Connect with us

Misc

The Shape of the World, According to Old Maps

Published

on

Infographic: Ancient Maps

The Shape of the World, According to Ancient Maps

A Babylonian clay tablet helped unlock an understanding for how our ancestors saw the world.

Dating all the way back to the 6th century BCE, the Imago Mundi is the oldest known world map, and it offers a unique glimpse into ancient perspectives on earth and the heavens.

While this is the first-known interpretation of such a map, it would certainly not be the last. Today’s visualization, designed by Reddit user PisseGuri82, won the “Best of 2018 Map Contest” for depicting the evolving shapes of man-made maps throughout history.

AD 150: Once Upon A Time in Egypt

In this former location of the Roman Empire, Ptolemy was the first to use positions of latitude and longitude to map countries into his text Geographia. After these ancient maps were lost for centuries, Ptolemy’s work was rediscovered and reconstructed in the 15th century, serving as a foundation for cartography throughout the Middle Ages.

Ptolemy World Map

1050: Pointing to the Heavens

The creation of this quintessential medieval T-and-O Beatine map is attributed not to an unknown French monk, but to the Spanish monk Beatus of Liébana. Although it shows several continents—Africa, Asia, and Europe—its main objective was to visualize Biblical locations. For example, because the sun rises in the east, Paradise (The Garden of Eden) can be seen pointing upwards and towards Asia on the map.

1154: The World Turned Upside Down

The Arabic geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi made one of the most advanced medieval world maps for King Roger II of Sicily. The Tabula Rogeriana, which literally translates to “the book of pleasant journeys into faraway lands”, was ahead of the curve compared to contemporaries because it used information from traveler and merchant accounts. The original map was oriented south-up, which is why modern depictions show it upside down.

Tabula Rogeriana

1375: The Zenith of Medieval Map Work

The Jewish cartographer Abraham Cresques created the most important map of the medieval period, the Catalan Atlas, with his son for Prince John of Aragon. It covers the “East and the West, and everything that, from the Strait [of Gibraltar] leads to the West”. Many Indian and Chinese cities can be identified, based on various voyages by the explorers Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville.

After this, the Age of Discovery truly began—and maps started to more closely resemble the world map as we know it today.

1489: Feeling Ptolemy and Polo’s Influences

The 15th century was a radical time for map-makers, once Ptolemy’s geographical drawings were re-discovered. Henricus Martellus expanded on Ptolemaic maps, and also relied on sources like Marco Polo’s travels to imagine the Old World. His milestone map closely resembles the oldest-surviving terrestrial globe, Erdapfel, created by cartographer Martin Behaim. Today, it’s preserved at the Yale University archives.

1529: A Well-Kept Spanish Secret

The first ever scientific world map is most widely attributed to the Portuguese cartographer Diego Ribero. The Padrón Real was the Spanish Crown’s official and secret master map, made from hundreds of sailors’ reports of any new lands and their coordinates.

Ribero 1529

1599: The Wright Idea

English mathematician and cartographer Edward Wright was the first to perfect the Mercator projection—which takes the Earth’s curvature into consideration. Otherwise known as a Wright-Molyneux world map, this linear representation of the earth’s cylindrical map quickly became the standard for navigation.

1778-1832: The Emergence of Modern World Maps

The invention of the marine chronometer transformed marine navigation—as ships were now able to detect both longitude and latitude. Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, a French geographer, was responsible for the 18th century’s highly accurate world maps and nautical charts. His designs favored functionality over the decorative flourishes of cartographers past.

Finally, the German cartographer and lawyer Adolf Stieler was the man behind Stieler’s Handatlas, the leading German world atlas until the mid-20th century. His maps were famous for being updated based on new explorations, making them the most reliable map possible.

Is There Uncharted Territory Left?

It is worth mentioning that these ancient maps above are mostly coming from a European perspective.

That said, the Islamic Golden Age also boasts an impressive cartographic record, reaching its peak partially in thanks to Muhammad al-Idrisi in the 11th century. Similarly, Ancient Chinese empires had a cartographic golden age after the invention of the compass as well.

Does this mean there’s nothing left to explore today? Quite the contrary. While we know so much about our landmasses, the undersea depths remain quite a mystery. In fact, we’ve explored more of outer space than we have 95% of our own oceans.

If you liked the visualization above, be sure to explore the world’s borders by age, broken down impressively by the same designer.

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist

Thank you!
Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.

Comments

Misc

Slices of the Pie: Mapping Territorial Claims in Antarctica

Antarctica is the most inhospitable region on Earth, but that hasn’t stopped countries from making territorial claims. This maps shows them all.

Published

on

antarctica territorial claims

Slices of the Pie: Mapping Territorial Claims in Antarctica

For the 55% of the world’s population who reside in cities, land is viewed as a precious commodity—every square foot has a value attached to it. As the global population continues to rise toward the eight billion mark, it can seem like humans have laid claim to every available corner of the earth.

While this is mostly true, there is one place on the planet that is vast, empty, and even partially unclaimed: Antarctica.

Today’s map, originally created by the CIA World Factbook, visualizes the active claims on Antarctic territory, as well as the location of many permanent research facilities.

The History of Antarctic Territorial Claims

In the first half of the 20th Century, a number of countries began to claim wedge-shaped portions of territory on the southernmost continent. Even Nazi Germany was in on the action, claiming a large swath of land which they dubbed New Swabia.

After WWII, the Antarctic Treaty system—which established the legal framework for the management of the continent—began to take shape. In the 1950s, seven countries including Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom claimed territorial sovereignty over portions of Antarctica. A number of other nations, including the U.S. and Japan, were engaged in exploration but hadn’t put forward claims in an official capacity.

Territorial claims in AntarcticaTerritory nameArea of claim
🇦🇺 AustraliaAustralian Antarctic Territory3,663,915 mi² (5,896,500 km²)
🇳🇴 NorwayQueen Maud Land1,677,702 mi² (2,700,000 km²)
🇬🇧 United KingdomBritish Antarctic Territory1,062,171 mi² (1,709,400 km²)
🇦🇷 Argentina Argentine Antarctica908,194 mi² (1,461,597 km²)
🇨🇱 ChileChilean Antarctic Territory776,874 mi² (1,250,258 km²)
🇳🇿 New ZealandRoss Dependency279,617 mi² (450,000 km²)
🇫🇷 FranceAdélie Land268,432 mi² (432,000 km²)

Despite the remoteness and inhospitable climate of Antarctica, the idea of claiming such large areas of landmass has proven appealing to countries. Even the smallest claim on the continent is equivalent to the size of Iraq.

A few of the above claims overlap, as is the case on the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts out geographically from the rest of the continent. This area is less remote with a milder climate, and is subject to claims by Argentina, Chile, and the United Kingdom (which governs the nearby Falkland Islands).

Interestingly, there is still a large portion of Antarctica that remains unclaimed today. Just east of the Ross Ice Shelf lies Marie Byrd Land, a vast, remote territory that is by far the largest unclaimed land area on Earth.

While Antarctica has no official government, it is administered through yearly meetings known as the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings. These meetings involve a number of stakeholders, from member nations to observer organizations.

Frontage Theory: Another Way to Slice it

Of course, critics could argue that current claims are arbitrary, and that there is a more equitable way to partition land in Antarctica. That’s where Frontage Theory comes in.

Originally proposed by Brazilian geopolitical scholar Therezinha de Castro, the theory argues that sectors of the Antarctic continent should be distributed according to meridians (the imaginary lines running north–south around the earth). Wherever straight lines running north hit landfall, that country would have sovereignty over the corresponding “wedge” of Antarctic territory.

The map below shows roughly how territorial claims would look under that scenario.

hypothetical Antarctica frontage territories claims

While Brazil has obvious reasons for favoring this solution, it’s also a thought experiment that produces an interesting mix of territorial claims. Not only do nearby countries in Africa and South America get a piece of the pie, but places like Canada and Greenland would end up with territory adjacent to both of the planet’s poles.

Leaving the Pie Unsliced

Thanks to the Antarctic Treaty, there is no mining taking place in Antarctica, and thus far no country has set up a permanent settlement on the continent. Aside from scattered research stations and a few thousand researchers, claims in the region have a limited impact.

For the near future at least, the slicing of the Antarctic pie is only hypothetical.

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist

Thank you!
Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.

Continue Reading

Misc

The World’s Most Searched Consumer Brands

From Apple to Zara, this unique map showcases which popular consumer brands were searched for the most around the world.

Published

on

Consumer Brands

The World’s Most Searched Consumer Brands

View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here.

Strong brands create an emotional link with consumers, and tech brands are no exception.

In fact, Google, Amazon, Netflix, and even eBay rank as some of the most searched consumer brands worldwide. It’s hard to imagine life without these household names, but how do brand preferences shift and change across internet searches worldwide?

This graphic from Business Financing compiles 12 months of data from the Google Keyword Planner and other sources, to uncover the world’s most searched consumer brands.

Note: Due to data constraints, a number of countries on the map do not have sufficient information available.

In Tech We Trust

By far, the world’s most searched consumer brand is Google, which seems very convenient.

It ranks at the top in 100 countries—that’s nearly half of all countries on the planet. With over 90 billion visits monthly, Google has unparalleled dominance in brand loyalty and website traffic.

Top 3 Most Searched Consumer Brands

  1. Google: 100 countries
  2. Netflix: 45 countries
  3. Amazon: 30 countries

Netflix, falling in second, ranks highest in 45 countries including Turkey, Brazil, and South Korea. In third, Amazon is the most popular in 30 countries. The only non-tech company in the top five is IKEA, in fifth place, after eBay.

Gaming the System

When it comes to sub-sectors of consumer brands, the gaming space tells an interesting story.

Namely, it is Epic Games—creator of Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto—that dominates global charts by a considerable margin. Founded in Potomac, Maryland, the company ranks at the top for 141 countries globally.

Most Searched Gaming Brand in the World 820px
View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here.

Additionally, Nintendo tops the list of 24 countries including Japan, Haiti, and Canada, while Paris-based Gameloft comes next in line.

Fast Fashion: Shoe Dog At the Top

Since its founding in 1964, Nike has become a remarkable brand builder. In fact, Nike is the most searched fashion brand among 49 countries.

Interestingly, founder Phil Knight only began to fully understand branding power after the company reached $1 billion in revenues. After a series of failures and missteps in the mid-1980s, Nike switched its focus from marketing and manufacturing, to instead, zeroing in on the consumer.

Most Searched Fashion Brand in the World 820px
View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here.

Like Nike, Swedish retailer H&M has a long history dating back to 1947. Prior to the pandemic, the fast-fashion retailer operated 5,000 stores globally. Since pandemic tailwinds, however, H&M plans to close 250 physical stores in 2021 and focus more on online sales.

Big Macs are Here to Stay

When you look closer at the most searched fast food chains, McDonald’s ranks highest on a global level, but not by far.

KFC comes in second, topping the list of 65 countries including Russia, Peru, and Thailand. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut, which is owned by the same parent company as KFC, attracted the highest number of searches in America.

Most Searched Fast Food Brand in the World 820px
View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here

On the other hand, Antarctica curiously ranks Baskin Robbins at the top, but this could be influenced from a low volume of searches in the region.

Consumer Brand Outliers

If there’s one recurring trend across the top consumer brands, it’s that they are unsurprisingly dominated by big players concentrated in America.

However, notable outliers are present. In China, search engine Baidu ranks as the top consumer brand on the internet. On the other hand, the Vatican’s most-searched gaming company is Canada-based BioWare, which developed the Mass Effect series (no pun intended).

Meanwhile, in Saint Helena—the island where Napoleon was exiled and later died—has Burger King as its most searched fast food brand. As it happens, the remote island appears to have no Burger King, or any other fast food chains. Kenya’s top fashion brand is Louis Vuitton, while Turkmenistan’s is Gucci.

Despite these differences, many consumer preferences, at least according to search volume, appear strikingly similar on global levels. As many of these multinational brands continue to gain even greater market share, the implications for the global consumer will be interesting to watch in the next year, or even decade.

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist

Thank you!
Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.

Continue Reading

Subscribe

Join the 230,000+ subscribers who receive our daily email

Thank you!
Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.

Popular