Focused Series »

Indo-European Origins
Siberia
Northern California
The Caucasus
Imaginary Geography
Home » Archive by Category

Articles in Cartography

The Demic Atlas Project: Toward a Non-State-Based Approach to Mapping Global Economic and Social Development, by Martin W. Lewis, Jake Coolidge, and Anne Fredell

By Martin W. Lewis | August 9, 2011 | 2 Comments

GeoCurrents has taken a summer hiatus to create a new cartographic framework for analyzing socio-economic development. This project is a collaborative effort involving three team-members: Jake Coolidge, a geospatial historian at Stanford University’s Spatial History Lab; Anne Fredell, a Stanford University undergraduate; and myself. The Spatial History Lab at Stanford, which has provided extensive technical

GeoCurrents Master Map

By Martin W. Lewis | July 21, 2011 | 11 Comments
Sample of GeoCurrents Master Map

Thanks to the skill and effort of GeoCurrents technical expert Kevin Morton, an interactive map linking to previous blog postings is now available. You can access the GeoCurrents Master Map here, or by clicking the banner at the top of each page for future convenience.

Clickable GeoCurrents Base Maps Available for Free Download

By Martin W. Lewis | | 3 Comments
Free Download of GeoCurrents Base-Maps

GeoCurrents has been inactive recently, as I have been working on a non-state-based atlas of economic and social development that will appear on the blog later this summer. This project has been demanding, in part because all the information necessary to construct the maps is gathered by, and organized around, states!

The New York Times Misleading Map of Religion in Syria

By Martin W. Lewis | May 1, 2011 | 7 Comments

I was delighted to find in the New York Times this morning a large, colored map of cultural diversity in Syria and neighboring areas, focusing on religion but including some linguistic information as well. It was immediately apparent that the map was based on M. Izady’s work at the Gulf 2000 project, the best available

The Ambiguities of Sovereignty in Early Modern Central Europe

By Martin W. Lewis | April 12, 2011 | 3 Comments
Locator map of the Electorate of Saxony

Most current-day mapping of central Europe during the early modern period (1500-1800) emphasizes the division of the so-called Holy Roman Empire into its constituent states. Detailed maps, readily available online, delineate every kingdom, duchy, principality, imperial city, and politically independent archbishopric and bishopric within the empire, as is evident in the impressive Wikipedia map locating

Our Maps of the 18th Century—and Theirs

By Martin W. Lewis | April 8, 2011 |
Europe of 1700, from Euratlas

Sovereign states provide the building-blocks of contemporary world mapping. A simple image search of “world map” reveals the state-centered focus of our geographical imagination: a few of the maps returned provide land-mass outlines, and a few others depict continental divisions, but most show the world as neatly partitioned into independent countries. At a more local

Microstates in Cartograms

By Martin W. Lewis | January 19, 2011 | 6 Comments

Microstates such as Lichtenstein or Nauru are too small to be seen on most world maps, and even a country as large as Luxembourg is usually difficult to discern. In conventional cartography, the size of an area depicted on the map is roughly proportional to its actual size, consigning tiny countries to invisibility

Uses and Misuses of the Mercator Projection

By Martin W. Lewis | December 10, 2010 | 8 Comments

The World Bank is not the only organization to misemploy the Mercator projection for basic world maps. In a Google image search of “world map,” roughly a third of the initial set of maps returned greatly inflate the high latitudes. Not all, however, grotesquely exaggerate Greenland; one particularly unsightly map, reproduced above, solves

Problematic Internet Maps and Data

By Martin W. Lewis | December 8, 2010 | One Comment

The World Bank’s map of internet penetration, discussed Monday, has a number of awkward features. Beyond the problems analyzed earlier, it poorly conveys the vast disparities indicated by its own data. According to the World Bank, the percentage of the population using the internet in 2008 varied from over 90 in Iceland to 0.2

The World Bank’s Development Base Map: A Cartographic Fun-House Mirror

By Martin W. Lewis | December 6, 2010 | 2 Comments

The World Bank provides global data on many issues other than the “ease of doing business.” The Bank’s website offers a treasure-trove of statistics on wide array of topics. All data is mapped out by country, providing a virtual atlas of world development. Whether the data are accurate and the maps illustrative are different

Mapping Islam: Bad and Good Efforts

By Martin W. Lewis | October 11, 2010 | 7 Comments

Mapping the distribution of religious groups is often a frustrating exercise. Good data on the numbers of adherents of any particular faith or sect, let alone the intensity of their beliefs, are often lacking, while the spatial intermingling of different religions presents formidable cartographic challenges. As a result, even the best maps of

The Global Geography of Armed Conflict

By Martin W. Lewis | June 15, 2010 | 3 Comments

Mapping contemporary warfare is a challenge. For starters, it is not easy to determine what constitutes a war when few are formally declared. Most sources adopt a broader category like “armed conflict” or “political conflict.” But violent conflict is ubiquitous; a threshold of carnage must be established. According to the U.N., major conflicts

Ralph Peters: Thinking the Unthinkable?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 6, 2010 | 2 Comments

Ralph Peters’s “Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look” is more than a troubling and provocative work. The article and the controversies surrounding it illustrate the central paradox of contemporary geopolitical discourse: as malformed as existing borders may be, mere talk about changing them can be harmful. Peters prods us to “think the

Maps and Stats, Good and Bad

By Martin W. Lewis | January 22, 2010 |

World thematic maps that treat each country as a holistic entity can be highly misleading. Consider, for example, the ubiquitous economic development map based on per capita gross domestic product. Here we see such countries as Brazil, India, and China uniformly colored, as if the goods and services they produced were evenly distributed over their

What’s In A (Place) Name? The Gulf Controversy

By Martin W. Lewis | January 20, 2010 | 4 Comments

In mid-January 2010, the Islamic Solidarity Games—scheduled to take place in Tehran in April—were cancelled over a toponymic dispute. The Iranian organizers of the athletic competition insisted on labeling the body of water located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula the “Persian Gulf” in their promotional materials. The event’s organizing committee, based in Saudi Arabia

?php get_sidebar(); ?>