Who said history was boring? These magnificent maps tell you a lot you probably didn’t know about history in one easy-to-digest glance. There's a map that gives you bone-chilling insight into WWII war crimes, one that shows how closely related to Cleopatra you could be, and even a skin-crawling view of tropical diseases throughout history. Some are weird, some are wacky, but all of them will make you look at the world in a whole new light.
Year and method of last execution by country in Europe
Can you believe the guillotine was still being used in France as recently as 1977? Another thing that jumps out on this map is the "2017" that pinpoints Belarus as the location of Europe's most recent execution. What's more startling is that this map isn’t fully up to date: the last execution to take place in Belarus actually occurred on July 16, 2022.
Belarus is the only country in Europe where the death penalty can still be carried out. Russia placed a moratorium on capital punishment in 1999, and it was otherwise the only other holdout on the continent. It should be noted also that the dates on this map refer to executions for non-military crimes only.
Pangea, 200 million years ago
What was Pangea? Nearly 300 million years ago, we didn’t have all the separate continents we do today; pretty much all of Earth's landmasses were joined together in one giant supercontinent called Pangea. For a continent to be called a supercontinent, it must contain at least three-quarters of the land on Earth.
During this period, when dinosaurs were roaming the Earth, there was one global ocean surrounding Pangea, which was called Panthalassa. Pangea eventually started drifting apart some 175 million years ago, and it will be another unknown millions of years before we have another supercontinent on Earth again. We are, after all, only in the era between supercontinental cycles.
America’s colorful folklore history
In 1946 artist William Gropper produced William Gropper’s America: Its Folklore for the State Department. His depiction of legendary tales and the states in which they originated was so popular that more than 1,700 copies were distributed far and wide. The map was both propaganda and an educational tool.
But not everybody enjoyed these interpretations of John Henry, Br'er Rabbit, and Johnny Appleseed. Attorney Roy Cohn labeled Gropper as a possible communist sympathizer during Cohn and Senator Joseph McCarthy's famous anti-communist campaign. Gropper was blacklisted, and the State Department got rid of all its copies. Genuine folios today are almost impossible to find.
The destructive range of a hydrogen bomb
On March 1, 1954, the United States tested a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb over Bikini Atoll. The bomb was so powerful it made the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during WWII look pint-sized. And this led a reporter to ask, "How big is the area of destruction in its various stages?"
The New York Times published this map on April 1, 1954, and it attempted to show the destructive range of an H-bomb dropped on New York. Lewis Strauss of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission said, "It can be made as large as you wish, as large as the military requirement demands, that is to say, an H-bomb can be made as large enough to take out a city."