Why do Americans struggle with Geography?


If I asked you is Switzerland closer to the UK than Luxembourg? or What's the largest island in the Indian Ocean? Would you be able to answer without Googling it?

Why do Americans struggle with this?


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Most Helpful Girl

  • To be fair to them, I'm from the UK and I couldn't answer those questions, I'm hopeless at Geography :P

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Most Helpful Guy

  • I think there are two important reasons for this. First of all, as far as I can tell, having spent one year at an American high school, the American high school system sucks. I had classes where I learned a lot but I also had teachers that didn't teach me anything I didn't already know for the whole year. The French teacher at my American high school spoke about the same amount of French as I did, coming from Switzerland and having had 8 years of school French before I came to America.

    But I think there's another, MORE important reason: America is a freaking huge country and Americans are very typical big-country-people. I know about the difference between small-country-people and big-country-people very well myself because I come from a small country. Switzerland is only a third (!) of the size of Pennsylvania.
    So as a small-country-person I have often realized in my life that big-country-people tend to come across as somewhat ignorant. This is not only the case for Americans, it's also the case for all other citizens of big countries. For example Germans can also come across to us Swiss people as very ignorant. If you ask any Swiss person on the street about German culture, society and politics (and geography), they will be able to give you a detailed description. If you ask the average German person about Swiss culture, politics or geography, you will quickly realize... they have freaking idea. Many Germans think we Swiss people speak the same language (which is rather offensive) and they think we're basically some weirdos living in the mountains. The most they usually can say about us is "I know they pay really high salaries, which is why I wanna move their to work".
    Another good example for big-country-people coming across as idiots comes from my girlfriend's situation. My girlfriend comes from South Korea. Korea is a relatively small country compared to its neighbors China and Japan and it has for centuries been the little toy and bully victim of these two countries. I have lived in Korea with my girlfriend and I can tell you that especially Chinese tourists in Korea can come across as total idiots. They have absolutely no idea about the Korean culture and assume it's okay to just speak Chinese with everyone.

    So I think it's not something that has inherently to do with Americans. I think it's more of a problem that people share who live in large countries. Because they can travel so far away and are still in their home country, they get less

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    • opportunities to interact with other cultures and people from other countries. When they turn on their TVs, they only hear THEIR news and watch only THEIR game shows or talk shows. Because they live in such a huge country, they are captured in a bubble that keeps them separated from the reality outside that bubble. For small-country-people, this is radically different. When I turn on the TV in Switzerland, I also have German, French and Italian channels. In fact, most of the shows I watch are German, not Swiss. When I travel from my house into any direction, I get to a foreign country pretty soon. It only takes me about 20 minutes by train/car to Germany. To France it takes me 3,5 hours, to Italy 2,5 hours, to Austria 1,5 hours and to Liechtenstein (a country so small most people don't even know it!) about 1 hour. We Swiss people are forced in our every day life to know about the world around us. Small-country-people simply don't have the luxury of living in their own bubble ;-).

What Girls Said 4

  • lol... #generalisation211 this is mean. ill take one for the USA team and say i have no clue either lmao.

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  • LOL It was required to take an entire year of world geography in middle school and I still wouldn't know those things anymore. Unless there's some sort of interesting history or current events the information is just not there :P

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  • In middle school you end up having to write down every name of every country on a map. Then have a test over that map. That ends up being drilled into your head. I'm sure there are a lot of other people in other countries that don't know where a lot of other places are on a map.

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  • I wouldn't know either. Then do you know where Arlington is in America?

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    • Isn't that where JFK's eternal flame is? Well in the cemetery?

    • You dont even know. 😉

    • I think it's Texas, since JFK was assassinated over there...

What Guys Said 14

  • Don't make me bring out the map...

    dannyquah.files.wordpress.com/.../...g-to-usa1.jpg

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  • Uh we don't suck at it but to be fair you wouldn't be able to answer those questions regarding our own country without doing the same and some people even in your own countries can't answer those questions.

    People of all places, race and color will generally focus on the place they themselves live and nowhere else.

    Tell me without going to google maps or even google itself can you tell me the 4 states that surround Kansas my state and can you tell me what our main export is and how much of it we grow and produce?

    Tell me were did Alexander The Great come from? and what are the 5 countries that surround it?

    What Island nation is located between Japan and China and has been fought over or involved in their wars for hundreds and hundreds of years?

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    • So why are their so many videos around on how Americans are so stupid? How come your own people admit you're thick as mud?

      Alexander the Great of Macedon... so Macedonia, so I'm guessing places like Serbia, Bosnia, Greece, Albania, etc...

      Bordering Kansas... probably Tennessee, Ohio? Arkansas?

      These are EDUCATED guesses though, which is what we're so good this side of the sea. We actually think logically whereas you Americans will often respond stupidly :)

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    • Sorry I forgot to add that Switzerland is not closer to the UK then Luxembourg.

      @CHARismatic110 Thank you.

    • I gave it my best shot, and still you patronise me... grow up chump.

  • Because 'Murica is the center of da world apparently.

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  • It's not confined to Americans. It's also not surprising that people are going to focus on where they actually live, and worry about elsewhere later.

    www.buzzfeed.com/.../happy-thanksgiving-we-are-very-sorry

    Why do British people hate foreigners, especially Americans, so very much?

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    • why do you hate British people so much =/

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    • Asker, for a troll you've captured spot-on the smugness, arrogance and misplaced sense of superiority over everyone else.

    • Typical self-entitled bigot calling someone a troll HAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • I thinks that's a little bit unfair.
    I'm from Luxembourg, and I think it's quite normal that a lot of people in the US or asia don't know my tiny, insignificant country.

    I'm pretty sure there are a lot of europeans which don't know much about US geography too...

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    • what's the biggest US island or is Maine closer to Georgia or Wyoming?
      how many Europeans do you think know the answer to it? probably not that many

    • Well to be fair as an American I do know that Luxembourg is closer to the UK, your in between the upper parts of France and Germany with only Belgium in your way, before crossing the ocean and reaching the UK.

  • I'm an European and I don't know answer for those questions either. Can you name states of the United States?
    I don't really care about that information or find it necessary for anything.

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    • I can name them all.

      It's common knowledge really, and people who have a higher degree of common knowledge tend to be smarter.

    • Right, do they also tend to be condescending assholes or is that just you?

    • Why are you getting uptight lol? There's no need for this...

  • Because school system in America is shit, as cited by most Americans I met with. I probably know more about America than most Americans do.

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  • Because other parts of the world is unimportant to us and because we don't give a shit

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    • other parts of the world ARE*

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    • Eeehhhh I don't want to pleasure you that's what your body pillow and tea is probably for m8

    • I'll make sure I wipe my cum on that 5 page "essay".

  • I couldn't do it lol, I even get confused with American Geography at times

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    • but can you answer these US Geography Questions

      What is the Capital of the USA?
      What is the highest mountain in the USA?
      What River divides the Eastern US from the Western US?
      Name at least five American Cities besides New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.
      and finally what are the three most populous US States?
      No using google

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    • Ooops sorry.

      I'm going to say Florida, California and New Jersey lol

    • you're right about FLA and Cali, the next one is Texas

  • because we don't really have to know that, or even care to know that

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  • The same reason most non-americans struggle if you ask them to point out tennessee or missouri or south dakota on a map of the U. S.

    Switzerland has a population similar to the state of virginia. Every single U. S. state has more people than luxembourg. If you live in the U. S., which do you think matters to you more in terms of business, personal relationships, politics: another state in the u. s., or a small part of the E. U?

    Most non-americans know the big cities around the outside of the U. S. (NYC, miami, boston, LA) and are lost on the rest. The fact that the u. s. happens to be one country while western Europe is many doesn't mean the parts are less significant. If most non americans don't know much beyond NYC, chicago, LA, miami, 'texas', etc, then that's no better than basically knowing london, paris, berlin, 'italy'.

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  • Yes to Luxembourg being closer to the UK. As to the largest Island in the Indian Ocean I suppose that would be Madagascar.

    I lived in the UK for seven years and I found plenty of ignoramuses there. The biggest difference is not in how much they know but in their attitude to their ignorance. In Britain people are (or used to be, things seem to be changing) ashamed of their ignorance. Americans sometimes seem almost proud of it or at least unabashed. They are, like Sherlock Holmes, far more likely to respond to your question by saying, "who needs to know that?" now that you have told me I shall promptly forget it.

    If I had to guess as to why this is I would say it's a residue of the British class system. Learning is characteristic of the upper classes and so is valued by association, even when it has no practical use it is respected. Americans respect knowledge which can be turned to account, which has a practical value but not what they would call, 'trivia'.

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  • And they don't know other languages they stick with their own one word AMERICANS

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    • YES!!! I've spoken with people around the world and I was amazed by how fluent they were in English.

  • hey thats not true they know the route from their house to all the fast food places by heart

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