This map of Canada shows the country's familiar vastness. A single line drawn across its deep south adds a surprising layer of information.

The line runs well below the 49th parallel that constitutes that long straight stretch of U.S.-Canada border from Point Roberts, WA to Lake of the Woods, MN (see also #519).

Split in two by the U.S. state of Maine poking north, the line traverses four eastern provinces, cutting off the southern extremities of Ontario, Québec and New Brunswick. Nova Scotia is the only province that falls mostly below the line.


Amazingly, what the line does, is divide Canada in two perfect halves – demographically speaking: 50% of Canada's 35 million inhabitants live south of the line, 50% north of it. Below the line is where you find Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and other major cities. The vast expanses north of the line are mainly empty.

Canada's three northernmost circumscriptions (Yukon, Northern Territories and Nunavut) cover about 40% of Canada's total area, but only count around 100,000 people (less than 0.3% of the 35-million total). In all, 90% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border.

Neither of those statistics brings home the lopsidedness of Canada's population distribution as well as this map. Which brings to mind another map that makes a similar demographic point, using a circle. The circle separates a large area in southeast Asia from the rest of the world. Again, the line (a circle is a line, okay?) divides the population in two parts – this time it's the world's total population, which currently stands at 7.42 billion.

More than half of humanity lives inside this relatively small circle, which contains most or all of six of the world's Top 10 most populated countries: China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan (and 2 of the following 10: the Philippines and Thailand). The lesser part of humanity has all of the Americas, Africa, Europe, Oceania and even most of Asia to itself. 

And there's more. Here's another 50/50 map, this time of the United States. And this time not demographic, but financial. Inside the circle, centered on New Jersey and encompassing rich, powerful and populous cities of America's Northeastern urban corridor, live 20% of the U.S. population (approximately 65 million out of a total of 317 million); and is concentrated 50% of the country's wealth (to be precise: $36.4 trillion out of $72.1 trillion – 2013 figures).

A bit more speculative, but still every bit as fascinating, is this map, circling the area in which the Voynich Manuscript supposedly was written. The mysterious medieval manuscript has not been deciphered, but clues in the text (and the ample illustrations) seem to indicate an origin in northern Europe. The clues must have been quite vague, for the circle is huge: it includes Scandinavia in its entirety, half of Germany and everything north of Austria, Hungary and Romania, up to and including Russia, way east of Moscow.

A much smaller circle, in the Middle East, marks off the zone in which the Almighty took time out of his busy schedule to perform the miracles that provide the metaphysical backing for the three Abrahamic religions. Every single Act of God mentioned in the Torah, Bible and/or Qur'an is located within the tiny circle, which contains the Holy Land, Lower Egypt, Syria, and lots of Arabian desert.

We started with out with lines, so let's end with another one. Australia might not have a Greco-Roman cultural frontier, but it does have a cool divide of its own. Naturally the Barassi Line is to do with sports. It runs from the western edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria (in the Northern Territories) in a straight southeasterly line to the Tasman Sea near Canberra. West of the line, Australian rules football is the most popular sport, east of the line, it's rugby (either rugby league or rugby union). In keeping with the first maps in this post, each side of the line represents about 50% of Australia's total population.



Want more curious dividers? Here's the Jirecek Line (#128). Seen any others cool and curious circle-or-line maps? Let me know at, and I'll add them here.

Canada map found here on Reddit. Global population map seen here on Brilliant Maps. The map of America's wealth comes from here (maps by Sasha Trubetskoy, main site now moved to Freestyle Geographic). The Voynich Manuscript putative origin map seen here on Unlocking the Voynich Manuscript. Acts of God mapped here on Throw Down Your Rod. Barassi Line found here on Wikipedia

Strange Map #782