Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's a small world after all

In order to impress upon Europeans the size of the United States, I've been telling them that the distance between Portland and Boston (the two cities I know best) is about the same as the distance between Brussels and Baghdad. This was based on my estimations while looking at a globe one day. My point was that, when flying from Portland to Boston, you're flying over one country, one culture, one language; while flying from Brussels to Baghdad, on the other hand, you're flying over multiple countries, cultures, and languages.

Well, I just discovered a website that calculates the distance between any two major cities as the crow flies, so I checked it out.

Brussels to Baghdad: 2350 miles (3782 km)
Portland to Boston: 2541 miles (4089 km)

So I've been underestimating it this whole time. I looked for another city to make it more accurate, and came up with this:

Brussels to Tehran: 2542 miles (4092 km)

It kind of freaks me out to know that, right now, I'm as close to Tehran (and closer to Baghdad) than I am to Boston when I'm in Portland. And that's just straight across the States for the most part; if you go from one corner to another (Seattle to Miami, say), it's an even greater distance.


Tyson said...

I've driven from Seattle to DC and back, and enjoyed seeing how the landscape changed completely every 300 miles. America really is a beautiful country from sea to shining sea!

I would take slight issue with your assertion that we are one culture. The United States is very multicultural. We have many international cultures here, and many domestic regional cultures.

Jim S. said...

Well, I would call those sub-cultures. The cultural differences between LA and Chicago are significantly less than that between two European countries. Or to put the same thing the other way around, the underlying unity of all the American sub-cultures is much greater than that between two European countries.