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National Geographic News
"Young Americans just don't seem to have much interest in the world outside of the U.S."
Young adults in the United States fail to understand the world and their place in it, according to a survey-based report on geographic literacy released today.
Take Iraq, for example. Despite nearly constant news coverage since the war there began in 2003, 63 percent of Americans aged 18 to 24 failed to correctly locate the country on a map of the Middle East. Seventy percent could not find Iran or Israel.
Nine in ten couldn't find Afghanistan on a map of Asia.
And 54 percent were unaware that Sudan is a country in Africa.
Remember the December 2004 tsunami and the widespread images of devastation in Indonesia?
Three-quarters of respondents failed to find that country on a map. And three-quarters were unaware that a majority of Indonesia's population is Muslim, making it the largest Muslim country in the world.
Young Americans answer about half (54 percent) of all the survey questions correctly. But by and large, majorities of young adults fail at a range of questions testing their basic geographic literacy.
- Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003.
- 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.
Final Report in pdf