Animation: How the European Map Has Changed Over 2,400 Years
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Animation: How the European Map Has Changed Over 2,400 Years

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How the European Map Has Changed Over 2,400 Years

The history of Europe is breathtakingly complex. While there are rare exceptions like Andorra and Portugal, which have had remarkably static borders for hundreds of years, jurisdiction over portions of the continent’s landmass have changed hands innumerable times.

Today’s video comes to us from YouTube channel Cottereau, and it shows the evolution of European map borders starting from 400 BC. Empires rise and fall, invasions sweep across the continent, and modern countries slowly begin to take shape (with the added bonus of an extremely dramatic instrumental).

Below are nine highlights and catalysts that shifted the dividing lines of the European map:

146 BC – A Year of Conquest

146 BC was a year of conquest and expansion for the Roman Republic. The fall of Carthage left the Romans in control of territory in North Africa, and the ransack and destruction of the Greek city-state of Corinth also kickstarted an era of Roman influence in that region. These decisive victories paved the way for the Roman Empire’s eventual domination of the Mediterranean.

117 AD – Peak Roman Empire

The peak of the Roman Empire is one of the more dramatic moments shown on this animated European map. At its height, under Trajan, the Roman Empire was a colossal 1.7 million square miles (quite a feat in an era without motorized vehicles and modern communication tools). This enormous empire remained mostly intact until 395, when it was irreparably split into Eastern and Western regions.

Extent of the Roman Empire on European Map

370 AD – The Arrival of the Huns

Spurred on by severe drought conditions in Central Asia, the Huns reached Europe and found a Roman Empire weakened by currency debasement, economic instability, overspending, and increasing incursions from rivals along its borders.

The Huns waged their first attack on the Eastern Roman Empire in 395, but it was not until half a century later—under the leadership of Attila the Hun—that hordes pushed deeper into Europe, sacking and razing cities along the way. The Romans would later get their revenge when they attacked the quarreling Goths and Huns, bouncing the latter out of Central Europe.

1241 – The Mongol Invasion of Europe

In the mid-13th century, the “Golden Horde” led by grandsons of Genghis Khan, roared into Russia and Eastern Europe sacking cities along the way. Facing invasion from formidable Mongol forces, central European princes temporarily placed their regional conflicts aside to defend their territory. Though the Mongols were slowly pushed eastward, they loomed large on the fringes of Europe until almost the 16th century.

1362 – Lithuania

Today, Lithuania is one of Europe’s smallest countries, but at its peak in the middle ages, it was one of the largest states on the continent. A pivotal moment for Lithuania came after a decisive win at the Battle of Blue Waters. This victory stifled the expansion of the Golden Horde, and brought present-day Ukraine into its sphere of influence.

1648 – Kleinstaaterei

The end of the Holy Roman Empire highlights the extreme territorial fragmentation in Germany and neighboring regions, in an era referred to as Kleinstaaterei.

European map with Holy Roman fragments

Even as coherent nation states formed around it, the Holy Roman Empire and its remnants wouldn’t coalesce until Germany rose from the wreckage of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Unification helped position Germany as a major power, and by 1900 the country had the largest economy in Europe.

1919 – The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire—a fixture in Eastern Europe for hundreds of years—was in its waning years by the beginning of the 20th century. The empire had ceded territory in two costly wars with Italy and Balkan states, and by the time the dust cleared on WWI, the borders of the newly minted nation of Turkey began at the furthest edge of continental Europe.

1942 – Expanding and Contracting Germany

At the furthest extent of Axis territory in World War II, Germany and Italy controlled a vast portion of continental Europe. The map below shows occupied land and areas of influence at the height of Germany’s territorial expansion.

Europe at the height of German military expansion

After the war, Germany again became fragmented into occupation zones—this time, overseen by the United States, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. Germany would not be made whole again until 1990, when a weakening Soviet Union loosened its grip on East Germany.

1991 – Soviet Dissolution

In the decades following WWII, the political boundaries of the European map remained relatively stable—that is, until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Almost overnight, the country’s entire western border splintered into independent nations. When the dust settled, there were 15 breakaway republics, six of which were in Europe.

Soviet Union successions

Bonus: If you liked the video above, be sure to watch this year-by-year account of who ruled territories across Europe.

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Misc

24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality

The world isn’t as it seems—here are some of the most important cognitive biases that are messing with how you think the world works, and why.

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We are each entitled to our own personal world view.

But unfortunately, when it comes to interpreting information and trying to make objective sense of reality, human brains are hard-wired to make all kinds of mental mistakes that can impact our ability to make rational judgments.

In total, there are over 180 cognitive biases that interfere with how we process data, think critically, and perceive reality.

Flawed Human Reasoning

There is no simple way to get around these basic human instincts, but one thing that we can do is understand the specific mistakes we make and why.

Today’s infographic comes to us from School of Thought, a non-profit dedicated to spreading critical thinking. The graphic describes 24 of the key biases that warp our sense of reality, providing useful examples along the way.

24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality

At the beginning of the infographic, you may have noticed illustrations of two gentlemen.

In case you were wondering, those happen to represent Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two of the leading social scientists known for their contributions to this field. Not only did they pioneer work around cognitive biases starting in the late 1960s, but their partnership also resulted in a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002.

Biases Distorting Reality

Here are some of the biases we found most interesting from the list:

Declinism:
You remember the past as better than it was, and expect the future to be worse than it is likely to be. This is an interesting one, since statistically this is one of the most peaceful and prosperous times in history—yet the 24-hour news cycle rarely reflects this. (For a good example how the world is improving, see these six charts)

Just World Hypothesis:
Your preference for a just world makes you presume that it exists. Of course, it’s much more uncomfortable to think that the world is unfair, but by understanding this you will make more accurate judgments about people and situations.

Belief Bias
If a conclusion supports your existing beliefs, you’ll rationalize anything that supports it. In other words, instead of willingly looking at new information, we are primed to defend our own ideas without actually questioning them.

Framing Effect:
Context and delivery can have a big impact on how a story is interpreted. We must have the humility to recognize that we can be manipulated, and work to limit the effect that framing has on our critical thinking.

The Curse of Knowledge
Ever try to explain something you know intricately and have worked on for many years? It’s hard, because you’ve internalized everything you’ve learned, and now you forget how to explain it. This bias is similar—you know something inside and out, and what is obvious to you is not to others.

Reactance:
Sometimes we all get the urge to do the opposite of what we’re told. Nobody likes being constrained. The only problem is that when we’re in this situation, there is a tendency to overreact and to throw any logic out of the window.

Spotlight Effect:
Because we each live inside our own heads, our natural focus is on what we’re thinking and doing. We project this onto others, and we overestimate how much they notice about how we look or how we act.

Want to see more on cognitive biases? Here are 188 of them in one infographic.

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Misc

Ranked: The 35 Vehicles With the Longest Production Runs

Successful cars come in many shapes and sizes. See which ones have stood the test of time in this infographic.

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Visualizing the Longest Vehicle Production Runs

Over the automotive industry’s 100+ year history, companies such as Ford, Chevrolet, and Mercedes-Benz have produced some truly iconic cars.

Whether they’re designed for excitement, luxury, or just simple transportation, these vehicles offer a set of features that make them highly desirable to consumers. The most successful models will undergo numerous revisions over time, sometimes sticking around for many decades.

To learn more, this graphic from Alan’s Factory Outlet lists the 35 vehicles with the longest production runs of all time. Here are the top 10 below.

BrandModel NameClassProduction Run (years)
🇺🇸 ChevroletSuburbanSUV86
🇺🇸 FordF-SeriesPickup truck74
🇩🇪 VolkswagenTransporterVan71
🇯🇵 ToyotaLand CruiserSUV70
🇺🇸 ChevroletCorvetteSports car68
🇩🇪 Mercedes-BenzS-ClassSedan67
🇯🇵 ToyotaCrownSedan66
🇯🇵 NissanSkylineSedan64
🇬🇧 MiniMiniHatchback62
🇩🇪 Porsche911Sports car58

As we can see, successful models come in many shapes and sizes, and from a variety of manufacturers. Below, we’ll take a deeper dive to learn more about what makes these cars special.

Ford F-Series

Ford began selling its first pickup truck in 1925, which was essentially a Model T with a flatbed in the rear. This layout was very useful because it enabled people to transport cargo, raw materials, and other items with relative ease.

Then, in 1948, Ford introduced the F-series pickup. The truck became one of Ford’s most well-known and profitable models, and is currently in its 14th generation.

While the fundamental shape of the F-series hasn’t changed, Ford’s best-selling model owes much of its success to its constant innovation and technological improvements.

In 2015, the F-150 became the first fullsize pickup to feature an all-aluminum body. This reduced the truck’s weight by as much as 500 pounds, resulting in better fuel economy and driving dynamics.

Ford is also credited with bringing turbocharged engines into the mainstream (within the pickup segment). This first-mover advantage gave the F-Series a competitive edge in terms of fuel efficiency and torque.

Chevrolet Corvette

First introduced in 1953, the Chevrolet Corvette is regarded as America’s most iconic sports car. It has a reputation for offering similar performance as its more expensive foreign rivals, and combines unique styling elements with a successful motorsport background.

For most of its history, the Corvette was a rear-wheel drive coupe with a V-8 engine placed in the front. It also featured pop-up headlights for several generations, but the design was eventually phased out due to stricter regulations.

Evolution of the Corvette

Chevrolet drastically changed the formula of the Corvette for its eighth generation, which launched in 2020. The engine is no longer in the front of the car, but instead, placed directly behind the occupants.

C8 interior cross section

This mid-engine layout results in a Corvette with significantly different proportions than its predecessors. Because a bulk of the car’s weight is now located more centrally, the C8 should (in theory) offer better traction and balance.

Few cars have undergone such large changes to their fundamental design philosophy, but the move appears to have worked—production is far from meeting demand.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The S-Class from Mercedes is widely recognized as the global benchmark for full-size luxury sedans. Since its introduction in the 1950s, the S-Class has continuously introduced new innovations that improve comfort and safety.

  • The 1959 S-Class (dubbed W111) was the first production car with crumple zones front and rear. Crumple zones are structural elements that absorb the impact of a collision.
  • The 1978 S-Class (W116) introduced electronic anti-lock brakes (ABS). This system prevents tires from locking up under sudden braking and is included on every modern car.
  • The 1991 S-Class (W140) was the first car to feature double-glazed windows, which improves insulation while reducing road noise.
  • The 2021 S-Class (W223) introduced the world’s first rear-seat airbag.

One of the most important aspects of a luxury car is its interior, and the S-class has come a long way since its first iteration.

The interior of the latest S-Class features active ambient lighting that can visually reinforce any warnings generated by the car’s driving assistance systems. The cabin also features MBUX Interior Assist, which can read motion commands (such as hand movements) by the driver.

The car’s center console is dominated by a single large screen—a trend that was first introduced by the Tesla Model S.

Big Changes in Store

Global governments have announced a ban on the sale of new gasoline cars by as early as 2030. This foreshadows a great shift towards battery power and gives automakers the opportunity to reimagine their most iconic models.

For example, the Ford Mustang Mach-E is an all-electric SUV that borrows both the name and styling of the brand’s famous pony car. The company also recently launched an electric version of the F-150, called the F-150 Lightning.

German brands are taking a different approach by creating a completely new range for their EV models. This includes the Audi e-tron, BMW i, and Mercedes EQ lineups. This implies that their existing gasoline-powered models could be coming to an end.

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