Unless you live in the middle of nowhere and witness this first hand, it’s probably hard to imagine that inhabitants haven’t covered the whole of the U.S., especially if your abode is in a city where it might feel like humanity is so dense that people are living on top of each other.
But a new map drummed up by mapsbynik shows just how much room there is left in North America to spread out, where not another soul is reported to live — where the population is exactly zero.
See all that dark green? “Nobody lives here,” according to mapsbynik.
Image source: mapsbynik
Using the U.S. Census Bureau’s smallest unit to measure an area — a block — mapsbynik wrote that a single person living in a block is enough to disqualify the area from being shaded green. That said, 4,871,270 blocks in the U.S. — 4.61 million square kilometers of land composing 47 percent of the country — do not have one inhabitant.
Even in bustling cities there are areas where no one is reported to live. Now, these could be parks, bodies of water or public lands not meant for inhabitants, but still the map shows there’s “green space” in these cities too.
“Commercial and industrial areas are also likely to be green on this map. The local shopping mall, an office park, a warehouse district or a factory may have their own Census Blocks. But if people don’t live there, they will be considered ‘uninhabited,’ mapsbynik observed. “So it should be noted that just because a block is unoccupied, that does not mean it is undeveloped.”
He also pointed out the stark difference the map presents between the east and the west.
“In the east, with its larger population, unpopulated places are more likely to stand out on the map. In the west, the opposite is true. There, population centers stand out against the wilderness,” he wrote.
“Ultimately, I made this map to show a different side of the United States. Human geographers spend so much time thinking about where people are,” he continued later in the post. “I thought I might bring some new insight by showing where they are not, adding contrast and context to the typical displays of the country’s population geography.”