Hey, look! It's another, "Which census districts are empty?" map, this time for France. Interestingly, this map is a population density map in one-kilometer grids, lacking the harsh borders of census tracts as in the maps we've looked at recently.
Admire the pointy, pointy mountains of the Alps restricting settlement, investigate the combination of border-setbacks and border-clustering, and go chasing the historical practices that concentrate farmers in northern villages, or scatter them in southern farmsteads. Just please keep in mind that "census data records no one living there" is not the same thing as empty, wild, uninhabited, undisturbed, or whatever other headlines you're tempted to share the map under. Instead, appreciate all the reasons that a census data could record no one living at a particular location (or have no reported data), when telling the stories of the speckled green.
The simplicity of these maps is driving their popularity, but also makes it easy to forget the limitations of their data. Despite the green colour-scheme invoking the great outdoors, a lack of people registering that they reside at a particular location does not mean that 37% of France is empty, or 47% of the United States is protected parkland, or that the majority of Canada is wilderness. That green encompasses parks and wilderness, sure, but it's also farmlands, highways, commercial developments, research centers, military bases, rivers, lakes, and industrial districts. All green means is that no one labels that square home in the census. The popularity of these maps is a powerful way to start a conversation about land use, but only if you pay attention to what the data behind them represents. So use them, just be careful to not accidentally lie to yourself.
We've seen the United States, Canada, and now France. Anyone else have a white/green census-something/census-zero map they'd like to share? It looks like we're slowly building a world gallery of these things!