Elevation Extreme Midpoints

While doing Southern California-themed map browsing for an upcoming article on the geography of U2’s The Joshua Tree album cover, it struck me just how remarkable it is that the highest (Mount Whitney) and lowest (Badwater Basin) points of elevation in the contiguous United States are a mere 136 km (85 mi) apart.  Not only…

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The Many Alexandrias of Alexander the Great

This map of Alexander’s empire will be useful for orientation in this article.  Click on image to expand to full size (2000 x 961).  Source: Captain Blood, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MacedonEmpire.jpg.  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. In a span of just 13 years from 336 BC to 323 BC, Alexander the Great pushed…

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Population Pyramids

A large part of my everyday work involves the use of age demographic breakdowns, and thus by extension population pyramids, the simple-but-effective diagrams that display age and sex distributions in a given populace, usually in blocks of 1 to 5 years. They’re called ‘pyramids’ because that’s how the diagrams appear when a population is growing, producing…

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The Highest of Low Points: The 15 Most Elevated Countries on Earth

There is a special place reserved in respective national consciousnesses for the highest point in a country. Everest, McKinley, Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, Fuji, Olympus, Ben Nevis – the towering peaks that can be seen for miles across the countryside and are held up as national symbols. They form the basis for religious myths (and political…

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Afghanistan: Pick a Flag, Any Flag

Just nine of the 23 different flags used by the various governments of Afghanistan since 1747. For a complete list, see this table. We often think of the national flags of countries as a static thing. We know that the United Kingdom is represented by the Union Jack; we know that France has the tricolore;…

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