Given A Map, A Lot Of People Have No Idea Where They Traveled (Or Where They Live)

world map
Glyn Lowe Photoworks, Flickr

While early explorers may have spent countless weeks plotting their journeys on maps and charting the best course to get to their destination, it seems many modern day travelers don’t have a clue about where they’re actually going.

A new study has found massive numbers of travelers can’t find their vacation destination on a world map. When asked where Cyprus was located, 53% of respondents were stumped, pointing to countries like Greece instead. This is despite having traveled to the Mediterranean island within the past year. Turkey also had recent visitors scratching their heads, with around half of those surveyed hard-pressed to locate the nearly 1,000 mile long country on an atlas.What’s most bizarre, however, is those people who seemed to have trouble locating their own country on a map. When asked where France was, a surprising 14% of French respondents pointed to their northern neighbor Belgium.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on the French. After all, remember this famous gaffe a few years back, when a Miss Teen USA contestant was asked why a fifth of Americans couldn’t locate the US on a world map?



But it’s not just beauty pageant contestants that are stumped by geography. Even politicians can get tripped up, like in this interview where John McCain refers to the problems at the Iraq/Pakistan border…which doesn’t exactly exist.


And then there was the time that President Obama managed to visit all corners of the US, including “about 57 states”.



Do you think it matters that so many people are confused by world geography? Or is understanding maps irrelevant in this day and age of GPS and technology?

Would You Play A Game Of ‘Departure Roulette’?

Diane Bondareff/Invision for Heineken

After arriving at the airport, would you be willing to drop your travel plans to head somewhere else? Heineken is daring travelers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to do just that.

At the push of a button, travelers could be whisked away to Bali instead of Branson. Sure, it’s just an advertising ploy to promote Heineken Dropped, a YouTube series that has the beer company sending travelers to random destinations, but it got us thinking about the pros and cons of spontaneous travel. It’d be fun to discover somewhere unexpected — like the man above, who is being sent to the island of Cyprus instead of going on a six-week vacation with his grandparents to Vienna, Austria — but what if you packed completely wrong for the trip?

If you want to read more stories about spontaneous travel, AFAR magazine’s Spin the Globe feature sends writers to randomly chosen destinations. Here’s some recent features from Gadling contributors Don George and David Farley.

[via Adweek.com]

Interactive Website Shows Cleanest, Dirtiest European Beaches

beaches, Cyprus
Wikimedia Commons

It’s getting to be that time of year again. People are heading to the beaches, especially around the Mediterranean.

Now choosing one has been made easier by a new interactive website by the European Environment Agency. The agency has released its 2012 figures for water quality of 23,511 “bathing waters.” The website has them broken down by country and region. While most are beaches, popular inland swimming areas such as lakes are also included.

Some countries do better than others. Cyprus may be in economic doldrums, but 100% of their beaches have clean water. Slovenia, the subject of an upcoming series here on Gadling, gets equally high praise for its narrow strip of shoreline.

Scientists examined samples of water over several months in 2012, looking for evidence of pollution. It turns out 93 percent of sites had at least the minimum standard set by the European Union. The worst countries were Belgium, with 12 percent substandard swimming areas, and The Netherlands, with 7 percent.

Archaeologists blog as they excavate Nea Paphos World Heritage site

archaeologists, Nea Paphos
Archaeologists excavating at the ancient city of Nea Paphos in Cyprus have written about their work and discoveries in a blog.

A University of Sydney team has been working to uncover medieval walls built atop a Classical theater and investigating a public fountain dating to the first century AD, the Cyprus Mail reports.

Nea Paphos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded around 300 BC, and the theater was built around the same time. It served as the capital of Cyprus during the Hellenistic and Roman periods and was an important spot in Byzantine times, when a castle was built nearby. Legend has it that Aphrodite emerged from the sea at the nearby beach. I’ve been to that beach and it’s so beautiful I’m not surprised the legend arose there. Aphrodite probably started as a Phoenician fertility goddess long before the Greeks and Romans arrived, and continued as the cult of Aphrodite until 391 AD when the Roman Emperor Theodosius banned all pagan religions.

The team has wrapped up its work for the season but they and their blog will return in 2012. I’m glad to see archaeologists reaching out to the public this way and I hope more follow the University of Sydney’s example. There’s a lot of popular misconception about how archaeologists do their work and blogs like theirs help remedy that.

Photo of the Odeon of Nea Paphos from second century AD courtesy user einalem via flickr.

Brits behaving badly abroad

brits behaving badly

Today the Foreign Office released British Behaviour Abroad 2011, with detailed figures on British nationals in trouble overseas (read: Brits behaving badly abroad). The period surveyed: April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011.

There are lots of interesting tidbits in the survey. British nationals request consular assistance in greatest numbers in Spain and the United States, though since both of these countries are very popular destinations for people from the UK, this is perhaps not all that surprising.

The more interesting chart in the report is of which countries see the highest numbers of requests for consular assistance per visitor and resident abroad. The top five, in descending order: The Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Cyprus, and India. British nationals abroad are most likely to be arrested in Thailand, followed by the United States.

Another interesting detail: The Foreign Office claims that 43 percent of the 18-24 set know someone who has taken illegal drugs while abroad. Aggregate drug arrests are highest for British nationals abroad in Spain (171), the United States (100), Jamaica (63), Norway (55), and Thailand (51).

The good news is that the number of British nationals arrested is down, 10 percent overall and 20 percent for drug-related offenses.

The report also tabulates deaths, hospitalizations, rapes, and sexual assaults abroad. Each of these categories saw slight movement up or down in 2010-2011, with deaths, hospitalizations, and sexual assaults slightly up and rapes down.

[Image: Flickr | La Citta Vita]