This is part of my series about maps of the world where I compare each country I have visited in different categories. The point of this analysis is that after having visited almost all the countries (173/196) I believe I have finally acquired the experience and the credibility to be able to put them side by side and give an honest comparison. Of course, many of them are personal views following my personal tastes and is only a generalization. But since I get so many questions all the time about “what are my favorite country, for this, for that, for everything… “ I decided to represent my results graphically for people to get a better understanding of my opinion.
When I was told at age 13 years/old that I had to do something in life that I truly loved, the subject that most resonated in my mind was “History”. That was my real passion! But I couldn’t imagine myself being a simple history teacher in a Canadian high school teaching history of native Amerindians to students that don’t care a single bit… Instead, I imagined a way I could live this history by going to these destinations by myself and this is how my curiosity to travel the world started. Once immersed in the specific location where the historical events happened, the experience is much more intense and creates memories that will stay forever.
The Map of The Most Historically Rich Destinations
Some countries have just preserved so well their culture! Europe is the clear winner here, I am always blown away each year I come back to Europe and when I visit new regions I haven’t been before and keep asking myself why I haven’t been there! By imposing local preservation laws and uniformity architectural rules, Europeans have done a magnificent job in keeping their countries “old” and “pretty”, keeping the spirit in traditional construction methods and materials. This is why my map colors pretty much all of Europe in green! I love Eastern Europe, but many countries have endured communist times and Soviet architecture has ruined many styles of architecture that they previously had. Wars are also to blame and only richer countries have been able to reconstruct following their previous styles.
So to summarize my list in the top category of “Historical Powerhouse” historically rich countries, I have placed France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece in the top position in Europe. Anybody who has visited these countries will agree how magnificent they have been preserved, from the big capitals to any small picturesque towns, seems like there aren’t any places in these countries that doesn’t feel right to be! There are just infinite photography opportunities everywhere you look.
Outside Europe, two countries make the top rank: Egypt and Iran. Egypt is an easy choice because very few countries in the world have more UNESCO sites than Egypt. The Egyptian empire was truly grandiose and it should be on everybody’s “to do list” to go there and visit these sites in person, from the pyramids of Giza to the Valley of the Kings near Luxor! Iran is the other member of the top list. With the amount of negative news that the media brainwashed in people’s mind about Iran, it is easy to forget that nowadays Iran was actually the Persian Empire, one of the most powerful the world has ever seen. I was amazed by the amount of historical sites that can be seen throughout the country and many of them are very well preserved! At over 5000 years old, many of these sites are so old that they make Europe seem like a new continent! It is even very common to find abandoned Caravanserais on the side of the highways that are over 2000 years old. Any of these in Europe would be made a museum!
Many countries that I colored in the orange and red are “newer countries” like on the American continent where it is normal to have little history. Sub-Saharan Africa is the loser of this research simply because in most countries, very little has been preserved from ancient times and with the exception of a few European colonial ruins left here and there, it is rare to see anything older than 100 years old
The countries in white indicate countries I haven’t been yet and I will update this map with time as I go through them!
So what do you think about this map? do you believe your country has been ranked fairly? Would you have done so differently? Please let me know in the comments I am interested to know!
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I like your map (and I know it’s a few years old at this point), but I feel that the United States is ranked unfairly. While certainly not the oldest civilization in the world, it’s unfair to say that it lacks history.
I think it depends on which part of the United States you travel to. While you’re certainly not going to feel much of an historic presence in, say, Seattle, or Phoenix, or Los Angeles, for example, you’ll definitely find more of it on the East Coast. I live in Massachusetts and I see it every day. We have plenty of historic towns with lots of structures dating back to the 17th century, home to many notable historic events, such as in Salem, Plymouth, Newburyport, Ipswich, Concord, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard, among others. Even parts of Boston, like Charlestown and the North End, have preserved lots of colonial buildings. Similar styles of architecture can be found in abundance in surrounding states like in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Providence, Rhode Island, and Portland, Maine.
Going further down south, we have other historic cities that are remarkably well-preserved. In Virginia, there is Williamsburg, Leesburg, Fredericksburg, and Alexandria. In Delaware there is New Castle and Dover. Maryland’s capital Annapolis is a very quaint seaside colonial city, as are Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.
But those are just examples of the British colonial architecture of the 13 original colonies (and there are many more examples as such, but I’ll move on). The United States is huge and was cobbled together from pieces of many different empires, all of which left their mark on the various American cities they ruled over. Check out, for example, the French Quarter in New Orleans, or the unique indigenous-styled city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The old Spanish settlement of St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest city in the contiguous United States, founded in 1565.
And finally, I’d say the second most iconic time period that people think about when thinking of “American history”, after the Colonial/Revolutionary period, is the Wild West period. There are many strongly preserved frontier towns in the Western USA: In Arizona, there’s Tombstone and Oatman. In Nevada, Virginia City. In Wyoming, Cody. In South Dakota, Deadwood. And in Kansas, of course, Dodge City – famous for coining the phrase “Get outta Dodge.” There are also preserved ghost towns like Bodie, California, used today as history museums.
There are plenty more examples of stunning history in the United States, but I think you get the picture! I’m sure there’s plenty of good colonial stuff in Canada as well (although I’ve only ever been to Toronto and Niagara Falls, so I haven’t personally seen it!)
I know in the USA we don’t have millennia-old ancient ruins like the kind you see in Italy, Greece, or Egypt, but we do have marvelously well-preserved historic structures that have lasted for centuries if you know where to find them. What little we have, we make sure to take care of, because we’re proud of it, even if it’s not Europe-level ancient.
Commenting again – I have to issue myself a correction. The United States DOES in fact have ancient ruins, some of which are over 1000 years old. Most of these were constructed by Puebloan cultures in the American Southwest, such as Chaco Canyon, Casa Grande, and Cliff Palace. The Taos and Acoma Pueblos, built in the early 1000s AD, are both still inhabited by Puebloan peoples! There are also Mississippian mounts and Earth Lodge constructs by Pre-Columbian indigenous folk. There’s also the House of Taga on Tinian Island and Wailua River Park in Hawaii.
I think you get the picture. The United States should be upgraded at least to “Not Bad History” status. There’s plenty of history here, even if it’s not always visible everywhere in the country.