Map #63: October 30, 2017

Difficulty Level: 6

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

This map is a proportional symbol map of Africa. (Do you need a refresher on what a proportional symbol map is? Visit our “Basics” page for a quick primer.) We have tried to cover the entire continent of Africa, geographically speaking—so we decided to include the Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Spanish exclave of Melilla. The data used to make this map came from 2013. More recent data sets are available, but they appear to be available for purchase. Instead, we went with the most recent data we could find freely available online, which are from 2013. We have made a few additions of dots that needed to be on the map but were omitted from the data set; it’s likely that there are a few other missing dots. In general, data is less reliable from countries whose political systems are less stable. The scale for this map is exaggerated (as was the case for Map #52); that means that the largest red dot is much larger than the large orange dots, which are much larger than the yellow dots, etc. 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, November 6. Good luck!

Tuesday’s hint: One thing you may have noticed immediately about this map is how many dots there are on islands. There are four dots in Cape Verde, five big dots in the Canary Islands, and relatively big dots in Mauritius and Réunion. In fact, we have the same size dot in Khartoum (population 5.2 million) as in Saint-Denis, Réunion (population 145,000). You might want to begin by considering the advantages and disadvantages of living on an island.

Wednesday’s hint: You can learn a lot about this map by looking at Egypt. There’s a very big dot on Cairo, the most populous city in all of Africa. But there are also big dots in some much smaller cities, including Hurghada (on the Red Sea) and Sharm el-Sheikh (near the tip of the Sinai Peninsula). What is special about Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh? Would you want to go to either of these places?

Thursday’s hint: In the solution to Map #35, a choropleth of the autonomous communities of Spain, we mentioned that the Canary Islands are so popular with European tourists that the local government considered a plan to limit the total number of people who could visit each year. The economy of the Canary Islands is totally dominated by the tourist industry—and for good reason! They’re part of the European Union, far enough south to have great weather year round, and blessed with some pristine sandy beaches. Any time you see the Canary Islands stand out on a map, as they do on this proportional symbol map, you should think about their popularity as a tourist destination. What phenomenon related to tourism would it make sense to map as a proportional symbol map, in this case with five distinct dots in the Canary Islands?

Friday’s hint: If we were to extend this map beyond Africa, there would be lots more dots on other continents. The biggest dot of all would be centered near Atlanta, Georgia.

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.