Map #91: May 21, 2018

Difficulty Level: 5

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

This map is an isoline map of Syria and Iraq. (Do you need a refresher on what an isoline map is? Visit our “Basics” page for a quick primer.) For obvious reasons, it can be difficult to get reliable, current statistics from Syria and Iraq, but this map should be mostly accurate nonetheless. As always, your job is to figure out what this isoline map represents.

Stumped? Check back Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for hints about where to focus your investigation. Because we are taking off the week of Memorial Day, the answer will be posted on Monday, June 4, 2018. Good luck!

Tuesday’s hint: First off, it’s important to bear in mind that your proposed solution to this map has to be something that could plausibly be mapped as an isoline map. Too many people have submitted solutions that would be far more useful if mapped as choropleths or cartograms! Second, you may find it helpful to draw some cities onto this map so that it is easier to orient yourself. Briefly, here are some of the cities in each color. Red: Basra. Orange: Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala. Yellow: Kirkuk, Erbil. Green: Mosul, Latakia, Raqqa, Hama. Light blue: Sulaymaniyah, Aleppo, Damascus, Homs. And in the dark blue and purple areas, you won’t find any big cities.

Wednesday’s hint: The fact that the pattern of the isolines cuts so smoothly across a political boundary (even one as porous and as contested as the Syrian–Iraqi border) is a good indication that this map refers to physical geography.

Thursday’s hint: Take a look at the parts of the map that appear dramatically more toward the purple/blue end of the spectrum than the surrounding area. These areas include the vicinity of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish region of Iraq (light blue) and an area of Syria just east of northern Lebanon that includes such towns as Maaloula and al-Nabk (dark blue and purple). What these areas have in common is that they are quite mountainous.

Friday’s hint: This map has to do with climate.

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.