The World from an Armchair

The illustrator Lian Cho did impressive research for the illustrations in the book, digging deep for scenes of everyday life in the countries whose languages or customs are referenced in A Hundred Thousand Welcomes.

Source for population statistics: , accessed on 20 March 2022

Source for language statistics: 

Eberhard, David M., Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2022. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-fifth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version:

In order of appearance:

Pages 1-6

Israel, Middle East (Western Asia)

Population of Israel: 8,885,446

Primary Languages: Hebrew; Standard Arabic

Total users in all countries, Hebrew: 9,387,050

Writing system, Hebrew: Hebrew script

When the book opens, readers are welcomed into a sukkah, a temporary shelter that might be found in Israel, or at the home of any observant Jewish family. A sukkah is a shelter built for Sukkot, a seven-day-long religious observance, during which families gather to celebrate the autumn harvest and to remember the ancient Jews’ escape from Egypt who, for forty years, wandered the desert, living in temporary shelters. 

“Sukkot Children’s March, 2013” by Avital Pinnick. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Pages 1-6

In the book illustration:

Challah is an unleavened bread, often braided, that is traditionally served on Shabbat and at other Jewish ceremonial occasions or holidays. Can you find the loaf of challah that the two families will share in the sukkah?

Pages 7-8

Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Population of Indonesia: 278,352,583

Principal Language: Indonesian                     

Total users in all countries: 198,996,550

Writing system: Arabic, Naskh variant

“The Explosion of Kids in Indonesia” by Trey Ratcliff. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Bowing heads as a way of greeting one another is customary in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and China, and communicates respect and deference. The ancient Sanskrit greeting, namaste, is used by Hindus and has been adopted by many others. Translated into English, it means “I bow to the God/spirit/light within you,” so is often said while bowing.

“A class of 4 year olds says namaste” by World Bank Photo Collection. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


In the book illustration:

The heads, necks, and hair of the women are wrapped in cloth coverings called hijabs. Hijab is an Islamic concept of modesty and privacy. 

An important note: Muslims do not bow to one another; they bow only to God. Pages 7-8, therefore, will be corrected at future reprints.

Page 9

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, Egypt, Northern Africa

Population of Egypt: 105,622,007

Language: Egyptian Spoken Arabic; Standard Arabic                      

Total users in all countries: 273,989,700

Writing system: Arabic script, Naskh variant

“Egyptian children of El-Fayoum” by Mo_Shamma. CC BY 2.0

Page 9

In the book illustration:

What do you think the merchant is selling?

Page 10

Madrid, Spain, Southern Europe

Population of Spain: 46,726,238

Principal Language: Spanish (Castilian)

Total users in all countries: 548,333,810

Writing system: Latin script

“Madrid Kids” by malias. CC BY 2.0

Page 10

In the book illustration:

See if you can spot Lian’s tribute to the people across Europe who sang to and with one another from their balconies during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Page 11

Taiwan, Eastern Asia

Population of Taiwan: 23,879,031

Principle Language: Mandarin Chinese

Total users in all countries: 1,118,584,040

Writing system: Bopomofo script; Han script, simplified variant; Han script, traditional variant

“97水上運動比賽154” by 頭家國民小學 Tuojia Elementary School. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Page 11

In the book illustration:

Lian Cho painted the book’s scene from memory and is her recollection of a family gathering at her grandparents’ home. The white-haired woman pictured is a portrait of Lian’s own grandmother. Young Lian is also there, wearing an orange shirt. Can you find her?

Pages 13-14

Chuo City, Tokyo, Japan, Eastern Asia

Population of Japan: 125,714,516

Language: Japanese                

Total users in all countries: 125,399,270

Writing system: Han script; Hiragana script; Katakana script

“International Year for Disabled Persons (IYDP) – 1981” by United Nations Photo. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Pages 13-14

In the book illustration:

There is a small scene/gesture that demonstrates the measure of respect and honor paid to one’s elders in the Japanese culture. See if you can find it. 

Pages 15-16

Bangladesh, Southern Asia

Population of Bangladesh: 167,443,405

Principal language: Bengali   

Total users in all countries: 272,674,940

Writing system: Bengali script

“Village children in Bangladesh” by Nasir Khan Saikat. CC BY-SA 2.0

Pages 15-16

In the book illustration:

Can you spot the brightly colored tuktuk, a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi? 

Page 17

Mexico, Central America

Population of Mexico: 131,196,909

Language: Spanish (Castellano)                     

Total Spanish users in Mexico: 125,000,000

Writing system: Latin script

“2016 – Mexico City – Coyoacan – Jardín Centenario Busker” by Ted’s photos – For Me & You. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Page 17

In the book illustration:

The abuela has made ceviche, menudo, and tacos for her grandchildren. She pours water into cups from a clay water jug called a jara (jarro?).

If you look up ceviche and menudo, maybe you would like to taste them, too!

Page 18

Dorze region, Ethiopia, Eastern Africa

Population of Ethiopia: 119,987,447

Principal language: Amharic

Total users in all countries: 57,466,560

Writing system: Ethiopic script

“Ethiopia Dorze Village Omkotic tribes IMGL7519.jpg” by Peter Chou Kee Liu. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Page 18

In the book illustration:

The Dorze children in the illustration are eating kocho, a fermented flat bread, with honey and hot sauce. 

Page 19

Germany, Western Europe

Population of Germany: 83,873,315

Principal language: Standard German

Total users in all countries: 134,624,440

Writing system: Latin script

“German Children’s Choir” by hubertk. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Page 19

In the book illustration:

Can you spot someone toasting a marshmallow?

Page 20

India, Southern Asia

Population of India: 1,402,917,192

Principal languages: Hindi; English

Total users in all countries, Hindi: 602,198,470 Writing system, Hindi: Devanagari script

“Living on Mountains of Tea – Darjeeling, India” by Daniel Peckham. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Page 20

In the book illustration:

Can you identify the ingredients and tools the chaiwallah (tea vendor) uses to make the chai: cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, sugar, fresh ginger root, a grinding stone, a strainer?

Page 21

Pakistan, Southern Asia

Population of Pakistan: 228,286,070

Principal languages: English; Urdu

Total users in all countries, Urdu: 231,295,440

Writing system, Urdu: Arabic script, Naskh variant; Arabic script, Nastaliq variant

“Sports Gala” by U.S. Embassy Pakistan. CC BY-ND 2.0

Page 21

In the book illustration:

How many different patterned fabrics can you find in the illustration?

Pages 22-23


Islam is the official religion of Pakistan, practiced by about ninety-six percent of the population. Freedom of religion is a fundamental right of all Pakistanis, guaranteed by the republic’s constitution.

“Pakistan muslim praying” by mishox. CC BY-NC 2.0

Pages 22-23

In the book illustration:

Can you spot the dome of a nearby mosque, gleaming against a sunset sky? A mosque is a Muslim place of worship.

Page 24

Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota, USA

As of 2022, according to the US census bureau, the total Native American population of the US is 6.79 million, or 2.09% of the entire population. The Department of the Interior of the US government maintains a listing of about five-hundred-seventy federally recognized indigenous nations. Among them are the Lakota, often referred to as the Great Sioux Nation. 

Indigenous language of the Lakota Sioux: Lakota

Total users in USA, Lakota: 2,100

Total users in all countries, Lakota: 2,200

Writing system: Latin script

“walking the rez road” by yesy belajar memotrek. CC BY-NC 2.0

Population of USA: 334,268,062

Principal language, USA: English

Total users in the USA, English: 306,000,000 

Total users in all countries, English: 1,452,471,410

Writing: Latin script

Page 24

In the book illustration:

The children are playing a game called shinny. Does shinny remind you of any other games?

Page 25

Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia, Eastern Europe/North Asia

Population of Russia: 145,831,337

Population of Republic of Bashkortostan, as of 2010 census: 4 million 

(source: UNPO: Bashkortostan)

Language, Republic of Bashkortostan: Bashkort

Total users in Russia, Bashkort: 1,150,000

Total users in all countries, Bashkort: 1,240,940.

Writing system: Cyrillic script

“File:Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia – panoramio (130).jpg” by Jonix Axelson. CC BY-SA 3.0

Page 25

In the book illustration:

Can you tell what kind of house the family lives in? What do you think it is built out of?

Pages 26-27

            Ireland, Northern Europe

Population of Ireland: 5,009,201

Principal language: English

Writing system: Latin script

“Dublin Street” by OneEighteen. CC BY-NC 2.0

Statutory language of national identity: Irish (Gaelic)

Total number of users, Ireland: 1,171,000 

Total number of users in all countries: 1,200,290

Pages 26-27:

In the book illustration: How would you describe the weather in the picture?

Ireland is notoriously rainy. Southern and eastern Ireland get as many as 150 days of rain per year on average, while the western part of the country gets about 225 days. 

Pages 28-29-30-31 (gatefold)


“Boggy Irish children” by gwyn_bard. CC BY-NC 2.0

Pages 28-29-30-31

In the book illustration:

Do you recognize the people seated at the table? See if you find them elsewhere in the book!

In the book illustration—reading left to right—the food on the table is:

challah: Jewish

fattah: Egyptian

enjera: Ethiopian

naan: Indian

tacos: Mexican

menudo: Mexican

sushi: Japanese

honey: Bashkortostan

tumpeng: Indonesian

baozhi: Chinese

kunafa: Egyptian

tea: Japanese; Chinese

dumplings: Chinese

wohanpi: Native American

pretzels: German

wojabi jam: Lakota Siouan

fruit cake: Irish

fry bread: Native American

chak chak: Bashkortostan

steamed fish: Chinese

curry: Indian

biryani: Bangladeshi

samosa: Indian

curries: Pakistani; Indian

naan: Indian

pork shank: German