Intriguing Maps That Show America’s Rich Cultural Tapestry

Traditionally, the purpose of a map is to show where everything is in a given region to make planning a trip or surveying terrain easier. Whether the map is political or topographic, it presents information either about a landscape or the names and borders imposed on that landscape.

However, modern times (especially when it comes to the internet) have seen maps used to organize demographic and cultural data. And in the United States, these are just as fascinating because they reveal what the people in each state are really doing.

How many people even know their state's motto?

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When all of America's state mottos are reviewed at once, it's interesting to see how widely different each state's forefathers envision their character. What's also fascinating is the diversity of languages that state mottos are written in, as most would likely expect that they would exclusively be in English and Latin.

Finally, it's a little humorous to see the more laid-back mottos among all the high-minded ideas of equality, justice, and religious zeal. This is especially true of Michigan, which just wants everyone to know it's a pleasant peninsula. For those who can't see it, Alaska's motto is "North to the future."

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Got to go fast, but not everywhere

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This map shows a color-coded array of how much the top speed limits vary in each state. And while Alaska, Hawaii, and parts of New England require drivers to take it slow, that kind of caution isn't needed in rip-roaring Texas.

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Of course, that must make it pretty jarring to go from California to Nevada or Louisiana to Texas. After all, drivers will probably see quite a few cars whipping by them before they realize they're allowed to do that.

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This is interesting but not surprising

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Although cats and dogs are the most popular pets a person can have, which of the two species is more popular in America depends a lot on specific states and regions. And while there may be some minor surprises here and there, the results were mostly expected.

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For instance, dogs are easily the dominant pet throughout the southern United States and the more mountainous areas of the north. Since these areas have a lot of rural space and dogs are often the more practical pet to have in those spaces, it stands to reason that dog ownership would be high.

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A problem that nobody knew they had

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There's a lot to unpack with this one. Not only are people in America's mountain time zone apparently drowning in squirrels, but the maker of this map is apparently convinced that it's only a matter of time before the squirrel uprising happens. Notice they said "when," not "if."

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Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that everyone in the United States would be able to fit on safe, squirrel-less Hawaii if such an event does occur. With California and Washington state surround by high-squirrel zones, the only safe zone is east of Kansas. Even then, Maine's still a trouble spot.

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Starbucks dominates, but some serious strongholds remain

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Considering how huge Starbucks is in the coffee market, it's perhaps not surprising to see so much of the map marked in green. It especially stands to reason that the west coast would be swimming in Starbucks, since the chain began in Seattle.

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However, that doesn't mean that Dunkin' Donuts is down and out yet. Not only is it hotly competing with Starbucks throughout the midwestern and eastern United States, but it's hard to imagine New England ever turning its back on Dunkin'. There are about as many of them in Boston as there are colleges.

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What is going on in South Dakota?

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For the most part, this map of average wedding costs by state shouldn't be too surprising. New York and California are both infamously expensive states to live in, so why would the wedding industry in those places be any different?

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Since the same is true for most of New England and Illinois is home to one of America's biggest cities, the data in these areas don't come as a shock either. But what is going on in South Dakota to make weddings so much more expensive than other aspects of life? Does it cost extra to get married at Mount Rushmore?

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This map shows how much of each state is forested

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Although Washington state is known for its dense forests, it appears that the reputation is largely based on how it compares to the rest of the west coast. From the looks of things, it can't hold a candle to the Deep South and New England in that department.

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Although Alabama and West Virginia are definitely no slouches when it comes to forest land, New Hampshire and especially Maine are clearly making it a priority. It's kind of funny that Maine is more known for lobsters than trees.

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There's almost one for every state

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It's wild to imagine that Bill Gates isn't the richest billionaire in his state but that just speaks to what a financial juggernaut Amazon has become over the last decade. What's also fascinating is how few of these billionaires most people have likely heard of.

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Although Gates, Musk, Buffet, Bezos and Bloomberg have certainly attracted no end of publicity, it seems that most of these billionaires want to keep their wealth as quiet as possible. It's also worth noting that Alaska, Delaware, and West Virginia aren't home to any billionaires yet.

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This is why some states can be described as "city states"

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Although Rome was a grand empire, it can also be described as a city state because the city of Rome was calling all the shots. When it comes to population density, the states marked in red could also arguably be described that way.

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For instance, there's an even enough split between the populations of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and Austin that none of these cities make up more than half of Texan citizenry. However, the same cannot be said for Atlanta's position in Georgia, Chicago's position in Illinois, and especially New York City's position in New York state.

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It's interesting how the love of hot sauce travels

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Although Americans may be well aware of the prevailing hot sauce in their region, it's nonetheless fascinating for those outside of these area to see the stranglehold Frank's Red Hot has in the northeast and Louisiana Hot Sauce and Texas Pete have in the Deep South.

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However, it's unclear whether that many people even in Texas and Louisiana would've have guessed that the sauces named after those states aren't the most popular brands within them. It's especially wild for Louisiana, as everyone around the Bayou State seems to love its hot sauce more than its residents do.

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This probably looked so much different 50 years ago

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Shortly after World War II, it's likely that many states here would have named steel or auto manufacturing as their biggest industries but most of the country is dominated by services now. The oil and gas states aren't exactly shocking to learn about, nor is it that surprising that Hawaii's and Nevada's economies depend on tourism.

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However, that doesn't make it any less staggering to see just how much of the country's population relies on the healthcare and insurance industries to get by. If it weren't for the technology bloc near the west coast, it's hard not to wonder how many more states would appear red, pink, or purple here.

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The battle lines have been drawn

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Although there may have once been a time when McDonald's ruled the nation in the fast food market, it seems that this is only true for specific blocs nowadays. They may be big in the northeast and northwest, but Chick-Fil-A now seems to dominate practically everywhere else.

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Of course, it'll take more than some chicken to break In-N-Out Burger's hold on the southwest, and that's just as true for regional favorites like Dick's Drive-In, Burgerville, Culver's, and Zippy's Makiki in Hawaii. New Jersey's love of Wendy's is interesting, however, as the chain started in Ohio.

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Even for the housing market, some places are insane

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Although Americans all over can report struggling to find an affordable house, that seems like an especially daunting task for those living in California or Hawaii. But while that and the steep prices in Massachusetts and Washington state may not be surprising, there are a couple of others that may not immediately come to mind.

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It's obviously so much easier to find a reasonable house in upstate New York than in its signature city, but the same doesn't appear to be true in Utah or Colorado. It would also be interesting to see if most people could predict that a house in Idaho is more expensive than one in Texas.

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Some of these words are more predictable than others

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When examining this map of the nation's most misspelled words, one can likely expect to find notoriously tricky words like pneumonia, diarrhea, and Chihuahua in the mix. But while those trends in certain states make sense, it's hard not to wonder why so many people in Connecticut and West Virginia really want to know how supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is spelled.

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Their apparent fascination with Mary Poppins aside, it seems that only Rhode Island struggles to spell the word "liar" and Georgians are the most likely to be tripped up by the fact that the British spell "gray" as "grey." Surprisingly, it's not people in Connecticut, Mississippi, or Massachusetts who struggle to spell their state's name, but Wisconsinites.

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Living anywhere is a delicate financial balancing act

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They always say that there's no Heaven on Earth and a look at the different economic benefits and drawbacks of each state exemplify that reality. For instance, some may be attracted to Texas by its low housing prices, only to learn that the state's property taxes are some of the highest in the nation.

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But while it's typically wise to factor in multiple considerations like this when choosing somewhere to move, there's one constant in America that seems to hold true. Living in New England is going to get expensive quickly.

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The most interesting ones fall under "other"

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Considering how many people in America rely on a sturdy truck to get their work done, it's not necessarily that surprising that the Ford F-Series and the Chevrolet Silverado would duke it out for the Heartland's wallets. However, the Toyota RAV4 seems to be the sleeper hit throughout much of the northeast and northwest.

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It's not necessarily surprising that so many Californians would buck that trend to be Tesla drivers. However, it would be more interesting to learn why Florida collectively decided on the Toyota Corolla and why New Jersey apparently can't get enough of the Honda CR-V.

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It's a little surprising, but it ultimately makes sense

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Considering how important the Marfa Lights of Texas and Area 51 of Nevada are to the lore of UFO true believers, it's a little surprising that both sightings are apparently on the low end of UFO sightings. In fact, only Roswell, New Mexico, seems to fall in line with the popular perception of that community.

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However, the knowledge that Idaho, Montana, Maine, and New Hampshire seems to lead the nation in sightings makes a little more sense when the amount of natural space in those states is taken into account. The less light pollution there is, the more likely someone is to see something weird in the sky.

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This data may be a little skewed

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It's probably the least surprising fact in the world to learn that the most popular classic rock band in Alabama is Lynyrd Skynyrd, but it's easy to underestimate just how popular ZZ Top is throughout the South and how popular Van Halen is in the Midwest.

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That said, it's hard not to wonder how the maker of this map knew that searches for "Chicago" in Illinois weren't referring to the city and searches for "The Eagles" in Pennsylvania weren't referring to Philadelphia's football team. This data might need some peer review.

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This map isn't exactly full of surprises

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Although church attendance is often described as diminishing on a national scale, most Americans would rightly say that this is far more true in some regions than others. And how the difference shakes out between those regions isn't likely to shatter any expectations.

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For instance, it stands to reason that a state with a history as inextricably linked to the The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints as Utah would see the highest overall attendance. The similar concentration of church-goers throughout the southern United States and lack thereof in New England also isn't likely to surprise people in either region.

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This isn't an election map. It's a pizza map

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Although the dominance of red and blue in this map may seem political, it's actually capturing the battle for pizza supremacy between Dominoes (blue) and Pizza Hut (red). For those wondering where Papa John's is, it's apparently only the number one chain in Washington D.C., which isn't really visible here.

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As for the other colors, it seems that nothing can break Michigan's unshakable faith in Little Caesar's and Oregon and Alaska seem to prefer Papa Murphy's. Other than in these spots, the two dominant chains are essentially neck-and-neck.