Quiet please! Geography test in progress

AS someone who has taken a keen interest in geography since I was young, I think I would do well in a quiz on the countries competing in the London Olympic Games.

But not so the majority of my fellow Brits, according to new research. We are a nation of geography dunces, it seems.

Most of us don’t recognise the names of more than a third of the 180 plus countries taking part in the Games.

Perhaps more shamefully, more than a third of those surveyed could not find their last holiday resort on a map.

There will be thousands of Brits heading abroad this summer who won’t have a clue where they are going, only that the place where they land will have sun, sand, sea and a host of bars to soak up their money. Or perhaps they’ll just stick their heads in the sand when they get there.


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In the survey, two-thirds of Brits thought that Cancun was in the US (not Mexico), half reckoned Prague was in Sweden and nearly as many did not know that the Alps were in Europe.

Half could not name the countries in which Marrakech, Frankfurt and Milan can be found.

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Brits are also flops when it comes to foreign languages. More than half of those questioned could not name the first language in Amsterdam and even more than that thought that German was the native language in Brussels.

Considering the vast amount of UK news media devoted to covering the often tragic events in Afghanistan over several years, it is amazing that almost six out of 10 of those asked thought that the country was in Africa, not Asia.

Talking about getting away from it all, my eye was caught by news that a company had announced plans to make the first trip to the Moon since the Americans went there in 1972.

The firm has bought up a fleet of former Soviet shuttles and space stations, plonked modern systems in them and proposes to make the first flight in three years’ time.

The company founder admitted that the plan sounded “somewhat unbelievable” but hoped “we will have a lot of interested people”.

Just a couple of points: the people on board won’t actually land on the Moon, just whoosh past at a distance of 621 miles, and they would have to be willing to learn how to fly the craft because trained astronauts will probably not accompany them on the voyage.

So there is a measure of DIY involved, but that is reflected in the price – only �100 million. Please form a queue on the right to reserve your ticket.

I know that people are tending to have babies a little later than used to be the case, but I was astonished by the claim of a new piece of research. This revealed that 21 per cent of women aged between 20 and 85 are not exercising due to lack of childcare facilities.

It left me wondering how many women aged 85 – or even 65 – are actually in need of facilities to help look after young children.

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