Here’s a little bit of unsettling news about America’s worldly awareness.
A survey of nearly 2,000 adult Americans found just 36 percent could accurately identify North Korea on a map. And interestingly, the survey also showed that a person’s ability to identify North Korea on a map is linked to their views on diplomacy.
North Korea is where?
The survey, conducted by The New York Times, asked 1,746 adults to point to North Korea on a map. Most people pointed to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan and other countries in Asia.
And according to the survey, participants who correctly identified North Korea on the map were more interested in engaging in diplomatic strategies rather than military ones.
This could be due to a few reasons. One might be that “geographic knowledge” can help a person better understand and synthesize global news. This theory is consistent with a similar experiment conducted about Ukraine in 2014.
In the 2014 study, researchers asked Americans to find Ukraine on a map. Then, they asked them whether or not they supported military intervention in the country. The farther a survey respondent’s guess was from locating the actual Ukraine, the more likely they were to favor military action.
Can you locate North Korea on the map below? A few of the countries’ names have been blurred out. Can you find the correct location of North Korea?
In case you’re not sure where to start, we’ve zoomed in on the map:
Still need a little help with the answer? Click to the next page.
Here it is:
Another possible reason for many not being able to locate countries on maps be that geography isn’t a priority subject in many schools.
According to a 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office, more than half of eighth grade social science teachers spent less than 10 percent of class time teaching geography. And according to the same report, just 17 states require a geography course in middle school.
Meanwhile only 10 states require the course in high school. Of course—as important as geography is—when you think about its educational value stacked against math or reading, it’s easy to understand why it’s not getting top-billing.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear that many of us could stand to brush up on our world knowledge. Time to go out and buy a globe!