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Fiendishly Difficult One-Question Map Quiz

Submitted by on July 29, 2013 – 7:07 am 24 Comments |  
Map QuizAfter 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 topic under consideration. A few countries, however, do not fit easily into any of the categories used. I have thus put question marks on two of the most problematic countries, Ethiopia and the United Kingdom.

The groupings on the map are oddly patterned. What might link Japan, Guinea, and the Central African Republic? Why would Bangladesh and Fiji be in a category of their own? Only a few of the categories fit within traditional world regions. The yellow countries are all in the greater Middle East, and the light blue aggregation is found only in the Caribbean. Medium green is mostly confined to Latin America, and light brown is concentrated in northern and southeastern Europe—but includes Kenya as well. A few  size correlations are evident. The mid blue category covers a group of large countries, while the light blue grouping includes only small ones. A number of countries occupy categories of their own: Russia, Greece, Montenegro, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, and the Comoros.

On the GeoCurrents map, non-sovereign states, such as Greenland, Puerto Rico, New Caledonia, and the Palestinian territories, are unmarked, and the Western Sahara, mostly occupied by Morocco, is left in the same neutral gray. On the website that provides the source material, however, these areas are classified as well, as are many other dependencies. No information is available on that website, however, for Kosovo.

The actual map, with an explanatory title and full key, will be posted tomorrow — or earlier than that if someone figures it out.

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  • Verpadoro

    Is it something related with sports or religion ?

    • No it is not. What made you think so?

    • No — “sports “is a good guess, but it does apply in this case, nor does religion.

  • lee

    price of bananas

  • dw

    It’s something to do with the form of government. For example, the blue countries — the USA, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, India — all are federal structures made up of states.

    • You are on the right track! Keep going….

      • dw

        It’s the name of the largest subnational governmental unit.

        Light blue = states
        Purple = provinces
        Beige = counties

        • dw

          According to Wikipedia, Chile is divided into “regions” (regiones), so I guess orange = regions.

          • dw

            Green = departments.

          • That was fast — excellent work! The source is the Statoids website. I will post the full map and explanation tomorrow.

          • Juan Pablo Wärthon Wu

            But Peru is divided into departments too (24 departments exactly) and they appear orange…

        • dw

          … although the UK is divided into “countries” as well as counties, so I guess that’s why it has a question mark.

      • Jose

        Olive Green=prefectures?

  • Warning to Readers: Commenter dw has already figured it out. Don’t read the comments if you want to try to do so yourself!

  • Muhammad

    sheesh dw, you geek! Well done 😛

  • Stan_Dubinsky

    I think it groups countries on the basis of how they are subdivided. Blue (USA, Brazil, Nigeria, Australia, India, etc.) have “states.” Purple (Canada, Argentina, China, Spain, etc.) have “provinces”. Green (France, Columbia, …) have “departments”. I’m not sure of the labels for all the other colors, but could try to find out, I suppose.

    • Well done, Stan!

      • Stan_Dubinsky

        Thanks. The official name of Mexico (The United States of Mexico) helped, as did connecting Canada and China (having provinces both). 🙂

        • Good job! The full answers and commentary will be posted shortly.

  • Just the other day there was an intriguing map-related quiz posted on the League of Ordinary Gentlemen. They haven’t yet given the answer.

    The following US states and Canadian provinces are listed in order according to the number of “something” they have, from the most to the fewest: New York, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Michigan,
    Illinois, Missouri, Ontario, Texas, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio,
    Alberta, Wisconsin, District of Columbia, Colorado, New Jersey, Arizona,
    Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington. States and provinces not listed do not have anything of this “something.”

    There are a couple of hints: (a) some specific numbers are New York – 52, Michigan – 18, Florida – 9, District of Columbia – 5; and (b) generally speaking, a higher ranking is preferable to a lower one.

    My first thought was that it might be the number of major corporation headquarters, but the rankings don’t really make sense if that were the case.

  • JD

    Yellow-brown(ish) for = oblasts. Though, Russia also has divisions called krais (which I don’t seem to see indicated). Dark green = prefectures, orange = municipalities.

  • Keith Tyler

    I haven’t looked at the answer, but I am pretty sure the answer is or is close to “what do they call their administrative subdivisions.” Confirmed for example that both Colombia and France (both green) call theirs “departments”.