Earthly/Geo/Astro · Social/Politics · Theory

Can Territorial Morphology Determine Economic Success and Political Viability?

Do Norwegians feel curiously at home in Chile, and vice versa? Do South Africans have a strange affinity with Italians? And Filipinos with Maldivians? They should, at least if they’re map nerds: each lives in a country with a territorial morphology that closely resembles the other’s.

Although they’re on opposite sides of the globe Chile and Norway are each other’s type, morphologically speaking: elongated to the extreme.

From east to west, Chile on average is just 150 miles (240 km) wide, which is the distance from London to Manchester, or New York to Baltimore. But from north to south, it measures 2,700 miles (4,300 km), which takes you from London to Tehran; or New York to Los Angeles. This makes Chile the world’s most stretched-out country – 18 times longer than it is narrow.

The Five Types of Territorial Morphology sounds like a fun parlour game, at least in cartophile circles (is Portugal compact or elongated? Is or isn’t Somalia prorupt? Does New Zealand qualify as fragmented?) But there is a serious, geopolitical concern behind this attempt at classification. For a country’s shape has a profound impact on its economic success, and even its political viability.

Excerpts from an article written by Frank Jacobs. Continue HERE

Architectonic · Earthly/Geo/Astro · Eco/Adaptable

Residencia: A Hotel at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile


The Residencia is a hotel for staff and guests at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. Located in an extremely remote and desolate section of the Atacama desert, the Residencia was designed by the German architecture firm Auer + Weber as a sanctuary in an environment that has never supported life. The L-shaped building was dug into the ground as if to conceal its presence, presenting profoundly different faces depending on the approach. From the road entrance out front the Residencia is practically invisible; from the observatory on the mountain’s top all that’s seen is the skylight dome. And from the open desert the building could be a mirage: a long, flat brick wedged between two hills like a step into the star-filled sky.

Text and Video via Tramnesia

Architectonic · Earthly/Geo/Astro · Human-ities · Social/Politics

The greatest mystery of the Inca Empire was its strange economy

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Inca Empire was the largest South America had ever known. Centered in Peru, it stretched across the Andes’ mountain tops and down to the shoreline, incorporating lands from today’s Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Equador, Argentina and Peru – all connected by a vast highway system whose complexity rivaled any in the Old World. Rich in foodstuffs, textiles, gold, and coca, the Inca were masters of city building but nevertheless had no money. In fact, they had no marketplaces at all.

The Inca Empire may be the only advanced civilization in history to have no class of traders, and no commerce of any kind within its boundaries. How did they do it?

Many aspects of Incan life remain mysterious, in part because our accounts of Incan life come from the Spanish invaders who effectively wiped them out. Famously, the conquistador Francisco Pizzaro led just a few men in an incredible defeat of the Incan army in Peru in 1532. But the real blow came roughly a decade before that, when European invaders unwittingly unleashed a smallpox epidemic that some epidemiologists believe may have killed as many as 90 percent of the Incan people. Our knowledge of these events, and our understanding of Incan culture of that era, come from just a few observers – mostly Spanish missionaries, and one mestizo priest and Inca historian named Blas Valera, who was born in Peru two decades after the fall of the Inca Empire.

Wealth Without Money

Documents from missionaries and Valera describe the Inca as master builders and land planners, capable of extremely sophisticated mountain agriculture – and building cities to match. Incan society was so rich that it could afford to have hundreds of people who specialized in planning the agricultural uses of newly-conquered areas. They built terraced farms on the mountainsides whose crops – from potatoes and maize to peanuts and squash – were carefully chosen to thrive in the average temperatures for different altitudes. They also farmed trees to keep the thin topsoil in good condition. Incan architects were equally talented, designing and raising enormous pyramids, irrigating with sophisticated waterworks such as those found at Tipon, and creating enormous temples like Pachacamac along with mountain retreats like Machu Picchu. Designers used a system of knotted ropes to do the math required to build on slopes.

Text by Annalee Newitz. Continue HERE