Best and Worst States in the US at Geography

USA, the land of Hollywood dreams and geographical knowledge gaps. It's no secret that we Americans have been the butt of countless geography-related jokes. You may have seen some of the viral videos featuring Americans undergoing impromptu geography quizzes and delivering hilarious inaccurate responses. But is our collective lack of land knowledge really as bad as the jokes suggest? 

We surveyed 3,000 Americans, presenting them with 10 elementary-level test questions that seemed like a walk in the park... or so we thought! Want to know if your state ‘ Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’ Keep reading to find out!

Key Findings:

  • The average overall score for participants reached 81.8%.

  • Minnesota claimed the title of the best state at geography with a score of 88.6%.

  • Rhode Island, on the other hand, was crowned the worst of all 50 states at geography.

  • Less than half of the surveyed Americans could correctly identify the capital of Canada.

Geo-Whoops: Uncovering the States with the Biggest Geography Gaps

Best and worst states at geography in the US

Our nationwide survey presented adult Americans with geography-related questions tailored for 5 to 11-year-olds – questions that wouldn't faze even the most casual quiz-goer. For example, identifying "The Netherlands" as another name for which country and naming the American city where the Golden Gate Bridge is located. We also asked respondents to rate their geography skills out of 10. Interestingly, the majority boldly chose 8/10, but does their self-assessment align with the final scores?

Overall, the average score of questions answered correctly was 81.8%. Considering the elementary nature of the questions, this was definitely lower than expected. However, although no state managed a "geograph-fect" result, some states certainly navigated the test better than others achieving higher than the national average. 

Top 10 states in the US at Geography:

State Average
1. Minnesota88.6%
2. Montana 88.3%
3. New Mexico 87.8%
4. Delaware 87.0%
5. Massachusetts 86.8%
6. New Jersey 85.3%
7. Oregon 85.2%
8. Iowa 85.0%
9. New York 85.0%
10. Nevada 84.0%

Meanwhile, the questions proved to be trickier for other states. After all, geography can’t be everyone’s strong suit!

State Average
1. Rhode Island 71.7%
2. Alabama 71.8%
3. Nebraska 78.3%
4. West Virginia 78.3%
5. Texas 78.9%
6. North Carolina 78.9%
7. Washington 79.0%
8. Kentucky 79.0%
9. Arizona 79.3%
10. Connecticut 79.5%

From Breeze to Brain-Teaser: The Geography Questions That Stood Out

The question with the highest success rate was "Which are the only two countries sharing a land border with the US?" - an impressive 98.87% of respondents aced it. Other questions, such as “Which city is the Eiffel Tower located in”, also did well with 97.40%. 

Ironically, the trickiest question for the surveyed Americans was recognizing the capital of our northern neighbor, Canada. Fewer than half answered correctly, at just 48.67%. Another puzzler was a question about the world's largest continent, where only 64.73% gave the right response.

The Verdict

In conclusion, it's undeniable that certain states outperformed others in our survey. Nevertheless, none of the states managed to attain a score exceeding 90% or more. Given the elementary nature of the test questions, these findings serve as a gentle reminder that revisiting our geography knowledge is never a bad idea!

Methodology: surveyed 3,000 Americans on 10 elementary geography test questions, as well as asking them to rate their geography skills on a scale of 1-10. We noted their state of residence so we were able to use this to divide the data. The age range was 18+ with all participants living in the United States. The survey was conducted in October 2023.

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