Airport Codes

Making sense of those three-letter airport codes.


I often fly into CVG (Cincinnati) and wondered why those 3 letters are used as the airport code instead of CIN.  “Serving the greater Cincinnati metro area, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky’s airport code comes from the nearby city of Covington.”  So why is Chicago ORD and Washington D.C.’s airport IAD?  Airport codes has all the answers to these sorts of questions, but the great circle mapper can help you visualize how these transportation hubs are connected and make fun maps of all your travels.    

Tags: mobility, mapping, transportation.

Social Progress Index

The Social Progress Imperative creates a shared language and common goals to align different organizations and achieve greater social impact.


I think we all know that we shouldn’t judge a country just by it’s GDP.  Economic development might be correlated with development and social progress, but the outliers are so telling.  In this TED talk, we learn about a new metric designed to measure how well a society provides opportunities for communal and individual success.  Having lived in Costa Rica for two years, I’m not surprised to find that Costa Rica does much better on this index than it would if we were to use GDP or HDI as a way to measure social progress and quality of life. For a more detailed look at the United States, see Geographies of Opportunity: Ranking well-being by Congressional Districts.        

Questions to Ponder: How is the Social Progress Index similar to and different from the Human Development Index?  What assumptions are built into the system? 

Tags: development, statistics, economic, Costa Rica, mapping.

Stratfor’s Geographic Challenge Video Series

“Stratfor provides geopolitical analysis that is relevant for world regional geography classes, especially their ‘Geographic Challenge’ series. Videos in the ‘Geographic Challenge’ series are symbolized on this map as RED numbered pushpins, and other regional Stratfor videos are BLUE.”  Also see my map of my favorite geography videos to share in the classroom 


I produced this interactive on ArcGIS online to spatially index over 70+ videos from Stratfor, a leader in providing geopolitical intelligence.  This is a great starting point for a student researching a country and some of the issues and challenges that it confronts.       

Tags: mapping, video, ESRIgeography education, geopoliticspolitical.

Kiribati and Climate Change

You might not be feeling the effects of climate change, but Kiribati, a small country in the Pacific, is actually drowning because of rising sea levels. Check out how the government there is trying to run a country that might not exist in a few years.


The impacts of climate change might feel far off or something that will affect other places…not so for the citizens of Kiribati.  This video is the 1 minute version of the political/environmental situation, and this is the 15 minute version.    

Tags: Kiribati, Oceania, environment, resources, watercoastal, environment depend, climate change, political ecology.

What’s the Yemen conflict really about?

Is the conflict due to geographical rivalry, sectarian divisions, disappointment after the 2011 revolution or is it part of a wider regional power play?


Saudi Arabia has recently announced that they stop their 4 week long bombing campaign against a rebel group in Yemen.  Like many complex geopolitical conflict, it is hard for students to begin to understand what the fighting is really about, but this article is a solid introduction to the Yemen conflict

Tags: Yemen, political, conflict.

Who Owns Antarctica?


If there is one thing that the modern political order can’t stand it is letting unclaimed land remain unclaimed…even if it covered in frozen ice.  See some of the competing claims (and international agreements) on the political status of Antarctica.  Click here to see a similar analysis on competing claims over the North Pole.    

TagsAntarcticaclimate changepoliticalresources,watersovereignty.

China’s Xi Jinping agrees $46bn superhighway to Pakistan

China’s President Xi Jinping has signed a deal with Pakistan promising $46bn (£30.7bn) of investment.

China plans to inject some $46bn – almost three times the entire foreign direct investment Pakistan has received since 2008. Many say Mr Sharif’s penchant for “thinking big” and China’s increasing need to control maritime trade routes may well combine to pull off an economic miracle in Pakistan.

But there are questions over Pakistan’s ability to absorb this investment given its chronic problems with militancy, separatism, political volatility and official corruption.

China is worried about violence from ethnic Uighurs in its mostly Muslim north-western Xinjiang region and fears hard-line separatists could team up with Uighur militants fighting alongside members of Pakistan’s Taliban.