Getting lost in the world of maps

Do you ever go on an unexpected diversion?  I’ve just been on one and I haven’t left my desk.  Diversions happen all the time.  Sometimes they can be good such as when you’re browsing Wikipedia intent on looking up a specific fact only to end up several mouse clicks away.   I’m diverted all the time at work, starting off doing what I intended only for the phone to ring, emails to arrive, the fax machine to jam and before I know it I am 6 0r 7 tasks away from the job that was urgent 2 hours ago.  I might remember that original task but the chances of remember task 2 or 3 after completing diversion 7 is less good.

I do get diverted a lot in the garden, in the shops even on the television remote control.  Maybe it is because life is so fluid.  I could have a short attention span  but I don’t think that is the case.  Most likely it is because I have lots of imagination and an explorative tendency.

All of us writers no doubt get diverted when writing.  To an extent it is healthy and shows us the story has a life of its own.   You start off writing about Jack on the way home from work sat reading the newspaper on the train and before you know it not only has the passenger opposite left with his wallet and USB stick on the seat but Jack insists on seeing whose dead legs are poking out from the toilet compartment into the corridor.

That’s where my blog has taken me today.  A few days ago I fully intended to write about something in particular.  I even started writing the text but when I went  online to find an appropriate graphic, that was it I was on an unexpected journey.  A dead King of England here, a radio news broadcast there and a few topics filed for later blogging down the line and here I am going to talk about maps.

I’ve always been intrigued by maps.  Maps can give out so much information, they can be beautiful to look at and they can be fun.   No really.

County Map of GB and NI

If this were a jigsaw puzzle the trick here would be to start with Cornwall in the bottom left hand corner. I always found the East Midlands the hardest… Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire. Why don’t you fit in the hole dammit.

30 years or so ago I used to do jigsaws puzzle and my favourate jigsaw was ‘The Counties of Britain’.  Each county would have a painting on it of what goes on in that county.  Coal mining in Yorkshire, sailing off the South Coast and a good 50 square miles or so represented with a painting of people pushing a round cheese down a hillside.  Bizarre.    Soon afterwards I got a similar puzzle but this time a map of the world.  Egypt was sandy with a Pyramid on it, there was a long wall in China and that country with cowboys on the one side and a statue of liberty on the other was a lot like my country but wasn’t quite.  To complete the puzzle   I’d always start off with the skinny places that stick into the sea.  Japan, Italy and Central America and once I realised Japan didn’t connect into Austria then I had the world figured out.

Everyone has seen maps of the world whether they are simple geographic maps or maps showing which areas have lots of rubber trees and corn fields.  Even the basic map tells us a lot.   People generally produce maps for themselves and as such put their own country at the centre of the world.   Below is a basic version of a map that our fore-fathers in the UK would have been familiar with, the Empire map with you-know who right in the middle of things.  Even geographic terms persist from this map.  The Far East, The Middle East, The Near East are all based on distances from London.  If you live in Nigeria then the “Middle East” to you should really be in South Africa and from Los Angeles the Far East should be Eastern Europe which to London is just the Near East.  Oh this is confusing…

British Empire Map

Old Empire territories with London at the centre

If you are from North America you probably have seen maps like this:

World Map USA

Here the USA is at the centre of the world.

and playing on a hunch I imagined China would see itself as the centre of the world and would have London at the far west and New York at the far east.  10 seconds on Google and my guess wasn’t far wrong:

Chinese Map of the World

Chinese Map of the World… who cares about those other countries who think they are the centre of things?

Of course this is all natural, everyone is pre-occupied by themselves and as the world is globular then there really is no right or wrong.    Below is the most recent map I could find which if you look closely includes South Sudan in North-East Africa:

World Political Map

The newest country that I am aware of is South Sudan. Map is courtesy of

If you look at maps not only do they give you information but they also raise questions if you look at them.  Many of these are about borders, just by looking at them the Canadian/USA border could not be resulting from natural boundaries such as rivers or Mountains.  Why does Egypt have almost a rectangular border except for a few squiggles?  Do near Moscow have anything in common with those Russians near Alaska?  Why is the England/Scotland border the way it is?   Is there a reason why there are all those seas as lakes from the Mediterranean eastwards, were they ever linked?  How do they replenish themselves?  All things I used to think about until I found out the answers.

These are all the sorts of maps that I would look at as a child but then when I got older I started looking at transport maps.

European High Speed Rail Map

Map of the main high speed rail routes in Europe

While looking at train maps in Europe I came across the one below  for proposed high speed train routes in the USA.   I love train travel, no flying involved and no driving for me.  What’s not to like?

High Speed Rail Map USA

High Speed Rail Map USA

The map above is basic but it has told me of two places I have never heard of before, Eugene and St. Paul.  The map doesn’t just show where the new rail routes may go but some of the biggest cities and natural trade and tourist routes.

These days the internet gives access to a whole host of maps, some of which weren’t even conceived of when I used to look at my paper atlases.  There are too many to show here but here are two or three interesting maps I thought people may like to see.

International Access Map

International Access Map showing the access and ease of international travel and communications. The dark red areas are isolated internationally whilst the lightest yellow areas are very connected.

This one above  shows the connectivity of the world for for international travel and communications.

Urban World Map

Urban World Map

The map above shows the urban population for each country and the percentage of the whole population.  Here in the UK we have 90% of the country living in urban areas, pretty much the highest anyway.

Corruption Map

International map showing the levels of corruption in general business and governmental organisations. The light yellow states are generally free of corruption. The darkest red ones suffer terrible corruption in many areas of life.

International Migration

This map attempts to demonstrate those countries with large inflows of migrants. Obviously notable is the USA which historically has been built on immigration. Not far behind them are the UK, France and Germany which also feature prominently.

Happiness Map

World Happiness Map

Finally we get to the map that started off this whole escapade.  This is the modern version of the map I used to look at as a boy and I went through all the maps above and more just to find it.  That’s the beauty of maps though and when you do get diverted maps can come in handy there too.

Relative Population

Block map featuring country sizes based on their population and not their territory.

Looking at the map above and comparing it to the geographic maps further up shows lots of interesting points.  One can’t escape the fact that though China and India are large countries, they have huge populations.   Most countries have populations in balance with their territorial size although this doesn’t mean that they have the resources or are developed enough yet to reach western standards of living.  Russia, Australia and Canada are just some huge countries with a relatively low population.  There is no escaping the fact that for the size of the UK territorially, we sure are stuffed full of people.

I hope you liked my diversionary journey through the maps and I promise I’ll get back to original blogging point sooner or later.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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130 Responses to Getting lost in the world of maps

  1. emilia says:

    This is very informative! it is amazing how many details you can find out from just reading maps. Thanks for sharing.


  2. yepirategunn says:

    Yes, maps, flags, airline route maps – I’m passionate about them all! My favourite map was popularity of heavy metal music, with Scandinavia standing out. Was very intriguing. Thanks for a fascinating post.


  3. thepoliblog says:

    The map of immigration, with some countries looking like bloated balloons, and others looking like limp, deflated balloons, made me laugh. Salvadore Dali would be envious.


  4. Lee says:

    I loved reading this, for all sorts of reasons. I love maps (and the old atlases) too. I have two big maps on my office wall – one of the world, and a really detailed one of Australia. And in case you were wondering, Australian maps tend to look the same as China maps! I pretend my maps are useful, but really I just love the look of them. And on Christmas Day I was delighted to see that friends with whom we were celebrating had among their gifts a map jigsaw. It was a street map of New York City, and we spent a good couple of hours working on it. As for diversions…I think it’s called procrastination, and I’m rather prone to it too.


    • Thank-you so much for your comment. I too enjoy looking at old atlases and if I ever go to a house where I see a new edition then I always try to take a peek.

      When I went to Uni the first thing I did was get a very detailed but rather immense wall map from Eastern Europe to Western China and it was the basis of countless backpacking trips, both imagined and real. It was also a huge help with planning my novel but really I bought it as much to look at and admire than to use.

      It doesn’t matter if the maps are of roads, natural features or just a plain political map of the world.

      When I was little my parents used to have a table cloth they brought home from Australia and it featured a large embroidered map of Australia. I haven’t seen it for over 20 years but I still remember spending hours at the table looking at the map rather than eating!


  5. Tony says:

    I love maps also. Do you follow ?


  6. Pingback: In the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia | Stephen Liddell

  7. jaggh53163 says:

    I had no idea there were so many different kinds of maps. This “diversion” was fascinating. Thank you for that and thank you for your “Like” on my blog I am curious as to how you found me, though.


  8. Thanks for visiting my blog, and for diverting me from my writing with the great map article. I admit to being a map addict, papering the walls of my office and filling the empty spaces through the room. Wonderful read.


    • You’re very welcome. That is a great photo of you with the canon. I have been interested in the American Civil War since I was about 11 and I found the book “Rifles for Watie” which I re-read about 5 times through school.

      I’m glad you liked my maps. I can’t get enough of them either.


  9. swabby429 says:

    I have some musty, old atlases that I just love.


  10. restlessjo says:

    I digress comes to mind. Not a fan of maps with square countries, but I have to confess to a certain fascination. I’m rubbish at navigating with them though. My husband will confirm that 100%.


  11. I like maps too and have a very small collection of antique maps, including some from Britain. Some early maps of North America show Baja California as an island. I will have to study your post more closely.

    Thanks for liking one of my blog posts.


    • You’re very welcome. I like looking at old maps too, it’s interesting to see what they got right and what they got wrong and just to see the foundations of the main settlements and roads. I have a reproduction of one of my home county of Hertfordshire from about 1,000 years ago and it is almost unrecognisable but once you study it then you get to work things out. Often the spellings of places change which makes things more “interesting”.


  12. Cartography fascinates me, and I’m especially interested in alternatives to the western or Eurocentric models. Two of my favourite books on this subject are Royal Siamese Maps: War and Trade in Nineteenth Century Thailand, by Santanee Phasuk and Philip Stott (2004) and Early Mapping of Southeast Asia, by Thomas Suarez (1999). I’m also interested in the way oral cultures, such as that of the Polynesians and their amazing navigators, used memories handed down rather than drawings.


    • Thank-you for your great comment Caron. I will have to look up those 2 books as I am not familiar with them. What you say about the Polynesians is something I also find incredible with nomadic tribes in the Sahara and how they can travel for days or weeks looking for a small market or a well when the sand dunes have all changed and to everyone else there is no way of properly navigating. Or The Mongols who could ride their horses thousands of miles through foreign lands and come out in the exact opposite direction than what their enemies were expecting.

      I do think some people do have a gift of keeping things in their heads. I don’t know if it is magnetic like some animals or whether they can see distances and directions in their head. I know I have something like this and just never seem to get lost wherever I go as I seem to just see it in my head.


  13. Wonderful post–maps and diversions. Most excellent.


  14. Love it! I’ve always thought that maps are not necessarily what keep us from getting lost, but what enable us to get lost (and by lost I mean “immersed”) in a place we would not have explored otherwise!


  15. YunitaGena says:

    I got diverted so many times, maybe similar with yours, i have lots of imagination and an explorative tendency too. 🙂
    i love your map collections. and yess, indeed, i collect any kind of map with absolutely my country at the center of it. LOL. or the other map which becomes my destination at the center of it and still shows my country :).
    When I was writing material to be posted at my blog, I got diverted so many times. From one point to another point. I changed my point so many times before posting it.


    • I am exactly the same. I had something already written for yesterday but decided to write something else and even then it changed 🙂

      I realised something a bit stupid about having your country in the middle of a map if it is in an atlas. The spine of the book goes right through your country and you miss half of it. I guess it doesn’t matter so much if you live in a big country but it does in mine 🙂


      • YunitaGena says:

        ow, i thought I’m the only one. but i enjoy this post “thing’ process. so that’s why i called it random 🙂

        hahahah, u make me realized too, LOL. but, mine not exactly in the middle. i have to move it a little bit, u know the power of digitizing and printing by yourself.


  16. Absolutely loved this. Maps are beautiful and fascinating, journeys in themselves.


  17. bkmarcus says:

    "[J]ust by looking at them the Canadian/USA border could not be resulting from natural boundaries such as rivers or Mountains."
    There’s a fascinating series on the History Channel called How the States Got Their Shapes, which explains the history of American state and national borders.
    The show (which may be harder to see in the UK) is based on a book of the same name by Mark Stein.
    To me the more interesting part of the US/Canadian border is not the straight line in the west, but the squiggly line between the American northeast and our northern neighbor. That border looks like it was determined by a river or coastline but is in fact a political compromise based on the idea that rainwater that flows to the Atlantic should be American, while rainwater that flows into the Saint Lawrence should determine Canadian territory. Where exactly the boundary is between the Atlantic and the Saint Lawrence is its own sticky question.


    • Thanks for your great comment. I will definitely look up that book as I haven’t seen the TV show unless it will appear on the UK PBS channel.

      I spent quite some time on Saturday afternoon just looking at the particular bit of the border in one of my atlases and was trying to work out the reasoning for it. The border there looks needlessly complicated considering how straight the rest of it its.

      Thanks for your explanation, I am going to have to look into this more closely. Which is a good thing 🙂


  18. Nativegrl77 says:

    Thanks for stopping by and the like …funny, i used to tear out maps from Nat’l Geographic as a kid


  19. neelkanth says:

    Inspiring pictures.


  20. Sandi says:

    This would be absolutely addicting. Wow. Now I am going to have to investigate some of these maps more in-depth. I like to put my feet in someone else’s shoes and this is one really visual way to start.


  21. janeanddavid says:

    Maps are fun to look at idly, without real purpose except to amuse oneself!


  22. jony663 says:

    Thank you for the Blog. I really liked it. In my office is a MacArthur projection of the world with the south at the top and centered on Australia. I also love maps.


  23. merrildsmith says:

    Thank you for looking at my blog. I enjoyed reading this post of yours, and the diversion from my work–which has nothing to do with maps, of course. This post reminded me of a scene in the musical The King and I in which the king is dismayed when he sees how small Siam appears in the map Mrs. Anna is showing the children.


  24. Wyon says:

    Another perspective is the world upside down.


  25. ah, hi Steve, that’s a great post, and of course like your other readers above, I also collect maps, treasure them everywhere I see them & generally feel there is little in life more interesting than a good map! You give a good and passionate response for “mapaholics” everywhere. Like your collection above, full of great information. My only quibble was with the migration/immigration one. I don’t know who researched, compiled & designed it, but think they must have seriously underestimated immigration in south & latin america! Practically 85% of the population is from former immigration, especially in countries like Argentina & Brazil, but you’d never guess that from looking at the map. Minor quibble though, pure nit-picking! Great post, very enjoyable. Oh, and thank you for your visits to my own little blog,very much appreciated. Reagrads from Dublin- Arran.


    • I’m so glad to have found another mapaholic 🙂

      You know what, you are totally correct about the immigration map to South America. I guess the only thing we don’t know is the time period of the immigration. I know they are getting a few people these days from Spain and Portugal and Italy but perhaps most of their immigrants where in the 19th and early 20th Century?

      I guess the other thing that he cartographer has going for them is that Brazil and Argentina are huge countries, I suppose the Population Map shows that especially Brazil does have a large population.

      Given that Brazil has a population of just under 194 million and a land mass of 3,290,000 square miles and the UK has just less than 93,000 square miles but over 63 million people there is no doubt which is the most crowded. I wonder if the map is only for immigration in the last decade or so.

      You’ve raised lots of questions! 🙂

      I liked your blog and will visit again soon. I was actually in Dublin for the first time ever this time last year for a long weekend. A very nice place with very nice people! I remember the Chester Beatty museum was fascinating.


  26. Very cool from a fellow map nerd.


  27. digger666 says:

    First of all, thanks for visiting my blog and liking a recently published post.

    As a fellow cartography addict, this piece, of course, diverted me from priorities; maps always come to the rescue when priorities begin to shout at me.

    Your observations regarding individual countries relationship to the ‘centre’ of the world projection most common within that culture is particularly interesting. What surprised me was the relative absence of comment regarding China and the perception Chinese have of their place in the scheme of the world. As you’re no doubt aware, the Mandarin ideograms for China, 中國, mean ‘Middle Kingdom’, both in the geographical, physical sense of which you and some of your correspondents wrote, but also in the metaphysical sense, in which China represents, indeed occupies, that space between Heaven and the remainder of humanity.

    I’m looking forward to following your progress through maps and the ideas they represent.


    • You’re welcome. I’m exactly the same, if ever I am in danger of making any real progress on anything important somehow I always end up on Google Earth or some map site although I still think there is nothing like a good hard back atlas.

      That is very interesting what you say about China occupying the space between Heaven and the rest of humanity. I do remember hearing that years ago but hadn’t thought of it for a long time. I suppose in times past they had every reason to imagine their civilisation was much above everyone else they knew, who knows maybe they are going that way again. It seems most great states at one time or other believe themselves to be either a chosen or special people. Ancient Israel, 19th-20thC Britain, 20thC America to name just a few.

      There must be some maps available that show Chinese perceptions of their place in between the earth and the heavens like the old Iranian concepts of 7th heaven.

      I will definitely do a new feature on maps later in the year and this might be an interesting concept to feature.

      Thanks again!


  28. T Hollis says:

    Wow! Now I’ve been lost in maps of the world for far longer than I had planned! Thanks! I love it!
    And thanks for stopping by my Post!


  29. ram0nrdl says:

    I really enjoyed this. I wouldn’t have come across had I not been graced by you visit to mine. Thank you. I like your writing style too, an inspiration to learn more. Maps are dear to me as well, especially maps of places I have travelled to. My favorite, I guess I’m biased a little, is an silk map of the island I’m from. It was actually an air force issue to pilots during the WWII.


    • Thank-you. Are you originally from the Philippines? The Chocolate Hills there look so pretty.

      Your silk map sounds wonderful. I have seen examples in museums. Your should take a photo of it if possible and write a small article on it.

      I really liked your articles on Turkey by the way.


  30. Gary Allen says:

    Chinese world maps do, indeed, place China in the middle …which is natural since the country’s name, in Chinese, is “Jung Guo” (“middle Country”).


    • Yes it makes sense given the name of the country in Chinese. I wonder if there is a country that doesn’t place itself at the centre of maps and is happy to base itself on its location from London, Washington or Beijing.


      • argylesock says:

        When I was an undergrad at Oxford University, I had a nerdy and not entirely sober conversation about where the true centre of the world was. We decided that it was Catte Street, in fact it was the very room we sat in.

        I know better anyway. I’m from the Midlands.


  31. sciapoddairy says:

    I love maps too, in particular Ordnance Survey – have you read Map Addict by Mike Parker?


  32. grethic says:

    Just thought another book you might like is Maps pub by five leaves, a series of essays


  33. I love your “tours”, and will spend a lot of time on them! In 1993 my husband and I rented a car and traveled 2200 miles of backroads in England, Scotland, and Wales. It was WONDERFUL! (My husband was a remarkable driver.) We stayed at sheep farms, mostly, because for 20 years I raised a hand spinner’s flock of sheep here in Wisconsin.

    Cornwall defies description. Many places in UK bring tears to my eyes, so beautiful. We only went in to London on the last day, from Dorking. We went to the RR station because I wanted a Paddington Bear from Paddington Station. Alas, there were none. They missed their chance to make a big sale to a clueless American! (But I did find one at home, at a Walmart. Yikes!)

    My maternal ancestors come from Argyll (Campbells), and Northern Ireland. I really think there is such a thing as sensing one’s ancestral roots. I felt that way in Scotland—kind of timeless, and wonderfully at home!

    Wonderful site! Thank you! 🙂

    P. S. Are you somehow related to one of my favorite people, Eric Liddell?


    • Thank-you for your wonderful comments. It sounds like you both had a great time in GB. Cornwall is amazing especially in the summer but can also be very impressive in the winter.

      That’s a good thing about the UK is that each county is different and the towns, cities and villages in each area have there own special characteristics. My wife who is not British always says how amazed she is that anyone here ever travels abroad and though we go on dozens of day or weekend trips every year, we have only seen a small amount of sites.

      So many visitors only go to London but it would be like going all the way to the USA and only seeing New York, as amazing as it is.

      I agree with you about sensing ancestral roots. When I go to my “home” counties of Cumbria and Northumberland on the borders of England and Scotland, I instantly feel at home!

      I can’t say that I know I am directly related to Eric Liddell although we did take pride in his name when Chariots of Fire came out.

      He does seem to have been born very close to the Liddell ‘heartland’ though so I am sure we are related going back a few generations. I have recently found out I am related to King Harold (of Battle of Hastings fame) and King Canute but have no idea how to write a blog on it yet.


  34. What a great blog entry! And so many excellent comments! I’ve loved maps since I was a young girl – always did well in the map stuff on the tests. Then as a young adult I worked as a map-maker in the City Planning dept of a city which shall go unnamed. It was a challenge though. Lots of kinds of maps from soil surveys to aerial to city services and school district lines. I love them. Thanks again!


    • I am glad you enjoyed it. That sounds like a dream job for someone like us 🙂 When we got a mortgage for our home, I spent more time looking at the maps and survey reports to see where old waste dumps were or noise pollution sources than any of the financial or legal stuff 🙂


  35. Then there were maps that look like drawings. I saw a good one once for sale showing Ireland and England, together looking like an old woman with a shawl. Very clever.


  36. dysviz says:

    Reblogged this on seeds for natural justice and commented:
    excellent story on things maps can tell us, well researched, copious examples!


  37. Wendy says:

    Don’t apologize for not doing your ‘original blogging’ if your diversions turn out such a fantastic post! 🙂


  38. peggy says:

    Getting diverted means you are thoroughly dredged in your world, and that’s a good and fine thing. It mean you love it and keep looking and it all connects and that urgent thing postponed becomes so much richer. At least that’s what I tell myself, like right now, since I got diverted by you…


  39. Very intriguing! You may have answered this already, but how do they measure happiness for the World Happiness Map? Thanks for sharing!


    • Apparently the United Nations and some governments do surveys on this and actually ask people on a scale of 0 to 10. Others have a formula of how much individual things contribute to happiness such as having money, good health and a safe and beautiful environment.

      In some ways I am surprised by this map as the people I meet in poor countries are almost always much happier than typical people I meet in the London area for example.

      There were articles in the news in the last week or so that most of the unhappy areas of Britain are in the London area whilst the happiest were in different parts of Northern England. This might be surprising as traditionally much of northern England is thought to me much poorer. However for those who are averagely well off, it seems the relative peace, quiet and quality of life seems to outweigh the chaos and congestion of London.


      • I watched a documentary called Happy that said the same thing. A poor family living in a one room shack said they were very happy, while Japanese workers were dying at a young age from stress. It was very interesting, although somewhat depressing too.


  40. mionsiog says:

    Very interesting posting. I have always been interested in maps, mainly because my father was a surveyor and he had to draw maps for a living. I remember him drawing maps for school projects and my brothers and sisters would always have the best detailed project because of my father’s maps and art work. Several years ago I read a book on the history of Geology which had maps you would enjoy (Great Britain map of its geology) as you know; I’m sure, it was a person from Great Britain who created the study of geology… I digress… Here is a link to a site I found while looking for the book I talk about. I have not found that particular book but I will continue looking for it when I get the time and will let you know when I find it.

    Thanks again for the post.
    Take Care.


    • Hello Jose, thank-you for your comments and the link too.

      When I do my next maps blog I will include a geology map as I always like them. I remember visiting a coastal cliff in southern england by the sea where you can see the different rock types meet. It is fascinating.


  41. mionsiog says:

    I forgot to thank you for visiting my blog. I put your Map post on my FaceBook page because other people need to read it.
    Thanks again.
    Take Care.


  42. mionsiog says:

    I told you I would let you know when I found the book.
    The book:
    The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology
    Simon Winchester (Author)

    As if you needed one more thing to distract you.

    I just found your blog so I don’t know the dates of posts but I saw that your mother died. I am so sorry to hear that.

    Please Take Care.


    • Thanks for the book Jose. Yes, sadly my mother died on the night of March 28th right at the beginning of Easter. There is still a lot going on with that so I took a break on replying to comments on my blog to today.

      Thanks for your kind words.



  43. argylesock says:

    I like your comments on our England-centred phrases like ‘near East’ – I try to avoid to those because they’re insulting. They’re linked with phrases like ‘out there’ and ‘exotic’ which didn’t start to feel very real to me until I heard people talk like that about my country.

    The ways North Americans describe their own country are a bit weird too! I asked an American friend why the Midwest isn’t in the middle and nor are the Heartlands. She explained that it’s about the history of colonisation in that land.

    Anyway, I’m surprised that you used the Mercator Projection so much. Why not, for example, the Peters Projection?


    • argylesock says:

      PS what do you think of the current BBC weather-forecast map? The one that shows Southern England as huge while all the Northern areas look tiny. Scotland almost isn’t there at all. I’ve heard the excuse about allowing for the Earth’s curvature but I say, well why not show us the view from Orkney?

      Since moving from the Home Counties to Yorkshire, I notice how that map echoes real people’s perceptions. I’ve had people assume that it’d take only a few minutes to travel from Middlesborough to Skipton, that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is on my doorstep, and that being in ‘the Dales’ is identical whether you’re in Derbyshire or Yorkshire.


      • I really despise the BBC weather forecast map. Though I appreciate how their weather forecast isn’t shorter than the sponsor messages on the other channels, I rate their map the worst.

        I live just 20 miles above central London (though come from Cumbria) but actually do want to see the weather for the whole country. I hate how the bottom of the camera never gets above Glasgow and how North Wales, Northern Ireland and England from Newcastle down to Cambridge gets panned over in a second or so. Often this happens when there are Atlantic storms in Cornwall or heavy snow in Scotland and yet the forecast shows the benign south east weather as the forecaster desperately squeezes in the more important weather into a few seconds.

        The people in The Shetlands are as important as those in Oxford and deserve the same screentime. I agree it shows the London centric nature of the media. I read that the Isle of Lewis and Harris is about 1% of the total land mass of the country and is about as long as from London to Birmingham and yet it appears tiny.

        Similarly, a few years ago I went to Paris for a week and their weather map showed huge gap between Dover and Calais leaving me instantly in now doubt that they didn’t like us and were using the map with an inaccurately wide English Channel to reinforce this. I was quite shocked.

        Talking about London-centric media, on friday morning as a keen Newcastle supporter I put on the BBC sports news and so accurately predicted that we would get a fraction of the coverage of Spurs and Chelsea. Chelsea had goals shown, manager interviews and discussion. Spurs had much talk about how they lost and then goals and an interview. Newcastle had 7 seconds of footage, no interviews and no discussion. It is always the same.


    • Yes, it is always a surprise when people in distant countries talk about England or even myself as being exotic.

      I didn’t know that about North America, I just know didn’t know it made total sense to an outsider.

      I am not sure why I didn’t include the Peters Projection, I even have a file saved in my blog folder ready to use. I can only think because the whole article was written off the cuff and I missed it out. I am going to write a new post on maps and I will include that and the BBC weather map.

      Thanks for giving me new material 🙂


  44. David says:

    Thank you for the like of “Authenticity”. I reroute constantly, without intent. However, I find my way back with a pocket full of stuff I never knew existed. At my age, looking down from space at tree level maps just knocks me socks off. “Authenticity” came alive researching Process Management.


  45. Just when I thought Austin, Texas was the center of the world you helped me get recenter! Thanks for the wisdom, diversion and the maps, maps, maps!


  46. wildninja says:

    Another cartography geek– love it. This is why I love using GIS at work… layers and layers and layers of wonderful maps…


  47. Rosemarie says:

    Stephen, Thanks for liking my William Tell post. I know more now than I did before. It is fun doing research before making a journey. It’s helping me decide what activities to include also. I’ll probably take the steamer to Mt. Rigi, because that is where the action of the legend took place. 🙂


  48. Marvelous diversion about maps. I am reorganizing my map collection, covering the storage boxes with duplicate road maps. My affection for maps has even taken me into courses in cartography and geography — all fascinating. Who knows where the road may lead?


  49. malctg says:

    HI Stephen. i use a satnav these days, the map is there only as a back up. Thank you so much for liking my poem ‘ Hotel’. The Foureyed Poet.


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