Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Literal Map of the World

Planet Dirt is an interactive map of the world in which the names of countries have been translated to provide their literal meanings. If you've ever wondered what the name of a country actually means then you can use this map to find out.

Many countries around the world have wonderful literal meanings. For example Mali means 'Hippopotamus', Antigua and Barbuda means 'Ancient and Bearded' and Bhutan means 'Land of the Thunder Dragon'. My favorite has to be the wonderfully surreal meaning of Palau, which is 'Indirect Replies'.

The data for the map comes from this Wikipedia List of Country-Name Etymologies. So if you have any problems with the translated names on the map then I suggest you take it up with Wikipedia and not me! Although I do have to admit that the translation of Earth to 'Planet Dirt' is all mine. The map was created using Mapbox Studio. If you wish to create a similar map yourself then the Customize label text for a single label in the Mapbox Studio documentation is a good place to start.


Natural Features
Many countries around the world take their name from geographical or topographical features. These include Bahrain (Two Seas), Montserrat (Serrated Mountain), Chad (Lake), Croatia (Mountain People), Netherlands (Lowlands), Iceland (Land of Ice), Haiti (Mountainous Land) and Montenegro (Black Mountain).

We all like to believe that we are God's chosen people. For many countries this goes as far as believing you live in God's chosen country. Among the countries which have some kind of religious related name are Madagascar (Holy Land), Morocco (Land of God), Sri Lanka (Holy Island) Azerbaijan (Protected by Holy Fire), Djibouti (Land of the Moon God) and Uganda (Brothers & Sisters of God).

Around the world many countries are named after the people who live there (or who once lived there). In Europe we have England (Land of the Angles), France (Land of the Franks), Belgium (Land of the Belgae) and Switzerland (Land of the Swiss). In Africa we have Mauritania (Land of the Moors), Libya (Land of the Libu) and Senegal (Land of the Zenega). Elsewhere we have India (Land of Indus) and Russia (Land of the Rus).

Animals are also a common source for country names. Of these we have Spain (Island of Rabbits), Nepal (Those Who Domesticate Cattle), Somalia (Cattle Herders), Cameroon (Shrimp), Guadeloupe (Valley of the Wolf), Sierra Leone (Lion Mountain) and Mali (hippopotamus)


sabre23t said...

The Planet DIrt map shows Malaysia as "Mountain City". How did you get that? The Wikipedia article does show Malaysia as "Land of the Malays" instead.

Keir Clarke said...

@sabre23t I'm not sure how that error happened. I've corrected the map (it might not appear immediately - you might need to wait for the old label to clear from cache).