4 in 10 people can't find London on a map

British adults have no idea where Manchester, Birmingham '“ and even London feature on a map, a study has found.

Friday, 14th October 2016, 10:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 8:10 pm
86 per cent of Brits can't pinpoint Edinburgh

A poll of 2,000 people found more than four in ten struggle to pinpoint the nation’s capital on a map of the UK, while another 86 per cent have no idea where Edinburgh should be.

And almost one in ten put the Isles of Scilly, found off the coast of Cornwall, in place of the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, while another one in twenty believe they sit off the western coast of Scotland.

The locations of Newcastle, Cardiff and Oxford also left many scratching their heads.

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It also emerged just four in ten can confidently read a map with another 44 per cent admitting they have no idea what traditional map symbols mean.

A spokesman for Ordnance Survey, which commissioned the research as part of National Map Reading Week, taking place in October, said: “Great Britain is relatively small, yet it seems many of us struggle to pinpoint the positions of cities and locations which may not even be that far from where we live.

“Despite this, many claim to have a good sense of direction – although maybe not those who believe the Isles of Scilly are off the Scottish coast.

“Many people are lacking in both the basic knowledge of where places are in Britain, and the ability to read a traditional map.

“This could be due to our increasing reliance on technology like Sat-Navs and mobile devices to tell us where we are.

“Map reading is an essential skill for exploring Britain safely. While GPS devices can be really convenient, they can run into problems with battery life. We always recommend carrying a paper map and compass – it could be a life-saver.”

The study found 86 per cent of Brits reckon they have a fairly good sense of direction, and more than half claim their knowledge of geographical locations in Britain is ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

But just 57 per cent of people could point out the correct position of London, with one in ten putting it closer to the Midlands than the south east.

Just 22 per cent highlighted the right spot for Manchester, while 85 per cent struggled to mark Birmingham on the map.

Almost one in twenty believe it sits nearer Leeds and Sheffield in the north.

Edinburgh also left many puzzled with only 14 per cent getting it right – most think it is further north and more inland than its actual position.

Less than one in ten know the correct location of Newcastle, with more than one in twenty believing it sits in place of Edinburgh, in Scotland.

A further one in ten people are of the belief that Swindon sits north of London.

Stonehenge, The Peak District and Snowdonia also left many struggling.

But the study found it’s not just locations many struggle to name, as a large number failed to name the correct countries which make up the United Kingdom and Great Britain.

Seven in ten think that Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain, while more than one in ten think the same of the Republic of Ireland.

Sixteen per cent also think the Republic of Ireland is part of the UK.

Worryingly, almost one in ten admit to having NEVER used a traditional paper map – one which isn’t on their phone tablet or Sat Nav..

Sean Conway, adventurer, and #GetOutside ambassador for OS, said: “I take OS maps with me on my adventures. My recent world’s longest triathlon around the whole coast of Great Britain could have been even longer, maybe next time I’ll do the whole of the UK, and include Northern Ireland too.”

Nick Giles, Managing Director of Ordnance Survey Leisure, added: “We’ve been making maps to help people get outside for 225 years, and still sell over 1.9 million paper maps each year, so it is worrying that so few people know the basic geography of Great Britain.

“Hearing that less than 40% of people can confidently read a map is a concern, as we want people to explore Britain safely.

“To help people out, we’re holding a National Map Reading Week for the first time. From 17-23 October we’ll be hosting free map reading workshops and will have some fantastic resources, from videos to handy guides, readily available on our site. We urge everyone to take part, top up on their navigation skills and then grab a map and get outside safely!”