Can You Name The Most Visited Cities of 2017?




I love a good list – always handy to use with a class in those odd blank few minutes that sometimes appear at the end of a lesson. Sometimes, whole lesson sequences can be planned around them.


The first geo list I have come across in the New Year is this one, released by MasterCard, and titled ‘2017 Global Destinations Cities Index’. It provides a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world.

By measuring the number of international overnight visitors, the study, now in its ninth year, predicted last autumn which countries would be the most visited in 2017.

Here are the top 30 cities that attracted the most visitors last year:
30. Johannesburg, South Africa — 4.8 million international visitors.
29. Berlin, Germany — 5.1 million international visitors.
28. Toronto, Canada — 5.3 million international visitors.
27. Mumbai, India — 5.35 million international visitors.
26. Munich, Germany — 5.4 million international visitors.
25. Madrid, Spain — 5.5 million international visitors.
24. Dublin, Ireland — 5.59 million international visitors.
23. Chennai, India — 5.7 million international visitors.
22. Los Angeles, USA — 5.8 million international visitors.
21. Miami, USA — 6 million international visitors.
20. Prague, Czech Republic — 6.4 million international visitors.
19. Vienna, Austria — 6.63 million international visitors.
18. Shanghai, China — 6.65 million international visitors.
17. Rome, Italy — 7.3 million international visitors.
16. Taipei, Taiwan — 7.8 million international visitors.
15. Osaka, Japan — 7.9 million international visitors.
14. Milan, Italy — 8.4 million international visitors.
13. Amsterdam, Netherlands — 8.7 million international visitors.
12. Barcelona, Spain — 8.9 million international visitors.
11. Istanbul, Turkey — 9.24 million international visitors.
10. Hong Kong — 9.25 million international visitors.
9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — 12.1 million international visitors.
8. New York, USA — 12.4 million international visitors.
7. Seoul, South Korea — 12.44 million international visitors.
6. Tokyo, Japan — 12.5 million international visitors.
5. Singapore — 13.45 million international visitors.
4. Dubai, UAE — 16 million international visitors.
3. Paris, France — 16.1 million international visitors.
2. London, UK — 20 million international visitors.
1. Bangkok, Thailand — 20.2 million international visitors.

Any surprises? What cities did you expect to make the list – but do not appear?

How many have you been lucky enough to visit? I have made twenty on the list!

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Digimap Resources Now Easy To Find

Picture6I hope by now all geographers reading this blog have taken advantage of the ‘Digimap’ service provided by the EDINA national data centre for UK academia.
It is a tremendously versatile tool that is affordable for all geography departments and for me, it is an essential support resource for so many aspects of classroom practice.       If you haven’t explored it yet – give it a try!

For current users, Digimap has recently added a new section of resources pages, containing loads of resources for Primary and Secondary geography.

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ScreenHunter_10 Jan. 23 15.59There are loads of ideas on how to use Digimap in other subject areas, so spread the word amongst your colleagues. In my old school, the history department found it very useful, especially being able to use the historical maps.

Digimap is also a great resource for fieldwork exercises at all key stages – and especially key stage four. This short video explains how it can support work in any GCSE syllabus:


If you want to find out more about useful Digimap tools, you may want to check back to the archive of this blog. In May, 2017 an article outlined how the programme had been updated to include photographs, via the ‘Geograph’ project. It explains how
teachers and students can access this photograph library via the Digimap programme, and easily find images of features they are interested in and see them located on the maps.
Another blog entry found in September, 2016 shows how Digimap added a feature called aerial imagery to its mapping software.

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Giant Geo Graffiti

I would imagine a number of geography teachers have used this powerful image in their lessons on international migration:


But do you know the story behind the artist? This giant image (65 feet tall) appeared on the USA – Mexico border near the crossing at Tecate, south-east of San Diego last year, and depicts a young child peering over the border wall and smiling, his fingertips resting on the top. It was produced by ‘JR’, a 34 year old French photographer/artist who describes himself as a ‘photograffeur’ and has become famous around the world for flyposting his giant black and white photographic images onto buildings or scaffolding structures.

parisJR actually came to global attention during the Paris street riots of 2005, when he posted an image of a film maker holding a video camera like a sub machine gun on the walls of a troubled housing project area.



PalestineA lot of JR’s work has strong geographical connections, and can provide a thought-provoking resource to use in the classroom. In 2007, he produced an (illegal) exhibition on the wall separating Israel from Palestine which cleverly paired giant images of people from both sides of the barrier who do the same jobs – like barbers, shopkeepers, and so on.

In 2008, he visited the favelas of Brazil where he courted permission from the residents (as well as the criminal gang leaders) to paste images of eyes and faces on the walls of the shacks.


Favela 1

In 2011, his gift for communication earned him a TED award, and he used the $100,000 prize to start the Inside Out project, which encouraged people all over the world to paste images of their faces on walls, buildings, landscape, as a statement. Inspirational call-outs Have been produced from Bangladesh to Afghanistan, while a project in Switzerland involved pensioners pasting images on the walls of a retirement home. JR reflected that: “It’s a wealthy city, where they have everything, but they just feel forgotten. They pasted their photos to say, ‘Hey, we’re still here’.”

HungerJR was born in France to parents from Tunisia and Eastern Europe, but now works from a studio in New York. He was brought up on a hosing estate in the suburbs of Paris, and as a teenager he would write on neighbourhood walls with his friends. He soon hooked up with Parisian graffiti artists, and began to photograph their art around the city.


JR has this year opened an exhibition in London which will include the sketches for ‘Giants’ – a series of giant athletes that appeared throughout the city of Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games. The most famous was a high jumper performing a Fosbury flop over a five story apartment building.

High Jump

This year will also see the release of a documentary film JR made with 89 year old film maker Agnes Varda titled ‘Faces Places’. It traces the duo’s journey through rural France as they photograph and interview local people, and won the documentary prize at Cannes last year.

Follow this link to watch a TED video on JR:–b&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare


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Geography Google Doodles In The Classroom


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Brazil National Day – 7 September, 2017

Did you know that you can access the archive of ‘Google Doodles’? The archive is searchable, and many of the images picture geographical themes – making them interesting resources for use in the classroom.

You can access the archive here:

ScreenHunter_12 Nov. 14 17.59Each image is accompanied by additional information about the doodle, for example the doodle for  Cambodia’s Independence Day carried this explanation:

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Some of the images are a little cryptic, and it can be fun to get the students to try to work out what the particular Google Doodle you show them actually represents.

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Geradus Mercator’s 503rd birthday – March 5th, 2015

I have sometimes used a ‘blank’ Google sheet for students to devise their own Doodles – perhaps to introduce a topic, focus on a particular event or special date, or even revise a particular theme. You can even design a set of your own Doodles to test the students – ‘Pictionary’ style. I used to get some interesting efforts from year six students on their induction days when trying to define the differences between physical and human geography. The creative design work can also be accompanied by a written task, where the students have to summarise the content / meaning of their Doodle in a set number of words.

Google Doodle 2

Google Doodle 1

If you want a blank ‘Google Doodle’ sheet to use, here is one that was used in a ‘Google Doodle’ competition:  Doodle4Google_EntryForm

Or you could use these Google logos:google-templates-6ladea2hgoogle_logo_outline

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The idea for Google Doodles originated in 1998 – even before the company was incorporated – when Google founders Larry and Sergey played with the corporate logo to indicate their attendance at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. They placed a stick figure drawing behind the 2nd “o” in the word, Google, and the revised logo was intended as a comical message to Google users that the founders were “out of office.” While the first doodle was relatively simple, the idea of decorating the company logo to celebrate notable events was born. Two years later in 2000, Larry and Sergey asked current webmaster Dennis Hwang, an intern at the time, to produce a doodle for Bastille Day. It was so well received by users that Dennis was appointed Google’s chief doodler and doodles started showing up more and more regularly on the Google homepage. Creating doodles is now the responsibility of a team of illlustrators and engineers, who attempt to enliven the Google homepage and bring smiles to the faces of Google users around the world. The team has created over 2000 doodles to date.


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Fridtjof Nansen’s 156th birthday – October 10th, 2017


The end of 2017 and the start of the New Year (2018) saw a special holiday series of doodles featuring images of penguins. Since the first doodle was shared on December 18, the penguins made plans to visit their tropical bird friends in warmer weather, celebrated the New Year’s Eve among palm trees and then returning home to witness a bright new day for the start of 2018.







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Fake Maps

9781846685101Like many geography teachers, I harbour something of an obsession with maps. I have recently read this excellent book by Simon Garfield, titled “On the Map”, and would highly recommend it for anyone’s Christmas reading list. It runs through a fascinating history of maps, from the earliest sketches by philosophers, through the Mappa Mundi and the work of the early maritime explorers, right up to digital maps and modern day me-mapping. On the way, he takes a number of detours to examine fake maps, pocket maps, map frauds, the Monopoly board map and brain mapping.

While enjoying this marvellous book I happened across this presentation by Steve Feldman titled ‘Fake Maps’. It was made for the FOSS4G conference in Boston this year – a global gathering focused on open source geospatial software. In this engaging talk, Steve examines some of the early maps that were built on fake information, many of which stayed in print for a number of years showing things like the mountains of Kong in west Africa and California as an island. He also looks at problems of map projections, how data can be used (and mis-used) in the mapping of the US elections, and satirical political maps of the past.

Worth 30 minutes of your time – you won’t be disappointed!

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Would Your Students Spot Missing Countries On A World Map?

I always liked using an ‘upside down’ world map in the classroom – like this one available from

Upsidedown Map Of The World--Optimized

It challenges pupils’ perceptions – while at the same time maintaining accuracy of a good world map.

However, I came across an interesting article on the BBC web site recently that described how people from New Zealand have become unhappy about being left off of many versions of the world map.

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Watch the video on the web site to see how if members of the public are able to spot the problem. How well do you think your students would fare?

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Sink Holes Around The World

I came across an interesting article in the Guardian newspaper recently – looking at some of the enormous sink holes that have opened up around the world:

The photos included here would make great mystery lesson starters, like this one from Guatamala City, where the rains from tropical storm Agatha combined with an erupting volcano and leakage from sewer pipes created a giant sink hole in the centre of the city in 2010:

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