“Daily Educational Maps”: 40 Interesting And Informative Maps That Might Change The Way You Look At The World Forever Interview
Do you remember the days of using physical maps on road trips? Dad's in the driver's seat yelling as mom's in the passenger seat frantically searching the map for the exit we need to take and- oh! We missed it already! Having apps like Google maps in the palm of our hands has made our lives so much easier (and road trips so much more pleasant). Within seconds, we can check how many miles there are between Texas and Lithuania and Taiwan. Although, I wouldn't recommend making that journey a road trip.
Thanks to one popular Instagram account, maps on our phones can now teach us much more than just distance and directions. Map Central is an Instagram page with over 130k followers that “provides a full perspective of our world” through sharing daily educational maps. These graphics are no simple maps; they share facts about countries’ demographics, information about climate change, examine population shifts and trends, compare countries by size and population and much more. We’ve gathered some of our favorite maps from the page for you to enjoy below, as well as an interview with the creator of Map Central.
Then if you’re looking to learn even more after finishing this list, we’ve got the perfect Bored Panda piece for you to check out next right here.
We reached out to the creator of Map Central on Instagram, and they gave us a bit of background on the page. "I created my account in 2017 because I wanted to make a collection of maps I saw across the Internet and enjoyed. Eventually other people saw my page and enjoyed the content, and I grew an audience." We also asked them about some of their favorite parts of the page. "My favorite post type are carousels I do on geopolitical stories, like how the Gambia became a country and how World War II hasn't technically ended. It's incredible to learn and teach others about unknown stories in history regarding geopolitics. I want to create more long-form content in which I explain the context behind a map or story."
Next, they explained why maps are so great for making information accessible. "Maps are a visual representation of data that can be difficult to understand. With a map, anyone can understand important data about the world. Maps are both great to look at and easy to understand, and that's why they are so popular." Lastly, they added, "If you are looking to map makes of your own, Canva and MapChart are great resources to start." While I personally will leave the map-making to the professionals, I'm very thankful that they run this account and that I'm now able to learn so much about the world from easily digestible graphics.
Learning facts and statistics can be pretty dry, but having visual aids in the form of bright maps is a great way to help retain information. Studies show that visual explanations yield greater benefits than relying solely on verbal explanations. Words are processed by our short term memory, which can only retain about seven bits of information, but images are directly processed by our long-term memory, according to eLearning Industry. In fact, about 65% of the population classifies themselves as “visual learners”. While all learning styles are beneficial to varying degrees, the general consensus is that images trump books, audio lessons and more.
Along with being easier to recall, visual information is also simpler to process. Images are processed in our brains 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. According to MIT News, our brains can even identify images after seeing them for as little as 13 milliseconds. It’s no wonder we love seeing these brightly colored, fascinating maps. Our brains are immediately stimulated and able to comprehend data much faster than if we read it in a book.
Not just any visual will do the trick, however. While captivating images such as the maps from Map Central are likely to catch our eyes, “boring” graphics will lead to a lack of motivation in learning the information presented. eLearning Industry’s website is careful to note that “the quality and relevance of visuals matters a lot”. Graphics to aid learning should simplify complex topics, be easy to digest visually and help readers “connect familiar materials with the unfamiliar”. The goal is to learn something new, so if an image is not serving that purpose, the material might as well be presented through another medium.
One of the best parts of the Map Central page is how it allows people to better understand their place in this massive world. As humans, we tend to have a hard time conceptualizing what we cannot see. I mean, seeing is believing. So Map Central is a great way to bridge the gap between knowing you’re from a massive country or state to actually seeing on a map how many other countries could fit inside of yours. We can get so caught up in our own little worlds that we forget how vast the planet actually is. Did you know that the Mediterranean Sea could fit perfectly inside of Australia? I didn’t either, but knowing this now makes me feel like I have a better understanding of geography!
Aside from the geography facts we can harness from Map Central, we can learn plenty of information through the demographics of other nations, or our own, as well. Gaining a better understanding of other cultures helps us feel connected to the world, minimize the spread of stereotypes, have more sympathy for global issues and enhance communication between nations. Do you ever go on business trips to other parts of the world? It’s great to have some knowledge about the culture you’re stepping into. Understanding a country's history provides some insight into why the people are the way they are. How common is alcohol consumption there? Has the nation ever had a female leader? These tiny tidbits of information are fun to learn and can be very beneficial when traveling.
Curiosity also has a bit of an inertia effect. Once we start learning, we want to continue finding out more and more. Following Map Central and finding out a tiny bit about the Earth every day can inspire followers to do more research. Maybe you’ll catch a travel bug from following the page. If this page inspires you to embark on a journey in your own life, you’re likely to experience some life-changing adventures. Cabinzero shared an article titled “15 Benefits Of Traveling And Why Travel Is Good For You”, and reading the title alone makes me want to pack my suitcase.
One reason Cabinzero notes for promoting travel is the improvement it can have on our communication and language skills. Learning Japanese is definitely more challenging when living in Missouri than it would be in Tokyo when the pressure to communicate is on and you’re surrounded by the language constantly. Learning other languages is a great exercise for our brains as well, and it gives us a new perspective to better understand our own language and culture.
Another great benefit of traveling is the boost in creativity and confidence we can experience. As comfortable as it is to stay at home, we need to be exposed to new stimuli to expand our creativity. Traveling also inevitably places us in situations we have never experienced before, sometimes requiring spontaneous decision making. Dealing with last minute train cancellations and figuring out how to communicate with locals who speak another language are just a couple examples of the infinite challenges one can expect when visiting a new place. But once these tasks have been completed successfully, travelers feel so much more confident in their abilities. Being in another country presents difficulties we don’t encounter at home, but it simultaneously allows for growth we could never experience in the comfort of our own cities.
Another benefit many experience after traveling abroad is an increase in tolerance and understanding of other cultures. Cabinzero’s CEO, Neil Varden, gave the example of his travels to India that opened up his mind and made him realize how fortunate he is. He noted one situation where he was hungry during a bus ride and a woman offered him some cookies, although she might not have had enough food for herself and her children that day. There is a notion in India that “Guest is God”, Varden explained, which led to many people showing him great generosity and hospitality.
Next time you plan a trip, maybe you’ll choose your destination based on the information you learn on Map Central. If you’re looking for a mountainous country to visit, the best place to check out would be Bhutan, with 98.8% of the nation including mountains. Although if your destination doesn’t need to be the most mountainous nation, Tajikistan, Montenegro, Armenia, Switzerland and Nepal aren’t too far behind with plenty of gorgeous mountains to see. Maybe you’re a vegetarian looking for an easy time enjoying local cuisine. Have no fear visiting India then, Map Central reports that India has the most vegetarians in the world, with 38% of their total population avoiding meat. India may not have been at the top of my bucket list before, but now I’m dying to sample all of the veggie options the nation has to offer!
In the sea of selfies and celebrities saturating Instagram, it’s nice to have a little break from the mundane to learn a thing or two while scrolling through our feeds. Map Central is an excellent place to start if you’re interested in geography, demographics or our world in general. Enjoy the rest of this fascinating list, then hop over to Instagram and give the page a follow if you’d like to see more. Don’t forget to upvote and comment on the posts you find most interesting, and let us know if you learned something today!