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Satirical Maps

  • Maps are an interesting and useful tool to picture the world or a part of it. They show the characteristics of an area: borders for instance, cities and villages, or geological facts. Some maps even show other information, like population density or trade from one country to another. Maps can be very subjective though, as authors draw their maps according to how they see, or to how they think people should see, the world. To illustrate this, European world maps have Europe in the middle of the map, whereas in the US and in Australia these countries are shown in the middle. No one wants to live on the corner of a map apparently! 

  • Another example of subjective maps is the satirical map. This type of map shows the stereotypes that exist about countries or regions and makes fun of them. Satirical maps picture countries as animals or people for instance, or give them a new name.  They illustrate the ideas people have about other places in a certain period. Satirical maps from today are different from satirical maps made in, say, 1900. This explains why historical satirical maps are very interesting historical sources: they show what people in a certain place and in a certain time thought about neighboring countries or regions within a country. 

  • When looking at the satirical maps that are shown here, you can see for instance that Russia is sometimes pictured as a big threat, in showing it as an octopus with long tentacles that want to capture other countries, or as a truck that’s ready to override its neighbors. Britain on the other hand, is pictured as a person looking away from Europe on two different maps. What else can you conclude from the satirical maps on this page?