Over the years, the Visual Capitalist creative team has created thousands of maps, charts, infographics, videos, data visualizations, and everything in between.
Through our online travels, we’ve encountered countless data-infused pieces – but only a select few stand out above the noise and filler. Below, five members of our creative team have each selected a piece that has inspired them in some way.
Let’s dive in!
— VC Creative Team
1. “The Weight of Walmart” by Nick Routley
See the full piece here.
There was an explosion in the number of infographics being produced around 2010-2011, and in many ways, that wave of popularity is what got me interested in fusing data with storytelling and design.
I can’t look back at that era with rose coloured glasses though; most of the pieces I encountered were dysfunctional and ugly. There was, however, a batch of really amazing infographics that tapped into clever illustrations and concepts to get their point across.
In my opinion, the piece that sums up that style best is “The Weight of Walmart”.
I love “The Weight of Walmart” for a number of reasons, but foremost, the content is genuinely interesting. In 2011, when the piece was released, Walmart was a retail juggernaut. As a result, some of the stats in this infographic are pretty remarkable.
Next, the idea of the obese anthropomorphic monster is weird and amazing, yet doesn’t detract from the subject matter at all. It also sets a very interesting aesthetic tone in the piece that is a big contrast from the staid, icon-filled infographics many people are used to.
As well, the infographic uses colour in an extremely effective, strategic way. Note the colour yellow as you scroll. Aside from being an overt hat tip to Walmart’s branding, that pop colour leads you through the content so you’re never stuck wondering where you should be looking next.
“The Weight of Walmart” made a big impact on me as a budding designer and even today – when we have more creative leeway on a piece – I look to that weird, wonderful example as one to emulate.
2. “The World’s First Writing Systems” by Melissa Haavisto
Watch the video embedded above
I’ve heard it said that while language could exist without writing, history books depend on the written word.
From our earliest days, humanity has shared information in an ever-evolving sequence of symbols, crude cave paintings, and timeworn inscriptions etched into stone. Fast-forward to 2017, and this habit of sharing knowledge has only continued to grow at breakneck speeds, with an explosion of data and information being created every second.
As a designer, I’ve always loved three things beyond the pure aesthetics: maps, history, and storytelling. Released in 2016 by Business Insider, “The Spread of the World’s First Writing Systems” concisely uses the first two points – maps and history — to paint the complexity of the third point (storytelling) in stunning detail.
In the span of two and a half minutes, the map follows a surge of evolving literacy systems across the world. Red is used to highlight six geographic regions, and colored timelines mark the birth (or death) of each script.
If you pause the video around the two-minute mark and look at the timelines, you can clearly see how complicated the evolution of language is. Winding new branches and dialects move across geographic borders, while some ancient scripts defy the odds and remain intact for millennia. Among the excerpts of each script, you may even notice some symbols that seem vaguely familiar to the modern eye.
Beyond its data functionality, the map pairs realistic beauty with a clean aesthetic and groups each family of written languages well.
As part of a series of concise, animated maps, “The Spread of the World’s First Writing Systems” remains one example among many that inspired my fascination with time, geographic space, and information.
3. “Earth Temperature Timeline” by Harrison Schell
See the full piece here.
Where a graphic really sets itself apart is how effectively it can communicate its intended message. The “Earth Temperature Timeline” by xkcd takes a huge amount of data, quite literally all of human history in the past 22,000 years, and makes it easy, fun, and informative to follow.
The strong points of this graphic cannot be overstated. The storytelling, with added jokes, keeps the reader engaged and interested, even if there is no flashy graphics or icons to accompany every slab of text. This is a great example of how writing and concept can carry the reader with sparse graphics, acting only as simple nudges to deliver the concept.
And finally, when you are happily comparing historic events and their relation to one another, the reality sets in. The whole 15,000 pixels set us up for the last inch, a swift blow to the stomach — climate change is here, and we are responsible.
This graphic altered my perspective on climate change — it made it real, and it made it ridiculous to claim “the climate has changed before”. When it comes down to it, making infographics is about taking data and making it digestible, and xkcd did just that, even if it was hard to swallow.
(After setting your car on fire) Listen, your car’s temperature has changed before.
– Randall Munroe of xkcd
4. “The Fallen of World War II” by Clayton Wadsworth
Watch the video embedded above
When we hear about the great wars of human history, it’s difficult to picture the sheer scale of the devastation in our minds.
What does 100,000 people look like? That one is simple enough – I can mentally picture a large stadium filled with people. But, what about 70 million people? There you’ve lost me. That is such a large number that I can no longer accurately visualize what that looks like.
That is the wonder of “The Fallen of World War II” by Neil Halloran. It takes the colossal numbers of casualties of both soldiers and civilians in WWII, and visually compares them to many of the other conflicts through human history in one brilliant video.
This award-winning motion graphic has inspired my own work here at Visual Capitalist, and was one of my primary animation references for the initial draft for “How Much Money have Humans Created?”, which we released in 2016. The success of this piece for me is largely due to its ability to contextualize history, allowing us to visually see the drastic difference between modern day conflicts and those of the past by using numbers effectively.
While its subject matter and length might turn away some from watching it in full, I strongly encourage you do so, as it is wonderfully made and incredibly captivating.
5. “Mission(s) to Mars” by Bennett Slater
View a larger version of this graphic here
An infographic needs to be able to communicate complex or dull information quickly and efficiently. Extraneous fluff added to a visualization because it’s “cool” typically muddies the information and begins to chip away at our attention. A simple, streamlined, and focused approach can hit its mark beautifully if done well. This graphic, which visualizes the world’s missions to Mars, is the perfect example of how to turn a table of names and dates into a piece of information art.
Let’s start with the visual hierarchy. Your eye shoots directly to the large white box against a black background. In the fewest words necessary, we read what this is about and smooth as milk we flow into the timeline. This is the meat of the graphic, and what we came for. Without even needing to read the dates, you are compelled visually to begin from the top and move down.
Now comes the genius bit. The timeline works both as a measure of time, but also a measure of distance. We move down the timeline and closer to Mars as we go. The viewer is able to gloss over this and still completely grasp where the Mars missions began and how far we’ve come in a matter of seconds. Once we’ve gotten what we need to from the timeline, we are invited to catch a few neat facts before heading down to the business of the color-coded legend. This design satisfies my itch every time I look at it.
It’s interesting to see styled trends come and go in the infographic world, but the one thing that will always rise to the surface is simple, effective information design. If you can hang a piece of art on your wall and learn some facts at the same time, then that’s the real mission.
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Our creative team uses the above infographics as inspiration for their own work.
If you want to see their creations, we publish new visuals every day that help to explain the complex world of business and investing.
This Giant Map Shows All the Metropolitan Areas in the U.S.
Fitting a complex population center into a tidy statistical box is no easy feat. Thankfully, this U.S. Census Bureau map is up to the challenge.
This Giant Map Shows All the Metropolitan Areas in the U.S.
The United States is the third most populous country in the world, made up of close to 20,000 cities and towns, and 333 million individuals.
Dividing these population clusters into a coherent framework of statistical areas is no small feat, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest map shows just how complex of a task it is.
This enormous map—which covers the entire country, including Puerto Rico—includes 392 metropolitan statistical areas and 547 micropolitan statistical areas.
For reference, here are all the current metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, organized by population:
|Rank||Metropolitan statistical area||Population (2020)||Change since 2010|
|1||New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA||20,140,470||6.58%|
|2||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA MSA||13,200,998||2.90%|
|3||Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA||9,618,502||1.66%|
|4||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA||7,637,387||19.96%|
|5||Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA||7,122,240||20.30%|
|6||Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA||6,385,162||13.02%|
|7||Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA||6,245,051||4.69%|
|8||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL MSA||6,138,333||10.31%|
|9||Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA MSA||6,089,815||15.19%|
|10||Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH MSA||4,941,632||8.55%|
|11||Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ MSA||4,845,832||15.57%|
|12||San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA MSA||4,749,008||9.54%|
|13||Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA||4,599,839||8.88%|
|14||Detroit–Warren–Dearborn, MI MSA||4,392,041||2.23%|
|15||Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA MSA||4,018,762||16.83%|
|16||Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI MSA||3,690,261||10.26%|
|17||San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA MSA||3,298,634||6.57%|
|18||Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA||3,175,275||14.09%|
|19||Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO MSA||2,963,821||16.53%|
|20||Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD MSA||2,844,510||4.94%|
|21||St. Louis, MO-IL MSA||2,820,253||1.17%|
|22||Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL MSA||2,673,376||25.25%|
|23||Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC MSA||2,660,329||18.56%|
|24||San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX MSA||2,558,143||19.40%|
|25||Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA MSA||2,512,859||12.89%|
|26||Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA MSA||2,397,382||11.55%|
|27||Pittsburgh, PA MSA||2,370,930||0.62%|
|28||Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX MSA||2,283,371||33.04%|
|29||Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV MSA||2,265,461||16.10%|
|30||Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN MSA||2,256,884||5.58%|
|31||Kansas City, MO-KS MSA||2,192,035||9.09%|
|32||Columbus, OH MSA||2,138,926||12.46%|
|33||Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN MSA||2,111,040||11.82%|
|34||Cleveland-Elyria, OH MSA||2,088,251||0.53%|
|35||San Juan-Bayamón-Caguas, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area||2,002,906||-14.77%|
|36||San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA||2,000,468||8.90%|
|37||Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN MSA||1,989,519||20.86%|
|38||Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA||1,799,674||5.00%|
|39||Providence-Warwick, RI-MA MSA||1,676,579||4.73%|
|40||Jacksonville, FL MSA||1,605,848||19.34%|
|41||Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI MSA||1,574,731||1.21%|
|42||Oklahoma City, OK MSA||1,425,695||13.78%|
|43||Raleigh-Cary, NC MSA||1,413,982||25.08%|
|44||Memphis, TN-MS-AR MSA||1,337,779||1.65%|
|45||Richmond, VA MSA||1,314,434||10.78%|
|46||Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN MSA||1,285,439||6.88%|
|47||New Orleans-Metairie, LA MSA||1,271,845||6.89%|
|48||Salt Lake City, UT MSA||1,257,936||15.63%|
|49||Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT MSA||1,213,531||0.09%|
|50||Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY MSA||1,166,902||2.76%|
|51||Birmingham-Hoover, AL MSA||1,115,289||5.11%|
|52||Rochester, NY MSA||1,090,135||0.97%|
|53||Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI MSA||1,087,592||9.45%|
|54||Tucson, AZ MSA||1,043,433||6.44%|
|55||Urban Honolulu, HI MSA||1,016,508||6.64%|
|56||Tulsa, OK MSA||1,015,331||8.30%|
|57||Fresno, CA MSA||1,008,654||8.40%|
|58||Worcester, MA-CT MSA||978,529||6.71%|
|59||Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA MSA||967,604||11.82%|
|60||Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT MSA||957,419||4.43%|
|61||Greenville-Anderson, SC MSA||928,195||12.63%|
|62||Albuquerque, NM MSA||916,528||3.32%|
|63||Bakersfield, CA MSA||909,235||8.29%|
|64||Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY MSA||899,262||3.28%|
|65||Knoxville, TN MSA||879,773||7.96%|
|66||McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX MSA||870,781||12.39%|
|67||Baton Rouge, LA MSA||870,569||5.41%|
|68||El Paso, TX MSA||868,859||8.05%|
|69||New Haven-Milford, CT MSA||864,835||0.27%|
|70||Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSA||861,889||4.96%|
|71||Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA MSA||843,843||2.49%|
|72||North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL MSA||833,716||18.72%|
|73||Columbia, SC MSA||829,470||8.06%|
|74||Dayton-Kettering, OH MSA||814,049||1.85%|
|75||Charleston-North Charleston, SC MSA||799,636||20.32%|
|76||Stockton, CA MSA||779,233||13.71%|
|77||Greensboro-High Point, NC MSA||776,566||7.29%|
|78||Boise City, ID MSA||764,718||24.03%|
|79||Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL MSA||760,822||22.96%|
|80||Colorado Springs, CO MSA||755,105||16.96%|
|81||Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR MSA||748,031||6.90%|
|82||Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL MSA||725,046||20.42%|
|83||Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA MSA||709,466||16.98%|
|84||Akron, OH MSA||702,219||-0.14%|
|85||Springfield, MA MSA||699,162||0.90%|
|86||Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY MSA||697,221||4.02%|
|87||Ogden-Clearfield, UT MSA||694,863||16.36%|
|88||Madison, WI MSA||680,796||12.45%|
|89||Winston-Salem, NC MSA||675,966||5.52%|
|90||Provo-Orem, UT MSA||671,185||27.41%|
|91||Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL MSA||668,921||13.32%|
|92||Syracuse, NY MSA||662,057||-0.08%|
|93||Durham-Chapel Hill, NC MSA||649,903||15.18%|
|94||Wichita, KS MSA||647,610||3.94%|
|95||Toledo, OH MSA||646,604||-0.74%|
|96||Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC MSA||611,000||8.17%|
|97||Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL MSA||606,612||11.64%|
|98||Jackson, MS MSA||591,978||0.97%|
|99||Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA MSA||591,712||7.69%|
|100||Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA MSA||585,784||13.80%|
|101||Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA MSA||567,559||0.70%|
|102||Chattanooga, TN-GA MSA||562,647||6.53%|
|103||Lancaster, PA MSA||552,984||6.46%|
|104||Modesto, CA MSA||552,878||7.47%|
|105||Portland-South Portland, ME MSA||551,740||7.32%|
|106||Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR MSA||546,725||24.22%|
|107||Lansing-East Lansing, MI MSA||541,297||1.24%|
|108||Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA MSA||541,243||-4.34%|
|109||Fayetteville, NC MSA||520,378||8.17%|
|110||Lexington-Fayette, KY MSA||516,811||9.47%|
|111||Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL MSA||509,905||13.57%|
|112||Huntsville, AL MSA||491,723||17.75%|
|113||Reno, NV MSA||490,596||15.32%|
|114||Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA MSA||488,863||1.03%|
|115||Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC MSA||487,722||29.46%|
|116||Port St. Lucie, FL MSA||487,657||14.98%|
|117||Lafayette, LA MSA||478,384||2.49%|
|118||Springfield, MO MSA||475,432||8.87%|
|119||Killeen-Temple, TX MSA||475,367||17.29%|
|120||Visalia, CA MSA||473,117||7.00%|
|121||Asheville, NC MSA||469,015||10.39%|
|122||York-Hanover, PA MSA||456,438||4.94%|
|123||Vallejo, CA MSA||453,491||9.71%|
|124||Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA MSA||448,229||5.74%|
|125||Salinas, CA MSA||439,035||5.78%|
|126||Salem, OR MSA||433,353||10.91%|
|127||Mobile, AL MSA||430,197||-0.09%|
|128||Reading, PA MSA||428,849||4.23%|
|129||Manchester-Nashua, NH MSA||422,937||5.54%|
|130||Corpus Christi, TX MSA||421,933||4.17%|
|131||Brownsville-Harlingen, TX MSA||421,017||3.64%|
|132||Fort Wayne, IN MSA||419,601||7.97%|
|133||Salisbury, MD-DE MSA||418,046||11.84%|
|134||Gulfport-Biloxi, MS MSA||416,259||7.15%|
|135||Flint, MI MSA||406,211||-4.60%|
|136||Savannah, GA MSA||404,798||16.45%|
|137||Peoria, IL MSA||402,391||-3.33%|
|138||Canton-Massillon, OH MSA||401,574||-0.70%|
|139||Anchorage, AK MSA||398,328||4.60%|
|140||Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX MSA||397,565||2.27%|
|141||Shreveport-Bossier City, LA MSA||393,406||-1.30%|
|142||Trenton-Princeton, NJ MSA||387,340||5.68%|
|143||Montgomery, AL MSA||386,047||3.07%|
|144||Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL MSA||384,324||1.22%|
|145||Tallahassee, FL MSA||384,298||4.60%|
|146||Eugene-Springfield, OR MSA||382,971||8.89%|
|147||Ocala, FL MSA||375,908||13.47%|
|148||Naples-Marco Island, FL MSA||375,752||16.87%|
|149||Ann Arbor, MI MSA||372,258||7.97%|
|150||Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC MSA||365,276||-0.06%|
|151||Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH MSA||359,862||-2.98%|
|152||Fort Collins, CO MSA||359,066||19.84%|
|153||Lincoln, NE MSA||340,217||12.60%|
|154||Gainesville, FL MSA||339,247||11.20%|
|155||Rockford, IL MSA||338,798||-3.04%|
|156||Boulder, CO MSA||330,758||12.29%|
|157||Greeley, CO MSA||328,981||30.12%|
|158||Columbus, GA-AL MSA||328,883||6.85%|
|159||Green Bay, WI MSA||328,268||7.19%|
|160||Spartanburg, SC MSA||327,997||15.37%|
|161||South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI MSA||324,501||1.65%|
|162||Lubbock, TX MSA||321,368||10.51%|
|163||Clarksville, TN-KY MSA||320,535||17.01%|
|164||Roanoke, VA MSA||315,251||2.12%|
|165||Evansville, IN-KY MSA||314,049||0.80%|
|166||Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA MSA||307,614||-0.62%|
|167||Kennewick-Richland, WA MSA||303,622||19.85%|
|168||Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA MSA||294,793||16.86%|
|169||Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV MSA||293,844||9.18%|
|170||Utica-Rome, NY MSA||292,264||-2.38%|
|171||Duluth, MN-WI MSA||291,638||0.34%|
|172||Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL MSA||286,973||21.67%|
|173||Longview, TX MSA||286,184||2.21%|
|174||Aguadilla-Isabela, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area||286,064||-15.72%|
|175||Wilmington, NC MSA||285,905||12.17%|
|176||San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA MSA||282,424||4.74%|
|177||Merced, CA MSA||281,202||9.93%|
|178||Waco, TX MSA||277,547||9.80%|
|179||Sioux Falls, SD MSA||276,730||21.23%|
|180||Cedar Rapids, IA MSA||276,520||7.20%|
|181||Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA MSA||275,611||9.75%|
|182||Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ MSA||274,534||-0.01%|
|183||Erie, PA MSA||270,876||-3.45%|
|184||Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA MSA||270,861||3.23%|
|185||Amarillo, TX MSA||268,761||6.68%|
|186||Tuscaloosa, AL MSA||268,674||12.32%|
|187||Norwich-New London, CT MSA||268,555||-2.01%|
|188||College Station-Bryan, TX MSA||268,248||17.31%|
|189||Laredo, TX MSA||267,114||6.72%|
|190||Kalamazoo-Portage, MI MSA||261,670||4.53%|
|191||Lynchburg, VA MSA||261,593||3.55%|
|192||Charleston, WV MSA||258,859||-6.89%|
|193||Yakima, WA MSA||256,728||5.55%|
|194||Fargo, ND-MN MSA||249,843||19.67%|
|195||Binghamton, NY MSA||247,138||-1.82%|
|196||Fort Smith, AR-OK MSA||244,310||-1.57%|
|197||Appleton, WI MSA||243,147||7.75%|
|198||Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ MSA||236,209||11.93%|
|199||Macon-Bibb County, GA MSA||233,802||0.65%|
|200||Tyler, TX MSA||233,479||11.33%|
|201||Topeka, KS MSA||233,152||-0.31%|
|202||Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL MSA||231,767||27.16%|
|203||Barnstable Town, MA MSA||228,996||6.07%|
|204||Bellingham, WA MSA||226,847||12.78%|
|205||Rochester, MN MSA||226,329||9.40%|
|206||Burlington-South Burlington, VT MSA||225,562||6.77%|
|207||Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN MSA||223,716||6.38%|
|208||Medford, OR MSA||223,259||9.87%|
|209||Champaign-Urbana, IL MSA||222,538||2.17%|
|210||Lake Charles, LA MSA||222,402||11.42%|
|211||Charlottesville, VA MSA||221,524||9.91%|
|212||Las Cruces, NM MSA||219,561||4.94%|
|213||Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC MSA||215,908||15.45%|
|214||Athens-Clarke County, GA MSA||215,415||11.88%|
|215||Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ MSA||213,267||6.53%|
|216||Chico, CA MSA||211,632||-3.80%|
|217||Ponce, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area||211,465||-19.48%|
|218||Columbia, MO MSA||210,864||10.76%|
|219||Springfield, IL MSA||208,640||-0.73%|
|220||Johnson City, TN MSA||207,285||4.31%|
|221||Houma-Thibodaux, LA MSA||207,137||-0.50%|
|222||Monroe, LA MSA||207,104||1.31%|
|223||Elkhart-Goshen, IN MSA||207,047||4.80%|
|224||Jacksonville, NC MSA||204,576||15.08%|
|225||Yuma, AZ MSA||203,881||4.15%|
|226||Gainesville, GA MSA||203,136||13.05%|
|227||Florence, SC MSA||199,964||-2.73%|
|228||St. Cloud, MN MSA||199,671||5.59%|
|229||Bend, OR MSA||198,253||25.69%|
|230||Racine, WI MSA||197,727||1.19%|
|231||Warner Robins, GA MSA||191,614||14.33%|
|232||Saginaw, MI MSA||190,124||-5.02%|
|233||Punta Gorda, FL MSA||186,847||16.80%|
|234||Terre Haute, IN MSA||185,031||-2.49%|
|235||Billings, MT MSA||184,167||10.17%|
|236||Redding, CA MSA||182,155||2.78%|
|237||Dover, DE MSA||181,851||12.04%|
|238||Kingston, NY MSA||181,851||-0.35%|
|239||Joplin, MO MSA||181,409||3.36%|
|240||Yuba City, CA MSA||181,208||8.58%|
|241||Jackson, TN MSA||180,504||0.45%|
|242||St. George, UT MSA||180,279||30.53%|
|243||El Centro, CA MSA||179,702||2.96%|
|244||Bowling Green, KY MSA||179,639||13.27%|
|245||Abilene, TX MSA||176,579||6.85%|
|246||Muskegon, MI MSA||175,824||2.11%|
|247||Iowa City, IA MSA||175,419||14.96%|
|248||Midland, TX MSA||175,220||23.68%|
|249||Panama City, FL MSA||175,216||3.77%|
|250||Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA||174,241||24.24%|
|251||Arecibo, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area||173,218||-13.16%|
|252||Hattiesburg, MS MSA||172,231||6.05%|
|253||Eau Claire, WI MSA||172,007||6.74%|
|254||Oshkosh-Neenah, WI MSA||171,730||2.84%|
|255||Burlington, NC MSA||171,415||13.42%|
|256||Coeur d'Alene, ID MSA||171,362||23.73%|
|257||Bloomington, IL MSA||170,954||0.81%|
|258||Greenville, NC MSA||170,243||1.25%|
|259||Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA MSA||168,461||0.38%|
|260||East Stroudsburg, PA MSA||168,327||-0.89%|
|261||Pueblo, CO MSA||168,162||5.72%|
|262||Wausau-Weston, WI MSA||166,428||2.22%|
|263||Blacksburg-Christiansburg, VA MSA||166,378||2.10%|
|264||Odessa, TX MSA||165,171||20.45%|
|265||Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI MSA||164,754||6.41%|
|266||Janesville-Beloit, WI MSA||163,687||2.09%|
|267||Bloomington, IN MSA||161,039||0.93%|
|268||Jackson, MI MSA||160,366||0.07%|
|269||Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL MSA||159,788||15.76%|
|270||State College, PA MSA||158,172||2.72%|
|271||Idaho Falls, ID MSA||157,429||18.13%|
|272||Decatur, AL MSA||156,494||1.73%|
|273||Madera, CA MSA||156,255||3.57%|
|274||Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA MSA||155,932||4.22%|
|275||Grand Junction, CO MSA||155,703||6.12%|
|276||Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY MSA||155,572||4.88%|
|277||Santa Fe, NM MSA||154,823||7.39%|
|278||Monroe, MI MSA||154,809||1.83%|
|279||Niles, MI MSA||154,316||-1.59%|
|280||Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ MSA||154,152||-1.75%|
|281||Homosassa Springs, FL MSA||153,843||8.93%|
|282||Hanford-Corcoran, CA MSA||152,486||-0.32%|
|283||Bangor, ME MSA||152,199||-1.12%|
|284||Alexandria, LA MSA||152,192||-1.12%|
|285||Dothan, AL MSA||151,007||3.69%|
|286||Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL MSA||150,791||2.48%|
|287||Jefferson City, MO MSA||150,309||0.34%|
|288||Sioux City, IA-NE-SD MSA||149,940||4.43%|
|289||Albany, GA MSA||148,922||-3.21%|
|290||Wichita Falls, TX MSA||148,128||-2.10%|
|291||Valdosta, GA MSA||148,126||6.12%|
|292||Texarkana, TX-AR MSA||147,519||-1.13%|
|293||Logan, UT-ID MSA||147,348||17.46%|
|294||Flagstaff, AZ MSA||145,101||7.95%|
|295||Rocky Mount, NC MSA||143,870||-5.59%|
|296||Lebanon, PA MSA||143,257||7.25%|
|297||Dalton, GA MSA||142,837||0.43%|
|298||Morristown, TN MSA||142,709||4.47%|
|299||Winchester, VA-WV MSA||142,632||11.02%|
|300||Morgantown, WV MSA||140,038||7.96%|
|301||La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN MSA||139,627||4.46%|
|302||Wheeling, WV-OH MSA||139,513||-5.70%|
|303||Rapid City, SD MSA||139,074||10.04%|
|304||Napa, CA MSA||138,019||1.12%|
|305||Sumter, SC MSA||136,700||-4.02%|
|306||Springfield, OH MSA||136,001||-1.69%|
|307||Harrisonburg, VA MSA||135,571||8.26%|
|308||Sherman-Denison, TX MSA||135,543||12.13%|
|309||Battle Creek, MI MSA||134,310||-1.35%|
|310||Jonesboro, AR MSA||134,196||10.88%|
|311||Manhattan, KS MSA||134,046||5.48%|
|312||Bismarck, ND MSA||133,626||20.79%|
|313||Johnstown, PA MSA||133,472||-7.10%|
|314||Carbondale-Marion, IL MSA||133,435||-4.11%|
|315||Hammond, LA MSA||133,157||9.96%|
|316||The Villages, FL MSA||129,752||38.89%|
|317||Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA MSA||129,523||10.80%|
|318||Pittsfield, MA MSA||129,026||-1.67%|
|319||Albany-Lebanon, OR MSA||128,610||10.23%|
|320||Glens Falls, NY MSA||127,039||-1.46%|
|321||Lawton, OK MSA||126,652||-2.79%|
|322||Cleveland, TN MSA||126,164||8.96%|
|323||Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ MSA||125,447||-4.49%|
|324||Staunton, VA MSA||125,433||5.85%|
|325||Ames, IA MSA||125,252||8.12%|
|326||Mansfield, OH MSA||124,936||0.37%|
|327||San Angelo, TX MSA||122,888||8.78%|
|328||Altoona, PA MSA||122,822||-3.36%|
|329||New Bern, NC MSA||122,168||-3.65%|
|330||Wenatchee, WA MSA||122,012||10.04%|
|331||Farmington, NM MSA||121,661||-6.45%|
|332||Owensboro, KY MSA||121,559||5.93%|
|333||St. Joseph, MO-KS MSA||121,467||-4.60%|
|334||San Germán, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area||120,280||-12.50%|
|335||Lawrence, KS MSA||118,785||7.18%|
|336||Sheboygan, WI MSA||118,034||2.19%|
|337||Missoula, MT MSA||117,922||7.89%|
|338||Goldsboro, NC MSA||117,333||-4.31%|
|339||Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH MSA||116,903||-6.07%|
|340||Watertown-Fort Drum, NY MSA||116,721||0.42%|
|341||Anniston-Oxford, AL MSA||116,441||-1.80%|
|342||Beckley, WV MSA||115,079||-7.86%|
|343||Twin Falls, ID MSA||114,283||14.74%|
|344||Williamsport, PA MSA||114,188||-1.66%|
|345||California-Lexington Park, MD MSA||113,777||8.20%|
|346||Brunswick, GA MSA||113,495||1.00%|
|347||Michigan City-La Porte, IN MSA||112,417||0.85%|
|348||Muncie, IN MSA||111,903||-4.90%|
|349||Lewiston-Auburn, ME MSA||111,139||3.19%|
|350||Longview, WA MSA||110,730||8.12%|
|351||Kankakee, IL MSA||107,502||-5.24%|
|352||Ithaca, NY MSA||105,740||4.11%|
|353||Grand Forks, ND-MN MSA||104,362||5.99%|
|354||Fond du Lac, WI MSA||104,154||2.48%|
|355||Decatur, IL MSA||103,998||-6.11%|
|356||Bay City, MI MSA||103,856||-3.63%|
|357||Gettysburg, PA MSA||103,852||2.41%|
|358||Mankato, MN MSA||103,566||7.06%|
|359||Gadsden, AL MSA||103,436||-0.95%|
|360||Lima, OH MSA||102,206||-3.88%|
|361||Sebring-Avon Park, FL MSA||101,235||2.48%|
|362||Cheyenne, WY MSA||100,512||9.56%|
|363||Hot Springs, AR MSA||100,180||4.33%|
|364||Dubuque, IA MSA||99,266||5.99%|
|365||Rome, GA MSA||98,584||2.35%|
|366||Victoria, TX MSA||98,331||4.60%|
|367||Cape Girardeau, MO-IL MSA||97,517||1.29%|
|368||Fairbanks, AK MSA||95,655||-1.97%|
|369||Ocean City, NJ MSA||95,263||-2.06%|
|370||Corvallis, OR MSA||95,184||11.22%|
|371||Cumberland, MD-WV MSA||95,044||-7.99%|
|372||Pocatello, ID MSA||94,896||4.68%|
|373||Mayagüez, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area||93,412||-19.62%|
|374||Parkersburg-Vienna, WV MSA||89,490||-3.43%|
|375||Grants Pass, OR MSA||88,090||6.50%|
|376||Pine Bluff, AR MSA||87,751||-12.47%|
|377||Great Falls, MT MSA||84,414||3.80%|
|378||Elmira, NY MSA||84,148||-5.27%|
|379||Yauco, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area||84,112||-21.63%|
|380||Kokomo, IN MSA||83,658||1.09%|
|381||Midland, MI MSA||83,494||-0.16%|
|382||Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA MSA||82,863||-3.15%|
|383||Columbus, IN MSA||82,208||7.05%|
|384||Hinesville, GA MSA||81,424||4.50%|
|385||Casper, WY MSA||79,955||5.97%|
|386||Grand Island, NE MSA||77,038||5.93%|
|387||Danville, IL MSA||74,188||-9.11%|
|388||Guayama, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area||72,240||-14.22%|
|389||Lewiston, ID-WA MSA||64,375||5.73%|
|390||Enid, OK MSA||62,846||3.74%|
|391||Walla Walla, WA MSA||62,584||6.47%|
|392||Carson City, NV MSA||58,639||6.09%|
From Metro to Micro
The wide variety of population patterns around the country can make it tricky to divide regions up into uniform units. There are two main divisions to consider when viewing this map:
- Metropolitan Areas (metro areas) have at least one urban core area of at least 50,000 population. These are the largest population centers, sometimes encompassing many counties. In some instances, these metro areas are further subdivided into Metropolitan Divisions.
- Micropolitan Areas are the smallest areas measured on this map (indicated by a lighter shade of green). These smaller regions, which are generally located further away from large cities, have at least one urban core area of at least 10,000 but fewer than 50,000 people.
One thing to note about all of these definitions is that the cities in these regions must have significant ties to a neighboring region—usually in the form of commuting ties. This is what warrants binding adjacent counties into a measurable area.
Another unique layer of data on this map is the shading that indicates the actual urbanized area within metro areas. In the example of Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, it’s easy to see how urban sprawl has expanded the urban area into a number of neighboring counties.
With this context in mind, we’ll take a closer look at three points of interest on the map that show this concept at work with varying degrees of complexity.
Level One: The Central City
The Texas Triangle offers what is perhaps the most straightforward example of metro areas.
As seen above, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio anchor their respective regions, and surrounding counties are bundled into a metro area. The surrounding counties have all been identified as having ties to the central county, and, in some cases, the urban area has spread into the neighboring county over time.
Level Two: The City Cluster
The region anchored by Salt Lake City requires more thought to divide into statistical areas.
While there are a number of population centers in the area, including Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden, they all have enough of an economic “magnetic pull” to warrant splitting the region into distinct statistical areas.
Of course, regions are always evolving, and occasionally these areas are updated. Salt Lake City and Ogden were previously combined into a single metro area, but were separated in 2005.
Level Three: The Megaregion
New York City is the ultimate challenge for planners looking to categorize population centers into a neat and tidy statistical box.
For one, the contiguous urban area is massive, stretching from the west side of Long Island out to the east side of New Jersey. In addition to New York City itself, the metro area includes 19 other municipalities with over 100,000 people.
Next, NYC is an unparalleled economic magnet. Measuring commuting activity is a challenge because a wide variety of people visit the city for so many different reasons. The interconnectedness of the Northeast Megaregion also adds to the complexity.
New York-Newark-Jersey City is such a big pie to carve up, that four of the country’s 11 metro divisions (as indicated by the italicized text and dotted lines) occur in this one area.
Blurring the Lines
Population patterns are constantly changing across the country, so the next version of this map may have a number of changes on it. Our “straightforward” Texas Triangle example may become tougher to divide up as the population boom continues in the region.
Here’s how the population of U.S. countries changed over the past decade:
Further complicating matters is the rapid move to remote work and distributed teams. A key element of these census divisions are commuting ties. With work increasingly not bound by geographic limitations, it remains unclear how that trend will impact this type of statistical exercise in the future.
The Best Selling Vehicles in America, By State
From Fords in the Midwest to Toyotas on the coasts, here are the best selling vehicles in America, visualized by state.
The Best Selling Vehicles in America, By State
From Ford trucks in the Midwest to Toyotas on the coasts, the best selling vehicles in America reveal a lot about the country.
Compared to other countries with fewer highways or narrower roads, the U.S. is very much a truck-friendly country. Across the U.S., the most sold vehicle in 2019 was the Ford F-Series of trucks, primarily the F-150.
As the home of the world’s pioneer automotive manufacturers, including Ford and GM, consumers primarily purchase local brands. But that hasn’t stopped Toyota, the largest foreign manufacturer in the world, from also gaining a foothold.
This graphic uses 2020 sales data from automotive information resource Edmunds.com, breaking down the best selling vehicles in each state through new vehicle retail registration.
What Are the Best Selling Vehicles in Each State?
Despite a slowdown in vehicle sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a global chip shortage, Americans still bought plenty of trucks last year.
In fact, 48 out of the 50 states had a truck or SUV as the top selling vehicle in 2020—and most states actually had trucks taking all of the top three spots. The only two with a car topping the leaderboard were California and Florida.
|Top Selling Vehicle By State (2020)||#1||#2||#3|
|Alabama||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||Toyota Camry|
|Alaska||Ram 1500-3500||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado|
|Arizona||Ram 1500-3500||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado|
|Arkansas||Ram 1500-3500||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado|
|California||Honda Civic||Toyota RAV4||Toyota Camry|
|Colorado||Ford F-Series||Ram 1500-3500||Toyota RAV4|
|Connecticut||Honda CR-V||Toyota RAV4||Subaru Forester|
|D.C.||Toyota RAV4||Honda CR-V||Subaru Forester|
|Delaware||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Florida||Toyota Corolla||Ford F-Series||Toyota RAV4|
|Georgia||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Hawaii||Toyota Tacoma||Toyota 4Runner||Toyota RAV4|
|Idaho||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500||Chevrolet Silverado|
|Illinois||Ford F-Series||Honda CR-V||Chevrolet Silverado|
|Indiana||Chevrolet Silverado||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Equinox|
|Iowa||Chevrolet Silverado||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500|
|Kansas||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Kentucky||Chevrolet Silverado||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500|
|Louisiana||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Maine||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Maryland||Toyota RAV4||Ford F-Series||Honda CR-V|
|Massachusetts||Toyota RAV4||Honda CR-V||Ford F-Series|
|Michigan||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Equinox||RAM 1500-3500|
|Minnesota||Chevrolet Silverado||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500|
|Mississippi||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Missouri||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Montana||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500||Chevrolet Silverado|
|Nebraska||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Nevada||Ram 1500-3500||Ford F-Series||Toyota RAV4|
|New Hampshire||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||Toyota RAV4|
|New Jersey||Honda CR-V||Honda Civic||Toyota RAV4|
|New Mexico||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500||Chevrolet Silverado|
|New York||Honda CR-V||Toyota RAV4||Jeep Cherokee|
|North Carolina||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|North Dakota||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Ohio||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500||Chevrolet Silverado|
|Oklahoma||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500||Chevrolet Silverado|
|Oregon||Toyota RAV4||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500|
|Pennsylvania||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500||Honda CR-V|
|Puerto Rico||Toyota RAV4||Toyota Yaris||Toyota Corolla|
|Rhode Island||Toyota RAV4||Honda CR-V||Ford F-Series|
|South Carolina||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|South Dakota||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500||Chevrolet Silverado|
|Tennessee||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Texas||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||RAM 1500-3500|
|Utah||Ford F-Series||RAM 1500-3500||Chevrolet Silverado|
|Vermont||Ford F-Series||Toyota RAV4||RAM 1500-3500|
|Virginia||Ford F-Series||Toyota RAV4||Honda CR-V|
|Washington||Toyota RAV4||Ford F-Series||Ram 1500-3500|
|West Virginia||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||Ram 1500-3500|
|Wisconsin||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado||Ram 1500-3500|
|Wyoming||Ram 1500-3500||Ford F-Series||Chevrolet Silverado|
The Ford F-Series was the clear leader in sales, primarily in the Midwest. With a top-selling spot in 60% of U.S. states, the F-Series was the best selling vehicle in America.
Combined with the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500-3500 series, the big three American truck brands accounted for 73% of the top three selling vehicles across all American states and territories.
Japanese Automakers in the Mix
Though American manufacturers had the best selling cars in most states, they had some overseas competition.
Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda had the top-selling vehicle in 11 states (and D.C.). They primarily captured car sales along the coastlines, including in California, Florida, New York and Washington, some of the most populated states in the country.
|America's Best Selling Vehicles (2020)||Type||# Times in Top 3|
Despite many cars being available for sale in the U.S., only seven manufacturers made the top-selling vehicles list in 2020.
With the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic yet to be reflected in the sales, and electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla on the rise, how will the best selling vehicles in America evolve?
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