Real geography: US not so exceptional

29 thoughts on “Real geography: US not so exceptional”

  1. I so did not know about this or as she says at end of the clip “it’s freaking me out”… damn cool though and my mind has been blown enough for today I think.

    1. On some level I was aware of all this, but I probably haven’t spent any time looking at a truly accurate representation of the world since I was a kid with a globe more than 60 years ago.

  2. Well this has been a bit of an eye opener. Like you noted in your comment above, something you have probably noted in the past but…. wow, Africa seems bigger than I remember. I suggest we just annex Canada and at least become somewhat competitive. 🙂

    1. Yep, even globes can’t do overlays. Maybe we should be giving kids globes and overlay kits, with cut-outs of every country, so they can experiment with their own overlays.

      1. I just read your blog for the first time today, and I really like the idea of overlay kits for globes.
        On a more basic level, I’ve seen jigsaw puzzles of countries (UK and Ireland) and continents (Europe). I have one of China, where each province is a separate piece, and that gave me a better idea of the areas involved. Have you seen anything like that for the USA, maybe with a piece for each state?

      2. As a child I had a jigsaw puzzle of the US, with each piece a state. It was an excellent tool. But I’ve never seen one for the whole world, that would show the relative sizes of each country. The large countries would be so big compared to the tiniest countries that those littlest pieces would be hard to keep track of. Maybe that’s why I’ve never seen one — the disparity in the size of countries would make such a puzzle impractical.

        The overlay kits I was imagining were just plastic film pieces, transparent different-colored cutouts of each country, that could be manipulated in countless ways to see the different sizes. But again, the problem would be having some very large pieces and some very small pieces.

  3. What a fine way to compare land area!

    I’ve always thought geography was a neglected subject in school and things like this should be encouraged to engage the students. I have to point out, however, that the size of countries can be very misleading and ought not be over-emphasized. Africa, for all its breadth, is dominated by the Sahara desert and by equatorial tropics which are, to say the least, unhealthy. Same is true of much of South America. Similarly, Russia has its Siberia which is ungodly cold and dry, and enormous. Even China has great variations in population density because of variations in weather and land arability.

    1. There are some useful numbers accompanying these maps. For example, Russia is twice the size of the US but it has only half the population — which dovetails with your point about the huge, uninhabited or barely habitable areas of some of these land masses.

      One of the sad points about Africa’s desertification is that some of it is manmade. And deforestation in the South American rain forest is affecting the climate of the entire planet. It seems no matter how large the land mass, man can find a way to mess it up.

  4. Fun fact about Russia: the reason Siberia lacks more agriculture is that the rivers flow north, which means that each spring, the upstream sections thaw before the downstream sections. Since the river is still blocked downstream by ice, the rivers all flood, and as a result Siberia is basically one giant swamp.

    1. Fascinating! I didn’t know that, but it certainly makes sense when you think about it. Poor Siberia. Just couldn’t catch a break. It must be good for something. Minerals? Peat moss?

    2. That is interesting. Makes sense. But let’s not forget the climate either. Going to my globe here, I see that Siberia’s latitude is pretty much the same as Alaska’s and a good chunk of it is above the Arctic circle. And just for comparison, North Dakota is 600 miles south of that. Ouch and double ouch!

      1. Of course, with global warming, the Arctic Ocean is thawing and opening up, and nations are rushing to claim shipping routes (and more) up there. Those Siberian rivers may start draining properly and the marshes may actually get to dry out a bit. Still not a place I’d want to live though. Yuck. I need sunshine!

  5. Alaska is 600,000 sq miles, bigger than California and Texas put together. Canada, the northern neighbour of the USA, is the 2nd largest country and with about 1/10th the population of the US, with the population largely strewn along its southern border ( mainly due to the weather).

    1. I’ll admit I tend to forget how big Canada really is. In school I learned the names of all the provinces but I just looked at a map and see that Nunavut became a province in 1999. I totally missed that until now.

  6. We are “exceptional” alright. Exceptional when it comes to destruction. We lead the world in the destruction of the climate, of other countries, of our own people…we are the world’s biggest hypocrites. The United Sates is a country where the wealthiest 1 percent of families hold about 40 percent of all wealth, and the bottom 90 percent of families hold less than one-quarter of all wealth. And that’s probably true of most of the industrialized countries of the world but we seem to think we are the “land of the free” where “all men are created equal.” What a load of crap. We are a country that has become “exceptional” in its illiteracy. A country whose citizens are so stupid as to be convinced that Universal Healthcare is a bad thing while they cheer as their taxes are shot into space.

  7. Do classrooms no longer have globes? When I was in school we had to trace the various continents on thin paper from the globe, cut them out and arrange them into a 2d map.

    1. I haven’t been in a classroom in more than 60 years, so I have no idea what’s current. But I agree good ol’ globes are the simplest way to show kids what the world really looks like. Tracing the continents and then flattening them sounds like a great exercise. Kudos to your teacher.

... and that's my two cents