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Strange Maps

A special series by Frank Jacobs.

Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more. "Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle."


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All Stories

32 – Britain, USA

The The once sang about Great Britain being the ’51st State of the USA’ – a comment on the culture and foreign policy of the United Kingdom, which were then […]

23 – Beyond the pale

Beyond the pale is an English expression for anything beyond the limits of the law or of accepted morality. The aforementioned ‘pale’, far from being a symbolic separator, at one time […]

25 – Suur Suomi

Finland gained independence from Russia right after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. A civil war ensued, along the lines of the post-revolution conflict in Russia itself: ‘Reds’ against ‘Whites’. The […]

20 – Sri Lanka on top!

Funny how something as arbitrary as map orientation can skew the perception of countries. On this map, from the vaults of the  Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of […]

29 – The Berlin Republic

I don’t remember where I got this map from, but the context seems quite straightforward. The two figures in the foreground are saying “ein Geschwür!” (literally: “an ulcer”) and “Da […]

30 – the Afrikaner Volkstaat

‘Volkstaat’ is Afrikaans for People’s state – the people in this case being the white South Africans who identify themselves as ‘Afrikaners’ (mainly descendents of Dutch settlers, speaking a language […]

13 – The retreat of Cornish

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

12 – Europe’s divides

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

11 – “Edwardistan”

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

7 – Greater Albania

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

6 – Market Reef

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