Incredible Map of Pangea With Modern-Day Borders
As volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occasionally remind us, the earth beneath our feet is constantly on the move.
Continental plates only move around 1-4 inches per year, so we don’t notice the tectonic forces that are continually reshaping the surface of our planet. But on a long enough timeline, those inches add up to big changes in the way landmasses on Earth are configured.
Today’s map, by Massimo Pietrobon, is a look back to when all land on the planet was arranged into a supercontinent called Pangea. Pietrobon’s map is unique in that it overlays the approximate borders of present day countries to help us understand how Pangea broke apart to form the world that we know today.
Pangea: The World As One
Pangea was the latest in a line of supercontinents in Earth’s history.
Pangea began developing over 300 million years ago, eventually making up one-third of the earth’s surface. The remainder of the planet was an enormous ocean known as Panthalassa.
As time goes by, scientists are beginning to piece together more information on the climate and patterns of life on the supercontinent. Similar to parts of Central Asia today, the center of the landmass is thought to have been arid and inhospitable, with temperatures reaching 113ºF (45ºC). The extreme temperatures revealed by climate simulations are supported by the fact that very few fossils are found in the modern day regions that once existed in the middle of Pangea. The strong contrast between the Pangea supercontinent and Panthalassa is believed to have triggered intense cross-equatorial monsoons.
By this unique point in history, plants and animals had spread across the landmass, and animals (such as dinosaurs) were able to wander freely across the entire expanse of Pangea.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
Around 200 million years ago, magma began to swell up through a weakness in the earth’s crust, creating the volcanic rift zone that would eventually cleave the supercontinent into pieces. Over time, this rift zone would become the Atlantic Ocean. The most visible evidence of this split is in the similar shape of the coastlines of modern-day Brazil and West Africa.
Present-day North America broke away from Europe and Africa, and as the map highlights, Atlantic Canada was once connected to Spain and Morocco.
The concept of plate tectonics is behind some of modern Earth’s most striking features. The Himalayas, for example, were formed after the Indian subcontinent broke off the eastern side of Africa and crashed directly into Asia. Many of the world’s tallest mountains were formed by this process of plate convergence – a process that, as far as we know, is unique to Earth.
What the Very Distant Future Holds
Since the average continent is only moving about 1 foot (0.3m) every decade, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be alive to see an epic geographical revision to the world map.
However, for whatever life exists on Earth roughly 300 million years in the future, they may have front row seats in seeing the emergence of a new supercontinent: Pangea Proxima.
As the above video from the Paleomap Project shows, Pangea Proxima is just one possible supercontinent configuration that occurs in which Australia slams into Indonesia, and North and South America crash into Africa and Antarctica, respectively.
Interestingly, Pangea Proxima could have a massive inland sea, mainly made up of what is the Indian Ocean today. Meanwhile, the other oceans would combine into one superocean that would take up the majority of the Earth’s surface.
Where Will the Next Billion Internet Users Come From?
When it comes to worldwide internet use, which regions are the most disconnected? And which regions have the most opportunity for growth?
Where Will the Next Billion Internet Users Come From?
Internet adoption has steadily increased over the years—it’s more than doubled since 2010.
Despite its widespread use, a significant portion of the global population still isn’t connected to the internet, and in certain areas of the world, the number of disconnected people skews towards higher percentages.
Using information from DataReportal, this visual highlights which regions have the greatest number of people disconnected from the web. We’ll also dive into why some regions have low numbers, and take a look at which countries have seen the most growth in the last year.
Top 10 Most Disconnected, by Number of People
The majority of countries with lower rates of internet access are in Asia and Africa. Here’s a look at the top 10 countries with the highest numbers of people not connected to the web:
|Rank||Country / Territory||Unconnected People||% of Population|
|8||Democratic Republic of Congo||71,823,319||81%|
*Note: Rankings only include countries/territories with populations over 50,000.
Interestingly, India has the lowest levels of connectivity despite having the second largest online market in the world. That being said, 50% of the country’s population still doesn’t have internet access—for reference, only 14% of the U.S. population remains disconnected to the web. Clearly, India has some untapped potential.
China takes second place, with over 582 million people not connected to the internet. This is partly because of the country’s significant rural population—in 2019, 39% of the country’s population was living in rural areas.
The gap in internet access between rural and urban China is significant. This was made apparent during China’s recent switch to online learning in response to the pandemic. While one-third of elementary school children living in rural areas weren’t able to access their online classes, only 5.7% of city dwellers weren’t able to log on.
It’s important to note that the rural-urban divide is an issue in many countries, not just China. Even places like the U.S. struggle to provide internet access to remote or rugged rural areas.
Top 10 Most Disconnected, by Share of Population
While India, China, and Pakistan have the highest number of people without internet access, there are countries arguably more disconnected.
Here’s a look at the top 10 most disconnected countries, by share of population:
|Rank||Country / Territory||% of Population||Unconnected People|
|7||Papua New Guinea||88%||7,761,628|
|10||Central African Republic||86%||4,132,006|
There are various reasons why these regions have a high percentage of people not online—some are political, which is the case of North Korea, where only a select few people can access the wider web. Regular citizens are restricted from using the global internet but have access to a domestic intranet called Kwangmyong.
Other reasons are financial, which is the case in South Sudan. The country has struggled with civil conflict and economic hardship for years, which has caused widespread poverty throughout the nation. It’s also stifled infrastructural development—only 2% of the country has access to electricity as of 2020, which explains why so few people have access to the web.
In the case of Papua New Guinea, a massive rural population is likely the reason behind its low percentage of internet users—80% of the population lives in rural areas, with little to no connections to modern life.
Fastest Growing Regions
While internet advancements like 5G are happening in certain regions, and showing no signs of slowing down, there’s still a long way to go before we reach global connectivity.
Despite the long road ahead, the gap is closing, and previously untapped markets are seeing significant growth. Here’s a look at the top five fast-growing regions:
|Rank||Region||Change in internet use (From 2019 to 2020)|
Africa has seen significant growth, mainly because of a massive spike of internet users in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—between 2019 and 2020, the country’s number of internet users increased by 9 million (+122%). This growth has been facilitated by non-profit organizations and companies like Facebook, which have invested heavily in the development of Africa’s internet connectivity.
India has also seen significant growth—between 2019 and 2020, the number of internet users in the country grew by 128 million (+23%).
If these countries continue to grow at similar rates, who knows what the breakdown of internet users will look like in the next few years?
Animated Map: The History of U.S. Counties
This video highlights the history of American counties, and how their boundaries have changed over the last 300 years.
Animated Video: The History of U.S Counties
Did you know that there are 3,142 different counties in the U.S. today?
Going as far back as the 1600s, English settlers arriving in the New World envisioned counties as a means of accessible government—a county seat was meant to be within a day’s buggy ride for every citizen.
While the role of counties in local government has remained significant in modern times, their boundaries have changed drastically over the years.
This animated map by Alexander Varlamov visualizes the history of U.S. county borders, and how these jurisdictions have evolved over time.
Before diving in, it’s important to note a few county-equivalents that function similarly but go by different names:
- Boroughs/Census areas: Alaska is made up of 19 boroughs, but the majority of its landmass is not included in them. Rather, it’s officially labeled by the Alaskan government as the unorganized borough.
- Parishes: Instead of counties, Louisiana uses the term parishes because of its French and Catholic heritage.
- Independent cities: These are cities that operate outside their surrounding county’s jurisdiction. There are 41 independent cities in the U.S. and 38 of them are in Virginia.
Over 300 Years of Growth
The number of counties in the U.S. has increased dramatically since the early days of American history. Here’s a look at their growth since 1790:
|Year||Number of Counties and Parishes|
The first county was established in 1634, over 100 years before the first Census was taken (and long before America gained independence). It was created in James City, Virginia—an interesting location, considering Virginia now has the highest concentration of independent cities.
Why does Virginia have so many independent cities? The state’s separation of counties and cities dates back to the early 1700s. With a rural population and low productivity, it was difficult to establish town centers. After several attempts, the General Assembly gave up. Independent cities were established instead.
Counties as a political organization have been around for hundreds of years, but some individual counties haven’t lasted long.
For instance, Bullfrog County in Nevada was established in 1987 and dissolved just two years later. During its brief existence, it had no population and no infrastructure—and its primary purpose was simply to prevent Yucca Mountain from becoming a nuclear waste dump.
While Bullfrog County has since been dissolved, the controversy around the nuclear waste site is ongoing as of 2020.
The latest official county, Broomfield Country, was established in Colorado in 2001.
Although it’s been decades since the last county was created, there have been continual boundary changes and status updates—sometimes for political reasons. For instance, the Supreme Court recently ruled that half of Oklahoma is within a Native American reservation. While this doesn’t necessarily change ownership, it does affect jurisdiction and county authority.
Though the lines on the map are more or less static now, the invisible lines of county jurisdiction will continue to change and evolve over time.
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