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Articles in Population Geography

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 …

Dan Brown, Overpopulation, and the Plunging Fertility Rates of Turkey and Iran

By Martin W. Lewis | May 21, 2013 | 15 Comments

Global overpopulation has recently returned to the public spotlight with the publication of Inferno, the latest offering from novelist Dan Brown, author of the 2003 blockbuster The Da Vinci Code. A mystery thriller on the surface, Inferno is ultimately a piece of demographic fiction. As one reviewer notes, “The specter of a catastrophically overpopulated Earth, its desperate people grasping and …

Television and Fertility in India: Response to Critics

By Martin W. Lewis | May 16, 2013 | 8 Comments

(Note to readers: My recent blog post on television and fertility in India has attracted some attention, including a detailed critique on the blog Challenging Civilization. This post is my response to this critique.)
First, I would like to thank Tom Smith at Challenging Civilization for taking the time write a thoughtful critique of my blog post on television and fertility …

India’s Plummeting Birthrate: A Television-Induced Transformation?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 7, 2013 | 34 Comments

(Note: As can be seen, GeoCurrents has a new, more streamlined appearance. The “GeoNotes” feature has been replaced by section that highlights “featured posts,” as we found it increasingly difficult to differentiate regular posts from “notes.” We also hope that the new format will make it easier for readers to access older posts.
To initiate the new format, today’s post is …

The New York Times’ Flubbed China Cartograms

By Martin W. Lewis | April 10, 2013 |

An interesting story in today’s (April 9) New York Times—“Hello, Cambodia: Wary of Events in China, Foreign Investors Head to the South”—is illustrated in the print edition with two striking cartograms of eastern Asia, one of which shows population and the other economic output. The cartogram legends claims that “countries and Chinese provinces are sized according to population” and, respectively …

The Core/Periphery Pattern in Egyptian Electoral Geography

By Martin W. Lewis | March 3, 2013 |

Egypt’s troubled and insecure transition to democratic rule has exposed some intriguing political geographical patterns. Yet at first glance, maps of recent elections do not seem particularly revealing. Consider, for example, the December 2012 Constitutional Referendum, a measure favorable to the ruling Muslim Brotherhood that critics claim restricted basic freedoms and democratic governance. The referendum passed with almost 64 percent …

Populating the Pilbara—And the Controversial Phenomenon of Gina Rinehart

By Martin W. Lewis | December 16, 2012 | 3 Comments

As the previous post noted, the major urban areas of Australia have recently posted significant population gains whereas most rural areas have registered demographic declines. The situation is a bit different, however, in Western Australia, the world’s second largest (by territory) “stateoid” (or first-order political division of a sovereign state). To be sure, the outskirts of greater Perth have seen …

Australia’s Empty Countryside—and the Melbourne/Sydney Rivalry

By Martin W. Lewis | December 10, 2012 | 14 Comments

Australia is well known for its low population density. With roughly 23 million people living in 2.9 million sq mi (7.7 million sq km) of land, it ranks sixth from bottom in this regard, following Mongolia, Namibia, Iceland, Suriname, and Mauritania. Australia is also known for its high degree of urbanization, although its 89.2 percent official urbanization figure places only …

The Different Modes of Language Spread

By Martin W. Lewis | October 30, 2012 |

In this second-to-last post on Indo-European origins and expansion, we turn once again to language diffusion, a cornerstone of the model employed by Bouckaert et al. A previous post asked whether languages actually spread by diffusion, arguing that the much more rapid process of advection is often more important. As was then pointed out, physical geographical factors, such as impassible …

The Australian Asylum Controversy Extends to Indonesia

By Martin W. Lewis | August 22, 2012 | 2 Comments

The on-going Australian asylum-seeking controversy has recently spread to the Indonesian island of Java. On August 20, the Jakarta Post announced the arrest of “28 illegal immigrants hiding in a forested coastal area of South Cianjur, West Java. The immigrants were part of a large group of asylum seekers from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran who were heading to Christmas Island.”

New Government in East Timor Sparks Gender Debate

By Nicholas Baldo | August 10, 2012 |

Over the last half-century, peace and stability have remained elusive goals in East Timor, officially known the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Invaded by Indonesia shortly after it achieved independence from Portugal in 1975, East Timor has only been a formal country with de facto control of its borders only since 2002.

Thai Transsexual Wins Election

By Martin W. Lewis | June 1, 2012 | 2 Comments

Yonlada Suanyos, a transsexual woman, recently gained fame by becoming Thailand’s first katoey (or openly transgender person) to be elected to public office. Ms. Suanyos, a PhD candidate who also runs a television station and a jewelry business, will soon become a councilor in Nan province in northern Thailand. She was formerly a member of a transgender music group called Venus Flytrap, performing under the name of Posh Venus.

Siberian Genetics, Native Americans, and the Altai Connection

By Martin W. Lewis | May 26, 2012 | 13 Comments

The GeoCurrents series on Siberia concludes by looking first to the future and then into the distant past: the preceding post examined the possible consequences of global warming on the region, while the present one turns to much earlier times, exploring the position of Siberia in human prehistory and especially its crucial role in the peopling of the Americas.
Mainstream anthropological …

The Yakut (Sakha) Migration to Central Siberia

By Martin W. Lewis | May 8, 2012 | 7 Comments

As explained in the previous post, the Yakut (Sakha) people have adapted more easily to the demands of the Russian state, and of modernity more generally, than most other indigenous peoples on Siberia. The relative success of the Yakut is best understood historically. Relative newcomers from the south, the Yakut moved into central Siberia with a more advanced technology and …

HSBC’s Bizarre “Expat Explorer” Index and Maps

By Martin W. Lewis | May 7, 2012 | 6 Comments

The British banking giant HSBC runs a sophisticated interactive website called The Expat Explorer that helps well-off professionals who work abroad determine the quality of life across much of  the world. The site is based on extensive surveys with such expatriates. As the website explains, “In 2011 over 3000 expats answered questions relating to their finances, quality of life and …

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