Posted by: MummyTravels | Apr 3, 2012

Where in the world…?

Geography was never my strong point when I was younger. I once got Carlisle confused with Cardiff, and confidently marked up a map featuring Australia and New Zealand as China and Japan while I was at school.

Needless to say, years of poring over atlases has improved it significantly (although I wouldn’t like to swear to the exact positions of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan under pressure) – but I can’t say I was surprised at the new research that found 12% of British children can’t even locate the UK on a map of the world.

Despite having been abroad an average of five times by the age of 10, the survey of six to 10-year-olds by Heathrow airport discovered 45% couldn’t pinpoint Spain (despite 48% having visited) and over a third were baffled by finding France (with 42% having headed across the Channel). Over half were stumped when it came to spotting Germany, and slightly alarmingly, 41% hadn’t realised that UK was even part of Europe.

Unexpectedly, destinations further afield seemed to be more memorable – 78% could find Australia (unlike me), and 73% knew where Russia was. There were still around 50 kids who thought the US shared a border with the UK though.

I can’t blame them for being bored in geography lessons (that’s if the physical location of countries is even still taught) – actually visiting the countries is likely to be far more memorable. But as a quarter didn’t actually know what an atlas was, and more than a third hadn’t looked at one in over a year, it’s not just a matter of jumping on a plane and hoping it sinks in.

So once my mini traveller is old enough, I’ll have to take a leaf out of Heathrow’s book. They’ve installed giant globes in all the terminals, and are handing out 20,000 maps to young fliers to help them understand more about just where they’re going.



  1. I love globes and maps and bought a world one for my son’s bedroom wall before he was even born. There’s something really magical about them – all the difference places, different ways of life.

    • That’s such a lovely idea – might have to try something similar for my baby’s nursery. And I agree, I love poring over maps and dreaming about unexplored places.

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