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Val d’Aran: The Catalonian Exception

By Martin W. Lewis | October 9, 2015 |

As the previous post noted, the rural areas of Catalonia generally supported pro-independence political parties in the 2015 regional election, whereas most urban areas did not. There are, however, several exceptions to his generalization. The most striking one is the comarca (“county”) of Val d’Aran, located in the extreme northwestern portion of Catalonia. With a population of 9,993 scattered over …

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The Rural/Urban Divide in Catalonia’s 2015 Election

By Martin W. Lewis | October 7, 2015 | 5 Comments

According to most media sources, the Catalan independence movement scored a major victory in the September 28 regional election, taking 72 out of 135 seats in Catalonia’s parliament (Parlament de Catalunya). More careful reporting, however, noted that the results were actually mixed. In terms of the popular vote, candidates advocating independence gained the support of less than half of the …

GeoCurrents Editorial: Recognition for Iraqi Kurdistan and Somaliland

By Martin W. Lewis | September 16, 2015 | 13 Comments

(Note: GeoCurrents is a non-partisan blog devoted to providing geographical information, particularly in reference to current global events. On rare occasions, however, opinion pieces are posted on the site. This is one of those occasions. As I regard this issue as extremely important, this post will remain at the top of the GeoCurrents page for at least the next week.)
Now …

But are There Any Jobs in Geography?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 14, 2015 |

(Note to readers: Last week I promised a GeoCurrents post on secession movements and proposals for the partitioning internationally recognized sovereign states. That post is still forthcoming, but it is taking considerably more time than I had anticipated. At present, I hope to post it by the middle of this week. In the meantime, I have written something a little …

The Changing Geography of Poverty in The United States

By Martin W. Lewis | September 11, 2015 |

In 2007, James B. Holt published an interesting article on “The Topography of Poverty in the United States” based on cartographic analysis (I have reproduced two of his maps here). His concluding map posits a “continental poverty divide,” with most areas of entrenched poverty found in the southeast and south-center and most areas of low poverty found in the northeast …

Kurdistan and Balochistan: Is National Self-Determination a Left/Right Issue?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 9, 2015 | 9 Comments

I have been wondering for some time how the issue of self-determination for so-called stateless nations fits into the standard, one-dimensional political spectrum. Historically, those on the left have been more favorably disposed to “national liberation struggles” than those on the right, who have more often advocated stability and the maintenance of the geopolitical status quo. By the same token, …

Argentina’s Controversial Energy Policies

By Martin W. Lewis | September 6, 2015 |

As noted in the previous post, the most economically productive areas of Argentina depend heavily on the extraction of oil and natural gas. Argentina, however, is not a major fossil-fuel producer, and its reserves of conventional oil and natural gas are modest. Although it still exports some crude oil and until recently sold large quantities of natural gas to Chile, …

Argentina’s Striking North/South Economic Divide

By Martin W. Lewis | September 4, 2015 | 9 Comments

As previously noted, Argentina is characterized by a north/south socio-economic divide, with the south being much more prosperous than the north. This regional disparity is visible on the HDI map included in the most recent post, but it is more clearly marked on other maps of economic development.
Consider, for example, GDP per capita by Argentine province (2008 data). As more …

Argentina’s HDI: The Wikipedia’s Worst Map?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 1, 2015 |

Although the Wikipedia includes a multitude of fine maps, its cartographic archive is by no means uniformly excellent. Perhaps the worst Wikipedia map that I have encountered, posted to the left, depicts Argentinian provinces in accordance with their HDI (Human Development Index*) rankings. As can be seen, all provinces are placed in the same category, that of “very high HDI,” …

The Quixotic Campaign to Split New York State

By Martin W. Lewis | August 31, 2015 | 6 Comments

A new drive to divide the state of New York, separating the “Upstate” region from metropolitan New York City, is gaining visibility both within the state and nationally. On Sunday, August 30 a secession rally organized by more than a dozen groups was held in the town of Bainbridge (population 3,300) in New York’s Southern Tier, the movement’s core area. …

The Ahl-e Haqq Minority Faith Fights for Its Homeland in Northern Iraq

By Martin W. Lewis | August 29, 2015 |

Earlier this week, Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched an offensive against ISIS in the Daquq district of Iraq, some 40 kilometers south of Kirkuk. Aided by airstrikes from US-led coalition warplanes, Kurdish forces took over a number of villages. As reported in the news service Rudaw:
Hismadin said Kurdish reinforcements streamed in once the Peshmerga’s heavy fighting began. He added that members …

Oil, Coal, and Economic Development in Colombia

By Martin W. Lewis | August 26, 2015 | 3 Comments

Although Colombia is not usually classified as a major oil-producer, it ranks 19th in the world according to the Wikipedia, turning out more than a million barrels a day in late 2014. Although this figure was well below that of Venezuela (2.5 million barrels a day), it surpassed those of such well-known oil exporters as Oman and Azerbaijan. It is …

Short GeoCurrents Break, But First a Seemingly Impossible Rainfall Map

By Martin W. Lewis | July 29, 2015 | 2 Comments

(Note to readers: GeoCurrents will soon be taking a short summer break. Regular posting will resume in mid-August. But before the pause begins, I have one more post, which discusses the possibility of a seemingly impossible map. )
The map posted to the left appears to be bogus, as it depicts patterns that would seemingly not be found in nature. It …

Mapping Chile’s Indigenous Population

By Martin W. Lewis | July 28, 2015 | 2 Comments

(Note: This post concludes the recent GeoCurrents series on regional differences in Chile)
One of the most interesting tables found in the Wikipedia article on “Ranked Lists of Chilean Regions” is that of the indigenous population. According to the 2013 Casen Survey, nearly 10 percent of Chileans identify themselves as belonging to an indigenous group, a significant increase over earlier assessments. …

Aysén Chile in Comparative Context

By Martin W. Lewis | July 24, 2015 | 3 Comments

To understand the physical geography and scale of Chile, it is useful to compare it to its North American counterpart, a region that extends in the north-south direction from southeastern Alaska to Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, and which is bounded to the east by highland crests. As I was not able to find any maps that made this comparison explicitly, …

Chile: Inequality, Education, and Geography

By Martin W. Lewis | July 22, 2015 | 4 Comments

As noted in the previous post, Chile has a strikingly high level of income inequality despite its considerable success in social and economic development. Many observers blame Chile’s educational system for such inequity, contending that the country has many poor schools and does not spend enough money on education. As argued in a recent Council on Hemispheric Affairs article, “National …