Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

What the U.S.-Mexico Border Looks Like, in Timelapse

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

When most people talk about international borders, they’re being somewhat metaphorical. Rare is the person who’s actually traveled the full border between two countries and has a real idea of how they are separated by geography and political history. You may have crossed through one border checkpoint, but you may not have climbed the middle-of-nowhere mountain that forms the border a few hundred miles away.

In light of the political discussion around border walls, The Intercept and Field of Vision created a timelapse of some 200,000 images showing each of the 1954 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. All the images were downloaded from Google Maps according to the geographic coordinates of the international boundary line. Some of the images show urban stretches, with only roads and fences to separate one city from the other across the border; other parts are simply a stretch of flat desert; and still other parts of the border contain very real geographical obstacles like mountains and rivers.

“The southern border is a space that has been almost entirely reduced to metaphor. It is not even a geography. Part of my intention with this film is to insist on that geography,” writes data artist Josh Begley on The Intercept. He wrote the code that downloaded and stitched together all 200,000 images. “By focusing on the physical landscape, I hope viewers might gain a sense of the enormity of it all, and perhaps imagine what it would mean to be a political subject of that terrain.”

The whole thing is almost seven minutes long and pretty dizzying, both in the metaphorical and physiological sense. You can watch it here.

[h/t The Intercept]

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
geography
Why Macedonia Is Getting a New Name
iStock
iStock

For the first time since becoming an independent nation in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia is rebranding itself. As CNN reports, the Balkan nation will soon be called the Republic of Northern Macedonia, a name change that will hopefully help to heal the country's tense relationship with Greece.

Macedonia adopted its former title after gaining independence from Yugoslavia 27 years ago, and the name immediately caused conflict. Its neighbor to the south, Greece has a region of its own called Macedonia. Greece claimed that Macedonia's name suggested a sense of entitlement to territory that belonged to them and took it as an insult.

Even decades later, the bad blood stirred by the decision remained. Greece's issue with the name has even prevented Macedonia from joining the European Union and NATO. The new title, which was agreed upon by Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras on June 11, is meant to be a step towards better relations between the two countries.

"Our bid in the compromise is a defined and precise name, the name that is honorable and geographically precise—Republic of Northern Macedonia," Prime Minister Zaev said at a press conference, as reported by Reuters. Macedonia will hold a popular vote to officially change the name in a referendum later this year.

A country changing its name isn't uncommon, but reasons for the revision vary. In April 2018, the country formerly known Swaziland announced it would be called eSwatini, the name it went by prior to British colonization.

[h/t CNN]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Why Did Russia Sell Alaska to the United States of America?
iStock
iStock

Adam Weymouth:

America bought Alaska from Russia in 1867, a deal negotiated by William Seward, then US Secretary of State. That Russian heritage is still preserved in Alaska, in the surnames of those that live along the Yukon, names like Demoski and Kozevniko and Shaishniko, and in the onion domes of the Orthodox churches in the villages downriver. The U.S. purchase much derided at the time: the press dubbed it 'Seward’s folly," and the new acquisition as Walrussia.

The Russians had exhausted the fur trade after wiping out most of the sea otters, and they had then lost interest in Alaska, believing it had to have few other natural resources. Not sure what to do with their new half-billion acres, the U.S. governed [it] as a far-flung territory, with all the lawlessness that entailed. Statehood would not come until 1959, with the United States capitalizing on Alaska’s strategic military importance vis-à-vis Japan and Russia. But it was in 1967 that Seward’s folly hit pay dirt: The oilfield discovered on the North Slope would prove to be the largest in the United States.

Who can say what the situation would be if the Russians owned Alaska today? Russia would share a land border with Canada. The Russians would have benefited hugely from the 16 billion barrels of oil that have so far been extracted from Prudhoe Bay. The U.S. would have no claim on the Arctic, a place that will have huge political and economic importance as the icecap thaws during this century. It is quite possible that the world would look very different.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios