38 Eye-Opening Maps That Can Change How You See The World

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Maps come in a variety of forms, most of which are just not that interesting or engaging. You’ve got your traditional school pull-down maps (always a bit frayed at the edges from years of outdated use). Your (yawn) community map, loaded with advertisements for area businesses and usually available for free at the local library. Your typical geographical maps that outline countries or counties or boundaries, either natural or manmade.

But there are a whole slew of maps out there that let you glimpse the world in all its weird and wonderful complexity. Like a Map of the Highest-Paid Job in Every State. A Map of Historic and Present Distribution of Lions. A Map of the Best (and Worst) Places for Millennials to Make a Living. A Map of the World’s Happiest People. And a Map of Where Parrots Live.

Here are 38 maps you aren’t likely to see in a classroom or a library or on the counter of your local diner. Consider this your roadmap to some of the gotta-see maps of the world.

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1. Map of Coffee Consumption Around the World

ChartsBin

A lot of people around the world love their cup o’ joe. For some coffee drinkers, one quick cup in the morning will do it; for others, it’s a day-long love affair with large-size coffees that can be sipped and savored over time.

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In some countries, especially those with colder climes such as Scandinavia, each person is warming up by drinking up to 26 pounds of coffee per year. Without a doubt, that’s a significant jolt of java.

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2. Map of the Wealthiest Nations

HowMuch | Credit Suisse

Here’s a million-dollar question: How do you determine which nations are the wealthiest on the planet? By looking at the median wealth per adult living in those places.

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By the looks of this map, certain countries are doing quite well for themselves. Japan’s automobile-manufacturing and electronic-goods industries rake in the money. Australia says “g’day mate” to a booming minerals industry. And Iceland — yes, Iceland — has two industries, fishing, and tourism, that reign supreme.

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3. Map of the Highest-Paid Job in Every State

Matador Network | Twisted Sifter

Dentists, internists, and orthodontists, oh my! Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that jobs in the medical field dominate when it comes to the highest annual mean wage.

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Mapmaking as a profession? You won’t find it anywhere on this map.

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4. Map of Least and Most Peaceful Countries in the World

Wikimedia Commons | Creative Commons | Wikipedia

Some countries are peace-loving; others have earned a reputation for being hotbeds of strife and conflict.

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This map may come in handy when you’re planning your next vacation, adventure, or excursion. Knowing which conflict-ridden countries to avoid and which locations offer safe alternatives can help ensure that your travels don’t hold any unpleasant surprises.

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5. Map of Most Popular Messaging App in Every Country

ChartsBin

We get the message: The popularity of messaging apps differs depending on which part of the world you happen to be in. WeChat. ChatOn. KakaoTalk. These free messaging apps and several others are all out there — but where?

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Check out the popularity of your favorite app but a word of caution: If you’re using these when you’re on the road, you could be spending way too much on phone service. You might want to take a break from messaging and crunch some numbers to see what it’s costing you.

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6. Map of the Most Corrupt Nations

Transparency International, The Economist Intelligence Unit | Visual Capitalist

Not every map can focus on niceties and natural wonders, pretty places and amusing anecdotes. This map measures the presence of corruption among nations, and it’s not a pretty picture.

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Not surprisingly, Denmark is viewed as the least corrupt nation. Globally, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on the scale going from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

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7. Map of U.S. Gender Pay Gap

Zippia | CNBC

In 2019, does a gender pay gap still exist? Sadly, yes, and we’re not talking about a few pennies here and there; we’re looking at a gap that’s plenty big enough for women to fall through.

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Ladies, you might want to take a step back from heading to Utah or Louisiana if you’re planning to climb the corporate ladder: In those states, women make about 70 percent of what men earn. Even in states regarded as more progressive such as New York and California, wage gaps exist, although to a smaller degree.

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8. Map of U.S. Nuclear Reactors

U.S. NRC (Official)

A high concentration of nuclear reactors are located on the East Coast of the United States. One has to wonder: Is that good news or bad news for inhabitants of that area?

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All across the U.S., 98 nuclear reactors power tens of millions of homes. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (U.S.NRC) makes its position known with the tagline: Protecting People and the Environment. Whether or not you think nuclear power reactors are a good thing, this map shows you where they are and where you might not want to be.

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9. Map of the Best States for Working Mothers in the U.S.

WalletHub | Fast Company

If you’re a working mom or planning to be, you might want to head north.

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The northeast looks like the best area for mothers looking to balance child-rearing with paycheck earning. This map factored in not only salary but also comprehensive benefits, good schools, safe neighborhoods, decent medical and more to determine where mothers might want to locate their families.

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10. Map of the World’s Lactose Intolerance

Visual News | Food Beast

It’s a lot to absorb: The worldwide prevalence of lactose intolerance is very, very real.

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Yes, there are places near and far where locals have never known the joy of a milk mustache, where wine and cheese is more about whine and no cheese, where moo-moo milk is a no-no….we could go on.

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11. Map of Worldwide Tipping

Wikimedia Commons | Creative Commons | Wikipedia

Tipping can be a source of aggravation as customers must decide who to tip and when, how much and how often. On this map you can see tipping customers at restaurants in different countries, ranging from no tips being given at all to expectations that a bill will be rounded up as well as expected tipping percentages.

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But before you jump to the conclusion that some countries are just plain cheap, keep in mind that some areas pay higher wages so that employees don’t need to count on tips to make a living.

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12. Map of Computers Across the World

United Nations Global Development Goals Indicators | Robinson Production | Derek B.

According to the United Nations Global Development Goals Indicators, the world isn’t quite as tech-savvy as you might think.

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In looking at data that considers the number of computers per 100 people, it’s clear that Switzerland is the country with the most personal computers per capita — 65. The United States comes in second at 57 computers per capita.

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13. Map of Grapes Yielded by Country

Wikimedia Commons | Wikipedia

Wine doesn’t just magically appear in your favorite bistro, or on date night, or in your house after you’ve had a long, long day at the office, or at home, or working from your home office.

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The grapes that go into making your favorite wine come from all over the world, in vineyards large and small that are owned and operated by international corporations or local companies. Some of the locations may surprise you while others, owing to the perfect grape-growing climate, are a natural choice.

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14. Map of Water Consumption Around the World

ChartsBin

The problem of worldwide water scarcity can’t be understated, and the fact that a large volume of water is needed for the daily production of essential goods and services can’t be denied.

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This map and accompanying graphics shed light on topics such as which countries are most dependent on water imports, highest water footprints per capita, highest renewable water resources, the water footprint of different foods, and more.

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15. Map of the Most Photographed Places in the World

The Washington Post | Sightsmap

As this heat map shows, people love taking photos of historic, gorgeous, and cultured Europe.

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What is it about this locale that has cameras clicking and smartphones snapping? Chalk it up to a plethora of iconic landmarks, breathtaking landscapes, old-world charm, and lifestyles that are more tasteful than tacky.

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16. Map of What Antarctica Looks Like Beneath the Ice

Zina D. | US NSF | Wikimedia Commons | The Conversation

It’s a frozen tundra that is at once mysteriously mesmerizing and beautifully desolate. But what exactly lies beneath all of that ice on the south pole?

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You may be surprised to know that the ice sits atop a collection of lakes and mountains that comprise a varied surface hidden from view by a blanket of ice that, hopefully, will withstand the warming effects of climate change.

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17. Map of European Hand-Washing Routines

Jakubmarian | Big Think

You might want to file this map away in the “not sure I want to know” folder.

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The map percentages indicate responses to the question: “Do you wash your hands automatically with soap and water after going to the toilet?” Faring the worst: Italy, where a mere 57% of respondents said that they adhere to this hygienic practice. Which might make you decide not to indulge your craving for a hand-tossed pizza with the works.

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18. Map of When Countries Were Introduced to TV

Wikimedia Commons | Wikipedia

In the United States, it seems like TV has been around forever. There were days of rabbit ear antennas, ginormous roof antennas, big boxy consoles with tiny black-and-white screens, and programming that came from a couple of major networks and no place else.

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But that was then, this is now, and TV has evolved into an entertainment smorgasbord where anything, and everything, can be seen and heard at the touch of a button or the sound of a voice. Some countries, however, have only recently caught up with the U.S. – Liechtenstein and Papua New Guinea didn’t get a TV until 2008, which is 80 years after the United States did.

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19. Map of Eisenhower’s Interstate System

FHWA

“Let’s hit the road.” It’s a saying as American as baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet.

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But without President Dwight D. Eisenhower, there might be far fewer roads to head down, maybe no life in the fast lane, or even a trip down memory lane. Eisenhower created the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which established the United States’ Interstate System. What does it entail? More than 46,000 miles of roadways that cost $129 million.

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20. Map of Every Pub in the UK

UWaterLoo

No one doubts the popularity of pubs in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. But who knew there were this many?

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Sure, a pub crawl sounds like a fun way to spend an evening with family or friends or fellow tourists, but here’s hoping you have a lot of time available. This map can’t begin to show each and every one of the pubs in these countries because there are more than 48,000 in total. Sip, sip hooray!

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21. Map of Formula One Race Countries

Wikimedia Commons | Wikipedia

Looks like excitement for racing is really (did you think we wouldn’t say it?) revving up around the world.

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On this map, you’ll see that every country highlighted in green is scheduled to host a Grand Prix in 2019. The black dot indicates exactly where the race will take place.

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22. Map of How to Say “Thank You” in Europe

R.M.B. (Virble) | Reddit

Maybe you know “merci,'” if you took French class in high school. Or you know that “gracias” conveys thanks in Spanish. Perhaps you can even deduce that “Danke” means “thank you” in German. Other than that, you might be relying on just a sheepish smile to convey your feelings of gratitude because you’re at a loss for the correct words.

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Keep the “Thank You” map handy so that you’ll know how to express appreciation when you’re in Europe. You’re welcome.

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23. Map of Jeans Colors in the United States

Terrible Maps (Twitter)

Some maps just give you the blues.

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24. Map of the Best (and Worst) Places for Millennials to Make a Living

HowMuch | Census | BEA Gov

When you look at the adjusted median income in U.S. dollars, some places in the country are better than others when it comes to millennials making a living.

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If you aren’t making what your peers are making, maybe it’s time to ask for a raise or a bump in benefits that help you save a bit more of your hard-earned dollars. Or you could just consider relocating to Massachusetts, Minnesota, or North Dakota (but keep in mind that might find yourself shelling out quite a bit of cash for cold-weather attire if you relocate to either of the last two).

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25. Map of Where Fictional Characters Are From in the U.S.

Matt Shirley/Sean Noyce @ Playboy | Mental Floss

Wile E. Coyote. Yogi Bear. Indiana Jones. Marty McFly. They all had to come from somewhere, right? Sure, these fictional characters originated in someone’s imagination, but they also have places that they call home.

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Look closely and you’ll spot the star who makes an appearance twice on this map of iconic characters from states across the U.S.

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26. Map of Where Girls Are Less Educated Than Boys

UNESCO

It’s a lesson in inequality: In many places around the world, a significant education gap exists between boys and girls.

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Some countries in Africa and Asia make it illegal for girls to continue their education. Unbelievably, 15 million girls around the world will never go to school; according to UNESCO, another 130 million are out of school between the ages of 6 and 17.

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27. Map of Where Parrots Live

Wikimedia Commons | Wikipedia

This isn’t a fly-by-night thing — it’s a reliable map of where parrots live out their days around the world.

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According to Mongabay, five countries have the largest parrot populations: Colombia (1,878), Peru (1,858), Brazil (1,813), Indonesia (1,711), and Ecuador (1,622). When it comes to living in such places of breathtaking beauty, the sky’s the limit for these wonderful creatures.

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28. Map of How Long It Takes To Earn $1 in Asia

Map Fanatic | World Data

There’s always a lot of talk in the United States about the minimum wage. Debates and disagreements ensue about how much it should be. How often it could be increased. Whether it benefits or harms business. Even what it should be called: minimum wage or living wage?

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When you look at what other countries pay their workers, it can help put such disagreements into perspective. You need to work more than an hour to make one dollar in Yemen, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia. It takes nearly two hours to make a dollar in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and more than three hours in Afghanistan to make the same wage.

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29. Map of Countries with Starbucks

Quartz

There are times when nothing other than your favorite coffee will do. You’re traveling to some of the world’s most exotic places and once there, you find yourself scouring the countryside for that familiar coffee shop where you can run inside and grab that jolt of java.

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By all indications on this map, it’s likely you’ll be able to find a Starbucks when you’re out and about in the world. Considering that Brazil, Peru, India, and Mexico are some of the world’s top producers of coffee, it’s surprising that they serve Starbucks.

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30. Map of Bigfoot Sightings in North America

Joshua Stevens | Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization | NASA: Blue Marble | US Census Bureau | CNBC

It’s no small thing that there’s a database of Bigfoot sightings. He’s been part of American lore for ages, supposedly wandering the wilderness while escaping entrapment and inspiring wild imaginings.

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According to data collected by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, BigFoot/Sasquatch sightings are most common in Washington state. Who knew.

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31. Map of the World’s Gold

Wikimedia Commons | Wikipedia

Hunting for gold is, of course, about getting rich. But it also conjures up dreams of striking it big in unexplored territories, of discovering gold “in them thar hills.” Hollywood, itself a golden city of dreams, has done much to encourage the promise of panning for gold with the release of Westerns that romanticized prospecting.

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Some of the top locations for gold deposits include America, Australia, South America, China, and Peru.

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32. Map of Each State’s Most Impactful Invention

MidAmerica Nazarene University | Kyle O. | Digital Third Coast

The World Wide Web took off. So, too, the helicopter and the airplane. They were all invented by someone who thought differently, explored more, and expected no less.

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When perusing this map you might be surprised to see which states have a specific claim to fame when it comes to some of the most popular inventions in the United States.

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33. Map of Landlocked Countries

Amazing Maps | Twitter

A stunning coastline. A bustling seaport. Endless miles of golden beach kissed by the waves. Expect to kiss all of those things goodbye in these landlocked countries around the world.

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The 42 countries in green are landlocked; the two purple countries are doubly landlocked, meaning they’re landlocked by other landlocked nations. Liechtenstein in Europe is surrounded by the landlocked Switzerland and Austria, while Uzbekistan in Asia is surrounded by the landlocked Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

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34. Map Showing Your Risk of Contracting Rabies

World Health Organization

This map indicates the distribution of risk levels for humans to contract rabies worldwide in 2018. Indicators range from no risk to high risk presented by the presence of everything from bats to wild carnivores to domestic dogs.

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Your best chance of staying rabies-free? Head to Japan, New Zealand, and the islands in the Pacific — all locations where virtually no risk of rabies exists.

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35. Map of Countries With Nuclear Weapons

Daily Express | Getty

Under the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), only five countries are considered official nuclear-weapon sites: the United States, Russia (the successor state to the Soviet Union), the United Kingdom, France, and China.

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Unfortunately, however, the world needs to keep an eye on a handful of other countries most notably Iran and North Korea, which are involved in or suspected to be involved in producing nuclear weapons.

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36. Map of Europe’s Most Popular Last Names

CafeBabel

When traveling through Europe, you can’t help but notice that some last names are quite common while others are rarely uttered.

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Many European surnames stem from a profession. For example, in England the popular surname Smith is derived from the Old English term meaning “one who works in metal.” In Austria, the name Gruber translates to “miner.” In other instances, surnames come from a parent’s name: Ivanov translates to “Ivan’s”, as in the child of Ivan; Dimitrov translates to “son of Dimitar.”

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37. Map of the World’s Billionaires

HowMuch | UBS

Used to be that being a millionaire was a big deal; becoming a billionaire was a rarity reserved for a favored few.

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As with many other social markers, wealth accumulation has gotten bigger and easier and more accessible. Are billionaires commonplace? Not quite. Not yet. But there are a lot more of them out there than you might realize: 585 in the U.S. alone. Another surprising fact: nearly 38 percent of the world’s billionaires are found in the Asia-Pacific region.

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38. Map of Historic and Present Distribution of Lions

Africa Geographic Magazine

Yes, these mighty cats once ruled over Africa, adding to the majestic beauty of that continent’s landscape. Sadly, lion populations in African countries have declined by about 43% since the early 1990s.

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The decline in lion population is not entirely understood, but habitat loss and conflicts with humans are considered the greatest causes of concerns when it comes to the survival of the species. This map indicates where lions once existed in Africa and Asia, and the few areas where they remain today.

Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy

Holds a master's degree in professional writing and has more than 15 years of experience writing for national and international entities.