Razor Thin: A New Perspective on Earth’s Atmosphere
Earth is the only known planet that sustains life. Its atmosphere provides us with oxygen, protects us from the Sun’s radiation, and creates the barometric pressure needed so water stays liquid on our planet.
But while Earth’s atmosphere stretches for about 10,000 km (6,200 miles) above the planet’s surface, only a thin layer is actually habitable.
This graphic, inspired by Andrew Winter, shows just how small Earth’s “habitable zone” is, using the state of Florida as a point of reference.
Earth’s Like an Onion: It Has Layers
Our planet’s atmosphere is made up of a unique cocktail of gases—roughly 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, with trace amounts of water, argon, carbon dioxide, and other gases.
It’s separated into five different layers:
- Exosphere: The uppermost layer of our atmosphere that melds into outer space.
- Thermosphere: Begins at around 80 km (50 miles) above sea level and extends to approximately 600 km (372 miles), reaching temperatures as high as 2,000°C (3,600°F).
- Mesosphere: Around 30 km (19 miles) in range, meteors burn as they pass through this layer, creating “shooting stars.”
- Stratosphere: Home to the ozone layer, which is responsible for absorbing a majority of the sun’s radiation.
- Troposphere: The closest layer to ground. It stretches about 7–15 kilometers (5–10 miles) from the surface.
The troposphere makes up approximately 75-80% of the atmosphere’s mass, as it’s where most of the dust, ash, and water vapor are stored. But only a part of this layer is suitable for human life—in fact, the atmosphere’s habitable zone is so small, several mountain ranges extend beyond it.
Reaching Into Earth’s Atmosphere: Extremely High Altitudes
Elevations above 5,500 meters (18,000 ft) are considered extremely high altitude and require special equipment and/or acclimatization in order to survive. Even then, those who choose to venture to extreme heights run the risk of getting altitude sickness.
When it comes to the world’s tallest mountain ranges, the Himalayas are the highest. At their peak, Mount Everest, the Himalayas reach 8,848 m (29,000 ft) above sea level.
|Mountain range||Highest mountain||Height||Countries|
|Himalayas||Mount Everest||8,848 m||Nepal, China|
|Hindu Kush||Tirich Mir||7,708 m||Pakistan|
|Kongur Shan||Kongur Tagh||7,649 m||China|
|Daxue Mountains||Mount Gongga||7,556 m||China|
|Pamir Mountains||Ismoil Somoni Peak||7,495 m||Tajikistan|
|Kakshaal Too||Jengish Chokusu||7,439 m||China, Kyrgyzstan|
|Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains||Gyala Peri||7,294 m||China|
|Kunlun Mountains||Chakragil||6,760 m||China|
|Cordillera de la Ramada||Mercedario||6,720 m||Argentina|
|Tian Shan||Xuelian Feng||6,627 m||China|
|Hindu Raj||Buni Zom||6,542 m||Pakistan|
|Cordillera Occidental||Chimborazo||6,263 m||Ecuador|
|Alaska Range||Denali||6,191 m||USA|
|Saint Elias Mountains||Mount Logan||5,959 m||Canada|
|Eastern Rift mountains||Mount Kilimanjaro||5,895 m||Tanzania|
|Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta||Pico Cristóbal Colón||5,700 m||Colombia|
|Caucasus Mountains||Mount Elbrus||5,642 m||Russia|
|Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt||Pico de Orizaba||5,636 m||Mexico|
|Alborz||Mount Damavand||5,610 m||Iran|
|Yun Range||Jade Dragon Snow Mountain||5,596 m||China|
|Bogda Shan||Bogda Peak||5,445 m||China|
|Cordillera Oriental||Ritacuba Blanco||5,410 m||Colombia|
|Armenian Highlands||Mount Ararat||5,137 m||Turkey|
|Rwenzori Mountains||Mount Stanley||5,109 m||Congo, Uganda|
Despite the dangers of extreme altitude, hundreds of mountaineers attempt to climb Mount Everest each year. On Everest, the region above 8,000 m (26,000 feet) is referred to as the “death zone,” and climbers have to bring bottled oxygen on their trek in order to survive.
Life Beyond Earth
Earth is the only known planet with an atmosphere we can survive in. And even on Earth, certain areas are considered dead zones.
But there may be other life forms out in the galaxy that we haven’t discovered. Recent research in The Astrophysical Journal predicts there are at least 36 intelligent civilizations throughout the galaxy today.
So life may very well exist beyond Earth. It just might look a bit different than we’re used to.
Visualized: The Most Googled Countries
This series of visualizations uses Google trends search data to show the most googled countries around the world, from 2004 to 2022.
Visualized: The Most Googled Countries, Worldwide
View a higher resolution version of this network diagram.
Analyzing societal trends can teach us a lot about a population’s cultural fabric.
And since Google makes up more than 90% of internet searches outside of the Great Firewall, studying its usage is one of the best resources for modern social research.
This series of visualizations by Anders Sundell uses Google Trends search data to show the most googled countries around the world, from 2004 to 2022. These graphics provide thought-provoking insight into different cultural similarities and geopolitical dynamics.
A Quick Note on Methodology
The visualization above shows the most googled country in each nation around the world over the last couple of decades.
For example, the arrow pointing from Canada to the United States means that, between 2004 and 2022, people in Canada had more searches about the U.S. than any other country globally.
And since this study only looked at interest in other countries, queries of countries searching for themselves were not included in the data.
Finally, each country’s circle is scaled relative to its search interest, meaning the bigger the circle, the more countries pointing to it (and searching for it).
The Top Googled Countries Overall
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the U.S. is the most googled country on the list, ranking first place in 45 of the 190 countries included in the dataset.
|Country||Top Googled Country|
|🇦🇩 Andorra||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇦🇪 The United Arab Emirates||🇮🇳 India|
|🇦🇫 Afghanistan||🇮🇷 Iran|
|🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇦🇱 Albania||🇮🇹 Italy|
|🇦🇲 Armenia||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇦🇴 Angola||🇧🇷 Brazil|
|🇦🇷 Argentina||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇦🇹 Austria||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇦🇺 Australia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇦🇿 Azerbaijan||🇹🇷 Turkey|
|🏴 Bosnia and Herzegovina||🇷🇴 Romania|
|🇧🇧 Barbados||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇧🇩 Bangladesh||🇮🇳 India|
|🇧🇪 Belgium||🇫🇷 France|
|🇧🇫 Burkina Faso||🇫🇷 France|
|🇧🇬 Bulgaria||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇧🇭 Bahrain||🇮🇳 India|
|🇧🇮 Burundi||🇫🇷 France|
|🇧🇯 Benin||🇫🇷 France|
|🇧🇳 Brunei||🇲🇾 Malaysia|
|🇧🇴 Bolivia||🇦🇷 Argentina|
|🇧🇷 Brazil||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇧🇸 The Bahamas||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇧🇹 Bhutan||🇮🇳 India|
|🇧🇼 Botswana||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇧🇾 Belarus||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇧🇿 Belize||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇦 Canada||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇩 The Democratic Republic of Congo||🇫🇷 France|
|🇨🇫 The Central African Republic||🇫🇷 France|
|🇨🇬 The Congo||🇨🇩 The Democratic Republic of Congo|
|🇨🇭 Switzerland||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire||🇫🇷 France|
|🇨🇱 Chile||🇦🇷 Argentina|
|🇨🇲 Cameroon||🇫🇷 France|
|🇨🇳 China||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇴 Colombia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇷 Costa Rica||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇺 Cuba||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇨🇻 Cabo Verde||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇨🇾 Cyprus||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇨🇿 Czechia||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇩🇪 Germany||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇩🇯 Djibouti||🇫🇷 France|
|🇩🇰 Denmark||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇩🇲 Dominica||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇩🇴 The Dominican Republic||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇩🇿 Algeria||🇫🇷 France|
|🇪🇨 Ecuador||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇪🇪 Estonia||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇪🇬 Egypt||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia|
|🇪🇷 Eritrea||🇪🇹 Ethiopia|
|🇪🇸 Spain||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇪🇹 Ethiopia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇫🇮 Finland||🇸🇪 Sweden|
|🇫🇯 Fiji||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇫🇲 Micronesia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇫🇷 France||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇬🇦 Gabon||🇫🇷 France|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇬🇩 Grenada||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇬🇪 Georgia||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇬🇭 Ghana||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇬🇲 Gambia||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇬🇳 Guinea||🇫🇷 France|
|🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇬🇷 Greece||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇬🇹 Guatemala||🇸🇻 El Salvador|
|🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau||🇵🇹 Portugal|
|🇬🇾 Guyana||🇮🇳 India|
|🇭🇳 Honduras||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇭🇷 Croatia||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇭🇹 Haiti||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇭🇺 Hungary||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇮🇩 Indonesia||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇮🇪 Ireland||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇮🇱 Israel||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇮🇳 India||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇮🇶 Iraq||🇹🇷 Turkey|
|🇮🇷 Iran||🇹🇷 Turkey|
|🇮🇸 Iceland||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇮🇹 Italy||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇯🇲 Jamaica||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇯🇴 Jordan||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|🇯🇵 Japan||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇰🇪 Kenya||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇰🇭 Cambodia||🇹🇭 Thailand|
|🇰🇮 Kiribati||🇫🇯 Fiji|
|🇰🇲 Comoros||🇫🇷 France|
|🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇰🇵 North Korea||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇰🇼 Kuwait||🇮🇳 India|
|🇰🇿 Kazakhstan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇱🇦 Laos||🇹🇭 Thailand|
|🇱🇧 Lebanon||🇸🇾 Syria|
|🇱🇨 Saint Lucia||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇱🇮 Liechtenstein||🇨🇭 Switzerland|
|🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||🇮🇳 India|
|🇱🇷 Liberia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇱🇸 Lesotho||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇱🇹 Lithuania||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇱🇺 Luxembourg||🇫🇷 France|
|🇱🇻 Latvia||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇱🇾 Libya||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|🇲🇦 Morocco||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇨 Monaco||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇩 Moldova||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇲🇪 Montenegro||🇷🇸 Serbia|
|🇲🇬 Madagascar||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇰 Republic of North Macedonia||🇷🇸 Serbia|
|🇲🇱 Mali||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇲 Myanmar||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇲🇳 Mongolia||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇲🇷 Mauritania||🇫🇷 France|
|🇲🇹 Malta||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇲🇺 Mauritius||🇮🇳 India|
|🇲🇻 Maldives||🇮🇳 India|
|🇲🇼 Malawi||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇲🇽 Mexico||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇲🇾 Malaysia||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇲🇿 Mozambique||🇧🇷 Brazil|
|🇳🇪 The Niger||🇫🇷 France|
|🇳🇬 Nigeria||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇳🇮 Nicaragua||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇳🇱 The Netherlands||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇳🇴 Norway||🇸🇪 Sweden|
|🇳🇵 Nepal||🇮🇳 India|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇴🇲 Oman||🇮🇳 India|
|🇵🇦 Panama||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇵🇪 Peru||🇪🇸 Spain|
|🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇵🇭 The Philippines||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇵🇰 Pakistan||🇮🇳 India|
|🇵🇱 Poland||🇩🇪 Germany|
|🇵🇸 Palestine||🇮🇱 Israel|
|🇵🇹 Portugal||🇧🇷 Brazil|
|🇵🇾 Paraguay||🇦🇷 Argentina|
|🇶🇦 Qatar||🇮🇳 India|
|🇷🇴 Romania||🇮🇹 Italy|
|🇷🇸 Serbia||🇽🇰 Kosovo|
|🇷🇺 Russia||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇷🇼 Rwanda||🇺🇬 Uganda|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|🇸🇧 Solomon Islands||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇸🇨 Seychelles||🇮🇳 India|
|🇸🇩 Sudan||🇪🇬 Egypt|
|🇸🇪 Sweden||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇸🇮 Slovenia||🇭🇷 Croatia|
|🇸🇰 Slovakia||🇨🇿 Czechia|
|🇸🇱 Sierra Leone||🇬🇳 Guinea|
|🇸🇲 San Marino||🇮🇹 Italy|
|🇸🇳 Senegal||🇫🇷 France|
|🇸🇴 Somalia||🇮🇳 India|
|🇸🇷 Suriname||🇳🇱 The Netherlands|
|🇸🇸 South Sudan||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇸🇹 Sao Tome and Principe||🇵🇹 Portugal|
|🇸🇻 El Salvador||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇸🇾 Syria||🇱🇧 Lebanon|
|🇸🇿 Eswatini||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇹🇩 Chad||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇹🇬 Togo||🇫🇷 France|
|🇹🇭 Thailand||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇹🇯 Tajikistan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇹🇱 Timor-Leste||🇸🇬 Singapore|
|🇹🇲 Turkmenistan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇹🇳 Tunisia||🇫🇷 France|
|🇹🇴 Tonga||🇳🇿 New Zealand|
|🇹🇷 Turkey||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇹🇼 Taiwan||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇹🇿 Tanzania||🇰🇪 Kenya|
|🇺🇦 Ukraine||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇺🇬 Uganda||🇺🇸 The United States|
|🇺🇸 The United States||🇲🇽 Mexico|
|🇺🇾 Uruguay||🇦🇷 Argentina|
|🇺🇿 Uzbekistan||🇷🇺 Russia|
|🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||🇧🇧 Barbados|
|🇻🇪 Venezuela||🇨🇴 Colombia|
|🇻🇳 Vietnam||🇯🇵 Japan|
|🇻🇺 Vanuatu||🇦🇺 Australia|
|🇽🇰 Kosovo||🇦🇱 Albania|
|🇾🇪 Yemen||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||🇬🇧 United Kingdom|
|🇿🇲 Zambia||🇿🇦 South Africa|
|🇿🇼 Zimbabwe||🇿🇦 South Africa|
While it’s the top googled country in neighboring places like Canada and Mexico, it’s also number one in countries much farther away like Nigeria, Sweden, and Australia.
The U.S. is currently the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP, and one of the biggest cultural influences globally. However, it’s worth noting that China, the world’s second-largest economy and the most populated, had very little search interest in comparison, at least based on Google Trends data.
Zooming into Specific Regions
In addition to the network map highlighting the overall top googled countries, Sundell created a series of videos breaking down the data monthly, by regions. Here are the videos for the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
The United States
Since 2004, there have been a high number of searches for Canada, Mexico and India in America.
The searches for Mexico seem to be concentrated in the Western U.S., which is also where a large portion of the country’s Hispanic population lives. In contrast, searches for India seem to come mostly from the eastern side of the country.
The U.S. is by the far the most commonly googled country across Europe, ranking number one consistently over the last two decades.
However, Russia stole the limelight in 2014, the year that they invaded and ultimately annexed Crimea.
In the early 2000s, the U.S. held the top googled spot in Asia, but over time, relative searches for the U.S. go down. India stole the top spot to become the most googled country in Asia for a majority of the 2010s.
One anomaly occurred when Japan briefly took the top spot in March 2011, which is when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the northern coast of Japan, causing a devastating tsunami.
What will future search results reveal about the global landscape? Were any of the results surprising?
Which Countries Trust Their Government, and Which Ones Don’t?
There is a clear correlation between trust in government and trust in public institutions, but a few countries buck the trend.
Which Countries Trust Their Government, and Which Ones Don’t?
In many countries around the world, vast portions of the population do not trust their own government.
Lack of faith in government and politics is nothing new, but in times of uncertainty, that lack of trust can coalesce into movements that challenge the authority of ruling parties and even threaten the stability of nations.
This visualization uses data from the Ipsos Global Trustworthiness Monitor to look at how much various populations trust their government and public institutions.
Tracking Trust in Government
Since the beginning of the pandemic, global trust in government has improved by eight percentage points, but that is only a small improvement on an otherwise low score.
At the country level, feelings towards government can vary widely. India, Germany, Netherlands, and Malaysia had the highest government trust levels.
Many of the countries with the lowest levels of trust were located in Latin America. This makes sense, as trust in politicians in this region is almost non-existent. For example, in Colombia, only 4% of the population consider politicians trustworthy. In Argentina, that figure falls to just 3%.
Trust in Public Institutions
Broadly speaking, people trust their public services more than the governments in charge of managing and funding them. This makes sense as civil servants fare much better than politicians and government ministers in trustworthiness.
As our main chart demonstrates, there is a correlation between faith in government and trust in public institutions. There are clear “high trust” and “low trust” groupings in the countries included in the polling, but there is also a third group that stands out—the countries that have high trust in public institutions, but not in their government. Leading this group is Japan, which has a stark difference in trust between public services and politicians. There are many factors that explain this difference, such as values, corruption levels, and the reliability of public services in various countries.
While trust scores for government improved slightly during the pandemic, trust in public institutions stayed nearly the same.
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