Nittany News Lehigh Valley

Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

A survey indicates most young Americans cannot identify countries on a map.

Back to Article
Back to Article

Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State


Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






It’s no secret that many Americans struggle with knowing about the complex geopolitical situations around the world. According to a survey done by National Geographic “[n]ine  in ten [Americans aged 18 to 24] couldn’t find Afghanistan on a map of Asia,” http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/05/0502_060502_geography.html despite the fact America has been engaged in a war in Afghanistan for years.  “63% … failed to correctly locate [Iraq] on a map of the Middle East. Seventy percent could not find Iran or Israel.” http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/05/0502_060502_geography.html This is interesting because many Americans have strong opinions about the current geopolitics of this region of the world, or think they know what is the current situation in the Middle East.

I thought I would replicate this study done by National Geographic with 10 students.  Out of the 10 students I questioned only 3 could identify Afghanistan, 3 could identify Iraq, 2 could identify Iran, and 6 could identify Israel. The results of my small survey seem to be similar to the results of the National Geographic survey, with most respondents not being able identify the countries except Israel.  

Perhaps this geographical illiteracy can be contributed to the lack of an international focus in many high school curricula. In my high school experience I was required to take 3 years of American history, but was only able to take only one class focusing on international subjects. What my survey as well as the National Geographic survey tell us is that more needs to be done to give young Americans a more international perspective.

Navigate Left
  • Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

    Campus Life

    Etiquette and an Exquisite Meal

  • Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

    Campus Life

    Have Nothing To Do During Common Hour? Try One Of These Things!

  • Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

    Campus Life

    Getting Involved

  • Campus Life

    Agriculture Career Fair

  • Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

    Campus Life

    A Working College Student

  • Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

    Campus Life

    PSULV’s Ping Pong Tournament

  • Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

    Campus Life

    Fun Fall Activities in the Valley

  • Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

    Campus Life

    The Start of a New Club?

  • Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

    Campus Life

    Merrymead Farm

  • Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State

    Campus Life

    Blue and White Society Annual Bash

Navigate Right
The Student News Site of Penn State Lehigh Valley
Geographical Illiteracy in Penn State