36 maps that will make you see the world in completely new ways
The internet has led to a renaissance in mapmaking, with thousands of interactive, illustrated, informational, or just plain silly maps being published on a daily basis. We’ve done a number of other pieces on some of the web’s interesting and weird maps, but there’s thousands more out there, and it can be hard to keep up. So here’s another installment, with 36 new maps we haven’t posted before.
1. Wind map of America
Check out the live map of America’s winds at Hint.fm. It’s awesome and entrancing (and might help explain your weather).
2. Actual discoveries by Europeans
These are the lands Europeans actually first discovered — as in there weren’t already millions of people there. It’s much less impressive than what grade-school history classes would have you believe, but it’s still a lot of discoveries for people sailing around the world in wooden boats.
3. Countries by racial tolerance
This map was fairly surprising to me — I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that Russia was more tolerant than France, and I’m happy to see the US is in the most tolerant group. Or maybe we’re just less open about our racism.
4. America’s favorite beers by state
You know, with the exception of the giant swaths of Bud Light states, I’m not too ashamed of this map. We’re getting better taste, America.
5. Wind map of the world
Again, this is best seen in the beautiful, real-time interactive live map of the world’s winds, but this is a screenshot of the world’s winds.
6. North America’s pre-European languages
This one is particularly amusing given the whole slightly racist, ‘Americans should only speak their original language, English,’ campaign.
7. World consumption of milk
Two questions: 1) Who took the time to make this map? 2) Wouldn’t the world be a better place if stereotypes were less, “Such and such people are lazy/greedy,” and more, “Man, those Swedes sure love their milk”?
8. How humans spread around the globe
It’s actually pretty incredible how we spread to every corner of the globe without even knowing what was there, especially in regards to the Pacific Islands.
9. Pirate risk on the high seas
While I wish this map’s spellchecker had caught the word ‘problmeatic,’ it’s fairly clear what the impact of Somali pirates has been on travel in the Indian Ocean.
10. Population distribution in the United States
All of this is old information, but I particularly love the illustration of it here, as if population density were topography.
11. The religions of the Middle East
Sadly, lazy thinking prevails in the United States about the religious breakdown of the Middle East — George W. Bush was rumored to not know about the Sunni/Shi’ite divide before invading Iraq — but this map illustrates that the region is not necessarily monolithically Muslim.
12. Every detected hurricane and cyclone since 1842
While those of us on America’s Gulf and East Coasts may be sick of hurricanes, we can’t really complain when you look at the sea of white over the Philippines.
13. Every person in San Francisco
This map is based on the 2010 US census and covers every single person in the city of San Francisco. There’s a similar map of the entire country here. The code is this: Blue dots are white, green dots are black, red dots are Asian, orange dots are Hispanic, and brown dots are all other races.
14. The world’s great rivers
There’s a zoomable version here, but this map compares the world’s major known rivers as of 1814, with their lengths and the place they flow into at the top.
15. The closest pizza places from anywhere in the United States
Let’s have a moment of silence for all of the poor bastards whose closest pizza chain is Sbarro.
16. Where people feel the most loved
Kudos to Hungary, Paraguay, Rwanda, Lebanon, Cyprus, and the Philippines. And if you’re in Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, start giving out free hugs.
17. What each country leads the world in
Syria’s having a rough time right now, but at least it leads the world in big falafel balls. A zoomable version is available here.
18. The world’s economic classes by location
Probably the most amazing thing about this map to me is not the locations of the upper classes — which, to be honest, is totally unsurprising — but that to qualify as having a high level of income, you have to make only $12,196 a year.
19. America’s rivers
These are all the rivers in the contiguous 48 states.
20. Which rivers flow into the Mississippi
7,000 of America’s rivers lead into the Mississippi and from there into the Gulf of Mexico, covering pretty much all of the Midwest but surprisingly little of the South.
21. Indian homes with toilets
Indoor plumbing is slowly making its way throughout India, unsurprisingly concentrated in the urban centers.
22. China’s invasive passport
If the disputed territories aren’t on your passport, then you’re not really trying hard enough, are you? Time to put the Falklands on your passport, Argentina.
23. Where the world’s slaves are
Slavery does still exist around the world. There are an estimated 30 million slaves in the world today — 60,000 in the United States.
24. The world’s economic center of gravity over the past 2,014 years
This is an absolutely fascinating map, showing how global economic power has shifted over time. You can see specifically that the shift towards Europe was a historically brief moment, that America briefly pulled it in its direction, and then you can watch as Japan and China awake again. It’s also pretty telling that this has been exclusively in the global north and only moved south for the first time in 2,000 years in the last decade.
25. Where the oil comes from and where it goes
None of this map should be much of a surprise, but it’s interesting to see how much of our oil comes from Venezuela, despite our tense relations with the country.
26. American ancestry by county
I love that the northern parts of the South are just listed as ‘American’ — as if their ancestry has been lost to time. It’s fun to see some stereotypes confirmed: New York and New Jersey are Italian, the Midwest is German, and Massachusetts is overwhelmingly Irish.
27. Income inequality by country
While the US stands at about the middle of the pack, it’s incredible which countries are more equitable than we are. You’ll notice Niger, Ethiopia, Egypt, and India all are.
28. The Waterman Butterfly projection
It’s well known that flat maps generally distort the actual shapes and sizes of the countries (often emphasizing the country or continent of the mapmaker), so some cartographers have attempted to make more accurate flat maps that depict the actual size and shape of things on the globe. Some look like a flattened orange peel, but others look like a pretty butterfly.
29. The world’s navies in the Pacific
It turns out the world’s largest ocean is still pretty heavily militarized in peacetime.
30. What Africa would look like without colonization
This one is obviously speculation, but it’s particularly interesting to see just how many more divisions there are from modern-day Africa and how they don’t remotely reflect today’s current borders. The map was constructed based on the tribal and political maps before 1844.
31. A Twitter map of Europe
Unlike Africa, Europe’s country lines at least make sense. Each of the different colors is a separate language, and it’s a pretty vivid map of what Europe actually does look like. There’s a larger map of the whole world, but it turns out a lot of the world doesn’t tweet.
32. The happiest countries
For people interested in international travel and happiness, I suggest reading Eric Weiner’s excellent book The Geography of Bliss. And kudos to North America for nailing it.
33. The world’s power outlets
This one is especially useful for the travelers out there. And while I’m generally anti-imperialist, this is one cultural area which I think Americans should aggressively push on the rest of the world.
34. Annual cigarette consumption
Holy shit, Russia. We need to start carpet-bombing Moscow with nicotine patches.
35. Child poverty in the developed world
The US comes in 34th out of the 35 countries ranked.
36. When the polar ice caps melt
We’re finishing off with a pretty sobering one. This is what the world would look like if the polar ice caps melted. Huge numbers of the world’s major cities (along with the entire state of Florida) would be underwater. For the full effect, check out NatGeo’s interactive map.