It seems that the United States is populated by people who couldn't identify a country if it jumped up and down on a map, waving its flag and shouting its name. Well, okay. Perhaps the majority of my compatriots are not quite so foolish, but watching today's coverage of the events in Boston sure have made it seem that way.
I awoke this morning to several emails and Facebook messages and posts telling me rather conflictingly that the Boston bombers were from both Chechnya and Kyrgyzstan. A quick search of the news revealed that the Tsarnaev brothers were ethnically Chechen, and that at least one of them was born in Kyrgyzstan. (As I'm leaving for my second trip to Kyrgyzstan in less than a month, you can see why people thought to message me about this.)
As the day went by and more news agencies began reporting on the Tsarnaevs, things got kind of confusing. The ethnically Chechen Tsarnaev family seems to have moved around a bit: from Kyrgyzstan to Dagestan (in southwestern Russia, next door to Chechnya). Before moving to the US, one or both of the brothers may have lived in Kazakhstan - but it's hard to know, as various mainstream media news sources seem to think that Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Chechnya, and Dagestan are interchangeable terms for the same place. AHEM: They're not. Slate put out a nice get-your-geography-straight article on the topic. I'm going to give you what Slate didn't: Maps. Courtesy of Google Maps. You could've looked this up yourself.