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9 Construction Projects That Broke the Bank

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9 Construction Projects That Broke the Bank

9 Construction Projects That Broke the Bank

Large and sophisticated construction projects have a tendency to go over-budget and to sometimes stall indefinitely. However, there have been some that have disappointed more than others. Today’s infographic covers some of the most notorious construction projects that quadrupled in cost, become obsolete, or were downright botched.

For good reference before reading this list, it may be worth checking out this previous infographic: Top 10 Civil Engineering Projects of All-Time.

10 Construction Projects that Broke the Bank

1. Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang (North Korea)

Construction began in 1987 and stopped in 1992 after North Korea spent as much as 2 percent of its GDP on the project and funding dried up.

2. Montreal-Mirabel Airport (Canada)

After $1 billion and five years of construction, this airport was hoped to take 50 million passengers a year. Instead it took 2.8 million, and ended up becoming a testing and cargo airport.

3. Millennium Dome, London (United Kingdom)

Costing $1.1 billion, ticket sales for attractions were well below expectations. The dome’s operator only made $275 million in revenues and were accused of fraud by vendors and suppliers.

4. Burj Khalifa, Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

The construction of the world’s tallest building coincided with the global financial crisis. Taking six years and costing $1.5 billion, Dubai had to borrow money from Abu Dhabi to complete it and the majority of residencies remain vacant.

5. Strait of Messina Bridge (Italy)

This 3.3 km bridge was expected to link Sicily to the Italian mainland. In 2013, it was discontinued because of lack of funds, and concerns that money would go to the Sicilian and Calabrian mafias.

6. Mose Project, Venice (Italy)

This project hopes to prevent Venice from sinking deeper into the lagoon on which the city is located. $7 billion has been spent to date, but it has been hampered with delays because of Italy’s economic condition.

7. The Channel Tunnel (UK and France)

50km long, underneath the English Channel, the Channel Tunnel continues to be a heavy financial toll. The rail link connecting London to the British side of the Channel opened, costing $13.8 billion, the most expensive individual construction effort in the country’s history.

8. The Big Dig, Boston (United States)

The original cost estimate for the Big Dig, an underground road of eight to ten lanes, was expected to be $2.6 billion. Now it is expected that with interest, the total cost will come to $22 billion.

9. The International Space Station (Space!)

Costing over $100 billion over 13 years, the space station is the most expensive science project ever attempted. Critics suggest that the money could have better spent on robotic spacecraft missions or space exploration.

Original graphic from: Gutter Masters

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Politics

Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally

How many democracies does the world have? This visual shows the change since 1945 and the top nations becoming more (and less) democratic.

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Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally

The end of World War II in 1945 was a turning point for democracies around the world.

Before this critical turning point in geopolitics, democracies made up only a small number of the world’s countries, both legally and in practice. However, over the course of the next six decades, the number of democratic nations would more than quadruple.

Interestingly, studies have found that this trend has recently reversed as of the 2010s, with democracies and non-democracies now in a deadlock.

In this visualization, Staffan Landin uses data from V-DEM’s Electoral Democratic Index (EDI) to highlight the changing face of global politics over the past two decades and the nations that contributed the most to this change.

The Methodology

V-DEM’s EDI attempts to measure democratic development in a comprehensive way, through the contributions of 3,700 experts from countries around the world.

Instead of relying on each nation’s legally recognized system of government, the EDI analyzes the level of electoral democracy in countries on a range of indicators, including:

  • Free and fair elections
  • Rule of law
  • Alternative sources of information and association
  • Freedom of expression

Countries are assigned a score on a scale from 0 to 1, with higher scores indicating a higher level of democracy. Each is also categorized into four types of functional government, from liberal and electoral democracies to electoral and closed autocracies.

Which Countries Have Declined the Most?

The EDI found that numerous countries around the world saw declines in democracy over the past two decades. Here are the 10 countries that saw the steepest decline in EDI score since 2010:

CountryDemocracy Index (2010)Democracy Index (2022)Points Lost
🇭🇺 Hungary0.800.46-34
🇵🇱 Poland0.890.59-30
🇷🇸 Serbia0.610.34-27
🇹🇷 Türkiye0.550.28-27
🇮🇳 India0.710.44-27
🇲🇱 Mali0.510.25-26
🇹🇭 Thailand0.440.20-24
🇦🇫 Afghanistan0.380.16-22
🇧🇷 Brazil0.880.66-22
🇧🇯 Benin0.640.42-22

Central and Eastern Europe was home to three of the countries seeing the largest declines in democracy. Hungary, Poland, and Serbia lead the table, with Hungary and Serbia in particular dropping below scores of 0.5.

Some of the world’s largest countries by population also decreased significantly, including India and Brazil. Across most of the top 10, the “freedom of expression” indicator was hit particularly hard, with notable increases in media censorship to be found in Afghanistan and Brazil.

Countries Becoming More Democratic

Here are the 10 countries that saw the largest increase in EDI score since 2010:

CountryDemocracy Index (2010)Democracy Index (2022)Points Gained
🇦🇲 Armenia0.340.74+40
🇫🇯 Fiji0.140.40+26
🇬🇲 The Gambia0.250.50+25
🇸🇨 Seychelles0.450.67+22
🇲🇬 Madagascar0.280.48+20
🇹🇳 Tunisia0.400.56+16
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka0.420.57+15
🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau0.410.56+15
🇲🇩 Moldova0.590.74+15
🇳🇵 Nepal0.460.59+13

Armenia, Fiji, and Seychelles saw significant improvement in the autonomy of their electoral management bodies in the last 10 years. Partially as a result, both Armenia and Seychelles have seen their scores rise above 0.5.

The Gambia also saw great improvement across many election indicators, including the quality of voter registries, vote buying, and election violence. It was one of five African countries to make the top 10 most improved democracies.

With the total number of democracies and non-democracies almost tied over the past four years, it is hard to predict the political atmosphere in the future.

Want to know more about democracy in today’s world? Check out our global breakdown of each country’s democratic score in Mapped: The State of Global Democracy in 2022.
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