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The End of Schengenland?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 14, 2011 | 4 Comments
Map of Europe's Evolving Borders

Over the past several decades, Europe has been dismantling border controls, creating the zone of free movement informally known as Schengenland. Although the Schengen area is scheduled to expand into the southeastern European Union countries of Bulgaria, Romania, and even divided Cyprus, such a development seems increasingly unlikely. Even in the core EU countries, the

The Iran-Pakistan Border Barrier

By Martin W. Lewis | May 13, 2011 |
Google Earth Image of Iran-Pakistan Barrier

One of the world’s most heavily fortified borders stretches between Iran and Pakistan. The Iran-Pakistan Barrier, currently under construction by the Iranian government, features a three-foot thick (.91 meters), ten-foot high (3.05 meter) concrete wall extending across 700 kilometers of forbidding desert terrain. The actual wall, however, is merely one part of an elaborate system

International Land Borders, Hard and Soft

By Martin W. Lewis | May 11, 2011 | 6 Comments
Map of the variety of international land borders

On the standard world political map, all boundaries between sovereign states are the same, simple lines separating one country from another. In actuality, borders vary tremendously. The four-kilometer-wide “demilitarized zone”— sandwiched between two hyper-militarized zones—that splits North from South Koreas does not even remotely resemble the stroll-over border between Germany and France. Such border disparities

Japan: An Egalitarian Society?

By Andrew Linford | May 10, 2011 | 3 Comments
Income of Japan's Prefectures

My previous blog entry explored three distinct layers of geographic inequality, focused on China, which all apply to Japan: regional disparities, the rural/urban divide, and the existence of an urban underclass. The map posted here shows the percentage of the population defined as living on welfare. The prefecture with the greatest proportion of

Ivory Coast: Divided and Reunited

By Martin W. Lewis | |
Map of the main political/ethnic blocks in Ivory Coast

According to most reports, Ivory Coast is slowly returning to normal. On May 6, 2011, Alassane Ouattara was sworn into office by Constitutional Council President Paul Yao N’Dre, a close associate of deposed leader Laurent Gbagbo. N’Dre, not surprisingly, called for national reconciliation. Although he was heckled at times, the event generally proceeded smoothly. A

Electoral Politics and Religious Strife in Nigeria

By Martin W. Lewis | May 5, 2011 |
Map of Nigeria's 2011 Presidential Election

For the past week, GeoCurrents has demonstrated that the conflict in Ivory Coast cannot be reduced to a simple north/south, Muslim/Christian split. This kind of broad cleavage is more apparent in Nigeria, as shown by its recent election. But even in Nigeria, the contrast between a Muslim north and a Christian south is not as

The Demographic Dimensions of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

By Martin W. Lewis | May 3, 2011 |
Map of population density in West Africa, 1960

Migration has played a major role in Ivory Coast’s recent troubles. As immigrants from neighboring countries have moved in, Ivorian nativists have reacted by seeking to exclude foreigners—and their children—from citizenship. Such anti-immigrant attitudes and resulting policies have in turn provoked both migrant communities and members of related ethnic groups living in northern Ivory Coast

Historical Roots of the Crisis in Ivory Coast

By Martin W. Lewis | May 2, 2011 | One Comment
Political Units in West Africa, 1750

The entangled roots of the recent crisis in Ivory Coast extend back to the pre-colonial period. For several hundred years before the imposition of French rule in the late 1800s, the area now known as Ivory Coast contained both relatively centralized, hierarchical kingdoms and decentralized societies organized around kinship lineages. The kingdoms were located in

Global Inequality: Where is it Found?

By Andrew Linford | April 30, 2011 |

Poverty and inequality are contentious topics whose geography is often oversimplified. When many people think of extreme poverty and aid, they often focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, but global inequality and poverty are much more complex issues. Overall, it is increasingly apparent that a country-based framework that generalizes levels of income over entire national territories

Ethnic Dimensions of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

By Martin W. Lewis | April 28, 2011 | 3 Comments
Map of Ethnic Groups in Ivory Coast

Careful map analysis reveals that the conflict in Ivory Coast cannot be reduced to a split between the Muslim north and Christian south, as is routinely suggested in the press. But it is structured around ethnic differences that have religious aspects. Today’s post seeks to demonstrate the struggle’s cultural parameters by comparing maps of electoral

Religious Complexity in Ivory Coast

By Martin W. Lewis | April 26, 2011 | 6 Comments
Map of Islam in Ivory Coast

As we saw in the previous post, great uncertainty surrounds the demography of religion in Ivory Coast. Even basic figures on religious adherence are subject to heated debate. While most sources estimate the country’s Muslim population at thirty-five to forty percent, others put it at more than sixty percent, arguing that Muslims in the

Disparate Interpretations—and Misinterpretations—of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

By Martin W. Lewis | April 25, 2011 | 5 Comments
Map of the Division of Ivory Coast in 2007

Understandings of the recent conflict in Ivory Coast (officially, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire) vary significantly among different sectors of the news media. Mainstream sources in the United States often mention the Ivorian Civil War of 2002-07 that effectively divided the country in two (see map), but they focus primarily on the presidential election of 2010

Difficulties Calculating Inequality and the Gini Coefficient

By Andrew Linford | April 19, 2011 |
Gini Index for Countries around the World in 2009

Global and local inequality has been a major topic of debate, leading to many attempts to quantify income disparity. The Gini Coefficient is the best-known measure of inequality, but it has its flaws, as do all inequality measurements. A popular measurement of economic inequality focuses on variations in income among people in a state

Mapping Forms of Government in the 18th Century and Today

By Martin W. Lewis | |
Forms of government in 18th century Europe

As we have seen, maps from the 18th century typically subdivide Europe in a different manner from historical maps produced today, focusing much less on sovereignty. Cartographers typically divided the region into a dozen or so “countries,” some of which were independent kingdoms and others dependent lands, and one of which was a supranational organization

The Linguistic Geography of the Wikipedia

By Martin W. Lewis | April 18, 2011 | 12 Comments

One of the highlights of the Association of American Geographers meeting last week in Seattle was the annual Geography Bowl. Student teams competed to answer all manner of geographical questions, including a few that were devilishly difficult. The most impressive answer may have come in the final round, when the two remaining teams were asked

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