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Comparing Lightning-Caused and Human-Caused U.S. Wildfires

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comparing acres burned by human-caused fires versus lightning in the U.S.

Comparing Lightning-Caused and Human-Caused U.S. Wildfires

Each year, thousands of acres of land are scorched by wildfires across the United States. While most of these fires are triggered by natural causes such as lightning, some are unfortunately caused by human activity.

This graphic by Gilbert Fontana uses data from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) to show the number of acres burned across the U.S. between 2001 and 2021.

YearAcres burned (lightning-caused fires)Acres burned (human-caused fires)
20214,101,8843,023,759
20204,123,5235,998,813
20193,447,0381,217,324
20183,127,0035,640,489
20175,195,6104,830,476
20161,743,3853,766,610
20158,112,6882,012,461
20142,012,8431,582,770
20133,057,5661,261,980
20126,825,9892,500,249
20113,354,5965,356,771
20102,119,2751,303,449
20093,849,0402,072,746
20081,862,4773,429,991
20075,878,6913,449,360
20065,468,9014,404,844
20057,168,0621,521,327
20047,011,023964,800
20032,038,4431,922,249
20024,097,5933,077,119
20011,822,6001,748,661

Historically, we can see that lightning-caused fires have led to more damage in the U.S., and this is especially true in the West region which includes states like California, Oregon, and Washington.

That said, it’s worth noting that in three out of the six years from 2016–2021, human-caused wildfires led to more damage.

If you’re interested in learning more about wildfires, check out this article about The Relationship Between Climate Change and Wildfires
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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Agriculture

The World’s Top Cocoa Producing Countries

Here are the largest cocoa producing countries globally—from Côte d’Ivoire to Brazil—as cocoa prices hit record highs.

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This tree map graphic shows the world's biggest cocoa producers.

The World’s Top Cocoa Producing Countries

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

West Africa is home to the largest cocoa producing countries worldwide, with 3.9 million tonnes of production in 2022.

In fact, there are about one million farmers in Côte d’Ivoire supplying cocoa to key customers such as Nestlé, Mars, and Hershey. But the massive influence of this industry has led to significant forest loss to plant cocoa trees.

This graphic shows the leading producers of cocoa, based on data from the UN FAO.

Global Hotspots for Cocoa Production

Below, we break down the top cocoa producing countries as of 2022:

Country2022 Production, Tonnes
🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire2.2M
🇬🇭 Ghana1.1M
🇮🇩 Indonesia667K
🇪🇨 Ecuador337K
🇨🇲 Cameroon300K
🇳🇬 Nigeria280K
🇧🇷 Brazil274K
🇵🇪 Peru171K
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic76K
🌍 Other386K

With 2.2 million tonnes of cocoa in 2022, Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer, accounting for a third of the global total.

For many reasons, the cocoa trade in Côte d’Ivoire and Western Africa has been controversial. Often, farmers make about 5% of the retail price of a chocolate bar, and earn $1.20 each day. Adding to this, roughly a third of cocoa farms operate on forests that are meant to be protected.

As the third largest producer, Indonesia produced 667,000 tonnes of cocoa with the U.S., Malaysia, and Singapore as major importers. Overall, small-scale farmers produce 95% of cocoa in the country, but face several challenges such as low pay and unwanted impacts from climate change. Alongside aging trees in the country, these setbacks have led productivity to decline.

In South America, major producers include Ecuador and Brazil. In the early 1900s, Ecuador was the world’s largest cocoa producing country, however shifts in the global marketplace and crop disease led its position to fall. Today, the country is most known for its high-grade single-origin chocolate, with farms seen across the Amazon rainforest.

Altogether, global cocoa production reached 6.5 million tonnes, supported by strong demand. On average, the market has grown 3% annually over the last several decades.

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