Underperforming, the U.S. comes in only 157th out of 196 in global triangularity ranking.
- Sierra Leone is the world's roundest country and Egypt the squarest. But you knew that.
- Bet you didn't know which is the world's most triangle-shaped country.
- That is until now, because someone's figured out that it's... Nicaragua!
Circles, squares and triangles<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5NzQ3MS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NzcwNzI1OX0.bmQk4y8kDlSjt8JL28btAtODTlgKhXPPCrIUEuXtzHY/img.png?width=980" id="df241" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5e59cc4309d4b90a0a7b30aa8d8a97f9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe flag of Nicaragua. Coincidentally or not, it features a... triangle." data-width="1999" data-height="1200" />
The flag of Nicaragua. Coincidentally or not, it features a... triangle.
Defining 'triangularity'<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5NzQ5NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MDgxMTYxMX0.LVbBuXySMbOPUkxqjOuO9SeSkyp5vISvuAm7l2pBDSA/img.png?width=980" id="a7996" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f9a9b6d50fdac2307bb16602eb7aaf27" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bRanked: the world's squarest (left) and roundest (right) countries." data-width="1237" data-height="705" />
Ranked: the world's squarest (left) and roundest (right) countries.
Credit: G. Ciruelos, D. Barry.<p>As it turns out, Lesotho is only the 36th roundest out of a total of 206 countries and territories, and Turkey only the 15th boxiest. So we were off by quite a bit. But ask us which is the most triangular nation on earth, and we can't even picture a likely candidate. </p><p><span></span>This is where Mr Alps's mathematical skills kick in. Inspired as he was by the pioneering work by <a href="https://gciruelos.com/what-is-the-roundest-country..." target="_blank">Gonzalo Ciruelos</a> (on sovereign circularity) and <a href="https://pappubahry.com/misc/rectangles/" target="_blank">David Barry</a> (on state-based squareness), he decided to test the world's countries and territories for their conformity to the third-most-basic geometrical shape. </p><p><span></span>As he writes on his blog, "the first step is to define mathematically what 'triangularity' means." For the full methodology, check Mr Alps's blog. And let's skip to the juicy bits. Out of the 196 countries listed in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the most triangular country is...</p><p><em><span></span>(ripping open envelope)</em></p><p>… Nicaragua!</p><p>And yes, now that you mention it – we see it too. </p>
Triangles on flags<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5NzUwMy9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NzkwMzY5MH0.m60QEjRD6Sw6spqQNUPi0YrygvjMZljXU7wMprtcJoc/img.png?width=980" id="56f13" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a9df70f30f586c1ff63cf529e1a6e47f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bThe five most triangular countries in the world: Nicaragua, Bosnia, Namibia, Mauritania and Bolivia." data-width="999" data-height="1540" />
The five most triangular countries in the world: Nicaragua, Bosnia, Namibia, Mauritania and Bolivia.
Credit: Tom's Data Blog<p>On the 'triangularity' index devised by Mr Alps, which indicates maximum similarity between a country and a triangle, the Central American nation scores 0.918672. That is slightly better than the runner-up, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Although now that you mention it, that is a very triangular-looking country, too. </p><p><span></span>In fact, the Bosnians thought so themselves. The country's national flag features a triangle as an approximation of the nation's geographic shape. Weirdly, the Nicaraguan flag also features a triangle. By accident or design?</p><p><span></span>Mr Alps plotted the triangularity of each country. "This shows that there is a quite gentle decrease in triangularity over the first 150 countries, followed by a sharp drop-off, seemingly due to countries that have multiple parts."</p><p><span></span>The least triangular country? The Marshall Islands. "Hardly surprising, considering the country is a collection of tiny islands spread over a large area of ocean."</p><p><span></span>For the least triangular country that isn't a group of islands, we have to move up 16 places in the ranking to Vietnam at #180. The United States is also among the world's poorest performers when it comes to triangularity, stuck in 157th place between Laos and Mexico. </p><p>How well is your country performing in the global triangularity ranking? Check it <a href="https://tomalps.github.io/ta_blog/most-triangular-country" target="_blank">here</a> on Mr Alps's <a href="https://tomalps.github.io/ta_blog/" target="_blank">blog</a>.</p>
And rounding out the Triangularity Top 10: Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Botswana and the Dominican Republic.
Credit: Tom's Data Blog<p><em>Triangularity ranking images reproduced with kind permission from Mr Alps. </em></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1058</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></p>