I was reading a blog recently which reminded me of a story.
An ex of mine worked at the border between Washington state and British Columbia; she worked on the Canadian side, welcoming a lot of US-born visitors who had little to no knowledge about the country they were about to enter. Case in point:
A normal-looking family drove up, and she asked them the usual questions: Where are you going? How long are you planning to stay? etc. The answers? Alaska, they said. For the day.
They were completely unaware that Alaska lies a good 3,500 kilometres (about 2,200 miles) north of the border. They even offered up their daughter's school atlas, which proudly showed the continental US, with Canada completely obliterated from view -- Alaska sat just north of the Washington border, and Hawaii lay about 100 km (60 miles) off the California shoreline!
My ex suggested they drive to Vancouver, which she suggested was a very nice place to have lunch, as it's only about 40 minutes north of the border crossing. They could buy a city map and perhaps learn a little about their northern neighbours.
Well, the otherwise sane-looking family drove about 30 metres (100 feet) past the booth, and despite the August heat, proceeded to bundle up in parkas and other winter gear. It seems their TV weather station had displayed Fahrenheit temperatures south of the border, and Celsius temperatures north of the border -- because the number for Seattle said "100" and the number less than a 3-hour drive north said "35", they honestly thought the air was going to plunge 70 degrees in a matter of kilometres, so they'd better keep warm to avoid serious illness.
I know there are many, many well-educated, well-travelled and well-read Americans out there. But considering certain election results and the sheer number of incidents which point to cultural isolationism, it's amazing to me that the US is still as powerful around the world as it is.
Can someone explain to me how an entire nation can be so utterly ignorant of its closest neighbour? Sure we've not the biggest population, but our two countries do more trade per day than any other two nations in the world. It's beyond me how Americans could possibly live so close but know so little.