A cool trend started a little while back where people would type “why is [place] so…” or “[place] is…” into Google and wait to see what Google’s autocomplete function would supply. There are now maps of autocompletes for every single country on Earth, and what we search for when we search for countries is extremely telling about what we think of each of the places.
It is of course a little bit reductive to have an entire country reduced to a single word or phrase — and sometimes it’s just straight up insulting — but there’s definitely something to learn from these. Since we’ve seen them done for virtually every place in the world, we thought we’d compile all of them into a single place, and since I’m an American, I’m going to start with the United States.
The United States
I’m particularly pleased to see that my home state of Ohio is “Why is Ohio so important?” This is probably a reference to our role in national elections, where we basically pick the United States President every time, but I’m going to choose to just assume we’re super important. The best by far is “Why is Connecticut so haunted?” and Louisiana and Tennessee have some public relations work they need to start doing.
Really, guys? “Cold”? Because it’s Canada, that’s why. God.
This is by far my favorite map, because it checks the autocomplete in both Spanish and English. The difference between the two is huge: Canada, for example, has the mildly insulting “Why is Canada a country?” in English, and the slightly baffling “Why is Canada a developed country?” in Spanish. My guess is that this is basically asking why, unlike virtually every other country in the Americas, Canada doesn’t have serious poverty issues, and also hasn’t been completely messed up by US foreign policy.
The English speakers lack a bit of imagination for most of Central and South America, though: “Why is [place] so poor?” is a super boring question, people. You have the whole internet at your fingertips! Ask more interesting questions!
Another map with too many “poor’s” on it, the most interesting autocompletes for Europe are “Why is France so gay?” and “Why is Spain so empty?”
I get the France question, because look: Americans and Brits are kinda dicks about the French. We go out of our way to portray them as effeminate, overly intellectual, or, you know, as mimes, so it seems natural that we’d be shitty and homophobic about them on Google. I completely don’t get the Spain question, though. Is Spain even remotely empty?
Ireland is super green, though.
The Asia autocompletes officially have the dumbest question: “Why is Mongolia so small?” It’s the 19th largest country in the world (out of around 200), so I can only assume people ask this because it’s sandwiched between Russia and China, two of the biggest countries in the world, so they’re asking why it’s not relatively bigger. Other favorites include “Why is Azerbaijan in Eurovision?” and “Why are the Maldives so vulnerable to climate change?”
The answer is because they’re, like, four feet above sea level at their highest point, Google, and we’re basically turning them into Atlantis, but I think this might be the most intelligent question we get out of autocomplete across the board.
I’ve always wondered why Kiribati is pronounced “Kiribas.” And apparently we think a lot of Oceania is “sinking.” They’re less “sinking,” people, and more staying exactly where they are as we suicidally raise the level of the sea.
Well, you all expected this one. The rest of the world is spectacularly unimaginative about Africa, so naturally the sole thing we fixate on is poverty. If that’s not a reason to promote further travel there, I can’t think of what is.