Visualized: The Biggest Ponzi Schemes in Modern History
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Visualized: The Biggest Ponzi Schemes in Modern History

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Biggest Ponzi Schemes

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The Biggest Ponzi Schemes in Modern History

Some things simply sound too good to be true, but when money is involved, our judgement can become clouded.

This is often the case with Ponzi schemes, a type of financial fraud that lures investors by promising abnormally high returns. Money brought in by new members is used to pay the scheme’s founders, as well as its earlier investors.

The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi, an Italian who became infamous in the 1920s for claiming he could double his clients’ money within 90 days. Since then, numerous Ponzi schemes have been orchestrated around the globe.

To help you learn more about these sophisticated crimes, this infographic examines some of the biggest Ponzi schemes in modern history.

Ponzi Schemes in the 20th Century

The 1990s saw a number of large Ponzi schemes worth upwards of $500 million.

CountryDate EndedName of Scheme and FounderValue (USD)
Belgium1991Moneytron, Jean-Pierre Van Rossem$860M
Romania1994Caritas, Ioan Stoica$1B - $5B
Russia1994MMM, Sergei Mavrodi$10B
U.S.1997Great Ministries International, Geral Payne$500M

In many cases, these schemes thrived by taking advantage of the unsuspecting public who often lacked any knowledge of investing. Caritas, for example, was a Ponzi scheme based in Romania that marketed itself as a “self-help game” for the poor.

The scheme was initially very successful, tricking millions of people into making deposits by offering the chance to earn an 800% return after three months. This was not sustainable, and Caritas was eventually unable to distribute further winnings.

Caritas operated for only two years, but its “success” was undeniable. In 1993, it was estimated that a third of the country’s money was circulating through the scheme.

Ponzi Schemes in the 21st Century

The American public has fallen victim to numerous multi-billion dollar Ponzi schemes since the beginning of the 21st century.

CountryDate EndedName of Scheme and FounderValue (USD)
U.S.2003Mutual Benefits Company, Joel Steinger$1B
U.S.2003Petters Group Worldwide, Tom Petters$4B
U.S.2008Madoff Investment Scandal, Bernie Madoff$65B
U.S.2012Stanford Financial Group, Allen Stanford$7B

Many of these schemes have made major headlines, but much less is said about the thousands of everyday Americans that were left in financial ruin.

For victims of the Madoff Investment Scandal, receiving any form of compensation has been a drawn-out process. In 2018, 10 years after the scheme was uncovered, a court-appointed trustee managed to recover $13 billion by liquidating Madoff’s firm and personal assets.

As NPR reported, investors may recover up to 60 to 70 percent of their initial investment only. For victims who had to delay retirement or drastically alter their lifestyles, this compensation likely provides little solace.

Do the Crime, Pay the Time

Running a Ponzi scheme is likely to land you in jail for a long time, at least in the U.S.

In 2009, for example, 71-year-old Bernie Madoff pled guilty to 11 federal felonies and was sentenced to 150 years in prison. That’s 135 years longer than the average U.S. murder conviction.

Outside of the U.S., it’s a much different story. Weaker regulation and enforcement, particularly in developing countries, means a number of schemes are ongoing today.

Sergei Mavrodi, known for running the Russian Ponzi scheme MMM, started a new organization named MMM Global after being released from prison in 2011. Although he died in March 2018, his self-described “social financial network” has established a base in several Southeast Asian and African countries.

If you or someone you know is worried about falling victim to a Ponzi scheme, this checklist from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may be a useful resource.

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Misc

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.

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Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas of the United St

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:

RankMetropolitan statistical areaPopulation (2020)Change since 2010
1New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA20,140,4706.58%
2Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA MSA13,200,9982.90%
3Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA9,618,5021.66%
4Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA7,637,38719.96%
5Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA7,122,24020.30%
6Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA6,385,16213.02%
7Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA6,245,0514.69%
8Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL MSA6,138,33310.31%
9Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA MSA6,089,81515.19%
10Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH MSA4,941,6328.55%
11Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ MSA4,845,83215.57%
12San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA MSA4,749,0089.54%
13Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA4,599,8398.88%
14Detroit–Warren–Dearborn, MI MSA4,392,0412.23%
15Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA MSA4,018,76216.83%
16Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI MSA3,690,26110.26%
17San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA MSA3,298,6346.57%
18Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA3,175,27514.09%
19Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO MSA2,963,82116.53%
20Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD MSA2,844,5104.94%
21St. Louis, MO-IL MSA2,820,2531.17%
22Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL MSA2,673,37625.25%
23Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC MSA2,660,32918.56%
24San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX MSA2,558,14319.40%
25Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA MSA2,512,85912.89%
26Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA MSA2,397,38211.55%
27Pittsburgh, PA MSA2,370,9300.62%
28Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX MSA2,283,37133.04%
29Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV MSA2,265,46116.10%
30Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN MSA2,256,8845.58%
31Kansas City, MO-KS MSA2,192,0359.09%
32Columbus, OH MSA2,138,92612.46%
33Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN MSA2,111,04011.82%
34Cleveland-Elyria, OH MSA2,088,2510.53%
35San Juan-Bayamón-Caguas, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area2,002,906-14.77%
36San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA2,000,4688.90%
37Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN MSA1,989,51920.86%
38Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA1,799,6745.00%
39Providence-Warwick, RI-MA MSA1,676,5794.73%
40Jacksonville, FL MSA1,605,84819.34%
41Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI MSA1,574,7311.21%
42Oklahoma City, OK MSA1,425,69513.78%
43Raleigh-Cary, NC MSA1,413,98225.08%
44Memphis, TN-MS-AR MSA1,337,7791.65%
45Richmond, VA MSA1,314,43410.78%
46Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN MSA1,285,4396.88%
47New Orleans-Metairie, LA MSA1,271,8456.89%
48Salt Lake City, UT MSA1,257,93615.63%
49Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT MSA1,213,5310.09%
50Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY MSA1,166,9022.76%
51Birmingham-Hoover, AL MSA1,115,2895.11%
52Rochester, NY MSA1,090,1350.97%
53Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI MSA1,087,5929.45%
54Tucson, AZ MSA1,043,4336.44%
55Urban Honolulu, HI MSA1,016,5086.64%
56Tulsa, OK MSA1,015,3318.30%
57Fresno, CA MSA1,008,6548.40%
58Worcester, MA-CT MSA978,5296.71%
59Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA MSA967,60411.82%
60Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT MSA957,4194.43%
61Greenville-Anderson, SC MSA928,19512.63%
62Albuquerque, NM MSA916,5283.32%
63Bakersfield, CA MSA909,2358.29%
64Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY MSA899,2623.28%
65Knoxville, TN MSA879,7737.96%
66McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX MSA870,78112.39%
67Baton Rouge, LA MSA870,5695.41%
68El Paso, TX MSA868,8598.05%
69New Haven-Milford, CT MSA864,8350.27%
70Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSA861,8894.96%
71Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA MSA843,8432.49%
72North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL MSA833,71618.72%
73Columbia, SC MSA829,4708.06%
74Dayton-Kettering, OH MSA814,0491.85%
75Charleston-North Charleston, SC MSA799,63620.32%
76Stockton, CA MSA779,23313.71%
77Greensboro-High Point, NC MSA776,5667.29%
78Boise City, ID MSA764,71824.03%
79Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL MSA760,82222.96%
80Colorado Springs, CO MSA755,10516.96%
81Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR MSA748,0316.90%
82Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL MSA725,04620.42%
83Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA MSA709,46616.98%
84Akron, OH MSA702,219-0.14%
85Springfield, MA MSA699,1620.90%
86Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY MSA697,2214.02%
87Ogden-Clearfield, UT MSA694,86316.36%
88Madison, WI MSA680,79612.45%
89Winston-Salem, NC MSA675,9665.52%
90Provo-Orem, UT MSA671,18527.41%
91Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL MSA668,92113.32%
92Syracuse, NY MSA662,057-0.08%
93Durham-Chapel Hill, NC MSA649,90315.18%
94Wichita, KS MSA647,6103.94%
95Toledo, OH MSA646,604-0.74%
96Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC MSA611,0008.17%
97Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL MSA606,61211.64%
98Jackson, MS MSA591,9780.97%
99Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA MSA591,7127.69%
100Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA MSA585,78413.80%
101Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA MSA567,5590.70%
102Chattanooga, TN-GA MSA562,6476.53%
103Lancaster, PA MSA552,9846.46%
104Modesto, CA MSA552,8787.47%
105Portland-South Portland, ME MSA551,7407.32%
106Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR MSA546,72524.22%
107Lansing-East Lansing, MI MSA541,2971.24%
108Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA MSA541,243-4.34%
109Fayetteville, NC MSA520,3788.17%
110Lexington-Fayette, KY MSA516,8119.47%
111Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL MSA509,90513.57%
112Huntsville, AL MSA491,72317.75%
113Reno, NV MSA490,59615.32%
114Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA MSA488,8631.03%
115Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC MSA487,72229.46%
116Port St. Lucie, FL MSA487,65714.98%
117Lafayette, LA MSA478,3842.49%
118Springfield, MO MSA475,4328.87%
119Killeen-Temple, TX MSA475,36717.29%
120Visalia, CA MSA473,1177.00%
121Asheville, NC MSA469,01510.39%
122York-Hanover, PA MSA456,4384.94%
123Vallejo, CA MSA453,4919.71%
124Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA MSA448,2295.74%
125Salinas, CA MSA439,0355.78%
126Salem, OR MSA433,35310.91%
127Mobile, AL MSA430,197-0.09%
128Reading, PA MSA428,8494.23%
129Manchester-Nashua, NH MSA422,9375.54%
130Corpus Christi, TX MSA421,9334.17%
131Brownsville-Harlingen, TX MSA421,0173.64%
132Fort Wayne, IN MSA419,6017.97%
133Salisbury, MD-DE MSA418,04611.84%
134Gulfport-Biloxi, MS MSA416,2597.15%
135Flint, MI MSA406,211-4.60%
136Savannah, GA MSA404,79816.45%
137Peoria, IL MSA402,391-3.33%
138Canton-Massillon, OH MSA401,574-0.70%
139Anchorage, AK MSA398,3284.60%
140Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX MSA397,5652.27%
141Shreveport-Bossier City, LA MSA393,406-1.30%
142Trenton-Princeton, NJ MSA387,3405.68%
143Montgomery, AL MSA386,0473.07%
144Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL MSA384,3241.22%
145Tallahassee, FL MSA384,2984.60%
146Eugene-Springfield, OR MSA382,9718.89%
147Ocala, FL MSA375,90813.47%
148Naples-Marco Island, FL MSA375,75216.87%
149Ann Arbor, MI MSA372,2587.97%
150Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC MSA365,276-0.06%
151Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH MSA359,862-2.98%
152Fort Collins, CO MSA359,06619.84%
153Lincoln, NE MSA340,21712.60%
154Gainesville, FL MSA339,24711.20%
155Rockford, IL MSA338,798-3.04%
156Boulder, CO MSA330,75812.29%
157Greeley, CO MSA328,98130.12%
158Columbus, GA-AL MSA328,8836.85%
159Green Bay, WI MSA328,2687.19%
160Spartanburg, SC MSA327,99715.37%
161South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI MSA324,5011.65%
162Lubbock, TX MSA321,36810.51%
163Clarksville, TN-KY MSA320,53517.01%
164Roanoke, VA MSA315,2512.12%
165Evansville, IN-KY MSA314,0490.80%
166Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA MSA307,614-0.62%
167Kennewick-Richland, WA MSA303,62219.85%
168Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA MSA294,79316.86%
169Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV MSA293,8449.18%
170Utica-Rome, NY MSA292,264-2.38%
171Duluth, MN-WI MSA291,6380.34%
172Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL MSA286,97321.67%
173Longview, TX MSA286,1842.21%
174Aguadilla-Isabela, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area286,064-15.72%
175Wilmington, NC MSA285,90512.17%
176San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA MSA282,4244.74%
177Merced, CA MSA281,2029.93%
178Waco, TX MSA277,5479.80%
179Sioux Falls, SD MSA276,73021.23%
180Cedar Rapids, IA MSA276,5207.20%
181Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA MSA275,6119.75%
182Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ MSA274,534-0.01%
183Erie, PA MSA270,876-3.45%
184Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA MSA270,8613.23%
185Amarillo, TX MSA268,7616.68%
186Tuscaloosa, AL MSA268,67412.32%
187Norwich-New London, CT MSA268,555-2.01%
188College Station-Bryan, TX MSA268,24817.31%
189Laredo, TX MSA267,1146.72%
190Kalamazoo-Portage, MI MSA261,6704.53%
191Lynchburg, VA MSA261,5933.55%
192Charleston, WV MSA258,859-6.89%
193Yakima, WA MSA256,7285.55%
194Fargo, ND-MN MSA249,84319.67%
195Binghamton, NY MSA247,138-1.82%
196Fort Smith, AR-OK MSA244,310-1.57%
197Appleton, WI MSA243,1477.75%
198Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ MSA236,20911.93%
199Macon-Bibb County, GA MSA233,8020.65%
200Tyler, TX MSA233,47911.33%
201Topeka, KS MSA233,152-0.31%
202Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL MSA231,76727.16%
203Barnstable Town, MA MSA228,9966.07%
204Bellingham, WA MSA226,84712.78%
205Rochester, MN MSA226,3299.40%
206Burlington-South Burlington, VT MSA225,5626.77%
207Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN MSA223,7166.38%
208Medford, OR MSA223,2599.87%
209Champaign-Urbana, IL MSA222,5382.17%
210Lake Charles, LA MSA222,40211.42%
211Charlottesville, VA MSA221,5249.91%
212Las Cruces, NM MSA219,5614.94%
213Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC MSA215,90815.45%
214Athens-Clarke County, GA MSA215,41511.88%
215Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ MSA213,2676.53%
216Chico, CA MSA211,632-3.80%
217Ponce, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area211,465-19.48%
218Columbia, MO MSA210,86410.76%
219Springfield, IL MSA208,640-0.73%
220Johnson City, TN MSA207,2854.31%
221Houma-Thibodaux, LA MSA207,137-0.50%
222Monroe, LA MSA207,1041.31%
223Elkhart-Goshen, IN MSA207,0474.80%
224Jacksonville, NC MSA204,57615.08%
225Yuma, AZ MSA203,8814.15%
226Gainesville, GA MSA203,13613.05%
227Florence, SC MSA199,964-2.73%
228St. Cloud, MN MSA199,6715.59%
229Bend, OR MSA198,25325.69%
230Racine, WI MSA197,7271.19%
231Warner Robins, GA MSA191,61414.33%
232Saginaw, MI MSA190,124-5.02%
233Punta Gorda, FL MSA186,84716.80%
234Terre Haute, IN MSA185,031-2.49%
235Billings, MT MSA184,16710.17%
236Redding, CA MSA182,1552.78%
237Dover, DE MSA181,85112.04%
238Kingston, NY MSA181,851-0.35%
239Joplin, MO MSA181,4093.36%
240Yuba City, CA MSA181,2088.58%
241Jackson, TN MSA180,5040.45%
242St. George, UT MSA180,27930.53%
243El Centro, CA MSA179,7022.96%
244Bowling Green, KY MSA179,63913.27%
245Abilene, TX MSA176,5796.85%
246Muskegon, MI MSA175,8242.11%
247Iowa City, IA MSA175,41914.96%
248Midland, TX MSA175,22023.68%
249Panama City, FL MSA175,2163.77%
250Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA174,24124.24%
251Arecibo, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area173,218-13.16%
252Hattiesburg, MS MSA172,2316.05%
253Eau Claire, WI MSA172,0076.74%
254Oshkosh-Neenah, WI MSA171,7302.84%
255Burlington, NC MSA171,41513.42%
256Coeur d'Alene, ID MSA171,36223.73%
257Bloomington, IL MSA170,9540.81%
258Greenville, NC MSA170,2431.25%
259Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA MSA168,4610.38%
260East Stroudsburg, PA MSA168,327-0.89%
261Pueblo, CO MSA168,1625.72%
262Wausau-Weston, WI MSA166,4282.22%
263Blacksburg-Christiansburg, VA MSA166,3782.10%
264Odessa, TX MSA165,17120.45%
265Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI MSA164,7546.41%
266Janesville-Beloit, WI MSA163,6872.09%
267Bloomington, IN MSA161,0390.93%
268Jackson, MI MSA160,3660.07%
269Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL MSA159,78815.76%
270State College, PA MSA158,1722.72%
271Idaho Falls, ID MSA157,42918.13%
272Decatur, AL MSA156,4941.73%
273Madera, CA MSA156,2553.57%
274Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA MSA155,9324.22%
275Grand Junction, CO MSA155,7036.12%
276Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY MSA155,5724.88%
277Santa Fe, NM MSA154,8237.39%
278Monroe, MI MSA154,8091.83%
279Niles, MI MSA154,316-1.59%
280Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ MSA154,152-1.75%
281Homosassa Springs, FL MSA153,8438.93%
282Hanford-Corcoran, CA MSA152,486-0.32%
283Bangor, ME MSA152,199-1.12%
284Alexandria, LA MSA152,192-1.12%
285Dothan, AL MSA151,0073.69%
286Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL MSA150,7912.48%
287Jefferson City, MO MSA150,3090.34%
288Sioux City, IA-NE-SD MSA149,9404.43%
289Albany, GA MSA148,922-3.21%
290Wichita Falls, TX MSA148,128-2.10%
291Valdosta, GA MSA148,1266.12%
292Texarkana, TX-AR MSA147,519-1.13%
293Logan, UT-ID MSA147,34817.46%
294Flagstaff, AZ MSA145,1017.95%
295Rocky Mount, NC MSA143,870-5.59%
296Lebanon, PA MSA143,2577.25%
297Dalton, GA MSA142,8370.43%
298Morristown, TN MSA142,7094.47%
299Winchester, VA-WV MSA142,63211.02%
300Morgantown, WV MSA140,0387.96%
301La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN MSA139,6274.46%
302Wheeling, WV-OH MSA139,513-5.70%
303Rapid City, SD MSA139,07410.04%
304Napa, CA MSA138,0191.12%
305Sumter, SC MSA136,700-4.02%
306Springfield, OH MSA136,001-1.69%
307Harrisonburg, VA MSA135,5718.26%
308Sherman-Denison, TX MSA135,54312.13%
309Battle Creek, MI MSA134,310-1.35%
310Jonesboro, AR MSA134,19610.88%
311Manhattan, KS MSA134,0465.48%
312Bismarck, ND MSA133,62620.79%
313Johnstown, PA MSA133,472-7.10%
314Carbondale-Marion, IL MSA133,435-4.11%
315Hammond, LA MSA133,1579.96%
316The Villages, FL MSA129,75238.89%
317Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA MSA129,52310.80%
318Pittsfield, MA MSA129,026-1.67%
319Albany-Lebanon, OR MSA128,61010.23%
320Glens Falls, NY MSA127,039-1.46%
321Lawton, OK MSA126,652-2.79%
322Cleveland, TN MSA126,1648.96%
323Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ MSA125,447-4.49%
324Staunton, VA MSA125,4335.85%
325Ames, IA MSA125,2528.12%
326Mansfield, OH MSA124,9360.37%
327San Angelo, TX MSA122,8888.78%
328Altoona, PA MSA122,822-3.36%
329New Bern, NC MSA122,168-3.65%
330Wenatchee, WA MSA122,01210.04%
331Farmington, NM MSA121,661-6.45%
332Owensboro, KY MSA121,5595.93%
333St. Joseph, MO-KS MSA121,467-4.60%
334San Germán, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area120,280-12.50%
335Lawrence, KS MSA118,7857.18%
336Sheboygan, WI MSA118,0342.19%
337Missoula, MT MSA117,9227.89%
338Goldsboro, NC MSA117,333-4.31%
339Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH MSA116,903-6.07%
340Watertown-Fort Drum, NY MSA116,7210.42%
341Anniston-Oxford, AL MSA116,441-1.80%
342Beckley, WV MSA115,079-7.86%
343Twin Falls, ID MSA114,28314.74%
344Williamsport, PA MSA114,188-1.66%
345California-Lexington Park, MD MSA113,7778.20%
346Brunswick, GA MSA113,4951.00%
347Michigan City-La Porte, IN MSA112,4170.85%
348Muncie, IN MSA111,903-4.90%
349Lewiston-Auburn, ME MSA111,1393.19%
350Longview, WA MSA110,7308.12%
351Kankakee, IL MSA107,502-5.24%
352Ithaca, NY MSA105,7404.11%
353Grand Forks, ND-MN MSA104,3625.99%
354Fond du Lac, WI MSA104,1542.48%
355Decatur, IL MSA103,998-6.11%
356Bay City, MI MSA103,856-3.63%
357Gettysburg, PA MSA103,8522.41%
358Mankato, MN MSA103,5667.06%
359Gadsden, AL MSA103,436-0.95%
360Lima, OH MSA102,206-3.88%
361Sebring-Avon Park, FL MSA101,2352.48%
362Cheyenne, WY MSA100,5129.56%
363Hot Springs, AR MSA100,1804.33%
364Dubuque, IA MSA99,2665.99%
365Rome, GA MSA98,5842.35%
366Victoria, TX MSA98,3314.60%
367Cape Girardeau, MO-IL MSA97,5171.29%
368Fairbanks, AK MSA95,655-1.97%
369Ocean City, NJ MSA95,263-2.06%
370Corvallis, OR MSA95,18411.22%
371Cumberland, MD-WV MSA95,044-7.99%
372Pocatello, ID MSA94,8964.68%
373Mayagüez, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area93,412-19.62%
374Parkersburg-Vienna, WV MSA89,490-3.43%
375Grants Pass, OR MSA88,0906.50%
376Pine Bluff, AR MSA87,751-12.47%
377Great Falls, MT MSA84,4143.80%
378Elmira, NY MSA84,148-5.27%
379Yauco, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area84,112-21.63%
380Kokomo, IN MSA83,6581.09%
381Midland, MI MSA83,494-0.16%
382Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA MSA82,863-3.15%
383Columbus, IN MSA82,2087.05%
384Hinesville, GA MSA81,4244.50%
385Casper, WY MSA79,9555.97%
386Grand Island, NE MSA77,0385.93%
387Danville, IL MSA74,188-9.11%
388Guayama, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area72,240-14.22%
389Lewiston, ID-WA MSA64,3755.73%
390Enid, OK MSA62,8463.74%
391Walla Walla, WA MSA62,5846.47%
392Carson City, NV MSA58,6396.09%

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

central texas 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.

salt lake city metro area

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 city metro area

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:

population change U.S. 2010-2020

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.

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Markets

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.

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The Best Selling Cars in America, By State Shareable

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
AlabamaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoToyota Camry
AlaskaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
ArizonaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
ArkansasRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
CaliforniaHonda CivicToyota RAV4Toyota Camry
ColoradoFord F-SeriesRam 1500-3500Toyota RAV4
ConnecticutHonda CR-VToyota RAV4Subaru Forester
D.C.Toyota RAV4Honda CR-VSubaru Forester
DelawareFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
FloridaToyota CorollaFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4
GeorgiaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
HawaiiToyota TacomaToyota 4RunnerToyota RAV4
IdahoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
IllinoisFord F-SeriesHonda CR-VChevrolet Silverado
IndianaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesChevrolet Equinox
IowaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
KansasFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
KentuckyChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
LouisianaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MaineFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MarylandToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesHonda CR-V
MassachusettsToyota RAV4Honda CR-VFord F-Series
MichiganFord F-SeriesChevrolet EquinoxRAM 1500-3500
MinnesotaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
MississippiFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MissouriFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MontanaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
NebraskaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
NevadaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesToyota RAV4
New HampshireFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoToyota RAV4
New JerseyHonda CR-VHonda CivicToyota RAV4
New MexicoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
New YorkHonda CR-VToyota RAV4Jeep Cherokee
North CarolinaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
North DakotaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
OhioFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
OklahomaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
OregonToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
PennsylvaniaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Honda CR-V
Puerto RicoToyota RAV4Toyota YarisToyota Corolla
Rhode IslandToyota RAV4Honda CR-VFord F-Series
South CarolinaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
South DakotaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
TennesseeFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
TexasFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
UtahFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
VermontFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4RAM 1500-3500
VirginiaFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4Honda CR-V
WashingtonToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesRam 1500-3500
West VirginiaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRam 1500-3500
WisconsinFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRam 1500-3500
WyomingRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet 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
Ford F-SeriesTruck45
Ram 1500-3500Truck36
Chevrolet SilveradoTruck33
Toyota RAV4SUV18
Honda CR-VSUV10
Chevrolet EquinoxSUV2
Honda CivicCar2
Subaru ForesterSUV2
Toyota CamryCar2
Toyota CorollaCar2
Jeep CherokeeSUV1
Toyota 4RunnerSUV1
Toyota TacomaTruck1
Toyota YarisCar1

Despite many cars being available for sale in the U.S., only seven manufacturers made the top-selling vehicles list in 2020.

  • Ford
  • Ram
  • Chevrolet
  • Toyota
  • Honda
  • Subaru
  • Jeep

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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