This map, at first glance, similar to a medieval map of the world ‘mappa mundi’, is the topologist’s map of the world, showing international borders, and nothing else.
Topology in math is the study of properties that are preserved when a shape is curved or elongated. So a circle and a square are topologically equal because they are both a simple loop. A figure eight isn’t comparable to them since it has the intersection point and two loops.
This map is showing the basic adjacency within regions, without consideration for the complicated shapes the areas take. In topology, the borders can be smoothed out, but the adjacency is a fixed property that remains no matter how much the edge is reshaped.
The map shows the topology of national borders; all information about a country’s shape and size are ignored. This leads to some interesting effects: Brunei and Indonesia are linked to Afro-Eurasia since they connected through Malaysia, even though they are on different landmasses. Exclaves have otherwise been ignored. The world is encircled by a ring of 38 island nations, as well as two pairs (Haiti/Dominican Republic and Ireland UK). East is (approximately) up.