A new map reveals the most famous people born in Czechia

The interactive map tracks the birthplaces of real people whose fame goes beyond the borders of what is now the Czech Republic.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 01.08.2022 15:13:00 (updated on 01.08.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

A new interactive map shows the most famous people who were born in every country. The top name for the Czech lands might come as a surprise. Not because he isn’t famous, but because few people associate him with the Czech Republic. Psychologist Sigmund Freud was born in Příbor in the Moravia-Silesia region in 1856.

The map, simply titled Notable People, shows more names as you zoom in. At first, no names appear in the Czech Republic. Top-tier celebrities for Europe include Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle, Jules Verne, Björk, and Winston Churchill.

Freud only pops up after spinning the globe so the Czech Republic is centered. Still, he is the only name to be visible before zooming in.

The rankings are based on a study published by the magazine Nature that looked at the fame of people from 3500 B.C. to 2018 A.D. The study used the number of Wikipedia and Wikidata entries in different languages to rank over 2 million people, though not all appear on the map.

Sigmund Freud in 1921. Photo: Max Halberstadt via Library of Congress.
Sigmund Freud in 1921. Photo: Max Halberstadt via Library of Congress.

More names pop up after a few more clicks. Writer Franz Kafka ranks as the second-most famous, followed by composer Gustav Mahler, mathematician Kurt Gödel, and religious reformer Jan Hus.

Of these, Gödel is perhaps only known only to mathematical and scientific specialists, as his work on number theory and logic is hard to summarize for the layperson. He was born in Brno but did most of his significant work in Austria and later the United States.

Being deceased is not a requirement for appearing on the map. The first living celebrities to pop up are football player Petr Čech, born in Plzeň, and playwright Tom Stoppard, who was born in Zlín but fled the country with his family as a child due to World War II. Tennis stars Ivan Lendl and Martina Navrátilová also appear.

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Some unexpected names include industrialist and humanitarian Oskar Schindler, auto engineer Ferdinand Porsche, and American politician Madeleine Albright.

One name that pops up in Prague as you zoom in is Karel Gut, which initially looks like a typo for Karel Gott. Actually, Gut was an ice hockey player who won two gold medals in World Championships in the 1970s and appeared three times in the Olympics.

Singer Karel Gott, on the other hand, was born in Plzeň but does not appear on the map, perhaps because his fame was limited to a small number of countries. People also must be real. The popular Czech character Jára Cimrman also does not appear, which is perhaps fitting as he is famous for not showing up.

Not all the people on the map are remembered for positive accomplishments. Karl Hermann Frank, who served in the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, was executed as a war criminal.

The map has two main drawbacks. The first is that it is not as easy to zoom out as it is to zoom in. you have to go back to the beginning and start over, zooming in from outer space again. Another is that the links on the map take you to Wikidata, which has much less information than Wikipedia. 

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