Maps. They make everything a little bit better. They have the capacity to turn confusing, nebulous, and unimaginable information into visual masterpieces of understanding. And when we can see the information, we're more likely to do something useful with it. The year 2009 brought us some incredible maps, illustrating things like how the earth's carbon cycle works which then unveiled new understanding about how carbon emissions from one country affect other parts of the planet; or how wilderness is disappearing, which pointed out some surprising conclusions about how little space humans actually inhabit while still impacting massive amounts of the globe. Here, we've gathered up some of the most impressive maps we saw over the year, from interactive maps, to those that please the eye, to those that tried to make a difference in the world. Enjoy!