25 Maps That Describe America


Despite being just one country, anyone who lives in the United States knows that no two states are alike. Here are 25 maps that show some of these regional differences.

1. The Second-Largest Religion in Each State

Reid Wilson/Washington Post

This map from the Washington Post's GovBeat uses data from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies to pinpoint the second-most practiced religion in each state. (Christianity is first in each state.)


2. The Most Commonly Spoken Language in Each State Besides English and Spanish

Ben Blatt/Slate

Slate's Ben Blatt used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. He created several other language maps, too, including each state's top Native American, Scandinavian, and African language.


3. The Most Famous Brand From Every State

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace tried to determine the corporation or brand that best represents each state. (He sells a poster version of this map.)


4. The Most Popular TV Show Set in Each State

Andrew Shears

Geography professor Andrew Shears has made a couple versions of this map.


5. The Most Popular TV Show Set in Each State [Rebuttal]

Mike Nudelman/Business Insider 

And this version, from Business Insider, cuts out most of the reality shows.


6. The Most Iconic Food Chain in Each State


This map from Thrillist shows "the most noteworthy restaurant chain (with an emphasis on fast food where possible) associated with each state."


7. What Do You Call Sweetened Carbonated Beverages?

Joshua Katz

One of many maps examining regional dialect variation created by Joshua Katz.


8. The Greatest Sports Figure From Each State


In December 1999, Sports Illustrated ranked the 50 all-time greatest sports figures from every state. Here's a look at each state's best.


9. The Most Popular Baseball Team by County

Facebook/Wall Street Journal

In honor of 2014 Opening Day, Facebook released data on the most popular team in every county, based on the number of likes of team pages. As Darren Everson of The Wall Street Journal noted, three teams don't have a plurality of (Facebook) fans in any U.S. county: the New York Mets, Oakland A's, and Toronto Blue Jays. Here's a closer look at that key:


10. The Most Popular NFL Team by County


And here's a similar map for the NFL.


11. Do You Live in a Cat State or a Dog State?


Over at Wonkblog, Roberto A. Ferdman and Christopher Ingraham set out to see where cats are more popular than dogs. The purplish states are dog country, while cats inhabit the greenish spaces.


12. The U.S. Map Distorted by Population


The folks at social networking site MyLife created this map, which resizes the states based on their population. Look at poor Wyoming squeezed in there.


13. The Parts of the U.S. Where Nobody Lives

Nik Freeman

Using 2010 U.S. Census data, Nik Freeman highlighted the 47% of the country that remains unoccupied.


14. Half the Country Lives in These Counties

Walter Hickey and Joe Weisenthal/Business Insider 

This map used Census data to determine that half the people in the United States live in these 146 shaded counties. You can see a list of those counties on the original Business Insider post.


15. The Most Famous Book Set in Each State

Melissa Stanger, Melia Robinson & Mike Nudelman/Business Insider


16. The Most Popular Girls' Names in Each State

Huffpost Parents

Using Social Security Administration data on the top baby names of 2013.


17. The Most Popular Boys' Names in Each State

Huffpost Parents

The boy version.


18. The Largest Immigrant Population in Each State

Jens Manuel Krogstad and Michael Keegan at Pew Research Center

You can see the changing immigration patterns on Krogstad and Keegan's animated map.


19. The Most Common Cause of Death in Each State Besides Heart Disease and Cancer

Ben Blatt/Slate

One more from Ben Blatt. (Here's what the map looks like when you leave in heart disease and cancer, which lead to more deaths than the next eight causes of death combined.)


20. The Map With Only 38 States

In 1973, California State University geography professor George Etzel Pearcy suggested that the U.S. redraw its antiquated state boundaries and narrow the overall number of states to 38.


21. The Most Iconic Soft Drink in Each State


One more from Thrillist.


22. The Richest Person in Each State


Real estate site Movoto used data from Forbes to find the richest American in each state (see larger).


23. How Much Is $100 Really Worth in Each State?

The Tax Foundation 

How far does $100 go? This map, which comes from the Tax Foundation and uses data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, answers that question state by state.


24. The Best-Selling Vehicle in Each State

Mike Nudelman and Alex Davies/Business Insider 


25. Which Job Is Most Unique to Your State?

Click to enlarge

We teamed up with CareerBuilder to find the "most unique" job in each state, using a measurement called location quotient (LQ).

The Afternoon Map is a semi-regular feature in which we post maps and infographics. In the afternoon. Semi-regularly.