Today's the thirteenth anniversary of the premiere of The Amazing Race. I joined the show on Episode 7 of that first cycle, which makes me about as deep a Race veteran as there is, besides Bertram Van Munster, Jerry Bruckheimer and Phil Keoghan themselves.
Here's a map that shows all the countries we've been to over 24 cycles (some new ones will have to be colored blue in a few weeks):
Some observations—and these are all just personal, btw:
• That's a lot of blue. The show is harder to produce than anything else in its category, and it's not even close. There's a reason that, in the first season, Phil Keoghan begins the opening credits by saying, "It's the most daring competition ever attempted."
• Balance of hemispheres. People talk a lot about East vs. West, culturally, but an even more important distinction might be North vs. South. Countries south of the Equator tend to be poorer, and their living conditions worse, than their northern equivalents. That's changing—economies like Brazil, for example, are roaring forward, and Australia and New Zealand are obvious exceptions, but The Amazing Race has made it a point from the very first cycle to be inclusive (Cycle 1 teams traveled to South Africa and Zambia). South America in particular has been home to many Race episodes.
• War, violence and intolerance. Some countries just don't have the infrastructure to host Race. Others are simply to dangerous to visit. I'm not saying this as an insider, either. I'd bet it's one of the first things you thought when you looked at the image above, too. And you're right. Very few of those countries are ones we just "haven't gotten around to yet." Along those same lines…
• Time marches on. Right now we probably couldn't take teams to Ukraine, and it would be difficult to take them to Russia, Thailand, or parts of eastern Turkey. These are all countries we've visited in the past, and that's a sad thing.
For more—lots more—info about our destinations each cycle, as well as all kinds of other info, you can go to this fan site, or visit my friends at realityfanforum.com. And please do tune in (or at least DVR it!) September 26 as we launch the new cycle from Times Square, in the first-ever public start to an Amazing Race.