It's US vs UK in online geography battle

By Lars Paronen

TORONTO, Dec 14 (Reuters Life!) - North Americans fed up with being ribbed over their geographical incompetence are trying to get even -- pitting their skills against Britain in a transatlantic geography quiz.

Two geography enthusiasts from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean designed the 2006 Geography Cup after numerous surveys highlighted the geographical ignorance of both Americans and Britons.

A survey in May this year, for example, found less than four in 10 young Americans could find Iraq on a map.

Open to anyone in the United States and UK, the online quiz ( gives contestants two minutes to place 13 randomly selected countries on an interactive political map.

British co-founder Daniel Raven-Ellison, a geography teacher from Reading, Berkshire, said there was a longstanding political rivalry between the United States and Britain where people loved geography and maps.

"There is definitely a sense in the UK that Americans are pretty poor in geography," he said, confident that by the end of the contest the British team would come out tops -- and help focus more attention on the world map.

Since the quiz started on November 14 -- it ends on December 31 -- more than 18,000 people have gone online to put their geography knowledge to the test - and the two teams are neck-and-neck.

American co-founder Roger Andresen, who founded a company that makes geography education puzzles and games, said the Geography Cup, which is in its first year, stemmed from an online international competition he started in 2004 called "Geography Olympics."

He changed the name to "Geography Zone" after receiving a disapproving letter from International Olympic Committee lawyers but the quiz, open to all nationalities, struggled to track where participants were based. Limiting it to two teams was easier.

Andresen and Raven-Ellison said so far the contest was fairly tight -- but both sides were struggling to place Pacific island states such as Tuvalu, Caribbean island nations, and countries in Africa.

"It just seems that some of the some places outside of the United States and UK are not a part of our world and they should be," said Andresen.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
Britain usually ranks 4th in the world in educational attainment. Only people in three of the Scandinavian countries get better grades at school. The US usually ranks around 28th place annually.
This should be a fair contest. Most US Americans can't even find a map let alone one country on it.

Similar Threads

Geography Test
by galianomama | Sep 22nd, 2004
Take the geography test!
by Andem | Apr 23rd, 2004