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Culture & Religion

Strange Maps Joins Big Think

Libyan strongman Muammar Gadaffi has it in for peace-loving Switzerland.  He says he’d destroy the country if he had atomic weapons. But since he doesn’t have them, he advocates wiping Switzerland off the map by partitioning it into three parts along linguistic lines and ceding those parts to neighboring France, Italy, and Germany.  Gadaffi’s fanciful rearrangement of Switzerland is shown in a map on Big Think’s marvelously quirky new blog, Strange Maps.

Since 2006, London journalist Frank Jacobs has served up 476 cartographic curiosities on Strange Maps, all of which can now be found on Big Think.  He collects all kinds of maps—real, fake, imagined, and historic—and publishes them with commentary.  His most popular map, “US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs,” has been viewed more than 587,000 times.  Some 300,000 people enjoyed his Pop vs. Soda map, which showed by region of the country what locals call the 43 gallons of carbonated beverages that the average American drinks annually.  His post Europe, If the Nazis Had Won, which was viewed by 232,000 people, is sobering and chilling, and his map Where (and How) Evolution Is Taught in the US is disturbing in another way.

Not all his maps are serious.  For example, there is the map of the area codes of regions of the US where the rapper Ludacris sings about having “hoes.”  In his post “Friends, Polypotamians, Countrymen!,” Jacobs depicts Thomas Jefferson’s vision for dividing the Northwest Territory into ten states with names such as Sylvania and Assenisipia.

Check back at Strange Maps every Monday for the latest bizarre map that Jacobs will be posting to Big Think.

We live in an age in which publishing on paper is in trouble.  But Strange Maps, which was launched on the Internet and has a large, devoted online following, inspired one successful print publication, an anthology of cartographic treats released by Penguin.


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