Sunday, January 30, 2011

A map of the predominant surnames in the USA

I have recently come across this very interesting map published by National Geographic.
Map: Mina Liu; Oliver Uberti, NGM Staff. Source: James Cheshire, Paul Longley, and Pablo Mateos, University College London.
It shows the most common surnames in the different states of the USA. The bigger the name, the more common it is. The colours are given according to the origin of the name, thus, red surnames are Spanish in origin, and it is quite interesting to see how they are mainly found in the states that used to be part of the Spanish Empire. Blue, on the other hand, with its different shades, is the colour of surnames coming from England, Scotland and Wales; green is for the Irish names, brown is for Scandinavian names, etc. It's also quite logical that the French names, in pink, are found near the Canadian frontier, where French is an official language alongside English. The German names, in orange, abound in the Northern central states like Wisconsin, Iowa or Minnesotta. Finally, it's no wonder that the Chinese name Lee is rife in California, where so many immigrants of that nationality helped to build the railway.

See the interactive map here.
Hat tip to Richard Byrne, of the Free Technology for Teachers' blog.

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