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Articles in Linguistic Geography

Tatarstan: A “Hostage of Freezing Relations between Russia and Turkey”?

By Asya Pereltsvaig | February 4, 2016 | 4 Comments

[Many thanks to Ekaterina Lyutikova for most helpful discussions of some of the issues discussed in this post, as well as for the photos, some of which are used as illustrations below. I’m also grateful to Martin W. Lewis for helpful discussions and edits and for modifying the Wikipedia map of Percentage of Ethnic Tatars, used below.]

Tatarstan has not been …

Chavacano: A Spanish-Based Creole Language of the Philippines

By Martin W. Lewis | January 29, 2016 | 12 Comments

Chavacano is interesting from both linguistic and historical-geographical perspectives. To begin with, it is widely considered to be one of the world’s oldest creole tongues, with a history dating back some 400 years.

Base-Maps of the Philippines & Linguistic/Regional Controversies in the Archipelago

By Martin W. Lewis | January 27, 2016 | 10 Comments

GeoCurrents is continuing its distribution of customizable base-maps, constructed in easy-to-use presentation software. (The files are found at the bottom of this post, in both PowerPoint and Keynote [preferred] formats.) Today’s contribution is a province-level map of the Philippines. This map is available in several versions (with province names and without them, in color and in grey, aggregated into regions, …

Maritime Linkages in the Linguistic Geography of the Philippines

By Martin W. Lewis | January 25, 2016 | 2 Comments

The best example of seas connecting opposing shores is probably the Philippines, a quintessentially archipelagic country composed of more than 7,000 islands.

The Recent Gilbertese Settlement of the Line Islands

By Martin W. Lewis | November 26, 2015 | 4 Comments

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, …

The Lost World of the Sago Eaters

By Martin W. Lewis | November 4, 2015 | 6 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 …

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 …

Poland’s Stark Electoral Divide

By Martin W. Lewis | July 15, 2015 | 14 Comments

Some observers were surprised by the triumph of conservative candidate Andrzej Duda over incumbent Bronisław Komorowski in Poland’s May 2015 presidential election. Duda’s margin of victory, however, was thin: 51.5 percent of the vote against Komorowski’s 48.5 percent. As is typical of Polish elections, the results were geographically patterned in a stark manner. Duda, like most conservative candidates, won almost …

Troubled Socotra – the “World’s Most Alien Place” – Seeks Autonomy

By Martin W. Lewis | July 12, 2015 | 5 Comments

Yemen’s Socotra Archipelago, dominated by the main island of the same name, is best known for its unique flora, with almost 700 species found nowhere else. Some of its plants have gained fame for their unusual forms, such as the dragon blood tree and the cucumber tree. Socotra’s millions of years of isolation, its complex geology, and its harsh climate …

Dhofar: The Other Arabia

By Martin W. Lewis | July 6, 2015 | One Comment

The Arabian Peninsula is a relatively coherent region, tied together by a number of common features. In terms of physical geography, it is noted for its harsh desert landscapes. Even the highlands of Yemen, which receive enough precipitation for rain-fed agriculture, are relatively dry, covered with vegetation that could hardly be described as lush. In terms of cultural geography, the …

Recent Works by Martin W. Lewis

By Martin W. Lewis | June 19, 2015 | 3 Comments

Although GeoCurrents focuses mainly on contemporary issues, long-time readers know that I also have a strong interest in the deeper reaches of human history, and that I have been involved in intellectual controversies related to the origin and spread of the Indo-European language family. The fruits of my work on historical linguistics are now available in a frightfully expensive book …

Ukraine Lecture Slides

By Martin W. Lewis | April 22, 2015 | 3 Comments

Dear Readers,
Unfortunately, regular posting continues to be delayed due to other obligations. I do, however, hope to write a brief post on some of those “other obligations” later this week. Mostly, however, I have simply been busy preparing slides for my weekly lectures this term on the history and geography of current global events. This week’s lecture focused on Ukraine. …

Michael Izady’s Amazingly Detailed Map of Ethnicity in Syria (and the Syrian Armenians)

By Martin W. Lewis | October 26, 2014 | 6 Comments

Most maps that show the distribution of ethnic groups within particular countries are relatively simple, depicting a few discrete populations within large, contiguous blocks of territory. The distinguishing characteristics of such groups are rarely specified. A good example of such a useful yet overly simplified map is the Washington Post’s portrayal of Syria posted here. This map reduces the complex …

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