Over 40% of the world's dog breeds come from these 3 countries

Isn't the world of dogs about more than (British) bulldogs and (French) poodles?

There’s something off about this map. And it’s not just the more than 200 pairs of dog’s eyes staring back at you.


It’s a map of the world, but a very peculiar one: some countries and continents are promoted to bigness, while others are deflated and moved, or removed altogether. Why the bizarre re-arrangement?

Could this be the work of a rabid anti-Peters projectionist? German cartographer Arno Peters in the 1970s adapted the traditional world map to counter the Eurocentrism implicit in its Mercator Projection. His map magnified Africa and compressed Europe and North America.

This map not only reverses that process but swings the pendulum way past Mercator. North America appears to be at least twice the size of South America (1) and Britain alone is almost as big as both combined. The rest of the land mass is mostly Europe, with France and Germany taking up a disproportionate amount of space. The Low Countries (2) together are a bit smaller than both, but easily as big as South America.

Africa is smaller than Germany and tucked away under Italy’s heel. The Arabian Peninsula is minuscule. In an atrophied Asia, China and India remain the only countries of note, but each would easily fit in France.

Japan, usually twice as big as Britain; and Australia, in reality, a few sizes bigger than Switzerland, are among the many other short-changed localities. The key to the contorted geography: all those doggies on the map.

The map concentrates on the source locations of the dog breeds it portrays. And some regions of the world have been more prolific at breeding dogs than others. The World Canine Federation (FCI) recognizes around 350 dog breeds (some are in the ‘waiting room’), not all of which are represented on this map. But that roll call, ranked by country of origin, gives an indication why some of the lands shown are larger than others.

Great Britain and France are the ground zero of dog fancying, with 57 registered breeds each (and yes, they include the bulldog (3) and the poodle, respectively). Germany is not far behind, with 47 breeds, including the German shepherd, but also the Great Dane. These three countries alone represent more than 40% of all dog breeds recognized by the FCI. Add in the rest of Europe, and the figure rises to well over 80%.

Talking about Eurocentrism: the map shows many but not all of the dog breeds recognized by the FCI but has had to resort to non-recognised breeds to fill up other parts of the world. The World Canine Federation acknowledges only 11 breeds from the U.S. (e.g. the Black and Tan Coonhound and the American Cocker Spaniel) but the map shows more than double that number (the Catahoula and the Blue Lacy, for example).

So, there are plenty of dog breeds out there that are not part of the official canon of FCI-recognised varieties. Could it be that this map inadvertently demonstrates that the world of dog-fancying is, like many others, too Eurocentric? Perhaps its skewed geography is an indication that the world of dog breeds is in urgent need of its own Peters Projection.

Map seen here at Doggie Drawings. Reproduced with kind permission of Lili Chin.

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Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

(1) It is, in fact, bigger than South America, but only by less than a third: 9.4 versus 6.9 million square miles (24.2 vs 17.8 million km2)

(2) Belgium and the Netherlands; tiny Luxembourg, usually included (hence the modern acronym Benelux), is left off the map here, for reasons which will become apparent.

(3) Next to the “traditional” English bulldog, there’s also a breed of French bulldog.

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Best case: redrawing borders leads to peace, prosperity and EU membership. But there's also a worst case

Image: SRF
Strange Maps
  • The Yugoslav Wars started in 1991, but never really ended
  • Kosovo and Serbia are still enemies, and they're getting worse
  • A proposed land swap could create peace - or reignite the conflict

The death of Old Yugoslavia

Image: public domain

United Yugoslavia on a CIA map from 1990.

Wars are harder to finish than to start. Take for instance the Yugoslav Wars, which raged through most of the 1990s.

The first shot was fired at 2.30 pm on June 27th, 1991, when an officer in the Yugoslav People's Army took aim at Slovenian separatists. When the YPA retreated on July 7th, Slovenia was the first of Yugoslavia's republics to have won its independence.

After the wars

Image: Ijanderson977, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Map of former Yugoslavia in 2008, when Kosovo declared its independence. The geopolitical situation remains the same today.

The Ten-Day War cost less than 100 casualties. The other wars – in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo (1) – lasted much longer and were a lot bloodier. By early 1999, when NATO had forced Serbia to concede defeat in Kosovo, close to 140,000 people had been killed and four million civilians displaced.

So when was the last shot fired? Perhaps it never was: it's debatable whether the Yugoslav Wars are actually over. That's because Kosovo is a special case. Although inhabited by an overwhelming ethnic-Albanian majority, Kosovo is of extreme historical and symbolic significance for Serbians. More importantly, from a legalistic point of view: Kosovo was never a separate republic within Yugoslavia but rather a (nominally) autonomous province within Serbia.

Kosovo divides the world

Image: public domain

In red: states that have recognised the independence of Kosovo (most EU member states – with the notable exceptions of Spain, Greece, Romania and Slovakia; and the U.S., Japan, Turkey and Egypt, among many others). In blue: states that continue to recognise Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo (most notably Russia and China, but also other major countries such as India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Iran).

The government of Serbia has made its peace and established diplomatic relations with all other former Yugoslav countries, but not with Kosovo. In Serbian eyes, Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008 was a unilateral and therefore legally invalid change of state borders. Belgrade officially still considers Kosovo a 'renegade province', and it has a lot of international support for that position (2). Not just from its historical protector Russia, but also from other states that face separatist movements (e.g. Spain and India).

Despite their current conflict, Kosovo and Serbia have the same long-term objective: membership of the European Union. Ironically, that wish could lead to Yugoslav reunification some years down the road – within the EU. Slovenia and Croatia have already joined, and all other ex-Yugoslav states would like to follow their example. Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have already submitted an official application. The EU considers Bosnia and Kosovo 'potential candidates'.

Kosovo is the main stumbling block on Serbia's road to EU membership. Even after the end of hostilities, skirmishes continued between the ethnically Albanian majority and the ethnically Serbian minority within Kosovo, and vice versa in Serbian territories directly adjacent. Tensions are dormant at best. A renewed outbreak of armed conflict is not unthinkable.

Land for peace?

Image: BBC

Mitrovica isn't the only area majority-Serb area in Kosovo, but the others are enclaved and fear being abandoned in a land swap.

In fact, relations between Kosovo and Serbia have deteriorated spectacularly in the past few months. At the end of November, Kosovo was refused membership of Interpol, mainly on the insistence of Serbia. In retaliation, Kosovo imposed a 100% tariff on all imports from Serbia. After which Serbia's prime minister Ana Brnabic refused to exclude her country's "option" to intervene militarily in Kosovo. Upon which Kosovo's government decided to start setting up its own army – despite its prohibition to do so as one of the conditions of its continued NATO-protected independence.

The protracted death of Yugoslavia will be over only when this simmering conflict is finally resolved. The best way to do that, politicians on both sides have suggested, is for the borders reflect the ethnic makeup of the frontier between Kosovo and Serbia.

The biggest and most obvious pieces of the puzzle are the Serbian-majority district of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo, and the Albanian-majority Presevo Valley, in southwestern Serbia. That land swap was suggested previous summer by no less than Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic, presidents of Kosovo and Serbia respectively. Best-case scenario: that would eliminate the main obstacle to mutual recognition, joint EU membership and future prosperity.

If others can do it...

Image: Ruland Kolen

Belgium and the Netherlands recently adjusted out their common border to conform to the straightened Meuse River.

Sceptics - and more than a few locals - warn that there also is a worst-case scenario: the swap could rekindle animosities and restart the war. A deal along those lines would almost certainly exclude six Serbian-majority municipalities enclaved deep within Kosovo. While Serbian Mitrovica, which borders Serbia proper, is home to some 40,000 inhabitants, those enclaves represent a further 80,000 ethnic Serbs – who fear being totally abandoned in a land swap, and eventually forced out of their homes.

Western powers, which sponsored Kosovo's independence, are divided over the plan. U.S. officials back the idea, as do some within the EU. But the Germans are against – they are concerned about the plan's potential to fire up regional tensions rather than eliminate them.

Borders are the Holy Grail of modern nationhood. Countries consider their borders inviolate and unchanging. Nevertheless, land swaps are not unheard of. Quite recently, Belgium and the Netherlands exchanged territories so their joint border would again match up with the straightened course of the River Meuse (3). But those bits of land were tiny and uninhabited. And as the past has amply shown, borders pack a lot more baggage in the Balkans.

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