4th of July: Not Just for the USA

In the United States, we’ll be celebrating Independence Day this weekend. July 4 marks the signing of America’s Declaration of Independence from England. However, the date is only one of 365 (or 366) dates in existence. Unsurprisingly, other things have happened on this date. If you’re looking for American patriotism, consider this map of over 300 places named after George Washington. For a change of pace, check out these lesser-known July 4 events.

View 4th of July Around the World in a full screen map

While American independence was about a colony separating itself from the rule of a king, there are several royal July 4th events that precede it. In 414, 13 year-old Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II passed the throne to his older sister to rule as regent. In 1120, Jordan II became Prince of Capua when his infant nephew died, in what is now Naples, Italy. About 400 years later, Christian III was elected King of Denmark and Norway. And another half a millennia after that, in 1918, Ottoman sultan Mehmed VI ascended to the throne. The first and the last of these royal events occurred in Instanbul.

July 4th isn’t just for princes, kings, emperors, and sultans. It’s also a day of wonder. In 1892, there were two July 4ths in Western Samoa, as the state changed the International Date Line. Similarly wondrous are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In 1862, Lewis Carroll first told the story that three years later to the day would be published as the now-famous book.

The date also factors heavily into WWII history. In Lviv, Ukraine, Nazis massacred Polish scientists and writers. Meanwhile, in Riga, Latvia, saw the Burning of the Riga synagogues. A year later the 250 day Siege of Sevastopol ended with an Axis victory. In 1943, there was the largest full-scale battle in history in Kursk, Russia, as well as a Royal Air Force accident in Gibraltar, Spain.

A few years prior to those war events saw one of the most famous speeches in sports history. Lou Gehrig gave his “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech to a sold out crowd at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939.

Back in the US, there are a couple of American Revolution era events that aren’t the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In 1754 George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity during the French and Indian War. And on July 4, 1826, early presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day.

Explore the map above to see all 76 culled from this Wikipedia entry. You can also select specific year ranges on the map using BatchGeo’s grouping technology. Clearly, American Independence is not alone when it comes to major July 4 events.

Seven Wonders of the World? More Like 46 Wonders

Humans love lists. You’ll find them across your Facebook feed, and on numerous blogs, but they’re not new. In fact, one of the oldest lists in existence is that of the Seven Wonders of the World. Dating as far back to Ancient Greece, the original Seven Wonders list includes only sights near the Mediterranean, and only the pyramids have lasted these last 2,400 years. Luckily, there are multiple lists of the seven wonders, all available for you to peruse on this BatchGeo map.

View Seven Wonders of the World in a full screen map

The ancient wonders were apparently used as a sort of guidebook for Greek sightseers. Who knew such a thing existed? They included a temple and mausoleum in modern day Turkey, two statues in what is still called Greece, the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Egypt), Gardens of Babylon (Iraq) and the aforementioned Egyptian pyramids. You can still visit the location, ruins, or replicas of the six that no longer exist in their ancient glory.

The other Seven Wonders lists are more recent and most you are able to visit easily. Many are still clustered in Europe, but every continent except Antarctica is represented. Here are the lists themselves. You can use the grouping tool to choose the type of Wonder from the map above.

  • Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
  • Seven Civil Wonders of the World
  • Seven Medieval Wonders of the World
  • New7Wonders Foundation Wonders of the World
  • Seven Natural Wonders of the World
  • Seven Wonders of the Industrial World
  • USA Today’s New Seven Wonders

Two lists have eight wonders. The New7Wonders list added the pyramids as an honorary candidate after controversy over the ancient wonder competing with 20 other finalists. USA Today’s New Seven Wonders added a viewer-chosen eighth wonder after the seven judge-chosen wonders were announced on Good Morning America. Viewers selected the Grand Canyon.

Four Wonders make two lists

Arizona’s sprawling landmark is one of a handful of wonders that make multiple lists. Grand Canyon is on the USA Today’s New Seven Wonders, as well as Wonders of the Natural World. The Great Wall of China and the Colosseum both make the Medieval and New7Wonders lists. The Panama Canal gets the nod for Civil and Industrial Wonders. The pyramids, of course, are an original Wonder, in addition to being on the New7Wonders list.

The farthest from continental land is Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. It also could lay claim to being the largest wonder, at over 140,000 square miles. It dwarfs the Grand Canyon, for example. However, not all Wonders can be measured in square miles. The Great Wall of China is 13,000 miles long.

There are a few Wonders that are difficult to map. Aurora is a naturally occurring phenomenon that causes beautiful light displays in the sky. That it occurs in the sky makes it difficult to map. On top of that, it typically is viewed at high latitude, but not any particular location. The Polar Ice Cap is at 90 degrees latitude and simultaneously at every longitude, making it easier to identify on a globe than a flat map. Lastly, USA Today’s Seven Wonders list included the Internet, which is not physical at all. However, since you’re reading this from the Internet, why don’t we all agree it’s well represented on the interactive map above.

Does Education Influence Incarceration?

Almost one percent of the US population lives in a jail cell. Any time a politically-charged topic like incarceration is discussed, it often involves a discussion of education. The two topics are intertwined because the data suggests at the very least a correlation between one and another. In fact, you can see the connection visually with just two pieces of geographic data. We collected the educational-attainment rates of every US state and combined it with the incarceration rates. When plotted on a map, you can use BatchGeo’s multi-column grouping and filtering to see the relationship between education and incarceration.

View Graduation Rates vs Incarceration Rates in a full screen map

The states with the most prisoners per 100,000 people are Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas. These states are also at or below the US average of 85% of the population with a high school diploma.

On the flip side, the states with the fewest prison rate are Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. All but Rhode Island have graduation rates well above the US average.

The trend continues throughout the data. Of the 25 states with the highest prison populations, almost half (12) are below the national average for high school graduation rate. By contrast, 80% of the other half of the states, where prison populations at lower, have graduation rates above the national average.

The data is not as convincing for higher levels of education. In fact, there’s no discernible pattern. Perhaps that is why most of the research focuses on high school graduation rates.

The New York Times reported in 2009 that 10% of all dropouts in the US are in jail. That statistic is staggering, especially compared with high school graduates, who only make up 3% of the prison population. Put another way, teens that don’t finish high school are over than three times more likely than their graduated peers to go to jail.

The reverse paints the picture even more dire picture, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics
Special Report from 2003. Statistician Caroline Wolf Harlow found that 59% of America’s federal prison inmates did not complete high school. Further, 75% of America’s state prison inmates are high school dropouts.

There’s some good news, as we get into graduation season. If you know one of the 3.3 million estimated Americans who will graduate this year, they have a much better chance of an unincarcerated future.

Space Stations with Most Rocket Launches

Earlier this year SpaceX completed a test flight that could lead the way to human space flight. That’s a long way in a short time given that this week we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the company’s Falcon 9 craft first reaching orbit. The history of terrestrial space stations, or spaceports, dates back into the 1940s. There are over 100 rocket launching sites across 42 countries representing thousands and thousands of lift-offs. You can explore these stations in the map below using BatchGeo’s grouping technology to see the oldest, newest, and most prolific stations on the planet.

View Space Station Rocket Launches in a full screen map

Some of the earliest rocket launches were created for battle during World War II. The German site at Peenemünde launched over 3,000 V-2 rockets targeted Allied positions in Europe. Similarly bourne out of post-wartime hysteria, the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico was established in 1946. Previously the home of the first atomic bomb test, the range has seen the most launches of any site with a count. At over 7,000 launches, it is also the oldest station still in operation.

The Space Race of the 1950s and 60s certainly played its part in rocket launches. Unsurprisingly, the US and Russia have more stations than other countries, with 12 and eight respectively. However, there are few that come close.

  • Argentina has seven sites, most of which ceased in the 60s or 70s. However, a military test launch site re-opened in 2011, and a civilian test site has made two launches since 2014. Another site for the Tronador II rockets should be operational by 2017.
  • Japan had six sites, mostly from the 1950s.
  • China has five sites, and is the only country to join the US and Russia in human spaceflight.

The Kennedy Space Center in Florida has only seen 151 launches, but the NASA center can be thanked for all of the United States human missions until the space shuttle program ended in 2011. Named after John F. Kennedy shortly after his death in 1963, the location was chosen for being a prime spot for reaching equatorial orbit.

Nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is also a rocket site, and the choice of most SpaceX launches. Since 2006, the company has worked under contract with NASA. Falcon 9 first went into orbit five years ago, but it has completed 13 other flights, including five cargo deliveries to the international space station.

Map of D-Day Landings in the Battle of Normandy

It was a World War, but one of the most important operations of WWII can be boiled down to a single day in a single region of a single country. Operation Overlord, otherwise known as the Battle of Normandy, took place on June 6, 1944. There were 13 countries taking part in the bombings, amphibious landings, and fighting that began on what is called “D-Day,” after the military term used to plan the operation in secret. The map below showcases some important landmarks in Normandy, the coastal region across the English channel from Britain.

View Selected D-Day Landmarks in a full screen map

The most well-known aspect of the operation is the beach invasion. Over 4,000 vessels carried over 125,000 troops to six primary landings. Charging amidst German gunfire, this allied success helped regain control of Normandy, then France, and eventually all of western Europe. The beaches are known by their military code names: Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach.

The largest number of troops landed on Omaha Beach, which was portrayed with bloody accuracy at the opening of the film Saving Private Ryan. Omaha also suffered the most casualties, with as many as 10,000 troops injured or killed. Percentage-wise, the smaller invasions of Utah Beach and Pointe du Hoc saw 35% and 60% casualties respectively.

Normandy then and now

The Atlantic shared a great then and now photo essay of D-Day for the 70th anniversary.

Normandy American CemeteryThere are at least two memorials near the beaches. The best known is the Normandy American Cemetery, where 9,387 US veterans are buried. There is also a memorial near Juno Beach honoring the United Kingdom’s involvement in the operation.

The map also shows a handful of the important objectives shared by the troops coming across the water and the paratroopers who preceded them behind German lines. Many of the objectives involved either protecting or destroying bridges as a way to control transportation throughout Normandy.

It’s been over 70 years since the invasion. The beach storm changed the tide of the war, which was completely over in Europe a year later.