[WGF:2] Getting Some Perspective

Apologies for the lateness of last week’s Weekly Geographical Factoid. If you can’t already tell by the awkward and unseemly titles of these posts, I’m having a hard time deciding how to label them. I’ll continue to experiment over time.

Getting right down to business. One of the main issues covered in last week’s geography post was the problem that Americans have in keeping our own country in perspective. For example, thinking that up to one-third of the world’s population lives in the United States, while it is, in fact, more like one-twentieth.

I’ll admit that I am behind on the news, and have been for about a year. It’s something that I’m working on, but it means that I don’t know much about the floods in Pakistan that have been devastating parts of that country for the past several weeks. I decided to read up on it today and learned that, according to the BCC, “Pakistan has been hit by the worst floods in its history with 1,500 people killed and millions more left homeless.” And also that, “Around 20 million people have been affected by the floods which were triggered after the heaviest monsoon in 80 years in the north-west part of Pakistan during July.”

With all of the disasters in the world, whether natural or otherwise, it is difficult to understand them from afar. What’s up with Pakistan, anyway? I know hardly anything about it.

Basic information:

Location: bordered by India, China, Afghanistan, Iran and the Arabian Sea.

Size: 307,374 square miles (36th largest country in the world by landmass).

Compare to Texas at: 268,820 square miles.

Population: over 170 million people.

Official languages: Urdu and English

Regional languages: Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Seraiki, Balochi

Capitol city: Islamabad

And of course for great insight into life in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan, read Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea.

One meaningful way to see the impact of the floods is through the BBC’s Dimensions project. Choose the floods or any number of global issues/interests (natural disasters, ancient civilizations, space, etc.) and superimpose their area over familiar places. For example, the area of the Pakistani floods over Seattle would reach from north of Edmonton, Alberta to north of Sacramento, California.

Mil gracias a Amy por la recomendación!

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