Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Geography Lesson

My fantastic job of teaching English online has connected me to students in (so far):
  • China
  • Argentina
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Spain

It have come to realize that I don't know shit about a lot of stuff in these countries. Like these countries' states or provinces. Often, my students - all adults - know the U.S. states.

An Ethiopian friend told me that when he was a child, all the kids learned about the U.S. states. In fact, there was a common phrase for when something got lost, "Where it'd go, Arkansas?" ... (if it was believed something was stolen, the question was, "it must have gone to Baghdad.") 

So I'm undertaking a project to learn the provinces of my students' countries.


Here's China in a reader-friendly visual:

Credit: SACU

Once I found a provincial map of China, my mind turned to land mass as compared to the U.S. Below is a nice graphic - note that it shows the comparison and also minds the latitudinal information. Note also that neither Hawaii nor Alaska appear.

Credit: Flora of China

One of my students told me that the area around Chengdu is particularly beautiful. Home of the pandas, too. And the five-color lakes.  It's in Sichuan province. Famous for its cuisine.


Argentina has several states known for their regional wines.

Credit: La Vida Es Hermosa

If I compare China's size to the U.S., I guess I should do the same for Argentina.

Credit: Rand McNally


Since I'll relocating to Mexico next year, I definitely need to get a handle on its states. Do you see the state of Michoacán? Yeah, that's where I was thinking of going, but maybe I've got to rethink that.

And the comparison between Mexico and U.S. land area:

Credit: Rand McNally

Below is a graph of expats who live in Mexico. I'm surprised the Canadian number is so low. Where do they go?
Place Country 2010 2000 1990
1  United States 738,103 343,591 194,619
2  Guatemala 35,322 23,597 46,005
3  Spain 18,873 21,024 24,783
4  Colombia 13,922 6,465 4,635
5  Argentina 13,696 6,215 4,964
6  Cuba 12,108 5,537 5,217
7  Honduras 10,991 3,722 1,997
8  Venezuela 10,063 2,823 1,533
9  El Salvador 8,088 6,647 2,979
10  Canada 7,943 5,768 3,011
11  France 7,163 5,723 4,195
12  China 6,655 2,100 1,161
13  Germany 6,214 5,595 4,499
14  Peru 5,886 3,749 1,633
15  Chile 5,267 3,848 2,501
16  Italy 4,964 3,904 2,397
17  Brazil 4,532 2,320 1,293
18  South Korea 3,960 2,079 1,161
19  Nicaragua 3,572 2,522 1,521

Other countries 43,799 37,126 32,487
TOTAL 961,121 492,617 340,246
Source: INEGI (2000),[20] CONAPO (1990)[21][22] and INEGI (2010)[23]


Back in the day, the first words that would come to my mind about Italy would be beautiful scenery, wine, good eating, rich history, and a people with a joie-de-vivre world view. Based on reports from recent travelers, the images that stick out most for me about Italy are crowds, heat, and high prices.

If you agree, then may I recommend a fine country for you to visit - Caucasus Georgia.

I'm kind of bored with the size comparison thing, so I'm going to stop on that.


One of my former (Caucausus) Georgian students is visiting Germany right now with a friend - they look to be having a fantastic time!

German provinces. Credit: Maps of Germany.

Do you see that pointy area in France below Saarland and to the left of Baden-Wirttemberg? That's Alsace-Lorraine.

Alsace-Lorraine. Credit: Travels in Europe With a VW Camper

My matrilineal and patrilineal ancestors passed through this area in centuries past, the maternal line being French Catholic, and the other Swiss Mennonite, aka Anabaptist (German-speaking), before their descendants, in different immigrant streams, in different centuries, ended up in North America. 

My maternal grandfather saw battle in Alsace-Lorraine during World War I.

Gee, what a detour I made.

So back to Germany. Because of my economic stratum, I tend not to think much about Western Europe as a travel destination - I can't afford to go, so it's just not on my radar.


Spain. Credit: Property net.

Jeez louise, the time it took to find a decent provincial map that also showed the almost-adjoining countries of Morocco and Algeria to the south of Spain (in English). Oh, you see they aren't there. Right. So anyway, see that land with the little airplane on it, south of Cadiz, practically touching? That's Morocco. If you look to the right along Morocco's coastline til you see the other little airplane? And then the yellow squiggly line? To the right of the squiggly line is Algeria.

The economic crisis in Spain right now is crushing. Recently, a British man bought an entire Spanish village (abandoned) for 60k euros. (There are villages like this in Caucasus Georgia, too.)


Brazil provinces. Credit: emaps world

I always think of Brazil as being very big. Let's compare it with the U.S.

Brazil - US size comparison. Credit: Rand McNally

 Woo, yeah, it's big.
Although Brazil can boast tremendous advances in many areas economically, technologically, etc. it's also  suffering now in many areas. People don't feel safe. The government is perceived to be corrupt and ineffectual. There are some who believe the public school system is in awful shape, as there is no investment in bringing along new teachers for the public system, i.e. low pay and miserable working conditions. (Sounds like Caucasus Georgia, although there is ongoing reform.)

According to the World Atlas, Brazil's Sao Paolo is the ninth most populous city in the world at 20 million (just under NYC's 21.4 million and just over Mexico City's 19.4 million).



Anonymous said...

please continue to super impose countries over the united states. I really enjoy know that we are so much more awesome than other places.

Cathy R

German said...

If you look at the maps, the USA, Canada, Australia and Brazil seem the same size. However, most of Canada is covered by ice, Australia is a desert and most Brazilians live in a narrow 100km-wide portion of land between the sea and the forest. This way, Argentina has more room to move than Canada, Australia and Brazil. Furthermore, Argentina has a very wide range of wheather types, from subtropical (Iguazu Falls) to subantartic (Ushuaia, the Glaciars, etc). These things make Argentina bigger and more interesting than other countries which are bigger in the map.

Mzuri said...

*chuckling* I enjoyed this comment.

Mzuri said...

Geographic size or shape makes one place more or less awesome than another place?