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Articles in Economic Geography

Peter Zeihan’s Bizarre Map of China

By Martin W. Lewis | November 7, 2022 |

Consider, for example, the map of China posted here and used in a video with the grandiose title “The Complete Breakdown of China Will Shock the Entire World” (done with George Friedman). What Zeihan and Friedman have apparently done is to take a semi-transparent map of China and crudely overlay it on a satellite-based image of east-central Eurasia. As the world is projected differently in the China map and in the satellite image, the fit is extremely poor. As a result, much of Tibet is portrayed as if it were not part of China, whereas large areas of Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and other countries are depicted as parts of China.

Famine in Ethiopia and the Enset Solution in the Southern Highlands

By Martin W. Lewis | October 28, 2022 |

The people of the northern and central highlands subsist largely on grain, which is highly vulnerable to dry weather during the growing season. Those of the southern highlands, in contrast, subsist largely on enset, which is far more resilient. This crop, unique to Ethiopia, is a close relative of bananas and plantains.

William: Not Just Prince of Wales But Also Duke of Cornwall

By Martin W. Lewis | October 21, 2022 |

Now that Charles has become king, Prince William has become Prince of Wales. That title is customarily given to the heir apparent by the reigning monarch. The day after he became King, Charles bestowed the title on his eldest son. The position is not without controversy. Thousands of Welsh people have signed a petition calling for the abolition of the …

Economic and Class Factors in the 2022 Italian Election

By Martin W. Lewis | October 6, 2022 |

As the graph posted above shows, the most left-leaning of the major Italian parties, the Greens and Left Alliance, found the bulk of its support in the higher income quintiles. The Democratic Party, the heart of the left coalition, did poorly with lower-income voters.

Urbanization, Economic Productivity, and the Industrial Revolution

By Martin W. Lewis | August 23, 2022 |

Non-urban areas can be very economically productive, especially if they have relatively high population density, good transportation networks, and proximity to larger markets. Britain’s industrial revolution itself began in rural landscapes. Although maps of the industrial revolution usually emphasize coal and iron ore deposits, industrialization was originally dependent on hydropower, which requires abundant precipitation and significant drops in elevation.

Cross-Class Connectedness in the Pacific Northwest and the Proposed State of Jefferson

By Martin W. Lewis | August 13, 2022 |

Although the fertile Willamette Valley in the northwest was settled heavily by New Englanders, most of the rest of western Oregon was substantially settled by people from the upper south. Many rural areas still have an Appalachian feel.

Mapping Cross-Class Social Connectedness

By Martin W. Lewis | August 11, 2022 |

A much larger although less populous area of high socio-economic connectedness is found the north-center-west portion of the country, centered on the western Great Lakes, northern Great Plains, and northern Rockies regions. This is, contrastingly, a largely rural and mostly agricultural area, although it does contain a few major cities, including Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The Income of the One Percent Across the United States (and in Montana)

By Martin W. Lewis | August 10, 2022 |

Sioux Falls has emerged as an important financial hub, particularly for credit-card companies, owing largely to South Dakota’s relaxed usury laws. South Dakota’s extraordinarily relaxed residency and taxation laws help explain its other centers of wealth.

Economic Disparities in Montana (and the Rest of the United States)

By Martin W. Lewis | August 9, 2022 |

It is not surprising that Madison County in southwest Montana has a strikingly high GINI figure. This particularly scenic rural county has been attracting high-income earners for several decades, driving up housing prices and forcing many local people out of the market.

Areas of Relatively High Human Development in Greater South Asia

By Martin W. Lewis | July 11, 2022 |

Today’s post continues the GeoCurrents series on the Human Development Index (HDI), focusing initially on greater South Asia. Here we look at areas with relatively high HDI figures.
For decades, the region’s highest human development levels have been found in the far south and southwest, specifically in the Indian states of Kerala and Goa and in Sri Lanka. All invested heavily …

GeoCurrents Summer Schedule

By Martin W. Lewis | July 5, 2022 |

GeoCurrents returns to publication this week. New posts are planned for each weekday going forward. Two themes will command our attention for the remainder of this summer. One is a GeoCurrents atlas of global human development, which will entail original maps based on the UN’s Human Development Index. Today’s post gives an indication of what this atlas will look like. …

Slides on “The Good News from Africa”

By Martin W. Lewis | May 20, 2016 |

Dear Readers,
My lecture this week for my class on the history and geography of current global events focused on the “good news” from Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the southern half of the continent. The slides are available at the link here:  Good News From Africa

Customizable Maps of Brazil and Colombia, and Brazilian Social Development

By Martin W. Lewis | March 9, 2016 | One Comment

But regardless of what one thinks of either Lula or of Brazil’s current situation, the progress that it made in the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st is difficult to deny.

Customizable Maps of Switzerland and Poland, and Swiss Per Capita GDP by Canton

By Martin W. Lewis | March 4, 2016 | One Comment

The high levels of economic production found in Geneva, the city of Basel, and Zurich were not unexpected—but that of Zug was. But as it turns out, the answer here is simple.

Customizable Base Maps of Italy

By Martin W. Lewis | February 24, 2016 |

As can be seen, the poorest regions of Italy are all plagued by high extortion rates.

Italy Autonomous Regions MapFinally, I have included as well a simple map showing Italy’s autonomous regions. The issue of regional autonomy in Italy, however, is rather complicated. As noted in the Wikipedia, “all the regions except

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