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Geographical Ignorance

  • By: Martin W. Lewis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Media reports periodically highlight an appalling lack of public geographical knowledge, particularly in the United States. The National Geographic/Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study revealed that two thirds of Americans between 18 and 24 years of age were unable to find Iraq on a world map, almost half could not identify India, and three quarters could not locate Iran or Israel. Seventy-four percent of respondents selected English (rather than Mandarin Chinese) as the world's most widely spoken primary language. Knowledge of the United States itself was shown to be equally scanty, with fewer than half of the respondents able to identify the states of New York or Ohio. Perhaps most worrisome was the finding that most young Americans remained satisfied with their ignorance. Fewer ...

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