Jimmy Recommends: June Favorites 2016
Jimmy Recommends – June ’16
June 1, 2016
Lingual Contributions Language Influences Tongues Impacting Effecting Affecting Change from Spanish, German, French, and Portuguese to American and British English
What the English Language Can Learn From Its Siblings
June 27, 2016

10 Maps – Fifty Shades of Fifty States

Colorful Map of the USA

Whether you call them the “Land of the Free,” and the “Leader of the Free World” or “Land of the Fat,” and “Leader of the Imperialist West,” the United States of America are more powerful than any other country in the world. From the largest military and the highest amount of guns per capita, the USA also have the most prisoners of any country in the world. Of course, they’re also responsible for the most patents, highest-grossing movies, and most popular music in human history.

Looking at America is like walking on at tightrope. For every pleasant or inspiring fact about the fifty states, there are five horrifically horrible atrocities that make you want to burn the whole thing down. But don’t worry, I don’t want to ruin your day – the rest of the Internet is doing enough of that – so let’s take an innocent approach and be amazed by the New World.

If you’ve been to more than one of the 50 American states, you know it’s not only the flags that differ from state to state – although we should examine this aspect:

Map of the United States of America USA with State Flags

USA State Flag Map by WonderWhy // CC BY

Note the abundance of shades of blue, red, and white in this map – remind you of something? Apart from the occasional Alaska and Georgia, we don’t see a lot of stars and stripes here, though. Considering all these different styles of flags, I get the feeling each state has their own sense of beauty – another fascinating facet we should analyze.

Map of Winning States and Number of their Wins in the Miss USA Contest

Map of Miss USA pageant winners’ home states by PageantUpdater via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA

Beauty Pageant Winners

From the looks of it, Americans really love the looks of Texan women. While most states haven’t won the Miss USA pageant a single time, the Lone Star State has brought forth nine future winners over the years – leaving lots of room to runner-up California’s five Miss USA contestants in first place.

Map of Most Searched Googled Google Image Search Terms in the Fifty 50 American States USA Excluding the Word "Quotes"

Google Image Search Terms

Beauty pageants are probably very popular in Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Dakota, were Google users are apparently always looking for “girls.” Meanwhile, a surprisingly high number of people want to find out what their home state actually looks like. (Maybe they don’t want to leave the house?)

For this map, I excluded the term “quotes,” which would’ve been the winner in almost all fifty states, in order to find out what people care about besides subtitles for their Facebook posts. Queries like “meme,” “funny,” and “gif,” however, have convinced me that social media is all they think about all day.

Map of gross domestic product in 2015 of the fifty 50 American States compared to countries around the world with flags and ranking worth of the USA

Economic Strength

If California were a country, it would be worth more than France – is that not incredible? What I love about this dataset is that, depending on your prior knowledge, it either teaches you about the economic strength of the fifty American states or the GDP of different countries around the world. Who would’ve known, for example, that Nigeria – a place that is rarely, if ever, on the news – would be so high on this list? On the other hand, I also didn’t know Vermont had such a weak economy. Of course, this map doesn’t tell you anything about the wealth of the states’ inhabitants, since we’re only looking at nominal GDPs.

Map of Crude Oil Production by State in the USA United States of America in 2015 with the Top 10 States' Barrels Produced Annually

Black Gold

It’s not without a reason that Texas is such a rich state: As can be seen on this map, it’s by far the biggest crude oil producer in America, surpassing even federal offshore production plus North Dakota’s and California’s industries combined. Arizona stands out in this map, because it has disappointingly little of the black treasure, confirming my suspicions that this state consists of nothing but hot, desert wasteland.

Map of Total Retail Sales per Capita in the United States of America USA in 2012 Money Spent on Retail per Person in the Fifty 50 States

Shopping Budget

Americans love to go shopping and throw their money at retailers. Most people spent between 13 and 20 thousand dollars on food, clothes, furniture, electronics, and other stuff in 2012. I can’t tell you why Rhode Islanders seem to be so cheap, though.

Map of the Most Popular Female Girl Baby Names by State in the United States of America USA in 2015

Baby Girl Names

The Class of 2033 will have a lot of Emmas in it, that’s for sure. People have never been very inventive in naming their offspring, so it’s not surprising to see so little variety in this map. I do appreciate the capital for picking “Genesis,” however, to mix things up for a change. I mean, “Olivia” is a nice name and all, but that doesn’t mean everyone should have it.

Map of the Most Popular Male Boy Baby Names by State in the United States of America USA in 2015

Baby Boy Names

Moving on to male first names, there’s even less to choose from. The Southwest seems to be pretty convinced of the biblical “Noah,” while Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma show a little more creativity with 2015 stand-alones “Benjamin,” “Jackson,” and “Elijah” respectively. So many Liams, though!

Map of Statewide Share of Population People Identifying as White Alone Not Hispanic Latino in 2014 in the United States of America USA


The “whitest” states, it appears, are towards the North of the Union. New York and Illinois are literal black sheep, so to speak, since the cities of New York and Chicago house a lot of minorities, as is common for more urban areas. Conversely, it’s not surprising that such rural states as Montana and North Dakota are among the lesser diverse places in the U.S. Hawaii is an extreme case here, of course, since most of its inhabitants wouldn’t consider themselves as “white” by any measure.

South Up North Down Upside Down Map of the United States of America USA Labeled with State Names

Unfamiliar Shapes

Looking at maps all day can give you the impression that continents have specific shapes and that countries are formed a certain way – even though this is an conceptual illusion. Turning the map on its head can transform familiar regions into new worlds, like the one above. Suddenly, Florida and Texas are “on top,” while Oklahoma has turned from a pot into a baseball hat. There’s no up or down in space so the fact that we orient our maps to have North at the top is entirely arbitrary. We should remind ourselves every now and then that things don’t have to be the way they are just because they’ve “always been this way.”

Map of the United States of America USA with the American Flag Stars and Stripes Banner

Last month’s “10 Maps” was pretty popular, so I’ve decided to turn this into a (somewhat) monthly series. Please take part in this poll to decide which region I should look at next and leave a comment below to tell me which map you enjoyed the most!

Which region should I cover next time?

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