Geographer Nik Freeman's "Nobody Lives Here" Map Shows that Almost Half of the United States Is Uninhabited
The world might stand to lose a horrifying amount of dry land if/when the polar ice caps melt, but at least it looks like we’ll have plenty of space inland to relocate to: According to this map, almost half of the United States is completely uninhabited. Half of it. Given that the whole country measures at about 9.827 million square kilometers… well, that’s a lot of empty space.
Geographer and data-cruncher Nik Freeman created the map seen below using data from the 2010 U.S. Census. Simply put, the white areas denote spaces where people live, while the green areas denote areas where they don’t. Here’s what we’re looking at, according to Freeman: The U.S. Census Bureau divides area units by “blocks,” with the country consisting of 11,078,300 of these blocks. Of those 11 million blocks, 4,871,270 of them — 4.61 million square kilometers — are reported to have no people living inside of them. The U.S. has a population of more than 310 million people, but despite this, 47 percent of the country is unoccupied.
Freeman notes, though, that these spaces are usually empty for one of two reasons: Either it’s an area where human habitation is “physically restrictive or impossible,” or where it’s “prohibited by social or legal convention.” The really huge swaths of green are pretty much all national and state parks, military bases, or occasionally malls, offices, factories, or warehouses. Weirdly, though, Northern Maine is mostly uninhabited, as is the border between North and South Dakota. Why? No idea. But it’s curious, don’t you think?
As Deadspin notes, Freeman’s blog is full of amazing high brow-low brow creations like this; he’s also known for his particularly wonderful map detailing the density of Waffle House locations across the U.S. (spoiler: most of ‘em are on the East Coast). You guys! My plan for the apocalypse is coming together! The polar ice caps melt; we all move inland; and we take up residence in Waffle Houses all over the country. We will become the Waffle House Nation, and it will magnificent!... Or maybe it won’t, but whatever. It’s an option, right?