13 December 2012

Socket map of the world

  • The ‘American’ model (yellow), consisting of two vertical rectangular openings, side by side...
  • The ‘subcontinental’ model (dark green), a triangle of circular openings...
  • The ‘antipodean’ model (light blue), made up of three rectangles arranged to look like the mask from the Scream movies, is used in only four countries, all in the Southern Hemisphere: Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.
  • The ‘imperial’ model (dark blue), two flat rectangles below, one upright on top, quite clearly is a remnant of the British Empire, as it is used not only in the UK and Ireland, but also in that swathe of Africa with which Cecil Rhodes had once sought to connect ‘the Cape and Cairo’...
  •  The ‘European’ model (light green), which looks a bit like Wall-E...
An important note at the Big Think source: "This map, sent in by Mark Lakata, was first published in National Geographic. It chooses clarity over comprehensiveness: in reality, there are 13 plug-and-socket systems in operation throughout the world (some are compatible with each other), and numerous national standards for voltage and frequency.


  1. Very strange to visit a blog to see something you submitted to a different blog. The funny thing is, I didn't remember the map ... until I saw my name at the bottom.

  2. Actually "The ‘subcontinental’ model (dark green), ..." - could also be called the imperial as it is the old British standard that was phased out after WW2

    The antipodean plug is possibly the worst plug - it isn't too bad itself but:
    i) there is no standard on what size the plugs themselves should be so you can often only use every other socket because the plugs block other plugs from fitting in next to them.
    ii) The pins are quite thin and there seems to be a relatively large variation between pins and sockets so they have very poor contact between them, which I've only very rarely seen elsewhere.

    The modern British plug is clearly the most superior plug. Not only is it the safest (hint - if you ever see sparks when inserting or removing a plug then your country is doing something wrong) but also, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to improvise some caltrops the shape of plug usually make it fall pin sides up and which apparently is a bit painful.

    1. Agree with (i), but I'd replace (ii) with the fact that the pins bend easily. Once an appliance's pin bends it becomes harder to fit into a socket (not impossible, but it takes extra effort).

  3. Cuba is pain, they sometimes use a socket that had the holes to accept both european and american plugs, but they use both 120v and 240v and don't distinguish between the two...if I ever go back I'll bring a multimeter.

  4. The British plug is awful. Clunky, far too big for whats needed and awkward to plun and unplug. Just like most things the British come up with.

    The european plug is far superior.

    1. The British plug has been improved by Min-Kyu Choi a Korean designer. It won the Brit insurance design prize 2010. Check it out!


  5. The one for China is wrong. They have outlets for both the light green and the light blue. Only Hong Kong has the dark blue. As someone who crosses the border between the two frequently, it's the bane of my existence.

  6. Here's a better resource: http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/map.htm#

    Or try Wikipedia! (Don't forget to donate...)


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