Mathew Yglesias, the force behind the VOX website and frequent cartographic gadfly, recently posted “38 Maps That Explain” Europe. Take a look at this interesting post here. Pay attention to the fact several of the maps are animated to show change over a period of time so be patient and let them run their course. Down below are two innovative maps I particularly liked.
Double-digit unemployment has characterized much of Europe in the last several years, but what’s interesting about this map is that these data are displayed by smaller administrative regions and districts within each nation, thus showing uneven patterns of unemployment. For example look at Germany where one sees that the former East Germany has much, much higher unemployment that areas in former West Germany. And even in that area there’s significant issues between different parts of the country, namely the south (around Munich) contrasted to the Ruhr area in the northwest, which was the former heart of Germany’s industry. Similar intra-national patterns show up in Finland. Italy. Romania, France, and the UK. Also of interest is the mapping of Turkey, a country that at times would like to be considered part of Europe. No surprise, I suppose that the Istanbul district has more employment than rural Turkey. Also unsurprising is the Kurdish areas in Turkey’s southeast have high areas of unemployment.
The map below of the percentage of a country’s population able to hold a conversation is of interest to me because I first visited Europe in the 1960s when far fewer Europeans knew English. Or if they knew it they spoke it only reluctantly. Except for the French who in my opinion refused to speak English at all. Consequently, because of my linguistic inabilities my early days in Europe consisted of many awkward situations. But that was then, and now is, well, now, where often I find that even if I initiate a conversation in German or French the response is often in English……much to my chagrin as I think about all the blood, sweat, and tears that I spent in language classes. While not sure how data for this map was collected, large parts of the map resonate with my more recent experiences, namely the Scandinavians are essential bi-lingual in English and their own language, as are the Germans. Having spent a good deal of time in Austria I’m frankly a bit wary of that 73% figure, particularly if one’s up in the Alps in someplace that’s not an international ski center. As is the case throughout Europe, rural folk are less likely to know or speak English. Which is just fine with me. At the other end of the scale, well, the French are still the French, resisting English. A bit surprising is the low figure in Spain. No surprises, though for eastern Europe. What are your experiences? Care to share?