Friday, August 10, 2018

‘Why Do Belarus and Moldova Exist?’ Americans Ask Google

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 9 – The questions people ask about other countries have always said a lot about how they view it; and how they do drives many of the policies their governments adopt about these states.  Now, with the rise of Big Data, it is possible to discuss these attitudes with far greater precision.

            Yakub Marian, a Czech researcher, has mined information about the Google searches Americans make about other countries – specifically when they ask “why does country x or y  do what it does or have the features that Americans know about it (

            Sergey Polatzhitsky of the Belarusian ThinkTanks portal says that Americans using Google asked about his country most often “Why does Belarus exist?”  They also ask a similar question about Moldova. And about Ukraine, they inquire, “why does Ukraine want Crimea?” (

            Americans ask very different questions about other countries in Europe: About Russia, their leading query is “why does Russia support Assad?” about Latvia, “why does Latvia have high-speed Internet?” about Lithuania, they ask “why in Lithuania is there a high level of mortality?”

            Looking further to the West, the study finds, Americans asked “why are there no snakes in Ireland?” “why does Finland have the best schools in the world?” and ‘why do they speak French in France?” 

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