The Great Wall of China is visible from space and Sydney is the capital of Australia: Britons’ biggest geographical misconceptions revealed
- In a poll, over half of those quizzed wrongly believed that Dubai is a country
- Almost 50 per cent believed that Sydney is the Australian capital, not Canberra
- More than 40 per cent thought the Statue of Liberty is on mainland Manhattan
Do you think the Great Wall of China is visible from space?
If you do, you aren’t alone as a new survey has revealed it is a common geographical misconception.
As Nasa says, being able to see the wall with the unaided eye from orbit is, in fact, a ‘space-based myth’.
A poll of over 2,000 British adults found that 61 per cent wrongly thought that the Great Wall of China is visible from space
Fifty-seven per cent of those quizzed were unaware that Greenland is not a country but rather an autonomous territory of Denmark
Kamlesh P. Lulla, Nasa’s chief scientist for Earth observation at Johnson Space Center in Houston, says that generally the Great Wall is hard to see and hard to photograph from space because the material from which it is made is about the same colour and texture as the area surrounding it.
However, a poll of 2,300 British adults found that 61 per cent believed the Chinese landmark could be seen by astronauts in orbit.
The survey was carried out by boat rental and yacht charter company samboat.com, which asked Britons about four other geography misconceptions – and it threw up more interesting results.
For example, 57 per cent of those quizzed were unaware that Greenland is not a country, but actually an autonomous territory of Denmark.
A further 51 per cent of those polled thought Dubai was a country, when in fact it is a city within the United Arab Emirates.
Just under half (49 per cent) believed that Sydney is the capital of Australia rather than the correct city, Canberra.
While 44 per cent wrongly thought that the Statue of Liberty is located on mainland Manhattan, rather than on Liberty Island.
The exact location of the Statue of Liberty is actually – and perhaps surprisingly to the uninitiated – a complicated issue, because Liberty Island lies within the New Jersey half of the Hudson River.
Just under half of Britons thought that Sydney, pictured, is the capital of Australia. The correct answer is Canberra
But according to the US National Park Service, which administers the property, an 1834 pact means the State of New York claims territorial jurisdiction over it, which means that sales tax from souvenir shops on Liberty Island is collected by the State of New York.
Researchers also tested respondents’ knowledge of European capital cities, with the majority correctly naming the capitals of France (94 per cent), Italy (82 per cent) and Portugal (75 per cent).
But other cities proved more challenging with only nine per cent knowing the capital of Turkey (Ankara), 10 per cent identifying the capital of Croatia (Zagreb), 14 per cent knowing the Finnish capital (Helsinki) and just 19 per cent getting the capital of Spain (Madrid) right.
Britons were then posed questions about the world’s biggest monuments – and only 34 per cent knew that the Trevi Fountain is in Rome.
When asked about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a further one in 17 (six per cent) admitted to once believing that it was called ‘The Leaning Tower of Pizza’.
Over 40 per cent of Britons wrongly believed that the Statue of Liberty is located on mainland Manhattan rather than on Liberty Island, pictured
Meanwhile, 26 per cent of respondents did not know that when a British location name ends in ‘-mouth’ it is a point where the river meets the sea.
Alfredo Bernal, UK country manager at www.samboat.com, said: ‘With such a vast world out there to explore, it’s surprising to find that so many individuals are unaware of some key global facts about the world they live in.
‘There is no better time to get out there, explore the world and learn new exciting facts.’
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