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The Recent Gilbertese Settlement of the Line Islands

By Martin W. Lewis | November 26, 2015 |

It is difficult to convey the immensity and emptiness of the Republic of Kiribati. The country extends across more than 3.5 million square kilometers (1,351,000 sq mi) of oceanic space, an area considerably larger than India. The distance between its western and eastern islands is comparable to the distance across the United States. Yet Kiribati contains only 800 square kilometers (310 sq mi) of land, …

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The Anomaly of Banaba Island: Part of Kiribati, But Administered from Fiji

By Martin W. Lewis | November 24, 2015 |

For some time I have been making a list of “geopolitical anomalies,” loosely defined as existing arrangements that defy the standard model of sovereign states exercising completely control over unambiguous, clearly delimited territorial realms. Until recently, however, one of the world’s more interesting geopolitical anomalies had escaped my attention: that of Banaba Island (also called Ocean Island) in the Pacific …

Most Moravians Live In Tanzania: The Global Spread of the Moravian and Mennonite Faiths

By Martin W. Lewis | November 16, 2015 | 2 Comments

The Moravian Church has a good claim to being the oldest Protestant denomination, tracing its origin back to the Bohemian Reformation of the early 15th century, closely associated with Jan Huss. “Hussites” were persecuted at the time and eventually defeated in battle, and during the Counter-Reformation, Bohemia and Moravia were brought back into the Roman Catholic fold. In the Czech …

The Global Spread of Heterodox Christianity

By Martin W. Lewis | November 12, 2015 | 7 Comments

As noted in an earlier post, I regard Scolbert08’s map of world religions as a cartographic masterpiece. I do, however, have some qualms about the categories that it employs. I am particularly dissatisfied with the “other” grouping, which is composed, according to the key, of indigenous/animist faiths, non-Trinitarian Christianity, and Sikhism. These religions, or groups of religions, hardly belong together. …

The Political Regions of Europe and the Fallacy of Environmental Determinism

By Martin W. Lewis | November 8, 2015 | 13 Comments

GeoCurrents reader Rafael Ferrero-Aprato recently brought to my attention an interesting map of political divisions in Europe made by the Dutch electoral geographer Josse de Voogd and reproduced by The Economist in 2014. Josse de Voogd notes the difficulties and limitations in making a map of this sort: “Some countries [are covered] in much greater detail than others and there …

The Lost World of the Sago Eaters

By Martin W. Lewis | November 4, 2015 | 2 Comments

The previous GeoCurrents post mentioned the Manusela people of the Indonesian island of Seram, who evidently incorporate elements of Hinduism, animism, and Christianity in their religious beliefs and practices. The Manusuela rely on the sago palm for their dietary staple, as do many other peoples of eastern Indonesia and the lowlands of Papua New Guinea. (I am referring here to …

Intriguing Patterns in Scolbert08’s Map of Religion in Insular Southeast Asia

By Martin W. Lewis | November 1, 2015 | 4 Comments

Scolbert08 does an excellent job of mapping the religious complexity of Insular Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea. I have therefore posted a detail of his or her map of world religion that focuses on this region, both with and without my own annotations. Many interesting and important spatial patterns of religious affiliation are revealed on the map.
Scolbert08’s map does …

Third Africa-India Forum Summit: Meeting of the Lions

By Martin W. Lewis | October 30, 2015 |

Although I will continue writing on Scolbert08’s map of world religion next week, I can’t resist taking a brief detour to consider the Third Africa-India Forum Summit, which is coming to an end today in New Delhi. Regarded as India’s largest diplomatic endeavor in its history, the summit was attended by 40 leaders of African states. I am particularly struck …

Religious Complexity in Northeastern South Asia

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

Northeastern South Asia has one of the world’s most complex religious environments, and such complexity is captured nicely in Scolbert08’s amazing map of world religions. To illustrate this, I have posted a detail from this map of this region, both in annotated and non-annotated form, along with a smaller version of the same map juxtaposed with other maps of the …

Scolbert08’s Magnificent Map of World Religion, Part 1

By Martin W. Lewis | October 27, 2015 | 5 Comments

An astoundingly detailed map of world religion has recently been published by reddit user “scolbert08.” The map is much too large for me to post in its entirely on GeoCurrents, but one can find the full-resolution map both here and at the interesting website Brilliant Maps. The level of precision found on this map is truly remarkable; over much of the …

Innovative Wikipedia Maps of World Religion

By Martin W. Lewis | October 20, 2015 | 8 Comments

As mentioned in the previous post, a number of innovative world maps of religion have recently appeared on the internet. Several of these are posted at the bottom of the Wikipedia article on “Major Religious Groups” in a section labeled “Maps of self-reported adherence.” Today’s post will focus on three of the maps found here.
The first map reproduced here shows …

The Pitfalls and Promises of Mapping World Religion

By Martin W. Lewis | October 15, 2015 | 9 Comments

I have long been dissatisfied with world religion maps, especially those that are available on the internet. To be sure, mapping religion is an inherently difficult task. Many areas contain multiple faiths, just as different places often vary tremendously in regard religiosity itself. Changes in the religious landscape, moreover, are often difficult to capture. Most of Europe, for example, is …

Valencia and the Països Catalans Controversy

By Martin W. Lewis | October 13, 2015 | 7 Comments

Five days before the recent regional elections in Catalonia, the Archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, gained attention and generated controversy by urging Catholics to “pray for Spain and her unity” while also arguing that “Spain is bleeding out” and that “there is no moral justification for secession.” It is not surprising that such sentiments would be voiced by the Archbishop …

Val d’Aran: The Catalonian Exception

By Martin W. Lewis | October 9, 2015 | 3 Comments

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 …

The Rural/Urban Divide in Catalonia’s 2015 Election

By Martin W. Lewis | October 7, 2015 | 16 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 …