Mondays with Minard: Cotton and Wool Comparisons

During the Civil War, the Confederacy attempted to use “Cotton Diplomacy” to force Europe’s major industrial nations to enter the war.  The strategy was simple–British and French textile mills depended on Southern cotton, and if that cotton was cut off because of the war, it would force the European powers to intervene in the conflict to save their domestic industries.  The strategy failed, of course, in spite of the near elimination of Southern cotton from the international market during the war.  Today’s map gives a hint as to why.

The map above is a curious comparative map of the quantities of cotton and wool imported to Europe in 1858 and 1861.  Blue represents cotton and wool from the United States, the orange from British territories in South Asia, and brown from the Levant (the East Mediterranean).  Pink represents cotton and wool imported to Britain that was subsequently re-exported to Europe.  There is also a small sliver of imports from Brazil, also in a light blue, though the original color may have faded.  One millimeter represents 5,000 tons of cotton or wool.  Click here or on the picture above to see the map enlarged.

In 1861, the Union had not yet implemented its wartime blockade of the South, and cotton and wool could still be exported.  Nevertheless, the British were facing continuous demand and worried about the stability of their suppliers.  As such, they ramped up production of cotton in India and elsewhere in South Asia, clearly visible on the map. 

When the South eventually was fully blockaded, it was this South Asian source of cotton, as well as additional new production, that kept Continental textile mills in operation and prevented Cotton Diplomacy from succeeding.  In fact, in 1861, re-exports of cotton and wool from Britain to the Continent actually increased. 

Minard also includes a line chart of cotton and wool production and imports over 30 years.  This chart is interesting in its own right, as it shows how the Industrial Revolution and the Cotton Gin dramatically increased the demand for and production of cotton.  Click here or on the picture below to see the graph in a larger size.

Although this map does not show as stark of a comparison as other Minard maps, it still serves to show a clever framwork for cartographic comparison.

This is a post in our continuing “Mondays with Minard series, exhibiting Charles Joseph Minard’s excellent cartographic handiwork.  This map was photographed specifically for use here at Cartographia from the collections of the Library of Congress.  Feel free to reproduce the map in any way you wish, but please cite us as the source. 

Supporting the Folks at Home

Many immigrants, especially those with family in their old homelands, make it a habit to send money to their loved ones to help pay the bills.  This trend isn’t true just for the US–immigrants to most of the world’s richer nations tend to send money home when they can.  As The Economist points out, this money can have a major impact on foreign GDPs.

The map above shows the biggest recipients of these international remittances in 2007.  India is at the top, with $27 billion in foreign currency sent home.  China and Mexico aren’t far behind.  Rich Western European countries also receive a large value of money from overseas, perhaps because their expatriates are more likely to be highly educated than those from poorer countries.  Click here or on the picture above to see the article from The Economist, and a larger map.

Romania is a standout in the top ten, beating every Latin American country except for Mexico.  Bangladesh isn’t among the top ten recipients of international remittances, but the Phillipines is.  And no countries in Africa or the Middle East are on the list either.  Turkey, with its large diaspora in Central Europe, is another notable exception.

The map also includes a chart, on the right, showing that these remittances impact some countries’ GDPs quite significantly.  Tajikistan and Moldova–small countries with weak currencies–collect over 35% of their GDPs from foreign currency mailed home by the diaspora.

[via The Morning News]

WalkScore Heat Maps

Anyone who lives in a city can tell the walkable neighborhoods–with a vibrant street scene, welcoming shops and restaurants, and high accessibility–from the remote, cold office and industrial complexes that are the bane of urban living.  Since July 2007, WalkScorehas been quantifying and mapping the “walkability” of neighborhoods throughout the country.

The map above is a “heat map” walkability chart of Seattle, one of WalkScore’s most recent additions.  The site’s algorithm plots the locations of businesses, restaurants, shops, and other popular destinations block by bloc across a city.  Red areas are car dependant, meaning that there are a small number of accessible destinations spread out across a large area.  Green areas are just the opposite–lots of destinations in a smaller area.

The map of Seattle shows how the neighborhoods vary in their walkability, with downtown and the north-central part of the city registering high walk scores, and the coastal and southwest parts of the city registering low walk scores.  Click here or on the picture above to see the full, zoomable map.

For folks without cars, try to live in the green neighborhoods–it means you can accomplish most of your errands on foot!

[via Greater Greater Washington]

C-SPANistan and Other DC Neighborhoods

The Washington City Paper came up with this excellent fantasy map of Washington, DC for the cover of their most recent edition.  Georgetown becomes the Banana Republic Republic; Capitol Hill becomes C-SPANistan; Rock Creek Park is the Gary Conduit; and the Mall is Fannypackistan.  Click here or on the picture above to go to a full image of the map, on the City Paper’s site.

The paper’s website actually allows visitors to click on each neighborhood to see interesting places to see, shop, and eat.  It also ranks the neighborhoods in terms of power, with those in Southwest and Southeast DC coming in at the bottom of the rankings.

Mondays with Minard: Wine and Liquor in a Land of Luxuries

France has always been a cultural trendsetter, from the architecture of Versailles to the fashions of modern Paris.  French wine and other spirits hold an important place in the French cultural pantheon, and Charles Joseph Minard sought to map how they were manufactured and shipped across the country.  Today’s map, the next in our ongoing “Mondays with Minard” series, shows the major land and water thoroughfares for wine and spirits across France in the mid 1800s.

Minard plots land transport via railroads in pink, and river transport via boat in green.  Yellow lines represent overseas exports.  Minard drew each line to represent 100,000 tons for each 33 millimeters of thickness.  Click here or on the picture above to see an enlarged version of the map.

The map shows how clearly Paris was the nexus of the French transportation system.  Most of the French-made wine and spirits were destined for consumption there, but even the little that was exported usually had to pass through the city before reaching its final destination. 

French rivers, particularly the Garonne, carried in large amounts of wine and spirits until they reached major cities like Bordeaux where they could be loaded on railroad cars for easier transport.  The same phenomenon is visible with Rouen on the Seine.

The map also shows how, even in an industrialized country like France, wine and spirits sometimes had to travel hundreds of miles down relatively small rivers until they could reach the first major node in the rail network.

This is a post in our continuing “Mondays with Minardseries, exhibiting Charles Joseph Minard’s excellent cartographic handiwork.  This map was photographed specifically for use here at Cartographia from the collections of the Library of Congress.  Feel free to reproduce the map in any way you wish, but please cite us as the source. 

Where the Greenies Live

“Green” economics is a major trend these days.  There are environmentally friendly cars, houses, light bulbs, and laundry detergent–all components of a larger green lifestyles.  But as with all trends, living green is more popular in certain places than in others.  Today’s map is drawn from a study that attempts to chart areas with large numbers of people who live environmentally conscious lifestyles.

The map above is taken from “Green Market Geography: The Spatial Clustering of Hybrid Vehicle and LEED Registered Buildings” by Matthew E. Khan and Ryan K. Vaughn, both economists at UCLA.  This map–a distribution of Prius registrations in Los Angeles County, California–is just one of several maps they include in their paper to show the distribution of the green lifestyle across the state.  Here, the darker the green, the more Prius registrations there are in that zip code.  Click here or on the picture above to see a larger version of the map.

The map indicates that the residents who live along the southern California coast–undoubtedly the wealthier, more highly educated demographics–are more likely to own a Prius than those living further inland.  Despite this coastal trend, however, Khan and Vaughn speculate that there is an additional clustering effect–that green-minded individuals are drawn together into communities by other factors:

Small initial differences in exogenous spatial attributes such as proximity to the ocean can have a social multiplier effect. As environmentalists move to a nice community, green businesses such as organic restaurants would be more likely to locate near this community (Waldfogel 2007). This creates a virtuous cycle attracting even more environmentalists to move to the community. As environmentalists cluster in such communities, they vote for public goods/taxes bundles that further re-enforce this process (i.e bike lanes and recycling bins).

Khan and Vaughn developed an environmentalism scale for the state, based on the number of registered members of the California Green Party, and votes on two binding, statewide ballot initiatives focusing on environmental causes.  This analysis was the foundation of the map below:

In this map, as in the map above, the greener the zip code the more environmental friendly it is on the Khan and Vaughn scale.  Click here or on the picture above to see an enlarged version of the map.  Interestingly, whereas Prius distributions are aligned most closely with wealthier areas by the coast, the environmental ratings statewide do not hew closely to this model.  On the contrary, it seems that a green consumer lifestyle does not necessarily collolate with favorable opinions of environmentalism, including registration with the Green Party.  It turns out you can make environmental choices without owning a Prius.

The information for this post came via this excellent article in the Economist. 

Tsunamis on the Pacific

Toss a stone into a pond, and ripples move in all directions away from the point of impact.  As they collide with the shore and with one another, they bounce back and interfere, creating turbulence across the water.  These ripples work on the small level of the pond, but also on the larger scale of entire oceans.  The maps of tsunamis created by underwater or coastal earthquakes look surprisingly similar to ripples moving across a pond.

The map above was created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.  It shows how a tsunami created by an earthquake on the southern Alaskan coast would travel across the Pacific Ocean and beyond.  On this map, each band of color represents an hour of travel time.  A tsunami starting in Alaska could travel the 6,500 miles to Australia in only 15 hours.  Click here or on the picture above to see the large version of the map.

As with the ripples in the pond, any interference with the tsunami wave will cause it to bounce back and interfere with itself.  See, for instance, the Bering Sea in this map.  Although relatively close to the epicenter of the earthquake, the Aleutian Islands and the enclosed nature of the sea itself force resistance upon the waves, slowing it down.  On the contrary, however, the Pacific island nations present few obstacles to the tsunami wave due to their small land size and the large distances of open water between them. 

The presence of the Great Barrier Reef off northeastern Australia adds more than two hours to the tsunami’s travel time in some places.  And the wave slows down considerably across Indonesia’s Arafura and Java Seas.  This map therefor demonstrates the importance of barrier islands in ensuring a safe coastline–not just from tsunamis, but also from high waves caused by hurricanes or other powerful storms.


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Cartographia is a blog about how we use maps to represent the world around us, and how people interpret maps today and throughout history. Please feel free to send any questions, comments, or recommendations directly to me at cartographia.blog@gmail.com.

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