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Maps continue to amaze me in what they can teach us about the world and ourselves. A few days ago, the Washington Post published a blogpost featuring 40 such maps on a diverse range of topics. Some of these maps are truly eye-opening.  Sometimes there is really nothing better than a map to help us visualize historical, demographic, or environmental information.  Check it out for yourselves: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/01/13/40-more-maps-that-explain-the-world/

A few of my personal favorites are below:

The growth of the Mongol Empire in the 13th Century. This was the largest completely land-based empire in history, and it is truly stunning to watch its growth. Watch how the Mongols stretch over nearly all of Asia, across the Middle East and into Europe. The Mongol Empire was brief, but its effects were felt for centuries afterwards. For example, the 1258 sacking of Baghdad halted Iraq’s global prominence, and I have heard that modern-day Koreans may be descended from the same Mongols who settled on the peninsula during this time. (via Wikipedia)

Arctic Land Grab Map. Just when you thought that there was no new land to be discovered and claimed, suddenly we’re seeing a growth in unclaimed land in the Arctic Circle due to the melting of the polar ice caps. World powers, predictably, are disputing who has a claim to this land. The major players up here are the US, Canada, Russia, Denmark, and Norway. The appeal in this icy, barren land is the possibility for oil and new trade routes through the ocean. (via The Economist).

What Africa might look like if it was never colonized. This follows the alternative historical question of what could have happened if Africa had never been colonized, and creates modern nation-states out of the African tribes and states which existed prior to European colonization. It also orients it with North on the bottom to flip our traditional view of Africa on its head. It’s a fascinating look at how history may have turned out differently, with borders better reflecting the actual ethnic divisions on the continent, rather than being arbitrarily drawn by European powers. (via Nikolaj Cyon, http://developmentdaily.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/alkebu-lan-1260.jpg)

These are just a few of the 40 maps featured in the WaPo post.  What other maps from the post did you find especially interesting?

Happy mapping!