The History of the World in 1 Map and 176 Words

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Sometimes, simple explanations can be the most revealing. Take this map, for example, which depicts thousands of years of human history by representing each country with a single word. Turns out to be painfully accurate.

Cartographer Martin Elmer explains how he made the map:

This map was produced by running all the various countries' "History of _____" Wikipedia article through a word cloud, then writing out the most common word to fit into the country's boundary. The result is thousands of years of human history oversimplified into 100-some words.

The result? 16 percent of countries are represented by the word "war"; 25 percent took the name of a colonial power; and barely any of the results reflect anything other than rule or conquest. Sigh. You can view a high-res, zoomable version of the map here or some of Martin's further insights here. [Maphugger via Flowing Data]