you name the world’s most spoken primary language? The largest consumer
of oil? The most heavily fortified border on the planet? The current
population of the U.S.?
We tested the geography knowledge of 18- to 24-year-olds across the U.S. to see how much they know about our world. Young Americans answered about half (54 percent) of all the survey
questions correctly. But by and large, majorities of young adults fail
at a range of questions testing their basic geographic literacy.
- Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003.
- 6 in 10 young Americans don’t speak a foreign language fluently.
- 20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia. (It’s the largest country in Africa.)
- 48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India is Muslim. (It’s Hindu—by a landslide.)
- Half of young Americans can’t find New York on a map.
results suggest that young people in the United States—the most
recent graduates of our educational system—are unprepared for an increasingly global future.
Far too many lack even the most basic skills for navigating the
international economy or understanding the relationships among people
and places that provide critical context for world events. Make sure you help your kids build the knowledge that they need!