0850: "World According To Americans"

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unus vox
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0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby unus vox » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:03 am UTC

Image

Alt text: It's not our fault we caught a group on their way home from a geography bee. And they taught us that Uzbekistan is one of the world's two doubly-landlocked countries!

Maybe it's just me, but am I missing something here? I see a semi-decent world map. Yes, Americans are supposed to be ethnocentric, and this is opposite of that. I dunno. Maybe there isn't a joke?

edit: Actually, I suppose this isn't supposed to be funny so much as Randall felt like drawing a map of the world with some commentary. *shrug* I like the pretty colors. ^_^
Last edited by unus vox on Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:11 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.
Spoiler:
Image

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Re: 0850: World According To Americans

Postby bcdm » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:07 am UTC

That's the joke, yes. I found it funny. Of course, even the smart Americans apparently think that Finland is part of Scandinavia... :lol:

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Re: 0850: World According To Americans

Postby Bob Dole » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:07 am UTC

It's funny because it subverts expectations and everyone always knows that is always, 100% funny no matter how hamfistedly it is done.
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Re: 0850: World According To Americans

Postby Voco » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:08 am UTC

That is the joke. You'll often see "The world according to X Group" which humorously exposes the bias or ignorance of the group. The joke here is that someone tried to do that, but the participants actually turned out to make a decent map, ruining their attempt at social commentary.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby dnbguy » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:08 am UTC

"Paupa" New Guinea?

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Brace » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:08 am UTC

Subversion of a meme as old as the internet itself. All I can say is, "Ok"
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Re: 0850: World According To Americans

Postby squareroot » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:09 am UTC

I, too, was confused by this.
I'm guessing that there was some moderately-well publicized study which tried the same thing, and all the worst, ethnocentric answers were circulated, and this is a joke off that in defense of Americans...?

If it was something like that, then it wasn't well enough circulated for me to encounter it.
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Re: 0850: World According To Americans

Postby jazzman616 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:09 am UTC

I feel like it's just Randall (sp?) being strange. Whether it's that he actually grabbed people or just acted like it, it's still strange.

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Re: 0850: World According To Americans

Postby Alsadius » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:10 am UTC

Shame there isn't a higher-res version. I can't read the notes on Tibet or the Aral Sea.

Like the comic though. Very meta.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Nic the Man » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:10 am UTC

I'd say the meme is as old as Cartography.

Cortez: "Look at this funny drawing. The world according to the ancient tribes of Southern Americas! THEY DON'T KNOW SPAIN! HAHAHAHAH--*gets stabbed*"

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby ARandomDude » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:17 am UTC

I would think Europe would get better detail than that.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Lazar » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:19 am UTC

For pedantry's sake, let me point out some errors I notice:

- they forgot Greece
- the western Mediterranean is quite poorly drawn
- they put the Cyrenaican peninsula in Egypt, instead of Libya
- they misplace Cape Horn as being in Africa, instead of South America
- they left out one of the larger Philippine islands - what's it called? - Palawan
- Uruguay, Bolivia and Peru seem quit compressed against Brazil, as does Guatemala against Mexico
- they forgot to excise Lesotho and Swaziland from South Africa - I thought that was rather common trivia-knowledge
- they give Karelia, and the St Petersburg and Murmansk oblasts to Finland - Continuation War Redux
- Sinkiang/East Turkestan has been squished out of existence between Tibet and Mongolia
- they seem to be mistakenly using "Virgin Islands" to refer to all of the Lesser Antilles
- they misidentify the northwestern part of India as being predominately Muslim
- as 4=5 indicates, they totally forgot about Vancouver Island and all that jazz
- Quebec should be larger in the west, as should Russia in the North Caucasus
- they left out Cyprus, which would quite disappoint a Cypriot friend of mine
- they left out Timor, which has been a rather newsworthy place in the past
- they got the shape of eastern Germany and Austria totally wrong
- northeastern India is quite poorly drawn, with no Bhutan
Last edited by Lazar on Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:31 am UTC, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby 4=5 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:23 am UTC

I can tell that the map was drawn by people from the east coast by the way they draw the west coast. I think this is a pretty accurate map of how americans view the world.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby jonbobbly » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:25 am UTC

Lazar wrote:For pedantry's sake, let me point out some errors I notice:

- they forgot Greece
- the western Mediterranean is quite poorly drawn
- Uruguay and Peru seem quit compressed against Brazil
- they put the Cyrenaican peninsula in Egypt, instead of Libya
- they misplace Cape Horn as being in Africa, instead of South America
- Sinkiang/East Turkestan has been squished out of existence between Tibet and Mongolia
- they seem to be mistakenly using "Virgin Islands" to refer to all of the Lesser Antilles
- they misidentify the northwestern part of India as being predominately Muslim
- they left out one of the larger Philippine islands - what's it called? - Palawan
- Quebec should be larger in the west, as should Russia in the North Caucasus
- northeastern India is quite poorly drawn, with no Bhutan


Also, where's Hawaii? I would think Americans would have remembered that one...

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby futuremonkey » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:28 am UTC

Am I failing to find a link to a higher-res version? My eyes ain't what they used to be, and I can't really make out the text on the the 740x569 version.

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Re: 0850: World According To Americans

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:29 am UTC

bcdm wrote:That's the joke, yes. I found it funny. Of course, even the smart Americans apparently think that Finland is part of Scandinavia... :lol:

I come here to post that, and find myself beaten by the first to respond to this thread. *sigh*

Can I at least have pedant points for noticing the missing close-parenthesis after Taiwan?
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby manveri » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:31 am UTC

YES!!! THANK YOU!!!!! Sorry, but bashing "American" knowledge of the outside world is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine. JUSTICE AT LAST!!!

I have to ask, though: how can any country be _doubly_ landlocked? I thought you were either landlocked, or you weren't.

P.S.
I can't get the high-res version either.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:34 am UTC

manveri wrote:I have to ask, though: how can any country be _doubly_ landlocked? I thought you were either landlocked, or you weren't.
Landlocked - no water
Double-landlocked - you're landlocked by landlocked countries.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Hypoon » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:35 am UTC

Somebody do a handwriting analysis to see if this was actually a group of people or just Randall. There are definitely attempts at differences handwriting, at least, but some expert should satisfy our/my curiosity (other people want to know too, right?).

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Lazar » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:36 am UTC

manveri wrote:I have to ask, though: how can any country be _doubly_ landlocked? I thought you were either landlocked, or you weren't.

A country is doubly landlocked if it's surrounded by other landlocked countries. The best example is Liechtenstein (surrounded by landlocked Switzerland and Austria), because it doesn't present us with the question of whether the Caspian and Aral Seas count in terms of landlockedness.
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby noledge » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:37 am UTC

the single most biggest error - aside of some others - is cape horn being over 4000 miles off, on the wrong continent.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby drixoman » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:39 am UTC

Lazar wrote:For pedantry's sake, let me point out some errors I notice:

- they forgot Greece
- the western Mediterranean is quite poorly drawn
- they put the Cyrenaican peninsula in Egypt, instead of Libya
- they misplace Cape Horn as being in Africa, instead of South America
- they left out one of the larger Philippine islands - what's it called? - Palawan
- Uruguay, Bolivia and Peru seem quit compressed against Brazil, as does Guatemala against Mexico
- they forgot to excise Lesotho and Swaziland from South Africa - I thought that was rather common trivia-knowledge
- they give Karelia, and the St Petersburg and Murmansk oblasts to Finland - Continuation War Redux
- Sinkiang/East Turkestan has been squished out of existence between Tibet and Mongolia
- they seem to be mistakenly using "Virgin Islands" to refer to all of the Lesser Antilles
- they misidentify the northwestern part of India as being predominately Muslim
- as 4=5 indicates, they totally forgot about Vancouver Island and all that jazz
- Quebec should be larger in the west, as should Russia in the North Caucasus
- they left out Cyprus, which would quite disappoint a Cypriot friend of mine
- they left out Timor, which has been a rather newsworthy place in the past
- they got the shape of eastern Germany and Austria totally wrong
- northeastern India is quite poorly drawn, with no Bhutan


Haha...i was a geo nerd in high school and found this kinda funny and realistic as the same time

I think the joke here was even the best group Randall could be bothered with couldn't be bothered with those "nitty" detail (like Africa!)

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Meng Bomin » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:41 am UTC

I think that this is supposed to invite nitpicks, so I'll throw out what I've got for now as a fellow American:

The previously mentioned issue with Scandinavia (though I'd add that not only is Finland wrongly included, but so is part of Russia)

Belize and Jamaica are English-speaking, while Haiti is French-speaking

This is more subjective, but I consider the Arabic-speaking countries of the Maghreb as well as Sudan (at least the north) to be part of the "Middle East"

A comment on Taiwan...the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands issue from last fall emphasized the complexity of the situation: the Senkaku Islands (I'll call them that since they're administered by Japan) are claimed by three governments, all three of which agree that they are part of Taiwan (result of an old treaty). The Republic of China, which is confined to Taiwan, though it actually still claims all the lands controlled by the PRC (and more), claims the islands, as a part of Taiwan. The People's Republic of China claims Taiwan and thus the islands. Japan, the actual administrator, claims that the ROC is not synonymous with Taiwan, but merely controls the island proper and that it is the proper custodian of the Senkaku Islands. The U.S. essentially awarded the islands to Japan in the '80s as it withdrew a bit from the region, somewhat in keeping with the pre-WWII status quo.

Madagascar was my favorite island when I was 5 (I think it was the name that got me).

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Chuq » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:42 am UTC

I'm honoured that Tasmania got a mention!

..from probably one of the few Tasmanians on the xkcd forums!

(... so long as people know that we ARE part of Australia!)

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby superglucose » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:42 am UTC

I actually had a girl from the Netherlands tell me how ethnocentric Americans were, and proceeded to challenge me to name as many countries as she could.

She got a couple of western-european countries I happened to forget, but other than that I got the vast majority of them down. Then I schooled her in Asia, South America and Africa (when I learned there were 54 countries in Africa. We weren't expected to learn them all like we were the other continents, but that's because it had twice as many nations as the next leading brand...).

Finally, I turned around and asked her a fateful question:

"Name as many states as you can."

I missed fewer European nations than she got states.

Americans don't know about European nations because European nations don't matter in our day-to-day life and we don't encounter them regularly. It's not because we're unusually ethnocentric (thinking of the United States as one culture is ethnocentric in and of itself, there are distinct cultural groups within a nation this large, and if you start with "bible belt" you're getting warm), it's just human nature. Most people can't remember calculus from college, but we don't call them "stupid."

This comic really speaks to a pet peeve I have with a great many of my European friends: they choose to believe I am uninformed about politics because I think America is the center of the world. Truth is, I don't follow world politics or events because I've discovered my overall quality of life went way up when I stopped hearing or worrying about the thirty bajillion people in Southern Wherever being massacared by the thirty bajillion other people in Northern Wherever.

As for Africa:
Spoiler:
Egypt, Libia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Zaire (DPR of Congo), Republic of Congo (possibly defunct), Ivory Coast (Cote Devoir with some accents in there, I don't know french), Morocco (love their food), South Africa (Seth Africa), Madacascar, New Guinea (or Papa New Guinea or both, there's two countries with an extreme lack of creativity on their naming), Liberia. I know a few of them but THERE WERE SO MANY AND IT WAS AN EXTRA-CREDIT ASSIGNMENT FROM LIKE TEN YEARS AGOOOOOOOOO... I also used to know all the US Presidents in order but now anywhere after John Quincy Adams and Teddy Roosevelt is a muddled haze of names like Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Buchannon (who, incidentally, was campaigning for the presidential nomination when I was in first grade much to my confusion), Lincoln, Jackson, Jefferson... and some other J name. Fortunately I can list them off SINCE Teddy Roosevelt. Mostly.

Roosevelt
Wilson
Cleavland
William Howard Taft
Hoover
Roosevelt
Truman
Eisenhower
Kennedy
Johnson
Nixon
Ford
Carter
Reagan
Bush
Clinton
Bush
Obama

and I dare you to guess how I'd rank these bastards.
Image

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Tyrannosaur » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:44 am UTC

dnbguy wrote:"Paupa" New Guinea?

The country on half the island.

they play risk, remember?
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby drixoman » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:44 am UTC

Meng Bomin wrote:I think that this is supposed to invite nitpicks, so I'll throw out what I've got for now as a fellow American:

The previously mentioned issue with Scandinavia (though I'd add that not only is Finland wrongly included, but so is part of Russia)

Belize and Jamaica are English-speaking, while Haiti is French-speaking

This is more subjective, but I consider the Arabic-speaking countries of the Maghreb as well as Sudan (at least the north) to be part of the "Middle East"

A comment on Taiwan...the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands issue from last fall emphasized the complexity of the situation: the Senkaku Islands (I'll call them that since they're administered by Japan) are claimed by three governments, all three of which agree that they are part of Taiwan (result of an old treaty). The Republic of China, which is confined to Taiwan, though it actually still claims all the lands controlled by the PRC (and more), claims the islands, as a part of Taiwan. The People's Republic of China claims Taiwan and thus the islands. Japan, the actual administrator, claims that the ROC is not synonymous with Taiwan, but merely controls the island proper and that it is the proper custodian of the Senkaku Islands. The U.S. essentially awarded the islands to Japan in the '80s as it withdrew a bit from the region, somewhat in keeping with the pre-WWII status quo.

Madagascar was my favorite island when I was 5 (I think it was the name that got me).


Oh me yarm lol... Madagascar was my elementary geographic fair project...although in retrospect i could have done a lot better...

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby drixoman » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:46 am UTC

superglucose wrote:I actually had a girl from the Netherlands tell me how ethnocentric Americans were, and proceeded to challenge me to name as many countries as she could.

She got a couple of western-european countries I happened to forget, but other than that I got the vast majority of them down. Then I schooled her in Asia, South America and Africa (when I learned there were 54 countries in Africa. We weren't expected to learn them all like we were the other continents, but that's because it had twice as many nations as the next leading brand...).

Finally, I turned around and asked her a fateful question:

"Name as many states as you can."

I missed fewer European nations than she got states.

Americans don't know about European nations because European nations don't matter in our day-to-day life and we don't encounter them regularly. It's not because we're unusually ethnocentric (thinking of the United States as one culture is ethnocentric in and of itself, there are distinct cultural groups within a nation this large, and if you start with "bible belt" you're getting warm), it's just human nature. Most people can't remember calculus from college, but we don't call them "stupid."

This comic really speaks to a pet peeve I have with a great many of my European friends: they choose to believe I am uninformed about politics because I think America is the center of the world. Truth is, I don't follow world politics or events because I've discovered my overall quality of life went way up when I stopped hearing or worrying about the thirty bajillion people in Southern Wherever being massacared by the thirty bajillion other people in Northern Wherever.

As for Africa:
Spoiler:
Egypt, Libia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Zaire (DPR of Congo), Republic of Congo (possibly defunct), Ivory Coast (Cote Devoir with some accents in there, I don't know french), Morocco (love their food), South Africa (Seth Africa), Madacascar, New Guinea (or Papa New Guinea or both, there's two countries with an extreme lack of creativity on their naming), Liberia. I know a few of them but THERE WERE SO MANY AND IT WAS AN EXTRA-CREDIT ASSIGNMENT FROM LIKE TEN YEARS AGOOOOOOOOO... I also used to know all the US Presidents in order but now anywhere after John Quincy Adams and Teddy Roosevelt is a muddled haze of names like Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Buchannon (who, incidentally, was campaigning for the presidential nomination when I was in first grade much to my confusion), Lincoln, Jackson, Jefferson... and some other J name. Fortunately I can list them off SINCE Teddy Roosevelt. Mostly.

Roosevelt
Wilson
Cleavland
William Howard Taft
Hoover
Roosevelt
Truman
Eisenhower
Kennedy
Johnson
Nixon
Ford
Carter
Reagan
Bush
Clinton
Bush
Obama

and I dare you to guess how I'd rank these bastards.


papua new guinea is NOT in africa lol...

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Lazar » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:47 am UTC

For my part, I have a photographic memory with maps, and I've got all the countries of the world memorized, except for some of the smaller Caribbean and Pacific islands. In fact, my party talent is drawing maps while drunk.

(If it's any consolation, I suck at math.)
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Paladin65536 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:53 am UTC

"Should we include Antarctica?"
"Let's not - these guys are looking impatient."
hahaha, made me laugh =)

Also, am I the only one who (at first) misread text next to India to say "Mostly Harmless?"

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Phecon » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:54 am UTC

i am disappointed that this map utilizes more than four colors

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby serrath » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:55 am UTC

Shit's too damn small to read, needs a click-to-zoom thing.

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Re: 0850: World According To Americans

Postby koipen » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:56 am UTC

bcdm wrote:That's the joke, yes. I found it funny. Of course, even the smart Americans apparently think that Finland is part of Scandinavia... :lol:


What? I live in Finland and have always learned that it is part of Scandinavia. Well, technically Fennoscandia but they are all Nordic countries which translates in most peoples minds to Scandinavia.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Meng Bomin » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:58 am UTC

Seeing Lazar's list, I thought I should extend his point on the Tibet/Xinjiang issue. Tibet should be shifted both to the south and extended a bit to the east. Ethnic Tibetans populate much of the Tibetan plateau, which extends out into the area north of Burma. There is a large northwestern province in China called Xinjiang (I'm guessing that Sinkiang was the postal code spelling...much like Peking), which is mostly populated by the Muslim, Turkic language-speaking Uygurs, who have significant west Eurasian ancestry. There's some ethnic conflict there, as there is in Tibet, as large numbers of Han Chinese have been moved there by the PRC government.

Oh, and as long as we're island-hunting, the Falklands are missing. Known to the Argentinians but no one else as Las Malvinas because this is an issue of national pride to them, but they were soundly beaten by the British in the '80s.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby drixoman » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:59 am UTC

Who here agree with me South Sudan should change name after this referendum (to make us geo nerd more frustrated at another entry that practically no American would know...)

I suggest Sudd only b/c it's the only big thing i can tell in south sudan...

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby muymra » Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:00 am UTC

"Phillipines" should be "Philippines." Just sayin'

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Skeinchug » Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:01 am UTC

Oh oh oh! Is Andorra the other double-landlocked country?

Edit: Yeah, your right paladin. I had a brain fart or something. Sorry Andorra, I tried.
Last edited by Skeinchug on Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:51 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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drixoman
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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby drixoman » Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:03 am UTC

Skeinchug wrote:Oh oh oh! Is Andorra the other double-landlocked country?


No it's bordered by France and Spain, both are NOT landlocked anyway.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby Paladin65536 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:06 am UTC

Skeinchug wrote:Oh oh oh! Is Andorra the other double-landlocked country?

No, it borders France and Spain, neither of which are landlocked themselves.

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Re: 0850: "World According To Americans"

Postby BlitzGirl » Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:13 am UTC

I get the conceit behind this but that meme is practically mummified by now. The little fake discussion between the "group of Americans" making the map was amusing, though.

Isn't world geography a mandatory part of the curriculum these days in the U.S.? I remember in high school we had to literally memorize the world map, and take a multi-part exam where we had to identify the countries and features like the tallest mountains, major rivers, etc. That was six or seven years ago, and I think I would still manage a lot more detail than this map...so I think it's not unreasonable that a random sampling of Americans could produce something like Randall's creation.
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