The Downhill Mountain State
Theme West Virginia is a largely rural state in the Appalachian Mountains. It is blessed with a wealth of natural beauty and an abundance of coal. Once a part of Virginia, the rugged landscape inhibited early settlement. Then the industrial age brought a booming demand for coal to fuel the nation's growth. Today, a combination of factors including fuel diversity, mine depletion and aging infrastructure have hurt economic opportunities in the state.
PuzzleMap is uniquely suited to help people grasp this kind of situation. Learning the names and locations of these 55 counties is the key to understanding the economic and demographic information that one finds elsewhere. The fact that 37 West Virigina counties had a larger population in 1950 than they do today only tells part of the story. A small handful of counties have actually grown exponentially. Which ones are favored and why?
The color of each piece is a clue to its location and to the state's geography. It ranges from blue to yellow based on the change in population. With only a few exceptions, the counties that have grown are either near the Ohio River or in the area closest to Washington D.C. To preserve this information, the pieces retain their color when placed, making the completed puzzle a choropleth.
Puzzle Notes This example uses the default Clue Window design. Piece colors are the only customization and they are simply an attribute of each county. Choropleths can use a variety of color schemes and may also be generated for discrete values (also known as a "class map"). The only real challenge is selecting a complemenatry basemap that doesn't conflict with the color message.