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Mapped: 200 Years of Political Regimes, by Country

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Mapped: 200 Years of Political Regimes, by Country

Do civilians get a representative say in how the government is run where you live?

While it might seem like living with a basic level of democratic rights is the status quo, this is only true for 93 countries or territories today—the majority of the world does not enjoy these rights.

It also might surprise you that much of the progress towards democracy came as late as the mid-20th century. This interactive map from Our World in Data paints a comprehensive picture of democratic rights across the globe.

Which Countries Achieved Democracy First?

The three famous first words in the U.S. Constitution—“We The People…”—paved the way for the birth of a federal democratic republic in 1789. This makes the United States of America the world’s oldest uninterrupted democracy today.

That said, the classification system in the interactive map above provides a slightly different perspective. It draws from the Regimes of the World (RoW) classification and the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project, and establishes four major classifications of political systems:

  1. Liberal Democracy
    Citizens have further individual and minority rights, are equal before the law, and the actions of the executive are constrained by the legislative and the courts.
    32 countries/territories in 2020
  2. Electoral Democracy
    Citizens have the right to participate in meaningful, free and fair, and multi-party elections.
    61 countries/territories in 2020
  3. Electoral Autocracy
    Citizens have the right to choose the chief executive and the legislature through multi-party elections; but they lack some freedoms, such as the freedoms of association or expression, that make the elections meaningful, free, and fair.
    64 countries/territories in 2020
  4. Closed Autocracy
    Citizens do not have the right to either choose the chief executive of the government or the legislature through multi-party elections.
    42 countries/territories in 2020

Under the classification system used here, it’s arguable that Switzerland was the first country to achieve a fully liberal democracy status in 1849, followed by Australia in 1858.

The Least Democratic Countries

Our World in Data also looks at how the global population breaks down by political regime.

The following chart demonstrates the share of the global population living under each type of regime since 1800, in relative or absolute terms.

While the global population has increased tremendously in 200 years, so has the number of civilians living under stricter political systems. Today, 1.9 billion people live in closed autocracies, of which nearly 75% live in China alone.

The major dip observed at the very end of the above chart comes from India. According to the data source, the nation flipped from electoral democracy to electoral autocracy status in 2019. As the second-most populous country, this change affected nearly 1.4 billion people.

Finally, while the data in the above maps and charts ends in 2020, notable events have taken place in recent months that may affect the number of people living in different political regimes.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-2021 caused the country to slide into closed autocracy status, and as the current conflict in Ukraine/Russia heats up, it’s possible that more people may find themselves living under non-democratic regimes going forward.

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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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Misc

Ranked: The Cities with the Most Skyscrapers in 2023

We rank the world’s leading cities with the most skyscrapers, highlighting China’s remarkable dominance in building vertically.

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Ranked: The Cities with the Most Skyscrapers in 2023

When it comes to soaring skylines and architectural marvels, no country has embraced the vertical revolution quite like China.

In this graphic, which uses data from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), we reveal the 25 cities with the most skyscrapers and supertall buildings globally.

Unsurprisingly, China’s cities dominate the list, solidifying the country’s reputation as a global powerhouse of tall buildings.

The 25 Top Cities by Skyscraper Count

Topping the charts is Hong Kong, with an impressive 657 skyscrapers, including six supertalls (buildings over 300 meters tall).

RankCityCountrySkyscrapers (>150m)Supertalls (>300m)
1Hong Kong🇨🇳 China6576
2Shenzhen🇨🇳 China51316
3New York City🇺🇸 United States42116
4Dubai🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates39528
5Guangzhou🇨🇳 China25411
6Shanghai🇨🇳 China2505
7Kuala Lumpur🇲🇾 Malaysia2115
8Chongqing🇨🇳 China2055
9Tokyo🇯🇵 Japan2000
10Wuhan🇨🇳 China1835
11Chicago🇺🇸 United States1787
12Jakarta🇮🇩 Indonesia1601
13Chengdu🇨🇳 China1500
14Bangkok🇹🇭 Thailand1333
15Shenyang🇨🇳 China1293
16Singapore🇸🇬 Singapore1280
17Nanning🇨🇳 China1226
18Mumbai🇮🇳 India1140
19Tianjin🇨🇳 China1093
20Nanjing🇨🇳 China1087
21Toronto🇨🇦 Canada1060
22Busan🇰🇷 South Korea1064
23Seoul🇰🇷 South Korea1042
24Changsha🇨🇳 China975
25Melbourne🇦🇺 Australia941

Hong Kong, along with Shenzhen (#2), and Guangzhou (#5) are part of the burgeoning megacity known as the Pearl River Delta, which is home to over 1,500 skyscrapers. This is even more impressive when considering that Shenzhen was a small fishing village until the 1970s.

New York City secures the third position on the list, boasting an impressive tally of 421 skyscrapers. Although it may have relinquished its title to Chinese cities, the city’s skyline endures as a globally renowned symbol, prominently featuring the iconic Empire State Building. Notably, while the Empire State Building enjoys widespread familiarity, it no longer ranks among the world’s 50 tallest structures.

Rounding out the top five is Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which grabs the fourth position with 395 skyscrapers, a staggering 28 of which are supertalls. This desert oasis has become synonymous with grandiose architecture and record-breaking structures, exemplified by the Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s current tallest building at 828 meters (2,715 ft).

China’s Numbers in Context

Looking at this data from another perspective, China actually has more skyscrapers on this list than the rest of the world combined.

CountryCities in Top 25SkyscrapersSupertalls
🇨🇳 China12277772
🌐 Rest of World13235067

China’s rapid urbanization, economic growth, and ambitious construction projects have fueled this impressive feat. There’s no doubt that the country’s relentless pursuit of vertical development, coupled with its booming population and thriving cities, has positioned China as the unrivaled leader in the global skyscraper race.

The Future of the Global Skyline

As the world continues to reach new heights in architectural marvels, there are even more supertall skyscrapers in the pipeline that will reshape skylines across the globe.

From the soaring Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, poised to surpass the Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest building, to the remarkable Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur, which is set to claim the title of the world’s second-tallest structure when it opens in June 2023, these projects will captivate city dwellers for years to come.

Even as these new monumental buildings rise, China’s prominence in the world of skyscrapers—with three cities in the top five globally—is likely to remain unchallenged.

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