Map #20: December 26, 2016

Difficulty Level: 8

Click here for a full-size version of this week’s map.

This map is the fourth map in a five-week series. During this series, we will keep track of both the usual week-to-week scores and your cumulative score over the five-week period.

This map is a choropleth of the counties of the United States. (Do you need a refresher on what a choropleth is? Visit our “Basics” page for a quick primer.) On this choropleth, the darker shades of green represent counties that possess more of a particular statistic. Your job for this week: figure out what statistic is represented by this choropleth.

Stumped? Check back soon for hints about where to focus your investigation. We are taking a break for the New Year’s holiday, so the answer to this map will be posted in two weeks, on Monday, January 9. The first hint will appear Wednesday, December 28, and each hint after that will appear every other day until we reach our usual number of four. We hope the extra time to savor this choropleth will brighten your new year’s holiday. Good luck!

Wednesday’s hint: We often like to think of the American “Deep South” as being a culturally homogenous region. On this map, however, Louisiana presents quite a contrast with the nearby states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. The first thing to consider when trying to solve this map is what makes Louisiana different from other states in the South.

Friday’s hint: One of the states that appears fairly dark on this map is Wisconsin. There is a fairly dark patch right at the base of the Door Peninsula, stretching over Brown, Kewaunee, and Manitowoc Counties. The most populous city in this part of Wisconsin is Green Bay. These counties are not especially diverse places, at least not according to the racial categories established by the U.S. Census; the racial makeup of Kewaunee County, for example, is 98.56% white. Nor would you be likely to hear languages other than English spoken in this area. In Manitowoc County, for example, 95.2% of residents speak English as their first language. But if you dig a little deeper into the demographics of this area, one thing you will discover is that a lot of European immigrants settled in this part of Wisconsin a long time ago. In particular, there are a lot of descendants of German immigrants in this area, as well as lots of Belgians, Poles, and Czechs. (Considering this heritage, is it any wonder that Wisconsin is known for making beer?) These demographics might be worth keeping in mind as you continue to ponder this map.

Sunday’s hint: Both of our last two hints have mentioned (or, at least, alluded to) historical immigrant groups: the French and Cajuns in Louisiana and the Germans, Belgians, Poles, and Czechs in Wisconsin. Today’s hint continues the same trend. Another place on this map where you can see a lot of green is the area around Boston, a city once known for having large Irish and Italian immigrant communities. And you can also see a lot of green in parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas that have significant Latino communities. So the question that should help guide you toward the solution to this map is: what do most French, Belgian, Polish, Czech, Irish, Italian, and Latino people—as well as some German people—have in common?

Tuesday’s hint: Often, we encourage our mapreaders to explore places that appear as outliers on our maps. Sometimes, this strategy is very successful—and other times, it can lead you astray. So far this week, we have received both correct and incorrect answers from people who have tried to focus on single counties. With this week’s map, whether or not this strategy is successful seems to depend on which county you pick! So for today’s hint, we’re going to share a tip from David D., who will earn five points for this week. David zoomed in on Elk County, Pennsylvania, which is by far the darkest county in Pennsylvania. He then learned that the county seat of Elk County is the town of St. Marys, so he decided to read about the history of St. Marys. If you do the same, you’ll probably get the right solution as well!

Answer: Click here to see an explanation of the answer to this week’s map question.

Next map: Click here to try out our newest map question.