This Week in Geographic History, October 17 – 23

Here’s an advance look at a some of the “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events coming up this week.  For each date, we’ve matched it with a map or visual, background information, and a classroom activity so you can plan ahead.

Monday, October 17

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The San Andreas Fault, shown here cutting through a cliffside in Daly City, runs for roughly 800 miles along California’s Pacific coast. Photograph by James L. Stanfield, National Geographic.

TDIGH: Loma Prieta Earthquake

The magnitude 6.9 earthquake near Oakland, California in 1989 was triggered by the shifting tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault.

Map: Tectonic activity around the world

Background: What is the Ring of Fire?

Activity:  Watch our “Earthquakes 101” video


TDIGH: OPEC Embargoes Oil to U.S.

Reacting to U.S. support for Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, OPEC restricted oil exports to the U.S., causing high gas prices and rationing.

Map: Which countries use the most renewable energy?

Background:  More about OPEC

Activity: Discuss why an embargo can be a political weapon and ask if students know any other examples of embargoes. (For grades 9-12: History of the Oil Crisis Quiz)


Tuesday, October 18

Established in 1767, the Mason-Dixon Line marks the boundary between Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Map by Alvin Jewett Johnson, courtesy Geographicus

TDIGH: Mason-Dixon Survey Completed

Though the line was created to resolve a border dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland, it also marked the division between the north and south during the Civil War.

Map: The Underground Railroad took slaves north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Background: What are boundaries?

Activity: Use MapMaker to pick a country and ask students to identify physical boundaries within it (i.e. the Rio Grande is the boundary between Texas and Mexico).


Thursday, October 20

Credit: Thomas P. Peschak/
A student in Mozambique learns her numbers, the first step in understanding statistics. Photograph by Thomas P. Peschak, National Geographic.

TDIGH: World Statistics Day

The UN created this day in 2010 to acknowledge the vital role statistics play in making informed policy decisions. Technically celebrated every five years, the next official World Statistics Day is in 2020.

Visual: World Statistics Clock

Context: What statistics can you calculate using census data? (i.e. percentage of households with pets, number of senior citizens, etc)

Activity: Explore our Human Footprint interactive to calculate statistics about your impact on the environment.  


Saturday, October 22

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The U.S. has been involved in Cuba’s affairs since the construction of Guantanamo Bay naval base in 1898. Relations between the two countries dramatically worsened during the Cold War. Map by Robert C. Magis, National Geographic

TDIGH: Kennedy ‘Quarantines’ Cuba

In response to finding Soviet nuclear facilities in Cuba in 1962, the U.S. quarantined the island, escalating the conflict known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Map: Cuba and NG Kids Country Profile: Cuba

Background: U.S.- Cuba relations, past and present

Activity: 13 Days: President Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis

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