Sometimes, simple explanations can be the most revealing. Take this map, for example, which depicts thousands of years of human history by representing each country with a single word. Turns out to be painfully accurate.

Cartographer Martin Elmer explains how he made the map:

This map was produced by running all the various countries' "History of _____" Wikipedia article through a word cloud, then writing out the most common word to fit into the country's boundary. The result is thousands of years of human history oversimplified into 100-some words.


The result? 16 percent of countries are represented by the word "war"; 25 percent took the name of a colonial power; and barely any of the results reflect anything other than rule or conquest. Sigh. You can view a high-res, zoomable version of the map here or some of Martin's further insights here. [Maphugger via Flowing Data]