38 years ago in a galaxy close, close to our own… In fact, it was within our galaxy that Star Wars was originally released on May 25, 1977. While “May the 4th” has become known as “Star Wars Day,” it’s later in this month that the real fans celebrate. With a set of new films set to release later this year, now is a good time to look back at some of the real life places that became the fictional places in that “galaxy far, far away.”
View Star Wars Filming Locations in a full screen map
The map above shows significant filming locations that were outside of studios, from the forest of Endor to the sand of Tatooine. Due to special effects, much of the Star Wars series has been filmed in sound studios. The three sequels will call Pinewood Studios, just north of London, home. Previously, most Star Wars films had studio work done at Esltree Studios, also in England.
One of the better-known locations is Tunisia, which has been home to the desert planet of Tatooine in episodes I, II, and IV. Episode VII will break tradition, as Abu Dhabi replaces Tunisia for Tattooine. The only other place to represent Tatooine was Death Valley, California, used only in the original movie and Return of the Jedi.
Casual fans may have trouble remembering the progression of Star Wars movies. The original movie was retroactively named Episode IV. In the 2000s, Lucasfilm released the much-anticipated prequel trilogy. Here’s the chronological order of the six films, along with the year they were first in theaters.
- Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
- Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
- Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
The most geographically diverse location has to be Naboo. The picturesque planet has been portrayed by Spain, UK, and multiple areas in Italy.
Like most films, Star Wars did some filming in California. However, it got outside of typical Los Angeles for its other-worldly settings: the desert of Death Valley and the Redwood Forest join the Yuma Desert as the only US locations.
Of course, the best of Hollywood frequently films outside of SoCal, as we discovered when looking at the filming locations of Oscar Best Pictures.
It’s been 15 years since fourth-generation racer Adam Petty died during a practice session for the Busch 200. While there were two fatal crashes that year, there are relatively few fatal crashes for a sport that can see speeds cross over 200 miles per hour. The map below shows all fatalities during practice or competition since NASCAR started in 1948. You can group by year, event, circuit, series, and the activity during the crash (such as qualifying or practice).
View NASCAR Fatal Crashes in a full screen map
Adam Petty was the son of Kyle Petty, grandson Richard Petty, and great-grandson of NASCAR pioneer Lee Petty. The youngest Petty was just 19 when he died at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That circuit, or race track, suffered one other fatality, later in 2000 when Kenny Irwin, Jr., crashed at the same turn as Petty had earlier. Both men suffered a basilar skull fracture. Other than Irwin and Petty, no other racer has died at this circuit.
Daytona International Speedway has seen the most fatal crashes. Famous for the Daytona 500, the circuit also hosts many other events, the most likely reason 14 drivers have lost their lives there. The first was in 1961, the most recent was Dale Earnhardt at the 2001 Daytona 500.
NASCAR as a whole has not had a driving death since 2009, which puts it at over half a decade. The sport has become undeniably safer. The 1950s saw 17 fatalities, and there were 10 in the 1960s. The 1970s saw a dip, with only six, but the 1980s are the second-most dangerous decade with 14 fatal crashes. There were 11 in the 1990s and nine in the 2000s.
The most fatal year was 1956, with five deaths.
The most common time for a fatal crash, unsurprisingly, is during a race. Over half of all fatalities (46) have come during competition, when the track is often crowded and the event is on the line. Practice (11) and Qualifying (8) come next. Only three drivers have died during testing, two in the 60s.
Of course, driving fast is a risky business, but also one increasingly focused on safety. To prevent basilar skull fracture, NASCAR and other motor sports now require drivers to wear head and neck restraints. With luck and further innovations, perhaps there will be very few additional drivers added to this map.
It may sound unappreciative to go Dutch when celebrating Mother’s Day. In reality, it’s hard to do otherwise. While picking up the check at brunch is compulsory, those flowers you bought have a good chance of coming from The Netherlands, also known as Holland (and whose people are Dutch—it’s confusing). No other country exports more flowers, with nearly half of the world’s cut floral goods originating in the small European country.
View World’s Flower Exporters in a full screen map
The 8 billion dollar industry is clearly centered in Holland’s 10,000 hectares of glasshouses. The country’s flower business is actually only one-third devoted to cut flowers, according to Holland.com. Other exports include seeds and bulbs.
Of the European flowers exported, The Netherlands is responsible for 90% of it. Other top European producers are Belgium-luxembourg and Italy.
After Europe, South America is the next-largest flower-exporting continent. In terms of countries, Colombia is a distant second to Holland, with about 16% of the world’s flower exports. Its neighbor, Ecuador comes in third, with just over 9%. Kenya and Ethiopia lead Africa, coming in at fourth and fifth respectively.
If you really want to get your mother something unique, try to find flowers from Guyana. Last on the list, the South American country exported just over $1,000 of flowers in 2012. It is one of 15 countries that export less than $5,000 worth annually.
The US is the largest importer of flowers, but not far behind are Germany and the United Kingdom. Surprisingly, The Netherlands comes in fourth, importing nearly 10% of the world’s flowers despite growing so many itself.
Perhaps Dutch mothers get tired of tulips, the official flower of The Netherlands.
If you think the alternative fueling stations in the US are a varied group of substances, the different ways we produce electricity are an even bigger group. There are 24 different types of power plants amongst the largest 2,500 power plants in the United States mapped below. Unlike gas for vehicles, there is not an undisputed leader amongst power plants. Natural Gas is tops and only makes up 42% of the production facilities. However, geography favors certain types more than others, and you’ll find smaller plants and populations with different types of leading power types. Click around and explore this community-produced map to see how the US makes its electricity.
View US Power Plants in a full screen map
|Fuel type||Power plants||Acronym definition|
|BLQ||49||black liquor, a renewable biomass fuel|
|MSW||25||municipal solid waste|
Unsurprisingly, most of these power plants are near large populations. The more people there are, the more power they need. Since this dataset contains the 2,500 largest facilities, they’re most likely to be near urban areas along each coasts and near large cities throughout the west and midwest.
As you explore each energy source, there are some trends that begin to appear. For example, uranium is most common along the Atlantic and in the midwest. By comparison, hydropower along the West coast and in southeast.
Coal is most common east of the Mississippi River. California is the most populous state, but it only has five coal power plants amongst the top 2,500 plants nationwide. Oregon and Washington each have one, continuing the trend along the west coast.
Things get really interesting in small and remote states. Hawaii is as remote as it gets, and its population is served by 13 of the largest power plants, nine of which use petroleum. Alaska has only seven facilities that make the list of the top power plants, and five of them are natural gas-powered. The geographically large state has a sparse population, which means many of its power plants are much too small to appear amongst the top in the nation. According to the Alaska Power Association, there are 50 hydroelectric plants in the state, the smallest of which is the six-megawatt Power Creek plant serving 2,700 Cordova area residents. Obviously, that one does not make the map.
Amongst the smallest producers on the top list (which starts at 45 megawatt stations), hydropower is the most common. The reason it leads the way for smaller stations is likely because it can be created easily at a small scale—just add water, or a water source, at least.
Outside of the US, German engineers are looking to turn their surplus wind into another type of hydropower, hydrogen. The zero emission fuel has long been a darling of alternative fuel advocates. If they make the scientific advances to make the process efficient, perhaps we’ll see an output other than electricity at the US’s 240 wind power plants. And that would likely mean an increase from the measly 56 hydrogen fuel stations currently open across the US.
80 years ago, on April 20, 1935, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook Taiwan. Over 12,000 people were injured and another 3,270 died. It was the first of three major quakes that year and the most deadly in Taiwan’s history. On a worldwide scale, it’s solidly in the top 100 earthquakes by death toll since 1900, though there are many others beyond it, including six that can be measured in the 100,000s of deaths. The map below shows the deadliest quakes of the last 100 years or so.
View Earthquakes with over 1,000 deaths in a full screen map
Only one hit the United States, the famous 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, which killed about 3,000 people. North America’s only other deadly earthquakes were in Jamaica (1907), Mexico (1985), and Haiti (2010). The most recent of those three is also the most deadly of all time, with 316,000 fatalities estimated.
The next on the most deadly list is 1976’s Tangshan, China, earthquake, that saw 242,769 people perish. The Sumatran quake of 2004 is next with 227,898 deaths. Another Chinese quake, in 1920, is estimated to have killed 200,000.
Deadly quakes do not always mean a higher magnitude. A 9.5 earthquake in Chile in 1920 killed only 1,655. While still amongst the most deadly, it is in the lower half of those mapped above. On the other end of the spectrum, a comparatively small quake of 6.6 killed 31,000 in southeastern Iran in 2003.
The Middle East and Asia are the hardest hit in terms of both magnitude and deaths. More and stronger earthquakes tend to occur where tectonic plates meet. Poverty typically leads to higher casualties, as less-wealthy nations are not prepared for natural disasters, nor have the infrastructure in place to secure buildings.
Of course, even highly industrialized nations can be caught off guard. The most recent amongst the quakes mapped above is Japan’s 2011 disaster. The earthquake and tsunami severely damaged a nuclear power plant, and saw debris from damaged structures float all the way to the west coast of the United States. Over 20,000 people were killed or are still missing.
Earthquakes don’t have to be all about lives lost. If you’re interested in map-making, earthquakes are a great data source to explore. The USGS keeps a live feed of earthquakes for the past hour, day, week, or month. You can choose only quakes above a certain size or you can drink from the firehose and have the entire world’s seismic activity (often hundreds of events per day).
Try downloading a CSV, then upload it to BatchGeo to instantly visualize the latest earthquakes.