12 October 2008

The Republic Of San Seriffe: A Foreign Land for Cartographers and Typographers


(via Strange Maps) San Seriffe is a land which few have heard of and even fewer have visited. But its a land you should be familiar with – especially if you love maps, type, or like me, both.

The Republic of San Seriffe

(also clicky here) If you haven't heard of this semi-colon-ial state, don't feel bad. San Seriffe kind of keeps its own secret. But it's a cool place. With an economy based on the three pillars of the phosphate industry, petroleum industry, and tourism, it has the economic chops, and with a newly-civilian government, things are opening up on the civil side as well.

The archipelago itself is a little hard to find. One of its reputed locations is in the Indian Ocean, but due to a process of erosion removing land from the west sides of the islands and depositing in on the east side, the islands are moving east at the rather enthusiastic rate of about 1400 metres per year! So, as the great State of Hohoq that John Hodgman revealed to us in The Areas Of My Expertise, you really can't tell where you'll find it next.

Of course, map jokes are a thing of long tradition. The habit of putting puns and jokes in cartographic form goes back quite a ways, and some of them here are obvious (Upper and Lower "Caisse", a capitol named Bodoni, the beaches of "Gill Sands", and Picas scattered about) as well as a little inscrutable (I still can't figure the joke behind the swamp on Lower Caisse called the "Woj of Type"). But it's a fine example of a hoax in the open, created in 1977 by the British newspaper The Guardian, complete with a special supplement.

The supplement was so convincing that people apparently looked to visit and open economic opportunities.

But it really doesn't exist except as a monument to imagination, creativity, and a very dry sense of humor. So, if you try to book a vacation to San Seriffe and can't, don't feel bad.

I couldn't, either. Now, that was an awkward moment!

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