Terra Incognita - Info

Terra Incognita visualises the geography of Wikipedia in over 50 languages. The maps display the geo-coded articles for each language, highlighting the biases and unevenness in the encyclopaedia's coverage.

Before starting, note that the larger Wikipedia languages are over 10MB to download, and the maps will perform better for selections of no more than 300 articles. The application is designed for desktop, and will work with the latest versions of Chrome, FireFox, Opera, IE and Safari.

The project was developed by Gavin Baily and Sarah Bagshaw at TraceMedia. For more information contact info[at]tracemedia.co.uk.

1. Select Languages

Select a location and the languages you want to compare.
For the larger editions of Wikipedia select a region rather than the world, since there is a limit to the number of articles that can be displayed.

2. Map Metrics

Once the articles have loaded choose from the Map dropdown to explore different aspects of the article data.

There are various ways of comparing languages:

  • Language - displays the languages by colour
  • Language Intersection - shows locations that have have articles in more than one of the selected languages
  • Untranslated - shows which articles which are unique to a language (best used with one language at a time)
  • Language Links - highlights locations with translations in the greatest number of languages.

Other Map options show the length of articles, the number of revisions and images, indicating the editing activity.

Map Legend

The legend colours and values can be edited in two ways:

  • For map metrics with discrete values, click on the coloured square to change the hue.
  • For numeric values click the Edit button to change the range values and set the colours using Hex values.

3. Timeline

The timeline controls filter the articles by creation date. Use the cumulative option to see how the geographic coverage has expanded, and the fixed timeframe to see the geographic structures of newly created articles.

4. Basemaps

In the Settings tab on the right you can change the basemap and display properties.

Google Maps

This version of the project allows you to:

  • Select different basemaps
  • Adjust the basemap visibility
  • Change the article point size
  • You can view the Wikipedia articles by clicking on the points on the map. The panel that opens top left shows the first five articles at that location

Kartograph Maps

The Kartograph version allows you to change the map projection and the associated parameters for each. Either use the sliders in the panel or click and drag the map. Switch between the Translation and Projection buttons above the zoom bar on the left to either pan or modify the projection when clicking and dragging the map.


Terra Incognita was supported by funding from the Arts Council of England Grants for Arts and the National Lottery. The software was developed using data from the Wikimedia Toolsever Ghel project and mapping software including Open Layers, Kartograph, Google Maps API, and Thematic Mapping.

Terra Incognita

Sorry, the application does not support your Device or Browser.

Please use a Desktop with the latest version of Chrome, IE, FireFox, Safari, or Opera.

For videos and images of the project see the website.