AfricaMap/WorldMap Project

Developed by: Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA)
Principal Investigators: Suzanne P. Blier and Peter Bol
System Architect/Project Manager: Ben Lewis

The goal of WorldMap is to lower barriers for scholars who wish to visualize, analyze, organize, present, and publish mapped information.

AfricaMap ( was the first application created using the WorldMap platform, and is still one of the richest in content. There are now thousands of additional maps (of Africa and the African diasporas well as on other subjects or geographies) created by scholars at Harvard and around the world.

WorldMap is open source software and an instance is hosted at Harvard, free for researchers anywhere in the world to use. The system allows users to upload their own data and create sophisticated interactive maps in the cloud to support research and teaching.

Since WorldMap began in 2012, more than half a million people have used the system, initiating thousands of research studies, and in the process, making many thousands of new map layers available to Harvard scholars. It is being used in a growing number of classes at Harvard, as well as at other universities globally.

Recent and ongoing developments in the WorldMap universe include a continually updated geo-tweet archive (TweetMap) to support visualization and analysis against billions of utterances in space and time, a comprehensive global search tool for online maps, internationalization capabilities to support user interfaces for Arabic and French speakers, and major improvements to map symbolization. In addition, significant integration work is taking place with other systems such as HarvardX, the Omeka/Neatline storytelling platform, and the Dataverse social science platform.

WorldMap has received generous funding from the Hutchins Center, the Department of African and African American Studies, the Center for African Studies, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund, Cornell University, Amazon, and other programs and organizations within and beyond Harvard. Projects are currently underway with the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, United Nations University, the University of Pittsburgh, Um Al-Quera University (Saudi Arabia), and the Boston Area Research Initiative.

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