Tuesday, May 02, 2006

2006 Survey of Geographic Literacy

The National Geographic Society recently sponsored a survey of 18 to 24 year-old Americans. While some of the questions in the survey have been criticized (such as asking which of 5 cities is the setting for the TV show CSI), then results are predictibably frightening.

Americans are far from alone in the world, but from the perspective of many young Americans, we might as well be. Most young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 demonstrate a limited understanding of the world, and they place insufficient importance on the basic geographic skills that might enhance their knowledge. They answered about half (54 percent) of the survey questions correctly. Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003. Here are a few "highlights:"

  • 6 in 10 young Americans don't speak a foreign language fluently.
  • 20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia. (It's the largest country in Africa.)
  • 48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India is Muslim. (It's Hindu—by a landslide.)
  • Half of young Americans can't find New York on a map.

via National Geographic