Maps and Chinese
05 Oct 2005
I like maps. When I was younger, I especially liked looking at maps of imagined fantasy worlds. I drew quite a few myself (although I was never quite nerdy enough to actually use them to play D&D or anything like that).
In high school, fantasy writer Piers Anthony‘s map of Xanth caught my attention because the geography was clearly (mostly) Florida’s, and yet so much was not the same. I think it’s a similar charm which results in my fascination with Chinese maps of the world.
As long as I’ve studied Chinese, I often still experience a kind of initial “orthographic shock.” There’s just something about picking up a newspaper completely covered in Chinese that my brain still rebels against every now and then. Even if I can read every word in the newspaper, my brain will still pull a “Whoa, that is so not English!” thing from time to time. It probably happens more often with books. And it happens with maps. But somehow with maps the “shock” seems to translate into that fascination with unfamiliar maps, resulting in attraction rather than aversion.
So I was happy to discover an index of Chinese maps of the world on Tumen.com.cn. A lot of the maps seem a bit old, but they’ve got a lot of them, and they’re quite large. They’ve got a huge map of China (11935*8554 image size, 21.5MB), and lots of individual maps for different provinces and cities (which may or may not be outdated).
To me, the really interesting part is the maps of the world. The site has two world maps: small (2194 X 1374 image size, 537k) and large (5182 X 3887 image size, 11.7MB). In addition, it has maps of other places around the world:
– Asia: Japan
(Tokyo), North and South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Pakistan
– The Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey
– Europe: the UK (London), France (Paris), Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Greece, Russia (Moscow)
– Africa: Egypt, North Africa
– North America: USA (Washington, DC, New York City), Canada, Mexico, Cuba
– South America: Brazil, Argentina
– Oceania: Australia, New Zealand
I find it interesting and amusing that Tampa is listed on both the world map (pictured below) and the North America map, but Orlando isn’t. (Take that, John B!)
Finally, as long as I’m on the subject of maps, I should plug Wang Jiangshuo’s Shanghai Map 2.0. It’s much better than his first one (it now has click and drag functionality!), which I wrote about a while back.