2 min read

The North/South Divide

Various Facebook memes were joking about what parts of England count as “The North” so I decided to grab a shapefile for England and GB, and slap a dot on the map.

I don’t believe that this defines the North/South in England. I think that issue belongs to social geography and history - in place names and some social geostats you can still see the Danelaw/Anglo-Saxon divide.

Anyway, the centroid of GB is:

gb = rnaturalearth::ne_countries(scale = 50) %>% 
  st_as_sf() %>% 
  filter(name == "United Kingdom") %>% 

gb %>% 
  st_centroid(of_largest_polygon = TRUE) %>% 
  #largest polygon is GB in this case.
  tm_shape() + tm_dots()

Or for England:

pt = rnaturalearth::ne_states(geounit = "england") %>% 
  st_union() %>% 

pt %>%  
  tm_shape() + 

There’s a charming part of Gaiman’s American Gods where the central point of the USA was estimated by means of a cardboard cutout and finding the balancing point, and this place ends up as the opposite as a place of power.

The brevity of this post disguises how long I spent looking for a good outline of GB and England. The Open Geography Portal wanted to test a new design, it returned no results so I went back to old design.

I kept getting really heavy files from OGP - it is far easier to find all English LSOAs with a bunch of social stats attached than it is to just get the damn coastline. Or to get individual nations but not GB.

I remembered that there was an illustration of projection of the GB coastline in The Book and found the {rnaturalearth} libraries for grabbing political/coastal borders.

So ultimately, this turns from a vent about gov open data being hampered by the search function to a love-letter to free/open-source publishing, because I had seen someone else do something like what I wanted, and I could look under the hood for how they did it.

At the end of the day, this is why I keep this up as a Free/Open Source blog. Even the early, gnarly posts have stuff that someone can learn from, even if it’s “this person used to be worse than me!”.