New Interactive Relief Map Tool

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I stumbled across an interesting map tool today, via the excellent Simon Kuestenmacher – who tweets regularly about all things maps as @simongerman600.

It is a free interactive online tool that allows you to create a relief map view from anywhere in the world. It is a little tricky to manoeuvre, but the search tool works well. Play with the zoom tool to get the best looking image.

Check it out at:

Here are some images I created:

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Mount Etna

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Mount Vesuvius

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Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland



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New Interactive Iceland Resources

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The travel company ‘Discover the World’ have just launched an excellent resource for geography teachers and students with an interest in Iceland.

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‘Experience Iceland’ is an interactive GIS map featuring 40 videos of various locations across the country. It is possible to zoom into the map to see detailed satellite maps of different landscape locations, and also  watch stunning footage with commentary from Geographer Simon Ross.

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To view ‘Experience Iceland’ follow this link:

There are also many (free) resources about Iceland on the main Discover the World web site.

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Ten New Mega Cities By 2030 – Some New Data for the Classroom

According to the World Economic Forum, ten world cities are predicted to achieve mega-city status by the year 2030. Mega-cities are urban areas with over 10 million inhabitants, and there are currently 31 of them across the world. The continued increase in their number is the most visible evidence of the accelerating global trend towards urbanization.

In 1950, cities were home to  less than one-third of the global population, and there only two mega-cities to be found in the world –  New York and Tokyo. Today, 55% of the world’s population live in urban areas , and within just one generation, that proportion is set to grow to 68% of the total population.

We are all familiar with the names of some of our mega-cities – New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, and Cairo – but some of the cities that the UN predicts will break the ten million mark by 2030 are less familiar. Nine of the 10 cities projected to become megacities between 2018 and 2030 are located in developing countries.

The ‘new’ mega cities list:

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These tables show the existing mega cities (2018), and the ‘new’ list of mega cities predicted for 2030:

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This PDF contains some great data for geographers teaching about world urbanization:

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For instance, it explains how between 2018 and 2030, Delhi is projected to increase by more than 10 million inhabitants, and overtake Tokyo (declining by almost 900,000) on the list of world cities ranked by size:

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Other interesting points revealed in this document:

  • 90% of the shift to urban areas will take place in Asia and Africa
  • Currently, 22 of the world’s 33 mega cities are in Asia and Africa, as are all except one of the 10 set to join them by 2030
  • All of the top 10 fastest growing cities in the world are in India
  • China will gain two more megacities, with Chengdu and Nanjing adding to the six already topping the 10 million mark (Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen)
  • Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, is predicted to be the fourth biggest city in the world by 2030, with 28 million inhabitants
  • There is a notable exception to Asia’s population boom, in ageing Japan. Twenty years ago Osaka was second only to Tokyo. But the population of its metropolitan region peaked at 19 million, and is now actually shrinking. By 2030 it will have dropped out of the top 10 altogether
  • Surprisingly, no new megacities are predicted at all for the Americas. Sao Paulo and Mexico City are currently the 4th and 5th largest in the world. But by 2030 they will have dropped to 9th and 8th respectively
  • In 1950, the United States could boast six of the world’s 20 biggest cities. By 2030 it will have just one – New York
  • Europe has seen the largest number of cities actually losing population (particularly in Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine). But it also contains the only place outside Asia and Africa predicted to achieve megacity status between now and 2030 – London
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Landscapes From Old Books


I came across a fascinating web site this week showcasing the work of Montreal-based artist Guy Laramee. He practices a form of mixed media artwork called ‘altered books’ that changes a book from its original form into something with a different appearance and/or meaning – a funky example of upcycling.

I was particularly interested in Laramee’s 3D landscapes created from old dictionaries, encyclopedias and other large books. Laramee carefully carves out wonderful representations of mountain scenery, glaciated uplands, and even tsunamis.

What do you do with your old books?

Here are a few more images of Laramee’s landscapes:




This news report explains how Laramee creates his masterpieces:


You can find out more about this amazing artist from his web site:


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New National Parks Poster for the Classroom

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The Ordnance Survey has recently produced a stunning poster to celebrate 70 years of Great Britain’s National Parks:


The poster shows the varied landscapes of our 15 National Parks which are ordered by the year they were created, from the Peak District in 1951 down to the South Downs in 2010. The poster is available from the Ordnance Survey shop at:

Some National Parks data from the Ordnance Survey blog:

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ScreenHunter_06 Apr. 16 12.16Individual maps of the National Parks can be found in the OS Flickr album:

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Images of Plastic Pollution


Image: WWF

Plastic pollution – particularly in the oceans – has become a major issue of modern times. I recently discovered an excellent web site that contains a series of thought provoking images that could be used to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the classroom.

Here are a couple of examples:


Image – China Photos/Getty Images


Image – Fred Dufour/AFP

More images available on the web site at:

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Travel Inspiration From An Eight Year Old Russian Boy

At the beginning of this month, the BBC news web site carried an interesting story with a distinct geographical flavour.

It described the adventures of an eight-year-old boy from the city of Astrakhan in southern Russia who has won social media fame after setting off on an around-the-world trip. The boy’s mother contacted the police after finding a note from her son saying he had left to “travel around the world”.

A search team later found him walking down a street equipped with encyclopaedias for research and money from his piggy bank to fund his adventure. He had already travelled on three different buses before continuing on foot.

The boy’s ambition caught the attention of a private language school that offered to “teach the young explorer from Astrakhan English for free for a full year”.

I wonder how many others have made plans to travel the world at such a tender age? Perhaps some achieved their goals a little later in life, and perhaps some are still waiting to take that first step ….



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