A Little Geography Lesson

Posted in Africa| London

With our national curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, passing away last week, this post is a little tribute to him. Mostly because I’m about to briefly sound like a crotchety old man as I point out one of my travel pet peeves (apologies in advanced). While not as serious as the European debt crisis or uprisings in the Middle East, here’s one thing that continually gets under my skin. It drives me a little batty when I hear people say things like “I’m planning a trip France, Italy, Spain, London and Germany”. Or even more frustrating “I’ve travelled all over the world. I’ve been to Canada, Mexico, Japan, Russia and Africa”. Really? Really? If you haven’t noticed the mistake in these two examples I’m shaking my head at you.

But don’t worry, it’s not just you…it happens all the time. I admit, I’m a rules girl. I like rules and for the most part I like to follow them. And the rules state you need to have parity in a list. County, country, country, CITY, Country? Or Country, Country, Country, Country, Country, ENTIRE DAMN CONTINENT? Sigh.

-Ceci n’est pas…un pays.

I blame this kind of thing partially on a lack of geography teaching in our schools, but even more I blame it on people’s uneducated view of the world. In the first example, a city like London so encompasses many American’s idea of England that they can use the city’s name interchangeably with the country. In the second example an entire continent is painted in one broad brush stroke because often people don’t realize that Morocco and South Africa are just as different as Norway and Greece. And I can’t say its always non-travelers who make this mistake. I’ve seen lists like this in print too. In reputable magazines and on news reports. Shocking.

OK – I’ve gotten that off my chest. Next week I’ll hopefully be back to my happy, pleasant self. Signing off from the continent of North America, in the country of the United States, in the state of California in the city of Los Angeles. Good Day!


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