[quote]European countries tend to have more knowledge due to their history of invading/being invaded by others which means its part of their history that is taught (if that makes sense). Also, the fact that Europe has a more central location in comparison to the US means they do have more knowledge--at least on the surface--of the countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
[quote]By comparison, scalewise, European nations are kind of akin to contiguous states, albeit ones separated by languages and millennia-old discrete cultures. Europe is also close to Africa and has ties to it through colonization and so Europeans tend to get a lot of African news compared with the US.
Excuses and not terribly good ones.
The U.S. has 800 military bases in 70 countries; it played a major role in endless military conflicts with little rest for over 100 years, and has had very active diplomatic and other relations with the whole fucking world for a very long time. The U.S. has actively placed itself in the middle of a lot of international issues and the side-effect of that is not curiosity but disinterest.
In Spain if I mention Delaware the great majority of people know that it is a state, and they usually have at least a good general sense of where the state is, many will say, "Oh, that is the first state from when the nation was formed, isn't it?, or "That is the state where all of the big corporations are registered." Initially I mentioned the state with reluctance having had too often to explain—to Americans—yes, it's a real state, yes it's small, yes it's on the East Coast, no it's not part of Pennsylvania nor New York.
Of course Europeans has easier proximity to international travel than do Americans; it's easy to understand the geographic obstacle to international travel that many Americans face. But in the country with the world's highest GDP, 10% of American adults have never been outside the state in which they were born, and the average American has visited just 12 states. The implication that Americans are too busy exploring their own nation to explore any other doesn't hold up well.
And for fuck's sake, likening European countries to U.S. states is a real stretch. Chicago and Minneapolis may be similar to the distance between Barcelona and Monaco, but that's where the comparison stops. They haven't been under the same rule for 1500 years or so; they are very different places.