If you’re curious just how popular the word “zombies” is throughout the world, this map visualizes it in a simple, and kinda creepy, way. After all, using circles like these to represent the prevalence of the word zombies makes it look more like an outbreak map than anything else. The map was created by the Oxford Internet Institute, first doing a keyword search for “zombies” and then visualizing the concentrations of references to the word in the Google Maps database. As you might imagine, the English-speaking parts of the world dominate use of the word. Some countries use different versions of the word, which likely weren’t taken into account for the search; a zombie in Spanish or Italian is spelled zombi, and some countries who do use the word zombie don’t add an “s” to pluralize it.
Los Angeles and New York seem packed with zombie goodness, hardly surprising given their populations and their ties to the entertainment industry. Other large cities such as Seattle and San Diego have also featured “Zombie Walks” in which people dress up as the undead and shamble their way through parts of the city, events which have no doubt been featured on Google Maps. While many American cities show high concentrations of word use, most of the country seems to at least be visualized in the lowest visible concentration. Mexico and South America also feature a small smattering, which may indeed be larger if translations were taken into account.
Europe also seems fond of the word, with England practically invisible beneath the circular visualizations. Western Europe itself is pretty much covered by cities which use the word enough to be visualized, with larger hubs glowing orange and red with more widespread use. Once one drifts into Eastern Europe, the word use gradually fades, all but disappearing in the Middle East. Australia and New Zealand also feature a fair amount of dots, as does India, but the surprising one on the map might be Japan. The island chain glows with use of the word “zombies” which could be in part due to the country’s tendency to add words from other languages into their vocabulary and possibly a love of Western films which have taken advantage of the zombie fad. Japan itself even has its own popular zombie-themed manga and anime called Highschool of the Dead, the title reminiscent of George Romero’s films about the undead.
China appears to feature no dots whatsoever, aside from Hong Kong; I have to assume this is due to the widespread Internet censorship in China (which does not apply to Hong Kong). It would be interesting to see just how this map would look when taking into account the words used in other languages to refer to what we call zombies. For more geographical zombie fun, check out this game which simulates a zombie outbreak in your town using Google Street View. If you’d rather stay off the streets, consider building yourself a Zombie-Proof Home.