Fun with Maps

Fun with Maps

Like millions of others I am a fan of the Big Bang Theory and especially Sheldon Cooper. I even liked his Fun with Flags videos. Seriously. I wished they would continue.

My name is Dan Hanson and I have also been a longtime fan of maps and the role they play in a region's history, commerce, politics, culture and so on. So I started a new video podcast series called Fun with Maps.

Running which features the 120 or so different ethnic groups that are represented in the area, I've noticed how the geography of a place has played a role in its culture and history.

For example:,

  • When you see how close the Horn of Africa is to the Arabian Peninsula you will understand how important the Suez Canal , Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are.
  • Or what does it mean for Ethiopia to be landlocked?
  • Or for Somalia to have that huge coastline?
  • What are the only 3 enclaved countries in the world? (and what does enclaved mean?)
  • How did a little piece of Russia get to the West of Lithuania?
  • Which river is longer - The Nile or the Amazon?
  • Why can you see the Aurora Borealis so often in Lapland? And what famous figure comes from Lapland?
We won't just look at countries and large regions. We'll look at how cities split by a river (Chicago, Cleveland, Budapest, etc.) have been influenced by their geography.

There's so much more.

Don't expect cinematic artistry. I don't have the ability and that's not the intention. I just want to share my interest in Maps with others.

So Sheldon Cooper had Fun with Flags and I'm now hoping you will join me in having Fun with Maps.

See all the Fun with Maps episodes on YouTube

See pictures of Cleveland People pointing to the map of their heritage

Watch the introductory video of Fun with Maps

Below are the Fun with Maps with the most current episodes on top.

Fun with Maps - Jersey, Guernsey and the Channel Islands

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson talks about the Channel Islands - especially the two largest islands: Jersey and Guernsey. The English Channel is the busiest shipping area in the world. Though small and not very populous the strategic location of these islands in the English Channel between France and the UK have made them very important throughout history - most recently in the Second World War when the German Nazi's occupied them.

They are not parts of the United Kingdom but Crown dependencies. We look at what that means as well as what their official title as Bailiwick means. It's fun that the people of the four main Channel Islands have animal nicknames - toads, donkeys, crows and rabbits. We explain why in the video.

There are also connection to some famous people such as Les Miserables author Victor Hugo and Irish singer Gilbert O'Sullivan. Of course we explain the connection between the island of Jersey and the US state of New Jersey. And, yes, we take a look at the Jersey and Guernsey cows!

Fun with Maps - Byzantium

The Byzantine Empire (Byzantium), also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, was the continuation of the Roman Empire centered in Constantinople during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Three centuries after the pharaohs of ancient Egypt ended their rule, new African rulers built empires in the northern and eastern regions of that continent. Spanning from the Empire of Aksum in present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Yemen to the Christian kingdoms of Nubia in present-day Sudan, these complex civilizations cultivated economic, political, and cultural relationships with one another.

During most of its existence, the empire remained the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in the Mediterranean world. The empire was dissolved in 1204, following the sack of Constantinople by Latin armies at the end of the Fourth Crusade; its former territories were then divided into competing Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the reconstituted empire would wield only regional power during its final two centuries of existence. Its remaining territories were progressively annexed by the Ottomans in perennial wars fought throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. The fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453 ultimately brought the empire to an end. The fall of Constantinople is sometimes used to mark the dividing line between the Middle Ages and the early modern period.

This episode shows a lot of maps of Byzantium at different dates to show how it grew and then was reduced to nothing. We also show some maps and items from the Cleveland Museum of Art's newest exhibition called Africa & Byzantium. It consists of nearly 160 works of secular and sacred art from across geographies and faiths.

See more about the Art Museum Exhibit Africa and Byzantium

Fun with Maps - The Path of the Total Solar Eclipse

This is a very special, once-in-a-lifetime, episode of Fun with Maps. It's our first look at a map that is affected by something off the surface of the planet Earth. On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. For those of us in Cleveland Ohio, or visitors who come here for the eclipse, we will have an amazing opportunity to view it.

A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. People viewing the eclipse from locations where the Moon's shadow completely covers the Sun - known as the path of totality - will experience a total solar eclipse. The sky will darken, as if it were dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, people along the path of totality will see the Sun's corona, or outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by the bright face of the Sun.

Chris Hartenstine from NASA's Public Engagement team showed us with a globe and a model of the moon how and why the eclipse will happen. The last time this occurred in any part of Ohio was in 1806 and the next time will be in the 2090's. Chris showed us the map of the path of the eclipse which is within a day's travel of most of the population of the United States. He called it a "very geographically friendly shadow path."

As Chris shows us, Cleveland has a very special viewing potential. He shows us on the map how Cleveland is on the south shore of Lake Erie, which is the shallowest of the Great Lakes. Lake Erie will still be very cold on April 8 so clouds may be pushed away from the 10 mile or so area just south of Lake Erie - which is Cleveland Ohio. This would make for exceptional viewing. See a lot more about the Total Solar Eclipse and the festivities surrounding it.

If you are traveling to Cleveland for the Eclipse, drop me a comment. Look for the next episode of Fun with Maps to be back on the Earth!

Fun with Maps - European countries from the 1860's

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at a series of some cool old maps. It's a collection of anthropomorphic maps of European countries produced by a London publisher in the 1860s. Anthropomorphic means the maps have human characteristics. So the maps will be drawn as if they were people. For example, the map of England is drawn as Queen Victoria. Scotland is a bagpiper struggling through the bogs and so on. In this we look at each of the current maps of the country and then look at the cartoon maps from the 1860's for comparison. Each of the drawn maps has a 4 line verse attached to it as well. It's kind of hard to explain but once you see it you will get it.

The maps cover the countries of Denmark, France, Italy, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia, which no longer exists. As you will see, a lot has changed both politically and geographically in the last 150 years or so.

Fun with Maps - Canada

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at the 2nd largest country in the world - Canada. Canada is huge and diverse and many of its cities, provinces, territories, rivers, lakes, etc. would be good topics for future Fun with Maps episodes but this episode concentrates on one area - showing the 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada.

The 10 provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan. The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.

Fun with Maps - Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland

This episode of Fun with Maps is about a small island off the West coast of Ireland called Achill. Mayo is one of 32 counties in Ireland. For a small island there is a lot of history there. For example, the famous Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley's Castle is located in the southeast corner of Achill Island. James Joyce used the legend of Grace O'Malley ("her grace o'malice") in his 1939 novel Finnegans Wake.

Dan looks at Slievemore Mountain and the "Deserted Village" there with approximately 80 ruined houses. For many years people lived and farmed in the village and then in 1845 the Great Hunger struck in Achill as it did in the rest of Ireland and the village was completely abandoned which is where the name 'Deserted Village' came from. Kildamhnait on the south-east coast of Achill is named after St. Damhnait, or Dymphna, who founded a church there in the 7th century. Dymphna fled to Achill to escape her tyrannical father and established her church on this site. There is also a holy well just outside the graveyard.

Johnny Kilbane was a featherweight boxer who held the world featherweight title from 1912 to 1923, the longest period in the division's history. He was the second longest world title holder in boxing history, behind only Joe Louis. His family was originally from Achill, County Mayo and then moved to Cleveland. Charles Boycott was an unpopular landowner who lived on Achill and the word "boycott" is named for him. Nancy Corrigan from Achill became only the second woman to earn a commercial pilot's license in the US. She paid for her flying lessons by being a model.

The Martin McDonagh movie 'The Banshees of Inisherin' was filmed on location on Achill Island. Achill is attached to the mainland by the Michael Davitt Bridge. John Reid and Yvonne Loftus Corcoran from the Michael Davitt Museum in County Mayo tell his story including how Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell formed the Land League at the end of the 19th century to abolish landlordism in Ireland and enable tenant farmers to own the land on which they worked.

Dan's home city of Cleveland Ohio USA was twinned with Achill twenty years ago and a large percentage of Cleveland's numerous Irish are from Mayo and specifically Achill.

Fun with Maps - The island of Maui in the Hawaiian Islands

This episode of Fun with Maps is, sadly, about an area that has been devastated by wildfires, the Hawaiian island of Maui. As of this recording on August 15, 2023 the death toll in the Hawaii wildfires is at 99 with more than 1,000 people unaccounted for.

The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major volcanic islands, several atolls, and numerous smaller islets in the Pacific Ocean. Maui is the 2nd largest of the eight: smaller than the Big Island of Hawaii but larger than the well-known Oahu, home to Honolulu. Before the recent fires, on an average day, there would be 42,000 tourists on Maui.

In this episode we look at how the island was formed by the overlapping of two volcanoes. Also how humpback whales, like humans, like to spend their winter there. And we look at the areas most devastated by the tragic disaster.

Fun with Maps - Udaipur India and Jiangnan region of China

This is not a typical episode of Fun with Maps. At a recent visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art we noticed a few interesting maps in two of the exhibits and had to share them with you. The first is a very quick walkthrough of an exhibit called "A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur." Udaipur is a city of the state of Rajasthan, India. It is also known as the ''City of Lakes.'' It is the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar and was founded in 1559 by Udai Singh II who made it his capital. It remained as the capital city till 1818 when it became a British princely state, and thereafter the Mewar province became a part of Rajasthan when India gained independence in 1947.

Then we visited the new exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art: "China's Southern Paradise: Treasures from the Lower Yangzi Delta." This is the first exhibition in the West that focuses on the artistic production and cultural impact of a region located in the coastal area south of the Yangzi River. Called Jiangnan, this region has throughout large parts of its history been one of the wealthiest, most populous, and fertile lands. For millennia, it has been an area of rich agriculture, extensive trade, and influential artistic production. We look at the map and then take a quick tour of some of the art.

Fun with Maps - Suez Canal and Sinai Peninsula

This episode of Fun with Maps is about a vitally important stretch of 120 miles - the Suez Canal. Host Dan Hanson begins by showing the Sinai Peninsula to the east of the Suez Canal. Sinai is part of Egypt but is in Asia while the rest of Egypt is in Africa. It gets its name from the belief by the three Abrahamic religions that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mt Sinai, a mountain near the south of the peninsula.

The Suez Canal goes from Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Port Suez which empties into the Gulf of Suez and then the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and then the Indian Ocean. Dan looks at the 10 year construction of the Suez Canal and touches on many of the political, military and financial issues concerning it such as when Egyptian president Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956 and the 8 year blockade that started with the 1967 Six-Day War.

Dan tells the story of the famous Yellow Fleet which resulted from that blockade. The video also covers the recent (2021) blocking of the Suez Canal by a large container ship.

Fun with Maps - Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land)

This episode of Fun with Maps is about one of 6 Australian states, the island state of Tasmania. Host Dan Hanson looks at how Tasmania was joined to the mainland 10,000 years ago. Tasmania was first called Van Diemen's Land and the British Empire sent convicts there as a punishment and for free labor. Dan looks at the city of Hobart, Australia's second-oldest capital city after Sydney (New South Wales). Being so far south Tasmania - Hobart in particular - serves as Australia's chief sea link to Antarctica, with the Australian Antarctic Division located in Kingston. If you are lucky you can see the aurora australis (southern lights as opposed to the northern lights aurora borealis).

Geographically and biological isolated, Tasmania is known for the now extinct Tasmanian Tiger and the Tasmanian Devil. The Tasmanian devil, also called a Tassie Devil, is a carnivorous marsupial (like Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas, and Wombats.) It was made famous in the Warner Brothers cartoons. Dan points out the similarities and differences between the real animal and the cartoon.

This is a special additional Fun with Maps episode about Tasmania. Host Dan Hanson spoke with his longtime friend Ash Nallawalla. Ash was born in India but emigrated to New Zealand and now lives in Melbourne Australia. Ash has visited Tasmania, one of the 6 Australian states, and shares that perspective with us. Ash said the people are affectionately called Tassies and the island, which resembles an apple, is called the Apple Isle. He says that not only was Tasmania once connected to the mainland but also New Zealand was probably connected to the east coast of Australia. With Hobart so far south Ash told of wanting to film the Aurora Australis, the southern aurora.

He told of some sites to visit in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, such as remnants of the Van Diemen's Land prisons, the Museum of Old and New Art and more. Ash has travelled extensively and says his favorite destination is New Zealand for the amazing scenery. He has travelled from the top northern point with all the volcanic scenery to the southern tip. Of course he visited Hobbiton where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed.

Fun with Maps - Bangladesh

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at the eighth-most-populous country in the world - Bangladesh. Dan admits that his main exposure to Bangladesh was watching the movie and listening to the record of the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh put on by George Harrison and friends including Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar and others. The concert raised international awareness of, and fund relief, for refugees from what had been called East Pakistan. In 1971, East Pakistan became the newly independent state Bangladesh, which means "country of Bengal" in the Bengali language. The concert was the first-ever benefit of such a magnitude and inspired later events like Live Aid and Farm Aid.

With a population of around 169 million people in an area of 57,320 sq. miles the People's Republic of Bangladesh is among the most densely populated countries in the world. The long history of Bangladesh is beyond the scope of this video but Britain controlled the Indian subcontinent until their independence in 1947 and 1948. This turned into four new independent states: India, Burma, Ceylon, and Pakistan (including East Bengal, from 1971 Bangladesh). Bangladesh shares land borders with India to the west, north, and east, and Myanmar/Burma to the southeast. It is narrowly separated from Bhutan and Nepal by the Siliguri Corridor. The Sundarbans in the south are a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal. Sundarban Reserve Forest (SRF) of Bangladesh is the largest mangrove forest in the world.

Dhaka, the capital and largest city, is the nation's political, financial and cultural center. Dhaka is the sixth-largest and seventh-most densely populated city in the world. Dhaka is a megacity, and has a population of 10.2 million residents as of 2022, and a population of over 22.4 million residents in Greater Dhaka. Dhaka is also the largest Bengali-speaking city in the world. After partition, Dhaka became known as the second capital of Pakistan.

As you will see, Bangladesh is the only nation to fight a war and declare Independence over Language. It led to International Mother Language Day which is now a worldwide annual observance held on February 21 to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism. It was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002 and is part of a broader initiative "to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world." Bengali is the sixth-most spoken language in the world.

Fun with Maps - Carpathian Mountains and Rusyns

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at the Carpathian Mountains. The Carpathian Mountains are in Eastern Europe and form an arc through several countries including Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Czech Republic, Austria, and Serbia. Important cities such as Kraków (Poland), Bratislava (Slovakia) and Cluj-Napoca (Romania) are in or near the Carpathians. What is most interesting about the Carpathians are the people who come from there. You may hear them called Rusyns, Rutheni, Ruthenes, Carpatho-Rusyns or another variation but basically they are an East Slavic ethnic group from the Eastern Carpathians in Central Europe. They speak Rusyn, an East Slavic language variety, treated variously as either a distinct language or a dialect of the Ukrainian language.

The Rusyns are inexorably linked to the Carpathian Mountains and vice versa. The Rusyns do not have a specific country to call home. The traditional homeland of the Rusyn people, Carpathian Rus', lies in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains, on the borders of modern-day Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia. Today, approximately three-quarters of Rusyns reside within Ukraine, specifically the geographic region known as Transcarpathia (historic Subcarpathian Rus') The United States holds the largest population of Rusyns outside of Carpathian Rus', mostly within the former industrial centers of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States like Ohio and Pennsylvania. At the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, approximately 225,000 Rusyns immigrated to the US.

This video also covers Aleksander Dukhnovich who is a sort of 'George Washington' of the Rusyns. He is famous for saying "I was, am, and always will be a Rusyn."

This part of Europe has had tremendous geopolitical changes over the years even through the 20th century with the world wars and the forming of Czechoslovakia and dissolution of Yugoslavia and other factors. You will see why Carpatho-Ukraine has been called The One Day Republic. The Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine existed for just one day on March 15, 1939, before it was occupied and annexed by Hungary. The most famous Carpatho-Ukrainian might be Andy Warhol, the pop artist who pioneered the concept of 'fifteen minutes of fame'.

Fun with Maps - Condominiums all over the Globe

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson explains a new meaning of a common word that applies to maps and international law - condominium. He looks at maps of Antarctica, Pheasant Island, Sudan, the Gulf of Fonseca and Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, Colombia, Jamaica, Andorra, Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, New Hebrides - Vanuatu, Hans Island, Togo and even the Oregon Territory in the US.

He also looks at some proposed new condominiums that would involve Australia, England, Spain, Gibraltar, Israel, Palestine and Northern Ireland. He predicts that you will never again hear the word 'condominium' again and just think of a building with shared units.

Fun with Maps - The Underground Railroad

In this episode of Fun with Maps host Dan Hanson looks at a very special map - a map that wasn't recorded because it was dangerous to do so. It's the map of the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early 1800s to help slaves escape into free states and Canada. It was run by abolitionists and others sympathetic to the cause of the escapees. Ohio had many stops on the Underground Railroad. Canada was an ultimate destination since they had abolished slavery in 1793. The short distance across Lake Erie from Cleveland to Canada made the city a popular destination. Cleveland was codenamed Hope on the Underground Railroad and the ultimate destination was Port Stanley in Ontario Canada which was codenamed Praise the Lord.

We recorded this episode at the Cozad-Bates House at the corner of Mayfield and East 115th Street in University Circle (just north of the Little Italy Neighborhood) in Cleveland. It is the only surviving pre-Civil War building in University Circle. The house has been restored by a non-profit called Restore Cleveland Hope and we spoke with board members and docents Kevin Cronin and Kathryn Puckett to examine the maps. We began with a map of Cleveland Ohio in 1957 and then widened to a map of the Western Reserve which shows how close (50 miles!) Canada is to Cleveland. Then we looked at Underground Railroad maps in Ohio. Experts say there were more routes to Canada through Ohio than anywhere else. This included the town near Cincinnati which was the setting for the book which influenced Abraham Lincoln, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

We looked at St. John's Church, still in existence at West 28th and Church in Cleveland. This Church has been documented as a site that house slaves on the Underground Railroad. We heard about John Brown the black barber who operated on Cleveland's Public Square. And Kathryn reminded us that where her family came from in Oklahoma was very different than in Ohio because Ohio was a free state and Oklahoma wasn't a state until 1907. Finally we see how the geography played a role. The slightly elevated terrain let people spot slave catchers and the location on Doan Brook which emptied into Lake Erie was ideal for escaping.

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Fun with Maps - Greenland

The story is that Erik the Red named the ice covered Greenland and the green covered Iceland that way to attract settlers to Greenland and dissuade them from coming to Iceland. In this episode of Fun with Maps host Dan Hanson looks at that story about naming the largest island in the world, Greenland. (Isn't Australia bigger? Watch and find out).

Many are surprised that Greenland is part of North America and part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Greenland is 80% covered with ice and has historically, and currently, been affected by changes to the climate. After the US bought Alaska from Russia in the 1860's, Secretary of State William Seward tried to buy Greenland and Iceland. Congress voted it down. Other attempts by the US to buy Greenland have also been rejected. It's a fascinating map.

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Fun with Maps - Great Britain

The recent passing of Queen Elizabeth led to some confusion, even in media reports, about the difference between England, the UK, Great Britain and so on. Was she Queen of England? Why was she in Scotland? What about the Prince of Wales? In this episode of Fun with Maps host Dan Hanson looks at the island of Great Britain which consists of England, Scotland and Wales. It is not the same as England or the United Kingdom. Great Britain is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island and the ninth-largest island in the world. So what's the United Kingdom? The United Kingdom is a sovereign country in Europe that comprises England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and many smaller islands within the British Isles.

This episode also covers the English Channel, the Chunnel, the Mull of Kintyre, the character of Britannia, the Firth of Forth, Treaty of Union, the patron saints and flags of the 3 countries, the vast range of the British Empire and more. Subscribe to see more Fun with Maps episodes.

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Fun with Maps - Sargasso Sea (and Bermuda Triangle)

In this episode of Fun with Maps host Dan Hanson talks about the only sea in the world without a land boundary - the Sargasso Sea. The Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic Ocean is bounded by 4 currents but no land! It is distinguished from other parts of the Atlantic Ocean by its characteristic brown Sargassum seaweed and often calm, clear, deep blue water.

There are five major ocean-wide gyres - the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean gyres. The North Atlantic gyre has a pronounced thermohaline circulation, bringing salty water west from the Mediterranean Sea and then north to form the North Atlantic Deep Water. At the heart of the gyre is the Sargasso Sea, noted for its still waters and quite dense seaweed accumulations. Dan also tells the reason behind the name of the horse latitudes. He shows some highly camouflaged fish in the area.

Unfortunately, the gyre traps a high concentration of non-biodegradable plastic waste in its natural garbage or flotsam patch, in the same way the North Pacific Gyre has the Great Pacific garbage patch. The United Nations Environmental Program estimated that "for every square mile of ocean" there are about "46,000 pieces of plastic." The 10 largest emitters of oceanic plastic pollution worldwide are, from the most to the least, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Bangladesh, largely through the rivers Yangtze, Indus, Yellow, Hai, Nile, Ganges, Pearl, Amur, Niger, and the Mekong, and accounting for "90 percent of all the plastic that reaches the world's oceans." Asia was the leading source of mismanaged plastic waste, with China alone accounting for 2.4 million metric tons.

The Sargasso Sea is often portrayed in literature and the media as an area of mystery. It is often depicted in fiction as a dangerous area where ships are mired in weed for centuries, unable to escape. So we look at some of that including the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. It's a fun episode. Watch to see the connection to Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland.

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Fun with Maps - Tour de France

In this special episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at the map of the most famous bicycle race in the world, the Tour de France. Dan admits that he knew very little about the Tour de France outside of hearing names like Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong and about the yellow jersey. But while flipping through TV channels he saw some of the race and became hooked.

The peloton is particularly intriguing with the large group of riders mere inches from each other and the individual and team strategies for drafting and more. He also learned about the significance of not just the yellow jersey but the green, white and polka dot jerseys. The 2022 Tour de France (going on right now) began on July 1 with the Grand Départ in Denmark, the 10th country to host a start. With about 5.8 million people in Denmark about 9 out of 10 Danes own a bicycle and there are about 12,000km of bike routes across the country. There are 673,000 bikes just in the capital city of Copenhagen which has been named the world's best cycling city.

In this video Dan touches on the history of the race and some of the countries it has passed through. He is looking forward to the final stage in Paris on July 24 as the cyclists ride down the Champs-Élysées.

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Fun with Maps - Macau

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson discusses a Special Administrative Region (S.A.R.) of the People's Republic of China called Macau. Macau is known as the "Las Vegas of the East", and some call it the gaming capital of the world. It has a gambling industry seven times larger than that of Las Vegas. The city has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and with a population of about 680,000 and an area of just 12.7 sq. miles, it is also the most densely populated region in the world.

This episode covers the history of the Portuguese settlement of Macau by Jorge Álvares to the transfer to China on December 20, 1999 after 442 years of Portuguese rule. This episode looks at maps of the region around Macau including Hong Kong, the Pearl River Estuary and Delta and Guangdong Province and Guangzhou which you may know as Canton. If you like learning about the world and its people by studying maps, consider subscribing to this series.

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Fun with Maps - Kaliningrad aka Königsberg

This episode of Fun with Maps takes a look at a very strategic piece of land called Königsberg or Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad is actually a city in the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. Remember that an enclave is a piece of land that is totally surrounded by a foreign territory. An exclave is a piece of land that is politically attached to a larger piece but not physically having the same borders with it because of surrounding foreign territory. Many entities are both enclaves and exclaves. Kaliningrad is an exclave because while politically attached to Russia it is bordered by Poland and Lithuania and the Baltic Sea.

An oblast is a political and administrative division of a country. Oblast is a term used by many former Soviet countries that is something like states or provinces.

So how did Russia get territory to the west of Lithuania and north of Poland? It's a long story starting with Prussia. For much of the last 700 years or so this land was Königsberg, an historic Prussian city that then became German. As you will see, Germany was forced to give up huge patches of its conquered land at the end of WWII. In 1945 the Potsdam Agreement was signed by the USSR, Britain and the USA. It specifically gave Kaliningrad (known as the German Königsberg at the time) to Russia, without opposition. As you can tell from the map, it's very important as Russia's Baltic Navy base. It was also a center of knowledge and culture with people such as Immanuel Kant, Leonard Euler, Christian Goldbach and others there.

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Fun with Maps - Ukraine

We had always planned on doing a Fun with Maps episode about Ukraine but due to the tragic current situation we moved it up in order. People are understandably very curious to know more about the country of Ukraine. And yes it is a country. It is not THE Ukraine; it is the country of Ukraine. Using the term THE Ukraine makes it sound like a region of another country as opposed to a sovereign nation.

Ukraine is the second-largest country by area in Europe after Russia, which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with Belarus to the north; Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west; Romania and Moldova to the south; and has a coastline along the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. It spans an area of 233,062 sq. miles with a population of 43.6 million. That makes it the eighth-most populous country in Europe.

We briefly talk about the history of Ukraine including the tragedy at Chernobyl and the Holodomor. We also touch on the great writer Lesya Ukrainka and pysanky Easter eggs.

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Fun with Maps - Latitude and Longitude

This is a special episode of Fun with Maps with Dan Hanson. Instead of looking at one particular area, we look at some items that affect all the maps of earth. These are the terms latitude and longitude. Using those coordinates you can pinpoint any place on earth. They are essential for ship captains and pilots and others. Maybe this will be a refresher course or maybe it will be new for you as we discuss latitude, longitude, the Prime Meridian, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, the Equator, International Dateline, Greenwich Mean Time, Time Zones and more. And we explain how you can be at a spot on Earth where it is both today and yesterday. Please subscribe so you never miss an episode of Fun with Maps.

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Fun with Maps - Malta

Location, location, location. That well-known real estate phrase certainly rings true for this episode's map. In this episode we are looking at the map of a small country that has a great strategic location - about midway between the Strait of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal in the Mediterranean Sea. You may know it for two popular items - the Maltese Cross and the Maltese Falcon, a 1941 Humphrey Bogart movie.

Of course I am talking about the Southern European island country of Malta, an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea just 50 miles to the south of Sicily, 176 miles east of Tunisia and 207 miles north of Libya. This is an interesting map -some might call it the stuff that dreams are made of - that's a quote from Humphrey Bogart's character Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon movie. Please subscribe so you never miss an episode of Fun with Maps.

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Fun with Maps - The North Pole

From the famous polar bear riddle to Santa Claus to famous explorations and expeditions the North Pole is completely unique. The North Pole is by definition the northernmost point on the Earth, lying diametrically opposite to the South Pole. At the North Pole all directions point south; all lines of longitude converge there. Thanks to Gerardus Mercator we have had maps of the Arctic region and North Pole for centuries.

This video talks about the "wobble" at the North Pole, an amazing meeting between Sir Edmund Hillary and Neil Armstrong at the North Pole, the mystic aura of the Pole and, yes, some thoughts about Santa Claus.

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Fun with Maps - Haiti

Haiti is located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jamaica and south of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti has an estimated population of 11.4 million, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean. The people have suffered a lot. Since 1998, Haiti has been hit by ten hurricanes and other tropical storms, causing widespread loss of life and flooding with every landfall. Other natural disasters, such as the 2010 earthquake, have also resulted in massive amounts of death and property and infrastructure damage, especially in urban areas like Port-au-Prince, the capital.

They have a proud history as the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second republic in the Americas, the first country to abolish slavery, and the only state in history established by a successful slave revolt.

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Fun with Maps - The Kamchatka Peninsula

When the Soviet Union fell in 1991 it was the first time in over 50 years that outsiders were able to visit the topic of this episode of Fun with Maps, Kamchatka. Kamchatka is a 900-mile-long peninsula roughly the size of California, yet only 400,000 people were allowed to live there, and all had to have special military clearances. The reason for the secrecy was Kamchatka's location so near Japan and the US that Soviets could listen in on communications during the Cold War.

Kamchatka is an example of a map having enormous geopolitical implications. Russia may have regrets about ceding the Kuril Islands to Japan, not to mention selling Alaska to the US in 1867. Had they not, how those events may have influenced history we will never know.

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Fun with Maps - Lesotho

There are only 3 enclaved countries in the world. By enclaved we mean an independent country whose territory is completely surrounded by the territory of one other country. In Lesotho's case, it is within South Africa.

Lesotho is a unique and interesting country and the map really defines it. Did you know that the country of Wakanda in the Marvel superhero movie Black Panther was inspired by Lesotho? There's lots more interesting items about Lesotho. Keep having Fun with Maps.

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Fun with Maps - Afghanistan and other "-Stan" Countries

We have always planned on doing a Fun with Maps episode on one or more of the "Stan" countries. Just not yet. Unfortunately, the news has made me change the schedule and focus on the map of a very troubled place - Afghanistan.

This episode looks at the group of seven countries known as the "Stan" countries in the heart of Central and South Asia. Then we drill down more into the map of Afghanistan, its capital Kabul and more.

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Fun with Maps - North Africa

Casablanca, Marrakesh, Algiers, the Barbary Coast, Morocco, the Sahara Desert, Darfur, Benghazi, Tunisia, Tripoli.

You've seen these exotic locales in movies, TV shows and the news but do you know where they are or much about them? In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at North Africa.

Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent and contains 54 fully recognized sovereign states (countries). This first episode in a series covering Africa includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco (including Western Sahara), Tunisia and Sudan.

After watching you will never listen to Bob Dylan, Crosby Stills and Nash or even the US Marines Hymn the same.

Fun with Maps - Madagascar

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at what has been called the 8th continent - Madagascar. The map shows how isolated Madagascar is from the rest of the world and that makes it a hotbed of biodiversity - 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. It has varieties of plants and animals that do not exist anywhere else. You've probably seen lemurs (endemic to Madagascar) but there are thousands of other unique animals and plants such as the fossa, chameleon, the baobab tree and more. Dan also shows a quick look at the Spiny Desert of Madagascar exhibit in the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

Fun with Maps - Michigan's Upper Peninsula

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. About 71% of the earth is covered in water but it's mostly salt water. The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total area, and second-largest by total volume, containing 21% of the world's surface fresh water by volume. The Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan is bounded by 3 of the Great Lakes - Superior, Michigan and Huron. The 5 mile Mackinac Bridge connects the lower part of Michigan with the UP. The UP contains 29% of the land area of Michigan but just 3% of its total population. The Yoopers who live there have a large Finnish population. It's a fascinating area and host Dan Hanson had a lot of fun with this map.

Fun with Maps - Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at the remote Polynesian island of Rapa Nui or Easter Island. Though part of Chile, Easter Island has a fascinating culture and history. Dan focuses on the island's remoteness, the Rapa Nui people and of course the amazing mo'ai, the Easter Island "head" statues.

Fun with Maps - Chile

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at the long country of Chile. Chile is bordered by the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean and the map has played a big part in its history. Dan looks at the Straits of Magellan, the Drake Passage, the huasos, the Mapuche people, Santiago, the largest mountain and volcano in the Americas, the rescue of the miners, interesting Chilean people and more.

Fun with Maps - Lebanon

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson looks at the historic country of Lebanon. Though small in size the influence of Lebanon and its people is huge. Tragically, the capital of Beirut was devastated by explosions in August 2020. In this episode Dan looks at the major cities, culture, geography, the cedar tree, famous Lebanese people and some fascinating history from the Phoenicians to the present.

Fun with Maps - New Zealand and Zealandia

In this episode of Fun with Maps host Dan Hanson looks at New Zealand and the Lost Continent of Zealandia in Oceania. New Zealand is home to the Maori people, terrific rugby like the All Blacks team, the haka dance, the beautiful scenery as the setting of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, Milford Sound and much more. Modern technology is allowing us to see more of the huge lost continent of Zealandia underneath New Zealand, 94% submerged under the ocean.

Fun with Maps - Estuaries and the Hudson River

In this episode of Fun with Maps host Dan Hanson looks at estuaries and then drills down on the Hudson River in New York State in the US. The Hudson River forms the west border of New York City's Manhattan Island. He also looks at the battles of Saratoga which took place along the Hudson River Valley in the Revolutionary War.

Fun with Maps - Feedback and Foldable Maps

In this episode of Fun with Maps host Dan Hanson considers some viewer feedback and answers their questions. He explains what the dots on the maps mean and shows the world map on the stage of the new plaza in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.

Then he gives a demo of the classic old school foldable paper map that has been around forever.

Fun with Maps - Budapest

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson shows map of a city that is really 2 cities, Buda and Pest, split by the famous Danube River but joined together as Budapest, Hungary. Budapest is one of the most visited cities in the world and is a hub of music, culture, architecture, education and so on. It's history - Turkish occupation, Austria-Hungary, Lajos Kossuth, Revolution of 1956 - all were influenced by the map. From the spas and baths to the bridges, the musical influence (Liszt, Bartok, etc.) to other notable citizens (Houdini, Rubik, etc.) Budapest is a fascinating city.

Fun with Maps - Indonesia

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson shows the map of the largest archipelago nation in the world - Indonesia. Archipelagos are often volcanic and as you will see, this certainly applies to Indonesia. It consists of more than seventeen thousand islands. You may have heard of Sumatra, Java, New Guinea (Papua), Bali, Borneo and so on. This is Part 1 of 2 so be sure to watch the 2nd part too.

In Part 2 Dan looks at the Ring of Fire, Krakatoa, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Bali, Papua New Guinea and more. For such a large, populous and importnat country Dan doesn't remember much study of it in school.

Fun with Maps - Wuhan China

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson shows map of a city that has been in the news for the last several months, Wuhan in central China. There is more to Wuhan than the covid-19 virus. In fact when we look at the map and the transportation options starting with the Yangtze River we see why many have called Wuhan the "Chicago of China." Learn more about this city of 11 million people than what you may see on the news.

Fun with Maps - Finland

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson shows the Nordic country of Finland, one of the most northern countries in the world. Some say the map of Finland looks like a whale, some say a rabbit. What do you think? While the south and capital Helsinki have most of the people, the northern Lapland has unique features including a very special inhabitant. Dan also talks about Linus Torvalds and Linux, Nokia, Angry Birds and his favorite word in any foreign language - sisu.

Fun with Maps - The Nile River

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson shows the Nile River, the longest river in the world. The Nile River and Egypt are intertwined but the Nile travels through almost a dozen countries in Africa including Sudan where the White Nile and Blue Nile merge. And, there is a surprising fact about the Nile that makes it unique.

Fun with Maps - The Horn of Africa

In this episode of Fun with Maps, host Dan Hanson shows the Horn of Africa which consists of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. He shows how the close proximity to the Arabian Peninsula and the extended coastline of the peninsula have influence the politics, commerce and culture of the region. He also tells a story that connects a popular Beatles song and a famous fossil millions of years old.

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