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Questions for Readers Regarding Biblical Ethnography

By Martin W. Lewis | November 14, 2013 | 42 Comments

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am now devoting most of my attention to the book on Indo-European origins that Asya Pereltsvaig and I are writing. I am currently working on a chapter that recounts the intellectual history of the Indo-European concept, which is a fascinating and complex topic. Right now, I am perplexed in regard to an issue …

Tabulating the Underground Economy, and the DEA’s Pathetic Attempt to Map the Marijuana Trade

By Martin W. Lewis | October 16, 2013 | 4 Comments

When lecturing on world economic geography, I always stress the incomplete nature of the standard data, emphasizing the size of the unrecorded, underground economy, or “black market,” that constitutes up to twenty percent* of global production. Obtaining decent information on such matters is difficult, and as a result I am always on the lookout for maps, tables, and graphs that …

Mapping the Terms Used for First-Order Administrative Divisions

By Martin W. Lewis | July 30, 2013 | 35 Comments

In examining the various countries of the world, I am often unsure what to call their main administrative divisions. Recently, I found myself writing about Peruvian departments but then wondered whether they might be called provinces instead. As it turns out, Peru is split into regions. Other countries are divided into districts, counties, governorates, divisions, and so on. Around twenty …

Fiendishly Difficult One-Question Map Quiz

By Martin W. Lewis | July 29, 2013 | 24 Comments

After making the map posted here I realized that its patterns are so odd that it would make an extremely difficult GeoQuiz. Just one question: what does the map show?
The topic being mapped is commonplace, familiar to all readers. The categories are relatively precise, with almost no overlap or gradations, and they derive from an authoritative website devoted to the …

Misleading Murder and Rape Maps, and the Sweden Rape Puzzle

By Martin W. Lewis | May 25, 2013 | 15 Comments

The previous post on murder rates in Brazil featured a Wikipedia map of homicide rate by country, based on a 2011 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). That map, reproduced here, is less than ideal, as its highest category lumps together countries with hugely different homicide rates, ranging from 20.1 per 100,000 in Kyrgyzstan to …

Egypt and the World Diesel Price Map

By Martin W. Lewis | April 4, 2013 | 8 Comments

The price of fuel in Egypt, and especially that of diesel, has been featured in many recent news stories, owing to the perilous state of the Egyptian economy. As an April 1 article in Financial Times notes:

Egypt imports up to 70 per cent of its diesel, which it uses to fuel cars, farm equipment and power plants. In addition, it …

Mapping the Cell Phone Revolution

By Martin W. Lewis | April 2, 2013 | 5 Comments

It is often noted that inexpensive cellular telephones have revolutionized communications across much of the world, especially in poor countries that lack landlines. Confirmation of this development is found in the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, which features detailed data tables for 140 countries. According to the report, 80 countries have more mobile telephone subscriptions than …

Mapping Evangelical Christian Missionary Efforts

By Martin W. Lewis | March 13, 2013 | 2 Comments

It is difficult to find maps depicting religious adherence in areas outside of the historical boundaries of the major universalizing faiths, such as much of sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania. Many such places, however, are characterized today by profound religious change, as missionaries seek converts and as syncretic forms of worship emerge. Some proselytizing organizations, however, maintain intricate maps of their …

The World’s Most Expensive Cities?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 27, 2012 | 2 Comments

Mercer’s annual worldwide cost of living survey is widely used by corporations to help determine compensation levels for executives posted abroad. I have mapped the fifty most expensive cities according to the 2012 Mercer Report. The size of the stars indicates the level of expense: as such, the five most expensive cities (Tokyo, Luanda, Osaka, Moscow, and Geneva) are depicted …

On Mathematical Modeling and Inter-Disciplinary Work in Historical Linguistics: A Reply to Alexei Drummond—and a Friendly Critique of the Field

By Martin W. Lewis | September 17, 2012 | 5 Comments

We would like to thank everyone who has posted comments on our recent posts on Indo-European linguistics, whether favorable or critical. As we have been highly critical ourselves, we can only expect the same in return; such is the give-and-take of the scholarly endeavor. We  will post detail replies to critical comments next week, after Asya Pereltsvaig returns from her …

Mismodeling Indo-European Origin and Expansion: Bouckaert, Atkinson, Wade and the Assault on Historical Linguistics

By Martin W. Lewis | September 4, 2012 | 91 Comments

Dear Readers,
As GeoCurrents passed through its August slowdown, plans were made for a series on the Summer Olympics. Thanks to the efforts of Chris Kremer, we have gathered statistics—and made maps—relating Olympic medal count by country to population and GDP, both overall and in regard to specific categories of competition. The series, however, has been put on hold by the …

A Global Decline in Religiosity?

By Martin W. Lewis | August 22, 2012 | 27 Comments

New global poll on religion and atheism by WIN-Gallup International has been receiving some attention. The poll, which covered 57 countries containing a solid majority of the world’s population, shows a clear decline in religiosity between 2005 and 2011. Globally, the number of adults claiming to be religious* evidently declined by 9 percent, with the number of atheists increasing by …

Mapping “Global Cities”

By Martin W. Lewis | August 3, 2012 | 6 Comments

The concept of the “global city” (or “world city”) has gained traction over the past several decades. The original formulation was rather vague, but a number of more rigorous definition have emerged. A commendable Wikipedia article provides lists of top global cities derived from five ranking systems, as can be seen in the table posted here.
 
 
 

 
The Wikipedia article in question …

Hot, Caffeinated, and Expanding: The Global Geography of Coffee, Tea, and Yerba Mate

By Martin W. Lewis | July 31, 2012 | 5 Comments

It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of the global trade in coffee and tea. Among commodities, the $80+ billion international coffee market is sometimes said to trail only that of oil. Coffee is an essential source of revenue for many countries, with Burundi making more than half of its export earnings from the crop, even though it does not …

The Environmental Paradox of Large-Scale Hydroelectric Developments

By Martin W. Lewis | July 14, 2012 | 12 Comments

Hydroelectric power poses a major paradox for environmentalism, as noted in a previous GeoCurrents post. On the one hand, most environmentalists detest dams, which drastically transform riverine ecology, prevent anadromous fish migration, inundate productive and diverse terrestrial ecosystems, displace sizable numbers of people, and occasionally threaten entire indigenous cultures.  Yet on the other hand, hydropower is remarkably clean, produces no …

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