Young Adults Ill-Informed About The People, Places, And Cultures Of The World, Report Says

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Geographic Education Foundation, young adults in the United States are showing signs of isolation, lack of knowledge, and indifference towards the world’s people, places, and cultures. Despite constant news coverage of the war in Iraq, natural disasters around the globe, and the globalized marketplace, American youth appear ill-equipped to understand and engage with the global society.

The study reveals that a significant number of young adults lack even basic knowledge about the world, leaving them unprepared to navigate the complexities of a globalized world. Moreover, they fail to recognize the importance of developing such skills and knowledge.

The foundation’s 2006 Geographic Literacy Study found that a majority of young American adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have limited knowledge about countries beyond their own borders and do not consider the acquisition of basic geographic skills as crucial. This raises concerns about their ability to gain a comprehensive understanding of the world.

For instance, 60% of respondents were unable to locate Iraq on a map of the Middle East. Similarly, most participants were unaware that Indonesia is primarily a Muslim nation, and only 25% knew that Mandarin Chinese, not English, is the most widely spoken native language globally. A mere two-thirds were able to locate Louisiana on a map, even though it had recently been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Around half of the participants could identify New York state.

Roper Public Affairs, a New York City-based market research company, conducted the survey between late 2005 and early 2006. The study consisted of in-person interviews with a nationally representative sample of 510 young adults aged 18 to 24. The participants were asked to locate specific countries on a map, understand current events, and discuss various political and economic concerns. The survey also included questions about internet usage, map-reading abilities, foreign language proficiency, and international travel experiences.

To address the issue of geographic illiteracy, the educational branch of the National Geographic Society, along with other educational and advocacy organizations, launched a campaign on May 2nd. The campaign aims to enhance Americans’ knowledge of the world., an online resource offering geography facts, quizzes, curriculum materials, blogs, and advocacy strategies, will accompany print and broadcast advertisements to raise awareness about global issues and their connection to the United States.


  • ewanpatel

    I'm a 29-year-old educational bloger and teacher. I have been writing about education for about six years, and I have a B.A. in English from UC Santa Cruz. I also have a M.A. in English from San Francisco State University. I teach high school English in the Bay Area.