The Stats Guy: Allow me to map a world of difference between 1660 and now

Photo: TND/David Rumsey Map Centre

Your friendly neighbourhood Stats Guy is on parental leave for the next eleven weeks.

So instead of a weekly data-driven column I am going to share some of my all-time favourite maps with you for a while.

Our first map is from a wonderful 1830 book called An Historical Atlas; In A Series Of Maps Of The World As Known At Different Periods.

The map shows, from a European perspective, what parts of the world were known and hides the unknown parts behind dark clouds.

The visual effect is stunning and allows us to feel some of the excitement that explorers of days gone by must have felt before venturing into the unknown.

Computer games today often use this “fog of war” visual effect to hide territory the player is yet to explore – fancy a round of Age of Empires?

The one map from the atlas I chose for you today shows the part of our planet that was known to Europeans in 1660.

The Americas were already on the map, but not fully explored. Only half of Australia made it on the map, and the poles hadn’t been explored yet either. A marvellous piece of cartography.


There was still a lot of the world to explore in 1660. Photo: David Rumsey Map Centre

You can view the full atlas for free online at the David Rumsey Map Centre.

A few gems to look forward to show the known world during creation (really interesting since only the presumed position of the garden of Eden in Ethiopia is shown), in the year 1 AD, and during the discovery of the Americas.

If you really enjoy today’s map you can download it for free in high quality and have it printed and framed – just in case you are looking for a mappy Christmas present.

Demographer Simon Kuestenmacher is a co-founder of The Demographics Group. His columns, media commentary and public speaking focus on current socio-demographic trends and how these impact Australia. His latest book aims to awaken the love of maps and data in young readers. Follow Simon on Twitter (X), FacebookLinkedIn for daily data insights in short format.

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