Being such a vast country and with less than half of its citizens owning a passport (37%
according to the latest figures), it is perhaps not surprising that world geography is not the strongest subject for many Americans. There are numerous instances of American public figures getting confused on the location of distant places, including the President himself. George W. Bush's declaration that Africa was a nation is one of the better known examples (listen to the clip here
The map of Europe, according to Fox News
Part of the problem for geographical ignorance, however, is perhaps due to media misrepresentation. Leading Croatian daily Jutarnji List
ran an article on January 5, 2012, about a map of Europe used by Fox News during its coverage of the recent Iowa caucuses, which portrayed a map of the Balkans that has no bearing to reality whatsoever, with countries such as Croatia omitted entirely.
Greater Bulgaria stretched to the Italian border and was portrayed as being within the borders of former Yugoslavia, while the only former Yugoslav republic to make the map (Serbia) had been relocated north to Hungary and Austria.
The geography of the Balkans - and former Yugoslavia - is tricky at the best of times, and maps such as the one aired by Fox News only add to the confusion.
Hvar is not in Bulgaria
Fortunately, not all Americans study world geography via Fox News, and U.S. tourists are coming to Croatia in increasing numbers. On Croatia's premier island - Hvar, named by Lonely Planet
as its number 5 destination in 2012, for example, American tourists to the main town of the same name are among the most common tourists. According to official statistics
, 6,886 American tourists visited Hvar Town in 2011 - which made global headlines as the place where a British prince jumped fully clothed into a nightclub swimming pool, and where Beyonce
revealed her baby bump to the world. Only Italian and British tourists visited in greater numbers.
To clear up any potential confusion, the territory of former Yugoslavia now comprises:
Slovenia - capital Ljubljana, member of the EU
Croatia - capital Zagreb, set to join the EU in 2013
Bosnia and Herzegovina - capital Sarajevo
Montenegro - capital Podgorica
Serbia - capital Belgrade
Macedonia - capital Skopje
Kosovo - capital Pristina (the latest independent country in the region, Kosovo's independence has not been universally recognised).