Washington, D.C. -- According to a Gallup/Harris poll released Monday, a full 37 percent of American citizens are incapable of identifying their home country on a map of the United States.
Of the 1,400 residents surveyed, the most common incorrect responses placed the more than 230-year-old territory in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans (19 percent), the space where Mexico would appear were it in fact included on the map (10 percent), and inside the word "America" written just above the northernmost states (6 percent).
"On the whole, these figures should be construed as somewhat disappointing," Gallup spokesman Keith Ventner said. "Especially the two percent that believed the United States was located on the map's color-coded inset legend. I think we as a nation likely could have done without seeing that."
When asked to reveal the identity of the giant America-shaped landmass found on the map, several of those polled were decidedly varied in their answers.
"That thing definitely looked familiar," said autoworker and father of three Ed McConnell. "And my gut told me there were probably a whole bunch of Americans there. So I had to go with 'Iraq.'"
Other guesses as to the nature of the mystery country included "Hollywood," "Palestine," "The Shire," and "Club Med Punta Cana."
"The sentiment of many Americans is that there's little intrinsic value in studying a map of a place you're already at," noted Weiss. "It'd be like driving to Graceland and then asking for directions once you've arrived. Not much point."
Shirley Matheson, a part-time Arby's employee residing in Dayton, Ohio, agreed with Weiss's assessment. "I live in the U.S.A., so why would I need to know where America is? Or the United States for that matter?"
Added Matheson: "As long as there's still room on that map for all three of those countries, I'm sure everyone will keep getting along just fine."
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security sees the Gallup/Harris poll results as a blessing in disguise. According to Secretary Michael Chertoff, the nation would be better off if these numbers skewed even higher.
"Personally, I believe if fewer people in this world could spot America on a map, we'd have a much better chance of avoiding national tragedies like 9/11," said Chertoff. "You can't attack a country you can't find."
Of the respondents actually capable of pinpointing America on the map of America, their accuracy decreased considerably with each additional query about the country. Asked for the name of the U.S. capital, those polled placed Washington, D.C., fifth behind "Minneapolis-St. Paul," "Mount Rushmore," "America City," and "Whitewater."
Despite Americans' seemingly underdeveloped sense of their own geography, history and domestic policy, they did score high points on the issue of patriotism, calling America "the greatest country in the world" (47 percent), "the best state of all the Unites States" (31 percent), and "a place to definitely explore when I finally get my passport" (22 percent).