We hikers and backpackers give ourselves a lot of credit for hiking hours into the wilderness, miles away from cars and electricity and the trappings of modern civilization. But the cold, hard fact is, really, we’re not that far away from the rest of the world. And apparently, neither are most of the rest of the people in the world, either.

A fascinating new map created by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the World Bank plotted how long it would take to get to a major urban center on land or water from all points on the globe — and the result is surprising. Remote places like the Amazon jungle and Sahara desert are actually closer to civilization than most of Quebec.


The American West – which feels so open and empty, is lit up like Times Square. Who’s fancy now?

While the map does not portray population density or the sense of remoteness some of our favorite places convey for us, it does show how all-encompassing the reach of humanity is on our planet, and how few real wild places are left on earth. And hey, Earth Day’s coming up, so why don’t we try to keep it tidy?

Via New Scientist.

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