Thu, Nov 15, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Britons don't know what goes where

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

The most visited local "landmark" for many British adults is their nearby do-it-yourself (DIY) store, a survey published yesterday said, which suggests the UK is a nation of reluctant explorers, with little sense of adventure and a poor understanding of geography.

A third of those who took part in the survey thought Mount Everest is in Europe, while only half were aware that the Nile is the world's longest river. The research warns that most people are failing to make the most of their local area and have little knowledge of important geographical facts.

The survey was carried out to mark National Geographic's geography awareness week and also the so-called "GIS Day" yesterday, which aims to encourage young people to understand the extent to which geographic information -- and increasingly the opportunity to use technology such as digital mapping -- underpins our daily lives.

The UK was among more than 80 countries which will participate by holding workshops and school assemblies to mark GIS Day.

Asked how many countries there were in the world, only a third were correct in choosing 193. A third of people thought Mount Everest was either in the Alps or the UK and only half of respondents knew that the Nile was the world's longest river.

Asked which facility had been visited the most during the past month, the DIY superstore came top with 39 percent. The local museum was bottom with only 9 percent. Almost a third said they had never visited their local museum or church.

Respondents were also asked about what they remembered most about geography lessons at school from a list of eight topics. Maps came top with 24 percent, rocks/erosion and "don't know" were in joint second place with 16 percent and farming in last with 5 percent.

The findings follow a British Council survey carried out earlier this week, which showed that 11-to-16 year olds have the lowest international awareness among their age group in 10 nations.

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