Ask Mapman [TM].
As Junior Scholastic's Mapman, my job is to design maps. This column gives you the chance to ask me anything about cartography (mapmaking) and geography (the study of the relationship between people and their land, climate, and resources).
Throughout history, every culture has created maps of one form or another. The palm-sized clay tablets of ancient Babylonia (now part of Iraq) are examples of the first relief maps. Long before Western explorers even heard of the Pacific Ocean, Marshall Islanders used charts made of sticks and shells to navigate tile vast seas.
Since geography takes in so much of human experience, I expect your questions to cover every corner of the globe! Here are your first two questions:
Dane S. wants to know about his Dutch roots.
Q: Which state has the largest population of Dutch-Americans?
A: In Census 2000, 4, 452, 494 people in the U.S. listed their ancestry as Dutch. Michigan claimed the most, followed closely by California, and then New York, the birthplace of two famous Dutchmen--former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Erin H., from Ohio, wonders about word origins.
Q: Where does the word map come from?
A: The word "map" is from the Latin mappa, originally an African world. It meant napkin, cloth, or sheet. The cloth was the material on which some Roman maps were drawn.