Interactive Map Shows Famous Peoples' Birthplace –  With Some Surprising Results

Do you enjoy procrastination? Well, do we have the perfect map for you.


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Interactive globe shows where famous people were born across the world.
A screenshot of the interactive map showing where famous people were born across the world. Image courtesy of Topi Tjukanov

Who knew that JRR Tolkein was born in southern Africa? And that the hometown of Keanu Reeves is the Lebanese capital of Beirut? Or that famously Australian actors Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman weren't actually born in Australia?

This interactive globe maps out the place of birth of hundreds of famous figures from political leaders and scientists to sportspeople and artists. It was developed by Topi Tjukanov from Mapbox and you can try it out right here


Topi recommends you view the map on a desktop or laptop in full-screen mode for the best view of his work. He explains that the data is gathered from a paper published in June in the Nature journal Scientific Data that logged birth and death data of notable people from 3500 BCE to 2018 CE. 

The map only shows one person for each geographic location, and that individual is chosen on their highest notability rank. For instance, we can assume that a lot of notable public figures call New York their hometown, but currently Donald Trump appears in the city’s location. 

If you click the individuals’ names, you’ll be provided with a small pop-up that has some information and a link to their Wikipedia page. The map breaks down individuals into four different categories: culture, discovery & science, leadership, and sports. 

Give it a whirl. Happy procrastination! 


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