Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Online Maps of the Crisis in Syria

Mapping the Syrian Humanitarian Crisis

The number of refugees escaping from the war in Syria has now surpassed four million according to the United Nations.  The total number of displaced people is roughly 9.5 million to 11.7 million.  Al Jazeera America created an interactive map graphic that uses U.S. Census data to show where 11.7 million people live in areas of the United States.  So locations like New York City and Los Angeles are densely populated, while parts of Texas and the Plains have larger areas where the population reaches 11.7 million. 

Users can type in the name of a city (see Muncie above, click to enlarge), and a map is displayed showing displaced people and refugees divided by age group.  Users can add their location map to the gallery on the site.  The site was created in 2013, but the numbers of displaced people is frequently updated.

As a frame of reference, a related site shows were the population is zero.  Nik Freeman used 2010 Census data to find census blocks with zero recorded inhabitants.  The 2010 Census includes 11,078,300 census blocks, and Freeman discovered 4,871,270 blocks covering an area of nearly three million square miles were uninhabited.

The Ball State University Libraries GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) includes a large collection of Syria maps.  The collection includes tourist maps, maps of archaeological sites, road maps, economic activity maps, land use maps, and population maps.  Four sets of topographic maps of Syria at varying scales are also available.  Newer maps showing administrative divisions and relief show the changing borders of the region, and many of the maps include the Golan Heights.  City maps of Syria are also featured in the collection, including a reproduction of a bird’s eye view map of Damascus from 1575.

The most up-to-date maps of Syria are published by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the GRMC includes hundreds of physical and political maps in this collection.  The collection of CIA maps is also available online in the Libraries’ Digital Media Repository.  Teachers and other researchers interested in accessing a digital gallery of updated Syria maps may contact the GRMC at 765-285-1097.

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