Posts Tagged ‘world’

Map Reveals the Secrets Behind Place Names (Der Spiegel)

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

[Editor’s note: Got topophilia? If you, too, are in love with placenames and their deeper meanings, this pair of maps from Kalimedia is for you. Thanks Lynda!]

Republished from Der Spiegel. By Charles Hawley on Nov. 20, 2008.

If you’ve got a date in New York, she’ll be waiting in New Wild Boar City, according to a new etymological map of the world.

It is difficult to find anyone these days who is not familiar with Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical world of orcs, hobbits and dwarves. A whole generation of film-goers is familiar with such place names like “Dead Marshes” and “Mount Doom.”

But this peculiar nomenclature isn’t unique to Middle Earth. In fact, such names are everywhere. In France, for example, youl’ll find the City of Boatmen. The Caucasus plays host to the Land of the Fire Keepers. And who hasn’t dreamed of vacationing in the Land of Calves? But to get to these places, you’ll need a new map, which should be hitting bookstores in the Great Land of the Tattooed — Great Britain — by the end of the month.


Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (6 Photos)

Called the “Atlas of True Names,” the new map traces the etymological roots of European and global place names and then translates them into English. The “City of Boatmen” is also known as Paris. Should you travel to the Land of the Fire Keepers, you’d find yourself in Azerbaijan. And Italy comes from the Latin word vitulus, which means “calf.”

“We wanted to let the Earth tells its own story,” Stephan Hormes, who produced the maps together with his wife Silke Peust, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “The names give you an insight into what the people saw when they first looked at a place, almost with the eyes of children. Through the maps, we wanted to show what they saw.”

Where Rough Grass Grows

Hormes and Peust, both cartographers, call their mini-company Kalimedia, and got their start last summer with German language versions of three maps — one of Germany, one of Europe and one of the world. Their product sold well, encouraging them to put out the two fold-out English maps now available. The first shipment is currently on the way to a distributor in the UK. A Spanish version and a French version are in the works.

Peust and Hormes did much of their etymological research by plowing through stodgy reference works and endless Web sites related to the origins of place names. “It is very interesting to read what people have found out,” Hormes says, “but you have to keep flipping the pages. I am a cartographer and it’s my job to put as much information as possible in a single image.”

The result looks exactly like what one has come to expect from a map — except that it’s not always easy to know what one is looking at. That dot on the East Coast of the US looks like it should be New York, but it’s labelled “New Wild Boar Village.” (York, in England, derives from the Old English eofor for wild boar and the Latin vicus, for village.) Up the coast into Canada, one finds “Remote Corner Where Rough Grass Grows” in place of Halifax. To keep map readers from thorough confusion, there is an index on the back with all place names, both current and etymological.

Hormes admits that the inspiration for the maps really does come from a childhood obsession with “The Lord of the Rings.” “The names (in Middle Earth) are so clear that every kid understands them,” he says, but once he and his wife began their research, “it became a trip through peoples and language.”

But Tolkien fans won’t be disappointed with the new maps. The Mediterranean, for example, is hard to miss in the “Atlas of True Names.” It’s called the Sea of the Middle Earth.

Photo Gallery: An Etymologist’s View of the World

Kalimedia — Atlas of True Names

Cities at Night World Tour (NASA) – Part 1

Monday, September 29th, 2008

One of my projects while at National Geographic Maps was creating an “Earth at Night” art side for the 2004 World political map supplement for the Magazine. I used a gridded 1-km resolution product from NASA and NOAA via the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites to accomplish this and the result was beautiful and I often see the poster displayed around town.

The International Space Station “expedition 6″ astronauts have developed a new product by photographing out the station’s windows over hundreds of nights. Full color between 10 and 60 meter resolution. A barn-door tracker mounted camera helps cancel the orbital movement which would otherwise make the images blurry.

They have produced a video highlighting this new dataset with commentary featuring many world cities.

View video (will open large file in new window, be prepared for wait.)

I include their full blog post on that below. Thanks Pat!

Monopoly: The World Edition – Results In

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

monopoly global

Back in February I published a post on how Hasbro, the makers of board game Monopoly has embarked upon an exercise to find the world’s most popular cities for the new ”Here and Now: The World Edition” to be released in Autumn 2008. Much to my supervisor’s ethnic pride, Riga was one of two wild card cities to make it onto the new Monopoly edition. The other, Montréal, gets top billing in the blue docket on the new board. Full list below (highest rent first). Thanks Laris!

Reprinted press release from Monopoly site (August 20, 2008):

More than 5.6 million votes were cast for 70 world-class cities, which determined 20 of the 22 cities featured in the game. The 20 cities with the most write-in votes faced off in a bonus vote and the two with the most votes, Taipei and Gdynia, earned the brown property spaces on the game board.

“We hope that fans of the world’s most popular board game will enjoy buying, selling and trading real estate from around the globe in the new MONOPOLY game that they created with their votes,” said Helen Martin, Vice President of Global Marketing for toy and game-maker Hasbro, Inc.’s MONOPOLY brand.  “We are thrilled that the first-ever global game board includes an interesting mix of cities that showcases the dynamic cultures, sights and history of the planet.”

Biggest Drawing in the World (Erik Nordenankar)

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

biggest GPS drawing

Reprinted from Thanks to Steph and Curt!

I think this is a hoax, but cool none-the-less…

With the help of a GPS device and DHL, [Erik Nordenankar] has drawn a self portrait on our planet. [His] pen was a briefcase containing the GPS device, being sent around the world. The paths the briefcase took around the globe became the strokes of the drawing.

The 17th of March 2008, [Erik] sent away a briefcase containing a GPS device with the express transportation company DHL. I gave them exact travel instructions, where to go, and in what order. 55 days later the briefcase returned to Stockholm. The GPS automatically recorded the briefcase’s journey around the world. The information was downloaded to [his] computer and gave [Erik his] drawing. Due to the GPS drawing technique and the magnitude of the drawing, the self portrait had to made in only one stroke. That giant stroke passed thru 6 continents and 62 countries, thus becoming 110,664 km long.

After the jump: photos of the GPS briefcase, the itinerary, DHL receipts, and several youtube videos.

Continue reading . . .

Geographic Shirts – Round 2

Monday, March 24th, 2008

blue footed boobiesPreparing for Christmas I posted on geographically themed shirts (view that post). Visitors to the Galapagos will be familiar with the theme of the shirt at left from It’s barely office acceptable depending on the gender of the wearer and how “with it” your boss is.

Here are some other geographic finds perusing both (where most shirts are on blow-out sale prices for 2 more days!),, and Limited sizes on some. Click an image below to get the merchandise info.

denmarks the spot i hate boston  mexico usa beard  missouri loves company new mexico cleaner than regular mexico oklahoma kick your ass prague check it out   visit cuba  world explosion tshirt world pixel icons windy city salt chicago