Map #52: August 14, 2017

Difficulty Level: 5

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

This map is a proportional symbol map of the world. (Do you need a refresher on what a proportional symbol map is? Visit our “Basics” page for a quick primer.) Dots on this map are weighted in accordance with an exaggerated scale, which means that the red dot is considerably bigger than the orange dot, and so on. For the sake of clarity, we have tried to combine nearby dots into single, larger symbols; there is, however, a certain amount of judgment that must go into doing so. There should almost certainly be more purple dots in Russia, but it’s difficult to get them in the correct place and to know which dots should be combined together because Russia’s territory is so vast. Outside of Russia, the dots should be reasonably accurate. There are two dots (one red, one cyan) that are directly on top of one another but which have not been combined. And there is one purple dot that perhaps should not be on the map at all. We’ll talk about both of these things during the week’s hints. As always, your job is to figure out what this proportional symbol map represents.

Stumped? Check back Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for hints about where to focus your investigation. The answer will be posted on Monday, August 21. Good luck!

Tuesday’s hint: One of the first things you’ll notice about this map is that very few of the dots are in places with high population densities. There are dots in the middle of deserts, in inhospitable parts of Siberia, and even in the middle of oceans. What sorts of things might someone need to do in an area with no people?

Wednesday’s hint: At first glance, it may look like there are dots in a lot of different countries on this map. But if you look closer, you’ll see that most of the dots are associated in some way with one of only a few countries. For instance, see those dots in the Pacific Ocean? Some of them are in territories of the U.S. and some are in territories of France. Kazakhstan and Russia, of course, used to be part of the same country, the Soviet Union. Prior to 1962, Algeria was administered as part of France. And Australia, a former British colony, continues to have close ties to the U.K. So actually, when you look at this map, you should interpret the dots as being in relatively few countries!

Thursday’s hint: Among the dots in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are one on Bikini Atoll and one on Enewatak, both of which are in the Marshall Islands. The Marshall Islands used to be an American territory before the country achieved full independence in 1991. Bikini in particular is an interesting place. It currently has a population of five people. It has some of the best snorkeling in the world, with plenty of shipwrecks to view underwater. You just probably shouldn’t eat anything while you’re there.

Friday’s hint: The two dots in Japan are the only two dots on this entire map that can be found in major centers of population. Those dots are in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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.