Do You Know Where Iraq Is On a Map?

I’m fascinated by what people know and what people don’t know, which leads to this question…

I don’t expect honest answers from everyone, but if someone were to lay an unmarked map of the world on the table in front of you, would you be able to point out where Iraq is? How about Nigeria? How about Thailand?

Polls often cite Americans’ ignorance of geography as disturbing, but do you think it is important to know these things? Seeing as the US is spending millions of dollars per day in Iraq and thousands have either died or been wounded, is expecting people to know where Iraq is important or frivolous?

Iraq: Yes.

Thailand: Yes.

Nigeria: I’d be close. I’d point in the general region of the east-central portion of Africa, and hope I was right.

No problem on any of them.

I think it’s important as an indicator of how worthless many people are. If they don’t know squat about major countries and situations, but know Brittany Spears’ kids’ names, and know all the American Idol winners… well, that implies they are not very well-informed, yet these dunder heads are controlling my country via their votes.

It scares me.

The Middle East is easy for me - I focused on that region when I was in college. Grade: A

Most of Europe I can handle (though I might switch around some of the Balkans and Eastern European nations locations - like which one is Czech and which one is Slovakia). Grade: A-

South and Central America I should get a B+ to an A-, missing some of the smaller nations that don’t hit my radar that often.

Africa - I am screwed. I would get a C probably.

Asia - nail some, miss a few maybe. B+ to an A-

So Nigeria - it would be a bit of luck (I can get the continent, and the general area).
Iraq - easy.
Thailand - I SHOULD get it.

I can get all of them close enough to understand the importance of other nations, but I might miss a border or two.

Yes. So would our twelve year old daughter. In fact, she’s been memorizing which countries are on each continent, entirely on her own.

My problem with this sort of thing is that many of the countries I learned in school either no longer exist or have changed their names, and a few new countries have cropped up in what used to be the Soviet Union.

How could you be an American and have watched TV for the past few decades and not be able to find Iraq on a map?

Online find-that-country game.

Middle east:

The teeny countries have boxes around them when you mouse over, in case you’re looking for Andorra.

If anyone wants to try… here you go:

Hmm… I thought I knew where Iraq was, but apparently that’s actually Egypt. :smiley:
Seriously though, Iraq and Thailand are easy. Nigeria… not so much. I know it’s in centralish Africa, but looking at a map, I think I would have been more or less likely to have picked Niger, Cameroon, or Chad

I know in general terms where they would be found… my problem isn’t that I never learned where they were - I just don’t remember anymore! I wasn’t ever very good at geography, and by now my head is crammed full of other science & engineering stuff.

Zsofia: I find that people who are used to seeing Iraq portrayed on TV maps are surprised to see its acutal size, compared to the surrounding continents.

Iraq, Thailand, Nigeria: Yes.

North and South America: I may mix up Honduras and El Salvador, and some tiny Caribbean island nations like St. Kitts and Nevis may throw me off.

Asia: I can get the locations of Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan. Those are some of the toughest Asian nations to locate. Not sure about Kyrgyzstan (that took me about 10 tries to spell it correctly), though.

I think I can get 100% of Europe. Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania - check, check, and check. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, from the northeast to southwest, I believe.

Sub-Saharan Africa is much more difficult. Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi always get mixed up. Angola, Congo, Zambia, Tanzania are large and therefore easy to locate. Small West African nations are tougher. Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire are ones I can get right half of the time. I know the Gambia is on a river within Senegal, so that should be easy to see on a map.

Tiny Pacific nations are my weak spot. Tuvalu and Kiribati I could maybe place within two thousand miles of their actual locations.

Online map tests have helped me quite a bit with my political geography.

I think it’s funny how the maps in National Geographic always, always, always have a little reference map in the corner with the relative size of “enlarged area”, even when “enlarged area” is, like, New York City, which one hopes you could have found on your own. Always figured it was just one of the completist rules of the magazine. I guess it’s useful for some people who have no idea of relative size, though.

Yes, but I played a lot of Carmen Sandiego as a child.

ETA I’d be curious to see how many Americans who are fine identifying countries in the Middle East would do with Canadian provinces.

In school we had to learn where all the countries of the world were. We also had to learn all the capitals. Of course we learnd the Canadian provinces as well as all the states and the capitals of those as well.

I still know them except for Sri Lanka, when the moved to capital from Columbo to some stupid city with 100 letters in it, I said, “enough.” :slight_smile:

Relevant Onion link (video).

I know where those three countries are on a map, much to my surprise.

The way I remember the positions of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, is that they are in alphabetical order from the north-east to south-west.

Not only could I find Iraq on a map, I could label half the cities, or even draw you a strip map of it. But I’m cheating, of course- I lived there.

Thailand, I think, would be pretty easy. I have it narrowed down to 3 countries in my head. Lemme grab a map here…OK, I guessed correctly. I always get it mixed up with Vietnam. I know both are mostly vertical, both have an east coast, and both border Laos and Cambodia. It’s really the ocean that throws me off, because I know they’re both on it.

Nigeria? I have a mneumonic for Niger/Nigeria and Libya/Liberia. The longer words are heavier, and have thus sunk to the (relative) bottom of Africa. So Nigeria and Liberia are more southern than Niger and Liberia. But I couldn’t find it specifically. There are just too many square-ish countries all bunched together there.

As for other regions, I can get most/all of Europe and the Americas. I can’t ever get the Soviet block except a few of them. But in general, I’m pretty good at geography if I get to look at an unlabelled map.

Capitals, however…no matter how many times I memorize them, I never use them and thus promptly forget them. No matter how many times you tell me it’s Ottawa, I want to say Montreal or even (eek!) Alberta. Any why in God’s name isn’t Sydney the capital? Who the hell ever heard of Canberra? No one, that’s who.

Yes, yes, yes.

Actually, I tend to get Nigeria and Niger mixed up so change my answer to yes, 50/50 and yes.