A map from a Buzzfeed poll in which Americans failed to dazzle.
When it comes to geographic literacy, we Americans tend to score embarrassingly low. In a poll involving a world map and hundreds of 18 to 24 year olds, six percent couldn’t find their own country, two thirds couldn’t pinpoint Great Britain, and seventy-five percent were unable to locate Israel or Iran.
(How is your geographic literacy? Take the poll here.)
In another survey, 30% of young Americans couldn’t find the Pacific Ocean on a world map. Now that’s disturbing.
Having entertained more than 100 visitors, most from the USA, I can personally attest that many arrive in Seville expecting a sort of European edition of Mexico, complete with spicy food, giant sombreros, and hazardous tap water. (This confusion is so pervasive that local souvenir stands now carry giant sombreros for tourists, and locals struggle to contain their derisive laughter when foreigners wear these hats
in public.) I spend a considerable amount of time debunking myths and showing family and friends the real pleasures of the city, including congenial tapas bars, colorful festivals, and some truly quirky points of interest.
In a spirit of public service, I wrote down my best recommendations and assembled my published articles, posting everything on my website. What did I include? I’m so glad you asked.
HOW TO ENJOY SEVILLE
My Favorite Tapas Bars
Eating Tapas Like a Sevillano
Where to Find Great Flamenco
Just 24 Hours in Seville? No Problem
10 Oddball Things To Do in Seville
5 Tips for Picking Great Tapas Bars in Seville
Seville Sip by Sip
A Practical Guide to Napping
My Blog Archives, Seville
Maybe I should be adding a section of maps, too.
Whatever we can learn about other countries is useful for boosting cultural literacy — something that's important for everybody, not just Americans. It turns out that the good people of Great Britain are pretty geographically challenged, too. In a recent poll, nearly a third of Britons couldn’t identify Portugal (many confused it with France) and a quarter of them couldn’t find Spain. “Even more worrying,” noted the report, “was the fact that 24 per cent couldn’t locate Ireland.”
And when it comes to a grasp of US geography — well, the map below shows the only two states one UK resident was able to identify in a survey. "We really wish we could tell you this is the worst attempt," wrote Buzzfeed, who conducted the survey. "It’s not even close."
Yikes! I guess we all need to get out more.
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I'm an American writer living in Seville, Spain and traveling the world with my husband, Rich. I make frequent trips to the USA, especially my native California, because America is something you have to stay in practice for, and I don't want to lose my touch.
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San Anslemo, CA