These 1,000 hexagons show how global wealth is distributed

A cartogram makes it easy to compare regional and national GDPs at a glance.

Europe's economic landscape: an excerpt from the nominal GDP world map.

Credit: BerryBlue_BlueBerry, reproduced with kind permission
  • On these maps, each hexagon represents one-thousandth of the world's economy.
  • That makes it easy to compare the GDP of regions and nations across the globe.
  • There are versions for nominal GDP and GDP adjusted for purchasing power.
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How a “flying circus” gave us the first aerial maps of Earth

Thomas Baldwin's Airopaidia (1786) includes the earliest sketches of the earth from a balloon.

Detail from one of the three first aerial maps ever made, as published in Airopaidia.

Credit: Internet Archive / Public domain.
  • In the 1780s, as humanity mastered flight, a "balloon craze" swept across the world.
  • Thomas Baldwin had just one sky-trip, but he wrote an entire book about it — Airopaidia.
  • At times lyrical and technical, the curious volume also includes the world's first aerial maps.
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Turn any place on earth into a New York street corner

ExtendNY stretches the Big Apple's gridiron all across the globe – with some bizarre effects

Anywhere in the world is a place in New York, courtesy of the extendable Manhattan street grid.

Credit: ExtendNY
  • Manhattan's street grid is famously regular and predictable. What if you extended it across the globe?
  • This web tool does exactly that, and in the process, turning New York into the world's first, last, and only "planetary city."
  • But grids are square, and the world is not. Somewhere in Uzbekistan, global Manhattan goes haywire.
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Sea cucumber crime is a thing, and this is where it’s happening

A "seafood mafia" is plying the waters between India and Sri Lanka to satisfy China's appetite for an increasingly rare delicacy.

Sri Lanka's legal market for sea cucumbers next to India's illegal one is proving too tempting a proposition for poachers.

Credit: Phelps Bondaroff/Katapult Magazin, reproduced with kind permission.
Strange Maps
  • Long a delicacy in China and East Asia, sea cucumbers are now also becoming a rarity worldwide.
  • India has outlawed the trade, inaugurated a marine reserve, and put together a law enforcement task force.
  • But the trade remains legal in Sri Lanka, which has become the hub for widespread "seafood laundering."
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Why Swiss maps are full of hidden secrets

Cartography is serious business in Switzerland — but once in a while, the occasional map gag slips through.

Swiss topographical maps are a smorgasbord of Easter eggs.

Credit: Swisstopo
Strange Maps
  • The Swiss are not known for their sense of humor, but perhaps we've not been looking hard enough.
  • Over the decades, Swiss cartographers have sprinkled plenty of "Easter eggs" across otherwise serious maps.
  • The oldest one, a naked lady, has been removed — but the marmot, the haunted monk, and others are still there.
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The ‘Lost Forty’: how a mapping error preserved an old-growth forest

A 19th-century surveying mistake kept lumberjacks away from what is now Minnesota's largest patch of old-growth trees.

The surveying team's map from 1883 (left) and the actual lay of the land (right). The area colored light blue was erroneously marked as part of the lake.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service via Dan Alosso on Substack and licensed under CC-BY-SA
Strange Maps
  • In 1882, Josias R. King made a mess of mapping Coddington Lake, making it larger than it actually is.
  • For decades, Minnesota loggers left the local trees alone, thinking they were under water.
  • Today, the area is one of the last remaining patches of old-growth forest in the state.
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