Can You Find Ukraine?

GEOGRAPHY

Although two-thirds of Americans have reported following the situation between Russia and Ukraine in Crimea at least “somewhat closely,” most actually know very little about events on the ground—or even where the ground is. (Washington Post blog)

We’ll help you find Ukraine!

We circled the Crimean Peninsula, a disputed territory in Ukraine. Russia has annexed the territory, and National Geographic is updating its maps to reflect that. Map by National Geographic Maps

We circled the Crimean Peninsula, a disputed territory in Ukraine. Russia has annexed the territory, and National Geographic is updating its maps to reflect that.
Map by National Geographic Maps

Discussion Ideas

  • Why does it matter if Americans know where Ukraine is? Watch our video “Why is Geo-literacy Important” for some help.
    • Being able to accurately evaluate the situation in Ukraine helps people to make what geo-literacy supporters call informed and “far-reaching decisions.”
      • The American political response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea will color its diplomatic, economic, and political relationship with both Russia and Ukraine for years, if not decades.
      • Many Americans support economic sanctions against Russia or military intervention in Ukraine. This could potentially cost the U.S. millions of dollars and hundreds of lives.

 

  • According to the political scientists writing in the Washington Post blog, younger people (18-24 years old) generally have a more accurate idea about where Ukraine is than older people (65 years and older). Can you think of a reason for this?
    • Huge generalization ahead! Younger people generally have more recent exposure to academic reasoning than people who have been in the workforce for decades. Most people probably learned where Ukraine was at some point, but many older people haven’t thought about it in quite a while, for understandable reasons. Until recently, Ukraine hasn’t been in the news much, and unless you have business or family there, it’s easy to forget that sort of geographic knowledge. This type of forgetting is called transience. “[M]emory has a use-it-or-lose-it quality,” according to the helpful folks at the Harvard Medical School. “Although transience might seem like a sign of memory weakness, brain scientists regard it as beneficial because it clears the brain of unused memories, making way for newer, more useful ones. In this sense, transience is akin to cleaning the junk out of your closets or clearing the temporary files from your computer’s hard drive.” Older memories might just need to reboot when thinking about Ukraine.
    • Ukraine only became an independent nation in 1991. Before that, it had been a member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) for more than 70 years. For millions of Americans who grew up with the Cold War, “the Ukraine” was a region in the vast Soviet Union, which stretched from Central Europe to the Pacific Ocean.

 

  • Ukraine isn’t the only geography in the news lately. Use the markers and drawing tools on our MapMaker Interactive to make a “news map” of CNN’s “Five Things to Know for Your New Day.”
    • Southeast Indian Ocean: Australia has picked up more fresh signals that officials hope are locator beacons from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
    • Ukraine: There are claims and counterclaims as tensions rise in eastern Ukraine.
    • Pretoria, South Africa: Track star Oscar Pistorius is back on the stand as he continues to tell his story of what happened on the night he fatally shot his girlfriend.
    • Northeastern Louisiana (5th congressional district): Rep. Vance McAllister says he won’t resign over a video released this week showing him passionately kissing a staffer in his office.
    • Connecticut: Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team grabbed its own national title, beating Notre Dame 79-58.

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