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Mapping Human Impact Across the World



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This graphic maps the extent of humanity’s impact on the world from 1993 to 2009

Mapping Human Impact Across the World

Since the dawn of human history, our activities have left an impact on Earth—from gathering food to farming, from building homes and cities to traveling across oceans.

And as the global population expanded and civilizations became more complex, that impact grew alongside it. Mass agriculture, natural resource extraction, and creation of urban infrastructure are just some of the visible markers of modern human development.

In this graphic, Adam Symington maps the extent of humanity’s impact on the world from 1993 to 2009, using information provided by the scientific paper titled “Global Terrestrial Human Footprint Maps for 1993 and 2009.”

Variables for Measuring Human Impact

To accurately plot and measure human impact, the researches compiled studies and surveys from 1993 to 2009 across eight variables of human “pressure”:

  1. Built environments
  2. Population density
  3. Night-time lights
  4. Croplands
  5. Pasture
  6. Roads
  7. Railways
  8. Navigable waterways
  9. These different pressures were then normalized and weighted, as some have a noticeably greater impact on the surrounding environments than others. Once plotted and overlayed, we can see where human impact was the highest.

    What Caused the Largest Impact?

    According to the research, increases in population density, housing development, and road and rail networks were the primary growth factors for human impact.

    This caused the overall footprint to increase dramatically in densest urban centers of the world. The brightest and most visible on the map include:

    • The Boston–Washington corridor (including New York City) in the U.S.
    • The “Blue Banana” corridor in Europe from the UK to Northern Italy.
    • The Nile Delta and Greater Cairo in Egypt.
    • The Taiheiyō Belt in Japan (including Tokyo and Osaka).
    • Many other areas in South America, Central Africa, and South Asia, also saw human impact increase due to both increased urbanization and agriculture. Especially noticeable is the relatively even growth in human impact across Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.

      Untouched Wildernesses

      While humanity’s footprint has transformed various parts of the world, some areas have been left untouched, to some extent.

      The frigid Arctic terrains of Northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and Eastern Russia barely saw any change between 1993 and 2009.

      Likewise, the Amazon rainforest in South America, the Sahara Desert in Africa, the Tibetan Plateau in Asia and the desert in Western Australia had large swaths of land with almost no human impact. However, they all had small patches of measured human impact, either through infrastructure development or resource extraction.

      And though there were still corners of the Earth with little to no human impact in 2009, changes since in demographics, politics, and consumption could have an outsized effect on humanity’s footprint both now and into the future.

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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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Mapped: Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?

In this visualization, we look at how international recognition of Israel and Palestine breaks down among the 193 UN member states.



Map showing the recognition of Israel and Palestine by the 193 UN member countries.

Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?

The modern-day conflict between Israel and Palestine emerged from the British Mandate for Palestine, which administered the former Ottoman Empire territory after World War I. But even after 75 years—and declarations of independence from each side—universal recognition eludes them.

In this visualization, we look at how Israel and Palestine recognition breaks down among the 193 UN member states as of November 14, 2023, using Wikpedia data for each state.

This post is a companion piece to separate maps showing the recognition of Israel and of Palestine by country.

A Declaration of Independence

The Jewish People’s Council declared the foundation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 (the same day that the last British forces left Haifa) on the basis of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which divided the Mandate territories between Jewish and Arab populations.

U.S. President Truman granted de-facto recognition 11 minutes after the Israeli declaration. Not to be outdone by their Cold War adversary, the U.S.S.R. followed suit three days later with de-jure recognition and was joined by Warsaw Pact allies Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland.

By the end of 1948, 21 countries recognized Israel.

A Second Declaration of Independence

A declaration of independence for the State of Palestine, comprising the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, didn’t happen until 40 years later.

In the midst of the First Intifada, a five-year-long Palestinian uprising that began in 1987, the Palestine Liberation Organization proclaimed the new state in the city of Algiers on November 15, 1988.

A dozen countries, including 10 members of the Arab League along with Malaysia and Yemen, immediately recognized the new state. The Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, and most of the Muslim world also joined in recognizing the State of Palestine.

Recognition of Israel and Palestine by Country

As of November 2023, 163 UN member states have recognized Israel, while 138 have recognized Palestine.

UN Member StateRecognize Israel 🇮🇱Recognize Palestine 🇵🇸
🇦🇬Antigua and BarbudaYesYes
🇧🇦Bosnia and HerzegovinaYesYes
🇧🇫Burkina FasoYesYes
🇨🇻Cape VerdeYesYes
🇨🇫Central African RepublicYesYes
🇨🇷Costa RicaYesYes
🇨🇮Côte d'IvoireYesYes
🇨🇩Democratic Republic of the CongoYesYes
🇩🇴Dominican RepublicYesYes
🇸🇻El SalvadorYesYes
🇬🇶Equatorial GuineaYesYes
🇫🇲Federated States of MicronesiaYesNo
🇲🇭Marshall IslandsYesNo
🇳🇿New ZealandYesNo
🇰🇵North KoreaNoYes
🇲🇰North MacedoniaYesNo
🇵🇬Papua New GuineaYesYes
🇨🇬Republic of the CongoYesYes
🇰🇳Saint Kitts and NevisYesYes
🇱🇨Saint LuciaYesYes
🇻🇨Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesYesYes
🇸🇲San MarinoYesNo
🇸🇹São Tomé and PríncipeYesYes
🇸🇦Saudi ArabiaNoYes
🇸🇱Sierra LeoneYesYes
🇸🇧Solomon IslandsYesNo
🇿🇦South AfricaYesYes
🇰🇷South KoreaYesNo
🇸🇸South SudanYesYes
🇱🇰Sri LankaYesYes
🇬🇲The GambiaYesYes
🇹🇹Trinidad and TobagoYesNo
🇦🇪United Arab EmiratesYesYes
🇬🇧United KingdomYesNo
🇺🇸United StatesYesNo

Most of the countries that do not currently recognize Israel are Muslim-majority countries. However, some Muslim-majority countries have recognized Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, who specifically agreed to do so under peace treaties signed in 1979 and 1994 respectively.

Several conflicts have also resulted in some countries suspending relations with Israel. The 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars (also called the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War, respectively) all saw countries suspend diplomatic relations, including Mali and the Maldives. In the case of Eastern Bloc countries that did so in 1967 and 1973, many resumed relations after the fall of the Soviet Union.

On the other side, despite more countries recognizing the State of Palestine over time, none of the G7 and only nine of the G20 have recognized the state. Similarly, only a minority of the EU has endorsed the declaration.


Israel and Palestine continue to vie for recognition in the international arena, with the former gaining recognition from a few countries including Bhutan and the UAE in 2020, and the latter from Colombia in 2018 and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2019.

But universal recognition continues to elude both sides, with many countries awaiting a formal resolution to the conflict from the two sides.

It’s worth noting that both Israel and Palestine took steps towards recognition under the Oslo Accords, signed on September 13, 1993. The agreement saw Palestine recognize the State of Israel, put an end to the First Intifada, and allowed for limited self-government under a new Palestinian National Authority in Gaza and the West Bank. It promised to lay the groundwork for a two-state solution; a promise of peace that has yet to be realized.

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