Cartograms: Fun with maps

As BBC News reports, Geographers at the University of Sheffield in England have been having some fun with maps. Their worldmapper site presents distinctive cartograms, which are maps with a twist. Take the following example: a cartogram of Britain’s population.

The map stretches places in Britain according to the size of their population, so that London bulges out beyond its boundaries and takes up a huge chunk of England; Glasgow does the same in Scotland. Other places with low populations shrink to thin slithers.

For an Irish example, look below. On the left is a map of the island of Ireland, which shows the correct size of the 32 counties; and on the right is how the map would look if each county was the same size:

IrelandComparedThis technique can be extended by using all sorts of data. Take, for example, the number of GAA Senior All-Ireland Hurling Championships each county has won since 1884. Crunch the data into a cartogram and the following pops out:

Cartogram All-Ireland SHC Winners-CroppedThe southern bulge shows how dominant counties such as Kilkenny have been in the GAA’s history. For Senior Football champions, the twisted, stretched out map shown below is quite different:

Cartogram All-Ireland SFC WinnersOther Irish cartograms have been produced by researchers in the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) at NUI Maynooth, who have put together over 300 detailed maps with commentaries in their book, The Atlas of the Island of Ireland.

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