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Here’s the Laconic History of the World in 1 Map and 176 words

Ever wanted to quickly take a glimpse of what all countries in the world are mostly known for? War, Military, French are some of the most common words that you will find.

The map above, created by Martin Elmer, depicts thousands of years of human history by representing each country with a single word. He explains below how he made the map.

This map was produced by running through all the various countries’ “History of [name of country]” Wikipedia article through a word cloud, then writing out the most common word to fit into the country’s boundary. The result is thousands of years of human history oversimplified into 100-some words.

It’s called ‘Laconic’ because it is made up of words. It is an exploration of collective memory, geopolitics, nationalism, Wikiality and historiography.


Here are some interesting facts from the map:

  • 16% of countries had ‘war’ as their most common word, including nearly all of western Europe.
  • 1/4th of all countries had their most common word be a colonial power. Of these, Britian had the most, with 16 countries.
  • Nobility goes by different names in different places. 20 countries had either ‘sultan’, kingdom’, ‘dynasty’, or ’empire’.
  • Some countries’ most common word was the name of a nearby country. Don’t be fooled: ‘Hungary’ is actually Slovakia, ‘India’ is Pakistan, ‘Ethiopia’ is Eritrea, and ‘Indonesia’ is East Timor.
  • Very few countries are labeled after the name of their pre-colonial, indigenous population, but their are some exceptions.

The full, 12,500 pixel version of the map can be accessed here.



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