Where is North Korea? Some Americans have no idea

Now these people, asked on Hollywood Boulevard by the Jimmy Kimmel show to find North Korea on a map, are clearly not a random subset of Americans. In fact, they’re probably better educated. I show this not to make fun of the people (though they seem to think that North Korea is near either Greenland or the Middle East), but to show how abysmally ignorant many of us are about what goes on in the rest of the world. As the Torygraph pointed out three years ago, a poll shows that the problem is pervasive:

A National Geographic poll [JAC: This was in 2006, but I doubt things have changed] of over 500 young Americans, aged 18 to 24, showed that six per cent failed to locate their own country on a map of the world.

Among those with a high school education or less, the figure was one in ten. Only one in three could find Great Britain on a map.

In the same group, two thirds of the respondents estimated the population of the US at between 750 million and two billion (actual figure: 298 million).

Three quarters said English was the most commonly spoken native language in the world. It is actually third, behind Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.

There is an old joke that war was invented to teach Americans geography, but that no longer seems to be true.

In the same National Geographic poll, conducted three years after the Iraq War began, only 37 per cent of young Americans could find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.

The same percentage could point out Saudi Arabia.

Only one in four could locate Israel or Iran.

Even among college students, only 23 per cent found all four countries.

99 Comments

  1. Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    As Mark Twain supposedly said, “God created war so Americans would learn geography.”

    I might have read that here.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Mark Twain may well be the most misquoted man in human history. A good many things attributed to him aren’t his; many things he did say get attributed to others and a lot of the things he did say are not quoted correctly.

      • nicky
        Posted August 13, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Simple: if for a good quote you don’t know whose’s quote it is, you attribute it to Mark Twain.

        • stuartcoyle
          Posted August 13, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          Or George Bernard Shaw.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 13, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

            Or Churchill or Yogi Berra.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:29 am | Permalink

              Or Oscar Wilde.

              cr

        • boggy
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:13 am | Permalink

          ‘The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible’ Mark Twain (I think).

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    As I have said several times before, the US is living the movie Idiocracy.

  3. Fernando
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    And maybe education will widen the gap.

  4. Randy schenck
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to America. I wonder if they asked Trump?

    • BobTerrace
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      If there is a golf course nearby, Trump would know where it is.

      • jwthomas
        Posted August 13, 2017 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        In fact the whole current “crisis” is merely a dodge to frighten NK into allowing a Trump golf course to be built there.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Trump was confused on his trip to the Middle East and Europe. He thought he was in one when he was actually in the other. I doubt whether he’d do much better than Kimmel’s guests.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        I’m pretty sure he has never been to S. Korea or to the far east at all. It does not matter because he knows someone who has been there. Funny because the Koreans, the Japanese, are nuts for golf.

    • nicky
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      We have good reason to believe he does’t: he thought that a flotilla near the Sunda Strait heading South was approaching North Korea.
      I find that particularly strange for a real estate huckster, whose motto would be: “location, location, location!”

  5. dabertini
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, jimmy kimmel did the same thing with GMO’s. Most interviewed on camera did not know what they were but felt they should be banned.

    • David Duncan
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of this hoax:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dihydrogen_monoxide_hoax

      Some people don’t deserve the vote.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:36 am | Permalink

        Highly dangerous stuff that. Readily dissociates into hydrogen hydroxide or hydroxic acid. When heated, has been responsible for more explosions than any other chemical compound.

        cr

  6. phil brown
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I think three people pointed to Canada or Greenland area!

    Also, one in four Americans think the sun goes around the Earth:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/02/14/277058739/1-in-4-americans-think-the-sun-goes-around-the-earth-survey-says

    • Craw
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      The sun does go around the Earth. This is simple General Relativity.

      • Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        I understand from various sources (several physicists and philosophers of physics) that this isn’t quite true – but I’ll let them chime in.

  7. Zach
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    …are clearly not a random subset of Americans.

    Well, no. They’re the subset of those who were asked and didn’t know. If I interviewed enough people anywhere I could get the same effect.

    Still though, the average American is abysmally ignorant about the rest of the world. And unfortunately this matters, because they elect the “leader of the free” portion of it.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Asked and did not know in a funny way.

      Biased anecdote, for sure.

  8. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I found a 2003 statistic from a Swedish national high school test [ http://dspace.mah.se:8080/bitstream/handle/2043/8157/Geografirapport.pdf?sequence=1 ]. (There has been some criticism on general lowering when compared with other nations, but as far as I know that trend stabilized last year.)

    The number of people who could not place Germany as a nation in Europe was ~ 10 %, which was roughly the same number that answered that they did not take the test seriously. But only ~ 3/4 could place Hungary in Europe or Vietnam in Asia. 😦

    To be fair, if asked on an anonymous map I would have trouble with Korea during early life. It was not until I visited Asia that I started to place the Thailand/Vietnam –
    – visited Angkor Vat of course – peninsula with certainty in relation to Korea. And after reading about Wallace et cetera biogeography I have now two anchors for getting that correct.

    • Filippo
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      I certainly became familiar with South Vietnam’s location no later than when young men in my Tennessee county starting being killed there, especially my mother’s first cousin.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted August 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        When I was a kid, I thought we were at war with the USSR because when I heard about the conflict in South Vietnam on TV, I thought they were talking about “Soviet Nam.”

  9. Phil Rounds
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    It’s over there in Asia, like that Steely Dan song or the prog rock band (points to his rekkord collection).

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    It’s of course why there should be certain mandated subject matters in middle and high school curricula.

    I was largely saved from this folly by spending my final kindergarten year in Germany, and my first year of junior high school in England, where it’s called secondary school. (There was actually a brief interval where I knew more about Brit history than American.)

  11. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    What? Americans can’t locate North Korea on a map?

    How could anyone forget the question, posed to Miss South Carolina 10 years ago, back in 2007, at the Miss Teen USA pageant: “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?” and how could anyone forget her priceless and pitifully hilarious response, which beautifully captures all of the idiocy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww :

    • Randy schenck
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Did she win?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Wow! I’ve seen some bad beauty pageant answers, but that one …

      I can’t say I’m surprised that many USians don’t know where North Korea is.

      Many don’t know where NZ is either, so I’m used to it.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        Re “Wow! I’ve seen some bad beauty pageant answers, but that one …”

        Until I read that, I hadn’t been aware of the copious library of video clips of beauty pageant contestants saying and doing idiotic things, from ignorant statements to exhibiting strange talents, or say, singing or playing an instrument, but not in tune. Now endless hours of entertainment. It’s not as if they didn’t know they were being filmed.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:43 am | Permalink

      Now that is a classic. An almost completely content-free answer.

      To be fair to contestants, it must be bloody hard to sound intelligent on a random subject at a couple of seconds’ notice, unless it’s one you have by chance been thinking about. I’m not sure I could do much better. Once the other contestants have exhausted world peace poverty hunger and democracy, what’s left to pontificate about?

      cr

  12. Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Nothing surprising here. In 1980, during the Iran crisis, I was dating a girl who saw a map of the United States on my wall, and asked me where Iran was on the map. She was a college student.

  13. W.Benson
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    East Timor, anyone? I always mix up Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, even before the breakup of Yugoslavia.

    • Perluigi Ballabeni
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      I do not understand the relationship between Yugoslavia and those three countries.

    • W.Benson
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Because when Yugoslavia still existed, there was no Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia snuggled up to BRH to cause confusion, not to mention the absence of Bosnia/Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo as they exist today.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        You are giving me a headache.

  14. Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    To be fair to Americans, I believe many Europeans have trouble finding Oregon, or Tennessee on a map.

    Perhaps if Oregon had nukes on its own, and were featured occasionally in the news, more would know where it is. And perhaps if Tennessee had a queen, more than one in three knew about it.

    • Perluigi Ballabeni
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      I think you are right. In Switzerland when people complain that Americans keep confusing Sweden with Switzerland (two supposedly small, neutral, boring countries) I ask them whether they can tell the difference between Wyoming and Wisconsin. They usually can’t.

      • Mark R.
        Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Just to be fair, there are very minor cultural differences between those two (or any two) US states. There are major cultural differences between Sweden and Switzerland.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

          Switzerland is where you take your money.

          • Steve Pollard
            Posted August 13, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            And Sweden is where you leave your money (judging by the liquor prices, anyway).

        • Perluigi Ballabeni
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:55 am | Permalink

          Yes. But Switzerland was the first non Scandinavian country to get Ikea. 🙂 There are also major cultural differences among the three main linguistic areas of Switzerland: when I left Italian Switzerland to study in German Switzerland I often felt treated like a foreigner.

          • kirbmarc
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 3:42 am | Permalink

            Are you from Ticino as well, or from Grigioni?

            In any case, yes, German Switzerland (and French Switzerland) are very, very different from Italian Switzerland.

      • Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Still, it is countries being asked to locate not States/regions inside a countries borders.
        I know i’d have trouble with American states.
        Take Britain for example, would you know were Sussex is, or Yorkshire.

        • Taz
          Posted August 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          I imagine many Europeans would have trouble identifying Central American nations.

          Unfortunately, so would many Americans.

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted August 13, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

            I know which countries are there, but I frequently misremember the sequence. I know that Panama is the last one (bordering on Columbia) and Belize (formerly British Honduras) is just off the southern end of Mexico, and there’s Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but don’t ask me to draw a map.

            • E.A. Blair
              Posted August 13, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

              However, show me a map and I know which is which.

      • kirbmarc
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:01 am | Permalink

        Wyoming borders Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota. It’s the first US state that gave voting rights to women and the first state to have a woman as a governor, and I think it’s the least populous US state. The state capital is Cheyenne.

        It usually votes for Republican candidates and it went to Donald Trump in 2016.

        Wisconsin borders Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. It has a coastline on Lake Superior and one on Lake Michigan. It’s famous for being producing dairy products, especially cheese. A lot more people live there than in Wyoming. The state capital is Madison, although the largest city is Milwaukee.

        It’s a swing state, but it used to support Democratic candidates since the Eighties. Donald Trump won the state in 2016, though. /geek

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:22 am | Permalink

          Wisconsin doesn’t have coastline; it has shoreline. Geographically speaking, only areas that front on oceans have coastline. Connecticut, for example, has only shoreline because its water boundary is on Long Island Sound, not the Atlantic Ocean.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      To be fair to Americans, I believe many Europeans have trouble finding Oregon, or Tennessee on a map.

      North and south sides of the Mason-Dixie line – the first railway line in America. Of course. Eny fule nose.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:25 am | Permalink

        “Dixon”, not “Dixie” when you’re talking about the line.

    • nicky
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      Well Tenessee and Oregon are easy. I once mixed up Iowa and Ohio on a blind map.

      • nicky
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        But that was long ago. Just tested myself on a blind map, and to my deep shame I have to admit I mixed up Arizona and New Mexico. Of course I knew Arizona is West of NM, but I just failed.

    • Posted August 14, 2017 at 3:45 am | Permalink

      They’re states, not countries. I doubt most people could pick out Queensland and Victoria; I would only despair if they couldn’t find Australia.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Entirely agreed.

        There are degrees of this. I couldn’t distinguish Latvia from Estonia, or Missouri from Minnesota. On the other hand, I’d feel deeply embarrassed if I placed them anywhere other than northern-Europe-near the Baltic, or midwest USA, respectively.

        BUT – California, or New York, or Portugal, or Greece – prominent states or countries with definite ‘personalities’ – I could identify precisely.

        Oregon or Tennessee? – I could point to their general location. I wouldn’t, for example, place them in Mexico or Canada. Same goes for most African countries (could anyone here point to Burkina Faso?)

        cr

  15. Fernando
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The most striking thing is the reluctancy to admit ignorance. We learned nothing from Socrates.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      I learned to not drink hemlock.

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I understand that many Americans are dicey on the location of Guam, too.

    I know just where it is. My old man was there for a little set-to with the Japanese in the summer of ’44. He’d point it out on the globe sometimes to my brother and me, when he’d barge into our bedroom to tell us to turn the goddamn music down.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      I have been there three or four times back in the 80s. Lovely place if you like hot and humid beyond anything you have seen. The only other place that comes close where I have been is the Philippines. It takes about 30 minutes to get from one end of Guam to the other. Anderson AFB on one end, town in the Middle and Navy on the other end. Actually the Navy pulled out of Guam and now may be back.

      They flew B52s to Vietnam during that conflict and later the bombers moved out. Then they put these B1B bombers in there. There is also the Waikiki of Guam where all the Hotels and Tourist hang out. Mostly Japanese tourist. We use to say, the rich Japanese go to Hawaii and the middle class go to Guam. That is pretty much the way it goes.

      The local people are the Chamorro and they are very nice people.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      I understand that many Americans are dicey on the location of Guam, too.

      What puzzles me is why on earth is their head of state (interviewed on the radio a couple of days ago) an American?

      • Randy schenck
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 7:16 am | Permalink

        I believe the head of Govt. is Eddie Baza Calvo and Trump or whoever the president may be is the head of state. Guam is a Territory of the U.S. not a state.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

          Ah, a colony. Iron boot, native’s neck, as is traditional?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

            White man’s burden, old boy.

      • Posted August 14, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Because the US has colonies, effectively.

  17. Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I remember babysitting my 8 year old nephew and he was not only able to name every South American country but identify their flags.

    Not a geography prodigy, just a soccer fan educating himself via FIFA video games and sticker books.

    I think US kids might have a greater knowledge of the world if they just developed an interest in what the rest of the world does for fun.

  18. Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I have a neat way of remembering where North Korea is on the map. First, find South Korea. Then move your finger upwards.

  19. Brad Mallard
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Simply SHAMEFUL. Blame parents, blame educational system, blame the entertainment industry.

    • nicky
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Blame Obama. After all, he’s from Kenya somewhere in Indonesia.

  20. Mark R.
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Can Betsy DeVos save our ignorant nation? Perhaps teaching creationism will help.

  21. Craw
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    It bears repeating. That 6% includes people taking the piss. People react to being asked stupid questions. If I were asked by a pollster to identify Canada on a map I would point to Guam.

  22. Gareth Price
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Several years back I heard the poll about many Americans being unable to find Iraq on a map. So I printed off a map of the Middle East, took it into work and challenged my American friends to find Iraq. When I showed them the map, they all politely pointed out that I was supposed to have printed a blank map without the names. I guess they didn’t get my British sense of humour.

  23. John Taylor
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    North of South Korea!

  24. E.A. Blair
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    For part of my misspent youth I was an avid wargamer, and while the map/playing boards were not perfect geographic representations, they were good enough to let me see the relative locations and distances. From time to time, I take out my atlas and give it a thorough going over. Unlike a typical USian, there are probably very few countries I cannot locate on an uncaptioned map.

    I remember as a pre-schooler that my favorite aunt (who was a schoolteacher and taught me to read by the time I was three) gave me a series of maps on which I had to cut out the shapes of the countries printed on different colored paper and glue them into place on the background sheet. I then had to cut out and glue in shapes representing the cities and resources of the various countries. By the time I started school, I had assembled maps of Europe, Asia and both Americas. Maybe the grade school I went to was exceptional, but I can also recall having to make freehand drawings of all the continents and their nations on graph paper using only latitude and longitude co-ordinates as guides. That’s the kind of class exercise that seems to be long gone.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      “… my favorite aunt (who was a schoolteacher and taught me to read by the time I was three) …”

      I taught my kid brother to add & subtract, multiply & divide by the time he was four. We shared a bedroom, and this was before we had a stereo or tv, let alone any of the modern techno-appurtenances kids have nowadays. I taught him what I was learning from the nuns in math class, in the dark, out of pure unadulterated boredom.

      When we showed our parents what he could do with numbers, they thought for a while the kid must be some kinda prodigy. Little did they know he was just Helen Keller, to my Annie Sullivan. 🙂

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted August 13, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        The way my aunt taught me how to read was by having me sit in her lap while she was doing the newspaper crossword puzzle. I used to ask her about what she was writing, and she told me the letters’ names. Then she taught me how to put them together to be words by guiding me to the headlines. By the time I was three years old, I was literate enough to read the comic strips. My parents thought I was just repeating things that had been read to me. On 13 July 1960, my father brought in the newspaper and I read out the headline: “Minnesota Puts Kennedy On Top” My father demanded to know who told me what that said, so I demonstrated my literacy by reading the other headlines and the comics pages, something my aunt had taught me well before than.

        I wanted to find out what that date was, so I went to the local library to look up that headline and see on which date it was published. Since then, I have kept careful track of significant dates in my life. It kept me in good stead with my late wife when I not only remembered our anniversarie(s), bur even commemorated the day of our first date and other significant dates in our relationship.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      My sisters and I had a number of jigsaws which assembled into cartoon-y maps of Eire (the island), Britain, and Europe, decorated with local famous sites (New Grange, the Blarney Stone, assorted cathedrals, yadda yadda). The information stuck.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 5:01 am | Permalink

        Well, I’ve always loved maps of all kinds. Good maps, that is, bad maps make me angry.
        So my geographical knowledge is fairly good.

        I find the spread of GPS has greatly impaired the local geographical knowledge of drivers. I’ve travelled with a driver who’d lived in Auckland for six months and didn’t know where the suburbs were in relation to each other, because he’d always just used his GPS.

        I found the same myself – if I did a trip on GPS (in a hire car), I really had no idea where I’d been unless I made a point of loading Google Maps and working out what my route must have been.

        cr

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 14, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          Oh, I’m very much old-school myself. GPS : yeah, it’s a useful tool. Damned all use when the battery has died (my first GPS would eat a set of high-grade AAs in 8 hours, so for a weekend trip you’d need the GPS’s weight in batteries if you wanted it’s barograph function too).
          Read the map – 20 seconds or so ; plot your route ; then when the route-finding algorithm or mapping database in your SatNav conspire to send you to infinity and beyond, just blithely ignore them.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 14, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

            Well, having picked up a car at Montpellier station, I set the GPS for Millau – and as I drove out of the station car park, right there was a little road sign that said just ‘Millau’** (!). So I followed that and subsequent signs out of Montpellier, studiously ignoring the GPS that kept telling me to turn down side streets (it defaulted to ‘shortest route’).

            But from Garabit to Die, through secondary roads in isolated rolling country in the Massif Central, with no obvious preferred route, I just let the GPS lead me and it found some lovely almost-deserted country roads.

            On the other hand, in Italy, it twice led me through the middle of towns with the mirrors brushing the buildings on both sides and me praying nothing would come the other way because trying to back up in the Jeep Renegade was a nightmare.

            And on several main roads where deviations had been built it tried to take me on the ‘old road’ which was usually a narrow rutted track – a couple of times I let it, just for the hell of it.

            So GPS is useful if treated with care and discretion!

            cr
            ** Yes, huge coincidence, since Millau is a small town (with a huge viaduct) 70 miles away. I suppose it’s a convenient waypoint on the A75 towards Paris.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted August 20, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

              Well, having picked up a car at Montpellier station, I set the GPS for Millau

              OK, well, I know where Montpellier is, and I now have a considerably better idea of where Millau is – presumably of the much-Discoveryed Viaduct.

              Millau is a […] convenient waypoint on the A75 towards Paris

              Which was, allegedly, the reason for the Viaduct. Huge traffic jams each way during the annual Paris – Riviera migration.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted August 20, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

                That’s right, and also the A75 is a free (i.e. non-toll) motorway except, I believe, for the viaduct itself. Which I didn’t pay since I turned off before so as to actually see the viaduct.

                And 80 miles north (and a century older) is another remarkable viaduct, Garabit. As constructed by M. Eiffel.

                But when I said ‘waypoint’ I just meant, a navigational point, not any sort of destination. Since Millau itself hardly rates as a significant destination, even less now the viaduct has bypassed it.

                cr

  25. jwthomas
    Posted August 13, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    When I was a child one of my obsessions was with a
    lovely world globe that sat in my room and which I pored over daily thinking about how wonderful it would be to visit those far off places with strange sounding names. And as an adult I visited quite a few of them as a tourist. Do kids no longer have world globes in their rooms?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 13, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      I still keep a globe in my bedroom, and one of those coffee-table-sized historical atlases, too (although the latter’s been pressed into service to prop up the flat-screen, which doesn’t quite fit on the stand for the last tv. But, hey, at least I always know where to find it now — and once I’ve found it, where to find pretty much anything else on the face of the earth.)

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 14, 2017 at 5:11 am | Permalink

        I’ve got several of those coffee-table sized atlases (not historical, current). Though largely superseded by Google Maps, before my recent trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway I sorted out the best atlas and scanned all the largest-scale maps as PDF’s and loaded them into my smartphone (I wasn’t going to pay data charges to use Google Maps live). With the ability to zoom in, in conjunction with the timetable they were actually useful in tracking the train’s progress – my Russian fellow-travellers were just as interested in the maps as I was.

        But many countries now have large-scale maps available on line – for New Zealand for example, there’s topomap.co.nz which uses the LINZ (government mapping agency) maps.

        cr

  26. Dave
    Posted August 14, 2017 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Yes, a globe is a great way to teach a child the basics of world geography. As a child I also picked up a huge amount of geographic and cultural knowledge from the simple hobby of stamp-collecting, a pastime that was very common among kids of my generation but has probably vanished now. There’s very little you can’t learn about a country from its stamps. History, politics, language, sports, geography, flora and fauna – it’s all there.

  27. Posted August 14, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    So now we’ve established that we all have blind spots with respect to geography, the next question is “how much does it matter?”

    There are certain things about Korea that probably are important to know such as the fact that it has a border with China and that it is on the other side of the Pacific to the USA but close to Japan. Beyond that, I think its history since 1950 is far more important.


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  1. […] this section on a lighter note, courtesy of whyevolutionistrue. This little piece titled “Where is North Korea? Some Americans have no idea” reminds us how unacquainted USians are with that area known as the rest of the world! Here […]

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