural
disasters and wars.
The survey follows a similar National Geographic poll in 2002 in which Americans
scored second to last on overall geographic knowledge, behind Canada, France,
Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Sweden.
"Geographic illiteracy impacts our economic well-being, our relationships with
other nations and the environment, and isolates us from our world,"
said John Fahey, National Geographic's chief executive. "Geography is what helps
us make sense of our world by showing the connections between people and
He urged more education and greater public awareness of geographic literacy.
The latest poll was conducted in December and January.
The survey, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, was
conducted in the homes of respondents and each lasted nearly a half-hour,
yielding insights that went well beyond simple country-finding skills.
"Young Americans are alarmingly ignorant of the relationships between places
that give context to world events," the National Geographic Society concluded.
For instance, 71 percent do not know that the United States is the world's
largest exporter of goods and services. And 74 percent believe English is the
primary language spoken by the most people in the world. It is actually Mandarin