Can’t find the Middle East on a map? Here’s why.

Invented in 1902 by an American, the 'Middle East' is all over the place.

A recent Morning Consult/Politico survey found that fewer than 3 in 10 registered voters were able to identify the Islamic Republic of Iran on an unlabeled world map.

  • If the Middle East is easier to find in the news than on the map, there's a good reason for that.
  • The term is a fairly recent invention with myriad definitions and applications.
  • In some versions, it extends further west than Ireland and as far north as Copenhagen.
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VPNs are a must for private browsing in 2020. Here are huge deals on 5 of them

With a virtual private network, you're accessing a separate server for your internet use, making it virtually impossible for hackers or malicious outsiders to track your online activities and hack your accounts.

  • In the U.S., only 5% of web users are protected with a VPN service.
  • These five deals provide protection and unrestricted web usage at top speeds.
  • All five VPN services are currently discounted as much as 97% off.
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    The joy of French, in a dozen maps

    Isogloss cartography shows diversity, richness, and humour of the French language

    • Isogloss maps show what most cartography doesn't: the diversity of language.
    • This baker's dozen charts the richness and humour of French.
    • France is more than French alone: There's Breton and German, too – and more.
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    'Charcoal Australia': This viral image isn't the full story

    Viral 'photo' is composite image, but other map shows true and growing size of devastation

    Australia is burning, but is it this bad?

    • A viral photo shows Australia smoldering like a piece of charcoal about to ignite.
    • The composite image shows all fires over an entire month, which is not the same as all fires raging at the same time.
    • That's not to say the devastation isn't real, and growing–as proven by another map.
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    One map to translate them all

    European Word Translator: a simple idea adds a cartographic flourish to Google's online translation service

    'Hungry' in other European languages.

    Image courtesy of James Trimble
    Strange Maps
    • Google lets you translate text into one language at a time.
    • This translator shows you one word in all languages – on one handy map.
    • It's simple, instructive, and fun (a.k.a. móka, Spaß and zábava).
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    Cyclist draws festive reindeer on map of London

    Giant Christmas image took 80 miles and nine hours to make

    A giant Christmas reindeer sprawled across the map of London.

    Image: Anthony Hoyt
    Strange Maps
    • Anthony Hoyte practises 'Strava art' – he uses the fitness app to draw pictures on maps.
    • Two years ago, he started drawing festive images for the Christmas season.
    • This year's effort, a giant reindeer sprawled across London, took 9 hours to 'draw'.
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    The utopian 1920s scheme for five global superstates

    Austro-Japanese aristocrat Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi later concentrated on plans for Pan-Europe.

    One person's utopia is another's dystopia: A world map of five superstates.

    Image: public domain
    Strange Maps
    • Unity is strength: This 1920s map divides the world among just five superstates.
    • The map was produced by count Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, who devoted his life to European unity.
    • This utopian map may have inspired George Orwell's dystopian world in 1984.
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