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Study: Geography Greek to young Americans



  • Thirty-three percent of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map.
  • Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.
  • Two-thirds didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.
  • Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
  • Forty-seven percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
  • Seventy-five percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
  • Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.
  • Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world.
  • Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.

    Source: The Associated Press
  • WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After more than three years of combat and nearly 2,400 U.S. military deaths in Iraq, nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 18 to 24 still cannot find Iraq on a map, a study released Tuesday showed.

    The study found that less than six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, 33 percent could not point out Louisiana on a U.S. map.

    The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study paints a dismal picture of the geographic knowledge of the most recent graduates of the U.S. education system.

    "Taken together, these results suggest that young people in the United States ... are unprepared for an increasingly global future," said the study's final report.

    "Far too many lack even the most basic skills for navigating the international economy or understanding the relationships among people and places that provide critical context for world events."

    The study, which surveyed 510 young Americans from December 17 to January 20, showed that 88 percent of those questioned could not find Afghanistan on a map of Asia despite widespread coverage of the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 and the political rebirth of the country.

    In the Middle East, 63 percent could not find Iraq or Saudi Arabia on a map, and 75 percent could not point out Iran or Israel. Forty-four percent couldn't find any one of those four countries.

    Inside the United States, "half or fewer of young men and women 18-24 can identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map [50 percent and 43 percent, respectively]," the study said.

    On the positive side, the study noted, seven in 10 young Americans correctly located China on a map, even though they had a number of misconceptions about that country. Forty-five percent said China's population is only twice that of the United States. It's actually four times larger than the U.S. population.

    When the poll was conducted in 2002, "Americans scored second to last on overall geographic knowledge, trailing Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Sweden," the report said.

    The release of the 2006 study coincides with the launch of the National Geographic-led campaign called "My Wonderful World." A statement on the program said it was designed to "inspire parents and educators to give their kids the power of global knowledge."

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