Territorial Morphology


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 – the study of the structure of territories; not to be confused with geomorphology, which studies the structure of land masses; the critical difference between both disciplines are the man-made borders that divide land masses into territories – that closely resembles the other’s.

The two nation’s capitals, Oslo and Santiago, are 7,900 miles (12,700 km) apart; the maximum distance between two locations on Earth, half the circumference of the Earth at the equator, is 12,450 miles (20,036 km). 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.