February 22, 2010


Much has been written about the living dead. We certainly know what they eat and the many ways in which they can be killed (or re-killed) is well documented. There are a number of theories about their origins (e.g. Dawn of the Dead tells us that "when there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth"). Yet one thing that we don't really know that much about is where they are. And when you think about it, that really is the most important question.

Documentary Photo from the Floating Sheep Archive

We've shown that mapping geo-content indexed by Google is a relatively accurate reflection of economic, social and political trends. But what about zombies? Can we map out zombie geographies using some of the techniques that we've developed?

We certainly can try, and the map below an initial attempt to geo-locate zombie demographics. As you can see, zombie references are littered throughout North America and Western Europe: a fact that can only lead us to speculate that zombies are clustered in those places. In Europe, Zombies references are curiously mostly found in the UK and Germany and are largely absent from much of the Mediterranean and almost all of Scandinavia.

Distribution of Zombie Placemarks Worldwide

An initial hypothesis was that zombies are cold blooded and therefore can't spend much time in the far northern reaches of the planet. However, according to the Zombie Research Society it is possible that zombies are able to produce a glycoprotein that can prevent their blood from freezing. In contrast World War Z clearly documents that zombies freeze if they go too far Noth.

So it is still very unclear why references to zombies (and thus the locations of the undead) are so clustered. One final theory could simply be that we are only capturing the very beginnings of a global epidemic and that the zombie infection will start to move across the globe in the same manner in which plague did in the 14th century.

There is one final important issue to bring up. If we examine the Google Trends data for the term "zombie" we see that in most of the countries in which there already seems to be a major zombie outbreak there is already a great deal of vigilance (i.e. people doing searches for zombie related topics).

Google Trends Data Indicating the Number of Zombie Related Searches

However, why are Thais, Swedes and Finns doing so many searches? We can only suspect that the outbreak has already spread to those places, but has not yet been picked up by Google Maps at this early stage. Equally worrying is the fact that Germany is absent from this list. Either most Germans are blissfully unaware of the zombie rampage sweeping through their country, or it is already too late and most Germans have already joined the legions of the undead.

Hmm...the latter hypothesis would explain A LOT about our last visit to Germany.


  1. Very informative. Love following your Blog

  2. "...or it is already too late and most Germans have already joined the legions of the undead.

    Hmm...the latter hypothesis would explain A LOT about our last visit to Germany. ..."

    In Hamburg are Zombies aka Fischkopf, Fischköppe (fish head), in Berlin are political and media Zombies, München (Munich) ,Bavaria are the Hofbräuhaus-,Oktoberfest-Neuschwanstein-Zombies and in Köln (Cologne) are the Carneval-Zombies ;-)

    Another look from Google Insights for Search:
    Image-Search for Zombies by german cities

    Bye from "Land of zombies".

  3. Excellent. I'm gonna go watch Shaun of the Dead again to make sure I've got my Zombie combat skills down.

  4. Too early for April Fools, guys! But thank you for making me aware that, though I've never watched a Zombie movie, I might need to do so! Too creepie! I haven't seen any zombies here - but there have been an abundance of people with "red necks".

  5. Hey, great work! Good to see someone is finally taking this issue seriously. If we are ever going to beat these things, we are going to need statistics.

  6. It is a serious matter and statistics always help. I know I require everyone in my household to watch Dawn of the Dead and play hours and hours of Dead Rising as a way to keep their zombie survival skills in tip top shape. ;)

  7. I'm moving to Sibera. Just sayin'.

  8. Being from the northern reaches myself I can offer two additional explanations:

    1) Swedes and Finns are avid travellers (I've got no reference whatsoever for that statement, so objections are in order). Perhaps the searches indicate a fear of zombie infestations in their preferred destinations?

    2) Not long ago (2009)a the feature film Dead Snow (http://www.deadsnow.com/) was released. The film entails a zombie infestation in Norway. Swedes are the Mexicans of Norway. They travel across the border in large groups in search of work (in 2010 there were 50,000 Swedes working/residing in Norway).

    Perhaps this advocates a new entry in my blog (popversions.blogspot.com)?

  9. I better take this map with me to the Travel agent, I need to know I'll be safe to travel...

  10. Shocked to see that we in Melbourne will be some of the first to go O_O

  11. Zombies do bring out the Hand to Hand Combat in everyone....

  12. A thought well entertained with plausible hypothesis; some of your geographical highlights were..well, let's just say they made smirk to some extent.

    The dead walking..Hmm...

  13. You have made my day at work so much more interesting.

    Prefered zombie dispatch method, Cricket bat and spade, i learnt from the masters. Shaun and ed.

    My plan is to get the deck chairs out and sit on the roof and throw micelaneous tin foods at them in a hope to deter them from trampling on the flower beds!

  14. This makes me really happy! :) There are still some jokers in the world.

  15. I KNEW it! Boyfriend recently went on a Business Trip in New Orleans(http://mayorgia.blogspot.com/2011/12/boyfriends-business-trip-part-i.html ) and I KNEW there'd be zombie sluts there!


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