World Maps from Memory

A few months ago I was talking about Armenia with my girlfriend, and she asked where it was. When I said the Caucasus, she told me that she’d never heard of it. Out of curiosity, I got her to draw a map of the world from her head:

My girlfriend's world map

My girlfriend’s world map

I remember watching a TV program years ago where an interviewer walked the streets in the US asking Americans to draw a map of the world. They were all fairly abysmal, and the angle was that we were supposed to laugh at their ignorance, and how they didn’t know anything of the world outside of the USA — but it struck me that most people, of whatever nationality, probably can’t draw a map of the world.

Despite this, I was still happy to take the piss by knocking up the following image:



Later, I visited my parents and asked them to draw world maps. When I got home, I thought I should probably have a go myself.

I then became a bit obsessed with the idea. I was kind of hoping to get a bit of a craze going, but as it turned out more people were willing to mock others than to actually have a go themselves. However, I did get a few more people to have a go — my boss, a friend of mine and my grandparents (I know some of these images are very poor quality, so I apologise):

One of the things I find interesting is that loads of people don’t seem to know much about the geography of Arabia or the Middle East — why is that? Is that a side effect of the animosity between some of those regions and the West?

I’d like to get more people drawing these, it’d be interesting to see if certain kinds of people did better than others…

2 responses to “World Maps from Memory”

  1. Jurryaany says :

    Very interesting, I subscribed to the blog, please keep em coming!

  2. Peter says :

    Everyone also underestimates the size of Africa pretty consistently. Chalk it up to Mercator.

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