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Since the early 1980s US geographic illiteracy has been a topic of discussion, with some calling it a national security threat. This research will address if Americans are geographic illiterate, and whether geography should be taught more in the school systems in an age of globalization. This research sets out to contribute statistical data on how many UNLV students can guess correct locations compared to people on the Las Vegas Strip. The methodology for this research consisted of randomly asking 100 students at UNLV to identify The United States, an eastern state, and Afghanistan on a map. The same experiment was repeated on the Las Vegas Strip. The experiment at UNLV would test if university students score relatively better than people asked on the Stip. The results from this research show that almost all Americans can locate The United States, less-than half can locate an eastern state, but most could not identify Afghanistan. University students do average better results than people on the Strip as hypothesized. This research shows that most Americans aren’t as geographic illiterate as the media portrays and can find domestic locations, while foreign geographic literacy does seem to lack in comparison. Should geography be taught more as the world becomes more globalized? While it is a good skill to know, I truly think geography isn’t a necessary topic to focus on unless your field benefits from it. Most Americans focus within the general area they’re familiar with and as distance increases Americans become less aware.

Publication Date

Fall 11-15-2021




Geography; Illiteracy; Americans; Afghanistan; United States

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File Size

5000 KB


Faculty Mentor: Kimberly Nehls, Ph.D.

Geography Illiteracy in America?