Reading about famous wars in textbooks has nothing on this interactive map of battles across space and time. And the blood-splattered depiction of civilization isn’t even the half of it.

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Wikipedia user Nodegoat created the map, shown above, by downloading 8,049 entries for battles that have taken place around the world over the apparently very sad and terrible history of our species. But the dots that ended up on his map represent just a fraction of the times different groups of humans have inflicted violence on one another. In fact, this map only contains the 2,657 battles that Nodegoat could geocode and date.

Still, some striking trends jump out. For one, the overwhelming majority of battles in North America took place centuries ago, when white Europeans were methodically kicking out the continent’s previous inhabitants and waging war on each other. Fighting across Europe has come and gone in waves, while most documented battles in Southeast Asia and Africa have occurred in modern times. (Although I’d wager that a lack of historic records is a major factor here.)

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You can really get lost in Nodegoat’s work and learn a ton of surprising things. For instance, did you know there were two military operations on the frigid wasteland of Svalbard during World War II? Or that the United States got caught up in a tribal war on the Polynesian island of Nuku Hiva in 1813? You probably did know that the best way to escape our tortured past is to hole up where nobody lives, in Siberia.

But don’t let me spoil all the surprises for you—get lost in humanity’s forever war for yourself.

[Maps Mania]


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