Rainbow-Hued Rivers Transect Globe Like Veins in Gorgeous Maps

Seventy percent of Australia qualifies as arid or semi-arid, according to the Australian government.
Seventy percent of Australia qualifies as arid or semi-arid, according to the Australian government. (Image credit: Robert Szucs, Cartographer)

Rivers get the rainbow treatment in a gorgeous series of maps from a Hungarian cartographer.

Available for download on Etsy, the maps are both beautiful and scientifically accurate. Their creator, Robert Szucs, has a background in geographic information systems (GIS) but was bored by standard river maps with "all the lines blue, all the same width." [Rainbow Rivers: See Gorgeous Maps of the World's Waterways]

"Uninspiring," he told Live Science. "I felt I might be able to do better."

Since 2016, Szucs has been offering his maps on Etsy, where nearly 4,000 buyers seem to agree that he's done better. Selling the maps was originally just a hobby, he said, but "the whole thing exploded within weeks." News outlets (including Live Science) featured his work and brought in new customers. He decided to try to make a living with his art.

The world's rivers flow like so many rainbows in a map by Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs (Image credit: Robert Szucs, Cartographer)

Szuc has since made maps of single U.S. states, entire countries, continents and even the whole globe. Each river basin is depicted in a color unique to that river, with thicker lines for larger waterways. It takes Szucs days to weeks to input data from various geographical sources and then tweak the size and colors of each line, he said.

"It's a beautiful marriage of science and arts, and that's where I'm at home," he said.

Szucs also makes maps of forest color, maps of elevation that reveal topography and maps showing population density. He does custom orders, he said, so there are always new countries or states to map. He's also got a few plans for the future.

"As for new styles of maps," he said, "I only have about 17 ideas."

Originally published on Live Science.

Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.