You need to study geography if you think….

What country is this statue in?

What country is this statue in?

You need to study geography if you think…

The Balkans are an alien people on Star Trek ….

The Gaza Strip is a Middle Eastern folk dance….

The Tropic of Cancer is a sunscreen lotion….


It never fails that when I travel to any place south of the United States, someone will ask me how my trip was to Mexico. I must admit it’s a pet peeve. Whether I have traveled to Guatemala, Honduras or Ecuador, for some reason there are people that have lumped these countries into Mexico, as if Mexico was a continent. People from these other countries find it offensive if you call them “Mexican”. It’s not just “common folks” that make such mistakes. Sarah Palin made a notorious remark about Africa being a country instead of a continent. Her unfortunate mistake was highly publicized through her campaign and left her in a position to be mocked.

Well, I recognize that there are many that do not take the time to learn geography. Is this ethnocentric or just lazy?

To me it’s important to understand the world and teach my kids about other cultures. I don’t want them to think that America is the end all and there is no need to look beyond. After all, there are a lot of great things that other countries have that we do not have here in America. I am not saying that America isn’t great, but I am cautious to think we have it all right.

So to help you out…here are some interesting geography facts to make geography fun!

 • Brazil got its name from the nut. Not the other way around.

 • Canada has more lakes than the entire world combined.

 • Venezuela – Angel Falls is the World’s highest waterfalls. It drops 3,212 feet. This is 15 times higher than Niagara Falls.

• Antarctica is the only land in the world not owned by a country.

• At the closest point, Russia and United States are only 2 miles apart.

 • The earth is slightly the shape of a pear. Seriously…the North Pole radius is 44mm longer than the South Pole radius.

 • In Denmark there are twice as many pigs as people.

• Malaysians bath their babies in beer to protect them from disease.

 • Tasmania is said to have the cleanest air in the world.


7 Comments on “You need to study geography if you think….

  1. When I was studying in the US, I got the strangest questions about my country.

    1. Is Singapore part of China? Japan? Africa?!?!?!
    2. Are there monkeys roaming freely in Singapore?
    3. Oh Singapore, u guys are the ones who canned Michael Fay (for vandalism, a bit of history lesson, happened during Clinton’s term). Do you cane everyone for every crime? (No. We’re not THAT barbaric)

    Oh some other questions i heard asked:

    1. Do bears walk on the streets in Russia?
    2. (To a Nigerian) Do you still live in trees? (To which, my friend answered: “No. we burrow underground now”. hehe)

    That said, I’ve met many amazing and world-knowledgeable Americans.

  2. the way, the picture is the Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One of the most stunning cities ever!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing your comments. I love to see what everyone is thinking. Ellie, that trip was so great for my kids in understanding the world. My daughter Julia, danced with a little girl who had aids and still weeps for this child. Holly, I love Union High for making our kids learn geography. My daughter loved the book, Three Cups of Tea…and Mom, I love that you commented and shared your views. Manuel, I loved that you brought your son to Ecuador with us and you have a world view. Its so important!!

  4. Hi Trish!

    You are so right on. When my kids were little I took them to Tijuana to show them how another culture lives. I pointed out the barefoot 5 year old supporting his family by selling Chiclets on the side of the road. When my son saw how his teenage step son was acting years later, he wanted to take him to Tijuana so show him just how spoiled he is. I think every child in America should be taken to a 3rd world country for a visit. My granddaughter and I have a ritual when I get back from a trip- she gets to put a pin in the country where I have just been. My trip to Kenya with you was number 40. She’s getting really good.


  5. Can’t it be both? Many of our fellow Americans are both ethnocentric and lazy.


    And many are ignorant of even US geography.

    I love that Union High freshman geography requires the kids to know all the countries of the world, and that they’re reading Three Cups of Tea. It’s only when people are exposed to such things that they start to broaden their perspectives. Sadly, many parents are not like you.

    Also, can I just say “RIGHT ON!” to your commenter jengelgau? I’m teaching a class about health care reform next month, and the debate highlights people’s ignorance as well as their mean-spirited stupidity.

  6. I liked your geography lesson. Now if you could try and explain why so many on the right feel we are becoming a secular socialistic society, just because a lot of us feel it is morally right for everyone to have health insurance and not just those that are fortunate enough to work for a company that provides or can afford to buy it. And isn’t medicaid a form of socialized medicine. There are a lot of terms being thrown around that people obviously don’t understand; i.e., communism, facism, nazism, dictatorship etc.

  7. This is true. And funny. Regarding your comment about how everyone thinks that Mexico is the only place south of the US, I think the same is true for Canada. When we lived in Vancouver (just north of Seattle), people were always asking us about igloos, eskimos, and polar bears…

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