Story at a glance:

  • Barely half of 2,000 Americans know where key landmarks like the Grand Canyon are located.
  • Some people thought Illinois' Shawnee National Forest was in Ireland and Ontario and New York State’s Niagara Falls was in Iceland.
  • Our educational system does not prioritize grade students to know where national landmarks are.

From believing the Grand Canyon is in Colorado to thinking Niagara Falls is in Iceland, some Americans are a little confused about their national geography. However, as a new survey of 2,000 respondents reveals, they’re also much more confident in their skills than they probably should be.

Most Americans are confident in their own geographic abilities, but in a recent survey, that confidence might have been ignorance as most tend to get locations and things wrong.

When it comes to knowing the locations of natural landmarks such as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls, 64 percent thought they knew the correct answers, but just 51 percent managed to identify Redwood Forest is located in California and 35 percent correctly said the Shawnee National Forest is in Illinois, Study Finds reported.


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Some of the respondents, 18 percent, thought the Illinois landmark belonged to Ireland.

The Grand Canyon is in Arizona, but only 38 percent of the respondents knew that, with 18 percent choosing its neighboring rocky state Colorado – a common misconception. 

New Yorkers and Canadians should be familiar with their shared landmark, the Niagara Falls. And while 32 percent of respondents were able to answer the question correctly, sadly, 22 percent thought the mystic waterfalls between the Province of Ontario and New York State were in Iceland.

As explained by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), 27 percent of eighth graders had a proficient understanding of geography in 2014, which since 1994, the stats have not changed much. In addition, only 10 states require a geography course for graduation at the high school level, according to a report for the National Geographic Society Education Foundation.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Charmin.


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Published on Jun 11, 2021