A map is much more than a place to give you directions to your next destination. Used well, a map offers a view of the world from above that can change the way you think about our geography and the people who inhabit it.
Some of the maps we’ve seen this year have been truly mind-altering, like the series of maps showing just how much of the state of Louisiana is sinking into the sea each year. Others have been more whimsical, showing the petty prejudices people around the world hold for each other.
So take a quick trip through all these maps that changed our perspective this year:
You’re going to need to learn the names of some new islands.
This is really happening: A swath of a U.S. state—and an entire culture—is about to be lost underwater.
Happiness uses your whole body, but anger is concentrated in your head.
Americans think the French have smelly armpits. Swedes think Germans make bad cars. Here are the narrow-minded and hilarious ways that people around the world envision the map of Europe.
London’s streets run every which way, while Chicago is all north-south right angles. Can you find your city?
These maps reveal the race and location of every single person in America. One dot for each person.
This massive interactive tool shows why cities rule, and suburbs are big emissions belchers.
Here’s how you could hack together a national transportation network. Hope you brought a good book.
Want to hop on a train in Austin or New Orleans? Take the orange line—and live inside Ivan Specht’s aspirational creations. Or at the very least you can buy a T-shirt.
Read more of our best stories of the year, in these categories: Most-read, photos, infographics, lists, videos, maps, buildings, robots, transportation, bikes, food, collaborative consumption, cities, energy, environment, health, education, crowdfunding, innovative workplaces, and privacy.