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Frank Jacobs

Journalist, writer, and blogger

Frank Jacobs is Big Think's "Strange Maps" columnist.

From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.

While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.

"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".

A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.

strange maps

13 – The retreat of Cornish

Cornwall is the southwesternmost county of England. As with other ‘extremities’ of the British Isles, it was one of the refuges of the original (partially romanized) Celtic inhabitants, fleeing before […]

12 – Europe’s divides

An interesting look at the religions and language groups that are elements of division (and union) in Europe. The mapmaker wanted to make a point by indicating three ‘core areas’ […]

11 – “Edwardistan”

The British tried their hand at subduing Afghanistan in the 19th Century, when the Empire was at the top of its game. Their troops were massacred (with one man left […]

7 – Greater Albania

The Albanians are descendants of the Illyrians, an ancient Balkan people who preceded the Slavic populations surrounding their native territories. They presently have an independent nation – Albania, in their […]

6 – Market Reef

So you’re a map nerd and you think you know about every cartographic anomaly in the world, from the bizarre Belgian enclave of Baarle-Hertog in the south of the Netherlands […]

4 – Imperial Texas

Texas is a special state within the US – not only the biggest of the contiguous 48 states, but also culturally distinct. Furthermore, it was at one time an independent […]