Tuesday, 14 January 2014

40 more maps that explain the world

Data source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, World Bank. (David Whitmore, John Grimwade / National Geographic)
Maps seemed to be everywhere in 2013, a trend I like to think we encouraged along with August's 40 maps that explain the world. Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to. You might consider this, then, a collection of maps meant to inspire your inner map nerd. I've searched far and wide for maps that can reveal and surprise and inform in ways that the daily headlines might not, with a careful eye for sourcing and detail. I've included a link for more information on just about every one. Enjoy.

1. Where the world's people live, by economic status

Those dots represent people: the brighter the dot, the more people. The color shows their country's average income level: blue is richest and yellow is poorest. I want to start with this map because it's a reminder that the world is first and foremost made up of people; to me, the best maps are primarily about showing us people, not politics or geography. It's also a way of looking at the divisions in the world other than by political borders; that's a theme we'll come back to. (One caveat to this map: it doesn't show economic variations within countries, just the national averages.)

2. How humans spread across the world

Human beings first left Africa about 60,000 years ago in a series of waves that peopled the globe. This map shows where those waves of migration went and when they occurred (the "40K" over Europe means humans arrived there about 40,000 years ago). You can see that humans have the most history in the Middle East, India and of course Africa itself (the map does not show the much longer history of migration within Africa). We are relative newcomers to the Americas, one of the reasons it has not until very recently been as densely populated as other parts of the world.

3. When the Mongols took over the known world

The Mongol conquests are difficult to fathom. Although their most important technology was the horse, they conquered much of the known world from China to Europe, a series of wars that killed tens of millions of people, then a substantial chunk of the world's population. The Mongols also established what may well have been the largest empire in history until the British surpassed them six long centuries later. It's difficult to understate how much we still feel their impact today; the country we know of today as Iraq has never fully recovered from the 1258 sacking of Baghdad, which until then had been a center of global wealth and knowledge.

4. When Spain and Portugal dominated the world

This map shows the Spanish and Portuguese empires at their height. They didn't hold all of this territory concurrently, but they were most powerful from 1580 to 1640, when they were politically unified. Portugal would later pick up more territory in Africa, not shown on the map. We often forget that Spain controlled big parts of Europe, in Italy and the Netherlands. In the Middle Ages, Spain and Portugal were so powerful that they signed a set of treaties literally dividing up the globe between them. They became so rich so quickly that their trade with the Ottoman Empire, perhaps the other great imperial power of the time, filled the Ottoman economy with more gold than it could handle and plunged it economy into an inflationary crisis so severe that the empire never fully recovered.

5. Major shipping routes in the colonial era

This map shows British, Dutch and Spanish shipping routes from 1750 to 1800. It's been created from newly digitized logbooks of European ships during this period. (Unfortunately, the French data is not shown.) These lines are the contours of empire and of European colonialism, yes, but they're also the first intimations of the global trade and transportation system that are still with us today. This was the flattening of the world, for better and for worse.

6. Actual European discoveries

Americans have mostly come around to accept that, despite what our grade school teachers may have told us, Europeans did not "discover" America; the original arrivals had done that 15,000 years earlier. But Europeans did discover lots of land that had never been before seen by human eyes. You can, embedded in this map, see successive waves of European exploration: first the Portuguese, then the Spanish, then the British and much later the Americans. The map's creator, the always-insightful Bill Rankin, writes, "this map particularly underscores the maritime expertise of Pacific Islanders. Unlike the islands of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, nearly all of the Pacific was settled by the 14th century."

7. How countries compare on economic inequality

8. If the polar ice caps completely melted

9. Where the world's 30 million slaves live10. Our globalized economy: What it takes to make nutella

10. Our globalized economy: What it takes to make nutella

11. Where populations are growing and shrinking

12. Walls of the world

13. The Arctic land grab

14. Who wins Nobel prizes (and who doesn't)

15. The 17 countries that could have housing bubbles

16. The happiest and least happy countries

17. All terror attacks worldwide in 2012

18. North America's languages, before colonialism

19. Where place names come from in the Americas


20. American ancestry by county


21. What territory Mexican drug cartels control

22. The empires of Africa, before colonialism

23. What Africa might look like if it had never been colonized

24. The amazingly diverse languages of Africa

25. Europe, as mapped by tweets

26. How the Barbarian Invasions reshaped Europe

27. When the Vikings spread across Europe
28. World War II in Europe, day by day
29. The word for "bear" in European languages
30. People who die trying to immigrate to Europe

31. The Islamic states of the world, from 1450 to today

32. The 1916 European treaty to carve up the Middle East

33. The religious lines dividing today's Middle East

34. How the 1948 Arab-Israeli war helped lead to Israel's borders

35. Percentage of Indian homes with toilets

36. The languages of China and the surrounding area

37. The WWII firebombing of Japan
38. Territorial claims in the South China Sea

39. The naval firepower in the Pacific

40. Every airline flight in the world over 24 hours

No comments:

Post a Comment