When Europeans arrived in Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island) in on Easter Sunday 1722, they were astonished to find the island already had a native community numbering in the thousands. Famous for the giant stone heads (moai) rimming its coastline, Easter Island not only was the most remote populated island in the world, it was likely one of the last places settled by humans (about 900 years ago). Although culturally part of Polynesia, today Easter Island is administered by Chile.
This map compares when slavery was formally abolished in the Western Hemisphere. (Because of colonization patterns, not everything lines up neatly with contemporary nation-state borders.) hillfighter.deviantart.com/art/Abolition-of-Slavery-Americas-215869460
The Atacama Desert, in northern Chile, is famous for being the world's driest. The soil is also saline and, because of the altitude, bombarded with high levels of UV radiation. But life is there, waiting for the rains. When a decade's worth of rain fell in a day, scientists found a variety of extremophile bacteria, archaea, and fungi began to bloom in the soil. Researchers study the Atacama as a proxy for Mars. www.sciencenews.org/article/rain-wakes-undead-microbes-chile-atacama-desert
These GIFs show the steady progression in median ages in the Western Hemisphere and Europe from 1960 to 2060. www.visualcapitalist.com/animation-rapidly-aging-western-world/
This map is based on data from Latinobarómetro, an opinion poll conducted in 18 Latin American countries annually. i.imgur.com/wDWqFq3.png
In a single year, the number of homicides in Brazil (red) exceeded the number of homicides in all of the blue countries put together. i.redd.it/ybv1ot6x0xdy.jpg
At first glance, people tend to think this is an image of rice terraces somewhere in Asia. In fact, these are the famous salt pans of Maras, southeast of Lima, Peru. In use since the region was ruled by the Inca, these terraces dam salty stream water, which evaporates and allows for the collection of the salt. For some tourists, the salt pans of Maras are more impressive than the nearby ruins of Machu Picchu. www.atlasobscura.com/places/salt-pans-of-maras
Lithium is a critical resource for any kind of technology reliant on lithium-ion batteries. Yet most of the world's lithium comes from just three countries: Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. This map from The Economist (UK) shows South America's "lithium triangle." (Other countries that won the geological lottery and have smaller lithium deposits: China, the U.S., Australia, and Canada.) cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/images/print-edition/20170617_AMM932.png
The U.S. has many Americans of Italian descent. It is less well known, at least in the United States, that South America has many more people of Italian descent. More than half (by some accounts nearly 2/3) of Argentina's population has at least one Italian ancestor, and São Paulo, Brazil, is believed to have the largest population of people of Italian ancestry outside of Italy. This map shows patterns of Italian ancestry across the Americas. img-9gag-fun.9cache.com/photo/a5bvx2r_700b.jpg
By mapping tree chemistry, scientists have discovered there to be 36 kinds of forest in what, from the air, would seem to be a single swath of Peruvian forest. Defining a forest by its underlying topography and microclimate and the kinds of plants and animals it supports, researchers have provided local people and conservationists with a more nuanced understanding of what cutting down -- or preserving -- one stand of trees vs. another might mean for the biological function of the area. The image below is an aerial photograph of a hectare of Peruvian Amazon, in natural color on the left and in the false color used to map trees' chemical signatures on the right. www.sciencenews.org/article/mapping-rainforest-chemistry-air-reveals-36-types-forest
This interactive video maps the cross-Atlantic slave trade from 1545 to 1860. Many Americans don't appreciate that only 3-4% of Africans sold into slavery were destined for the U.S.: the vast majority were sent to Brazil and the Caribbean, where the indigenous population had been wiped out. Each black dot crossing the water is a slaving ship; you can pause the video and click on any dot to learn about the ship's origin, destination, flag country, number of enslaved Africans aboard, and its history in the slave trade.
Today's map highlights the country of Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America. Oil companies announced earlier this month that they have discovered as much as 4 billion barrels of oil in the waters off Guyana, which is one of the poorest and least populous countries in South America. In time, Guyana could become South America's #2 oil producer, behind its large neighbor to the west, Venezuela, which possesses the world's biggest proven oil reserves (yes, bigger than Saudi Arabia's). placesbook.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Guyana-map.gif
My students know (I hope) that if we were to walk from the U.S. to South America, Colombia would be the first South American country we would reach. But few Americans have an appreciation for how big Colombia is. This map tries to provide some perspective by fitting a number of more familiar countries and U.S. states -- including Germany, Florida, Switzerland, Austria, and New Jersey -- into Colombia.
These stunning maps of river basins were created using geographic information system (GIS) software to track each river and its tributaries. www.iflscience.com/environment/these-colorful-maps-show-that-river-basins-are-surprisingly-interesting/
Over the weekend, voters in Colombia stunned their president and pollsters by narrowly rejecting a peace deal with the country's FARC rebels. Some have speculated that Hurricane Matthew was at least partly to blame: Matthew brushed Colombia's northern coast immediately before the voting, destroying homes, roads, and polling places. This map shows that the provinces sustaining the most damage from Matthew -- Magdalena, La Guajira, Bolivar, Atlantico, and Sucre -- all supported the peace deal. img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2016/10/03/Foreign/Graphics/2300-colombia1004-v2.jpg
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