Monday, January 28, 2008

A Geography of Skin Color

Skin color map

Skin Color Map of Indigenous Peoples

The twin role played by the skin - protection from excessive UV radiation and absorption of enough sunlight to trigger the production of vitamin D - means that people living in the lower latitudes, close to the Equator, with intense UV radiation, have developed darker skin to protect them from the damaging effects of UV radiation. In contrast, those living in the higher latitudes, closer to the Poles, have developed fair skin to maximize vitamin D production.

Cartographer: Emmanuelle Bournay

This map is put out by the UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics library.

Go here for more maps. Type your theme in the search window on the left sidebar. For example, there is an interesting one about where all the trash goes. No wonder that cat food from China isn’t safe.

Needless to say, maps from the UN are usually accompanied by dire warnings regarding the future. This one of skin color, however, is simply interesting information.

Hat tip: Buddy Larsen

[end of post]


Evan said...

Worldmapper has a lot of cool maps where they resize countries by share of something other than land area. If you go to, for example, you get countries' share of global net immigration. (As far as I can tell I can't actually post the image here.)

Afonso Henriques said...

This map is so, so dubious...

Ethelred said...

Will Durant had the interesting observation that northern/temperate societies/civilizations would always win when competing against equatorial ones, simply due to the learned need for planning (i.e. thinking about the future) because of the changing seasons.

Ronbo said...

Huh! It has always been the human race, not the human RACES.

Ethelred said...


What are you talking about?

X said...

Dubious for what reason, Afonso?

Interesting how such a large portion of south american is so relatively pale. All that unbroken jungle cover compared to the mainly savannah grasslands of western central africa must make a huge difference in the amount of UV reaching the ground.

allat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sodra Djavul said...

You win over no friends with your racist anti-European tripe.

Not all cultures are created equal. The peoples of India and South Africa are undeniably better off following British influence. If you don't believe me, simply contrast their conditions with Somalis or Congoans, which never really rose to a high priority for the British crown.

I guess being at the top of the civilizational pyramid will draw the jealousy of everyone else.

If I am to be considered racist it is merely because history has demonstrated itself so.

- Sodra

Afonso Henriques said...

Why Archonix?!!!

The map is said to be representing human skin colour.

1)In North America there are absoluteley no Native Peoples lighter than Northern Europeans. I don't think that South Europeans are even darker than Native Americans (unless they are heavily taned).

2)I can not see all that difference from the South of England/Wales and the North of France, specially Paris and the traditional germanic areas. I think Northern France is even lighter.

3)The difference between Southern Italians from, say, Napoli is virtually non existing comparing to the extreme South of the Area.

4)Caucasian peoples are not all that dark.

5)Spaniards are by no means so much darker than Italians, specially from the North and Central Spain.

6)Despite being true that Northern Portuguese are lighter, blonder and with more light eyes than those in the South, the difference is not all that.
According to the map, a Southern Portuguese is as dark as a Central Spaniard (false), wich are both considerabily darker than a (maybe true but not that much)Northern Portuguese who is as light as a Parisien (false) which are both whiter than a man from Portsmouth (false) which is as light as a Swede (false).
It is ridiculous!

7)Native Peruvians are as dark as the darkest Africans. Pffff...

8)An Ethopian or a Somalian (not the darkest Africans) are darker than Zimbabweans.

9)There are South African blacks who are as light as Spaniards from Madrid, Barcelona, Saragoça or Vallodalid. Hmm... now the Spaniards are blacks! Wow, according to this map, I am black too. Though I will support Obama.

10)Some Persians/Iranians in South East Iran are whiter than many South Europeans.

11)Many North Indians and Pakistanis (like Kashmiri) are as light as some Europeans.

12)I think that the gross majority of the Chinese are darker than the Spaniards. Maybe the Chinese I know are all Tibetans.

13)I didn't know Koreans were lighter than Greeks, Spaniards and other South Europeans. I thought they were pretty close to one eachother. (Though some south Europeans with a heavy tan can be darker than Coreans, their normal colour is not).

14)I didn't know there were black Japanese people. Did you noticed?

15)The Maori in New Zeland are just as white as Germans from Munich or Viennna. Come on! Not even in Southern Spain or Italy we have people as dark as the Maori! But here even North Central Spaniards (Valladolid for exemple) are considerabily darker than the Maori.

I gave you 15 reasons Archonix.
Can you please contest them or give one reason that goes to proove the veracity of the map?

I hope I made my point, what do you think?

I did not resisted posting links:

Tansmanians are as light as Gemans from Munich, Vienna, Frankfurt and let's stay only with Germans.

Afonso Henriques said...

Sodra, I don't think you are a racist, but do not condemn Allat from the begining, try to made him understand the world,


"Because it seems, that the closest one gets to the Poles, the darker the skin types again. SUch as the Inuit, which are a copper color, and Tierra del Fuegans, which are the same."

If we get in our heads that Europeans are lighter than other groups, it would not be difficult to understand why Inuits and Saamis are darker, but, are there any Asians darker than them? I don't think so, so the correlation latitude whitness stil stand. But primacy is atributed to genetics.

" Don you know that from the git go Blond-blue eyed women (Byzantium - and Greece and Eastern Eur) were taken captive by the arabs and their descendants in the Middle East are fair skin and light eyed?"

Boy, Greeks uslually are not blue eyed. But, how would the descendents got blue eyes? Did you know that brown eyes are domminant even between European genes?
So, if you add non European genes (aka Arabs) blue eyes will be extremely rare. It would be diluted in two or three generations so... it does not go that way...
If you see people with blue eyes in the Middle East (excepting Lebanon, Palestine, Western Syria) the most probable is the Persian's fault. When Arabs conquered Persia, they called the Persian people the "coloured eyed people". And yes, they were (are?) Indo Europeans. ANd the Arabs have already knew Greece, Italy and Hispania.
I will give you an exemple of my family. All Europeans, three couples each with one blue eyed and other brown eyed, each have two children too. From the six children, four have brown eyes, one hazel greenish eyes and only one has blue eyes, with Arabs it would be much more rare.
And I don't think blue eyed blond woman to be more desirable than other European woman.

"the obsessions the Indo-Europeans has with skin color (including the Brahmans in India with their "caste" prejudice)"

It is not prejudice, you will have to understand the Aryan invasion of India in which the lighter Indo Europeans took the power from the darkest non Indo Europeans and that is why the caste system is based on skin colour. It is just like in Latin America.

I hope you consider your opinions.

PS- Dymphna, posting such a fubious map can indeed affect the credibiliy of the whole blog. If I were you I would be more caution, regards.

X said...

Ruddy h*ll, it was just a question...

I think you monitor might need adjusting. It has most of japan in the "white" and "pink" zones, and tazmania too for that matter.

Allat, I'm going to deign to say this; you notice that grey bar across the top? It says "no data". experience tells me that those northern climes are inhabited by quite swarthy people due to the large amount of reflected radiation from snow, but so what?

It's an averaged out map based on the majorities at a given latitude. If it made exceptions for every single person who wasn't the same exact shade as the majority in a given area it'd be a sort of murky fuzzy mess. Why get so worked up over it?

Afonso Henriques said...

I am getting quiet tired of this "racial question" but Archonix the Saamis are not just darker because of Sun expousure.

The pink zone for Tasmania is the same to most of Europe, which is ridiculous as I exposed.

The Hokaido Island in Southern Japan is as black as the darker Africa, it is not just my monitor.

you said:

"It's an averaged out map based on the majorities at a given latitude. If it made exceptions for every single person who wasn't the same exact shade as the majority in a given area it'd be a sort of murky fuzzy mess. Why get so worked up over it?"

The problem is it's not. It is too ridiculous to be based in any kind of data. It is just anti-racist propaganda trying to show that we are all equal, a bit Socialist for me. It is not a serious study, as we can see, but instead a (wrong) teory which is portrayed as a fact. It is one of those evil multicultural things that manipulates the "truth" so that our society can be more perfect, we are the same we see.

I do'n think that map is all that naive.

X said...

They're darker because they're adapted to the conditions up there. Easy.

I grant you may have a point about the map's provenance, I really don't have enough information. That said, it feels approximately right right. People living around the med are generally more olive skinned than north europeans. That's the key word, though: generally. In detail a generalisation is always wrong, so both the map and your criticism of the map are probably correct depending on how closely you examine things.

Peter Frost said...

This map does not show the actual distribution of human skin color. It shows a theoretical distribution of human skin color, based on the assumption that the only selection pressure is UV radiation (please see the article from which the map is taken: Geographic distribution of environmental factors influencing human skin coloration" by George Chaplin, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 125: 292-302.)

In reality, skin color is largely uniform among the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas. The native inhabitants of Siberia are also darker than what this map predicts.

Afonso Henriques said...

Archonix, I told you what I think about the map. You can put your common sence to work about it. I've read your comments and you can easily do that as you usually make intelligent comments.

And it is true what you said about the word "generally". But, when we are talk about people or Nations we have to get the part as a whole. Soo you can say that Spaniards and Portuguese are burnettes and that the Swedes and the Danes are blond. It is a generalisation, nobody is saying that there are no blond people in Hispania or dark haired people in Scandinavia.
As far as I am concearned, this map does not get generalisations accurate enough. Into a point that it gets ridiculous.

What scares me out is that the United Nations is behind this.

Afonso Henriques said...

IT may be a bit foolish but is this guy the real Peter Frost?

If not, I am a dumbass;
If yes I am a big fun of your theories.
I have a handfull of question I would like to ask you.

X said...

Well I think Peter Frost's post cleared up the argument well enough. It's a generalisation based on an assumption, which would be right in an ideal world. That's why it feels right even when it isn't.

Is that the lure of socialism? ;)

Baron Bodissey said...


Please don't paste long URLs into the comments; they make the post page too wide and mess up the appearance of the permalink page.

Use link tags; the instructions are at the top of the full post's comment section.


allat said...

I think they made a mistake. Because it seems, that the closest one gets to the Poles, the darker the skin types again. SUch as the Inuit, which are a copper color, and Tierra del Fuegans, which are the same.

But the map is just such as an example of the obsessions the Indo-Europeans has with skin color (including the Brahmans in India with their "caste" prejudice), and then marking it down, and labeling it, and finally, having deep contempt for the dark skinned. The English in their Empire: Guilty!

The Dutch in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean: Guilty!

The Spanish with their divisions:



And especially the Antebellum American SOuth, whose racial divisions were with us up to the 1960s, and are still with us: Mulatto, Quadroon and Octoroon, etc.

And as ex. that the Blacks even followed, because they had Hiiigggh Soc-i - eh-ty, where if lyou had skin darker than a manila paper bag, you were not allowed.

ANd so, I wonder, why represent this Skin Color Map?

And what diffence does it really make: Don you know that from the git go Blond-blue eyed women (Byzantium - and Greece and Eastern Eur) were taken captive by the arabs and their descendants in the Middle East are fair skin and light eyed?

What's the point?

Afonso Henriques said...

Archonix, the map for me does not feel right. Specially, when Gates of Vienna is stating that that map represents Human skin colour and not a variable to Human skin colour.

Dymphna said...

Jeez Louise! So much feeling emerged about a dumb map -- one out of the UN, no less.

Initially, I believe it was tied to some debate about the ozone layer and that particular coming apocalypse, but of course Algore yelled louder about his pet project, so ozone is very uncool.

Now the garbage map I linked to, that was interesting. And just as fair and balanced as any other UN-based production.

BTW, Evan, Mapper is a great site. I've perused it a few times, but hadn't thought about it awhile.

BTW, this wasn't a map or a post about race, guys. Just about adaptation to variable climates. Or is that subject racist now, too?

I have freckles. That probably makes me an octoroon. Or maybe just one of the black Irish.

VinceP1974 said...

The "RACISM!" shouters are so tiring.

Like skin color is some holy unmentionable thing.

Get over it.

Afonso: Get over it.