Children in the UK have an even poorer grasp on basic geography than those children in the USA

Hogwarts is a real landmark, Dorset is a US state and the English Channel is an ocean…

 A recent poll commissioned by Travelzoo, the UK’s top travel and entertainment deals provider, revealed that despite 71% of British citizens owning a passport compared to just 39% of Americans, children in the UK fell behind their US counterparts on basic geography questions.

In order to inspire the travellers of the future, Travelzoo launched ‘Map the World’ app for iPads on 20 November; a timed digital jigsaw puzzle of the countries of the world designed for families to complete together. The free iPad app can be downloaded from the app store, with Sir Ranulph Fiennes hailing it as ‘an excellent tool for teaching children about the countries of the world in an engaging way’. The app will offer downloaders the opportunity to donate to a very worthy cause called Open Arms Malawi


Some of the survey findings show:


  • More than 25% of UK children couldn’t name the country of the world which resembled a boot – with just 15% of children from the US failing to name Italy as the boot-shaped land mass.


  • Only 63% of UK children could name Washington D.C as the capital city of the USA, whereas 93% of US children could name London as the capital city of the UK.


  • More than 10% of UK children think Dorset and Yorkshire are states in the USA with 15% thinking Brazil is also a state and 17% thinking Sydney is a state too!


  • 19% of UK children think The Nile is one of the five oceans of the world, with just 7% of US children agreeing.


  • Even more shockingly, 25% of UK children think the English Channel is an ocean compared to just under 5% of children living in the USA.


  • 11% of UK children thought that Hogwarts, the famous but fictional school in Harry Potter was actually a real landmark compared to 3% of children based in the USA.

The government has recognised the need to update the geography curriculum and in September 2014, changes will be made. The Department of Education has said ‘Teaching should ensure that geographical enquiry and skills are used when developing knowledge and understanding of places, patterns and processes.’ Map the World has been developed to help school-aged children to improve their geography knowledge in a fun way.


So does your child’s school teach your children where countries of the world are and what capital cities are? Or do you feel this is lacking? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this area so let us know below.

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