An amazing world map shows the most famous people on earth

No matter whether Google Maps or the entire globe from Google Earth: maps can be fascinating.  (Sandra; robert Adobe Stock)

No matter whether Google Maps or the entire globe from Google Earth: maps can be fascinating. (Sandra; robert/Adobe Stock)

Maps are fascinating – and not just as a crumpled Falk road map in the glove compartment. One of these cards worth mentioning has been available online since mid-2022, but has lost none of its entertainment value to date.

The map is available under the title “Notable Peoples”. It shows you, which can be rotated and zoomed continuously, who the most notable people from a region are. The digital world map shows “2,291,817 people from 5,500 years of human history,” as Der Standard also wrote at the time.

But what exactly is this slightly different world map all about?

Who is behind the world map with the most famous people?

Topi Tjukanov, a geographer from Helsinki, is behind the map. When it comes to maps, Tyukanov is a professional, having created interactive, animated and printed maps professionally. One of these card projects is the one presented here with famous people.

Back then, Tjukanov promoted his project via Twitter (now X).

Link to Twitter content

How does the famous people map work? If you are on the Notable People map, you can immediately see that the globe is covered with dozens of names. These are the birthplaces of sometimes more, sometimes less famous people.

When we opened the map for the first time, we immediately noticed names like “Charlize Theron”, “Michel Houellebecq”, “Albert Camus” or “Rihanna” – all people from a wide range of areas who have achieved a certain level of prominence.

How do you navigate the famous people map? At the top left, a text informs you that only one person with the highest level of popularity is displayed for each geographical location. So if you drive very far out, you will initially only see “Sigmund Freud” about Austria. If you drive closer to the country, names like “Franz Kafka”, “Miloš Forman” or “Kurt Ködel” pop up.

What filters does the card have? You can either display all personalities or narrow down your search to specific areas. “Culture”, “Discoveries & Science”, “Leaders” and “Sports & Games” are available to choose from. If you want, you can also display the names of the places – you know, like a regular map.

How do you see the people you know? If you click on a person, a box opens. This will show you: A link to the person on the “Wikidata”, a numerical level of popularity, the person's biological gender, and whether the person is still alive.

By the way, the level of popularity determines how early the respective people are shown to you. Albert Einstein, for example, is shown to you comparatively early in Germany. For Martin Heidegger you have to zoom in a few levels further.

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Fun Fact: Did you know that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu?
Fun Fact: Did you know that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu?

Fun Fact: Did you know that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu?

How does the map determine the level of popularity of people? According to The Verge, the map is based on a study published in the scientific journal Nature, in which a database of famous people was built – starting in 3,500 BC and ending in 2018. Data from Wikipedia and Wikidata were used for the study.

The level of popularity of a person is sometimes calculated according to these rules:

  • Article versions: The number of versions of the Wikipedia article per person
  • Word Count: Total number of words found in all available biographies. For people with only one Wikidata entry and no biography in Wikipedia, this number is zero
  • Views: The average number of views per person between 2015 and 2018. This includes all voice output available to a person.
  • Link: The total number of external links originating from Wikidata for an individual

Speaking of cards: 65 million years ago: This is what Google Maps would have looked like for the dinosaurs

And? Who are the most famous people where you live? Do you share your birthplace with some well-known personalities from contemporary history? Or were you able to discover completely new people and their work via this world map? As always, however you use the interesting map project, we look forward to your comments about it.

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