World Map of Stereotypes

            Spear Chuckers, Blood Suckers, Yankeeland and Absurdistan. No, those aren’t lazy steampunk terms, they’re moderately offensive country names in Martin Vargic’s World Map of Stereotypes. Vargic’s map is an incredibly detailed atlas of all sorts of crude -and funny- stereotypes of different places and people. While most of the stereotypes are just exaggerations based on stereotypical western views, the map’s purpose is definitely to entertain, rather than to inform. Vargic, a Slovakian artist who created the politically incorrect map as a teenager as part of his book “Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps: The Atlas of Everything You Never Knew You Needed to Know”, designed it to be from the point of view of a westerner, albeit one who is just as self-critical as he is critical of other nations. The map is fairly apolitical, though Vargic himself leans left.It is best described as a South Park-style “mock everybody” atlas. Nobody is spared, though he does go after some regions harder than others.

            It’s hard to provide further historical context in this blog post, as the entire map is chock full of historical references. Explaining every last detail could fill hundreds of pages. Here’s just a small number of details to pour over. Norway (Black Metal) is full of Scandinavian images from fjords to “the movie Frozen”. Somalia (Pirates) is mostly pirate jokes, from “Capitan Phillips” to “Jack Sparrow”. (“Jack Sparrow Sea” is also the new name of the Caribbean.) India (Holy Cow) has everything from “Yoga” and “Snake Charmers” to “Diarrhea” and “Slums”.

            It should be noted that Vargic’s map isn’t just textboxes over a blank world. No, his map is an incredibly detailed parody. From a few feet away, it looks just like any other dense world map put out by National Geographic or Rand McNally. It is only when you look closely that you can see how different it is, the mark of effective parody. Even the margins are full of information, some useful (countries by average height), others less so (countries by average penis and breast sizes).

            It should be noted that Vargic’s map has just as many positive stereotypes as it has negative ones. Mexico (Tacos) has “Sombreros”, “Puebla”, and “Tequila” right next to “Meth superlab”, “Housekeeping”, and “Fence Jumpers”. He doesn’t let his home continent of Europe off the hook, either. France=Pubes, Poland=Buffer Zone, Greece=Sparta (with the major cities of “olive oil” and “gay statues”, and Great Britain as “Ye Olde America”.

All of these jokes have history and context behind them, showing the vast amount of research that Vargic had to do. Poland has spent the last 300 years as some sort of buffer zone between greater powers, from the Swedish Empire and the Holy Roman Empire in the 1600s, the Prussians and the Russians in the 1800s, Nazi Germany and the USSR in the 1930s, and NATO and the USSR during the cold war. Ancient Sparta is one of the most enduring symbols of Greece, the first state to harvest olives. Great Britain was the forebearer to the modern United States, and much of our politics and culture today remains descended from that of Britain.

            Speaking of America, that is where his uneven criticism seems to be most apparent. While most states have fairly positive or neutral names (Iowa= Soybeans, New Mexico=Roswell (with Albuquerque as Breaking Bad), Pennsylvania=Amish), he clearly does not have a positive view of the south, with names like Fat, Incest, Racists, KKK, and Tobacco. Given that Vargic himself has never been to America, this could be a reflection of who different states are thought of around the world.

He also neglects to poke fun at his own country of Slovakia, naming it “No Data” with the sole city of “Cave”. Of course, that could also be a reference to just how unknown Slovakia is to the English-speaking audience that the map was made for.

            In short, I chose this map because it is hilarious. Most of the maps on this blog are important but a bit dull; this one is nothing but laughs, even if the scholarly value is a bit low. It’s always valuable to have a laugh at ourselves, to take the piss out of the important business of mapping.


Blog link:

Atlas link:

The Atlas that I chose includes every electoral map in the last half century of American politics. Knowing the domestic political situation at all times helps inform the reasoning behind certain foreign policy decisions.







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One Response to World Map of Stereotypes

  1. Christopher Ferreira says:

    Great job analyzing this map. It is one of the best examples of how maps are a fantastic medium for displaying media visually. If this information was instead listed out as stereotypes for each city in the world, it could still be seen as comedic but it would lose a lot of its charm. Instead, the map allows for the information to seem less like an attack and more like poking fun as you mentioned. It was interesting that the American South was perceived more harshly than the rest of the United States. I know damn well I also perceive the South worse but I do not have an explanation as to why, although if I had to take a guess it would be due to their low placement in a large amount of statistics such as life expectancy. Despite what one may think at first, this map actually has an unbelievable amount of information to sift through and I could spend hours looking at it. Thank you for bringing this map to my attention.

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