Whether or not you have an affinity for the notion of an independent nation in the Pacific Northwest, (commonly known as Cascadia) you have to admit this map is pretty darn cool:


Created by Reddit user Nihht at Imaginary Maps, it’s an especially clever way to visualize the Pacific Northwest bio-region, connecting everything from San Francisco to the Aleutian Islands. The unusual angle helps to clear your mind of existing visual bias (most striking is how small northern California, reaching all the way to Salt Lake City, is in comparison to lands further north). It’s also interesting to note that based on these borders, the hypothetical country would have a population of 27 million, putting it ahead of Australia, but behind Ghana, and very close to the population of Afghanistan. In terms of area, it would be the world’s sixth largest nation, larger than India but smaller than Australia.

It reminds me of one of my favorite photos published by NASA, a view of the Pacific Northwest from space, also taken from a surprising angle:


Obviously, the photo was taken in summer, since there’s not a cloud in sight. The Salish Sea– comprised of the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Puget Sound–is prominent in the lower left. The long expanse of the Cascades and Coast Mountains is gorgeous, clearly dividing the wet western slope from the arid lands to the east. It’s easy to pick out the famous volcanoes of the Northwest, as well as the glaciated peaks of the Olympics and North Cascades. And don’t forget the broad green expanse of the Willamette Valley, where all those delicious pinot noirs come from.