Territorial disputes are an inevitable aspect of political geography. One of the most contentious regions in the world is the South China Sea. We've been researching a blog for this on and off for a few months, but recently we found a succint videographic by The Economist that actually makes it understandable. The islands and atolls may seem insignificant at first blush - but not when you consider that they are located amidst potentially rich oil and gas sea reserves, in one of the business sea-trade routes in the world.
Remind me to be very, very careful on my next (well, ...first) visit to China. As you know, Lizard Point is in the business of using maps to help people learn more about the world they live in, and in China - that can prove to be a risky proposition.
According to this article on ozy.com, China has a law against any illegal map that “endangers the country’s sovereignty, safety and interests”. And if your map doesn't comply with the country's rules - you can be in for a fine of up to 200,000 yuan (about $30,000 USD). The rules include naming the South China Sea properly and marking Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau in the same colour as mainland China.
Er, excuse me while I go double check our quizzes.
One of the things that interest us at Lizard Point are visualizations that provide a different perspective on the world we inhabit. Maps are especially good at this. And not all maps have to be physical (showing geographic features) or political (showing state boundaries). The map above, recently featured in the Washington Post, is a World Population Cartogram. According to Wikipedia, A cartogram is a map in which some thematic mapping variable – such as travel time, population, or Gross National Product – is substituted for land area or distance. The geometry or space of the map is distorted in order to convey the information of this alternate variable. I think you would agree that the perspectives provided by this map are quite different that the maps we usually see.
Any insights you get from the map depend on your own perspective. For instance, we at Lizard Point live in Canada, a huge country in terms of land mass. But as the cartogram illustrates, a very small country when it comes to population. Even our neighbours to the south in the populous United States, shrink a little when compared to the populations of India and China. A few other surprising insights that we found;
- the relatively small size of Russia (less populous than Nigeria),
- the large size of some of the Caribbean countries (Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic), and
- the complete absence of large countries such as Greenland and Iceland.
No doubts, you'll have some insights of your own. We encourage you to visit this and other interesting maps from the Washington Post website embedded in a fascinating article by Ana Swanson entitled, The best places to be alone all over the world.
And don't forget that Lizard Point quizzes has population (and much more) information about all the countries in our site. Just click on the 'study' button.