We lack geography knowledge



A map of the World in a Vandegrift history classroom.

Nicholas Scoggins, Staff Reporter

One stereotype of Americans is that they lack knowledge of geography or the political systems of foreign countries. This stereotype however, unlike many, is unfortunately somewhat true. Because our country is so large and few of us ever have to leave it, many Americans don’t know the world around them. Here are some examples I have seen that have appalled me.

Probably the most common mistake I have heard is when someone refers to the entire UK as England. This is such a gross inaccuracy that it makes me fume every time I hear it. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of multiple countries, only one of which is England. Whales, Scotland and Northern Ireland make up the other countries of the union.  This brings me to another example. I overheard a group of people talking about a movie that takes place in London. One person mentioned a “Prime Minister of London.” This is a problem as London does not have a prime minister, it is a city with a mayor.

Another common one I hear often is that Czechoslovakia is still a nation. This would be fine if Czechoslovakia hadn’t broken up in the 1990s and became Slovakia and the Czech Republic. I believe that when most people refer to “Czechoslovakia” today, they are referring to the Czech Republic.  

This lack of geographical knowledge is also why TV shows and movies can get away with using fictional countries as the story’s setting. Some examples include the Emirate of Kunami from the TV show “Designated Survivor” or Chenaurus from the “Arma” video game series. With our lack of knowledge of geography, how many people do you think have believed these countries to be real?

Our lack of knowledge of the world around us has made us look stupid to people who live outside of the United States. We need to teach geography more in education so we can become more aware of the world around us. This is especially important in today’s day in age of great power competition. The world’s superpowers are fighting for influence once again, in Syria, in the South China Sea and in Latin America. If we do not address the deficiency in geography, our country may be swept into the dustbin of historical empires.