from the world's big
Maps show the oldest company in (nearly) every country – and a few interesting corporate trends
- A Japanese company has been building Buddhist temples for almost a millennium and a half.
- It's the oldest continuously operating company in the world, but quite atypical.
- If you want to build a business that lasts, banks, breweries and postal services are a good bet – but there are intriguing exceptions.
Longest surviving companies<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MTkzMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMDM2NjI4MX0.VG4UVjHmnKf54o7E0FX4Dt0TSALP6bGbOcFlv4uQ8fc/img.jpg?width=980" id="2882c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="84616d96de31d93792cb5f286d420ab1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bOsaka Castle, built by Kongo Gumi, the world's oldest company." />
Osaka Castle, built by Kongo Gumi, the world's oldest company.
Image: Suicasmo, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>'The oldest profession in the world': thanks to a popular short story by Kipling (1), that label is now firmly attached to the sex trade. Yet up until the First World War, by which time it was irreparably sullied by its association with prostitution, that mantle had been claimed by other, more reputable trades as well.</p><p><span></span>No one had a better argument than tailors; for did Adam and Eve, suddenly ashamed of their nakedness after tasting the forbidden fruit, not immediately set about making garments for themselves? Others claiming 'firstness' at one time or other include farmers, gardeners, barbers, doctors, teachers, priests and… murderers. </p><p><span></span>However, none of these vocations is referenced on these maps, which show not the oldest <em>professions</em>, but the oldest companies for almost each country in the world. It must be that gardening and/or murdering are more of a freelance kind of gig. </p><p><span></span>If we go by longest surviving company, the oldest profession in the world is that of builder. No business is older than the Japanese construction company Kongō Gumi, founded in 578 and still in business today. If we look at each continent separately, the oldest companies per country reveal some interesting characteristics of corporate longevity. </p>
Europe: the oldest restaurant in the world<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA4Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjE1ODY3N30.s7mcdvnVHFFP525vbmbkbRJsDSxYt66W8v2iSlhbTuQ/img.png?width=980" id="a7e3b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f23c4b11150b21fbda6d38051e086da2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe oldest company in Europe: St Peter Stifts Kulinarium in Austria." />
The oldest company in Europe: St Peter Stifts Kulinarium in Austria.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Money and alcohol are the mainstays of the oldest companies in nearly half of Europe's countries. So if you want to found a long-lasting company, get banking. Or brewing. Other professions with staying power: communications, hospitality, manufacturing. Oh, and salt mines. Europe's oldest business – and quite possibly the world's oldest restaurant – is tucked away in an abbey in Salzburg.<br></p><ul><li>Most popular category: wineries, breweries and distilleries: 21 countries (listed youngest to oldest). </li></ul><strong>Romania: Ursus (1878)</strong><p><strong></strong>Ursus Breweries is a conglomerate of several Romanian breweries, the oldest of which (Cluj-Napoca Brewery) goes back to 1878. Ursus is also the name of the most popular beer in Romania. The company is owned by Asahi Breweries Europe. </p><strong>Armenia: Yerevan Ararat Brandy-Wine-Vodka Factory (1877)</strong><p>Started producing wine in 1877 and brandy in 1887. It is most famous for Noy, Armenia's leading brand of brandy, popular throughout the former Soviet Union.</p><strong>Belarus: Olivaria (1864)</strong><p><strong></strong>Current share of the country's beer market: about 29%. Since 2015, Carlsberg owns two thirds of the shares, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development a further 21%.</p><strong>Bosnia: Sarajevska Pivara (1864)</strong><p><strong></strong>One of the main beer producers and drinks distributors of the former Yugoslavia. </p><strong>Hungary: Zwack (1790)</strong><p><strong></strong>The Zwack distillery in Budapest makes liqueurs and spirits. Its signature beverage is Unicum, a drink with 40% alcohol, made with a secret recipe of more than 40 different herbs and spices. It is one of Hungary's national drinks.</p><strong>Serbia: Apatin (1756)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded as an Imperial brewery by the Austrian Imperial Chamber, Apatin Brewery was privatised at the end of the 19th century, collectivised by Yugoslavia's communists and re-privatised in 1991. The leading brewery in Serbia, it is now owned by America's Molson Coors. </p><strong>Lithuania: Gubernija (1665)</strong><p><strong></strong>The pagan Lithuanians had a beer god called <em>Ragutis</em>, and modern Lithuania still has a distinct and thriving beer industry. Gubernija, founded in 1665 and privatised in 1999, produces beer and kvass, a fermented drink made from rye bread.</p><strong>Latvia: Cēsu Alus (1590)</strong><p><strong></strong>An audit from 1590 refers to a brewery in Cēsis Castle, the earliest mention of what was to become Cēsu Alus – considered to be the oldest brewery in the Baltics and the Nordics, as well as the largest brewery in Latvia, producing 64% of its beer.</p><strong>Luxembourg: Mousel (1511)</strong><p><strong></strong>The Mousel company has been brewing beer continuously since 1511, originally in Luxembourg city, now in Diekirch. It is now owned by AB InBev, the world's largest brewer. </p><strong>Czech Republic: Pivovar Broumov (1348)</strong><p><strong></strong>Originally attached to the Benedictine monastery in the eastern Bohemian town of Broumov. Produces light, semi-dark and dark beers, as well as flavored ones.</p><strong>Netherlands: Brand (1340)</strong><p><strong></strong>Heineken-owned Brand's claim to be the oldest brewery in the Netherlands is contested. Historical documents confirm that beer was brewed in its home village since at least 1340, but not whether this has continued uninterruptedly in the centuries since.</p><strong>Belgium: Affligem (1074)</strong><p><strong></strong>Although Heineken now owns the brand and the beer is no longer brewed on its premises, Affligem abbey retains final control over the recipes.</p><strong>Germany: Staffelter Hof (862)</strong><p><strong></strong>Winery in the Moselle region, established by a grant from Lothair II, the king of Lotharingia. Its name derives from the abbey of Stavelot, from which it depended. In the 18th century, Staffelter Hof played a crucial part in the spread of Riesling grapes throughout the area.</p><ul><li>Banks or mints are the oldest institutions in eight European countries.</li></ul><strong>Andorra: Andbank (1930)</strong><p><strong></strong>Despite the country's own venerable age – dating back to Charlemagne – Andorra's oldest company is less than a century old.</p><strong>Cyprus: Bank of Cyprus (1899)</strong><p><strong></strong>The largest bank in Cyprus by market penetration: 83% of Cypriots have an account.</p><strong>Malta: HSBC Bank Malta (1882)</strong><p><strong></strong>Now a subsidiary of HSBC, the UK-based multinational bank, it traces back its origins to the late 19th century, when the Anglo-Egyptian Bank started trading on the island.</p><strong>Liechtenstein: National Bank of Liechtenstein (1861)</strong><p><strong></strong>Since Liechtenstein is in a customs and monetary union with Switzerland, the job of its National Bank is mainly one of oversight and administration.</p><strong>Scotland: Bank of Scotland (1695)</strong><p><strong></strong>Created by the Parliament of Scotland, the Bank of Scotland retains the authority to print sterling notes – legal tender, but difficult to pay with in England. In 1999, the bank's attempt to enter the retail banking market in the US in a joint venture with evangelist Pat Robertson was cancelled when the latter called Scotland "a dark land overrun by homosexuals". </p><strong>Kremnica Mint (1328)</strong><p><strong></strong>A state-owned mint that has been in continuous production since its establishment by the kingdom of Hungary. In the Middle Ages, its ducats were considered the hardest currency in Central Europe. Today, the Mint produces euro coins for Slovakia and money for a range of other countries (including recently a large order of Sri Lankan rupees). </p><strong>England: Royal Mint (886)</strong><p><strong></strong>Wholly owned by Her Majesty's Treasury, the Royal Mint produces all coinage for the United Kingdom. The company has its origins in Alfred the Great's issuing of silver pennies after his recapture of London from the Danes in 886. For the first 800 years of its existence, the Royal Mint operated out of the Tower of London. It is now based in Wales.</p><strong>France: Monnaie de Paris (864)</strong><p><strong></strong>The Paris Mint is the world's oldest continuously-running minting institution. It was established by Charles II, a.k.a. 'the Bald', king of West Francia and grandson of Charlemagne. Owned by the French government, it is currently tasked with producing the country's share of euro coins.</p><ul><li>In six European countries, the oldest company is involved in hospitality of some sort or other.</li></ul><strong>Greece: Kafeneio of Emmanouil Forlidas (1785)</strong><p><strong></strong>This traditional <em>kafenio</em> has been in the Forlidas family for seven generations, although it has served other functions than that of coffee shop. There are still hooks in the ceiling from its time as a butcher's, and it's also served as a time as a barber's.</p><strong>Turkey: Çemberlitas Hamami (1584)</strong><p><strong></strong>A Turkish bath constructed by Mimar Sinan, the chief architect of Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. It is located on Divan Yolu, an old Byzantine processional road that once led to Rome. In 1730, an Albanian attendant at the hammam led a rebellion that managed to replace sultan Ahmed III with Mahmud I, who reigned until 1754. The rebellion itself was short-lived, and Patrona Halil was executed later that same year. The bath house has survived fires, earthquakes and partial demolition. Tourists now make up most of its clientele.</p><p><span></span><strong>Slovenia: Gostilna Gastuz (1467)</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Formerly associated with the Zice Charterhouse, this inn survived the monastery's dissolution and is still serving guests today.</p><strong>Switzerland: Gasthof Sternen (1230)</strong><p><strong></strong>Located in Wettingen Abbey, this inn started as a 'Weiberhaus', a guest house for the visiting mothers and sisters of the monks, located outside the walls of the monastery, which was founded in 1227. The name ('Star') refers to an epithet of the Virgin Mary, 'Stella Maris' ('Star of the Sea'). It was also the name of the monastery, which was dissolved in 1841.</p><strong>Ireland: Sean's Bar (900)</strong><p><strong></strong>Lore has it that this bar was established as a trading post by an innkeeper named Luain, who gave his name to the town that sprang up around it: Athlone in Irish is <em>Baile atha Luain</em>. He built the floor at a slight angle, so the rainwater running in from the street drains into the River Shannon. The angled floor is still there, another reason for drinkers to mind their step on the way out. Sean's Bar not only claims to be the oldest drinking establishment in Ireland, but also in Europe.</p><strong>Austria: St Peter's Stiftskulinarium (803)</strong><p><strong></strong>Supposedly mentioned in Alcuin of York's <em>Carmina</em>, this restaurant within the walls of St Peter's Abbey in Salzburg has a good claim to being the oldest company in Austria, as well as the oldest restaurant in the world. Among its clientele were Christopher Columbus, Johann Faust and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.</p><ul><li>Five countries can boast longevity in manufacturing.</li></ul><strong>Bulgaria: Arsenal AD (1878)</strong><p><strong></strong>Arsenal AD started in 1878 as independent Bulgaria's first armory, then known as the Ruse Artillery Arsenal. From ammunition and artillery gun components, the company diversified into gas masks, nitroglycerin, optic sights and assault rifles. Until the Fall of Communism, the company was called 'Friedrich Engels Machinery Works', to conceal its military activities. </p><strong>Croatia: Kraljevica Shipyard (1729)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded on the orders of Austrian emperor Charles VI, it was the first shipyard on the eastern shore of the Adriatic and an engine for the industrialisation of Croatia. </p><strong>Finland: Fiskars (1649)</strong><p><strong></strong>Metalworking company named after the town west of Helsinki in which it was founded. Its original charter, granted by queen Christina of Sweden, forbade it to produce cannons. In the early 20th century, Fiskars produced over a million plows. In recent decades, it has become famous for its iconic, orange-handled scissors, of which it has sold more than one billion units. </p><strong>Sweden: Skyllbergs Bruk (1346)</strong><p><strong></strong>Established when King Magnus IV of Sweden donated some iron manufacturing workshops in Skyllberg and elsewhere to Riseberga Abbey. Expropriated during the Reformation, the works have subsequently been owned by the Fineman, De Geer, Burenstam and Svensson families. </p><strong>Marinelli Bell Foundry (1080)</strong><p><strong></strong>Taken over by the Marinelli family in the 14th century, the <em>Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli</em> is one of the world's oldest family-run businesses. It produces about 50 bells a year. Unsurprisingly, 90% of its orders are for the Catholic church. Bells produced by the company hang in the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the UN building in New York.</p><ul><li>Five more have a history with postal services and other telecommunications.</li></ul><p><strong>Albania: ALBtelecom (1912)</strong></p><p>Founded at Albania's independence, ALBtelecom is the country's largest fixed-line telephone operator. It is also licensed to provide mobile telephony and internet. It is majority-owned by CETEL of Turkey. The Albanian state retains a minority stake.</p><p><strong>Montenegro: Posta Crne Gore (1841)</strong></p><p>Montenegro has been independent since 2006, but its national postal service is much older. </p><p><strong>Iceland: Íslandspóstur (1776)</strong></p><p>Established by Christian VII of Denmark, which then also ruled over Iceland. Today, <em>Íslandspóstur</em> is one of the country's largest companies, with 1,200 employees. </p><p><strong>Norway: Posten Norge (1647)</strong></p><p>Founded as a private company called <em>Postvesenet</em>, it later received the blessing of Christian IV, king of Denmark (and also Norway at that time). The state took over in 1719. In 1996, it was renamed Posten Norge.</p><p><strong>Portugal: CTT-Correios de Portugal (1511)</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Portugal's king Manuel I created the <em>Correio Público</em>, which in 1911 became Correios, Telégraphos e Telefones (CTT), making the current name – CTT-Correios de Portugal – somewhat redundant.</p><ul><li>Three oldest companies come from the food industry.</li></ul><strong>Kosovo: Meridian Corporation (1999)</strong><p><strong></strong>Kosovo's Meridian Corporation is one of the young country's main food and beverage distributors – address: Bill Clinton Boulevard, Pristina. </p><strong>Spain: Casa de Ganaderos (1218)</strong><p><strong></strong>Based on a privilege granted by James I of Aragon, nicknamed 'the Conqueror', the Casa de Ganaderos de Zaragoza ('House of the Cattlemen of Zaragoza') defends the rights of Aragonese livestock owners. </p><strong>Denmark: Munke Mølle (1135)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded as a water mill on the Odense River, 'Monk's Mill' is still thriving today as a producer of bread and cake mixes. In its long history, it has been the purveyor to the court of no less than 38 kings and two queens of Denmark. These days, the company is owned by Lantmännen, a Swedish agricultural cooperative.</p><br><ul><li>And finally… two salt mines and a pharmacy.</li></ul><strong>Estonia: Raeapteek (1422)</strong><p><strong></strong>In previous centuries, the pharmacy's range of healing products included mummy juice, bat power and swallow's nests. It also sold cognac and gunpowder and was the first in Estonia to sell tobacco. The business was run by the Burchard family for most of its history. From 1582, each generation's first-born son was called Johann and was expected to continue the business. The last of the line, Johann the Tenth, died in 1890. </p><strong>Ukraine: Drohobych Salt Plant (1250)</strong><p><strong></strong>Drohobych, near Lviv, once was one of the richest and most important cities of the Carpathian region, thanks to the local factories manufacturing salt, supplying customers as far away as Italy.</p><strong>Poland: Bochnia Salt Mine (1248)</strong><p><strong></strong>Although it ceased mining salt in 1990, the company continues as a tourist attraction. Its various chambers form an underground town, with a functioning chapel and sanatorium. The Wazyn Chamber is large enough to accommodate sports fields, a restaurant, a dormitory and conference facilities. </p>
Africa: a young continent<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5MS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTA0Mzg4OH0.9GonQDVy5gzHbXKVQCmA1pz5EIvOnS16VW5tG-J-3rw/img.png?width=980" id="3c087" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fb2e9011719cf8857021722d6dc41c22" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bMauritius Post is the oldest company in Africa." />
Mauritius Post is the oldest company in Africa.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Africa's oldest companies are all relatively young. Many were established by former colonisers, and the preponderance of postal services, railways and banks reflects their attempts to replicate the infrastructure of modern European statehood in Africa. </p><p>Banks are in fact the continent's most widespread 'oldest' institutions: in 17 countries across Africa. The oldest one is Standard Chartered Zimbabwe, with roots going back to 1892. The most recent one is Ivory Bank in South Sudan, Africa's youngest nation. </p><p>In nine countries across Africa, the postal service is the country's oldest institution. Mauritius Post (1772) is in fact the oldest company in all of Africa. The youngest postal service that is its country's oldest institution is <em>Correios da Guiné-Bissau </em>(1973).</p><p>Railways are the oldest companies in six African countries. The oldest company is the <em>Société nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo</em> (1889) in the DR Congo, the youngest Swazi Rail (1963) in eSwatini. </p><p>Unlike Europe, there are only a handful of breweries as their country's oldest company. Three, in fact: in Tanzania (1933), Eritrea (1939) and Burundi (1955). </p><p>Fairly recent 'oldest' companies are airlines and broadcasters (four each): from Air Madagascar (1962) to Guinea Equatorial Airlines (1996) and Radio Mogadishu (1943) to the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (1964). </p><p><span></span>Relatively few 'oldest' companies are involved in agriculture or mining, two mainstays of Africa's economy:</p><ul><li>The Cameroon Development Corporation (1947) grows, processes and markets tropical export crops (including rubber and palm oil).</li><li>Established in 1962 by Harvey Aluminium Company, Halco Mining has a 70-year lease on bauxite mining in a 10,000 km2 area of northwestern Guinea that runs out in 2038.</li><li>The Botswana Meat Commission (1965) was set up by newly-independent Botswana to oversee beef production and export.</li><li>Cotontchad (1971) has the state monopoly on the purchasing and export of cotton, which represents 40% of the country's exports. </li></ul><p>Three atypical companies complete the African picture:</p><ul><li>Premier FCMG is a South African food manufacturer whose history goes back to 1820, and which produces well-known brands such as Blue Ribbon and Snowflake.</li><li>Hamoud Boualem (1878) is a manufacturer of soft drinks popular in Algeria and with the Algerian diaspora.</li><li>The <em>Communauté Électrique du Bénin</em> (1968) is actually co-owned by the governments of Benin and Togo. It manages the Nangbeto dam in Togo and the import of electricity from Ghana into both countries. <span></span></li></ul>
North America: rum, currency and the lash<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjE5ODcyMH0.rZvkQ3DmZoD-iHZRwCFATtiOmKmXeAifmTYDHEghfWQ/img.png?width=980" id="033e4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98cb742396725fa29275b1263d398355" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bLa Casa de Moneda de Mexico is the oldest company in North America." />
La Casa de Moneda de Mexico is the oldest company in North America.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Alcohol and money are pretty popular in North America too. Plantations pop up as a particularly American institution. And Mexico's mint fathered a few surprising currencies. </p><ul><li>Breweries and distilleries are the oldest companies in five countries across Central America and the Caribbean.</li></ul><strong>Costa Rica: Florida Ice and Farm Company (1908)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by two Jamaican brothers, the company has a catalogue of over 2000 mainly food products, but is best known for its beers, with well-known brands such as Imperial and Bavaria. </p><strong>Nicaragua: Flor de Caña (1890)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by an Italian immigrant who moved to Nicaragua in 1875, the company is still led by one of his descendants. Due to the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 1980s, large quantities of the rum were stored – as a result, in the 1990s Flor de Caña had the largest reserve of aged rum in the world. </p><strong>Haiti : Rhum Barbancourt (1862)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by Dupré Barbancourt, a French immigrant from the Cognac region, the company is still family-run and its rum is one of Haiti's most famous exports. </p><strong>Trinidad & Tobago: House of Angostura (1830)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded in Venezuela by the German surgeon-general of Simon Bolivar's army, the company now produces rums and bitters that are some of T&T's most famous exports. </p><strong>Barbados: Mount Gay Rum (1703)</strong><p><strong></strong>The oldest commercial rum distillery in the world, now owned by Cointreau. Named after the manager of the company owned by John Sober (!)</p><ul><li>Five countries across North America have financial as their oldest companies.</li></ul><strong>1st National Bank of St Lucia (1938)</strong><p><strong></strong>Originally established as the St Lucia Cooperative Bank.</p><strong>Panama: National Bank of Panama (1904)<br></strong>Panama uses the US dollar, so it doesn't have a central bank in the traditional sense. The National Bank of Panama is charged with non-monetary aspects of central banking.<p><strong>Belize: Belize Bank (1902)</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Founded in 1902 by investors from Mobile, Alabama as the Bank of British Honduras, Belize Bank is one of the largest banks in the country today. </p><strong>El Salvador: HSBC El Salvador (1891)</strong><p>Established in 1891 as <em>Banco Salvadoreño</em>, it was nationalised in 1980, privatised in 1993 and acquired by HSBC in 2006. After HSBC sold its Salvadoran operations to Colombian bank Davivienda, the bank is now called Banco Davivienda El Salvador. </p><strong>Mexico: La Casa de Moneda (1534)</strong><p><strong></strong>Mexico's mint was established by a decree from the Spanish Crown and is the oldest in the Americas. Its silver peso became the basis for several modern currencies, including the US dollar, the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan.</p><ul><li>In four countries, the oldest company has to do with living off the land – at least originally. </li></ul><strong>Guatemala: Corporacion Multi Inversiones (1920)</strong><p><strong></strong>A family farming business that grew into a multinational agro-industrial corporation.</p><strong>Jamaica: Rose Hall (1770)</strong><p><strong></strong>A former plantation, now a museum highlighting the estate's slave history, as well as the legend of the White Witch. In 1977, it was acquired by Michele Rollins, Miss District of Columbia 1963 and first runner-up for Miss USA 1963.</p><p><strong>Canada: Hudson's Bay Company (1670</strong><span style="background-color: initial;"><strong>)</strong></span></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;"></span>Starting out as a fur trading business (and for about two centuries the de facto government of large parts of British North America), Hudson's Bay Company now runs retail stores in Canada and the US, including Saks Fifth Avenue.</p><strong>United States: Shirley Plantation (1638)</strong><p><strong></strong>The oldest surviving company in the United States started out as a slave-holding tobacco plantation. The family that ran the Shirley Plantation produced Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, and still owns and lives on the premises. </p><p>The island nation of Dominica's national newspaper, <em>The Chronicle</em> (est. 1909) is also its oldest company. And finally for North America, two countries have transport companies as their oldest firms: Honduras (National Railroad of Honduras, 1870) and Cuba (<em>Cubana de Aviacion</em>, 1929). <span></span><br></p>
South America: weapons factory to coffee shop<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzUwODkxMX0.s9JfjKAsUKqi3PIcFIiclCMI8hM0GO-QTpL7vwwfcbA/img.png?width=980" id="3a0c6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a193a167a048a7abb85e76b8339f55ff" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bPeru's Casa Nacional de Moneda is the oldest company in South America." />
Peru's Casa Nacional de Moneda is the oldest company in South America.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Five South American countries have banks and mints as oldest companies. The oldest, the <em>Casa Nacional de Moneda </em>of Peru, was founded in Lima just 30 years after the city's own founding by the conquistador Pizarro. </p><p><span></span>Guyana's oldest company started as rum business, which expanded into a chain of liquor stores and then added a cocoa and chocolate factory and shipping agency. It got its name from the Demerara Ice House it acquired in 1896, which contained bars, a hotel and a soft drink plant. </p><p>Venezuela's oldest company is a cocoa plantation, Chile's an arms manufacturer (FAMAE stands for <em>Fabricas y Maestranzas del Ejercito,</em> or Factories and Workshops of the Army). </p><p>You can go get a coffee at Uruguay's oldest company: the Café Brasilero, frequented by writers and intellectuals. It even has a coffee named after Eduardo Galeano, best remembered for <em><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/187149.Open_Veins_of_Latin_America" target="_blank">Open Veins of Latin America</a></em> (1971). <br></p>
Oceania: ex-con becomes postmaster<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzI2MzEzNn0.iDvDfKF5PIOuVU8WZNfP08fXAfW4dzK_eTc4nSgEEug/img.png?width=980" id="f9c91" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b6bb6899dc506500849705174607a7b7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bAustralia Post is the oldest company in Oceania." />
Australia Post is the oldest company in Oceania.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Scant information about companies in Oceania – so until further notice, Australia Post may claim the continental title of oldest company. <br></p><p><strong>Vanuatu: European Trust Company (1991)</strong></p><p>The island nation's oldest and highest capitalised trust company, providing incorporation and management services, as well as post-incorporation financial services.</p><p><strong>New Zealand: Bank of New Zealand (1861)</strong></p><p>Its first office opened in Auckland in October 1861, its second the following December in Dunedin. A bit more than century and a half later, it is one of the four major banks of New Zealand (although in 1992 it was purchased by the National Bank of Australia).</p><p><strong>Australia: Australia Post (1809)</strong></p><p>Regular postal services in Australia started with the appointment in 1809 of Isaac Nichols, an ex-convict, as Postmaster of New South Wales. His main job was to take charge incoming mail. To avoid chaos on board ships arriving at Sydney, he took letters and parcels to his home in George Street and produce a list of recipients which he would post outside his house and advertise in the Sydney Gazette. <br></p>
Asia: home of the conglomerate<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU1MjA5NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzkyNDQzMX0.WP_ouPKkrWoP9BlvQ6LzLTgHhdzfTejdjgekeSKJVto/img.png?width=980" id="9e2c2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b0c4924f6c3d4db9564ef34e043ef330" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The oldest company in Asia is Kongo Gumi, a Japanese construction firm. It is also the oldest company in the word." />
The oldest company in Asia is Kongo Gumi, a Japanese construction firm. It is also the oldest company in the word.
Image: Business Finance, CC BY-SA 4.0<p><br></p><p>A scattered field in across Asia – no wonder, it is the world's largest, most populous and (arguably) most varied continent. There does seem to be a typically Asian speciality, when it comes to corporate longevity: the conglomerate – especially popular in Arabia and the Indian subcontinent.<br></p><ul><li>In nine Asian countries, the oldest company is a conglomerate, active across various economic sectors. </li></ul><p><strong>Bhutan: Tashi Group (1959)</strong></p><p>Tashi is actually a conglomerate whose subsidiaries include Tashi Air, T-Bank, Druk School, a chemical plant and a softdrinks bottling plant. </p><p><strong>Qatar: Salam International Investment Limited (1952)</strong></p><p>Headquartered in Doha, this publicly listed company is involved in construction and development, technology and communications, luxury and consumer products, investment and real estate, and energy production. </p><p><strong>Kuwait: M.H. Alshaya (1890)</strong></p><p>Founded as a shipping company between Kuwait and British India, the group today is a multinational franchise operator of around 90 brands (e.g. Topshop in Turkey, H&M in the Middle East, the Cheesecake Factory in the UAE), with additional interests in real estate, construction, hotels, automotive and trading. </p><p><strong>Thailand: B. Grimm (1878)</strong></p><p>Founded as a chemist by a German-Austrian duo, B. Grimm now is a conglomerate with interests in healthcare, construction, real estate, e-commerce and transport, among other sectors. Power generation currently accounts for 80% of the revenue of the group, which operates more than 20 power plants in Thailand, four in Laos and one in Vietnam. </p><p><strong>Saudi Arabia: House of Alireza (1845)</strong></p><p>Founded in 1845 as a food importer from India, the House of Alireza specialised as shipping agents and diversified to include real estate, jewellery, construction, travel agency, fuel manufacture and engineering.</p><p><strong>Pakistan: House of Habib (1841)</strong></p><p>A conglomerate that is involved in banking, schools, the automotive and building industries, and more. </p><p><strong>Sri Lanka: George Steuart Group (1835)</strong></p><p>Originally involved in coffee and tea brokerage, the Group has now diversified into travel, leisure, health, telecoms, shipping, insurance, education and recruitment.</p><p><strong>Bangladesh: M.M. Ispahani (1820)</strong></p><p>Owners of Bangladesh's largest tea company, the group also owns other major food brands, and has interests in shipping, real estate, textiles and hotels. </p><p><strong>India: Wadia Group (1736)</strong></p><p>Starting as shipbuilders for the British East India Company, the business has diversified into a conglomerate now including fashion magazines, airlines, engineering, and even a cricket team.</p><p>Banks are the oldest companies in Cambodia (1954), Nepal (1937), Jordan (1930), Georgia (1903), Taiwan (1897) and Lebanon (1830).</p><ul><li>Four oldest companies are involved with communication, three with transportation:</li></ul><p><strong>Yemenia Airways (1962)</strong></p><p><strong>Myanmar National Airlines (1948)</strong></p><p><strong>Mongolian National Broadcaster (1931)</strong></p><p><strong>KT Corporation, formerly Korea Telecom (1885)</strong></p><p><strong>Vietnam Railways (1881)</strong></p><p><strong>Singapore Post (1819)</strong></p><p><strong>Pos Malaysia (1800)</strong></p><ul><li>Two eateries are the oldest company in their countries, on either side of the continent (plus one coffee shop to stay with the f&b theme): </li></ul><p><strong>Israel: Café Abu Salem (1914)</strong></p><p>Located in a 250-year-old building in the old market of Nazareth, Café Abu Salem has been continuously operating since 1914. It is currently run by the third generation of the Abu Salem family.</p><p><strong>Syria: Bakdash (1885)</strong></p><p>A landmark ice cream parlour in the souq of Damascus, famous for a frozen dairy dessert called booza. </p><p><strong>China: Ma Yu Ching's Bucket Chicken House (1153)</strong></p><p><strong></strong>A historic restaurant in Kaifeng, said to be established during the Jin dynasty. <br></p><p>Just one alcohol-producing company: <em>Destileria Limtuaco</em> (1853) in the Philippines, established by Lim Tua Co, a Chinese immigrant, who started distilling Vino de Chino, a bittersweet medicinal wine according to an old family recipe. </p><ul><li>Unsurprisingly, oil and coal extraction are a major sector across the world's largest continent. Some of the oldest companies are significantly older than the countries they operate in. </li></ul><strong>UAE: Liwa Chemicals (1939)</strong><p><strong></strong>Specialised in equipment and services to do with oil, gas and petrochemical sectors. </p><strong>Oman: Petroleum Development Oman (1937)</strong><p><strong></strong>The leading exploration and production company in the Sultanate of Oman, it delivers the majority of the country's crude oil production and natural gas supply.</p><strong>Iraq: North Oil Company (1928)</strong><p><br></p><p>Headquartered in Kirkuk (northern Iraq), its boundaries extend from the country's northern borders to 32.5 °N, just south of Baghdad. It is one of the 16 companies that comprise the Iraqi Ministry of Oil. </p><strong>Kazakhstan: Bogatyr Coal (1913)</strong><p><strong></strong>The largest coal mining company in Kazakhstan, producing 42 million tonnes of coal in 2018, about 40% of the country's total for that year. Originally founded with capital from British and American investors (including Herbert Hoover), the mine was nationalised by the Soviets in 1918 and re-privatised by the Kazakhs in the 1990s. It operates the Bogatyr Mine, whose output of 56.8 million tonnes of coal in 1985 got it into the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest coal mine. The company's reserves could keep it in business for another 100 years. </p><ul><li>Manufacturing is key to the oldest companies of three countries:</li></ul><strong>Uzbekistan: Tashkent Aviation Production Association (1932)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by the Soviets and moved from Russia to Uzbekistan in 1941 to stay clear of the invading Nazis, the aircraft manufacturer is currently known as the Tashkent Mechanical Plant. </p><strong>Indonesia: Pindad (1808)</strong><p><strong></strong>Manufacturer of guns, rifles and armored vehicles. Founded by the governor-general of the then Dutch East Indies.</p><strong>Russia: Petrodvorets Watch Factory (1721)</strong><p><strong></strong>Founded by Peter the Great as a workshop for luxury objects in carved stone, in Soviet times it produced the Lenin Mausoleum and the Kremlin stars. The factory has been producing watches since 1945 – including the first watch to have been in space. </p>The rest? A mixed bag. The oldest company of Laos produces electricity, in Brunei it's a department store, in Afghanistan a cotton company and in Bahrain a specialist in food logistics and retail. The oldest company of Azerbaijan, though landlocked, is the Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company (a.k.a. Caspar), which sails the world's largest inland lake. <p>Last, and oldest: Japan's Kongo Gumi. The Japanese construction firm traces its origins to 578 AD, when one of the skilled workers Prince Shōtoku invited from Korea to build a Buddhist temple decided to start his own business. Kongo Gumi helped build Osaka Castle and many other famous buildings. A 17th-century scroll tracing the company's origins reaches back 40 generations, and is three metres long. The company went into liquidation in 2006, but was purchased by Takamatsu Construction – so it continues, still specialised in building Buddhist temples.</p><p><em><br></em></p><p><em>Maps found <a href="https://businessfinancing.co.uk/the-oldest-company-in-almost-every-country/" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">here</a> </em><em>at </em><a href="https://businessfinancing.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Business Financing</a><em>. Many thanks to Stefan Jacobs and all others who suggested this map.</em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1042</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" rel="dofollow">email@example.com</a><em>.</em></p><p>(1) "Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world. Lilith was her very-great-grandmamma, and that was before the days of Eve as everyone knows. In the West, people say rude things about Lalun's profession, and write lectures about it, and distribute the lectures to young persons in order that Morality may be preserved. In the East where the profession is hereditary, descending from mother to daughter, nobody writes lectures or takes any notice; and that is a distinct proof of the inability of the East to manage its own affairs." (Rudyard Kipling: <em><a href="https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_the_City_Wall" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">On the City Wall</a></em>, 1889)<br><br></p>
Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.
- Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
- One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
- EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
Why mega-eruptions like the ones that covered North America in ash are the least of your worries.
- The supervolcano under Yellowstone produced three massive eruptions over the past few million years.
- Each eruption covered much of what is now the western United States in an ash layer several feet deep.
- The last eruption was 640,000 years ago, but that doesn't mean the next eruption is overdue.
The end of the world as we know it<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzNTM5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTg5NjY5MX0.tvGeUHIw5IB-El9o7ePqt-aLGTV3I_3SMk_B6neP680/img.jpg?width=980" id="7626c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7813ba6f9544a3d25025e682c8b723ba" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bHeinrich Berann's panoramic view of Yellowstone National Park" />
Panoramic view of Yellowstone National Park
Image: Heinrich Berann for the National Park Service – public domain<p>Of the many freak ways to shuffle off this mortal coil – lightning strikes, shark bites, falling pianos – here's one you can safely scratch off your worry list: an outbreak of the Yellowstone supervolcano.</p><p>As the map below shows, previous eruptions at Yellowstone were so massive that the ash fall covered most of what is now the western United States. A similar event today would not only claim countless lives directly, but also create enough subsidiary disruption to kill off global civilisation as we know it. A relatively recent eruption of the Toba supervolcano in Indonesia may have come close to killing off the human species (<em>see further below</em>). </p><p>However, just because a scenario is grim does not mean that it is likely (insert topical political joke here). In this case, the doom mongers claiming an eruption is 'overdue' are wrong. Yellowstone is not a library book or an oil change. Just because the previous mega-eruption happened long ago doesn't mean the next one is imminent. <span></span></p>
Ash beds of North America<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzNTM5MS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTAyNzczM30.klQwU7AQK8v2kcqlWQ_97CWDOYk72nDgT8kXO74aMWY/img.png?width=980" id="ce210" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f73d1cafa92b140b17915c89f097f45f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Ash beds deposited by major volcanic eruptions in North America." />
Ash beds deposited by major volcanic eruptions in North America.
Image: USGS – public domain<p>This map shows the location of the Yellowstone plateau and the ash beds deposited by its three most recent major outbreaks, plus two other eruptions – one similarly massive, the other the most recent one in North America.</p><p><strong>Huckleberry Ridge</strong></p><p>The Huckleberry Ridge eruption occurred 2.1 million years ago. It ejected 2,450 km3 (588 cubic miles) of material, making it the largest known eruption in Yellowstone's history and in fact the largest eruption in North America in the past few million years. </p><p>This is the oldest of the three most recent caldera-forming eruptions of the Yellowstone hotspot. It created the Island Park Caldera, which lies partially in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and westward into Idaho. Ash from this eruption covered an area from southern California to North Dakota, and southern Idaho to northern Texas. </p><p><strong>Mesa Falls</strong></p><p>About 1.3 million years ago, the Mesa Falls eruption ejected 280 km3 (67 cubic miles) of material and created the Henry's Fork Caldera, located in Idaho, west of Yellowstone. </p><p>It was the smallest of the three major Yellowstone eruptions, both in terms of material ejected and area covered: 'only' most of present-day Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska, and about half of South Dakota. </p><p><strong>Lava Creek</strong></p><p>The Lava Creek eruption was the most recent major eruption of Yellowstone: about 640,000 years ago. It was the second-largest eruption in North America in the past few million years, creating the Yellowstone Caldera. </p><p>It ejected only about 1,000 km3 (240 cubic miles) of material, i.e. less than half of the Huckleberry Ridge eruption. However, its debris is spread out over a significantly wider area: basically, Huckleberry Ridge plus larger slices of both Canada and Mexico, plus most of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri.</p><p><strong>Long Valley</strong></p><p>This eruption occurred about 760,000 years ago. It was centered on southern California, where it created the Long Valley Caldera, and spewed out 580 km3 (139 cubic miles) of material. This makes it North America's third-largest eruption of the past few million years. </p><p>The material ejected by this eruption is known as the Bishop ash bed, and covers the central and western parts of the Lava Creek ash bed. </p><p><strong>Mount St Helens</strong></p><p><strong></strong>The eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980 was the deadliest and most destructive volcanic event in U.S. history: it created a mile-wide crater, killed 57 people and created economic damage in the neighborhood of $1 billion.</p><p>Yet by Yellowstone standards, it was tiny: Mount St Helens only ejected 0.25 km3 (0.06 cubic miles) of material, most of the ash settling in a relatively narrow band across Washington State and Idaho. By comparison, the Lava Creek eruption left a large swathe of North America in up to two metres of debris.<br></p>
The difference between quakes and faults<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzNTM5MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODkzMDgxOX0.SbOloPk6Ert6Gr3oO2MjDvFpNpL5UY1lVAqczFyQ6uQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="d410d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="77d3ca41241b28a2dd1d9acf708015ae" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Comparison chart of eruption volumes" />
The volume of dense rock equivalent (DRE) ejected by the Huckleberry Ridge event dwarfs all other North American eruptions. It is itself overshadowed by the DRE ejected at the most recent eruption at Toba (present-day Indonesia). This was one of the largest known eruptions ever and a relatively recent one: only 75,000 years ago. It is thought to have caused a global volcanic winter which lasted up to a decade and may be responsible for the bottleneck in human evolution: around that time, the total human population suddenly and drastically plummeted to between 1,000 and 10,000 breeding pairs.
Image: USGS – public domain<p>So, what are the chances of something that massive happening anytime soon? The aforementioned mongers of doom often claim that major eruptions occur at intervals of 600,000 years and point out that the last one was 640,000 years ago. Except that (a) the first interval was about 200,000 years longer, (b) two intervals is not a lot to base a prediction on, and (c) those intervals don't really mean anything anyway. Not in the case of volcanic eruptions, at least. </p><p><span></span>Earthquakes can be 'overdue' because the stress on fault lines is built up consistently over long periods, which means quakes can be predicted with a relative degree of accuracy. But this is not how volcanoes behave. They do not accumulate magma at constant rates. And the subterranean pressure that causes the magma to erupt does not follow a schedule.</p><p><span></span>What's more, previous super-eruptions do not necessarily imply future ones. Scientists are not convinced that there ever will be another big eruption at Yellowstone. Smaller eruptions, however, are much likelier. Since the Lava Creek eruption, there have been about 30 smaller outbreaks at Yellowstone, the last lava flow being about 70,000 years ago. </p><p>As for the immediate future (give or take a century): the magma chamber beneath Yellowstone is <a href="https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/yellowstone-overdue-eruption-when-will-yellowstone-erupt?qt-news_science_products=0#qt-news_science_products" target="_blank">only 5 percent to 15 percent molten</a>. Most scientists agree that is as un-alarming as it sounds. And that its statistically more relevant to worry about death by lightning, shark, or piano.</p>
Victorians want to rectify 19th-century surveying error – and become South Australians.
- A 19th-century surveying error created a complicated tripoint on the Murray River in eastern Australia.
- Officially, the dispute about the zigzag border between South Australia and Victoria was settled in 1914.
- COVID-19 is making life so difficult for the locals that now they want to switch sides again.
Straight, but with a little swerve<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyMDA3MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzAzMTcwOX0.A70qKGu1bThBEXpBFzy_nAbmEOkEKBGgWMebufPuQEQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="4f98b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a4b03b7beb2144d00d7c48495c6b04a6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bPike River Murray River National Park Riverland South Australia" />
Sunset in South Australia's Riverland, close to the zigzag border with Victoria and New South Wales.
Image: Yuri Obst – CC BY-SA4.0<p>South Australia's eastern border looks like one of those unswervingly straight lines that zip through deserts and other thinly settled parts of the world without the slightest deviation. And indeed, it starts at the 26th parallel as it ends 833 miles further south, on the sandy shores of the Southern Ocean: straight as an arrow.</p><p>But swerve it does. Zoom in on the place where that border meets the Murray. That mighty river flows into South Australia from the east, where it forms the border between New South Wales (NSW) to the north, and Victoria to the south. Here, South Australia's eastern border hitches a ride of about three miles downstream before it resumes its southward plunge. </p><p>The result is a zigzag border – a wonderful anomaly, if you're into that kind of thing. But if you're local, that border is nothing but trouble. And with the coronavirus further complicating things, many now want the anomaly gone. Quite a few local Victorians want the border drawn as was intended by South Australia's founding document, almost two centuries ago. That would make them citizens of South Australia, the state where they do most of their business anyway. </p><p>In 1836, the Letters Patent that established what was initially known as the colony of South Australia declared that its eastern border would be the 141st meridian east of Greenwich.</p><p>At that time, South Australia had only one neighbor to the east: NSW. But not for long. In 1839, NSW south of the Murray River became the District of Port Phillip, and in 1851 that district became the separate colony of Victoria. The new colony inherited its western border from NSW. However, back in the 19th century, defining a border on a map was one thing; demarcating it on the ground, in the Australian Outback no less, was quite another. </p><p>In 1839, surveyor Charles Tyers left a giant arrow made out of limestone rock just east of the mouth of the Glenelg River, at a spot he had calculated as being the 141th meridian. Tyers' Arrow, on the Southern Ocean, was supposed to be the starting point of an inland surveying expedition. </p><p>Owen Stanley, captain of HMS Britomart, made sure that would never happen. Visiting the location some time after Tyers' expedition, he estimated that the latter's mark was 2.25 miles east of the 141st meridian. This is where the trouble started, because Stanley's correction was due to faulty equipment. And Tyers had, in fact, been right. <br></p>
Half a pint of horse blood<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyMDA3My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjIyMzg2N30.liHsU-PpCTzvBK3-WbFd_L7DUgH9Ad3TZ3bUNa8wAnE/img.png?width=980" id="81d70" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5a0f65ad8ff01f5adf52cc1947c41542" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bA map of Australian states and territories, with added information on South Australia's northern and eastern borders." />
South Australia's northern border is the 26th parallel south, which is also the starting point of its eastern border, at the 141st meridian east – but only until the Murray River.
Image: Wikimedia Commons & Ruland Kolen<p>By the mid-1840s, land disputes between sheep farmers in the area between the Murray and the sea necessitated a demarcation of the border between South Australia and the District of Port Phillip. In 1847, surveyor Henry Wade laid down 123 miles of border in a straight south-north line – starting from the point established by Stanley instead of Tyers. </p><p>Due to harsh conditions, difficult terrain and broken equipment, Wade had to give up surveying about 155 miles south of the Murray River. Nevertheless, both South Australia and NSW soon accepted his line as the boundary between both territories. </p><p>In 1849, Wade's co-surveyor Edward White completed demarcating the boundary north to the Murray – but in conditions even harsher than on the previous expedition. After just two weeks in the waterless Big Desert, his men had mutinied and two of this three horses had died. When the last one lay down, White drank half a pint of its blood, "which was thick, black and unhealthy-looking and had the same bad smell as his breath," he later wrote in his diary. Whether or not thanks to that drink, he managed to stagger on for two more miles – reaching the Murray and completing the survey. </p><p>By that time, it was already clear that the Wade-White line wasn't the true meridian. However, both sides having accepted the line for what it was, the new state of Victoria upon its establishment in 1851 inherited the mistake in its favor.</p><p>In 1868, it was time to demarcate the border north of the Murray. By then, better instruments were available. So, for the border between South Australia and NSW, it was agreed to revert to the 141st meridian, as per the original definition. <br>As a result, South Australia's eastern border follows the Wade-White line south of the Murray, and the 141st meridian to the river's north. Hence the zigzag at the tripoint with NSW and Victoria, which is called MacCabe Corner. <br></p>
Case un-closed<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyMDA4NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMTE1MTQyNX0.WAxscUhnaABg0ZVyS6nNDSrhHsN6_T1q17V_nWzdITM/img.png?width=980" id="a6ff9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fe8b3c26b22e4265f3358413121c7b1a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe five named state corners of Australia: Surveyor Generals Corner, Poeppel Corner, Haddon Corner, Cameron Corner and MacCabe Corner." />
MacCabe Corner is one of five named state border junctions in Australia. Surveyor Generals Corner is at the tripoint of Western Australia (WA), South Australia (SA) and the Northern Territory (NT).Poeppel Corner is at the tripoint of NT, SA and Queensland (QLD).Haddon Corner is where the SA-QLD border takes a 90° turn south.Cameron Corner is at meeting point of SA, QLD and New South Wales (NSW).MacCabe Corner is at the tripoint of SA, NSW and Victoria (VIC).
Image: Yarl, Papayoung & Summerdrought - CC BY-SA 3.0<p>For South Australia, that zigzag was a stark reminder of what it had lost: a strip of land between the Murray and the sea, 2.25 miles wide and 280 miles long – in all, more than 500 square miles. </p><p>For decades, South Australia disputed Victoria's ownership of the strip, and tried to reclaim it (or at least get compensated for it). But that was like trying to close the barn door long after the horse had bolted: by 1849, the District of Port Phillip had already sold or leased out 47 percent of the disputed land.</p><p>Due to the dispute, the contested strip of land continued to be a bit of a grey zone, legally. In a 1901 referendum, one local cast his vote as a Victorian one day, and as a South Australian the next. </p><p>The grey zone was finally erased in 1914, when the Privy Council in London pronounced in favor of Victoria. The court acknowledged that a surveying mistake had been made; but the erroneous border had been accepted by both sides, and that was that. </p><p>End of story? Well, not quite. Not if it's up to the good people of Lindsay Point, an almond-growing community just south of the tripoint, entirely within Victoria – but mainly west of the 141st meridian. </p><p>The nearest Victorian cities are more than 100 miles to the east. Most farmers and other locals are oriented towards the Riverland region in South Australia, where they go to school and do all of their business. Conversely, many properties in and around Lindsay Point are owned by South Australians. Even the power comes in from South Australia. <br></p>
Irrelevant and inconvenient<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyMDA3NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMjQ2NTA1MX0.Vlv5Mp-JAWnTK3XTFILpJNTdxTVe4hWH-hWX6AILdlY/img.png?width=980" id="4a4d7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fb0751da55a08cc06b87b8395472a519" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bClose-up of the zigzag border near MacCabe Corner, the tripoint where South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria meet, on the Murray River." />
Close-up of the zigzag border near MacCabe Corner, the tripoint where South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria meet, on the Murray River.
Image: Google Earth & Ruland Kolen<p>That level of cross-border economic integration came under pressure in recent months, when Australia's states started imposing restrictions on interstate travel, due to COVID-19. Specifically, a border lockdown preventing Victorians from entering South Australia has cut off Lindsay Point from its natural hinterland. </p><p>With that state border irrelevant in the best of times, and bloody inconvenient in the worst of times, many locals are dusting off the old territorial dispute. Increasingly, they are convinced that the Privy Council's verdict should not be final, and that it should be settled in favor of the side that lost the first time around. </p><p>If it ever does, the result will surely count as the longest, narrowest strip of territory ever to change hands. </p><p><em><br></em></p><p><em>More on the low rumblings of secessionism in Lindsay Point in this <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-14/sa-nsw-vict..." target="_blank">ABC News story</a>.</em><strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1040</strong></p><p><strong></strong><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a><em>.</em><br></p>
Some intriguing examples of people grooming the land for the unseen observer above.
- All over the world, people are writing messages and symbols on the land that can only be seen from above.
- These messages are not for God, but for our fellow humans – pilots, balloonists, or an abstract Mapmaker in the Sky.
- Non-symbolic communication with the heavens can be traced back to a cartographic innovation by Da Vinci.
Da Vinci's satellite map<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk4MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDQ3NjA1NH0.pwxhZqmNmsV1VN6OhuYEPEctiVPT-5TpOFQ_Ckx18h8/img.jpg?width=980" id="4069b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d843bbff9e737d425e1c97a6bec6f8e6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bLeonardo da Vinci's paradigm-shifting map of the Italian town of Imola (ca. 1502)." />
Leonardo da Vinci's paradigm-shifting map of the Italian town of Imola (ca. 1502).
Image: Leonardo da Vinci - public domain<p>In Minnesota, there's a forest shaped like Minnesota. You wouldn't know it when you're near it, or even in it; you can only see it when you're flying above it. </p><p>Across the world, people have altered the land to write messages that are invisible on the ground and can only be seen by – well, by whom, exactly? Airplane pilots and their passengers, hot-air balloonists, satellites, and the Great Mapmaker in the Sky. But why?</p><p><em>When</em> is easier to answer, for this kind of message to the heavens above is a relatively modern phenomenon¹, which can be traced back to a map produced by Leonardo da Vinci.</p><p>Produced centuries before the launch of the first satellite, or even the first hot-air balloon, Da Vinci's map of the Italian city of Imola (ca. 1502) is <a href="https://kottke.org/19/04/how-leonardo-constructed-..." target="_blank">the world's first straight-from-above map</a>. <br></p><p><a href="https://kottke.org/19/04/how-leonardo-constructed-a-satellite-view-map-in-1502-without-ever-leaving-the-ground" target="_blank"></a>Until then, city maps had used the hillside (a.k.a. bird's-eye) perspective, showing their subjects aslant. These panoramic pictures were pretty, perhaps; but usually inexact and certainly incomplete. </p><p>For his Imola map, Da Vinci used the <em>ichnographic</em> perspective – a concept developed by the Roman architect Vitruvius to describe the art of drawing realistic ground plans, as if observed from directly above. </p><p>The map pleased Da Vinci's paymaster Cesare Borgia, for it provided better military intelligence than traditional, postcard-style city maps; but more importantly, it changed cartography forever. </p><p>Out with the oblique perspective went symbolism and embellishment. Today, virtually all maps are ichnographic – hard data observed straight from above. </p><p>The change is part of a larger paradigm shift, from a theocentric worldview to a human-centered one. From time immemorial, people have felt the gaze of Higher Authority bear down on them from on high. </p><p>But something crucial in that relationship started changing in the Renaissance. The increasingly accurate attempts at depicting the world from above brought down a new kind of scrutiny: quantifiable measurements instead of moral judgments.</p><p>And that warrants a different kind of response. You converse with the divine by building temples, churches, and mosques that reach skyward with magnificent domes and spires. You can talk back to the Great Mapmaker in the Sky in a more vernacular language. Like showing him a map of your state; or spelling out the name of your favorite car brand; or building the world's biggest guitar out of trees. <br></p>
Emmery's Celtic cross<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDkzOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODUyNDA4Mn0.Fwy3WlAmyWyy9BJvNCQk4WugpmuJNOEy07l_kw4YX5s/img.png?width=980" id="adcda" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4b7cdc5764d5961303a33dc0a05358be" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Emmery's Celtic cross in Killea, county Donegal, Republic of Ireland, close to Londonderry in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom." />
The cross became visible with the turning of the leaves in the fall of 2016.
Image: YouTube<p>In 2016, air passengers flying into Derry airport in Northern Ireland spotted a giant Celtic cross in the treetops of Killea, just across the border in country Donegal, in the republic of Ireland. </p><p><span></span>Local forester <a href="https://www.irishcentral.com/travel/emmery-celtic-cross-donegal-forrest" target="_blank">Liam Emmery</a> created the pattern around 2005 by planting two different types of trees. Sadly, Mr Emmery died in 2010, six years before his creation became visible. </p><p>The figure, more than 100 m long and 70 m wide, is named the Emmery Celtic Cross in his memory. According to local horticultural experts, Emmery's cross could remain visible for up to the next 70 years. <br></p>
Heart-shaped clearing<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk0NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODE1MzgzNX0.4q4mh-oYmlqZ8CFNd2OyjIktMO9NznD6Gje2TGd-_pc/img.png?width=980" id="44d55" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a25f6d1efb4ca5f00fe65e2166563892" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Heart-shaped clearing in a wood near the farm of Winston Howes in Wickwar, Gloucestershire (England)." />
The heart is farmer Winston Howes' monument to his wife Janet, who died in 1995.
Image: Google Earth<p>When Janet Howes died suddenly in 1995, her heartbroken husband of 33 years was determined to build her a<a href="https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/countryside/a22526193/british-farmer-secret-heart-shaped-meadow-late-wife/" target="_blank"> lasting memorial</a>. Winston Howes planted thousands of oak saplings on a six-acre field near his farm in Wickwar, Gloucestershire. <br></p><p>In the middle of the field, he left a heart-shaped area clear of trees; the heart's point is oriented towards Wotton Hill, Janet's childhood home. The trees have now grown to create a heart-shaped oasis for Winston to remember his wife in. </p><p>The remarkable monument to love cannot be seen from the road, and remained a secret until it was noticed in 2012 by a passing hot-air balloonist. In spring, daffodils come up in the clearing, enhancing the beauty of Mr Howes' bittersweet retreat. <br></p>
As Luecke would have it<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk1NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDI1MTc1OH0.lQWajGaiJ99WS_rsrkJWOzSe6f9Usby2FV2K5jTTdEw/img.png?width=980" id="5a727" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="648217e4ada46ab35295ce0ef778baac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The 2.5-mile long autograph of Jimmie Luecke on his farm outside Austin, Texas." />
The 'autograph' is so large that NASA has used it to calibrate its orbital instruments.
Image: Google Earth<p>In the early 1980s, <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/places/giant-luecke-signature" target="_blank">Jimmie Luecke</a> struck it rich in the chalk oil boom in Texas. With his seven-figure oil fortune, he went into the cattle business, and bought a ranch 50 miles east of Austin. </p><p><span></span>When clearing new grazing land in the late 1990s, Luecke had the luminous idea to leave large, long strips of pine forest untouched, creating a 2.5-mile long version of his name, in capital letters – surely, the largest autograph the world has ever seen. </p><p>It's a signature so large that NASA in 2003 used it to calibrate the spatial resolution of the photographs taken by its astronauts. It's also a familiar sight to pilots and passengers flying in and out of Houston airport.<br></p>
Studebaker lives on<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk1OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwODQwMDIzOX0.yf9nZsD6QnIZAhpE3QjX2FdxVC7FJsZG2kgy6oUzeW0/img.png?width=980" id="b8662" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f072714a9751dec3b5a1d818260268b5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Trees spelling out 'Studebaker' at Bendix Woods County Park, west of South Bend, Indiana." />
The trees next to Studebaker's former proving ground still spell out the defunct brand's name.
Image: Google Earth<p>Studebaker, the U.S. car brand, has been dead since 1966. But Studebaker, the forest, lives on. Rows of trees still communicate the name to the heavens at the defunct manufacturer's former proving grounds, now Bendix Woods County Park, due west of South Bend, Indiana. <br></p><p>In 1926, Studebaker was the first U.S. car manufacturer to inaugurate an outdoor proving ground. In 1937, when Studebaker was still merrily churning out Commanders, President,s and Dictators (sic), the company planted 5,000 pine trees there to spell out its name.</p><p>Rumors that the former proving ground also was a Studebaker graveyard was confirmed when the remains of a number of never-produced prototypes were found. Only a few were in a well enough state to be rescued, including a Champion station wagon now on display at the <a href="https://studebakermuseum.org/" target="_blank">Studebaker National Museum</a> in South Bend, Indiana. <br></p>
Graciela's guitar<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNTEwMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTc0MzE2Mn0.ohu99CQkLELSHhrOhnRjSTo7IN5E3lJoPozD9UE4vJ8/img.jpg?width=980" id="d5116" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f7834f995726bb4417769ac1d9708fb7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The instrument was created in 1979 by local farmer Pedro Martin Ureta, as a tribute to his wife Graciela, who sadly died during childbirth two years previously." />
Breaking the monotony of the Pampas squares - the unexpected shape of a guitar
Image: NASA Earth Observatory - public domain<p>From the sky, Argentina's fertile Pampas are parceled out into an interminable tapestry of squares in all possible sizes and combinations. But that monotony is broken near the town of Laboulaye by the recognizably round shape of a guitar.<br></p><p>The instrument was created in 1979 by local farmer Pedro Martin Ureta, as a tribute to his wife Graciela, who sadly died during childbirth two years prior. The guitar is made up of more than 7,000 cypress and eucalyptus trees, and stretches two thirds of a mile across the landscape. </p><p>The guitar is huge enough to be observed not just by planes flying overhead, but also from space. <a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/83561/guitar-forest" target="_blank">This image</a> was taken in November 2007 by the Advanced Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on the Terra satellite. <br></p>
Solar Mickey<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNTI3Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzU0MTA1Nn0.tVXSlnRUDr9SdQhTxfnLHms6wkE-e9exnNNnzKvbQjo/img.png?width=980" id="ae8cd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c11ca8a33ed0e5389335d2d04d0225f3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="48,000 photovoltaic cells arranged in the unmistakeable profile of Mickey Mouse in Orlando, Florida." />
48,000 photovoltaic cells arranged in the unmistakeable profile of Mickey Mouse.
Image: Google Earth<p>Rather understandably, the Disney Corporation has a Mickey Mouse fetish. It makes a sport of inserting 'hidden Mickeys' into the landscape, which often can only be observed from above. </p><p>There's one in Disneyland Drive, leading into the corporation's theme park in Orlando, Florida. There used to be a Mickey-shaped forest just north of the park, but that's been felled. </p><p>A more recent incarnation is the unmistakeable shape of Mickey Mouse's mug made up of <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2016/02/29/disney-world-taps-solar-power-with-mickey-mouse-pv-project/#6c1e008d6b7d" target="_blank">48,000 photovoltaic cells</a>, spread out over 20 acres, producing an average of 10.5 million kWh per year.</p>
Minnesota, Minnesota<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxNDk2MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDYyNDM1MX0.VYCdNC4QPm9kOnosRf4Gpec8tCIV_NwJSv3pb_Svje4/img.png?width=980" id="cd705" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31cb8fd50d75989de9fbdf03c7eaaadd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A Minnesota-shaped forest in Forest Area Township, in the northern part of the state." />
This Minnesota-shaped forest started as a clearing back in the 1990s.
Image: Google Earth<p>This homage to Minnesota was created on state forest land, managed by the DNR Division of Forestry. It is located about 4 miles south of Faunce, in northern Minnesota's Forest Area Township, halfway between Red Lake and Lake of the Woods. <br></p><p>Back in the 1990s, forest engineer <a href="https://medium.com/alt-ledes/what-a-mysterious-forest-shaped-like-minnesota-taught-me-about-time-travel-a8c6bbdc947a" target="_blank">Bill Lockner</a> was tasked with clearing away dying pine trees when he allowed himself some fun in the process. He cleared an area with the exact contours of the North Star state. </p><p>Over the years, younger trees grew up in the clearing; and when in the early 2000s the surrounding older-growth pines were cut, what was left was the current Minnesota-shaped forest. <br></p><p><strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1039</strong><br></p><p><em>Do you know of any other geoglyphs or other types of land art that were made specifically and exclusively for being observed from above? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.</p><p>(1) Despite ongoing uncertainty about their age and purpose, ancient geoglyphs such as the Nazca Lines or the so-called White Horses of England can be observed from nearby elevations, and thus were most likely not made for being observed from above. <br></p>
Two remarkable etymological maps show twin forces at work throughout human history.
- These two maps capture the centrifugal and centripetal forces at work throughout human history.
- See how the Proto-Indo-European word for 'brother' spreads and changes, in both sound and meaning.
- And how the Proto-Germanic word for 'stranger' now is a familiar fixture of European toponymy.
Name that animal (in Proto-Indo-European)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3b6be896ff2aac19ff166ee25bbd4074"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7epZo_BQFqA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>What is the difference between a brother and a stranger? Distance and time. As both grow, what is familiar becomes less so. As they decrease, what is strange becomes familiar. </p><p>These two maps neatly capture those two driving forces of human history – centrifugal and centripetal – via the rather unexpected medium of etymology. The first one goes back all the way to Proto-Indo-European, and the video above gives a hint of what that may well have sounded like.<br></p>
Brothers, friars, buddies<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ4MTA5NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTA5OTQ1OX0.JAPB7ZuOI_gwNELnPIa-podL2rm2ZlL26OOXMdx9Jf4/img.png?width=980" id="52f50" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4e1947a158a36bc1fa69e3566f49fb0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Map showing the spread over time and place of the Proto-Indo-European word for 'brother'." />
Map showing the spread over time and place of the Proto-Indo-European word for 'brother'.
Image by u/Virble, found here. Reproduced with kind permission.<p>The first one shows the spread of the word Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word for 'brother' across an area stretching from Iceland to Bangladesh. Although it may no longer seem obvious to speakers of Icelandic and Bengali, the word they use to refer to their mother's (other) son derives from the same source. </p><p>We have no direct record of PIE. It has been reconstructed entirely from the similarities between the languages of the Indo-European family, based on theories of how they have changed over time.</p><p>The most common hypothesis is that PIE was spoken from 4500 to 2500 BC on the Pontic-Caspian steppes, the grasslands stretching from Romania across Ukraine into southern Russia. Its speakers then migrated east and west, so PIE eventually fragmented into a family of languages spoken across Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. </p><p>Those languages may be mutually unintelligible now, but the similarities between certain basic words still points to a common origin. And that's how we've been able to reconstruct <em>bʰréh₂tēr,</em> PIE for 'brother'.</p><p>Via Proto-Balto-Slavic, this turns into <em>brat</em> (in Russian and all other Slavic languages). Proto-Germanic is the intermediate to modern German <em>Bruder</em>, Scandinavian <em>bror</em>, Dutch <em>broer,</em> and English <em>brother</em>. Via Proto-Italic, we get Latin <em>frater</em>, and that gives similar-sounding words in French (<em>frère</em>), Italian (<em>fratello</em>), and Romanian (<em>frate</em>). </p><p>Things get interesting in Iberia. The local languages use another word entirely to describe brotherly kinship: it's <em>hermano</em> (in Spanish) or <em>irmão</em> (in Portuguese). This derives from the second word of the Latin phrase <em>frater germanus</em>, which means 'brother of the same blood' (literally: 'of the same germ'). The phrase was used to distinguish between 'blood brothers' and brothers by adoption, a common occurrence in Roman times.</p><p><em>Frater</em> does have a descendant in the Iberian languages, but <em>fraile</em> (Spanish) and <em>frade</em> (Portuguese) only mean 'brother' in the ecclesiastical sense – similar to the English term <em>friar</em>. The change in meaning is indicated by the dotted line across the Pyrenees. Another dotted line on the Greek border denotes another shift in meaning: in Proto-Hellenic, <em>*</em><em>phrātēr</em> means 'citizen' rather than 'brother'. </p><p>On its march east, the PIE word for 'brother' transforms into Proto-Indo-Iranian, then branches off into distinct Proto-Iranian and Sanskrit strands. The Proto-Iranian (<em>*bráHtā</em>) radiates slightly to the west and more vigorously to the east; the modern Persian word (<em>barâdar</em>) makes it into Turkish as a loan word, but again, the meaning changes. In Turkish, <em>kardeş</em> is what you call your little brother (or little sister), while an older brother is called <em>abi</em>. <em>Birader</em> means 'brother' in a more symbolic sense, as 'buddy' or 'comrade'. In Hindi and throughout the subcontinent, <em>bhai</em> and slight variations are the commonest word to express the brotherly bond. </p><p>While the Icelander and Bangladeshi might have some trouble recognising the other's word for 'brother', it's remarkable that PIE's original term resonates so well in so many modern languages. As one commenter (on Reddit) said: "I am now fascinated by the idea that I can just go to a random village in the middle of Afghanistan, find the oldest man in town who has never heard or seen a foreigner, and that when I say 'brother' to him with a faint Jamaican accent he will probably understand what I mean, because the word in his native language sounds almost exactly the same."<br></p>
Howdy, stranger<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ4MTA5Ni9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzA0NDcwMH0.vBw3b-7ZSo_JTC6-yDv0oiJuF-Xcn6xYi5GiLqOEhkA/img.png?width=980" id="a6054" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f1571d1a8668cb86287efbfc8d05eb8e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe Proto-Germanic word for 'stranger', and its impact on the map of Europe." />
The Proto-Germanic word for 'stranger', and its impact on the map of Europe.
Image by u/Virble, found here. Reproduced with kind permission.<p>In other words: brotherliness can survive great distances across time and space. The second map shows the opposite: how 'stranger-ness' can persist, even in close proximity. The Proto-Germanic word for 'stranger' is <em>*walhaz</em>.</p><p>Early on, it became the default term to describe the closest 'others', as in Old Norse, where <em>Valr</em> means 'southerner' or 'Celt'. As such, it became attached to a number of southern/Celtic regions and countries, most famously Wales but also Gaul, Cornwall and Wallonia. </p><p>As the Gallic tribes were Romanised over time, the German(ic) term came to be applied to Romance speakers specifically, as for example in <em>Welschland</em>, the Swiss-German term for the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The Swiss-French term is la Romandie or la Suisse romande.</p><p>Something similar happened after the Proto-Germanic term was borrowed by Proto-Slavic. <em>Vlokh</em> came to mean 'Roman speaker', and was applied to the people (<em>Vlachs</em>, a former name for Romanians) and the region (<em>Wallachia</em>, in present-day Romania). The term <em>Vlachs</em> still applies to Romance-speaking minorities in the southern Balkans. In Polish, a variant <em>Wlochy</em> is used to describe the country the name of which in most other languages resembles 'Italy'. </p><p>The dots represent city and town names containing the term, indicating points of contact between 'us' and 'them'. These points are particularly plentiful in Britain, and in other areas of Western Europe where the friction between invading Germanic tribes and resident Roman citizens was strongest.</p><p>But while that clash of cultures persists in place names, the inhabitants of Walcheren (in the Netherlands), Wallasey (in the UK), Wallstadt (Germany), Welschbillig (France), Walshoutem (Belgium) and all the other dots on this map have stopped thinking in terms of 'us' and 'them' a long time ago. At least in terms of the 'locals'. There's plenty of other <em>walhaz</em> in the world, even if they are brothers from another mother. </p><p><br><em>Maps reproduced with kind permission of Reddit user </em><em>u/Virble. For more of his etymological maps, check out <a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/Virble/" target="_blank">this overview</a></em><em> of his Reddit contributions. </em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1038</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.</p>
Mapping the frequency of common toponyms opens window on Britain's 'deep history'.
- A place name is more than a name – it's a historical record of the name-givers.
- By examining some of the most common toponyms, Britain's 'deep history' is revealed.
- See where Danes, Welsh, and Anglo-Saxons stamped their name on the land.
Washington DC is a place named after a person who was named after a place. This is Washington Old Hall, the ancestral home of George Washington, in the northern English town of Washington.
Image: Public domain
Giving a location a name is a possessive act. It transforms an 'anywhere', a random space, into a 'somewhere', a certain place. A place with meaning, not just for the name-givers, also for later generations. Because place names are sticky. They can survive for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. And even if today's toponym, worn with use, sounds different and lost its original meaning, it still remains a 'vector of trans-generational communication'.
In isolation, each toponym is like an archaeological dig – hiding multiple layers beneath a well-trodden exterior. In context, surprising toponymical patterns emerge. As in these maps by Helen McKenzie. She's disassembled British place names to examine the frequency of some of their most common constituents. They reveal deep history hiding in plain sight, on countless road signs across the UK.
Denmark's footprint in England
The toponymic suffix -by is most prevalent in the area around the Humber.
Image: Helen McKenzie, reproduced with kind permission
Take -by (or -bie). It's one of the most common suffixes in place names throughout England, but also Scotland and Wales. Familiar examples include Grimsby and Whitby, on the North Sea coast; Derby inland, Formby on the Irish Sea coast and Lockerbie in Scotland.
There are hundreds of other examples, and they are among the most lasting relics of Scandinavian influence in Britain. By in Old Norse signified a farmstead or village. In modern Scandinavian languages, a 'by' still means village or city. In English, the word has also given rise to the terms 'by-election' and 'by-laws' – although pronounced differently than the suffix.
As the map shows, the suffix is most prevalent in the area around the Humber, and northern England in general. This is the core of what was once known as the Danelaw, a large swathe of northern and eastern England that was under Danish rule for about 80 years, until the expulsion of Eric Bloodaxe from Northumbria in the year 954.
But 'by' also occurs in Wales, as far south as Cornwall and as high north as central Scotland – a testament to the scale of Scandinavian involvement in Britain.
The valleys of Wales, and beyond
The green, green valleys of south Wales.
Image: Helen McKenzie, reproduced with kind permission
The anglicised version is 'coombe', which gives an indication of how to pronounce what looks like three consonants in a row. As the Welsh word for 'valley', it stands to reason that this toponym is most prevalent in the valley-rich south of Wales. Examples include Cwmbran, Cwmafan and Cwmfelinfach.
As for the comparative antiquity of British languages, Welsh is the much older rival of English. The post-Roman, pre-English inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic antecedent of Welsh. They were pushed west by the invading Anglo-Saxons. A telling – but disputed – piece of toponymic evidence is the Welsh word for England, Lloegr, which some say means 'lost lands'.
Better evidence are the many Celtic-influenced place names throughout England, including such well-known toponyms as Dover or Manchester. Focusing on Cwm and its anglicised variant, we find pockets throughout southern, central and northern England, as well as in Scotland.
Tons of -tuns all over Britain
The area of central England around Merseyside has the heaviest concentration of -tons and -tuns in Britain.
Image: Helen McKenzie, reproduced with kind permission
'Tun' is an old English word for enclosure that is cognate with Dutch 'tuin' ('garden') and German 'Zaun' ('fence') – for more on that, see #615 – and by way of 'ton' gave rise to 'town'. Perhaps the world's most famous example is Washington: the U.S. capital's name derives from the country's first president, whose name comes from the eponymous town in northern England. Its name, in turn, probably originated as Hwæsingatūn, the estate (tūn) of the descendants (inga) of Hwæsa – an old English first name that means "wheat sheaf".
The Anglo-Saxons planted countless tuns/tons throughout England, with the second-highest concentration in the northeast, around Washington. The highest concentration, though, is centered on the part of central England towards Merseyside (Liverpool and environs), with Bolton, Everton, Preston and Warrington some of the best known examples.
But really, there are tuns and tons all over Britain, with distant areas of Scotland and Wales the only exceptions. Note the concentration in southwest Wales: southern Pembrokeshire, once known as Little-England-beyond-Wales.
Maps reproduced with kind permission of Helen McKenzie. For a few more maps on toponymy and a lot more on other subjects (including emploment density in Hackney and otter sightings in the UK), check out Ms McKenzie's Instagram, at helen.makes.maps.
Strange Maps #1037
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.