40 maps they didn’t teach you in school,” one of which happens to be a WorldViews original, I thought we might be able to contribute our own collection. Some of these are pretty nerdy, but I think they’re no less fascinating and easily understandable. A majority are original to this blog, with others from a variety of sources. I’ve included a link for further reading on close to every one.Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to. So when we saw a post sweeping the Web titled “
1. A political map of the world, circa 200 A.D.
What’s more amazing: how much things have changed over the last 1,800
years, a major chunk of the civilizational history of humanity, or how
many of this map’s divisions are still with us today?
2. Where people are the most and least welcoming to foreigners
This might be useful in planning your next vacation, although there are some big surprises in the results.
3. The world’s major writing systems
This map is a reminder that the world’s divisions and commonalities
go much deeper than national borders and that the world is divided in
ways we sometimes don’t expect. It also helps to tell the stories of a
few major events that still shape the globe, the echoes of which you can
see in almost every map on this page: European colonialism, the
Arabic-speaking Islamic conquests of the 7th century, the Russian
expansions of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the (still-ongoing!)
unifications of India and China.
4. The best and worst places to be born
Here’s how they decided which countries are best to born in and what this map tells us about the world.
5. World map of major religions
Read here about how Christianity came to dominate so much of the globe and what that means today. Read below for more on the Islamic world.
6. The countries where people are the most and least emotional
People in yellow countries are the least likely to report having
emotional experiences of any kind, positive or negative. Purple
countries are where people report experiencing the most feelings. If
you’re surprised to see that the United States is among the world’s most
emotional countries (but far from No. 1) or want to learn why some
regions are so unemotional, you can read all about it here.
7. A European missionary’s map of Africa, circa 1908
I have this one hanging over my desk in part because of its appeal as
a historic document (the borders are tellingly rough) but also as a
reminder of the colonial legacy in Africa, which European powers divided
up a century ago with little respect for how actual Africans wanted to
be grouped. Those arbitrary borders are still with us today, in part
because African leaders agreed not to dispute them when they won
independence. The borders contribute significantly to conflict and unrest on the continent because there are so many diverse communities forced together.
8. Where people are the most and least tolerant of other races
This map infers racial tolerance based on a survey that asked people
in each country how willing they would be to live next door to someone
of a different race. Red countries are where people were most likely to
say they don’t want a neighbor of a different race. The map suggests some big and potentially surprising lessons for how race is treated around the world. But it’s an imperfect (and controversial) metric, so do read these five insights from an ethnic conflict specialist on the map and what it tells us.
9. The world’s most and least ethnically diverse countries
This shows the world’s most diverse countries, its most homogenous and, if you look closely, a whole lot more.
10. Where people feel the most and least loved
Red countries are where people feel the most loved; blue countries are where they feel the least loved. Here’s the story behind those sadder, bluer spots on the map.
11. A Russian professor thinks the U.S. will break up into these four countries
Professor Igor Panarin became a minor celebrity in Russia
when he first unveiled his grim prediction for the future of the United
States, which was widely covered by Russian state media and treated as
credible. Panarin said the United States would break apart under
internal strain and form four different countries, with only one wholly
independent while the others fell under foreign influence or control.
I’ve included it both for a taste of how the United States is sometimes
perceived abroad and to give American readers a sense for what it can
feel like to have the outside world get your country so wildly wrong.
12. Who loves and hates America
People in blue countries are more likely to view the United States
favorably; people in red countries are more likely to view it
unfavorably. The map has some big implications for America’s role in the world.
13. How the U.S. and China compare on global popularity
This map is actually mostly good news for the United States. Here’s why.
14. China’s disastrous passport
Sometimes maps can spark geopolitical events rather than just
reflecting them, as China did when it issued new passports containing
this map. Why the controversy? The areas I’ve highlighted in red are
marked as Chinese on the map but actually are in dispute or are administered by other countries. This did not go over well.
15. Gay rights around the world
Click here for four big takeaways from this map.
16. Where people are the most and least tolerant of homosexuality
What this has to do with gay rights.
17. Languages and dialects of the Middle East and Central Asia
The first thing this map shows you is the remarkable diversity in one
of the world’s oldest and most storied regions, from Iraq in the West
all the way to China in the East and Russia in the North. There are a
hundred other stories embedded in here: the expansion of Iran beyond
just Persian-speaking peoples, the fracturing of Afghanistan and
Pakistan, and the really stunning diversity packed into the Caucasus,
which includes the troubled Russian regions of Chechnya and Dagestan.
18. Where people smoke the most (and least) cigarettes per person
Read more here about Russia’s cigarette problem, which costs the country an estimated $48 billion every year, and about the other smoking trends seen in the map.
19. Economic inequality around the world
This map shows each country’s gini coefficient, which measures
economic inequality. The red countries are the most unequal under the
metric, and the green countries are the closest to nationwide economic
equality. More here.
20. How the U.S. compares to the world on economic inequality
Blue countries are more equal than the U.S., red countries are less
equal. This map gives you a sense of just how severe economic inequality
is in the United States; much higher than in any other developed
country, and most developing countries as well.
21. Global crop yields are stagnating
A University of Minnesota study recently published in the journal
Nature found that a significant share of the world’s crop-growing
regions are seeing growth stagnate, slow or even collapse. They
published three other maps; see the others and why they think it’s so important to “sound the alert” here.
22. The best and worst countries to be a mother
A international NGO designed a complex formula to indicate which countries are better or worse for mothers. Click here to see what their formula measures and to read about the study’s implications for mothers worldwide.
23. How al-Qaeda is changing
This map of core al-Qaeda and its affiliates tells the story of its recent decline, but it also reminds us of the group’s ability to continue branching out.
24. More than half of humanity lives inside this circle
It’s even more amazing when you see the numbers broken down.
25. Legal systems of the world
One reason I find this map fascinating is it shows how British
colonialism took the English “common law” legal system — once nearly
unique in the world — and has now spread it across every continent. You
can also see that religious law is unique to Islamic countries (although
it didn’t use to be) and that customary law, once near-global, is now
26. How far Hamas’s rockets can reach into Israel
View GazaMissiles in a larger map
This helps drive home why Israel is so concerned about Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamist militant group, and in particular about its access to Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets. Those are the ones that can reach into the light-yellow region.
27. North Korea’s missile range
North Korea makes its missile program sound like a terrifying and
immediate threat to the United States, but, as this map demonstrates, that rhetoric far exceeds actual capability.
28. Child poverty in the developed world
The United States ranks 34th out of the developed world’s 35 countries by child poverty rates, above only Romania. The United States doesn’t do much better on overall child well-being.
29. The cancer villages of China
China’s problem with “cancer villages,” or communities where cancer
rates are spiking, thought to be due to rapidly worsening pollution,
have become such a big problem that even Communist Party-run outlet
Global Times felt compelled to share this map on Chinese social media.
30. What Europeans think about the European Union
Europe’s economic slump is no secret, but how people within the
European Union feel about their big collective experiment can very
widely. This map is a pretty telling indication of whom the E.U. has helped, whom it has hurt and who think they shouldn’t really count as European (read: the United Kingdom).
31. Meet the world’s 26 remaining monarchies
There are barely two dozen left, and only 11 of them are really still in charge, but they’ve all got a story to tell. Read a mini-bio of each one here.
32. The diversity of the Levant
This color-coded map shows the different ethnic groups of Syria,
Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. There’s an awful lot of history packed into
this corner of the world — and maybe some of the deepest ethnic and
religious animosities anywhere in the world.
33. The nuclear powers, after the Cold War
The Cold War may have ended, but its thousands of nuclear warheads
are still around — and often still divided along the same lines. This
map shows in blue the Russian “umbrella states,” which are formally
under the protection of Russian nuclear weapons, and in orange the
“umbrella states” protected by the U.S./NATO. The five other nuclear
powers — Israel, Pakistan, India, China and North Korea — are in gray.
34. How people think their economies are doing
People in red countries are pessimistic about their country’s economy; people in blue countries are more optimistic. With a handful of exceptions (cough cough, China), economists seem to agree.
35. A partial map of geopolitical anomalies
Each of these red markers cheekily indicates some unusual or unique
phenomenon — for example, Abkhazia, the “barely recognized puppet state”
just between Russia and Georgia. (Read more on Abkhazia and other not-yet-real countries here.)
My favorite may be the various overseas French territories, such as
French Guyana, that are simply and accurately labeled “France.”
36. Where the atheists live
Plenty of godlessness in China, Japan and a few European countries, perhaps unsurprisingly. But there are lot more atheists in places like Saudi Arabia than you might think, despite the fact that it’s considered a serious crime.
37. What the Muslim world believes, part 1: democracy
The first of three maps from a comprehensive study on attitudes and views in the Muslim world (full breakdown of the report here) shows that most Muslims broadly support democracy, with a few telling exceptions.
38. What the Muslim world believes, part 2: religious conflict
Significant shares of just about every large Muslim population worry
about religious conflict (there is a widespread view in many
Muslim-majority countries that the religion is under siege from the
outside world). That share is more than half in four countries: Tunisia,
Pakistan, Nigeria and Niger.
39. What the Muslim world believes, part 3: honor killings
Red indicates countries where most surveyed Muslims believe that
“honor killings” — the practice of killing someone, typically a member
of your own family, for having sex out of wedlock — are sometimes
justified. Blue indicates countries where most surveyed Muslims believe
it is never justified.
40. The world as seen from space, over a 12-month time-lapse
This NASA moving image, recorded by satellite over a full year as part of their Blue Marble Project,
shows the ebb and flow of the seasons and vegetation. Both are
absolutely crucial factors in every facet of human existence — so
crucial we barely even think about them. It’s also a reminder that the
Earth is, for all its political and social and religious divisions,
still unified by the natural phenomena that make everything else