When Americans took on Europeans in a geography test…

The U.S vs Europeans interactive test that shows that Americans really AREN’T very good at geography (with only 28% able to pinpoint Syria on a blank map)

  • 1,000 Europeans and Americans were asked to point out 16 countries on a blank world map 
  • Only 28 per cent of Americans were able to point to Syria on a map compared to 43 per cent of Europeans 
  • Americans were also asked to pinpoint 11 European countries and Europeans to pinpoint 10 U.S states

It’s sometimes said that Americans aren’t so hot on geography – and a new survey offers evidence that they really aren’t.

Or at least, they’re not as good as Europeans.

In a U.S vs Europeans geography test, the Europeans beat the Americans hands down. In the test, 1,000 people from both places were asked to locate 16 countries on a blank interactive world map by clicking on its location.

In a geography test, 1,000 Americans and Europeans were asked to identify 16 countries on a blank world map. In each instance Europeans fared better

They were asked to identify China, India, Japan, North Korea, Vietnam, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Syria, Morocco, Somalia, Nigeria, Brazil and Venezuela.

And the results of the test, set up by Holiday Cottages, showed that Europeans were universally more apt at identifying world countries than Americans. 

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Out of all the locations that people were asked to point out, China was the most frequently recognised of all.

A total of 84.6 per cent of Americans could correctly identify the country, but Europeans narrowly beat them on 88.7 per cent.

A chart showing the data collected during the survey. A total of 51.2 per cent of respondents were able to find North Korea on a blank world map. The blue dots show guesses by Americans, while the red dots show the European answers 

But in other cases, the gap was much more pronounced. Just 28.2 per cent of Americans were able to point to Syria on a map – the same country that is currently home to approximately 2,000 U.S. soldiers.

In comparison, 43.7 percent of Europeans knew where Syria was.

Meanwhile, Nigeria was the country Europeans were least likely to recognize – only 39 per cent correctly identified it. But just 23 per cent of Americans did so. 

Venezuela – a country currently teetering on the edge of civil war – was correctly identified by under half of both demographics’ respondents.

Bolivia was the country most commonly confused for Venezuela, followed by Colombia, Peru, and Argentina.

A table showing the overall scores for the test. China was the most easily recognised country

The survey also tested Europeans on their geographical knowledge of the U.S. by asking them to identify 10 US states on a blank map – California, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Alabama, Wyoming, New York, Illinois and Kentucky. 

The results showed that states that receive a high volume of tourists every year – such as Florida and California – were pinpointed fairly accurately.

More than 76 per cent of Europeans identified the Sunshine State correctly, and nearly 80 per cent were able to spot California.

Europeans were asked to correctly find 10 US states on a blank map. In this case only 28.8% could correctly find Kentucky 

But states closer to the centre of the country gave Europeans a run for their money.

Locations like Colorado, Kentucky, and Wyoming yielded guesses from coast to coast, with less than 35 per cent of respondents accurately identifying each one.

And surprisingly, even though New York City has no shortage of European tourists walking its streets every year, only 29.6 per cent were able to pinpoint the state on a map.

Instead, guesses had it located at points all along the northeastern seaboard, with a smattering of people placing it somewhere in the Midwest.

Americans were also tested on their knowledge of Europe and asked to identify 11 countries – Spain, the UK, Portugal, France, Germany, Norway, Greece, Ukraine, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Croatia.

Spain was the country most easily recognised – so much for the special relationship – with 70 per cent of Americans locating it. 

The UK was next, with 69 per cent able to pinpoint it.  

France nipped at their heels with a 68 per cent recognition rate but at the other end of the spectrum, Croatia was the least recognised country at just 21.1 per cent. And just nine per cent of those in the ‘baby boomer’ age bracket could locate it.

Americans were tested on their knowledge of Europe and asked to identify 11 countries. Only 23.2 per cent correctly found the Czech Republic 

It was often confused for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, and Serbia instead.

Scandinavia proved to be another perplexing region for American respondents, with only 52.3 per cent able to properly locate Norway.

Ukraine also proved difficult. Only 45 per cent could identify it and 15.2 per cent pointed to neighbouring Belarus instead. 

A glance at the results shows that some respondents probably skipped every geography lesson at school, because there are some markers in truly wayward positions. 

For example, nine people confused Russia for Spain, 15 people were convinced that Kazakhstan was Germany, and three lost souls confused Denmark for Uzbekistan.

And while Brazil was accurately pointed out by nearly all of the respondents, some guessers placed this country inside of India, Algeria, and even Kazakhstan. 

Were they taking the test seriously? It’s impossible to know, but the researchers tried to mitigate against abuse.

They noted: ‘Because this was a survey, we understand not everyone may have taken it completely seriously, so while we show every mouse click, our density maps only show countries with at least five clicks each.’ 

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